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The Importance of (Indigenous) Mothers
~ Chase Voirin
This article was supposed to be dedicated to
Indigenous mothers. More specifically, in
recognition of the importance of Indigenous
mothers to reduce the rate of missing and
murdered Indigenous women. In fact, it could
arguably be said that Indigenous women
embody the strongest example of sheer
willpower and fierce determination to succeed
and persist of Indigenous peoples as a whole. This is manifested in various statistics, such as the fact that about one in four Indigenous women seeking post-secondary education at degree-granting universities are single-mothers 1,2. I have seen this firsthand with the seemingly endless accounts of Indigenous students and friends I have spoken with who acknowledge their successes wouldn’t have been possible without the stability of their home and upbringing created by their mothers. This was a true account within my household, even though I had a father that was a part of that stable foundation as well.
But my personal views have changed since I become a father only a few months ago. My mindset has broadened to include non-Indigenous mothers as well. I have written in the past of the importance of a father, or at least a father figure, to help mitigate the high rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women on this continent. But the importance of the strong motherly figure should not be overlooked. Mothers seem to have a bond with their children that we as fathers may never fully understand. Not to take away the love that a father has for his kids, but perhaps it’s the fact that mothers literally grow their kids inside their bodies and are the first to feed them upon their entrance into this world that keeps their bond uniquely strong.
I now am the father of an Indigenous daughter, and so the statistics surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women strikes home. My partner, and mother of my child, is a non-Indigenous woman who has many enviable traits that make me confident she will be an amazing mother. So, for me not to acknowledge the immense importance of her positive influence on our daughter, to the point where our girl won’t end up as another negative statistic, would be a major disservice to all mothers and their roles in their daughters’ lives. And a mother/daughter relationship can be one of the most profound relationships among humankind.
The rate of Indigenous women who go missing or are found murdered is staggering. Unfortunately, many Indigenous people, including myself, know an Indigenous female family member or friend who has ended up in this horrific circumstance. To state the obvious, this creates much trauma and heartache that affects families and acquaintances of these missing women in a ripple-like effect for years down the line. Fortunately, there are more awareness and data being brought to the table surrounding this issue, as well as pieces of legislation to improve communication and alert systems among law enforcement agencies and communities. From these efforts, avenues can be made to reach out to communities that have the highest rates of this issue to become more involved in cases before it reaches the most devastating point.
There is no golden answer to solving tragedies of missing and murdered indigenous women. But if part of the solution involves being loving, present parents in our daughters’ lives then it could be said the mother’s role is one of the most important. She can show her daughter how to be the type of respectable, strong, persistent woman that she strives to live up to everyday. Every child becomes an adult on their own path with their own initiatives, but raising a competent child starts at the home. This is in no way, shape or form to say that all missing and murdered women could have prevented their tragedies through their own accord. The main point is that parents can do the best they can to prevent their daughters from falling into this statistic by spending as much time with their kids as possible, and leading by example to show what type of people they want their kids to become. Because we can only physically protect our kids for so long before they set out on their own. This article is in recognition of the love, patience and dedication that all mothers demonstrate in raising their Indigenous daughters.
1Kruvelis, M., L.R. Cruse, and B. Gault. 2017. Single Mothers in College: Growing Enrollment,
Financial Challenges, and the Benefits of Attainment. Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Available at https://iwpr.org/publications/single-mothers-college-growing-enrollment-financial-challenges-benefits-attainment/. Accessed on 30 August 2019.
2U.S. Department of Education. 2012. National Center for Education Statistics, 2012 Integrated
Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and the 2011-12 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:12).
Photo Courtesy Billie K. Fidlin