On the outside, Sally Simpson, 48, is an average adult student; but what most people do not know about her is that she is making a list. That may not sound like a big deal, but it has now occupied her life for over a year.
Now a third year Organizational Leadership and Contemporary Studies major, Simpson was raised in New Castle and lived in Toronto for 22 years prior to moving to Brantford to attend university.
In 2012, as part of a university course, Simpson decided to start work on a project that would list Female-Indigenous accomplishments forming a collage.
“Last year in my Indigenous Women’s class with Dr. Carole Leclair, we were going through the syllabus, and she got to the project part and I’m like, ‘Oh my God! I don’t know how to do anything! I can’t sew. And I’m the least crafty person I know,’” said Simpson.
The project had to show a creative expression of honour to Indigenous women, and “ … by the time the first class was over; I had decided that I was going to make a collage.”
Simpson assumed that her project would be simple – research a few names, collect a few relevant pictures and her piece would be complete. But, once Simpson did a bit of research, the assignment took an unexpected turn.
Simpson began her research by looking for a list that mentions female-Indigenous accomplishments. “I go to look for it,” said Simpson, “ … [and it] doesn’t exist!”
This list is one which many, including Simpson, would assume existed before now – but it didn’t.
Before giving up on her class assignment entirely, Simpson decided to try calling the Native Women’s Association of Canada. According to Simpson, they told her outright that the list she was searching for really does not exist at all.
It was then that Simpson decided to take it upon herself to help recognize the great Indigenous women of Canada and their contributions to their communities and Canada, as a country.
“Trailblazing Native women deserve to be documented. I find it interesting and shameful that we didn’t have one yet,” said Simpson. “Me being me, I thought surely I could find a list of 10 women. But no. So that’s how the list got started.”
To date, Simpson has recorded over 70 Indigenous women and their accomplishments – including some familiar names such as Pauline Johnson, a poet from Brantford.
Simpson hopes that this list will help inspire future generations of Indigenous women to stand up and be a shining light in their communities.
If you think you know someone who should be added to Sally’s list, or want to contact her about her current list – e-mail her at email@example.com .