all the elements that make up anishinaabe life through ojibway makwa ikawe embodiment + anishinaabe feminist lens

Funny, That White Woman in the Mayfair Mall Food Court Who Loves the Environment …

and Hates Indigenous Woman and Black Girl

It’s fitting that this experience happened by the garbage can, the trash, la poubelle, ziigwebinigan

Because that’s the white woman in a mall food court who loves the environment and who came up to ziigwebinigan to discard their trash.

And who,

Standing beside my girl

Standing beside me

As I discarded my trash,

Reached across her

To get to my garbage;

Tried to take it out of my hand

Because apparently,

I was putting it in the wrong trash bin;

Who failed to grab that garbage


Successfully grabbed the food tray I was holding

–grabbed it right out of my hand

So she could put the onion and paper that was on it

Into the “correct” bin

Shaking her head, grumbling all the while

Reaching across my girl

To me

Back across my girl

So she

Could love the environment


In the Mayfield Mall Food Court,

Mumbling and grumbling and shaking her head

As my girl and I stood there


What was happening,

Looking at her

At each other

At her

At each other

At her whisking off–

 Job done!

Environment saved!

White-woman-(maternal)-authority-over-Black girl-and-Indigenous-woman-established!

Self-righteousness rejuvenated!

We stood there momentarily, still registering, watching her walk away, beyond the food court border

And we moved too, still within the food court, in a slightly different direction, and as her walking trajectory veered gently back to the border, I called out to her, over the people in the food court:

“What you need to be worried about is the fact that you are living on stolen land.”

To which she responded with a look, a shrug, a buoyant gait–her back and long salt & pepper hair setting off in the distance

My girl and I keep walking, Anishinaabe formation; she participates in this resistance, too, says:


I affirm her resistance, chuckle, and yell out a few decibels higher (but not so high as to draw attention: “Yea. VEGAN.”

We laugh.

We looked at each other walking beside each other:

“That just happened!”

Shook our heads.

That just happened!





On Moral Courage and Heroes, (anti) Racism, and Beauty

Last week, Dr. Cindy Blackstock was in my neighbourhood giving a talk titled, “Spirit Bear’s Guide to Reconciliation”. The day before, she was conferred with an honorary PhD in Law and celebration was in the air. Aside from Odawa Elders and Drs. Edna Manitowabi and Shirley Williams, Dr. Blackstock is the only other Indigenous woman I know of who has been conferred with an honourary PhD. A social work scholar and well known human rights warrior for Indigenous children in Canada,  I knew her talk would be in a field that I’ve had little to do with for over a decade. Admittedly, I was feeling a bit unsure about the significant presence of a teddy-bear as front-line in her talk and in the lunch I had prior to her talk (not with Dr. Blackstock but with another person who is a part of the “Spirit Bear” movement). I quickly checked myself on my epistemic arrogance regarding “the teddy-bear” and pushed myself to move outside my disciplinary boundary. Also, prioritizing learning from Indigenous womxn is a form of self-care. I know the important work that Dr. Blackstock has and does do and how vital and important Indigenous social work in a settler colonial context is to Indigenous peoples–all of us.

I’m so glad that I went.

So, so glad.

Aside from being an amazing speaker, Dr. Blackstock’s words, energy, and method were inspiring and rejuvenating. I was moved by her message of “moral courage” that everyone of us must have if we are to attain any kind of justice for our babies, children, and youth.

She called in her hero–Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce, MD–who generations before, in the early 1900s, had informed the government of Canada of their discriminatory health care practices against Indigenous children (then in residential schools). He had been hired by the state to examine the health care of Indigenous children in residential schools as a result of the high rates of death. When the state ignored his recommendations to provide the same level of health care, he persisted in advocating for an end to the discriminatory practices and suffered economic and professional consequences. Dr. Blackstock emphasized his moral courage despite the consequences and indicated we all need to have this today in our work for creating a better reality for Indigenous babies, children, and youth which will be founded upon equitable treatment with all other children and ensuring all babies, children, and youth are treated well.

She shared wisdom from an Elder who told her to never fall in love with the institutions we embed ourselves in. The danger in doing so is that the values and ethos of the institution we work for may come into tension and conflict with our own values and morals. This may result in a displacement of our values and morals in order to be commensurable with our institutions. Suddenly, we find ourselves doing work that is very distant from who we are and what is right. In fact, this seems to result in what I have witnessed as being a kind of professional legitimation to being anti-social. How many times have I heard, “It’s my job” being used as a reason to do wrong. You know, like when RCMP, police, or security guards use physical violence, dogs, and the legal system against Indigenous peoples who are protecting their lands and water or non-Indigenous folx who are allied in such actions. Falling in love with our institutions (and the social dynamics that animate them) is something I have experienced in my professional and student life. Coming to grips with the reality that the institutions that we are embedded in may not reflect our values and morals is a tough one, especially if they provide us the resources we need to survive or sur-thrive. Yet, as Dr. Bryce’s and Dr. Blackstock’s lives show, having the moral courage to act true to what is right–in this case, fighting for equitable health care for Indigenous children no matter the consequences–is absolutely necessary.

Over here in the west coast nations, the Lekwungen and WSANEC folx raise their hands to those whose actions are deemed courageous, righteous, and reflective of being a good human-being who looks out for others. It is a fitting gesture for Dr. Blackstock and her message.


This week,  Dr. Robin DiAngelo is giving a talk on  white fragility from her latest book entitled the same. As a way to engage more deeply with the subject, a pre-seminar discussion was had last week which included reading three articles: “White Fragility” by DiAngelo (2011); “Tracking Privilege-Preserving Epistemic Pushback in Feminist and Critical Race Philosophy Classes” by Alison Bailey (2017), and Comforting Discomfort as “Complicity: White Fragility and the Pursuit of Invulnerability” by Barbara Applebaum (2017).

I want to bullet-point some quotes from these readings that I found helpful, validating, empowering, and rejuvenating. Thinking that others might also find something of this helpful, I wanted to share:

  • “‘Racism is especially rampant in places and people that produce knowledge.’ – Anzaldúa, 1990, xix” (Bailey, 876)
  • “We know injustice when we feel it.” (ibid.)
  • “In general, white fragility triggers a constellation of behaviours that work to steer us back to epistemic terrains where we feel whole, comfortable and good. Consider how white folks repeatedly bolster our metaphysical wholeness with stories about our good deeds, merit-based accomplishments, immigration stories, or the long hours we’ve worked. These narratives keep us whole.” (Bailey, 880)
  • “White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility.” (DiAngelo, 54)
  • “Although mainstream definitions of racism are typically some variation of individual ‘race prejudice’, which anyone of any race can have, Whiteness scholars define racism as encompassing economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that systematize and perpetuate an unequal distribution of privileges, resources and power between white people and people of colour …. Whiteness itself refers to the specific dimensions of racism that serve to elevate white people over people of colour. This definition counters the dominant representation of racism in mainstream education as isolated in discrete behaviours that some individuals may or may not demonstrate, and goes beyond naming specific privileges… (ibid., 56)
  • “Whiteness is a location of structural advantage, of race privilege. Second it is a ‘standpoint,’ a place from which White people look at ourselves, at others, and at society. Third, ‘Whiteness’ refers to a set of cultural practices that are usually unmarked and unnamed.” (Frankenburg in DiAngelo, 56)
  • “White Fragility” yields “a range of defensive moves” that “function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.” (DiAngelo, 57)
  • “A large body of research about children and race demonstrates that children start to construct ideas about race very early; a sense of white superiority and knowledge of racial power codes appears to develop as early as pre-school” (ibid., 63)
  • “Whites who positions themselves as liberal often opt to protect what they perceive as their moral reputations, rather than recognize or change their participation in systems of inequity and domination. In so responding, whites invoke the power to choose when, how, and how much to address or challenge racism.” (ibid., 64)
  • “While anti-racist efforts ultimately seek to transform institutionalized racism, anti-racist education may be most effective by starting at the micro-level. The goal is to generate the development of perspectives and skills that enable all people, regardless of racial locations, to be active initiators of change. Since all individuals who live within a racist system are enmeshed in its relations, this means that all are responsible for either perpetuating or transforming that system. However, although all individuals play a role in keeping the system active, the responsibility for change is not equally shared. White racism is ultimately a white problem and the burden for interrupting it belongs to white people.” (ibid., 66)
  • “White Fragility doesn’t always manifest in overt ways; silence and withdrawal are also functions of fragility. Who speaks, who doesn’t speak, when, for how long, and with what emotional valence are all keys to understanding the relational patterns that hold oppression in place….(ibid., 67).
  • “Comforting not only alleviates white discomfort and preserves white innocence, but is also constitutes feminists of color as the offenders. Feminists of color who offer antiracist critique are labeled as ‘angry’ and carry the burden of being blamed as the source of white discomfort.” (Applebaum, 865)
  • “Srivastava underscores not only that white tears terminate the conversation but also that white “calming techniques” provide absolution from guilt. In fact, white women’s professions of weakness serve ‘as a buffer from consciousness, responsibility, and struggle’ … When white discomfort is comforted, white women are relieved from all accountability. In other words, white comforting becomes the mechanism by which white women can avoid confronting their complicity in racism and whereby power inequities in the organization can be maintained.” (ibid.)
  • “Whiteness is … a doing: less a property of skin than an enactment of power reproducing its dominance in both explicit and implicit ways.” (ibid., 868)
  • “Rather than relying on the exclusively negative conceptions of vulnerability, Gilson suggests reconceptualizing vulnerability as encompassing as openness to change, dispossession, and willingness to risk exposure. … Gilson maintains that vulnerability is a common human capacity that, first and foremost, involves the capacity to be affected and to affect in turn. … ‘Being vulnerable makes it possible for us to suffer, to fall prey to violence and be harmed, but also to fall in love, to learn, to take pleasure and find comfort in the presence of others, and to experience the simultaneity of these feelings. Vulnerability is not just a condition that limits us but one that can enable us. As potential, vulnerability is a condition of openness, openness to being affected and affecting in turn.”  (ibid., 870)
  • “…epistemic vulnerability is not just about being willing to challenge one’s ideas and beliefs but, even more significantly, it is about a constant vigilance and willingness to change one’s self.” (ibid., 871)
  • “Critical hope, first and foremost, acknowledges that systemic oppression exists, and such hope entails responsibility to challenge what Boler refers to as ‘inscribed habits of emotional inattention’ and involves ‘a willingness to exist within ambiguity and uncertainty’ …. [It] does not obstruct purposive and critical reflection around one’s complicity in systems of oppression but instead encourages a ‘willingness to be fully alive in the process of constant change and becoming’…. [It] aims to encourage openness toward continued struggle and forefronts discomfort as a signal to be alert fro what one does not know about others but also about oneself.” (ibid., 872)

Today, UnSettling America published an important essay, “Settler Fragility: Why Settler Privilege Is So Hard To Talk About”, by Dina Gilio-Whitaker. Here, Whitaker transposes the concept of racial fragility to relational fragility with place and people (i.e. settler colonialism). Another important transposition would be on the topic of sex/gender (i.e. male fragility, baby men) and class. The concepts of vulnerability and critical hope could be also easily applied.


Last night I attended a dual book launch of two Canadian literature texts. It was held in this quirky old building in a neighbourhood known as James Bay; the building known to be haunted, re-tooled into a pub known as The Bent Mast. It was located on a triangular block, on the triangular tip of a block that I’ve driven by a few times and was always curious about. It’s get dark here at 4:30–and dark here is not like dark back home. It is DARK. As in DARK DARK. As in layers and layers of thick blankets dark. Add the cloud, rain and dim street lights that characterize this city. Anyhow, as I walked up, I smiled. Ok, grinned. A curious place that I had been curious about, now a place I had a reason to be in. I was reading and happy to be meeting friends–some who value poetry and others who value friendship and jet as soon as you are done. ❤

On “meeting”, Amanda Jernigan, advisor editor for The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2018 and contributor to What the Poets Are Doing: Canadian Poets in Conversation (and whose long blond hair and whose unabashed love for literature reminded me so much of my first creative writing teacher, Alana Bondar-ban) gave a beautiful reading, quoting Dionne Brand and Souvankham Thammavognsa in conversation. I fell into it and am going to remain here for awhile:

Brand: … We met, you and I, in poetry. What an ordinary and strange place to meet. We didn’t meet on a dance floor or in a factory or in a store or in a line waiting for a bus, but in the structure of nothing, of ambiguity, and of malleability, of air and sound. I find that amazing.

Thammavongsa: Like someone working to connect people to other people and then listening in, caught by some urgency in the voice asking.



On Words and Tugging

So the phrase “Indigenous assholery and windigoism”, which I used in my last post, has been tugging on me.

Tugging in the way of,

hey, christine, are you sure about using these words?;

Tugging in the way of,

these words sit uneasy, sit uneasy in my stomach;

As in, mmmm, these words. thesewordsthesewords. hmm. *squinty eye* hmmmmmm;

Tugging as in, are these the words I want to use?;

Tugging as in, these are the words I want to use, wanted to use and did use, and now hmmmm, tugging, tugging

As in, could you have done better?  

As in, hmmm. the energy invoked now, with words; these words. to do and not to do, undo. re-do. more do. hmph. 

Assholery is such a serious word, such a fun word. Cutting. Not fun. Rhythmic. Deadening. Windigoism, an ism. Both verbs. Actions. Movements. Ways of being. So, it’s not so much the words as the unpacking of them; the making-meaning of them in this ground I threw them into, pulled them up from. My lack thereof. My own assholery in opening a door fast and slamming it shut just as fast. Stories don’t dig this. Stories deserve more.

There are things to unpack, theorize, document about being Anishinaabe feminist in the academy and community and, communityacademycommunity. However, not feeling it right now (it being blogging about it). For now, I’ve attended to this tugging using the super power of asterisks, strike-outs, the replacement words of exploitation and extraction, and addendum. Maybe this softens the energy. Makes it more live-able, more able to do what it needs to do.

The tugging is gone.

And this addendum-as-post is just healing through words and art and opening up space to let the thing breathe.




Anishinaabe Knowledge Production in Anishinaabewaki + Lekwungewaki

Back in the early days of this blog which I started in August 2010, I promised myself to make monthly posts on “Anishinaabewiziwin”. As a new PhD student, I wanted this blog site to be, in part, a place where I could work on my anxieties around having my writing in the public realm (which I quickly learned  was going to be an aspect of being an academic). Since that time, with the exception of a few months, I have have made monthly posts. Over the past year, I have made only a few. It turns out that getting down to the wire of finishing my PhD thesis resulted in having to take a hiatus from “Anishinaabewiziwin”. I simply did not have the intellectual, creative, or emotional energy for moving between, and participating within, more worlds than my immediate worlds which consisted of  home-work-thesis-bear-cat-grocerystore-coffejoints-anishinaaberesponsibilities.

I’m just coming off the high and shock of being able to say that, FINALLY, last month, during binaa’ikawe-giizis (falling leaves moon), I defended my PhD.


As in, “no revisions” successfully.



So now, it’s done.


My girl is ecstatic.

And, in disbelief.

She now gets me, and us, in a way that she hasn’t had for most of her life. We’re looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to being a mom without treading the water of all things PhD.

My dad called me daily for a week just to say, “Hi. Is Dr. Sy there?” which was always followed with a chuckle. I appreciated his sense of pride but admittedly, I prefer, “Hey, kid!” Friends email and text, “Hey, Dr. Sy!” and then laugh, saying “I just had to.” My heart is big; they make me feel loved. It is an accomplishment; a kind of one. Injustice prevails, the work continues.


Let’s see if I can mobilize this settler power effectively to benefit Anishinaabeg, Indigenous peoples and whomever else might benefit from Anishinaabe feminist work.

My chiropractor and decompression doctors woot-wooted me; Grant from Tim Horton’s celebrated me in the only way he could–by typing in my name as Lady Christine on the prompter and asking to read the thing and then sharing with some of his friends who in turn reached out. He read it and one morning taking my coffee order, “You are a storyteller. You wrote straight from your heart. You gave it everything.”

A bouquet of flowers graced my desk for a few weeks; a spa and fancy dinner was had with fellow Indigenous scholars. More.

It has been an indulgent ride.

It feels good to be cared for and celebrated by people who know me and know the ropes of this place, this thing, this process; who know my particular journey.

I’m proud of myself for being able to do it.

For doing it.

I think of a recent someone I just learned about a few years ago–Argentinian feminist, María Lugones. I wished I would have had the wisdom of her words before entering into this world in 2009. Written from within her conceptualization that women of colour in white dominant U.S. live in “worlds”, worlds they travel to and between, she says,

There are ‘worlds’ we enter at our own risk, ‘worlds’ that have agon, conquest, and arrogance as the main ingredients in their ethos. These are ‘worlds’ that we enter out of necessity and which would be foolish to enter playfully.

I entered into my PhD in Indigenous Studies fuelled with anti-colonial, decolonial, Anishinaabe feminist intelligence, heart, and spirit. However, that fuel did not prepare me for my failure in entering into this field, and some of the social relations that animate it both inside and outside the actual academy, playfully. Or to be more correct, naively and assumptively. In my experience with Indigenous Studies in Anishinaabewaki, it is not a place that is ready for anti-colonial, decolonial, Anishinaabe feminist intelligence and practice. If it is, it isn’t ready for the way I understand, practice it, and have been cultivating it in my body and relationships since the mid-1990s. In my experience, there are ways of being in some Indigenous academic circles (which are made up of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples) that can be detrimental to Indigenous students well-being–emotionally, spiritually, psychically, psychologically, socially, and career-wise which impacts economic and material well-being. I refer to lived and witnessed experience. I will sit with this and try to make sense of it over the coming years.

The days of waking up and crying because I couldn’t believe that the awful things that were happening were really happening, and hanging on from a place of dark oblivion because I did not know if I would ever be able to get out are over.

I did it.

And while I want to say that nobody will ever again treat me the way I was treated over the past few years because I won’t allow it–I won’t let my Anishinaabe ideals, empathy and compassion for the ways colonization and colonialism has shaped us, and loyalty to Anishinaabe relational practices get in the way of refusing the a**holery and windigoism exploitive, extractive behaviours of some Indigenous peoples–I know that this university world, being a part of the global, settler colonial, capitalist society that it is, is filled with the makings of a**holery and windigoism exploitation and relations based on extraction. Awful things could happen again. I have no control over this though. However, now I know that awful things can, and do, happen. And, whereas I entered into this world in 2009 unafraid to speak, and unafraid to speak back, I did break from the hazing that resulted in my heart-thought-speak and my setting of boundaries. I flinched because reflex, survival, and self-preservation. Sitting back, recovering from it, I am no longer afraid to take the blows that come with my heart-thought-speak and setting boundaries. I’ve taken the blows over and over by some of the most celebrated people and while emotionally, psychologically, and physically altered by this behaviour and the way it is allowed, I’m unafraid to take the blows that come with speaking. I now know these ways of being are a part of this world and I know I can survive the blow-back of being Anishinaabe feminist in Anishinaabewaki. This energy comes also from knowing I am not the only one who feels this way or has experienced these things. There are many Indigenous womxn in many Nations who have, and do, and will speak, speak-back, and who have survived the disciplinary blows from both settler and Indigenous worlds, and who keep speaking and doing.

I am processing certain elements, or circles, of the academy. I have been, and will continue to work hard to makes sense of several things that have occurred in my own path. My heart is broken; I am angry; and, I am grieving. I know, and have heard of, other Indigenous womxn academics who have been brutally treated by fellow Indigenous academics–and not just men. I’m privy to their coping strategies. I’m grateful our paths have crossed, overlap and that we can call upon each other. Being cognizant of, grateful for, and always looking towards the many other circles in the Indigenous and non-Indigenous academy which are working towards decolonization and Indigenous endurance and re-generation in genuine ways will be, and is, a great part of acceptance, healing, and staying mobile.

When I was a teen, what I needed was a safe place and I got that. When I was a professional, what I needed was another career option out of the toxicity of that world and I got that, albeit in a tricky kind of way. When I was a wife with a child, I needed enough money in my account to start over and I made sure I had that. When I was doing my PhD, after several years in, I realized that the only way I was getting out of the culture of abusive dynamics that shape the culture of academia as a broad structure, system, and sphere of being (not just an institution, program, or people), was to write myself out. Keeping my eye on the human-buoys that mark my life and that live in this culture allowed me to. I raise my hands to them.

I wrote myself out of that sinking place I was in, that place of oblivion. I wrote myself out. Out to this point anyhow.

I did it.

The support from many human beings, more-than human-beings, and supernatural beings, and the on-going celebratory nature of this, has been a joy. Based on my experiences and witnessing, I never imagined my defence would be wonderful. It wasn’t a defence. It was a rich conversation of a beloved subject with other Indigenous and non-Indigenous women who share similar passions. I wish this kind of experience for all Indigenous academics who embark on the same journey. I wish this to be the experience for upcoming Indigenous graduate students for their entire journey to that moment. I’ve been accused of being idealistic; rather that than apathetic and accepting of the status quo. I hold the moment of my defence experience very close to my heart. Very close, like a blanket, a medicine.






The Who’s Who of Who Was in the Room



After the Defence: Gidigaa Migisi Doug Williams, Seth Medema, Paula Sherman, Aja Sy, Keegan and Cherylanne James, Brigitte Evering, niin, Brend Child, Carol Williams, Suzanne Bailey, Joan Sangster, Lesley Belleau,  and Gabriel. Photo taken by Brenda O’Toole, Oct. 3, 2018



makwa sister, Tasha Beeds, skyping in from nêhiyawowaki


sugar for pre-defence fire:feast:give-away

Making naase’igan in Lekwungenwaki. Or, “Sugar for Thesis Defence Fire, Feast, and Give-Away Ceremony in Michi Saagiiwaki”


hanging with this guy in his IK class

Hanging with this guy in his IK class



Jeff Beaver, Trapping 101 in Doug Williams’ IK Class



Post-Defence Dinner: Indian food, of course.



Here are some preface parts of my thesis. I still look at the Table of Contents and can’t believe I wrote this. Lol. I wrote this. If you would like to read it, please let me know. I would be honoured to share it:

















From “Dissertation Kitty” to “Dissertation Done Kitty”. Meeoow. *licks paws and preens whilst sitting on desk, in the light*



makwag Love Apples. These Grow in the Yard to our Apartment Building. Made Apple-Getter and Got Apples from High Branches. Made Apple Sauce. Made Home-Cooked Meal which included Apple Sauce. On, “First Post-Defence Saturday”.




1st Pre-Game Warm-Up Post-Diss: Pre-Game Floating.  Or, Mom-ing Sans Yoke and Albatross of Un-Done Diss. Yes. YesYesYes.


Next blog post: six weeks in dagwaagi. Coming soon.

Addendum, Nov. 12, 2018: So the phrase “Indigenous assholery and windigoism” has been tugging on me.

Tugging in the way of,

hey, christine, are you sure about using these words?;

Tugging in the way of,

these words sit uneasy, sit uneasy in my stomach;

As in, mmmm, these words. thesewordsthesewords. hmm. *squinty eye* hmmmmmm;

Tugging as in, are these the words I want to use?;

Tugging as in, these are the words I want to use, wanted to use and did use, and now hmmmm, tugging, tugging

As in, could you have done better?  

As in, hmmm. the energy invoked now, with words; these words. to do and not to do, undo. re-do. more do. hmph. 

Assholery is such a serious word, such a fun word. Cutting. Not fun. Rhythmic. Deadening. Windigoism, an ism. Both verbs. Actions. Movements. Ways of being. So, it’s not so much the words as the unpacking of them; the making-meaning of them in this ground I threw them into, pulled them up from. My lack thereof. My own assholery in opening a door fast and slamming it shut just as fast. Stories don’t dig this. Stories deserve more.

There are things to unpack, theorize, document about being Anishinaabe feminist in the academy and community and, communityacademycommunity. However, not feeling it right now (it being blogging about it). For now, I’ve attended to this tugging using the super power of asterisks, strike-outs, the replacement words of exploitation and extraction, and this addendum. Maybe this softens the energy. Makes it more live-able, more able to do what it needs to do.

The tugging is gone.








6 weeks in niibin



“just coming in for a wee drink, sugar” ~ aamoo

zagaswe’idimin: have a ceremony

contemporary windigo moves in indigenous relations

this is not about being missing.

this is not about sexual violence.

this is not about being physically abused.

this is not about being murdered.

there is a long gap between that windigoism and the one i want to continue unpacking today.

i wished i would not have been so naive. as a 30 some year old it’s embarrassing to think about being so naive. i wish someone had of told me that windigoism exists in us as humans and to be wary of it’s presence.

maybe i knew this and i was blinded by something else.

in fact, i think yes, i was.

if i’m to be honest, i have to say yes, i was.

blinded by altruism; by commitment to decoloniality; being responsible; and, by being recognized by someone i admired.

oh, to be recognized by someone you admire.


i used to be in friend-love with this anishinaabe woman. i thought she was a friend. i respected her. i admired her. i trusted her. i gave her everything thinking we were doing community together. i never thought she was using me for her own agenda until i did and by that time, it was done and i was there shaking my head thinking what the fuck just happened.

the first time i got a whiff of something sketchy, i discounted it. actually, i didn’t discount it. i blamed myself — i turned on myself and thought that there must be something wrong with me in thinking negative things about a friend. i thought i was being arrogant. i thought my thinking was distorted. i thought there was something wrong with me.

when something happened again, again i shooed my negative thoughts, interpretations, inklings away. she was my friend, our children were friends. we ceremonied, worked, gossiped, laughed together. we had community and were a part of emergent community.

when something happened again…

and again…

finally, i decided to trust my reading of things. i decided to say something in a round-about way.  i said, “i remember sharing these ideas in our conversations on a few occasions.” friend skirted and never said anything. i’ve learned people with certain kinds of power get to hide behind silence while those who have questions or are unsettled or have less power do the labour of trying to make sense of a shitty thing they’ve done.

later, when friend disregarded my needs on a project i invited her to participate in with me and then tried to advance her own agenda of advancing her friend, that was it. i had enough. i said my words and things imploded. i was the asshole. the friendship and all the community associated with it, ended, just like that.

it took me over a year to understand what happened. but things didn’t just ‘end’ like relationships do—this person was not done with me.

gossip, sharmy moves in publications, etc. etc.—various forms of ambient violence ensued.

you think you are going crazy. you wonder wtf is happening. wtf did i do to deserve this?

you realize what you did was refuse to be their compliant, unquestioning source. you realize that what you did was say no. you realize that the moment you realized your work, your thinking, your passion, your spirit is your homefire and not up for exploitation or theft by others and the moment this led to a hand up in refusal was the moment of truth—you were just a source. nothing more, nothing less. you realize that what you did was carry on living the life you were living before they came towards you performing friendship but really mobilizing an agenda and that that pissed them off. as though how dare you carry on…

when something like this happens with a person who—in a capitalist society is of more worth than you—nobody listens to you about the underbelly shit. they don’t because they are caught up in what they want, in what they want to believe. it’s easier to cast the victim-who-speaks as the crazy, jealous, competitive, aggressive, out-to-lunch problematic one. we see that dynamic play out all. the. time.

so be it.

feed the windigo but own your part in it when it gets out of hand.

or, test it: set a boundary, ask a tough question, say no. see how windigoism responds. pro-tip: wait for the performative stage to pass. just wait and see what happens when you hold to account or say no or withdraw your own light and limit access.

whatever you do, whenever someone signals the windigo to you, don’t discount it. don’t cling to whatever bit of desperate is in you to not see it. just recognize that, as a wise, tapped-in anishinaabe woman once told me, we all have that windigo-potential in us. it is evident in some but it could be me, or you, too. we need to be disciplined and aware and truly grounded–striving to be grounded–in who we are and in the homefires we come into this world as spirit burning for.



lekwungen nights, sugar bush feels

i wanted to tell you how sweet it was to stop in the middle of the parking lot–halfway between my daabaan and my apartment building–and just look up and get lost for a minute in the Lekwungen night sky.
the air here is cold and the night skies clear. imagine being at the tip of an island at the edge of pacific ocean in onaabani giizis. i hang my head blushing at the comfort i feel in being here at the tip, on the edge, in the middle of the parking lot getting lost in the night sky, thinking of you.
even though it’s ziigwan now, there in the southern realm was gabiboonike hanging out just below new nokomis and her earth shine.
i noticed a sparkly star just below her low hanging curve and wondered who it was. it made me think of Sky Woman or Wenonah donning a piercing made of a tiny fleck of glittery silver straight from gichi gaming.
i googled up “what is the name of the star by the moon tonight?” and found out its’ name. it’s no where near as exciting or dreamy as thinking of Sky Woman or Wenonah as more-woman-than birther, mother, caretaker, and abandoned life-giver.
i wondered what these ones looked like back home and if you’ve taken a minute to get lost in her recently.
the cold air here reminds me of sugar bush mornings; the clear sparkly stars, the chill, clear sugar water slurped from the bucket dripping down my jaw and neck; getting the fire going in the middle of the dark blue sparkly night in order to have enough time to render sugar water into sugar by the next evening, achy back and hips, feet my brain all endorphine-d up on exhaustion and good ininaatigoog loving and sugar-water medicine.

Kim and Kanye Name Baby Girl “Chicago West” Or, Why Famous America Needs To Know Whose Lands and Places They Inhabit (And, Whose Place Names They Use to Name Their Baby Girls)

I know you all know: Kim and Kanye named their baby girl Chicago. Aaand she was grown by and birthed through a gestational surrogate (whose name I haven’t been able to determine and hope is not being erased in order to keep Kim in the light) so she’s a bit of a medical miracle.

But, did you know this? Lena Recollet did and they posted it on their public Facebook page!



Chicago, a medical miracle. Zhigaako, powerful medicine. Haha. Maybe it’s meant to be!