Indigenous women’s advocate Sarah Caroline Robinson lost her battle with cancer in May, but her legacy is just beginning.
Pushing through the wall of grief that came with losing a best friend and sister, Rebekah Hoggard and Peter Robinson teamed up to form the Sarah Robinson Foundation shortly after the former West Coast resident “rejoined the ancestors” as she is remembered saying.
“It’s the only thing I can do for Sarah. I want to continue her work. That’s my main focus right now,” said younger brother Peter.
An inaugural fundraising event on Saturday, Aug. 7, what would have been Sarah’s 36th birthday, at Le Papillon Studio in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside will help get the foundation off the ground – and set the tone for future events. The Chinook Song Catchers from the Squamish and Nisga’a Nations will perform a cultural dance in honour of Sarah and Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief Gabriel George will offer an opening prayer and drum ceremony. Her uncle’s band ‘The Tribe’ is slated to perform as well.
“It’s going to be a heavy day. It’s going to be a lot. I’ll never have a friend like her ever again. She was one-of-a-kind. She was a light to all of us and now she shines only brighter in the sun that we see that sets every day,” said Hoggard.
Sarah was a proud citizen of the Fort Nelson First Nation in Northern B.C. and the Saulteau First Nation in Treaty 8 territory. Her mother, Bernice, is a survivor of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
“She’s very, very lucky to make it out alive. She was actually adopted out of Kamloops Residential School by an amazing Indigenous family from Moberly Lake, B.C. They are Saulteau Nation. She was raised there,” said Peter.
Sarah was an appointed member of the BC Minister’s Advisory Council on Indigenous Women and the principal at Rainwatch Advising, a company that facilitated reconciliation strategy, Indigenous consultation and educational webinars/video. She married Carlos Mack and into the Toquaht Nation where she lived in the small coastal village of Macoah on Vancouver Island as a stepmom and auntie.
Sarah Robinson speaks at the 2017 The Walrus Talks National Tour.
Friend Juliet Van Vliet says Sarah has left pretty big shoes for us all to fill.
“I know there are a lot of amazing youth leaders out there, but Sarah was such a bright star she really set the mark for leadership and I hope we can all live up to her high standards of grace and collaboration,” said Van Vliet.
Hoggard says all Sarah wanted to do was educate and love.
“She passed zero judgment on anyone. I looked up to her wholeheartedly. She’s a sister to all of us,” she said.
Funds raised at the Aug. 7 Sarah Robinson Foundation event will go towards incorporating the charity and supporting the Deyen Sarah Robinson Scholarship for Indigenous Women.
“That scholarship is for women to continue their education for those that might not have the means,” said Hoggard. “That’s what our foundation is all about, to be behind Indigenous women just as strongly as Sarah was.”
Hoggard and Peter have a long-term goal of creating the Sarah Robinson Foundation Safe House on the Downtown Eastside.
“We are just there, non judgmental, to help these amazing women get back to their dreams. You know we are all on this earth and have a purpose and want to set out to what we want to do and life can be so cruel and interrupt our plans. Our foundation is there to help facilitate to get them back on their feet,” she said.
Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to reach out to Rebekah Hoggard at email@example.com.
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