Over the years that Shannon Hoskie has worked with Manitoba Moon Voices, she has seen the organization offer that helping hand that has led many Indigenous women to make positive changes in their lives, and go on to find success.
“Sometimes all we need is someone to say ‘yeah you can do it, and I believe in you,’” Manitoba Moon Voices executive director Shannon Hoskie said.
“All Indigenous women have tons of potential, and sometimes it’s just letting them know that we are here, we hear you, and we are here to support you, and just doing that can make such a big difference.”
The Winnipeg-based Manitoba Moon Voices Inc. (MMVI) is The Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Provincial Territorial Member Associate, and the organization represents the interests of Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people of Manitoba.
Hoskie said the organization initially started out as a pilot program called Aboriginal Women Reclaiming Our Power, but she said when the original program ended they found that people wanted to continue.
That program evolved into what is now MMVI, an organization whose mission is “building strong connections among Indigenous women, to support and empower each other.”
Hoskie said MMVI does what they do by offering a membership-based organization where Indigenous women find support through a community of their fellow women.
“It goes back to that idea of sisterhood,” Hoskie said. “You know the women that are in the program, and you build a bond, and a lot of them are still very, very closely connected today.
“They form that sisterhood and that bond, and within Indigenous communities we honour our families, so when you become close friends with an Indigenous sister she becomes family, she becomes a sister and an auntie to our kids.
“We really believe in that kinship.”
Hoskie said she has seen the programs MMVI offers help many women to believe in their own abilities, and go on to do great things.
“I’ve seen women come here and join a program and just run with it,” Hoskie said. “They were able to reconnect with their culture and realize and understand some of the impacts of intergeneration trauma and how it has affected them, and from there they were able to take the steps to better their lives.
“We are still in contact with some of them, and there is a woman that is now getting her master ’s degree, and another who just got her arts degree, and is going into the faculty of education.
“We have seen a lot of success.”
In Manitoba and across Canada, Indigenous women continue to be over-represented when it comes to statistics such as violent crimes being reported against them, and over the last many decades thousands of Indigenous women and girls in Canada have been murdered or gone missing.
Hoskie said it is these types of issue effecting Indigenous women in this province that make their organization so important, and she said she believes MMVI can work to be a voice for the Indigenous women in this province that she said a lot of times don’t feel like they are being heard or listened to.
“I believe we are a political organization, because the issue of Indigenous women is a political issue,” Hoskie said. “And as an Indigenous woman you don’t choose that, you are born into it.”
On July 9, the Manitoba government announced they would contribute $3 million towards 11 Indigenous and northern organizations in Manitoba to support services for Indigenous and northern residents in the province. Manitoba Moon Voices was one of the recipients of the funding, as the organization learned they would receive $95,000 from the province.
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun