Editors of Okanagan Women's Voices, Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, Dr. Lally Grauer and Dr. Janet MacArthur present an online panel discussion June 16. (Contributed)

Okanagan women’s voices speak up for Indigenous History Month

Museum’s Reading for Reconciliation Series

History is often filled with stories of men, but now the voices of women are speaking out.

As part of Indigenous History Month, the Museum & Archives of Vernon (MAV) will host an online panel discussion with the editors of Okanagan Women’s Voices: Syilx & Settler Writing & Relations 1870s to 1960s.

Dr. Jeannette Armstrong, Dr. Lally Grauer and Dr. Janet MacArthur will speak Thursday, June 16, online at 7 p.m., as part of MAV’s Learn + Connect: Reading for Reconciliation Series. Okanagan Women’s Voices features the writing and stories of seven women, both Syilx and settler, who were living in the British Columbia southern interior from the mid-19th to the mid-20th centuries.

“The early settlement of Interior B.C. and the Okanagan has most often been presented through the recollections and stories of white men, with cowboys, railway workers and gold miners dominating the public imagination,” said MAV curator Laisha Rosnau.

“With Okanagan Women’s Voices, not only do we get a glimpse into this period of time from the points of view of women, but from both Syilx and settler women – and some whose families are both Syilx and settler.

The book gives a glimpse into worlds that the women navigated in these early years of settlement, through friendships, family relations, and shifting gender roles and expectations. Through the writing and recollections of both Syilx and settler women, the ways in which traditional Syilx ways of life are compromised and discriminated against become apparent.

Armstrong is a Syilx knowledge keeper and fluent speaker of nsyilxcən. A writer, poet, artist and strong voice in Indigenous environmental ethics, Armstrong is a professor at UBC Okanagan, a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada, and a Research Chair in Okanagan Indigenous Philosophy.

An associate professor at UBCO, Grauer has taught both Canadian and Indigenous literature. Together with Armstrong, she published Native Poetry in Canada: A Contemporary Anthology.

MacArthur is an associate professor emerita at UBCO, where she created and taught the first courses there on women’s literature, autobiography and trauma studies in the humanities.

“If you’ve read Okanagan Women’s Voices, of course you will get a lot out of this panel discussion – but even if you’ve not yet started, it will be an incredible opportunity to hear from these three women as they bring us the voices of Okanagan women from the early settlement era.”

All are welcome to attend the online panel discussion and Q&A. Registration is by donation. For more information and to register, visit https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/learn-connect-panel-discussion-registration-307775313247.