Ellen Gabriel, Katsi’tsakwas, Kanien’kehá:ka Nation (Mohawk), 1959-
She is Indigenous Human Rights Activist and Visual Artis.Ms. Gabriel was well-known to the public when she was chosen by the People of the Longhouse and her community of Kanehsatà:ke to be their spokesperson during the 1990 “Oka” Crisis; to protect the Pines from the expansion of a 9 hole golf course in “Oka”.
Since 1990 she has advocated for the collective and individual human rights of Indigenous peoples and has worked diligently to sensitize the public, academics, policing authorities and politicians on the history, culture and identity of Indigenous peoples.
She has made numerous public presentations on Indigenous rights and history, to post-secondary institutions, conferences, including presentations to Parliamentary and Senate committees as well as, Québec's National Assembly on legislative amendments affecting the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
She has been active at the international level participating at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous issues, negotiations on the Nagoya Protocol of the Convention on Biodiversity and advocated for Indigenous languages and cultures at the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
She has traveled across Canada, to the Hague in Holland, Strasbourg, France to address the European parliament; and to Japan to educate people about the events in her community during the 1990 “Oka Crisis” or as it is locally known, the 1990 Siege of Kanehsatà:ke.
Ms. Gabriel has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University where she graduated in May 1990. She worked as an Illustrator/Curriculum developer for Tsi Ronteriwanónha ne Kanien’kéka/ Kanehsatà:ke Resource Center in Kanehsatà:ke and also worked as an Art Teacher for the Mohawk Immersion School for grades 1-6. Ellen has also worked on videos illustrating legends of the Iroquois people and the local community stories. She is presently an active board member of Kontinón:stats
– Mohawk Language Custodians Association and First Peoples Human Rights Coalition.
In 2004, Ellen Gabriel was elected president of the Quebec Native Women’s Association a position which she held for 6 ½ years, until December 2010.
Awards: In 2005 Ms. Gabriel received the Golden Eagle Award from the Native Women’s Association of Canada; 2008 International Women’s Day Award from the Barreau du Québec/Québec Bar Association and as well in August 2008 Ms. Gabriel was the recipient of the Indigenous Women’s Initiative “Jigonsaseh Women of Peace Award” for her advocacy work.
She believes that decolonization will be achieved through the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with the full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples. She believes that education controlled by First Nations peoples based upon our languages and culture are paramount to the revitalization of our institutions which have been consistently under attack by the Indian Act, the Indian Residential School and subsequent colonial legislation and policy. Ms. Gabriel believes that Indigenous peoples' traditional knowledge is precious, as it is the key corner stone for Indigenous peoples in overcoming colonial oppression and restoring the institutions and teachings of our ancestor. She is an advocate for gender equity, the revitalization of Indigenous languages, culture, traditions and Indigenous governing structures.
Ms. Gabriel lives in Kanehsatà:ke and currently works for the Kanehsatà:ke Language and Cultural Center.