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A local Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) survivor and activist is representing Merritt and the Nicola Valley on the international stage, sharing her story of adversity and triumph while wearing the designs of world famous artists.
Danielle Jack is an Indigenous single mother from has resided in the community for 26 years, and has been advocating for underrepresented groups such as MMIWG and domestic abuse survivors for as long as she can remember. Jack previously told the Herald that a recent abduction scare kickstarted her activism, but the underlying cause was her sexual assault at 12 years old.
“I’ve been active in MMIWG for many years now, because I am a survivor,” said Jack. “I was abducted when I was 12 years old. I was beaten and brutally raped. When they thought I was dead, they left me on the side of the road and urinated on me. I had to walk home naked. I know what it’s like to be missing, I know that feeling to be gone. That’s why I fight so much to help find our missing.”
Now, Jack has worked to overcome her trauma, addiction, and other hurdles, and will soon head to Cannes, France, for International Indigenous Fashion Week to share her story and wear the designs of four different artists.
“I’m just really blessed, I just don’t even know how I got to this point, it just happened so fast,” Jack told the Herald.
“It is a remarkable feeling, to have people believe in you that much. It’s all very surreal. It is a huge blessing to have all these opportunities.”
Before heading to Cannes, Jack will visit Timmins, Ontario for a speaking engagement to share her story, and raise awareness of the wider issue of MMIWG2S+ and domestic abuse. The local activist recently signed with Evangelista Talent Management in Vancouver, with a number of film projects and tour stops about her life experiences in the works.
Later this month, Jack and her mother, Beverly Alexander, will head to fashion week in Cannes. The multi-day festival features a number of Indigenous models and designers from around the world, including four designers that personally picked Jack to wear their designs. They include Alyssia Sutherland, Natasha Thompson-Barnes, Rebekah Jarvey, and Dante Biss-Grayson.
The road to Cannes has not been an easy one, with Jack seeing the ad for the festival and applying late. She still managed to raise the thousands of dollars needed to attend through donations and sponsorships, and will soon be hitting the stage in front of the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert DeNiro, Martin Scorcese, and Lily Gladstone. With all that she has overcome in recent months and years, Jack said she is proud of what she has accomplished.
“I was very lost in addiction, due to all the trauma that I had endured,” explained Jack. “I just kind of snapped one day, and lost myself in addiction, and lost my family. I went to rehab, and now I’m over 200 days in my sobriety.”
She credits her mother for being her biggest support system, sticking by her side even as she battled her addiction and trauma. Jack’s mother told the Herald that she has seen her daughter grow into the artist and activist that she is today, a sense of pride in her voice.
“It makes me feel great, I’m so happy for her,” added Alexander. “I’m gonna be there to support her, for sure. It’s going to be an amazing trip.”
This year, Jack has trips to Timmins, Cannes, New York, and Hollywood planned for speaking and modeling engagements, spreading awareness of the ongoing MMIWG2S+ crisis that is happening in B.C, Canada, and across the world.
Looking back on the challenges she has faced, and the progress she has made, Jack offered some works of advice to her younger self.
“What I would tell my younger self is focus on your healing,” said Jack. “If you really address that, there’s really nothing that you can’t overcome when you face yourself and your trauma. I was at a point where I stopped believing in myself, and I really believed that I didn’t deserve what life had to offer. Once I really faced my trauma, that self-belief and self-love was right there.”