The Comox Valley chapter of the Council of Canadians had the special honour of awarding its annual Community Action Award to lead organizers of Walking With Our Sisters K’ómoks. Anne Davis, Ramona Johnson and Lee Everson received the award at the chapter’s annual potluck holiday dinner on Dec. 17 in recognition of “creative vision and leadership which has expanded and unified our community.”
The Walking With Our Sisters events, held in July and August on the traditional territory of the K’omoks First Nation, included a traditional welcome attended by all other nations, ceremonies and a commemorative art installation at the I-Hos Gallery that honoured and brought awareness to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Thanks to the dedication of families and volunteers across Canada through events like WWOS, the federal government recently announced it will launch a long-awaited national public inquiry.
The Council of Canadians has had the privilege of collaborating with many First Nations groups on environmental and social justice issues. The local manifestation of this important bridge-building between First Nations and non-native people in our community was present throughout the months leading up to Walking With Our Sisters, and it continues.
“The importance of our ongoing relationship as we work for climate and social justice cannot be underestimated,” says Linda Safford, Comox Valley Council of Canadians chapter member. “Respecting the inherent rights and title of the original caretakers of this land is the first principle mentioned in the LEAP manifesto,” a national call to action supported by many organizations including the Council of Canadians.
Organizing WWOS K’ómoks took three years. The memorial exhibit drew 4,431 visitors in addition to the many people who attended other events. “The enormous effort to bring the exhibit, to host so many welcoming events where First Nations traditions were shared, and to include over three hundred volunteers has forever changed those who were fortunate enough to be present,” says Safford. “We are very grateful.”
Walking With Our Sisters K’ómoks was nominated for the Community Action Award by Wayne Bradley and Janet Fairbanks of World Community, and Sally Gellard.
For further commentary, check out Brent Patterson’s blog.