This Indigenous Advocate Is Holding Our Government Accountable
Nikki Fraser on how she made it happen
Name: Nikki Fraser
Job title: Indigenous Advocate
From: Kamloops, B.C.
Currently lives in: Kamloops, B.C.
Education: Second year BA student, Thompson Rivers University
First job out of school: Assistant to the governance relations advisor at Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc (her home community)
At 25, Indigenous advocate Nikki Fraser asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau what he was going to do about missing and murdered Indigenous women—a tragedy her family has experienced twice. After two years serving as the youth rep for the B.C. Native Women’s Association (BCNWA), Fraser found herself face-to-face with Trudeau in 2017. “I was one of 10 diverse Canadians to have the opportunity to sit for a 10-minute national interview with the prime minister,” she recalls. In the video, Fraser is emotional as she asks Trudeau what he will do to keep Indigenous women from further harm. After that, her activism brought another huge honour her way. “I was nominated for a role with the United Nations Young Leaders for the Sustainable Development Goals,” she says. She was the first Canadian and first Indigenous person to be chosen.
Fraser’s accomplishments are impressive for anyone, but her work is especially admirable because she’s only been officially at it for less than five years. She landed her role as the BCNWA youth rep unexpectedly after being nominated at a meeting she attended solely to support a friend. Before then, Fraser had attended rallies, walks and marches for missing and murdered Indigenous women, but she hadn’t known there were bigger spaces for her to speak to the issues facing Indigenous people across Canada. She felt unprepared for public advocacy. “I went from being a very shy person to speaking on a national and international level,” she says. “I was passionate to learn as much as I could so I could contribute in a good way.”
Now Fraser says every work day is different, from admin tasks to developing her new platform to speaking at conferences, both local and international—which brings all sorts of challenges. With two small children at home, travelling is the hardest part of Fraser’s work. “My children are a huge part of why I started doing this,” she says. “I’m raising two children to be proud to be Indigenous, and I want them to be raised in a world where they are valued as Indigenous people.”
Her next project—Uniting our Voices (UOV)—will work to increase not only the Indigenous voices in government at all levels but also the variety of those voices. “As I’ve been having all these conversations the past few years, the main theme is that there isn’t enough representation of Indigenous voices at any table. Or if there is, it’s in a tokenized position,” she explains. “Indigenous voices are vital to all conversations. And we have such a diverse nation, even within our nations, that one voice doesn’t represent all of who we are.”