I’d just like to share a little bit more about myself, since I’m getting to know so many new people — some of whom are quite happy to help get me to and from events, to nourish my body, and to teach me new skills, as though I was family.
Who I Am
I am Anglo-Saxon, Jute, Caucasian, Jewish, and Polish. I am the third child of the third generation of my family living on Turtle Island. Just one of my maternal aunts had (two) children. There are 17 other childless blood relatives in her generation (my mother’s as well, obviously). I only learned in very recent years that I am actually related by blood to 10 paternal cousins, none of whom live on Turtle Island or share a common language with me. My paternal grandfather and one of his brothers live here, and share a common language with them, but even they don’t know their names. I will never know if my Jute blood cousins are even aware that I exist.
I was raised in an extremely hostile home — my father was aggressively abusive (in every way) and my mother was characteristically passive-aggressive in her abuse. His father was just a teenager in occupied Denmark, and her father was an alcoholic who was never sober behind the wheel. I am certain of even less about my grandmothers; except that one was already dying of dementia when I was too young to understand what was happening to her, and the other is emotionally unavailable, culturally British, and frustratingly patriotic about the Queen of England. The only paternal aunt I’ve ever known (the others do not share a common language with me, and thus, I only know their names and those of their brothers) bears the distinction of being the first of our family on Turtle Island to abuse substances other than alcohol. I take this and the way my father treated myself, my two sisters, and my mother, all behind his family’s and friends’ backs while playing a convincing gentleman in front of them, as indicators of how both my father and my paternal aunt were treated by their own parents. Alcoholism runs rampant among my maternal relations, and I take that as an indicator of trans-generational violence as well.
I have fought to liberate myself throughout the entire course of my life. After 26 years, I just finally couldn’t take any more of the abuse, neglect, guilt trips, passive aggression, self-centred behaviour, emotional manipulation, spiritual oppression, and denial of all of the same. I have never slammed the door so hard in my life until this past December, when I walked away from the house where a man I had only known for 6 weeks attempted to strangle me immediately after spitting all over my face and calling me an ignorant cunt. He reminded me right from the very first day I came to live as his tenant in that house, of what it was like to live under the same roof as my father. In all the years between leaving my natal home without the intent to return and my symbolic return to my natal home as this other man’s tenant, I struggled to seek out and access mental help for Dissociative Identity Disorder while repeatedly suffering horrible re-traumatizing events of sexual assault, battery, and emotional abuse from multiple perpetrators.
I expect to be on a journey to heal myself for the rest of my life. This is a critical part of who I am today. I have spent most of my life in horrendous suffering, constantly being told that my every response was a sign of my perpetual weakness and a reason why I deserved it. I simply did not know how incredibly exploitative and manipulative this was. I didn’t understand that my every response was an act of resistance — an attempt to take all the pain inflicted upon me and use it to condition myself to fearlessness. I didn’t realize just how strong I had to be to get through it all until I started to take myself back from it in a powerful way for the first time. Like learning to walk, it started out with something that seemed so insignificant then, but which I cannot take for granted now the way I once did while I still felt frustrated by how small and impotent those first steps were. But I’m not stumbling, desperately grabbing at walls, and falling back down with every step I attempt any more. I’m not letting people push me around, either. I stand my ground, and the process of learning exactly how to do that has led me to why I’m a part of this movement.
Why I’m Involved In Idle No More
I am involved with Idle No More because the same system that has perpetrated genocide (and continues to do so) against indigenous peoples for 500 years, within the borders of what has only been Canada for 150 years (and beyond those borders too), is the same system that left me in my natal home to be abused in many of the same ways that several generations of indigenous children experienced once abducted from their natal homes. The same police that have been criminalizing indigeneity and abject poverty (which, cruelly, go hand in hand within Canada’s borders) are the same police who were manipulated by my parents and used as forces of terrorism against myself and my two sisters in our natal home. They are also the same police who I later couldn’t trust when I most needed their help as an adult, and who repeatedly (actively) worked against protecting my rights even when I took the risk of trying to trust them — the same police who actively worked against preserving the rights of hundreds of indigenous women in Western Canada over the course of my lifetime, who are known as our stolen sisters.
I am involved with Idle No More because this same system, which has granted me unlimited access to drinkable tap water while poisoning the drinking water of as many indigenous communities as possible, spoon-fed me — and everyone within my reach in urbanized colonial society — a formal education that erases indigeneity entirely, everything taken or withheld from and still owed to indigenous peoples by Settler society, the reasons why we owe them so much (including but not limited to unfulfilled treaties and several centuries of genocide). And the purpose of this very cleverly designed and thinly veiled political indoctrination? As Settlers, we are all pre-programmed patriots of the colonial government by the time we complete the sixth grade. Should anyone challenge our public education lessons by the time we are adults, such as by revealing Canada’s distinctively narrower definition of genocide when compared to that of the United Nations, or by acknowledging the explicitly racist legacy of the Canadian government from its very instalment over the people of this land, we are prepared by default to defend the very system that is prepared to dispose of us all for profit.
I am involved with Idle No More because the recent and lengthy succession of omnibus bills — especially Bill C-45 — is a violation of the basic democratic rights promised to every citizen of this nation from our birth here or arrival as sworn citizens from other countries. But the 400+ pages of Bill C-45 are also riddled with blatant violations of our charter rights. Our very right to life is being cast aside to extinguish the last remaining barriers between the Canadian government and cash in exchange for the extraction of highly toxic non-renewable resources from the Earth without the consent of either indigenous peoples (whose treaty and charter rights entitle them to veto entire industries in the name of protecting their ancestral lands and all the life that depends upon it—including all of Settler society) or non-indigenous citizens of this country (whose democratic rights afford them the capacity to veto the government’s decision to rape the Earth). The Canadian government simply isn’t listening to the people who are playing by the rules it set forth and repeatedly continues to change in the hopes of undermining the formal political process. So the grassroots are organizing a mass uprising: its name in this generation is Idle No More, but it is very much the same movement that has persisted through 500 years of genocide.
The colonial system is a busted piece of junk, and has been for over a century. It’s a lemon. It was fated to fail from the very beginning. Our democracy is merely a façade, maintained only by the current state of public “education” and a disingenuous white-washed mass media that continues to lecture the same old material instead of teaching the public how to think for themselves — such as when they see or hear about a blockade run by First Nations peoples. It’s time to do something different. It’s time to show indigenous peoples the justice they have been fighting for for 500 years, and to respect their right to exist and to celebrate their cultures openly for the first time in this nation’s history. It’s time to stop idling by while the colonial government tries to trample indigeneity out of existence.