In celebration of International Women's Day, CBC Aboriginal shines the light on indigenous women who are taking the lead and making a difference in their communities, and across Canada.

Erica Violet Lee  

Erica Violet Lee is Nēhiyaw Iskwe from Saskatoon. Lee is an undergraduate student at the University of Saskatchewan, an outspoken activist, and writes her own blog, called Moontime Warrior.

Lee gained national attention by taking a selfie with Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall while sticking her tongue out, when she was part of the Canadian Youth Delegation to the COP 21 meeting in Paris this past December.

"I want to encourage Indigenous women to not be afraid to be loud, not to be afraid to be in the spotlight.
Don't be afraid of your own knowledge and your own power," says Lee.

Christi Belcourt

Christi Belcourt

"I imagine a world where Indigenous women are not murdered and are not missing," says Christi Belcourt. (Supplied)

Christi Belcourt is a Michif (Métis) visual artist and author with roots in the historic Métis community of Manitou Sakhigan (Lac Ste. Anne) in Alberta.

Aside from being an internationally renowned artist, Belcourt is the force behind Walking With Our Sisters, a commemorative installation that features nearly 2,000 pairs of handmade moccasin tops, or "vamps", to honour missing and murdered indigenous women.

She is also very passionate about raising awareness about climate change, and helps to build indigenous language revitalization programs in various First Nations communities across Canada.

"The thing I love the most about what I do is working with people, working with the community and seeing changes in young people when they get connected to the land," says Belcourt.

Andrea Landry

Andrea Landry: Indigenous women taking the lead0:51

"Our people are more powerful than we can ever imagine as long as we believe it," says Andrea Landry who is Anishinaabe Ikwe from Pays Plat First Nation in Ontario.

Landry is a political science and indigenous studies professor at the University of Saskatchewan. She is also a therapist in Thunderchild First Nation, specializing in grief, and recovery.

​"I want [our people] to recognize that they can become anything that they truly want to become, regardless of what has happened to them in their lives," Landry says.

Angela Hovak Johnston

Angela Hovak Johnston

“This project is to honour our ancestors who were incredibly strong women. Hopefully this will give strength and courage to more women with pride to carry our traditions for many more generations to come," says Angela Hovak Johnston. (Meta Antolin)

Angela Hovak Johnson is Inuit and grew up in Bay Chimo, which is now an abandoned outpost camp in the Kitikmeot region of Nunavut.

That's where she learned the art of sewing and today she teaches students at a high school in Yellowknife, N.W.T., how to sew traditional garments.

Hovak is currently working on a traditional tattoo revitalization project that will be documented and published.

"This project is to honour our ancestors who were incredibly strong women. Hopefully this will give strength and courage to more women with pride to carry our traditions for many more generations to come."

Brianna Jonnie

Brianna Jonnie

"And if I do go missing and my body is found, please tell my mom you are sorry. Tell her I asked to be buried in my red dress, for I will have become just another native statistic," Brianna Jonnie, 14, wrote in a letter to Winnipeg Police Service Chief Devon Clunis. (CBC)

Brianna Jonnie is a 14-year-old indigenous student from Winnipeg. She gained national attention this week when she wrote a letter to various civic leaders in Winnipeg, about what she perceives as a discrepancy between media coverage and police action when indigenous women and girls go missing.

"I have noticed missing indigenous girls are not afforded the same courtesies — by the community, the media or the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS)."

"If I go missing and the WPS has not changed the behaviours I have brought to your attention, I beg of you, do not treat me as the indigenous person I am proud to be."

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CBC Aboriginal wants to know about an Indigenous woman who has made a difference in your life.

with files from CBC News