let us hold the women up: International Women’s Day message from Tanina Williams

There was a time when these elders, women, went into a sweat lodge together. And these thirteen women were worried and concerned for our people, and a song came back to them. And it was the Women’s Warrior song.

When we hear the word “warrior”, we think in a certain way, today. But this word is more than just a warrior fighting a physical battle where we hurt each other. The word can mean many things.

And this war that we’re fighting today – we’re fighting for equality.

What does that look like?

What does that feel like?

What would our future be like?

So today, I challenge you to dream about a future where we live in equality.

As a Lil’wat female, somebody who has brown skin, who lives in poverty, my dream is to see Indigenous women held up the way we once were – as matriarchs, as leaders of our people, as knowledge keepers and healers – people with great amounts of power that could change ways of knowing and being because of our love, that warrior love, that deep compassion.

So I challenge you to dream about that future, and start working towards it. That means, we’ve got to learn a few things about ourselves. We learn that we have racism inside of us, that needs to change, and that takes action. We learn: how do I become an ally? As a man, how do you become an ally to women? How do you hold women up? How do you treat them with love, kindness and respect? There are so many ways we can do to make our world an equality place. And we all need that.

I want to sing you the Women’s Warrior song, and I ask you to join me, to sing this song, and to hold all of us women, us women to hold each other up, and all of us people, to hold each other up.

Kukstum’kacw.

Today I speak to you as a Lil’wat matriarch, a person of this land. I welcome you to the land of the Lil’wat people.

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