Global Woman of Vision: April Eve Wiberg
This activist is passionate about advocating for indigenous rights and works hard to ensure the continued success of her grassroots organization.
June 25, 2017
photography by Cooper & O'Hara
Growing up, April Eve Wiberg experienced racism firsthand through the comments that classmates at her predominantly white rural farm school were making about her, her sister, and her family. “Everybody knew that our mom was native and [there was] a lot of name calling, and it was very hurtful,” says Wiberg. “When you look in the mirror and see your mother who you think is this gorgeous Indian princess, and people are so full of hatred just because of the colour of your skin? It’s very confusing for a young person.” Though the experience was incredibly difficult, Wiberg always knew that discrimination was wrong — and that attitude is part of what propelled her on her current path. “I knew it was wrong and I knew that there was a world outside of the world we knew, and I wanted to be a part of that somehow.”
It wasn’t a straightforward journey, though. “I chose the wrong road, I chose to get involved with the wrong crowd, and I was lost for many years, but I always had that spirit inside of me,” says Wiberg. After hitting rock bottom in her late 20s, she realized that there was more out there for her, that she wanted to be helping others. She took the first step by volunteering with the Canadian Native Friendship Centre here in Edmonton, and immediately loved it. “I encourage people a lot to volunteer because you can meet some really incredible people,” says Wiberg.
The spark that ignited the idea for her grassroots group, The Stolen Sisters and Brothers Awareness Movement, was an aboriginal HIV awareness walk led by a woman in the United States that Wiberg witnessed while she was living there. “I was really inspired by her and her strength and her courage,” says Wiberg. A few months later, when doing some research, Wiberg was hit with the realization that there just wasn’t enough awareness being raised about missing or murdered indigenous girls — and she thought back to that inspiring walk, and how she could change that.
The first Stolen Sister’s Awareness walk, which started from the Canadian Native Friendship Centre, took place in 2007 with about 100 supporters. April has led the walk every year since, and it continues to grow — and the Stolen Sisters and Brothers Awareness Movement continues to see where and how they can help. “We have to look beyond the awareness now,” says Wiberg. “We have to look at prevention and supporting people that are still living in vulnerability.”
While Wiberg leads a busy life, her passion for activism remains a constant. “It’s work that has to be done, it can’t end. It has to keep going because the issue itself is not getting any better, and that has to change,” says Wiberg.