When I get my mind settled on something, a subject, I want to follow through on, I do a lot of research. So, with all the events occurring regarding, my native brothers, sisters, elders and children over the past few years with regards to what I will say.. Racism and stereotyping, that have been leaving me with a sour taste in my mouth, I began to educate before I made any suggestions or even pointed a finger … I am going to be a lady about this, which is a lot more than most men in the political world can say. Ooops did I say that out loud?
Anyway, I had an idea and part of that idea was to look up famous, aboriginal, indigenous, native peoples of Canada. There is a lot of jibber jabber online, but after a while one does stumble upon some great facts.
A Laurier student, lady, Sally Simpson was in search herself. Her search was a list of indigenous women who were first in their profession, trade or of cultural significance. She found there was NO list at all.. Imagine that! She did come upon lists for others,, like black women, Chinese and British and she was shocked. Well I am not at this point in time. Because my faith in people giving honour to where it is due when it is a native person is very low. Ms. Simpson put her own list together with just a few of those indigenous woman and it is below. After the list, my thoughts will continue on the idea I had from the beginning or should I say, the question I do have.
Canada’s First Indigenous Woman to …
1. Become a registered nurse: Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture, Mohawk, 1914. It was illegal for Indigenous people to attend post-secondary education in Canada, so she studied in the United States then joined the U.S. Army serving in France for World War One.
2. Officially serve in the Canadian Armed Forces: Private Mary Greyeyes, Cree, 1943. She was posted overseas during the Second World War, working as a cook.
3. Publish the first novel: Sanaaq in the Inuit language, Mitiarjuj Nappaaluk, Inuit, 1951.
4. Become an elected chief of a First Nation (Curve Lake): Elsie Knott, Ojibwa, 1954.
5. Become a professional wood carver: Ellen Neel, Kwakwaka’wakw, 1954.
6. Be featured on a Canadian stamp: (first author & first women other than the Queen), Pauline Johnson, Mohawk, 1961.
7. Challenge the Royal Commission on gender discrimination and win back her Indian status: Mary Two-Axe Earley, Mohawk, 1967. This ruling is connected to the UN holding Canada in breach of human rights in 1981 (see Lovelace, below) and would later become Bill C-31 in 1985.
8. Become Olympians: in cross-country skiing, Sharon & Shirley Firth, Gwich’in, 1972. They were also the first Canadian women to compete in four straight Olympics.
9. Host Radio-Canada: (CBC’s French station), Myra Cree, Mohawk, 1973.
10. Become President of NWAC (Native Women’s Association of Canada): Bertha Clark-Jones, Métis, 1974.
11. Become a commercial airline pilot: (Land, Sea & Block Airspace), Dr. Alis Kennedy, Métis, 1976.
12. Become a lawyer: Marion Ironquill Meadmore, Ojibwa-Cree, 1977. The first Canadian-European was Clara Brett Martin in 1897.
13. Become a medical doctor: Dr. Elizabeth Steinhauer, Cree, 1980. The first Canadian-European was Emily Stowe in 1880.
14. Succeed in having the United Nations declare Canada in breach of human rights, as indigenous women’s Indian status was revoked if she married a nonindigenous man: Sandra Lovelace, Maliseet, 1981.
15. Earn a Masters in Library Science: Phyllis Lerat, Cowessess, 1981.
16. Earn a PhD in Biological Psychiatry: Until she earned her doctorate, she kept her Indigenous status a secret, Dr. Lillian Dyck, Cree, 1981
17. Be appointed an ex-officio member (non-parliamentarian) of a House of Commons Committee: Roberta Jamieson, Mohawk, 1982.
18. Win an Oscar: for the song Up Where We Belong, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Cree, 1983.
19. Be ordained by the United Church of Canada: Christina Baker, Cree, 1983.
20. Be named an Officer of the Order of Canada, Alanis Obomsawin Abenaki, 1983.
21. Produce a professional play: Flight, with the first all Indigenous cast, Maria Campbell, Métis, 1985. She also wrote the famous novel Half-Breed in 1973.
22. Become a full university professor: Dr. Olive Dickason, University of Alberta. She also wrote the first Canadian Indigenous history book written by an Indigenous person, Métis, 1985.
23. Become a Chartered Accountant: Charlene Taylor, also first to be the Director at the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, Heiltsuk, 1986.
24. Become a Member of Federal Parliament: Ethel Blondin-Andrew (Liberal) Dene, 1988. In 1993 she was the first appointed to privy council when named Minister of State for Youth and Training. The first Canadian-European was Agnes MacPhail in 1921.
25. Launch Canada’s first Indigenous commercial fishery: Wendy Grant-John, Musqueam, 1990.
26. Be appointed a Provincial Court Judge: The Honourable Justice Terry Vyse, Mohawk, 1991.
27. Be elected Premier of a Canadian Territory: Nellie Cournoyea, Inuit 1991.
28. Earn a Masters in Civil Engineering: Karen Decontie, Algonquin, 1991.
29. Become a chief executive of a steel company: Hilda Broomfield-Letemplier, Inuit, 1991.
30. Become a Journeyperson in Carpentry: Deborah Nelson, Nuxalk, 1992
31. Receive a Rudy Martin Award: actress Tantoo Cardinal, Cree, 1993.
32. Be appointed a Superior High Court Judge: The Honourable Madam Justice Rose Toodick Boyko, Tsek’Ehne, 1994.
33. Be appointed Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs (first person in Canada): Mary May Simon, Inuit, 1994.
34. Publish a national native weekly newspaper (Turtle Island News): Lynda Powless. In 2006 she was listed as Top 100 Most Powerful Woman in Canada, Mohawk, 1994.
35. Become a Canadian Senator: Thelma Chalifoux, Métis, 1997.
36. Become a psychiatrist: Dr. Cornelia Wieman, Ojibwa, 1998.
37. Become the World Champion Hoop Dancer, in the adult female and male combined division (first female in the world): Lisa Odjig, Odawa-Ojibwa, 2000.
38. Earn a PhD in Aboriginal Economy: Dr. Wanda Wuttunee, Cree, 2000.
39. Become a dual Justice of the Peace (Federal & Provincial, first person in Canada): Her Worship Norma General-Lickers, Mohawk, 2000.
40. Win a gold medal at the World Junior Level Wrestling: Tara Rose Hedican, Ojibwa, 2002.
41. Achieve the rank of full university professor based on traditional knowledge: Professor Shirley Ida Williams (Trent), Ojibwa-Odawa, 2003.
42. Become a NDP Member of Provincial Parliament: Joan Beatty, Ojibwa, 2003
43. Become a RCMP Superintendent: Shirley Cuillierrier, Mohawk, 2004.
44. Participate in an International Cycling Expedition (Canada, Russia, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia & South Africa): Miranda Huron, Algonquin, 2005.
45. File the first class action suit against the Federal Government for more than 70,000 Residential School Survivors: Nora Bernard, Mi’kmaq, 2005.
46. Become an Archaeologist: Brandy George, Chippewas, 2006.
47. Become a Senior Assisant Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Affairs (formerly INAC): Gina McDougall-Wilson, Algonquin, 2008.
48. Conduct the first study of female chiefs: Dr. Cora Voyageur, Athabasca-Chipewyan, 2008.
49. Become a Conservative Member of Federal Parliament: Leona Aglukkaq, Inuit, 2008.
50. Become a veterinarian dentist (first person in the world): Dr. Candace Grier-Lowe, Cree, 2009.
51. Have a solo exhibit at the National Art Gallery of Canada: Daphne Odjig, Ojibwa, 2009.
52. Anchor a national news television broadcast: Carol Morin, Cree-Chipewyan, 2009.
53. Become a deaf medical doctor: Dr. Jessica Dunkley, Métis, 2010.
54. Earn an Indigenous Environmental Studies bachelor’s degree: Teyotsihstokwáthe Dakota, Brant, Mohawk, 2010.
55. Earn a PhD in Criminology: Dr. Lisa Monchalin, Algonquin-Huron-Métis, 2011.
56. Be appointed a Supreme Court Justice of a Territory: Supreme Court Justice Shannon Smallwood, Dene, 2012.
57. Become a Catholic Saint (the first Indigenous person in the world): Kateri Tekakwitha, Mohawk, 2012.
58. Become Canadian Red Cross National Director, Aboriginal & Northern Affairs, Disaster Management: Melanie Goodchild, Ojibwa, 2013.
59. Earn a Masters in Infrastructure Protection and International Security: Teresa Nadon, Algonquin, 2013.—————————————-
With the above list of 59 indigenous women firsts, I know now there is a greater list out there with our indigenous men, who are firsts in their field, who are superior in the field and who need to be honoured.
We, the native, the indigenous, aboriginal peoples of this country are not just a breed, we are a power! We are a strength and a will to be reasoned with and once we as a people, in community begin to realize that, then and only then will the rest of this country know we are a force to be reckoned with.
That when our babies are left to die in a burning building because of a $3,300 bill owed to a neighbouring town, there will be outrage, there will be a cry and it will not only be that of the child, but that of a people who are not taking, excuse after excuse why we are treated with such ignorance and racism in a country that was entered by the white and the door opened by the native man, woman and child, welcoming you into it.
It is time to teach ALL children the history of the native in this country, the good and the bad. It is time to let them know why even today there is such turmoil and uprising between the whites and natives. Then and only then will a calm begin in this great country that both and all races can live in peace.
It starts on the reservations, then the towns, cities, then it goes to provincial and finally federal, what is it? It is a leader of indigenous ancestry. A political party candidate needs to be born and rise to take on leadership in a political forum. A man or woman that can be voted in by the people, both indigenous and white, by all races.
There is so much that needs to be changed in this country with how we treat each other and this idea may not fix anything, but it is a thought, probably been thought of already, and maybe a beginning.
We need the return of balance to this country.
I think Canada needs an indigenous political party. What is a political party?
-The Canada Elections Act defines a political party as “an organization one of whose fundamental purposes is to participate in public affairs by endorsing one or more of its members as candidates and supporting their election.”
Canada’s population as of 2013 was 35.16 million. Aboriginal peoples in Canada totalled 1,400,685 people, or 4.3% of the national population, spread over 600 recognized First Nations governments or band. .