On Monday, February 26, 2018, Sioux Valley Dakota Nation was proud to host three wonderful people to our community to speak with our community about some touchy topics. Rachel Willan, Mathew Willan and Alaya McIvor were here to speak about Domestic Violence, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and Human Trafficking.
Rachel Willan is a 42-year-old Indigenous happily married woman, mother of 7 beautiful children and has been a survivor of the child welfare system since the age of 2. Rachel became a ward of CFS at age 4, was raised in 53 placements, including lockups, and is a survivor of sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Rachel moved her victimization into positivizes with her role as a survivor champion. 12 years ago, Rachel cleaned up her life and started breakdown the barriers and removing the stigma attached to sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Rachel now considers herself as a warrior woman whom shares her story of resiliency and has graduated the First Nations Child & Family Service Worker program with Yellow Quill Collage and works tirelessly in the front lines helping marginalized folk navigate the systems of oppression and helps people identify their gifts and strengths.
Matthew Willan is a 38-year-old indigenous father of 4 whom at one point in his life was gang affiliated at an early age and was in the care of the state of Canada’s child welfare system. Matthew is a survivor of child sexual abuse and has turned his life around. Matthew shares his resiliency of overcoming these challenges in his life and is now helping vulnerable youth he works with as an action therapist & community support mentor.
Alaya McIvor is a 34-year-old Trans Indigenous Women from Treaty One Territory in Manitoba. She originates from the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, a Northern community 190 Kilometers Northwest on Lake Manitoba shore lines. She currently resides in Winnipeg. Alaya is a strong Indigenous woman in her determination and lived experience to advocate for Indigenous women, children and exploited persons. She is survivor of the Canadian child welfare system where she became vulnerable and victim to being sexually exploited and human trafficked throughout Canada. Alaya’s strong will supported her survival. She now uses her story and voice to educate and inform people on these realities, risks and how to make changes. She uses her voice, strength and resiliency to create change. Alaya is a strong champion and strives on building up survivors and empowering others. She works with many community organizations supporting their initiatives and has been instrumental in developing many new initiatives surrounding the exploitation of vulnerable peoples. Some initiatives Alaya has been involved with include Tracia’s Trust: Manitoba’s Sexual Exploitation Strategy in partnership with the Province of Manitoba, Buying Sex is not a Sport, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Our Circle to Protect Sacred Lives on Human Trafficking & Sexual Exploitation, and other community organizations which work with survivors and vulnerable peoples. In addition to speaking on ending violence against women, Alaya uses her knowledge and lived experience to promote system change. She currently sits on various boards including, The Indigenous Advisory Council on Policing Crime Prevention for the Winnipeg Police Board, CAAN Trans National Project, The 595 Prevention Team. She is currently employed within the community. Alaya continue to develop survivor peer lead programming for marginalized youth and adults in her goal to champion change. Alaya is a strong survivor advocate and activist in the areas of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and issues surrounding MMIWG. Her passion in speaking on the realities of vulnerabilities and promoting systemic and individual change allows her to be acknowledged as a leader among her peers and was recently identified as 1 of 150 leaders with Status of Women Canada.
Upon completion of their presentations, SVDN Councillor Elton Taylor spoke with those in attendance about how modern technology, combined with social media can be used to target our youth. He gave some valuable information about the use of apps such as Facebook and Snapchat, and how they are used against our youth, our women and our girls. He spoke about how social media can be used as a tool in the right hands, but as a weapon in the wrong hands. He encouraged all in attendance to get to know how social media operates and to keep a close eye on how youth in our families make use of them as well.
After completion of all presentations, Rachel, Mathew and Alaya were treated to an up close and personal tour of the buffalo compound by Koda Tacan, as well as hearing the story of the White Buffalo Calf Woman. SVDN Councillor Tony Tacan then gave them a history of the Dakota people and the importance of the buffalo. When hearing the statistical odds of having one White Buffalo, they were shocked to see that Sioux Valley proudly has three.
Below are some links that may be of some interest: