Barry Ace’s cousin Linda Florence Jordan (Under The Sky Woman) was a very strong and inspirational mentor to him, and since her passing on February 14, 2014 at age 62, he has wanted to pay tribute to her memory and the important contributions that she has made to Indigenous social, cultural and political rights in Canada.
In 1978, when Linda was 26 years old, she left Ontario and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia and applied for a position with the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs whose President was George Manuel – a well-respected Indigenous leader. Three years later, she would be heavily involved in helping to organize the Constitution Express – the term given to one of the most historic lobby efforts of Indigenous leaders to entrench the recognition of Indigenous rights into the Canadian Constitution. Following this profound experience, Linda was offered a job in Ottawa, and she began the next stage in her career with the National Association of Friendship Centres, and then the Native Council of Canada and the Native Women’s Association of Canada. Linda advocated tirelessly for women’s rights; women in conflict with law; and Bill C-31 amendments that addressed sex-based inequities in the Indian Act. Through her advocacy and intergovernmental work, she became well known and well respected in the Indigenous community. In 1989, through her work with the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Linda became involved in the case of the tragic death of Minnie Sutherland, and she opened her home in Ottawa to Minnie’s family who stayed with her during the Coroner’s Inquest.
Linda would continue her advocacy work for Indigenous people taking a position as Commission Secretary to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was a Canadian Royal Commission established in 1991 with the aim of investigating the relationship between Indigenous peoples in Canada, the Government of Canada, and Canadian society as a whole. In her capacity as Commission Secretary, she was responsible for overseeing much of the executive level support required for the RCAP Commissioners. Linda’s knowledge and skills were highly regarded, and with the exception of the very legal text on the Indian Act, she wrote the Women’s Chapter for the Final Report of the Commission.
And yet, her life was not without its many obstacles and roadblocks, transversing racism, misogyny, and on-going bouts with personal issues and illness, but despite these debilitating challenges, Linda persevered and made major inroads for Indigenous people across Canada. She is recognized with numerous awards for her unwavering commitment to her work and community.
Ace dedicates this bandolier in honour of the life and memory of Linda Jordan (Under the Sky Woman).