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Each woman’s voice carries an individual experience that is a critical piece of the global message

Each woman’s voice carries an individual experience that is a critical piece of the global message

I was raised on a small farm in Ontario Canada along with nine other sisters and three brothers. Our family was very hardworking and lived a life largely governed by seasonal tasks assigned to particular times of the year. My father was an amazing man, steeped in a strong work ethic and sure in the knowledge it was his responsibility to provide for his family and if it was needed help out when others struggled. Self-reliance and personal responsibility were the two key qualities he admired the most, personality traits I felt the least able to meet.

My mother appeared to be the direct antithesis of my dad. In my mind, she was dark, dangerous and vicious. A tyrant who wielded her rage precisely, like scythe, stripping a ripe field of its harvest leaving behind heap of useless chaff. A person I loved, but feared absolutely. Her persistent, soul-stripping characterizations combined with sexual abuse I suffered at the hands of relatives drove me into a world of silence. Invisibility and staying quiet were the keys to survival.

It was against that backdrop that as a young girl I left my community and family and hitchhiked to Canada’s Northwest Territories with the unrealistic expectation I could escape my childhood. I was homeless, unemployed, immobilized by fear, inappropriate and erratic in my behaviour and suicidal. I was extremely needy and latched onto any person that showed me kindness entirely reliant on them for my very existence. It was in this community I connected with women who had faced similar experiences, although as First Nations and Inuit women theirs was rooted in the devastating impact of colonization and systemic violence that continues today.

The connection turned into a 30-year journey of mutual growth and recovery. We found our voices together, one helping the other to speak out against oppression and human rights violations we saw around us everyday, particularly targeting Indigenous women in the North. It was clear though, our voices alone weren’t enough to penetrate the deeply entrenched power structures of the status quo that still marginalize First Nations, Inuit and Metis women in Canada. Success depends on joining forces with other Indigenous women who face similar challenges in their homelands and building alliances with sisters from other nations. Voices of Our Future creates a venue for that discussion to happen and provides us with opportunities to strengthen our communication and media skills which is so essential to our work.

Comments

Aida Dervishi's picture

Dear Arlene, you succeeded! I

Dear Arlene,
you succeeded! I am glad to hear that whatever the difficulties that you might have come over you didn't let them to be a stumbling block on you personal development, you have left it back.You have proved it with your work helping other women. It doesn't erase your childhood memories but I am sure it alleviates them a great deal.

Warm Regards,

Arlene Hache's picture

Thank you

Thank you for your comments Aida. It does.

Marti's picture

admiration

Dear Arlene,
I admire you for sharing your story in a truly frank and honest way. You are courageous. I also admire you for being brave enough to face so much that was unknown as you searched for a better life. And how wonderful it is that now, as you've gained that "self-reliance and personal responsibility" which you thought you lacked, you are taking that hard-earned strength and courage and helping to improve the lives of others. Bravo!

In partnership with you,
Marti

irmia's picture

How courageous you are!

Hey Arlene:

I admire your honesty.
And I am always interested in indigenous issue. I hope we can share :)

Cheers:
Mia

Arlene Hache's picture

Sharing Experiences

My daughter once said I was brave. I told her it was easy to be brave in a country where your live is not at risk. I don't know if I would be as brave in that circumstance, but I hope and pray the courage would be there to fight with my Indigenous sisters. Thank you for your kind words. I am looking forward to getting to know you and your country.

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