Honouring all First Nations women on International Women's Day



Artwork by Melanie Rivers, Tiyaltelwet,​ Squamish First Nation


A message from Dr. Nel Wieman, FNHA Chief Medical Officer; and Dr. Unjali Malhotra, Medical Officer, Women's Health​​

​​​​​On International Women's Day, the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) would like to express our deepest respect and gratitude for First Nations women – and remind everyone to celebrate the First Nations women in your life!

We want to take this opportunity to honour and uplift First Nations matriarchs, mothers, aunties, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. They are the amazing women who inspire us as we move forward on our individual and collective health and wellness journeys. 

We feel privileged to work with many amazing First Nations women at the FNHA and through our partnerships with First Nations communities and organizations. These individuals bring their unique gifts, strengths, knowledge and expertise to the FNHA's work of serving First Nations people in BC towards fostering a culturally safe health care system.

Let's reflect on and celebrate the many different kinds of successes, achievements and contributions First Nations women have made, and continue to make, every day! Some of you are community and organization leaders, others are running your own businesses. Some are raising families and/or teaching the next generation First Nations history, languages or other traditional skills and knowledge. All of you, in your own way, are inspirational First Nations women.

Whatever you are doing, please know that you are appreciated and valued! We hope you are feeling the love and wearing your big and beautiful beaded earrings, ribbon skirts, or other Indigenous-made adornments and clothing with pride! We certainly love to wear ours!

Let's also reflect on the fact that despite all the injustices and obstacles created by colonialism, First Nations women are maintaining – or rising up and reclaiming – their traditionally held places of honour, respect, and leadership within families and communities. As life-givers, matriarchs, keepers and caretakers of life, knowledge, culture and language, protectors of land/water/resources, traditional healers, nurturers, food/medicine harvesters, artists, activists, and cycle-breakers, First Nations women are sacred, and should be upheld, respected and supported every day – not just on International Women's Day. Honouring, respecting, and protecting First Nations women is one significant way to promote balance, wholistic health and well-being in our communities.

As the Heiltsuk Women's Declaration in the FNHA's Sacred and Strong Report about the health and wellness journeys of First Nations women in BC states, “We are the mothers who give birth to our Nation. We are the mothers who bring future generations into being. We are the lifeblood of our people. We are the grandmothers and mothers and daughters, the aunties and nieces, the sisters of our Nation. We make our Nation rich. We come from the matriarchy and our womanhood is a blessing."

And as Squamish First Nation member Melanie Rivers writes in the same report, “To all First Nations women and girls. All of you. You are beautiful. You are loved. You are resilient […] May you be safe. May you be loved. May you love yourself. May you be healthy. May you feel strong. May you find your roots and feel grounded, connected and supported."

Memoriam to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

On International Women's Day, the FNHA somberly acknowledges and mourns the thousands of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Each one of them was a precious, valuable soul. Here is the FNHA's most recent statement about the MMIWG.

For more information, please visit the following links:

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