Indigenous women tell their stories on International Women's Day
LONDON, ONT. -- It's International Women’s Day, a day to recognize the strength of women and their ability to break down barriers, and some local Indigenous women are doing just that.
Nineteen-year-old Sierra Jamieson was born and raised in London, Ont., and her people are from Oneida Nation of the Thames First Nation.
Jamieson said she experienced racism and bullying while attending schools across the region, for being the only Indigenous student in the classroom.
“I got bullied a lot, I was the only Indigenous person. Everyone kind of picked on me because I was different from anyone, dark brown hair, brown skin, dark eyes…I’m not a stereotype, we weren’t born stereotypes.”
Jamieson said she never felt truly accepted as an Indigenous women, a story all too familiar throughout history.
“It breaks my heart, especially since most of the Indigenous women I know have experienced sexual assault…we are 10 times more likely to become missing or murdered. I want to change how people view me as an indigenous woman.”
Originally from Delaware Nation - Moravian of the Thames First Nation, Tracey Whiteye works as a holistic practitioner and researcher.
She has helped Indigenous women work through trauma caused by colonization and residential schooling, and experienced much of the same stereotyping as Jamieson.
‘I had this belief system that I wasn’t good enough, that my skin wasn’t the right colour, there's no way I will amount to anything. Dealing with that and healing, and understanding I have a place, we all have the right to stand on mother earth and say you know what, I am proud of who I am today.”
Whiteye is currently working as a transition and ceremony coordinator at N'Amerind Friendship Centre in London.
Jamieson, who is propelling social change through her public speaking, is also interested in becoming a police officer.
She says her mission is to break the stereotype placed on Indigenous women and to create a better future for Indigenous youth, by showing that all dreams can be accomplished.
“You don’t have to live as a stereotype, that's not who you are, don’t let that be the reason why you don’t want to do things. People told me I could not be a cop because I am native…I want to prove a lot of people wrong.”