Building the Systems We Want to See: Reflecting on Imagine Empowerment

Written by: Aubrianna Snow

Centering self-care and consent in advocacy is a powerful means of resistance. Self-care, consent, and their intersections are aspects of advocacy that often get forgotten about. This can be especially true for Indigenous and other marginalized activists and advocates.

Indigenous people face disproportionate levels of gender-based violence across what is colonially known as Canada. We also hold unique, powerful, and innovative solutions to the problems faced by our communities.

This is what we sought to emphasize and explore through Imagine Empowerment: Shaping Systems of Care for Indigenous Survivors and Advocates. This event, graciously funded by the We Matter Campaign, brought together Indigenous survivors and gender-based violence prevention advocates to share in a space of self-care and discuss aspects of their work.

Our amazing participants shared the following on ways forward:

Advocacy for rights and equity, particularly in the gender-based violence prevention space, can often come from a place of survivorship. It’s important to recognize that this can profoundly impact our advocacy and the ways that we relate to our work and to each other.

When one is engaged in work with the motivation to protect others from harm, it can remove the element of consent from the act of advocating. When we are working from a scarcity mindset – the idea that nobody else will do this work if we don’t – that’s not consenting to advocate.

Self-care and community care present opportunities to check in with oneself and others in organizing, and to build the sorts of systems of care we want to see in the world. Neither self-care nor community care can exist in isolation.

Creating safe spaces for folks of marginalized identities to check in, engage in self-care, and share their struggles is an important first step in building the systems we want to see. Doing this work in isolation can contribute to vicarious trauma and other harms, but doing this work in community can be healing, empowering, and transformative.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the We Matter Campaign and to all the folks who made Imagine Empowerment happen.


Suggested Reference : Snow, A. (2023, March). Building the Systems We Want to See: Reflecting on Imagine Empowerment. Courage to Act.

Aubrianna Snow

Aubrianna (she/her) is a k’taqmkuk lnu’skw visitor in Treaty Six, and has lived here for most of her life. Graduating from MacEwan University’s Bachelor of Communications program in Spring 2022, gender-based violence prevention and community building are passions she’s had the privilege of exploring during her time in postsecondary. During her second term as Vice President Student Life at the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU), Aubrianna founded the Student Voice on Violence Elimination Committee as a means of advocacy to SAMU and to University administration. Prior to her time as an elected student leader, Aubrianna volunteered as a MAVEN Peer Educator on consent and sexual violence with MacEwan’s Office of Sexual Violence Prevention, Education, & Response.


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