Joining the MACIW in 2014, Barb Ward-Burkitt has served as vice chair of MACIW since 2018. (Image submitted)

P.G.’s Barb Ward-Burkitt named new chair of Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women

A survivor of domestic abuse herself, Ward-Burkitt has served as vice-chair since 2018

A survivor of domestic abuse, Barb Ward-Burkitt (also known as Wahiyow Cawapata Scoo meaning Far See Woman) of the Mckay First Nation knows first hand the violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Trapped in a violent marriage for two decades, it was not until 1989 that she found the inner-strength to leave without looking back.

“That seems like a longtime ago but in some respect it’s like it happened yesterday,” she said. “It’s a long story as it is I think for most women across our country that are in relationships and situations of violence. You hear that said all the time why don’t they just leave, and if it only was it that easy.”

Victims are often emotionally drained with feelings of hopelessness, isolation, shame and fear running high. The process of becoming a survivor takes time, she said.

“The reality is that some of our women never get out of those relationships ever and some women lose their lives, so it’s very complex, and my own personal story is very complex as well.”

Read More: Violence against Indigenous women during COVID-19 sparks calls for MMIWG plan

Ward-Burkitt has been actively involved in the friendship centre movement since 1972, and is the executive director of the Prince George Native Friendship Centre. In 2010, she received the province’s highest honour and was invested into the Order of British Columbia.

Among having been a faculty mentor in field programs at Simon Fraser University and childcare worker for the Quesnel School District, she has also been the president of Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment and Training Association.

On June 4, the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation announced she had been appointed as the new chair of the Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women (MACIW).

Ward-Burkitt will be replacing outgoing chair Chasity Davis, who has chaired MACIW since 2014.

“She’s an amazing young woman so I feel like I’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill,” she said of Davis.

Read More: Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

“But nonetheless I’m ready and excited and I’m just so honored that I get to be in this particular role as the lead of a council that is so incredibly important to Indigenous women and girls in this province and across the country.”

MACIW was established following the Collaboration to End Violence: National Aboriginal Women’s Forum in 2011 which was co-hosted by the province and Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Through its 10 members, MACIW provides advice to government on how to improve the quality of life for Indigenous women in B.C.

“I think as long as that continues to happen where Indigenous women don’t have that voice I think that that pandemic of violence across our country is going to continue to grow, that murdered and missing indigenous women is going to continue to happen and it needs to stop,” she said, noting the impacts of colonization, residential school and the Indian Act run deep.

She added she hopes further investments will be made and the stories told during the National Inquiry in Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women do not go unheard as the Federal government puts the release of the National Action Plan on hold.

“Violence against women and girls never goes away. It’s not standing still for COVID-19 and we want to make sure that we continue the work that we’ve been doing so that we don’t lose that momentum.”

Do you have a comment about this story? email:

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

IndigenousProvincial Government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students, athletes recognized with awards for achievements at Columneetza

Lake City secondary’s Columneetza Campus handed out its end-of-year awards recently

EDITORIAL: Coronavirus limits the right medicine

Opening up the economy a risk with cases overall still not under control

BCWS plans for woody debris burning in Esler area near Williams Lake

The debris is from wildfire risk reduction work

FOREST INK: Using observations until detailed results are available

Reliable test results often includes thousands of subjects and many years of observations.

Williams Lake RCMP seek assistance locating missing youth

Angel Emile has not been seen since Monday, July 7

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

Northern B.C. First Nations call for reversal of grizzly bear hunting ban

Growing grizzly populations have led to fewer ungulates and increased fear of attacks says Chad Day

RCMP ‘disappointed’ by talk that race a factor in quiet Rideau Hall arrest

Corey Hurren, who is from Manitoba, is facing 22 charges

NHL’s Canadian hubs offer little economic benefit, but morale boost is valuable: experts

Games are slated to start Aug. 1 with six Canadian teams qualifying for the 24-team resumption of play

‘Made in the Cowichan Valley’ coming to a wine bottle near you

Cowichan Valley has the honour of being the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan

Most Read