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It is often said that activism is born in the face of adversity, a statement which would certainly apply to local Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) activist Danielle Jack.

The Indigenous single mother 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. She says her own experience reporting her sexual assault and receiving no justice lit a fire in her and inspired her to work on protecting others.

“I’ve been active in MMIWG for many years now, because I am a survivor. 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.”

The road to recovery from this incident has been long and punishing for Jack, who struggled with mental health and addiction throughout her life. Multiple studies show the link between increased addiction rates and surviving sexual assault. Jack says her activism has been fueled by these events, but was ignited during a scary encounter last year.

“My activism started more when I was nearly abducted in Merritt last year. I was walking to my car and was approached by a man, and at the same time a van pulled up beside me and a man was trying to grab me from inside the van as well.”

After the initial shock of the close-call wore off, Jack was inspired to ensure that other women wouldn’t have to face the same fears.

“Merritt is kind of a small comfy town, and I’ve always felt safe here after 26 years. It pushed me to bring awareness to the issue and keep women safe. It’s impacted not just Merritt alone, it’s impacting all of us. There isn’t one Indigenous person out there that is not impacted by MMIW. Just last night I received a call that one of my friends is missing. It’s impacting everyone.”

Ranging in variety from workshops and speeches to media interviews and organizing city-wide awareness walks, Jack is committed to bringing awareness to MMIWG issues.

“It’s happening on our own land. We’re going missing and being murdered on our own land. A lot of people still don’t know what MMIWG is.”

Jack says social media has been vital in spreading awareness and organizing efforts to bring an end to this ongoing crisis, adding that public education on Indigenous issues and sharing of survivor’s stories only strengthen the cause.

“Educate yourself on this. It’ll start shedding light on it. Speak up, get it out there. That helps other people’s stories. It gives them the courage to speak out.”

Being a survivor herself, Jack encourages other survivors to speak up and share their story, a process she says has helped her to heal from past traumas.

“I’ve given up many times and lost myself to addiction, and really felt worthless. When you’re in that position it has a way of dehumanizing you, and it strips you of everything that you hold worthy in you. Speak your truth, even if your voice is faint. That in itself is healing.”

Also a survivor of domestic violence and child sex trafficking, Jack says she will continue to raise awareness and enact change to support fellow survivors and prevent future incidents.

Moving forward, Jack looks to continue her activism while also healing from the past, and says she is currently in the process of reclaiming her spirit. This includes traveling to the site of her assault, as well as other locations where she experienced loss, reclaiming them as part of herself.