My name is Tasha Spillett and I am coordinator of the Butterfly Club at Ka Ni Kanichihk, which means “Those who lead” in Cree. With support from United Way, Ka Ni Kanichihk takes a holistic approach to helping Aboriginal women and youth in Winnipeg lead healthy and productive lives by creating opportunities to develop positive self-awareness, strong cultural identities and important skills and experiences.
One evening a week, the halls are filled with the sound of giggles and the flutter of movement from a group of young Aboriginal girls who participate in The Butterfly Club. Girls like Ariel and Rayne who are faced with all the challenges that come with being a girl their age, but who also face a legacy of challenges.
‘Tasha is one of my best friends. She makes us laugh and she’s done a lot for us. If we ask her a question about school, she’ll give us advice. Most of it is bullying problems. We talk about that a lot. We’ve totally dealt with that. We’re fine now. Before I came here, let’s just say I was one of the easiest victims.”
– Ariel (a young program participant)
It’s an unfortunate reality that Aboriginal women represent a vulnerable and marginalized sector of our population. This reality is in direct contrast to the cherished and honoured role that Aboriginal women play as life-givers in the Aboriginal world view.
The Butterfly Club and other programs at Ka Ni Kanichihk are working to restore the health and well-being of our community and to revive and protect the teachings that hold women as sacred and respected members.
As an Aboriginal woman who leads a traditional life, and as an educator, I firmly believe that it is crucial in the development of these girls, to have a safe place where they can learn about who they are as Aboriginal women, as individuals with unique gifts and talents, and as celebrated and important members of our community.
There is a Cheyenne proverb that says: “A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors or strong its weapons.”
In considering the wisdom of these words and reflecting on the beauty, strength and resilience I see in the little girls who attend the Butterfly Club, my heart is full because I know our nations will go on.
I want to thank you for providing these young women with the life- changing experiences they gain as members of the Butterfly Club.
– Tasha Spillett