Manitoba Ojibwa activist Joan Jack rides Harley across Canada for Indigenous women
B.C. lawyer takes part in Road to Niagara campaign on Thursday
A Manitoba Ojibway activist is hitting the road on her Harley to bring awareness to misogyny in the Indian Act and to inspire Indigenous women to be political leaders.
Joan Jack travelled from her home in British Columbia to her home province of Manitoba to take part in Road to Niagara.
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is leading a ride that starts in Winnipeg on Thursday. It aims to raise awareness of the spirit and intent of treaties as First Nations seek to return to a nation-to-nation relationship with the federal government.
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Jack said she will stop in communities along the way and try to empower women to be leaders.
"Many of the communities are still stuck in chauvinistic views of a woman's place and a woman's role and I'm just here to say that's just BS," she said.
Jack, a retired lawyer who ran for the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations in 2012, said part of the problem is the Indian Act. She calls the act one of the original sources of misogyny against Indigenous women in Canada.
The key to empowering women to be leaders in their communities is providing more resources on reserves, Jack said.
"Most First Nations reserves have no resources to deal with male violence against women. There are no safe houses, there are no trained people.… We need to have human rights training. Most oppression is born out of ignorance, not intent," she said.
"Most people are malicious and selfish and self-interested because they haven't had the ah-ha moment, and then once they have that moment, whether they're a man or a woman, they go, 'Oh my God, I'm just not going to be like that anymore.' We need to create those kinds of opportunities in our communities."
Jack's 25-year-old daughter and two of her daughter's friends are along for the ride.
"Their lives will never be the same again," she said. "Hopefully they're going to have personal political awakenings. Everywhere we stop, I don't know who we're going to touch. When one person wakes up, how many more do they wake up?"
Nadine McDougall is also riding. She was part of the motorcycle ride three years ago to raise awareness of treaty rights.
"The message we carried across the country at that time and the ceremony we had along the road, it was beautiful. It was beautiful just seeing our community coming together," she said. "I want to be a part of that again."
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak said he will meet with federal cabinet ministers in Niagara during the annual meeting of the Assembly of First Nations to talk about treaty relationships.
"We need to wake up from some of the false myths and narratives we've been carrying with respect to the Indian Act and really focus in on what a treaty-based relationship is all about," he said.