News / Vancouver

B.C. woman named one of 16 Nobel laureate-honoured world activists

Helen Knott, of Prophet River First Nation in northern B.C., selected to highlight 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.

Helen Knott, a social worker from Prophet River First Nation near Fort St. John, B.C., speaks about her experiences of violence against women at the launch of an Amnesty International report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, on Nov. 3 in Vancouver.

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Helen Knott, a social worker from Prophet River First Nation near Fort St. John, B.C., speaks about her experiences of violence against women at the launch of an Amnesty International report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, on Nov. 3 in Vancouver.

A 28-year-old Indigenous advocate from northern British Columbia has been named one of 16 activists selected by the Nobel Women’s Initiative, a group of Peace Prize laureates.

Helen Knott, a Fort St. John resident and University of Northern B.C. Master’s student, was recently featured in Metro for speaking about Indigenous women impacted by resource development projects in the province’s north. She’s the only featured activist from Canada this year.

“Just knowing I’d been nominated, I had a good cry,” the Prophet River First Nation member told Metro in a phone interview. “I was really grateful and humbled.

“Sometimes I feel like a really small piece of a large puzzle. It was nice to see that acknowledgement. That is what we’ve been struggling for.”

Knott appeared at the release of an Amnesty International report that suggested links between increased violence against women and resource projects, such as BC Hydro’s Site C dam which is set to flood parts of her First Nation’s traditional territories, part of Treaty 8.

“It’s usually small things that give me the greatest hope,” she said. “It sounds simple, but as a mother spending time with my family pushes me forward, and spending time in the community with young people.”

The initiative, founded by women who won the Nobel Peace Prize, chose the 16 advocates and is unveiling them one-by-one in the fortnight between November 25 — International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women — and Dec. 10, International Human Rights Day.

Though not affiliated with the Nobel prize itself, the Nobel Women’s Initiative was started 10 years ago by six winners of the prestigious peace prize — including Mayan indigenous rights activist Rigoberta Menchú Tum from Guatemala, Iranian lawyer and dissident Shirin Ebadi, and Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai.

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