Sarah Robinson of the Fort Nelson First Nation and the Saulteau First Nation in Treaty 8 territory has died.
On social media, there has been an outpouring of memories and words about Robinson who was a leader in facilitating conversations on Canada’s history of colonialism, reconciliation and Indigenous women’s knowledge.
A wife, stepmother, auntie, daughter, granddaughter and friend, Robinson was also the principal advisor at Rainwatch Advising. According to the bio on her website, she lived on the unceded territory of the Toquaht Nation with her husband in the village of Macoah.
In one of her last tweets, she wrote, “As some know, I’ve been wrestling cancer for the past two years. In a few months, that battle will come to an end so I can rejoin my ancestors.”
A graduate of the First Nations and Indigenous Studies program at the University of British Columbia and a law student at the University of Victoria, Robinson developed a number of educational tools, including a personal action plan to engage in reconciliation.
She developed a 43-minute “crash course” called Indigenous and Canadian Histories 101: what you didn’t learn in high school. According to her website, the video has been used as a training tool by dozens of organizations, including “the entire B.C. Public Service.”
Tla’amin consultant Chastity Davis-Alphonse says Robinson was “one of the most formidable Indigenous women leaders of our time,” in a Facebook post on May 14.
Robinson was involved with Deyen, an online learning hub which Davis-Alphonse recently launched. As previously reported by IndigiNews, Deyen offers a set of four online educational modules focused on history from an Indigenous women’s lens.
In 2017, Robinson spoke about “Indigenous Women and the Story of Canada” as part of The Walrus Talks National Tour kick-off event.
She was also an appointed member of the B.C Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women and she participated in the re-establishment of the B.C Human Rights Commission.
To support Robinson and her family, Dayna Briemon set up a GoFundMe campaign.
“Sarah has been keeping the details of her illness very private, in an attempt to keep those closest to her protected at all costs,” Briemon writes. She closes the page with her “favourite story” about her “dear friend”:
After a night out with some girlfriends Sarah found herself a kabuki cab and was making her way home. She came upon a young girl that was clearly frightened and being harassed by a group of young men in close pursuit, and quickly came to her aid by offering her a ride on the kabuki cab express. Shortly after, the pair came across a building with an abundance of smoke billowing out the windows. Without a second thought Sarah ran into the building to awaken the young man whose apartment was about to be overtaken by flames, saving his life. She then got back on the kabuki express and made her way home, to sit up with me all hours of the night while I figured out how to care for a newborn, never telling anyone else about her heroic adventure.
Anna McKenzie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse