The doulas who comprise the group Konwati’shatstenhsherawi’s – Women Empowering Women were among those nominated for the KSCS International Women’s Day event. Courtesy Jody Jacobs
The parenting team at Kahnawake Shakotiia’takehnhas Community Services (KSCS) marked International Women’s Day with a special edition of Round Table Talk on Facebook Live.
“Our role is so important to carrying on our culture and our language and our traditions and the influence that we have on the lives of our children,” said parenting support worker Alana Atwin, one of the co-hosts.
“I think what we do should be celebrated every day, not just on March 8.”
She spoke with admiration of the mothers who have the courage to reach out for help to confront the adversities they face. Part of the event’s purpose was to highlight and celebrate them, she said.
The hosts also aimed to celebrate Kahnawa’kehró:non women in general.
“We’re constantly working for outside acknowledgment, whereas a matrilineal society, we always honour our women,” said Fran Beauvais, who recently began working at KSCS as a support worker.
She was asked to participate by the parenting team to share her cultural knowledge.
“Our women have always been at the forefront, and they have always been the leaders, way before colonization, thousands of years before,” said Beauvais. She noted the importance of restoring this awareness.
The talk was capped off with a draw for one of three $100 Shop Kahnawake gift certificates to go to women who have served as role models for the community members who nominated them.
“I’m very happy to have won, and of course, every day is International Women’s Day. The job of women must always be celebrated and held in high regard,” said Celia Deer, a member of a group of doulas known as Konwati’shatstenhsherawi’s – Women Empowering Women.
One of their own, Teiotsitsathe Lisa Peterson, nominated the group as a whole, leading to a run-off draw when they were picked.
“The doulas all do their work to support women,” said Peterson. “They lift them up, they bring them security, and advocate for them if they are unable. I thought that there was not a more deserving group of women to be honoured and acknowledged.”
The other winners were Tiffany Deer, who was nominated by Alexandra Cross, and Rosanne Norton, nominated by Shyann White.
“She is optimistic, patient, caring, and knowledgeable in our traditional ways,” said White of her aunt. “Always happy and smiling, willing to help others in need because that’s just the kind of person she is. She loves regardless of who loves her back. She has many qualities that make her a role model, and these are just a few that make her mine.”
The conversation could be emotional at times, Atwin said, but her mood lightened as she gave a shoutout to Kahnawa’kehró:non women using their creativity to sustain local businesses.
“You’re not going to make a million dollars by selling beadwork, but you’re supporting your family, and you’re carrying on the traditions, and you’re helping your community. You’re teaching your community,” Atwin said.
“Towards the end, we felt … excited. It makes me proud,” said Atwin.
“We’re proud to be from the community and see women working so hard to do what’s in the best interests of themselves and their families,” she said.
Marcus is managing editor of The Eastern Door, where he has been reporting since 2021 on issues that matter to Kahnawake and Kanesatake. He was previously editor-in-chief of The Link and a contributing editor at Our Canada magazine.