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Leah Wainwright- 2018 IIIY Intern

My name is Leah Wainwright, I live in Whitehorse Yukon Territory, Canada. I was born and raised in the Yukon Territory. I am a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation Citizen of the Han people, from the wolf clan. As well I am Irish, English and Norwegian. It is this mixed ancestry of mine that has contributed to my love of culture and a passion for discovering more about my own culture.

My roots stem from rich cultures and it has been my great pleasure to learn about them and from them. I am very proud to be apart of a culture that is traditionally matriarch. My First Nation clan lineage is determined by my mother, this is the same for many First Nations. There were traditional roles within the Han people’s culture. The men would hunt larger game such as moose and caribou, the women would contribute by snaring smaller game and largely took on the role as caregiver. Above all though, every member of the group contributed to a way of life that relied on each other for survival. Elderly women played a significant role in the leadership of the people. Their opinions were held in high regard and were respected. Sadly this is not the case for every society and culture past and present but that does not mean that we cannot learn from these cultures both past and present. We live in a society where knowledge can be power.

I have great respect for tradition and the passing on of traditional values and knowledge. It is something that I feel very strongly about and something that has become a life-long drive for me. My current studies are in Anthropology, I am now pursuing studies in Indigenous Governance and international studies. To be able to be a voice for Indigenous people and Indigenous women in particular is something that I will strive for and continue to grow with. To be able to inspire and be inspired by other indigenous and non-indigenous women in my own culture and those of others, is a lifelong dream and one I will work very hard to see happen.


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