The Series of Four started when Anita Large became independently active as part of the Idle No More movement and started writing to local MP Dan Albas regarding Bill C-45 and the upcoming Bills. Dan Albas response to Anita was an invitation to meet with him. Anita invited others on Facebook to join her in the meeting with Dan Albas, a few women accepted and discussion began around Anita's kitchen table over tea about the meeting and the Idle No More movement. As part of these discussions Anita tossed out an idea she had about providing a comfortable venue and send an open invitation to Non-Aboriginals to discuss the movement and why all Canadians should care. The idea was to increase understanding.
About the First Nations Women
Anita Large is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt and niece from Saddle Lake Cree Nation. She holds a BA in International Studies with a minor in Sociology from the University of Saskatchewan, she also studied Native Studies at the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College (now known as First Nations University). In addition, she holds a certificate in Book Publishing from Simon Fraser University, and a certificate in Executive Management from, Queen's University. Anita spent a number of years abroad, in France, India, Gautemala and Ecuador.
Her past experience has included working for the Royal Bank of Canada, SaskTel, Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatoon Tribal Council, Saddle Lake Personnel office, Indigenous 2000 project (in Ecuador), Indigenation’s Website, Aboriginal Human Resource Council, Visions Marketing, the Aboriginal Youth Network, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative (CUAI) and former Publisher of Theytus Books. She was a board member of the Calgary Aboriginal Arts Awareness Society and sat on the National Aboriginal Cultural Products Advisory Committee (Department of Canadian Heritage) that reviewed cultural processes, protocols and authenticity of Aboriginal cultural products.
Anita currently owns her own freelance consulting business working with book publishers and First Nations, and works part-time as the Marketing Assistant at Penticton Whole Foods Market.
Kym Gouchie is a Carrier, Cree, Shuswap and English/Irish woman and a proud member of the Lheidli T'enneh Nation, the place where two rivers meet, in the northern interior of British Columbia. She is a mother of four, and a grandmother to three little grandchildren. She states, "I am surrounded with the richness of the arts and culture of my beautiful people. Music and family are at the heart of my circle. I have been blessed with the gifts of singing and painting, these gifts have become my saving grace... a channel in which to heal and grow. I believe in the power of the mind and the sacredness of words spoken. Each and everyday I give thanks for my life and rejoice in the journey that brought me here. I enjoy the outdoors, walking, yoga, good films, healthy food, dark chocolate, listening to all kinds of music and spending time with my loved ones. I feel very blessed and look forward to this new journey as my life transitions into the next phase and a brand new year."
Ellen Simmons is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt and niece and is Cree from Saskatchewan. Ellen holds a BSc from the University of British Columbia. Ellen formerly worked with Forrex (Forum for Research and Exchange in Natural Resources) as an Indigenous knowledge extension specialist with a focus on habitat enhancement and restoration. She is also a biology teacher with the En’owkin Center, using an integrative approach to science from Indigenous and western views. Ellen is the biologist at ECOmmunity Place. Her interests include boreal forest fauna, silviculture, restoration, and Traditional Ecological Knowledge. In addition she sits on the board of the Okanagan Similkameen Conservation Alliance.
Suzanne Johnson is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt and niece. Suzanne holds a BSc from the University of British Columbia, she is a Registered Dietitian from the Penticton Indian Band. She has been working in First Nations health for over 15 years in the areas of health promotion (nutrition and physical activity) as well as diabetes education. Now, a mother to a toddler, she is venuring into the areas of early childhood health and healthy school promotion working both with First Nations Inuit Health and three band affiliated schools in the South Okanagan. Suzanne enjoys keeping well by gardening and gathering her own foods, hiking and being out on the land with her family and friends as often as things like work schedules allow and encouraging and supporting others to live healthier lives. Suzanne is also a board member of The Aboriginal Physical Activity and Cultural Circle.
Elaine Alec is a wife, mother, sister, daughter, aunt and niece from the Penticton Indian Band. Elaine is deeply committed to enhancing health and wellness in aboriginal communities and developing close relationships with individuals so that they can take ownership of their health.
She has a strong background in program delivery, believes in meaningful engagement and understand the factors that affect aboriginal health. She understands the strength-based approach to holistic health and healing and the sensitive history of Aboriginal people that has contributed to their detriment and believe the promotion of healthy living increases the amount of healthy Aboriginal individuals we have in our communities.
She has experience creating community engagement strategies, conference planning and coordination and community, youth and elder engagement. Elaine studied English and Philosophy at Idaho State University and has worked at Province of BC Ministry of Health, Penticton Indian Band Comprehensive Community Planning project, she currently owns her own consulting company and co-owns and manages K.A.S.P. Entertainment.
She believes her life purpose is to gather and share the knowledge of her ancestors to promote healing for the mind, body and spirit. Using the stories of her ancestors to create a healthier space for all relations.
Rhonda Stevenson was born in Vancouver BC, and raised traditionally off the land in the small Cree/Dene community of Smiths Landing, Alberta. Rhonda is a graduate of the Enowkin Centre's National Aboriginal Professional Artists Training Program with a certificate in Indigenous Fine Arts through partnership with UVic. With writing and media her main focus, she also worked with the Indigenous Arts Service Organization in 2006 as an assistant coordinator to bring culture back through all genres of art to remote First Nations communities in British Columbia. Working closely with smaller communities has sparked a desire for Stevenson in educating the public on the culture of First Nations. Stevenson also has had experience in working closely with a team in coordinating Penticton Peachfests Aboriginal Cultural Village. Her latest project was a stage manager for a one act play called Panels in which she held a successful audience talk about the on going effects of residential school residue.