“Um it, it isn’t really high on our radar, to be honest…”
by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
amiigawech. chi amiigawech.
I’ll take this over silence any day. Or being dismissed. Ignored. All ways Stephen Harper typically communicates with Indigenous peoples. Communication styles each and everyone of us has experienced at some point in our lives if not on the daily.
I’ll take honesty over being buttered up.
Or, bamboozled with political politically correct speak; b*llsh*t.
Honesty. Candidness. Forthrightness.
It’s mino mashkiki (good medicine) and a yes in my books because unless I’m writing a poem or story, I don’t have time for metaphor; I can’t do round the bush or back door communications on things that are real-and-in-the-present important. I got no time
for rhetoric or rhyme
or reading between lines,
only got time
for STRAIGHT STRAIGHT UP
when it comes
to Indigenous lives.
So, amiigawech for your honesty, Mr. Stephen Harper, now we can keep gettin’ sharper at doing what we’re doing in our every day ways, relationships, and interactions. Getting more precise with our daily direct actions against violences against Indigenous women. There’s no shortage of fodder for the grist mill. I’m fairly busy dealing with violence in the multitude of ways it manifests. So busy in fact, I don’t have time to hammer away at a prime minister of canada or any other person in power asking them to inquire about the violences we experience whether they are saying “No” consistently and clearly or “Yes” for public persuasion (aka personal gain). My power is in my body, between my synaptic gaps and on my tongue flicking to the beat of my o.da.way.gun (drum, which has [my] heart in it). My power is my loyal friend standing beside me taking my lead and stepping up when they see I got no more juice; me taking their lead, too, in their time of need. In that young one–my own or someone elses–before and after me. In the acquaintance-friend-colleague-peer-frenemy who isn’t invested in me for how I can feed their ego or career needs but rather who steps up in the face of violence whether they like me or not, whether I can feed them or not, because it’s the right thing to do.
E v e r y s i n g l e t i m e.
My power is the stranger intervening. Making a sound. Raging in silences, downcast eyes, dead-on stares, articulate assertive words against those forces trying to diminish my life or my kids, my friends, my relatives, my neighbours, my colleagues, acquaintances, the fellow stranger.
It’s in jiibay miikaana.
It’s in ndinawemag amiinawaa ni’ododemn.
It’s in manidoyaag.
It’s in nipawaamanag.
It’s in gizhewe manidoo.
No, I don’t have time for anything else other than to respond to violence as it occurs on the daily or every other daily. I use my power to back: speak back, sound back, write back, stare back, have your back and back up, when necessary. I’ve been doing this since I first learned I can: teenager.
To keep hammering away at a colonizing government that is inherently violent, has been for a few hundred years, continues to be, and shows no signs of slowing up AND that is telling us clearly, over and over again, that we are not on the radar, is like…
it’s like trying to make someone love us.
I learned to stop doing that a long time ago.
It’s like trying to make windigo love us.
Why would we do that, especially when we can and do love ourselves? Especially when we are doing the work already of loving ourselves in relationship with others?
For the full text of Stephen Harpers interview with Peter Mansbridge: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/full-text-of-peter-mansbridge-s-interview-with-stephen-harper-1.2876934
NOTE: This blog post is not meant to efface any efforts at making anti-violence against Indigenous women, or people, a national priority. I think that putting pressure on the government in public ways is a part of the process and is an effective one because it plants seeds in the minds of Canadians and Indigenous peoples: it models and educates. It signals to society what is wrong and what is or is not being done about it. I think the fact the question was asked in such a powerful arena by such a powerful person was golden and perfect. I am neither for nor against a public inquiry or a commission or any other formal investigative process paid for with Indigenous resources and Canadian taxpayer money. I am for changing the ethos of the colonizing heteropatriarchal nation-state, resource exploitation for wealth generation, capitalism, and assimilation/integration.
So, what is my meaning here? Process. And, nuance. Illuminate the possibility through the contrary; highlight that while we may strategically rally away at the psychosis that is a colonizing government, let’s do just that: be strategic. Hammer at the wall with one hand and feast our bundles with the other, never losing sight of what the priority is or where our power dwells.