The Minister’s Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women has drawn on the expertise of many respected Indigenous women, and this year, it enhances its youth voice as part of its mandate to advise government on how to improve the quality of life for Indigenous women in B.C.
Twenty-two-year-old Raven Lacerte, who is Carrier from the Lake Babine Nation, has already made a name for herself in the area of women’s advocacy as co-founder of the Moose Hide Campaign. Since the campaign started in 2011, she’s been working with her father, Paul Lacerte, to encourage men to stand up against violence towards women and children. She’s excited about the opportunity to extend her skills by joining the advisory council as its youth representative.
“It’s a bit nerve-wracking to have the responsibility of being the youth voice in a room of women who have been role models for me, but it’s also an amazing opportunity that I was honoured to accept,” she said. “I’m a young, urban Indigenous woman but I’m also still really connected to my home community, so I hope to bring my own unique voice and perspective to the table. I’m also looking forward to learning as much as I can so that I can pass that knowledge on to my peers and to youth coming up behind me.”
In addition to her responsibilities with the Moose Hide Campaign and the Minister’s Advisory Council, Lacerte is preparing to start her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Victoria in September to add to the Diploma in Indigenous Studies from Camosun College she has already completed.
Another voice at the table is Sarah Robinson, a member of the Fort Nelson and Saulteau First Nations. She is a member of the council who also served as council secretariat in 2016. Robinson’s first exposure to public service came through the Government of B.C.’s Aboriginal Youth Internship Program in 2008.
“It was my first experience of engaging with government in a meaningful way,” she said. “I became really interested in the idea of building bridges and fostering better inclusion of Indigenous voices. Years later, I was excited to get the opportunity to join the council and link grassroots voices to government decision-makers and have those voices considered as policy is being shaped.”
Robinson feels that the existence of the council is an indication that Indigenous women’s voices are beginning to be heard.
“I love the fact that when the council speaks, government staff do listen. My mother went to residential school and for her daughter to sit on a government advisory council taking about important social policy matters, such as violence and gender-based analysis, shows how much things can change in one generation if we work together to make it happen.”
Women’s advocate and council chair Chastity Davis is thrilled to work with all the women on the council, especially the youth representative. “It’s really important that we hear a whole range of voices when we’re providing advice on the day-to-day issues that affect Indigenous women,” she said. “Having a strong youth voice energizes the council and provides important perspectives on the issues that matter to Indigenous youth and ultimately to all Indigenous women.”
The Minister's Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women (MACAW) was established in 2011 following the Collaboration to End Violence: National Aboriginal Women’s Forum, which was co-hosted by the Province of B.C. and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
Minister’s Advisory Council on Aboriginal Women: ow.ly/pROh30eg5OK