My experience with the Allan Memorial Institute The Throwaways They came for us in the 70's they told our parents that there was something wrong, that we didn't work right. There was nothing wrong with us. They'd take us to schools poke us, prod us and tell us we were broken but said that they could fix us. They filled us with lies corrupted us, made us doubt ourselves. They stole from us what made us smile, what made us happy. They destroyed the path we were on and then abandoned us like broken toys, they left us in the void. They called themselves educators but they were perpetrators, they took the child and left a husk in it's place. We live in a society where children are not allowed to grow, if we deviate from the path we are judged, we are robbed of who we are and then discarded. There was nothing wrong with us.
“There is no end to the stupidity bred by hunger strikes”
Christi Blatchford’s most recent article has become the standard in right wing attitudes towards first nations for years now. Blatchford is not only grossly uninformed but also it is glaringly obvious that she knows nothing about how to do research for if she did she probably wouldn’t have written an article that can only be described as a work of fiction. Comparing Chief Theresa Spense’s hunger strike to an act of terrorism only proves how desperate the right wing media has become in their attacks on the Idlenomore movement which was sparked in large in to outrage towards the omnibus bill c-45 which weakens treaty rights and environmental protections of a few thousand lakes and rivers. One of the many problems that I have with Blatchfords article is that uninformed idiots in this country are going to believe her, you see these idiots online all the time, you just have to read the comments section of the CBC website or any other news site for that matter. I used to read and respond to a lot of them but soon realized that I would need a full time staff to deal with the sheer load of crap that ends up on the sites furthermore I realized that there was no point.
Racism is alive and well in the great north but it’s racism that is selective for I rarely see someone make negative comments about Jews, Blacks or other ethinic groups because in some twisted sense of right and wrong that would be considered going to far. But not when it comes to first nations, my friend Ian recently pointed out to me that racism towards always seems to have that much more vitriol. And that’s because we’re not seen as people, we’ve never been seen people we’ve always been seen as savages, freeloaders, drunks and sex workers but never as people. This vitriol comes not just from the uninformed but from people who just want us to go away, let’s face it the government and it policies have been designed to slowly erase us from the Canadian consciousness and Bill C-45 is trying to do just that! That is why Chief Theresa Spense and the Idlenomore movement which is now gone international is so important!
Spense is heading into her 4th week of a hunger strike trying to draw attention to the issues in Attawapiskat and so many communities like them and has requested that Prime Minster Stephen Harper meet with her to create a dialogue between first nations and the government. Unlike any of the Conservatives I have actually been to Attawapiskat, seen the community and spoken with the people. An impoverished community in northern Ontario, Attawapiskat has suffered neglect because of the poor decisions made by a handful of people. I had never been to a northern community before and had only heard stories about how bad living conditions were up there. When I got there I discovered that it was much worse. There was housing so bad that it would never be tolerated in communities down south. With a large percentage of the community homeless, poor health conditions and a questionable water treatment problem it begs the question: Why? Why won’t Harper meet with Spense?
“Now that we are poor, we are free. No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die, we die defending our rights”.
There are many reasons why Harper won’t give in, the most common one is that he just doesn’t care, he doesn’t care that a woman is willing to starve to death for her people! Another reason is that Harper being a politician is still looking for the least politically damaging way to capitulate. Whatever happens, Harper actions have opened a Pandora’s box of 100’s of years of pent up first nations frustration with a government hell bent on erasing us from existence! What Canadians need to know is that the policies of the Harper government Bill C-45 for example violates the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples as well treaties that stated that the government must include first nations leaders and communities.
I have a great deal of respect for Chief Spense and her hunger strike but what worries me and many others is what if Harper ignores calls to meet with Spense and she dies? It’s not a question I wanted to ask before but the fact that he (Harper) hasn’t met with Spense yet has made me ask. What’s happens if she dies and what effect will that have on Idlenomore? The quote below is from the film ThunderHeart and spoken by legendary AIM activist John Trudell
“Sometimes they have to kill us. They have to kill us, because they can’t break our Spirit. We choose the Right to be who we are. We know the difference between the reality of freedom and the illusion of freedom.” – James Looks Twice/ John Trudell
Chief Spense has said that she would be prepared to die for her people, I just hope that Stephen Harper comes to his senses before that happens because I can only imagine what will happen next and it isn’t pretty!
How many of us have to to die, go missing, be raped before justice listens? The blood our people have spilled have wet the ground for centuries. Our children have been stolen, our families shattered and our land taken all due to the arrogance of white men.
To this day our people have been made to live in fear, a fear that has been driven, beaten, shot, stabbed and raped into our very bodies. In the last 500 years our identities have been bombarded by men who are called pillars of our history. Their statues litter the land, a reminder of the atrocities they committed and fawned over by their ancestors.
The schools tried to erase us, the men with white collars, callous hearts and empty souls, the sting of their violations like ripples in a pool lasting generations. They taught hate in schools, they created Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier and thousands like them. They created ignorance that we feel even today.
Our two faced politicians who shed tears, kiss babies and at the same time deny our children basic human rights. Their tears buying our votes with empty promises and back room deals, selling away our children, our land and our souls.
We never forgot, the generations of genocide would not let us. “A good Indian is a dead Indian” the man on the radio says, his words are like the stones thrown at women, children and elders during the Crisis. The violence we experienced that day was just another chapter in the long history of massacres, land theft, stolen children and degradation.
The change that our two faced politicians talk about is the trickle down economics of social change, I say trickle down because like every other promise it doesn’t exist. I grow tired of the fight but I know that we must continue. We are the symbol of the voice yet to be born. The words of our elders continue to lead us, guide us like they always have on the path towards growth.
We must continue to educate and fight the ignorance that permeates every corner of our society. It’s the idea that must be destroyed, the idea of white supremacy which has plagued our land for centuries. Growth cannot happen without truth and that cannot happen without honesty. To have true honesty our society will have to look in the mirror and acknowledge that of which most of them cannot, that hate exists.
We must acknowledge that white supremacy helped Gerald Stanley and Raymond Cormier commit and get away with their horrific crimes. Change will only happen when we no longer allow fear to hold us back, to keep our mouths shut. Change will happen when we look at each other as equals and help one another to heal, to grow and to teach.
We are not defined by a stereotype, we are not the alcoholic, the drug addict, the sex worker, or the homeless person. We are teachers, doctors, social workers, lawyers and Chiefs. We are actors, writers, poets, singers and Djs. But most importantly we are nations of people, people that have been the stewards of this land for a millennia.
You came into my life wearing a mask, with this mask you covered yourself in lies and manipulations. You were loud, obnoxious and charming, you called yourself a Queen.. but you were anything but. You pretended to be my friend, helped me when no one else would. Made rely on you, made me trust you and when you had your claws in me only then did your true colours begin to show.
You started hitting me but I wouldn’t defend myself, like the bullies of old I had become a man filled with fear and anxiety. When I asked you to stop you began using words to belittle me and cut me to the bone. Still I did nothing, paralyzed by the mistakes of the past, mistakes that you used to keep your hold on me.
When you started to touch me, I did not know what to do and every time you did I was 8 years old again being assaulted by my neighbour. I did not know what to do, you controlled the information. So I stayed silent, too afraid of what you would do. Belittled by your words I became further lost and just when I thought it couldn’t get worse….you raped me.
It began when you threatened to hurt yourself, that you would do something crazy if I didn’t let you have me. I wanted to say no but I knew if I did I would lose friends and my anxiety, my fear made me say yes. You would use that excuse to rape me again and again, it got to the point that I would cringe every time I saw your name come up on my view screen.
Whenever I started dating you would get mad, call them whores and various other names. You hated what they represented, they were a barrier between you and me so you did your best to dehumanize them, call them names, try and make me feel the same way. You wanted me for yourself, what was it you said to me. “All the work I’ve put in to you and you choose the whore.”
That was the moment, the moment I saw a crack of light and the light was freedom.
You began to make mistakes, your lies became more transparent and I became stronger. The abuse got worse as did your lies until one day a war between us broke out. But this time I had words of my own, years of pain broke free and like a mighty river I broke out of the prison you put me in. Every time you tried to deflect my words it only made my resolve stronger. Until you blamed me for everything, making it out to be my fault.
That was the moment I woke up, like a prisoner in solitary confinement I was finally free. That crack of light became a gaping hole and when stepped through I felt my sins wash away, I was wounded but I was free.
I ended my connection to you that day and now nearly 4 years later the scars have begun to heal. You are a simple afterthought and empty person who loves only himself and who needs a mask to hide his shame, his insecurity, his cowardice.
Today I breath freely knowing that you cannot hurt me. Though the damage you caused still prevents from allowing love into my life I have at least learned to love myself and those around me. And even after all the pain you caused me I feel that I can say this.
I forgive you.
I say this not for you but for me. I know now that it was never my fault and I refuse to carry this pain for another day. You can’t hurt me, you don’t scare me and you never will. My life is filled with people who love me and who treat me with dignity. That breath of fresh air that passes through me every morning is me knowing that I am on the path the Creator set out for me, a path of forgiveness, dignity and most of all….love!
Inspired by Tina Fontaine
Living the Dream
I’m living the dream, the dream where women are are free, free to explore themselves, be themselves before the vicious white patriarchy cuts them down for sport.
These women are beautiful, these women are fierce. They laugh at the inevitable violence every one of them will face. They laugh because they know that it cannot last.
One by one their beauty is carved up for the masses to consume, thier spark swallowed by the holy violence of their male oppressors. The never ending cycle of youth taken away from the breast of life to be fed to the machine.
These beautiful women of colour where society discards them like trash, sold like slaves to white families with picket fences that hide atrocities that no woman should face.
Soulless, loveless the machine knows what it wants, it wants our young beautiful women, our future.
The ones who survive are the ones who beat the machine, they become the teachers for the ones taken away to live the dream.