VIDEO: Sun shines on Duncan’s 2019 International Women’s Day events

Debra Toporowski welcomes everyone to International Women’s Day celebrations at Charles Hoey Park. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Visitors from the northern end of the Island visit with Cowichan Elder Dora Wilson. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
A crowd gathered for International Women’s Day enjoys the many speakers. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Cowichan Elder Dora Wilson offers some wise words to the people attending International Women’s Day events in Duncan March 9. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Cowichan Tribes and North Cowichan councillor Debra Toporowski begins to share a story with the crowd. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
One of a group of Kwakiutl Youth visitors, just back from the visit to the United Nations, talks to the crowd at International Women’s Day in Duncan. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Farmer and author, Katy Erlich, talks about her experiences at Charles Hoey Park March 9. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Katy Erlich, farmer, cook, and activist, talks about the importance of encouraging women to go into agriculture. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Kiara Child, Natalya Child, and Talia Child, wearing beautiful Kwakiutl regalia, talk about their visit to the United Nations recently and then urge young people to take the opportunities that are there, if you look for them. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
MP Alistair MacGregor speaks about women’s issues and then introduces his friend, Katy Erlich, to the stage. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
To the beat of a single drum, Cowichan Tribes Councillors Dora Wilson and Debra Toporowski to the stage at Charles Hoey Park. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)
Cherene Palmer from the Nanaimo, Duncan & District Labour Council talks about ongoing education to help women stand up for themselves. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Amid inspiring, surprising, and even shocking stories, International Women’s Day celebrations in Duncan continued on March 9, following the One Billion Rising event the day before.

At Charles Hoey Park, where Saturday’s events were held, there was a strong emphasis on First Nations Women this year.

Debra Toporowski, a councillor from both Cowichan Tribes and the Municipality of North Cowichan, welcomed everyone and then shared for the first time publicly a story about discovering a certificate dating from 1966 at her mother’s house.

It announced that her mother now had the right to vote in Canada and was no longer “an Indian” as far as the government of Canada was concerned. Because she had married a non-Native, she had to sacrifice her status in order to be able to vote.

A clearly emotional Toporowski said she had felt sickened when she had first read it, and was glad that subsequent government action in the 1980s restored her mother’s birthright.

Cowichan Tribes Elder Dora Wilson welcomed everyone to the event, and shared some wise words with the crowd, including the need to share what you know and to take care of yourself.

“Pat yourself on the back once in a while to give yourself that encouragement that you deserve,” she said.

Three Kwakiutl girls from Port Hardy, Kiara, Natalia, and Talia Child, took the stage wearing traditional regalia, and explained that being young First Nations women carries the responsibility of providing a good example. They also talked about how excited they had been to visit the United Nations recently as part of The Year of Aboriginal Languages celebrations.

Former Women’s Institute Farm Woman of the Year Katy Erlich urged the crowd to try to help more women get into agriculture, and Cherene Palmer from the Nanaimo-Duncan & District Labour Council said that there is still more education needed so women can take their proper place in Canada’s workforce.

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