Stand Your Ground is a story about Jessie Louie, first woman chief of Klahoose who found herself elected Chief in 1970; a time when women in leadership roles were few.
The electoral system was brought by the Canadian government, upon nations who with hereditary chiefs. The electoral system was meant to bring equality and prevent oppression.
If this has happened, it is only through the strength, determination and honour of leaders like Jessie Louie.
Stand Your Ground
Jessie was the chief who brought water to Klahoose… a perfect metaphor for a woman who is a source of strength and support for her loved ones. That water still flows, and like all Jessie’s work, ripples outward with lasting effects.
“When elections came, back in the 70s, the community was only two rows of houses. My cousin Elinor Pielle had suggested I run for chief and low and behold I won by one vote. I was just speechless. I’m twenty-three years old and I’m a chief! I said, ‘Oh my God, where do I go from here? - because I had no idea how, or where, or anything of the affairs - because there is no band office; no nothing. I don’t think I even had a phone.” - Jessie Louie.
“Be humble and respect your people” is Jessie’s advice to leaders, and she quietly leads the way in all her work. Jessie’s life is a legacy of promoting Indigenous women’s rights in communities, inspiring healthy paths as drug and alcohol counsellor, and preserving culture for the future as language coordinator. E’mote Jessie Louie, and also thank you to voices collected in tribute to Jessie: you will hear Chief Kevin Peacey, councillor Michelle Robinson, language warrior Jacqueline Mathieu, community member Georgina Silby.
The past 5 years have been focused on fundraising and project management, youth programming.
With Deep Roots and Island Waves, I have thoroughly enjoyed the collaborative process, and am excited to have facilitated new and ancient talent, skills, specialists and voices to our community. The opportunity to also write and produce in this series is an honour.