Protecting the sacred cycle: Xwulmuxw Slhunlheni and leadership




Thomas, Qwul'sih'yah'maht Robina Anne

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Xwulmuxw Slhunlheni (Indigenous Women) have, since time immemorial, played critical leadership roles in Indigenous communities. However, with the imposition of racist/sexist colonial policies, indigenous women’s roles were systematically displaced. As a result of these policies, which formalized colonial governance systems, the vital informal leadership roles the Xwulmuxw Slhunlheni play rarely get recognized. This dissertation strives to honour (or stand up) the women in our communities who continue to embrace their important roles as givers of life and carriers of culture. Through storytelling as a methodology, new ways of Indigenous women’s leadership are revealed. I interviewed thirteen women from various Hul’qumi’num communities on Vancouver Island and the Mainland, asking them to share their thoughts on leadership. What emerged from the interviews was the importance of living our cultural and traditional teachings. This central theme emphasized the importance of keeping the past, present and future connected. Every one of the women discussed the importance of our teachings and the necessity to bring those forward for the future generations. What emerged was a model that I have coined Sacred Cycle, a model that focuses on living our values. More importantly, the Sacred Cycle can be used as a valuable tool to resolve governance problems and as a tool of decolonization.



Indigenous women, Leadership