In 2020, Shift: The Project to End Domestic Violence partnered with Indigenous researchers, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and Grandmothers to better understand primary prevention solutions that address the root causes of violence to promote systemic change. This research initiative called the Strong Women’s Circle was to build on the rich work already accomplished by Indigenous researchers and advocates from across Turtle Island and reflect the expertise and lived experiences of Indigenous women living in Alberta. Created in an ethical space, where Indigenous and Western worldviews came together for sustainable anti-violence solutions, the report proposes five transformative changes to achieve Indigenous sovereignty along with a list of policy reforms in six systems that are necessary to prevent violence: justice and policing, child welfare, health, education, housing, and transportation.

At the closing ceremony of this research initiative, the Elders wanted to create an oral history of the teachings and knowledge shared over the duration of the project. The result is the Strong Women’s Circle: A Systems Change Approach to Addressing Family Violence within Communities’ movie (watch below), launched on October 27, 2023, in partnership with USAY and Studio Lumen. This film captures the women’s insights on healing, allyship, and how we can transform the systems that are causing Indigenous people harm. This movie is a beacon of hope and possibilities, paving a collective path towards peace, justice, and dignity.

© 2023 by Karen Acuna, Jackie Bromley, Dakota Eagle Women, Violet March, Diane Meguinis, Doreen Spence, Lana Wells, and Valerie Wood is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Shift extends our heartfelt congratulations to all those involved in this impactful project and may the Strong Women’s Circle initiative continue to inspire positive change, healing, and reconciliation.

At Shift, we are walking the path to support collective healing and Indigenous sovereignty. Our next phase of work will be in partnership with USAY to co-host circles of learning, to develop allyship tools, and to advocate for policy change with all orders of government.

* Video can be used for educational and non-commercial purposes under Creative Commons license BY-NC-ND. If you are interested in learning more or want to host a circle in your community, please email shift.dv@ucalgary.ca.