This guy NAILS online bullying.
Ran into one of the loveliest men I know, Eugene. Eugene’s wife Jeanette was recently visiting their home country Congo and I have never felt like a bigger shit than when I asked how her visit went and he emotionally told me of the slaughter happening in the East Congo that is being financed by major corporations for the vast mineral deposits that are used (pointing at my son’s Nintendo) for portable electronics(my iPhone weighing a million pounds in my pocket at this point.) 48 women this hour will be raped in the conflict he tells me, every hour. 8 million dead, he says in his soft & deep voice with the French accent.
He explained the ties of the conflict in the Congo to the Rwandan genocide, ties that I knew nothing about. 8 million people and no one is outraged he says Egypt, Libya all over the news Congo, nothing he says with a heavy yet rightfully outraged voice. What do you say to that… how do I sit with products in my pocket that my friend is directly tying to another’s person’s rape and/or murder? People he knows..people in his family. How do I look at my gentle giant of a friend and say…. anything. Watch Blood in the Mobile he tells me, google it and watch. So this is what I will do, maybe you will too?
I would run into my gentle giant of a friend the next day and told him how deeply his words impacted me and how I had posted it on my Facebook and the conversations it started. He told me to google Unwatchable.cc so I did. Hope you will join me in watching this as well.
I wasn’t able to watch the films on the site but some poking around on Youtube I was able to watch them.
I was out side the Missing & Murdered inquiry today at the corner of Granville & Georgia.
I was there as people started drumming, smudging creating a sacred space.
The more I dive both feet in, the depth of spirituality and connectedness to mother earth that is the root of Aboriginal people’s worldview & faith the more I realize I have none. Connectedness to the land I mean, to the cycles of nature, roots that go down to the core of the earth.
My Dad is not from this country, my mother is 2nd(maybe3rd) generation Canadian and my Grandmother had deep respect for Aboriginal peoples & culture and I remember her teaching it to us, but I don’t recall my parents telling me stories that connected me to something bigger, about a lineage that went as far back as the original stories told by wise elders. Granted I think my Dad didn’t want to talk about his history, I don’t think it was something he wanted to revisit.
But I feel… rootless.
I have a faith, I am a Christ follower but it does not teach me the cycles of the fish & game, the ways to render bear fat and turn it into a salve for eczema. How to let the land provide and treat it with the reverence she deserves.
Yes, earth is a she. Mother Nature.
Women have high esteem in Aboriginal cultures, we are the life givers.
In Christianity, I know we are not held in the reverence we deserve. Some teach we are to be subservient of men, as if God made me less than a man. I am pretty positive he didn’t, Jesus showed a radical new way of treating women. Somehow that got lost in the teachings.
The places & lands I am honoured to go, the ceremonies I partake in, the Grandmothers who teach me their wisdom, in some ways teach me in some ways how hollow we have made God.
As if God is somehow only wrapped up in consumerism, consumption, misogyny, racism (that’s what it’s called when you partake in a genocide, like the church did with aboriginal peoples) judgement, and making sure everyone knows their sins as if the church it’s self has none. Let’s face it when people think of the church they think of people who do a lot of finger pointing to outsiders, but never inward at themselves. That said, I do see God in a lot of things the church does, I do, my friends do, my community does but unfortunately those tend to not be the things the church is known for by those outside of the church.
I love my God. I know Jesus is a part of my every heartbeat.
But my aboriginal friends have taught me something deeper, something I need to pass onto my son who is Nak’azdl from the Carrier Nation in Northern BC, in fact all my children. A connection to the land that values it. He (we) needs to be connected to this land and ways of living on it that have been passed down from his grandmother from her grandmother from her grandmother since time immemorial.
It is an amazing and powerful feeling to be around peoples who talk of stories about ravens, fish, berries and traditions handed down for as long back as history can be traced.
Yet, we came here.. I mean that as a communal we, anyone not First Nations. We partake in racism and marginalization everyday without even realizing it, our laws are set up to keep us from recognizing it. Trust me our history books don’t teach it, remember they were written by the colonizers. Social policy keeps the line divided between “us” & “them” one must seek out the issue to see it, it is so well hidden and kept from view. I think this pic captures what many in society think
You can also see the pic on my Facebook page in case it’s not clear enough.
As I have sat in court last week listening to the horrors or residential school and why grandmothers & mothers mistrust the RCMP & police. They mistrust because as the Indian Agents invaded their homelands and stole their little children, throwing them into cattle cars to be taken to residential schools where the aim was to “kill the indian in the child” the RCMP were instructed by the Indian Agents to hit hands hard enough to break, so the women, mothers, grandmothers, aunties would let go and stop climbing up the sides of the car desperate to get their children back.
Sit with that.
It happened in Canada.
In our lifetime.
The last residential school closed in when?
Do you know?
When do you think?
The 70’s? 80’s?60″s?
The last residential school, White Calf Collegiate, was closed in 1996.
Yup. 17 years ago.
This is not ancient history, this is recent history
As a Christian I do not try to defend the Church, defending it to someone who’s culture, family, essence, land and much more was stolen seems trite. As a faith rooted person I must sit with the hate deservingly aimed at the church, yes the church does some great stuff however it does not negate our responsibility for what happened. I cannot be uncomfortable with it. I must acknowledge it and own it, even though it was not me personally.
I noticed the division based on skin color years ago. When I was in group homes with aboriginal youth, I could see how I was treated different.I knew when my dark skinned sisters were being hassled by the police I could step in and what I said carried a different weight because of my white skin, I knew then I always had to step in whenever I could.
I could see it when my friends kids were apprehended, but I was given many opportunities to keep mine and I did, I never lost custody of any of my children.
I knew as I met my friends aunties, cousins and elders from their homelands that they were a part of something I wanted. I could feel deep in my bones. Something bigger, something connected. When I was welcomed into everywhere my friends went and I was the only one with blue eyes, I knew I was being invited into something sacred.
As a caucasian appearing person I must sit with my “whiteness” and the privilege it gives me.
Most of all what I must do is to thank my sisters, the elders, the men who have tolerated my ignorant questions, rooted in a real desire to learn.
I must uphold what they teach me. I have to take it to places I get into and tell what they have told me.
I have to be accountable to my beautiful sisters with chocolate eyes, and deep connected souls and hair as black as a ravens’s feathers.
I have a pair of small moccasins that were given to me as a present when I presented in Quesnel, and I can sit for hours and smell the smokey smell that is worked into the hide as it cures and that smell to me, is what the universe smells like. To breathe it in, that smokey smell reminds me of the trees, the grass, the earth. The earth that provides all we need, that we also seem to be hell bent on killing.
I know though that the people who Turtle Island (Canada) rightfully belongs to have much to teach us, show us and we need to listen, need to learn. I do get scared somedays, if Turtle Island was turned over to it’s rightful owners would they kick us all out?! I couldn’t blame them, could you?
My sisters assure me that is not what they are asking, what the rightful owners of Turtle Island are asking is we respect them and the land, that their ways be valued and upheld, that we finally STOP seeing aboriginal-ness as a problem and start seeing it for what it is, the solution.
PS… here is a story I think is a necessary read
I should explain my neighbourhood. I live in close proximity to the largest social housing project in the city, full of the beautiful people. We also have 2 other social housing buildings within a 7 block radius. We have an “inner-city” school full of passionate, smart, committed teachers who deal with some kids that come to school daily burdened with issues much bigger than what 1 + 1 equals, that must be dealt with before one can learn. We do have desperate women who turn to street level prostitution that wander our streets,some mom’s from our neighbourhood who go out once income assistance checks have been stretched as thinly as they can, but the problem is with the arrogant men who ask ALL of us if we are working making our neighbourhood unsafe, and the pimps who bring other women here to exploit them.
Let me be clear, I NEED shoddy housing to be able to afford to stay in my neighbourhood… let’s be truthful. I need shoddy housing anywhere to be able to live as well as eat and pay the bills.
Since our gentrification started, I have had this simmering panic that one month my landlord is going to say “I sold the house, here’s your 3 month notice”. That my friends is a shitty feeling. I can’t tell the kids I’m scared. I want to kiss my 35+ year old, old school, laminate flooring everyday that we are here. Everyday I don’t have to tell my kids, “we are moving so someone else who has more options than us, can choose to ignore what their actions are doing to others and they can move here” is a good day
I get it you have money, you have a “right” to take over wherever you want, but can you let me live here for 8 more years. Let my kids finish school? Let my autistic son live out the life he sees for himself and finds comfort in?
I mean, we wanted a new library & community center for well… ever. You build 3 or 4 apartment buildings, and voila we have both of them in no time. Then all of a sudden members of our community we have taken care of for ages have no where to go. Molly sat in the library ALL the time, but because a few of the new people complained they didn’t feel comfortable with her solo conversation she has for hours on end, and the enormous amounts of stuff she has with her, she is now only allowed in now for short periods of time.
I know I shouldn’t refer to the new neighbours as “them” but how do you discuss a collective group of people who are threatening mine & my kids security. Who have a particular way of doing things and because everyone knows they are the ones with money things happen, like Molly being displaced out of the library, or prostituted women not being able to use the new coffee shops washroom because they have not bought a drink. Well then, I’ll buy her a drink and you better damn well not come up with another excuse to deny her access to a bathroom!! A bathroom. What does that say about us when people can’t use a bathroom.
I also know I am not talking about millionaires here, most are “middle class” but actions are actions, attitudes are attitudes. Standards are standards. When the “newbies” move in then they want stores/coffee shops/ gyms/ etc that are a part of their everyday lives that maybe have not been a part of ours, and as those stores are created to cater to them we(me/my family/ friends/ the original neighbours) find ourselves surrounded by spaces we can’t access.
I want to be kind to everyone, but how do I be kind to a group of people who I know eventually will displace me & mine for their own want. Who edge me & mine out of spaces because we don’t fit the bill. Although the thing that irritates me the most is the judgments they heap everywhere, maybe not with words but suddenly we have houses with locked gates across their back car park. Have sign on the front lawn and window proudly displaying the high tech security systems in their homes.That look at my sweet and funny, moacha skinned, man sized, teenager in a way that makes me scared for him when he leaves my house. That creates an “us” & “them” feeling all in it’s self.
I am also reminded that this is Thanksgiving weekend, the colonizers holiday. when we celebrate the “original” gentrification. I know there is a push to have it be a weekend to give thanks, but at who’s expense are we giving thanks.I want to confront the holiday, not re-brand it so we ignore the core issue & talk about how great our lives are.I think it is important to address the reality of this weekend, not try to push the horror of it aside. I know the indigenous women I walk through life with, and learn from have no chance to not confront the horror on a regular/daily basis.Yes, I am thankful for more that I can articulate or express, but let’s not create a feel good holiday to ignore the true history of what our 3 -day weekend is celebrating,
I will never know what it was like to have my land invaded. To be killed, raped, and have my language striped of me, be forced to live on parcels of land doled out by those who have decimated your culture and traditions. My heart and solidarity goes out to indigenous people, my son’s people.
But I have the teeniest, tiniest glimpse of what it feels like to be in a constant state of living in the anxiety that one day you come home to that piece of paper that says, “You’re out”
I have to take one of my littles to school….we’ll walk down the alley with new houses we’ll never live in, walk by gates that were not there 3 years ago, and be glared at by the new neighbors who aren’t sure about tattoos & purple hair on a parent. I will smile and say “Good Morning” hoping that my politeness does not encourage more to move here.
All I want is to have a home. My home & I really. really like this home.
You must go RIGHT NOW to this post written for The F- Word Media Collective by law student Laura Johnston about the Bedford decision. It clarifies so much and shows all the false arguments built into the case.
GO. read. NOW!
So funny, SO wrong, funny won out. Have a look 😉
I have decided I hate this phrase.Ok, maybe not hate as it does have it’s time and place… maybe it’s just overused.I have been so extraordinarily blessed in life since transitioning away from a life full of the form of sexual exploitation called prostitution.In my first years out of the life I was surrounded by a group of women who gave to me more than I can ever possibly find words to explain. Day or night, for every instance I needed assistance of of them would help me and my family. To this day they are my biggest supporters and for all intents an purposes my family.I would then go on to cover the Pickton trial, it would be the hardest, loneliest, bleakest, taxing and yet enormously rewarding year of my life.From there I invited into a more formal learning, learning a vernacular for what I know to be my truths. That vernacular was radical feminism. Learning at the feet of some of the most important women in Canada who have committed their lives to improving the lives of Canadian women.What I did – and still do – is realize is I have more to learn in most situations than teach.I have sat with women from S.Korea, Okinawa, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Haiti, Nigeria, Amsterdam, the most marginalized women of Canada, Indigenous women, Sweden, my gosh.. many other countries.You know what I did?Listened.You know what they did?Taught.You know what they used?Their God given voice.My knickers are getting in a knot about phrases like “voice of the voiceless” ‘saving” “rescue” ugh. please.What we should be saying is empower, systemic change, holding men accountable for their actions. Those words however aren’t as sexy as rescue, save etc, those words let us look like the hero, do something in us. Fill some hole, stroke pride, something.They are also words that don’t challenge. Don’t change the status quo.As someone who left prostitution the more I hear people talk like that the more pissy I get. I did not need rescuing I did not need “saving”what I needed was opportunities – meaningful opportunities- to change my life. Using the rescue vernacular does not allow room for the subtlety and nuances of women’s lives and situations.
I like to think I’m smart, headstrong, opinionated, and above all else a mom, provider and fighter. “Saving” me was not going to feed my children, women coming alongside me showing a different way , loving me without ANY agenda, showing me new opportunities, giving me new choices is what made the difference and will make the difference for most in the sex industry.My friend CS told this story told to her by her grandmother, told to her by her grandmother, at an event once and I think you should hear it.Some women were by the river and all of a sudden they noticed babies floating by in the water, so they jumped in and grabbed out the babies. Some women would wade in a grab them as they came down the river then hand them to the women on shore, women started drying off the babies, checking to make sure they weren’t hurt, then the babies started crying and another woman fed the babies, and so it would go like an assembly line. One women started walking up the river though, and the other women called her back to help, where are you going they asked? She said, I’m going to go find where these babies are coming from.CS’s Gran probably tells it much better and probably has that grandma smell to her that makes the story all the more nostalgic but you get the picture.Rescue, voiceless, save, all are part of the assembly line.Empower, systemic issues, hold accountable, guaranteed livable income, smash patriarchy, END colonialism, are all going up the mountain words. With out these changes, we are on nothing more than an assembly live. A necessary assembily line as we need to change the lived reality for the women if front of us, and in foreign countires sometimes you do need to smash in doors and rescue women & girls.Yes, not everyone can sit at the feet of the women I have, I have to listen to them and teach what they taught me. When I do though. I better be damn sure I am saying it right and I am not letting my perception change what they taught me. I am accountable to them, I answer to them. I care more about what they think of me, than the people I am talking to. If I worry about making people uncomfortable with what I need to say, I best be quiet. And sometimes still in this world of fighting human trafficking/ abolition people want to hear themselves talk more than they want to give others a platform to use their voice.My friend LH an aboriginal woman who has taught me much and is unwavering in her demands for aboriginal women’s equality says “We have space, your in it. We have voices, you need to listen”Let’s face it HT is the new sexy cause everyone and their mother has jumped on the bandwagon. Which I guess is.. uh. well it’s something.Abolition is about boldness. About speaking truth, and not being willing to back down for one second on any of the large and systemic issues. One cannot flinch in this debate. People’s lives, my life, my friend’s lives, our global sisters’ lives are on the line. If your in this to make friends or you care what people think of you, please exit bandwagon at the next stop.If you have been at this for less than say..2 years, only listen. If you must speak it should usually only be to ask questions from those who have been at this for decades ( trust me I do this, I’ve been at this a while and have PERSONAL experience at being a prostitute so that right there gives me a different authority, but doesn’t change the fact I have MUCH to learn from MANY wise women )To many eager people read a book, get all impassioned and think they know it all. You.don’t. sorry but it’s the truth.If I want to know Canadian history, I talk to aboriginal peoples not read about it in some book written by some colonizer (my son’s socials teacher found me problematic to say the least as I refused to let him believe most of the crap in his history textbook about Canadian history)You want to know about HT/Prostitution talk to US, and then get out of the way so WE can speak.