A Canada-wide search has been launched to find Indigenous women who did it first in their field.
Canadian Indigenous women leaders are the focus of a research project being done by a Wilfred Laurier University student. At 48, student Sally Simpson is the author of the unique "first" list.
Meanwhile, a public appeal has been issued to make the list as complete as possible.
"Each and every first Indigenous woman should be found, " Ms Simpson stressed.
To date, Ms Simpson has identified a total of 55 Indigenous women who have the distinction of being the first in their profession, in their career and in their trade. Ms Simpson's Indigenous gender list includes the first doctor, the first lawyer and the first corporate chief executive officer (CEO). In doing the project research, Ms Simpson was particularly impressed with three women.
Charlotte Edith Anderson Monture faced a serious challenge at the turn of the 20th Century. Wanting to become a nurse, the young woman was forced to study in the United States. The sad reality was: At the time, under the laws of Canada, it was illegal for Indigenous people to pursue post-secondary education. After earning her registered nursing certificate south of the border, Ms Anderson Monture went overseas to serve as a nurse in World War 1. After the Great War ended, Ms Anderson Monture returned to the Sixth Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ontario to continue practicing as a nurse.
Canada's first Indigenous woman to earn a P.H.D. in biological psychiatry is Dr. Lillian Dyck. On advice from her mother, Dr. Dyck kept the fact that she was Cree a secret until after she earned her doctorate. Dr. Dyck is now a member of the Canadian Senate.
The world's first veterinarian dentist is Dr. Candace Grier-Lowe. "She has two firsts," Ms Simpson pointed out. "Dr. Grier-Lowe is the first vet dentist in the world and the first Indigenous woman in Canada to graduate in this specialty in veterinarian medicine."
When Ms Simpson started the project, she assumed a list acknowledging successful Indigenous women had not only been published but was growing with the passage of time.
"Shocked that such a list did not exist, I decided to make one," Ms Simpson said. "Indigenous women have achieved many successes and deserve to be identified and recognized. Most important, their firsts need to be documented."
Indigenous women are a vital part of the fabric of Canada, Ms Simpson stressed, "Indigenous women are part of the rich history of Canada," she said.
While Ms Simpson has identified more than 50 firsts, she wants to make sure the list is as complete as possible. "I'm making an appeal to have other Canada "first" Indigenous women added to this list," she said, the project has a national reach.
"We have plenty of Indigenous women who are first in the province or first in the territories," Ms Simpson said. "I am searching for the very first in all of Canada."
The criteria to be used is: must be female, Indigenous and Canada born. If you would like to contribute to this list? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.