Meet Shayla Stonechild - Indigenous Advocate, Matriarch Movement Founder + TV Host
For most of us, including our S+T Team, 2020 has brought about a great deal of introspection and self-reflection. As we dug into a season of both learning and unlearning, we have discovered so many women and activists that have been guides for us in this journey. This year, we were fortunate enough to meet Shayla Stonechild through our #smashtessgirl Jillian Harris. You might have even seen Shalya in some of our S+T photos as she modelled our fall collection (didn’t she look AH-MAZING in the Dani Dress!?).
As we preview the New S+T X JH collaboration, we thought it would also be a good opportunity to introduce Shayla to our #smashtessfam (if you don’t already know her) and share our community platform with her as she continues her quest to ignite change and amplify Indigenous People’s voices through the Matriarch Movement. We hope you love learning more about Shayla just as much as we have!
You are a TV Host, Wellness Advocate, Founder of the Matriarch Movement and altogether an amazing woman - how do you balance all your initiatives, advocacy and personal life?
Honestly, good question haha. I am looking to get more people on my team so I can focus on what is truly important. However, I do prioritize my schedule each week and make sure to begin each day with a set of rituals (meditation, chanting, intention/prayer) that way no matter what role or hat I am wearing that I day - I have a chance to meet it from a place of integrity and truth. Also, I am highly sensitive to other’s energies - so finding a way to purify, cleanse/make space for myself and re-charge is an absolute necessity.
What inspired you to become an advocate for women and Indigenous people?
It’s not like I woke up one day and looked at myself in the mirror and said “I am an advocate for Indigenous rights”. However, being alive as an Indigenous person is a political statement in itself.
We weren’t allowed to vote until 1960, we weren’t seen as human beings in the eyes of the Canadian government - and even still. The rate of homicides for Indigenous women is seven times higher than any other woman in Canada - we are also more likely to go missing and murdered than any other woman.
So, when you see an Indigenous woman in her power - support her and cheer her on. The statistics are literally against us but we are more than just a statistic.
When you learn about the history of Canada, and the history of your community and people - it is difficult to not advocate for basic human rights and for a better tomorrow. Indigenous rights are human rights.
What is the best piece of advice that inspired your journey?
To always come from a place of transparency and truth. I would want the same from someone else - so in everything I do, I state my boundaries at the beginning. “I am not in this for fame, followers or fortune - I am in this to make an impact, if you’re in the same position, then let us work together.”
Also, when coming from a place of transparency and truth, I am currently learning how to say “no” to things and realizing that perfectionism is not a true reality. It’s ok to make mistakes, we’re human. It’s just about learning from them so that we don’t repeat it.
Can you tell us more about the Matriarch Movement?
The “Matriarch Movement” came to me in my dream state - it was a vision. So I knew that I had to make my literal dream a reality.
The “Matriarch Movement” is an organization that started by amplifying Indigenous Women’s voices, but since my brother has teamed up with me, now all Indigenous voices and the way they reclaim their power. It is also a platform for meditation, movement (yoga) and medicine (reclaiming an Indigenous worldview).
We’re currently in the process of launching two different necklaces in support of the Matriach Movement so be sure to look out for that on the Instagram @matriarch.movement and the website www.matriarchmovement.ca
You’ve worked with Jillian Harris before - what do you think of the new colourway in the S+T x JH collab?
I actually just had a photoshoot with Smash + Tess last week and they dressed me in a red rain jacket and red rain boots with the Black Jilly Romper - I immediately said “I feel like Jillian Harris” haha. The rompers are super comfy and they go with literally anything. You can dress it up or down - I am looking forward to expanding my Smash + Tess wardrobe.
Fave way to wear your romper?
I like to pair anything with a wide-brimmed hat, gold jewellery and some Docs or Vans right now. Also, a leather jacket over the romper and some Chucks - is a super easy/fashionable look.
What does your ultimate Sunday consist of?
I try to take Sundays off the screen and go into nature. I live next to Kits beach so I often go there for a walk/run and to make an offering for the next week ahead. I set my intentions each day but then remember to offer tobacco or something back to the Creator (Divine, Source, God, whatever word you call it) - It’s about creating that reciprocal relationship to the earth around us.
Current Netflix binge?
It’s not on Netflix… yet. But my brother, Joel Oulette’s, show the “Trickster” which will be out on CBC and CBC Gem, October 7th. This show will be changing mainstream media - there has never been a show like it. It has a supernatural feeling to it - think “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” or “Chambers” but infused with an authentic Indigenous cast, crew and legends. Also, look out for my other brother who plays Joel’s double and my mom. Haha!
Who inspires you?
Right now, honestly my family. We have been through a lot - just like any other Indigenous person that is currently living in today’s colonial world. However, we’re now pushing past the “surviving” stage and into the “thriving” one. Success was never built or handed to us and here we are - pushing the boundaries, succeeding and using our platforms to ignite change.
Where would one look to educate themselves more about indigenous experiences and people in Canada?
If you want to educate yourself - educate yourself on the history. It’s one thing to hear about intergenerational trauma and another to actually learn where it stems from and how it came to be. It allows you to have more understanding and compassion for others' experiences.
Not educating yourself on history is what leads to ignorance. No matter where you are in the world - educate yourself on the history of that land and the people, you will better understand the present moment and how we can create a more equitable future for all.
Intentions are one thing - impact is another. Think more than just a “land acknowledgement” - strive for those daily actions and ask yourself how they impact the world, the land, the water, the next generation - each day.
If you are looking to educate yourself more on Indigenous People and their history within Canada, Shayla has provided some resources for our community to help get you started.
“21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act” by Bob Joseph
Strange Visitors: Documents in Indigenous-Settler Relations in Canada from 1876
“Decolonization is for Everyone” Ted Talk by Nikki Sanchez
Free course online offered from the University of Alberta called “Indigenous Canada”.