Unreserved

Unreserved: Radio Indigenous on CBC Radio One, Sept. 6

Iskwe means woman in the Cree language and it seems this is the year of iskwe. On this week's show we celebrate indigenous women who are breaking barriers and making new trails.
Ashley Burnham of Canada reacts as she wins the "Mrs Universe 2015" contest in Minsk, Belarus, on Saturday. (REUTERS)

Iskwe means woman in the Cree language and it seems this is the year of iskwe. On Unreserved this week we celebrate indigenous women who are breaking barriers and making new trails.

Ashley Callingbull from Enoch Cree Nation in Alberta made history on August 30. For one, she was the first First Nations woman to win the title of Mrs. Universe — a beauty pageant for married women.  And secondly, she told the entire universe exactly what she thought of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

In the same week, former CBC journalist Sheila North-Wilson was elected as the grand chief of a provincial chiefs organization. The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakinak represents northern First Nations. It's the first time a woman has been elected as MKO grand Chief.

(Thoshography)
Rachelle Whitewind didn't see indigenous role models on TV when she was growing up. She also didn't see them in her own home. Rachelle was adopted out as an infant into a non-indigenous family.  

But now Rachelle, who is Cree and Ojibway, is a role model herself.  She has a recurring role in the TV series Mohawk Girls. She is also the host and creator of a new show premiering on APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network) called Dream Big. The show pairs indigenous youth with a mentor to explore their dream careers.

Tasha Beeds resides in the Mississauga Territory of the Anishinabe Nation also known as Peterborough, Ontario. The Cree and Métis Ph.D student in Indigenous Studies at Trent University says she finds ceremony in walking.

Over the last few years, Tasha has joined in water walks and has put in over 850 kilometres. On a recent walk, she joined a group carrying water from the Atlantic Ocean in a lidless container. Think of it kind of like a relay, where the task is shared amongst a group of walkers. In this case the walk began in Matane, Quebec and ended at Madeline Island, Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, Kinnie Starr uses her voice to speak up on water issues, in collaboration with the Haidawood Collective.

It's common for one suicide to trigger another in Arctic communities, says Susan Aglukark. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)
Arctic Rose Susan Aglukark is speaking up against suicide in Canada's far north. The number of suicides is at crisis levels. In Nunavut, a record 45 people took their own lives in 2013, prompting that territory's coroner to announce an inquest into the epidemic. The territory has had a suicide prevention strategy in place since 2010 and the issue has been the subject of multiple studies.

But Aglukark says more must be done to save lives. She recently launched a social media campaign called #ArcticRoseWarCry as a way to speak out against suicide, and raise awareness — especially among young people.

This week's playlist:
Iskwé sings about missing and murdered indigenous women in her latest single "Nobody Knows." (Supplied)

Iskwé - Nobody Knows

Lightning Cloud - Meet Me at the Powwow

Kinnie Starr - Save our Waters

Susan Aglukark - Hina Na Ho