Woman Warriors Newsletter

Women Warriors Podcast Lisa Graham on Missing Persons, Ambiguous Loss & Saving Lives

Women Warriors Podcast

Lisa Graham is the Provincial Coordinator for Justice and Solicitor General Victim Services, Government of Alberta. She is tasked with identifying and filling the gaps in services for families who are suffering through having a loved one who is missing, including making services available in a culturally safe way to all. Lisa’s sister, who is First Nations, went missing in 1999 and against all the odds was found alive in 2015. Lisa’s lived experience has informed all the professional decisions she has made for herself throughout her career. Before moving to Alberta to work with families of missing persons she spent eleven years as a Coroner conducting death investigations in Vancouver and had the honour of walking beside families through some of the hardest days of their lives.

You can listen to the episode here.

On today’s episode Lisa shares:

  • Her role as the Provincial Coordinator, Missing Persons & Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Initiative, Justice & Solicitor General, Government of Alberta.
  • Common myths of missing persons.
  • Social media post breaking myths of murdered and missing Indigenous women.
  • Her personal experience of her older sister going missing in October 1999.
  • How her sister becoming a missing person altered her career path.
  • Becoming a coroner in British Colombia so she could locate her sister.
  • Her experience with ambiguous loss and how to process it.
  • The history of ambiguous loss pioneered by Dr. Pauline Boss.
  • Her advice for people experiencing ambiguous loss and for friends and family supporting those going through this journey.
  • Her reunion with her sister in 2015. Learning that her sister had been taken against her will.
  • How to support people that have been through extreme trauma.
  • The Safer Community Initiatives.
  • Creating the free Aware 360 phone app.
  • Response center located on Gitxsan First Nation– Indigenous women volunteers answering emergency calls.
  • Email Lisa to be registered for the Aware 360 app. Email: Lisa. Graham@gov.ab.ca
  • Family Information Liaison Unit, Department of Justice, Government of Canada (Canada wide).
  • Alberta Family Information Liaison Unit– provides emotional and culturally relevant supports. Phone: (780) 643-9092 or the Government of Alberta’s toll-free service at 310-0000.
  • Contact Lisa for presentations in your community. Phone: (780) 644-5733 or email: Lisa.Graham@gov.ab.ca
  • Gathering for families of MMIP Feb 28th-Mar 2nd2019 in Calgary. Lead organizer Elizabeth Fry Society Calgary.

Please share this episode on social media using the following:

Women Warriors Podcast: Lisa Graham on Missing Persons, Ambiguous Loss & Saving Lives with the Aware 360 App. #MYActionsMatter #16DaysofAction #EndGBV #EndViolence

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women is about remembering victims; it is also a time to take action. Listen as guest Lisa Graham shares a free app to download to keep you safe. #December6 #WeRemember #MYActionsMatter

The Family Information Liaison Unit offers connections to counselling, spiritual support and Elders for those people missing a loved one. Learn more it on the Women Warriors podcast. #GBVStrategy #EndViolence #EndGBV

Women Warriors Podcast: Learn about the Safer Communities Initiative – Everyone has a right to be protected wherever they are! Download the free Aware360 app on any smartphone. #Safety #MyActionsMatter #16DaysofAction #EndViolence #December6

Calgary Women Warriors Graduates April-May 2018 Graduates

Calgary Women Warriors dates and locations are as follows:

Tuesday nights – Jan 8 – Mar 5th

Village Square Leisure Centre
2623 56 St. NE

Thursday evenings – Jan. 10 – Mar. 7th

Forest Lawn Activity Centre (behind Bob Bahan Aquatic and Fitness Centre)
4812 14 Ave SE

To register: Joleen (403) 366-3994.

Onion Lake Cree Nation dates and locations are as follows:

Tuesday nights – Jan 15th – April 9th 

Kihew Waciston Gym
Onion Lake Cree Nation

To register: Alicia (780) 870-0773

CBC Radio One Link

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women

Today, December 6th marks nearly 30 years since 13 female students and a female administrator at l’École Polytechnique de Montréal were murdered because they were women. The Status of Women Canada website states that December 6th, “represents an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on the fact that women in Canada, and around the world, continue to face disproportionate levels of violence each and every day.”

I have made a daily effort to post on social media about the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, which started on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25 and ends on International Human Rights Day on December 10.

When CBC reporter, Nichole Huck pre-interviewed me for the Blue Sky radio show she asked, “What are some barriers to Indigenous women getting healthy?”

I responded, “Violence.”

When I started facilitating Women Warriors summer of 2015 I was naive about the amount of daily violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and how it manifested in their health.

Three years later – many first-hand accounts of violence – and my answer to improving Indigenous women’s health is advocating for gender-based violence awareness and prevention.

Why is gender-based violence a public health issue? Please read this interviewwith the University of Alberta, assistant professor Dr. Stephanie Montesanti.

Women who suffer violence are more likely to experience:

  • Injuries,
  • self-harm,
  • fatal outcomes like homicide or suicide,
  • depression, post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety disorders,
  • unwanted pregnancies,
  • miscarriage, stillbirth, pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies,
  • alcohol, drug or tobacco misuse, and
  • sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV.

The gender-based violence statistics for Indigenous women include:

  • 1,017 women and girls identified as Indigenous were murdered between 1980 and 2012.
  • 4.5 times higher: the murder rate of Indigenous women compared to other women in Canada.
  •  Indigenous women are almost 3.5 times more likely than non-Indigenous women to report experiences of intimate partner violence.

Monthly, I receive either Women Warriors facebook messages or emails from Indigenous women that are experiencing violence. I think the reason they contact me is that I’m a visible advocate for Indigenous women and I exist outside of institutions. I always clarify that I am not a professional counselor or social worker, or connected to Victim Services or any type of human rights organization, yet they keep writing.

I’ve become very efficient at directing women to online resources. And to directing them to community resources – if they exist, which in many rural and First Nation communities there is nothing. Or sometimes they refuse to access mental health supports or visit the health clinic because of stigma and worries about being related to the health professionals on reserve.

It is apparent to me, as a Metis woman in rural Alberta that has been at the grassroots level of health promotions for three years, and fielding messages from Indigenous women across Western Canada that there is a lack of culturally relevant supports and services for Indigenous women.

For now, while I finish my BA degree and hone my research skills, I hold space for these stories because sometimes all these women need is for someone to listen. I recognize my value as a  woman that is a stranger that lives outside of their community. I also know that reading these stories makes me a better human being, a more compassionate advocate, and a highly motivated university student. I know that my power as an advocate for Indigenous women comes with my credentials.

This past month I reviewed and edited an Indigenous mother’s #MeToo submission for a writer’s call focusing on Indigenous women’s stories. Her story was heartbreaking – full of gender-based violence, and sexual assault –  as so many of the women that contact me are. But the end of her story was full of healing and hope. She wants to help other women heal and be a good role model for youth.

I would like to recommend her to all of you for speaking engagements and cultural teachings. Her name is LaBrea Harris and you can find her bio and contact information below.

On this day take ACTION to end violence against women. I have provided two resources – the podcast interview with Lisa Graham and information for guest speaker, LaBrea Harris. Tell every single woman you know about the Aware360 app – it could save their lives. Be part of the action to end gender-based violence by inviting women that have experienced it into your community and listening to their stories.

LaBrea Harris does speaking engagements revolved around domestic violence, being a survivor of sexual abuse and childhood trauma, cultural teachings and empowering youth.

LaBrea Harris is an aspiring Aboriginal artist from Thunderchild First Nation, Saskatchewan. She is one of the lead singers and composers of her family’s Women hand drum group “Dowkesiko” (their first CD was released in June of 2014). Her songs consist of traditional and modern round dance and healing songs. She loves to sew and finds it therapeutic. Her hobby consists of beading, sewing traditional regalia, ribbon skirts and ribbon shirts (just to name a few). She participates in cultural events throughout the year, and spends her summer taking her family to various traditional gatherings.

She is currently in the Child and Youth Care Diploma Program at Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alberta. She has completed her addictions training through the Nechi Institute in St. Albert, Alberta. She also has completed her training as a life coach from the Certified Coaches Federation.
LaBrea has volunteered to work with youth, where she helped guide and mentor them through traditional singing and drumming. She has been a guest speaker, representing the youth at round dances in Saskatchewan and was invited to speak against Domestic Violence at a gala in the city of Edmonton Alberta.

Her presentations integrate the teachings she received from mentors, elders and through her life experience. Her goal is to motivate and inspire youth to change direction, regarding healthy choices and lifestyle by creating awareness and implement positive outcomes.

LaBrea is on her healing journey and maintains her sobriety through spiritual holistic healing and healthy lifestyle choices. She has presented on issues such as bullying awareness, self-esteem, domestic violence and Aboriginal based teachings that include mental health utilizing the medicine wheel. The heart of the workshops presented includes traditional drumming and singing, where she sings with her partner pow wow, round dance and healing songs.

Contact LaBrea through email: Harrisl12.lh@gmail.com Phone: (780) 920-0767.