INDIAN WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION
Below is the text of the speech given on May 29, 1975, by Mrs. Mary Ann Lavalleo, representing the Voice of Alberta’s Native Women Society and the Saskatchewan Indian Women’s Association, at the wine and cheese party of the Coalition for Life lobbyists.
To the Prime Minister of Canada,
The Right Honorable Pierre Elliot Trudeau,
To the Honorable members of the Cabinet,
To the Honorable members of the Parliament of Canada,
It is indeed an overwhelming experience for anyone to stand in these hallowed chambers wherein the laws of our beautiful country are made and to watch Democracy in motion. It is even more overwhelming for me because I am an Indian woman- an Indian wife and a mother. I feel as if I have come home.
At this moment I am filled with awe and an emotion akin to reverence plus another emotion that is at once exquisitely painful and joyful. It is the same emotion which a mother experiences when she sees her baby for the first time. Her hospital room, her own home or her tent takes on the sacredness of a Cathedral.
I have journeyed far to come to this place. I feel as if I am taking part in a Holy crusade and that I am now standing on sacred ground. I came, not in shining armour as the Knights of old but I have come only with my heart to guide my tongue to speak.
I hope that my words will not only reach your ears but your hearts as well. I know too that there are others listening to these words because their echoes still rebound within these walls. I refer to Laurier, MacDonald, MacKenzie King, St. Laurent, Mike Pearson and all those who have left these chambers to sit in the chambers beyond this world.
I come from the comparative isolation of my Indian reserve to represent the Indian women of Saskatchewan and also those Indian women across Canada who are unable to add their voices and their signatures to the Petition of One Million. We wish to add our voices and our support to those who are trying to protect the lives of the unborn. We, Indian women of Canada belong to culture which has an inherent belief in the sacredness of our maternity. This culture has sustained our people through countless years in the struggle for survival. The killing of the unborn is foreign and sacrilegious to our way of life. However, we realize that more and more the ways of the majority society are affecting our lives. It is imperative for us to support the crusade for the unborn if we Indians are going to save our culture. We cannot isolate ourselves nor remain neutral on any major issue.
Our interpretation of “Abortion on Demand” means that the floodgates of abortion will be thrown wide open. The blood of the unborn babies and the blood of their mothers will stain the hands of our surgeons and will also spill over to taint the ground of our beautiful country. Abortion in demand is a violation of the laws of the Great Spirit who watches over this land. It is a violation of all of Canada’s motherhood who received their Charter from the hands of the Creator Himself, who gave to women the command to look after each succeeding generation. Abortion on demand also means that the potential of those unborn babies will be put to an abrupt and cruel end. The abortionist might be depriving Canada of a potential Laurier, a MacDonald, a Churchill or a Nellie McClung or a Pauline Johnson, or even a Nobel Prize Laureate- or a potential Scientist who might rid the world of some horrible disease.
Many years ago my forefathers had a method of listening to sounds which the naked ear could not pick up. They scraped a hollow into the ground then cupped their ear to the ground. They heated the soundless movements of animals and miles away they heard the restlessness of the buffalo and the distant hoof- beats of a rider.
Honorable members: On behalf of Indian Women of Canada and all the women who are here today, I ask you to cup your year and listen well until you hear the noiseless cry of the unborn who are asking you for life through the Petition of One Million.
The Indian Women of Canada have spoken.
Mrs. Mary Ann Lavallee
Cowessess Indian Reserve