‘Before this evening I did not know these names…’ by Annie Ross

yellow, orange, fuchsia, purple and red flowers for the 2nd Sequence, crafted by Hafsah Durrani

Women Who Named the Unnamed

Surrey Muse Arts Society (SMAS)
South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD)
Committee of Progressive Pakistani Canadians (CPPC)

Deep thanks to Fauzia Rafique, for many reasons, but most recently for Women Who Named the Unnamed: Celebration of Pakistani and Canadian Women Heroes, held at Surrey City Hall.

Please excuse me, before this evening with my dear Fauzia, friends, community, and colleagues, i did not know the names Sabeen Mahmud, Fahmida Riaz, Asma Jahangir, Madeeha Gauhar, Sarah Suhail, Sheema Kermani, Kishwar Naheed, Hina Jilani, as i do now. Learning of their lives (via biographical film and commentary), filled me with humility, Power, and shored up my belief in how the life of one person, can, does, has and will make profound movement towards our collective Justice, Rights.

our smallest whisper, our deepest dreams,
our many acts, both humble and large

There are so many aspects one may speak of, regarding this glorious, respectful, intelligent evening. In addition to the creative, courageous genius highlighted in this program, were those who were targeted and killed while performing their work in the world. Martyrdom, legion in the beliefs of many spiritual practices and religions of the world, have a place here, and in history. Heroes in Spirit committed and offered sacrifice in order to reach our collective, potential (yet unfulfilled) Rights and Justice. We can be encouraged here, that our smallest whisper, our deepest dreams, our many acts, both humble and large, can and do bring Rights and Justice to Life. So many live and work for others, Land and all of Earth’s Beings, yet remain invisible, lives censored to history, their righteousness is a shining light in dark times.

we honour those whose work challenges and attempts to transform
state-sponsored disappearances (desaparecidos)

That martyrdom remains a reality of contemporary Canadian Indigenous Rights Actionists, Land Defenders, and Indigenous peoples world-wide, is a heart-breaking fact of our contemporary times, one barely acknowledged in our privileged country. In Women who named the unnamed, we honour those whose work challenges and attempts to transform state-sponsored disappearances (desaparecidos), military interference in civil society, and move towards rights, action, liberation, where the struggles of the poor, marginalized, and oppressed are seen and recognized. Women Who Named the Unnamed honours work and lives of all who are critical to a free and just society.

Thank you to all involved, for educating and enlightening, on people and philosophies needed in our world crying for Equality, Justice, Rights.

To review a video of Women Who Named the Unnamed, suggested here for universities, libraries, and community centres, please check this page where more information will be available soon.

Annie Ross (Maya) is a Professor in the Department of First Nations Studies at Simon Fraser University. She developed and taught courses focusing on rights and title, environmental justice, and testimonio as a means to remedy from past political oppressions; Indigenous art histories, technologies/craft, weaving, poetry and poetics, and printmaking as part of a panoply, a canon, of what we mean when we say Indigenous Bioregionalisms.


View our objectives and goals.

Women Who Named the Unnamed is a project of
Surrey muse Arts Society (SMAS)

We gratefully acknowledge
that we are on the unceded Coast Salish territories of
the Semiahmoo, Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Kwantlen,
Qayqayt, Tsawwassen, Musqueam,
Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.