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Taking the power back: Native women organize

The Story

Inspired in part by a resurgent native rights movement, native women across Canada are beginning to reclaim power in their communities, and are lobbying the government for equal rights. The second half of this episode of Our Native Land profiles native women building political organizations and community programs in the 1970s. The show's first half has news from "our native land" and stories on the police shooting of Calvin George from Grand Belt, Sask. and the 6th annual meeting of the National Indian Brotherhood.

Medium: Radio
Program: Our Native Land
Broadcast Date: Aug. 30, 1975
Guests: Vern Belcourt, Leona Blondo, Joceyln Briare, Harold Cardinal, Bertha Clark, Jeanette Corbiere Lavell, Harry Daniels, Tom Dignan, Claudine van Every-Albert, Lawrence Francis, Dave Hekinew, George Manuel, Jenny Margetts, Helen Martin, Edith McCloud, William Sunday, Laura Theeverbill, Margaret Thomson, James Washee
Announcer: Lloyd Henderson
Host: Johnny Yesno
Duration: 42:58
Photo: Jenny Margetts (left) of Edmonton, and Monica Turner of Geraldton, Ontario, co-spokespersons for an Indian Rights for Indian Women's group, speak to reporters in front of the Parliament Buildings on February 21, 1973, protesting what they consider the Indian Act's discrimination against women. (Canadian Press Photo/Bill Brennan)

Did You know?

Many of the women interviewed in this clip dedicated their lives to bettering conditions for native women in Canada, including:

• Bertha Clark, founder of the Alberta Native Women's Voice, which became the Native Women's Association of Canada in 1974. Clark, a Métis woman, served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, and was NWAC's first president. She was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation in 2007 and made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2008.

• Bertha Allen also served as president of NWAC and received a lifetime achievement award from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. From the Gwich'in First Nation in the Yukon, Allen has worked to advance equality and health for aboriginal and northern women throughout her life. "I come from a long line of leaders. I was raised by my grandparents, and my grandfather was a traditional chief. It was instilled in me as a young woman that I was to take that role on," Allen said in a Windspeaker interview.

• After suffering tuberculosis as a child, Jean Goodwill became the first aboriginal nursing graduate in Canada. Born in Saskatchewan, Goodwill helped found the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada, where she served as president for seven years. Goodwill moved to politics, promoting native women's health issues. She too was named an officer of the Order of Canada (1992) and was awarded a national excellence award by the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (1994).

• Jenny Margetts became president of Indian Rights for Indian Women. She was elected vice-president of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women in 1978, and together with activist Mary Two-Axe Earley, was instrumental in winning equal status for native women under the Indian Act.


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