CBC Vancouver Inspiration Series Highlights Aboriginal Women Leaders
Makers panelists spoke of their motivations, challenges and how to move forward
On June 16, CBC Vancouver
presented CBC Vancouver Inspiration Series: Dream Makers, a panel
event that highlights successful aboriginal women and celebrates the unique
experiences that have led them to become leaders in the community.
The panel discussion,
moderated by CBC's Duncan McCue and hosted by Lisa Charleyboy, featured four
female leaders who shared their stories of how they overcame challenges to
The speakers were:
Melanie Mark, a community
Dorothy Grant, an acclaimed
artist and fashion designer
Laurie Sterritt, the
director of Aboriginal Employment, Education and Procurement at B.C. Hydro
Dr. Gwen Point, the
Chancellor of the University of the Fraser Valley
Here are highlights from the event:
We're all in the middle of a big city here, running
big city lives. How do you stay in touch with culture here in the city?
Gwen Point: There's no question that it is a part of who you are, and I make it a
part of who I am. I tell people I'm First Nations, whether I'm dressed in my
traditional regalia or I'm dressed in street clothes. I make it a part of my
day. I go from a longhouse to my job, go from my home to a sweat lodge. And
I've had the privilege, of course, of teaching about First Nations. When I ask
the elders, how do you teach about a longhouse, how do I teach about a cedar
tree? They told me, don't talk about it, do it. So education — I bring my
students to a longhouse. I make it a part of my everyday.
How, as indigenous women, do you balance the
responsibility to your community versus being an individual and individual
Dorothy Grant: I think it's by example. In 1989, I did my first fashion show in Hotel
Vancouver and it received incredible response. About three weeks later, I took
that same show to Skidegate and I asked young people and elders to be my
models. We did the very same show, but with different models. My community just
embraced it and this was very early on. I've kept that connection with my
people and that's been very important for me, that they, in the beginning,
endorsed what I was doing because nobody at the time was doing anything like
this, so it was really stepping out on the ledge. To have their support was a
major thing for me. Each sort of success that I've had, I feel like my
community's been behind me.
For more panel discussion highlights, click here.