Native Women’s Struggles

The Native Women’s movement was initiated when Native women became aware that they were discriminated against by Canada’s Indian Act on the basis of race, gender and marital status.  The Indian Act is race legislation that defines who is an “Indian” and contains certain legal disabilities and legal rights for registered Indians.  It has been one of the most oppressive colonial instruments of the Canadian Government.

Before the Native peoples were colonized by the Europeans, Native communities were, for the most part, egalitarian; women actively participated in social, economical and political decision-makings in their daily lives.  In fact, as creators of life and the carriers of culture, they were central to the survival of their people.  Since colonization, Native women have suffered multiple oppressions including gender violence, racism and class oppression.  Until today, these oppressions are still relevant to the lives of Native women.

In the past decades, there are 520 known cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women however, the actual number could be much higher.  Based on a report issued by Amnesty International Canada, the horrific violence against Indigenous women in Canada is rooted in racism, class oppression and sexism, and the majority of the Canadians don’t seem to care about the missing or murdered Aboriginal women.  The mainstream media has paid very little attention to these crimes, in comparison to the crimes on white women.  In addition, the Government of Canada has not yet put any substantial efforts to eliminate the violence and discrimination against Indigenous women.

In solidarity with Native women’s struggles, IPSMO aims to raise awareness of and help the majority of the Canadians understand colonialism and patriarchy; the source of oppressions and the detrimental impacts of colonization on the existence of Native women and consequently the survival of their nations as a whole.  IPSMO will also support Native Women’s movements for liberation; self-determination for themselves and their people.

Past Events:

2008: In support of Walk4Justice, IPSMO organized two fundraising events – Movie Fundraiser- “Finding Dawn” and Good Vibrations- Music and Spoken Word Poetry by Native and non-Native artists. Walk4Justice is a group of brave women and men that left Vancouver, BC on June 21, 2008 and marched to Ottawa for September 15, 2008, to demand a response from Parliament Hill on the violence against Indigenous women.

May 31/June 1, 2010: Celebrate the Arrival of MARCHE AMUN / AMUN MARCH

Sept 16, 2009: The Epidemic of Continuing Violence Against Indigenous Women

August 2012:  First Voices! First Women Speak! teach-in and community gathering. There is summary of the event with videos and interesting links, and a reportback from discussion groups at the event.


  • Voice your concern to elected officials
  • Realize racism and sexism in Canadian society
  • Educate ourselves and others on institutional and systemic racism against Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women
  • Organize and/or attend anti-oppression workshops
  • Acknowledge our privileges and differences in power structure.  Use our privileges and power to empower Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women and youth to have their voices heard
  • Help raise awareness on the disproportionate number of missing or murdered Indigenous Women and the epidemic violence against Indigenous Women: “Young Indigenous women in Canada are at least five times more likely than all other women to die as a result of violence.”
  • Hold police and politicians accountable on the unsolved cases of missing or murdered Indigenous women, starting dialogues with the police and politicians in your regions and ask questions on why these missing or murdered Indigenous women are not getting the attentions they deserve.
  • Realize oppressions in the current political and economic systems and do our best not to contribute to these oppressions in our daily life
  • Understand the history of colonization, treaties and the oppression nature of Indian Act
  • Exercise our treaty rights as settlers to this land
  • Know our roles and responsibilities, educate Indigenous and non-Indigenous men on their responsibility to protect women and children



  • Audrey Huntley from the No More Silence Coalition speaks about political activism and the neglected and ignored issue of missing Aboriginal women in Canada, before screening her film on the issue, ‘The Heart Has Its Own Memory’. Part of Toronto’s Israeli Apartheid Week 2008.






  • Making Space for Indigenous Feminisms, edited by Joyce Green
  • Conquest by Andrea Smith
  • Strong Women Stories by Kim Anderson and Bonita Lawrence
  • Women in American Indian Society by Rayna Green
  • The Fourth World An Indigenous Perspective on Feminism and Aboriginal Women’s Activism by Grace J. M. W. Ouellette
  • Thunder in My Soul: A Mohawk Woman Speaks by Patricia Monture-Angus
  • Race, Space, and the Law Unmapping a White Settler Society edited by Sherene H. Razack

Related Issues:

  • Population Control, Sterilization and Reproductive Justice
  • Colonization and the Indian Act
  • Gender Violence and Sexual Violence
  • Residential Schools
  • Native Women and Environmental Destruction
  • Traditional Indigenous Healing Practices, Ceremonies
  • The History and Oppression of Two-Spirited People
  • Community-Based Justice Programs, Restorative Justice Programs, Sentencing Circle
  • Child Welfare System
  • Criminal Justice System
  • Cultural Revitalization
  • Poverty and Violence