Independent Woman Worldwide


I come from a history of do-it-yourself women

Before famous female action heroes like Michelle Obama and Madonna entered the stage, and even before the world got the pleasure of the spectacularly independent, Katherine Hepburn, two women in particular inspired me with the belief that women really COULD do anything.

My great grandmother, Marie Cortorielle Christian

a Woodlands Cree Native, was one of the strongest and most independent woman I knew. She raised 6 children in a tiny log cabin in Northern Alberta, at a time when electricity, running water, and paved roads were stuff of science fiction.  Kookum, which means Grandmother in the Cree Language, could write a book on self sufficient living.

If she could write. She couldn’t. At least not in English, because she refused to learn English. She understood it well enough, Kookum was stubborn. She didn’t want to lose her language and didn’t believe that anyone coming to “her lands” should tell her she need to speak English.

But she COULD kill a moose with one shot. She’d have it skinned within an hour, and within days have the meat butchered and wrapped. That moose would  feed the family for months.  Once the meat was taken care of, she’d be tanning the moose hide, producing the most amazingly beautiful moccasins and mukluks the world has ever seen.

I remember her still in her 9o’s, living entirely on her own, in a part of the world most people considered the Frozen Tundra. And there was Kookum Marie, a cigar stuffed in her mouth, her moose hide parka wrapped tightly around her as she shovelled the walk with gusto. She’d be digging the shovel into a foot of snow, swinging her arms around like Paul Bunyon, and letting the snow fall into the 6 foot bank. As the massive wall of snow grew, like an additional fortress to her small log house, Kookum would chat and gossip with me in Cree.  I didn’t know Cree.  I wish I did.  All I could do, was stare in awe at my Badass Superhero.

Dr Mary Percy Jackson

homemade-brass-platewas the second of my childhood heroes. My great aunt (through marriage) and my first childhood doctor, this woman epitomized the independent woman. Becoming a Doctor in the 1920’s (and graduating the top of her class) Dr. Jackson answered an advertisement in the Medical Journals for “Doctor On Horseback” and finds herself in the wilds of  Northern Alberta.

With the nearest town over 120 km away, she lived in a tiny log cabin also without electricity or running water. And where was her “office” in which she provided top quality medical treatment?

Out there. In the boreal forest, a wilderness with little more than dirt trails which became impassible more often than not.  Dr. Jackson rode her horse in a  40 km radius of “out there” visiting homesteaders and Metis families whenever they needed medical care. In the winter she had to work in temperatures as low as -40. In the spring she had to navigate through slush, mud and flooding river banks, While the summer was beautiful and hot,  she had to fight mosquitos, sometimes so thick it would be tough to breathe without inhaling them.

Want to know something else that makes her a female action hero? She had NO IDEA how to ride a horse until she got the job and took riding lessons before she left England.

She was one of my first female action heroes and Dr. Jackson’s legend continued until her death at 95.

Both of these women shaped my life and the lives of every woman that knew them

My great-grandmother, Kookum Marie, is not in the history books. Her stories are now handed down by her grandchildren, and great grand children. Her lessons however, continue to inspire and encourage every one of us.

Dr. Mary Percy Jackson has received one of the highest honours of Canada, and was named an Officer in the Order of Canada. Even in death, she continues to inspire women world-wide with her story.

What did these two courageous women teach me about being an independent woman?

  1. Strong women may be scared s@itless, but they do it anyway.
  2. We can be taught almost anything if we have the desire to learn
  3. We will not wait for someone to do our work.
  4. We will do whatever is necessary to be successful.
  5. We can empower a nation

Join the discussion! Tell me about who inspires you, by leaving a comment below.

Sailing past St. LuciaDeborah Vos is a dreamer, a writer, a traveler and a sailor. She believes in following her dreams and trusts that in doing so, she’s being led to an even more abundant and joyful life.

Deborah can be currently found sailing in the Caribbean. When she’s not on the water, she’s following her passion for writing and digital marketing.

Feel free to send her an email!

16 thoughts on “Independent Woman Worldwide”

  1. Hi Deborah,

    I really enjoyed your perspective. It boggles me that we still must draw attention to perceived inequalities between genders, races or any “difference” at all. But I admit that we’ve still a way to go. Better to be moving to it than sitting still, I suppose.

    So many of the people I admire most are women. When I think back on how much personal development I’ve taken on over the last many years, I automatically think of names like Tara Brach, Dr. Sue Johnson, Louise Hay and Sandy Gallagher. They’re each incredible inspirations to me.

    My mother is my greatest inspiration and best friend and always will be. My sweetheart is another amazing person who has taught me to be a better dad just by observing her. She amazes me with her spirit, determination and uniqueness.

    You inspire me as well with what I’ve read here and through your site. Good for you! Sail on, and be well.

    Wishing you health & happiness


  2. Hey There, nice and inspiring article. All these brave women are an example that when you really set your mind on achieving something no one can stop you.

    Life is a journey and sometimes that journey can be a rough one. But every stone on our path can be moved and every road can be traveled you only need to really want to make it to the end of it.


  3. Your article brought a message of courage and strength to all women. It empowers and speaks clearly that women could also do whatever men can do. My inspiration is my parents. They both taught to be patient and to persevere in life. I remember when I was young, my mom used to sell rice cakes and refreshments in the streets and sell clothes by going from house to house to help my dad. My dad who was a construction worker at that time worked tirelessly day and night. We have less in life and this is their way of making both ends meet. I will never forget their sacrifices in order for me and my siblings to have a better life.

    1. What a great story, Adel. Thank you! Your parents taught you, through their own examples, that hard work and perseverance are the keys to success. I’m sure you are a shining example of that. Thank you for checking out the site!

  4. This article made me think about my Grandmother, Esther.

    She was one of the strongest women I’ve ever known and was definitely the glue that kept my family together.

    Born in 1918, she worked her entire life until she passed away from cancer at 82.

    Every year until her death, every person in my family would gather at her home for every major holiday, no matter where they were, we all made it to her home and celebrated together.

    Sadly, after she was gone, the gatherings stopped and the world lost something truly special.

    Thanks for this…


    1. Yes! Exactly my story. After my great-grandmother passed on, the gatherings would always be at my Grandparents house. My grandfather passed away a few years ago, and it was tough, but we all kept gathering. When my Grandmother turned 90 we had a family reunion. 125 showed up. Some couldn’t make it. I’m talking 125 people consisting entirely of children, grand-children, great-grands, and my own grand-daughter marking the 5th generation as great-great-grandchild. The feeling of being so inter-connected to such a large tribe who are literally all descendants of one woman – indescribable. My grandmother died earlier this year. Our family will never be the same.

  5. I absolutely loved reading this! I felt a sense of empowerment that continued to get stronger the more I read. These two ladies are an inspiration to us all and I love the summary at the end of what you had learnt. I now feel like I can just go and take on the world. Thanks for sharing their stories and I look forward to reading more on your site.

  6. I really loved reading this. You kept me interested and wanting more. I like the visuals I got from the way you described each scene and I felt as if I were there.

    I would love to live in a cabin, surviving off the land. These women were strong indeed and individuals I wish I had the pleasure of knowing.

    Thanks to you, I know of them.

    1. What a lovely thing to say, Kate. Thank you so much! I have to say, I do need to get my “roughing it in Northern Alberta” fix quite often! I do hope that you get to “live in a cabin” dream realized. You would love it!

  7. Good stuff. It’s always good to have an empowering piece within your message. It’s a very pleasing fact to see that women are not oppressed as they once were, though there are still strides to be made. I have plenty of female friends who share the same messages and feel empowered daily to spread that message. kudos to you and your site!

    1. Thanks so much Wil! I love that you checked out my site. I’m sure you’re a positive and supportive force in your female friends lives. 🙂

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