Just before the holidays, Chloë attended the first Indigenous Women’s Leadership Conference, hosted by the Native Women’s Association of Canada and held in our capital city, Ottawa.
It was an honour and an adventure that only Chloë can best describe.
So take it away, Chloë...
When I decided to go on my first solo trip since landing in my wheelchair in 2015, I was very nervous. It would be scary to travel alone. But it was something I needed to do; it was a step I needed to take.
And I don’t mean a physical step, not quite yet anyway, but an important step on my road to recovery. Yet another step to being the wholly independent woman I was before my injury.
I figured such a big step could find no better company than with those attending the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Conference.
Here's an event that's full of women who are making positive changes and creating their own success in spite of the incredible adversity they have all faced in their lives.
So I was honoured to be invited and determined to go. I packed up me and my fears and I took the trip.
The conference brought together both Indigenous women and those supporting and working with them to celebrate the leadership of Indigenous women in many sectors, from the arts to business to law.
It highlighted the need for change, healing, and a strong female presence within Indigenous communities across Canada. Within all communities across Canada.
And it showed that change is happening thanks to these women and women like them who get up every morning and just do it, no matter what.
There was an overall theme among the women when asked how or why they became leaders. One attendee voiced, “We make things happen because we have to,” and we all felt her strength.
It was opened by a gala evening that included a fashion show, Indigenous music and dancing, and an Indigenous inspired dinner menu. The event was a feast for the senses.
All of the women attending dressed up and had a relaxing evening of networking, getting to know each other and enjoying the cultural food and entertainment.
There was even a photo booth to capture the moment with friends and colleagues. Here's me with NWAC President, Francyne Joe.
The next day started early opened by Indigenous Elders, NWAC President, Franyce Joe, Minister Carolyn Bennett, Minister Bardish Chadder, and Minister Maryam Monsef.
It was a full day of scheduled speakers and panel discussions that included talks on Indigenous women in Business, Youth Leadership, Advocacy and Law, and many others.
Speakers included Lawyer Violet Ford, Singer/Songwriter Tracy Bone, CEO Patrice Mousseau, Ministerial Youth Advisor Maatalii Okalik, and Elder/Activist Mae Louise Campbell.
Ultimately, it was an inspiring event filled with strength, hope, healing, support, new friends, new connections, similar goals and leadership. And it was a personal step that I'm proud to have made.
I would love to see this conference become an annual event. Just imagine it in a different Canadian city each year, allowing more women to gather together in support of Indigenous Women Leaders.
And right now, support and recognition of female leadership is both stronger and more needed than ever before as women all around the world speak out against abuse and inequality.
The Indigenous Women’s Leadership Conference did that too. It was a celebration of women that recognized some pretty remarkable ladies while educating and inspiring others to find new awareness.
Thank you to The Native Women’s Association of Canada, and President Francyne Joe and her team, for putting on such an impressive event. I loved every minute of it!
From the fantastic Gala evening of art, culture, and networking to the inspiring and informative Conference program, the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Conference 2017 was a success for all.
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