Indigenous·Video

Indigenous feminism: what is it and what does the future hold?

Indigenous thinkers, artists, and scholars from across the country are in Winnipeg this week for the third annual symposium held by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. Three of them dropped by CBC Indigenous Thursday to talk about Indigenous feminism.

Panel talks about the fight for women's rights when it comes to their bodies, their children and the land

Lenard Monkman with Tasha Spillett, Karen Recollet and Adrienne Huard. (CBC)

One of Tasha Spillett's earliest memories is of being pulled on a sled by her mother to join a protest at the Manitoba Legislature. It's a tradition that she hopes to one day continue.

Spillett, along with other panellists, dropped by CBC Indigenous Thursday to talk about Indigenous feminism and what it means to her.

"It's an affirmation that Indigenous women have always had inherent sovereignty over our bodies over our spirits and land bases," said Spillett.

Educator Tasha Spillett says Indigenous feminism 'honours our relationship with the land.' (submitted)

"[Indigenous feminism] honours our relationship with the land, our kinship relationships with the animals, and the water." 

Spillett, who is a PhD student at the University of Saskatchewan, said she recognizes that some reject the term Indigenous feminism outright, but said it encompasses the struggle that Indigenous women face in North America.

"[Indigenous women] are intrinsic to the reconnecting of our families, ending the abduction of our children from the custody of the child welfare system," said Spillett.

"So that's the goal of Indigenous feminism: protecting our land and waters, and putting our families back together again."

Futures symposium

Indigenous thinkers, artists, and scholars from across the country are in Winnipeg this week for the third annual symposium held by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures.

The CBC Indigenous panel on Indigenous feminism was inspired by the Indigefem discussion taking place Friday morning at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Karyn Recollet, a University of Toronto associate professor in women and gender studies, travelled to Winnipeg for the symposium.

She hopes that conversations on feminism spark a better understanding in Indigenous communities.

Karyn Recollet, an associate professor of women and gender studies at U of T, says it's important to nurture spaces where people can talk about issues affecting women without fear. (Karyn Recollet)

"For me, Indigenous feminism, has always and will always maintain that integrity towards the love of Indigenous lives and lands," said Recollet.

Recollet was a part of the Sixties Scoop and didn't connect with her Cree family till she was an adult.

She talked about backlash that Indigenous women face when talking about things like patriarchy and misogyny within the Indigenous community.

"How do we talk about the repair of our bodies, our communities, our aunties and sisters?" asked Recollet.

"How do we nurture these spaces where we can talk about these things without feeling afraid to discuss them?"

She has researched and written on a young, but growing scholarly work known as Indigenous futurisms, the focus of which is to imagine what the future of Indigenous peoples holds.

For Recollet, that means dreaming of radical love and radical hope for her future descendants.

About the Author

Lenard Monkman

Lenard Monkman is Anishinaabe from Lake Manitoba First Nation, Treaty 2 territory. He is the co-founder of Red Rising Magazine and has been an associate producer with the CBC's Indigenous unit for three years. Follow him on Twitter: @Lenardmonkman1