Indigenous women offering self-defense training for the deaf
- EFN Staff | August 03, 2018
Two Indigenous women are offering a self-defence training session for Indigenous girls and women who are deaf/hearing impaired in Saskatoon.
Jordan Watson from the Ochapowace Cree Nation lost her hearing due to high fever when she was a baby. She communicates through sign language and has learned how to lip read well. Watson finds comfort in beading, travelling and being around her family and friends. Being an Indigenous hearing-impaired woman, Watson felt it was necessary to learn self-defence.
“As a survivor of domestic violence, I would like to defend myself from dangerous situations,” she wrote in an email statement. “Few of my deaf friends were also survivors too. I’m proud of them but there are issues such as what if we don’t have a voice to call for help? What if the police arrive too late? It’s up to us to decide if we have to defend ourselves and our homes.”
Watson partnered with Power Our Women (POW) founder, Shana Pasapa, by making a video of different self-defence techniques instructed by Watson. Pasapa heard Watson tell a story about one of her deaf friends who was attacked and she felt the service of POW was needed.
“She talked about one of her friends who was attacked because they knew she was deaf,” said Pasapa. “They broke into her home and attacked her [but she] wasn’t aware of them being there. That impacts me when I hear stories that are serious like that. Sometimes we don’t think about that because we have our hearing. If POW can assist in that way, we’re going to make it happen.”
Watson, 29, hopes the video and training session will help the Indigenous girls and women who are deaf and hard of hearing learn to defend themselves in vulnerable situations.
“I hope that the will feel empowered as they walk away from the sessions to know they can do it,” said Watson. “My dream is to give back to the deaf/hard of hearing community with this tool I was gifted with.”
Watson was exposed to domestic abuse growing up and it instilled fear in her as she grew older as she also became a victim of domestic abuse.
“No child should watch their mother getting beaten up and helpless. I found myself in the situation as my mother was in so I left,” she said. “He shoved me to the ground in front of my kokum. It was embarrassing because I thought I would spend the rest of my life with this man but no. My kokum told me I’m worth more than that .”
Now that Watson obtained the skills on how to defend herself, she hopes that it inspires other girls and women to follow suit.
“I know you can do it especially with this tool to support yourself and your family,” said Watson. “You can live without any fear and able to trust others. Self-defense moves taught me that I can be powerful and empower others.”
Pasapa and Watson will be coordinating the 2-hour session to take place this month in Saskatoon. Watson will be interpreting Pasapa’s self-defence instructions to the participants so they can understand how to perform the techniques. There won’t be a cost for this session for interested participants but donations can be accepted as Pasapa and Watson will be volunteering their time and travelling 258 km one way.
There is no set date yet for the session to take place. More information on the training sessions can be inquired at firstname.lastname@example.org.