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Empower Our Women

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You are a beautiful girl, my girl, but you have to be careful. Our women are targeted.

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I want to share this message: "You are a beautiful girl, my girl, but you have to be careful. Our women are targeted." This is an Indigenous mother’s reminder and concern when her daughter goes to the city for a school field trip. “Keep your head up and watch out for one another.”

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My name is Shana Pasapa. I come from a line of strong indigenous women, from White Bear First Nations in Treaty 4 Territory. Myself and the women in my life reached a point, and we decided to protect ourselves and our children. Their struggles and triumphs have become the root of my strength. When my mother shared her concerns with me, she wanted me to be aware of the world as a wiyan (Nakota for woman), she didn't want to scare or victimize me. My mother wanted me to find a place where I could stand on my own - her words and prayers as my protection. Violence can come unexpectedly in the streets, but we are also confronted with it in our homes. Taking control and standing up to domestic violence is our choice and our action to take. Will you shout out enough is enough?

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My former partner threatened to kill our family of four by driving off a bridge. My children were in the vehicle, we were far from home visiting a powwow. At the time, I didn't know what to do.  Jumping out of the car was not an option, my two boys needed me. “I need to survive,” I told myself. I wanted to live, I wanted to be their mother. In this moment, different scenarios flashed through my mind. My best chance at survival was to calm my former partner down, keep talking to him, all the while praying to Creator that we would live another day. In that moment, I felt powerless. Despite that madness, I stayed with him for another four years until he fractured my ribs and broke my fingers; that was the last straw and my declaration of ENOUGH. I remembered my mother’s teachings and found the strength to leave. Through sobriety, prayers, and ceremonies I have been given the chance to lead a beautiful life.

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I am grateful for a mother who provided me the best life she could. She took the time to show me self defence; from effective striking, managing bullies and dangerous situations, as well as sharing her stories of survival. Through her teachings, I became aware of the choices I make and their impact on my family and my surroundings. Self defence helps women reclaim power through discovering what your body is truly capable of. I have studied martial arts for the past 6 years, and have also crafted a self defence program which I believe should be accessible for all women and girls.  Power Our Women builds confidence in women and girls through self defence, situational awareness training, wellness and nutrition, and goal-setting. Situational awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of a situation. Being able to recognize what is normal, abandoning what is not, all while having an exit plan should a situation become dangerous. For those who haven't learned self defence, I urge you to seek it out for the opportunity to test yourself, and to discover your true power in a safe space.

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My name is Shana Pasapa, and I am a Nakota mother raising two boys. I am from the White Bear FN, SK. On top of being a full-time mom, I am a jiujitsu fighter and martial artist. I received my blue belt in December 2014 and was ranked top female grappler in Saskatchewan in 2014 and 2nd in 2015.Over time, I have found a profound connection between our traditional medicine wheel teachings and martial arts. My mission is to empower our women with knowledge and confidence around self defense.

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