The first phase of a three-part program series designed for Indigenous women living in the Okanagan is scheduled to begin on April 8.
The free initiative aims to strengthen the participants’ Syilx-woman identities, voices and their relationship to the land.
Until Sept. 9, IndigenEYEZ will host 12 “Re-Centering Women Through 13 Moons” sessions — six online and six on the land. Each land-based session will see 10 women aged 14 and older attend, while an unlimited number of people are invited to participate in the online sessions.
“Because of the reality of the impacts of colonization and residential schools, the multigenerational trauma, the dislocation from our traditional roles and dislocation from land — all those impacts have been most severe on Indigenous women,” said Kelly Terbasket, co-founder and program director at IndigenEYEZ.
Terbasket, who is facilitating the four-hour-long land-based sessions alongside Anona Kampe, said that to strengthen Indigenous women is to strengthen Indigenous capacity.
“We’re reigniting; we’re strengthening the relationship with all our relationships. How do you do that? You have to get away from your everyday busy lives, get on the land, be still and silent, listen and feel,” said Terbasket.
The in-person sessions will include a pictograph hike near Skaha Lake, where Kampe will share her knowledge of landmarks, plants and medicines and Terbasket will lead interactive land-based activities.
“Not everybody knows our landmarks. We picked those ones to make sure that our own people know our landmarks, that we’re part of protecting them and making sure that there’s no further deterioration or disruption,” said Terbasket.
Many of the discussions out on the land, she continued, will revolve around healing, renewing and transformation. Discourse also includes exploring how colonization has impacted the traditional roles of Indigenous women.
She emphasized that the program’s definition of women is inclusive — those who are Two-Spirit, Indigiqueer, transgender or non-binary are invited to participate.
The six online sessions each have their own target audience: there’s an interactive workshop for youth and adults who are part of the LGBTQ2S+ community. There’s also a session on lullabies and stories in Nsyilxcen for women with babies and toddlers and a Nsyilxcen digital art lesson for youth.
“We’re strengthening our relationships across the ages, across the youth with the Elders,” said Terbasket. “A lot of those relationships have been disrupted, which is really detrimental to language and culture transfer.”
With phase two scheduled to occur on Sept. 23, she said that she hopes participants of the first phase walk away with a feeling of strengthened connection of themselves to each other and the land.
“Because of colonization, we have an imbalance of leadership. We’re mostly hearing from one part of our community, which is men and certain age brackets,” she said. “We really need to go back to our traditional models of governance, which is inclusive of feminine, masculine, youth and Elders.”