Every morning I read my one-year-old daughter a fabulous children's alphabet book. When we get to the letter F, it goes "F is for Feminist, Fairness in our Pay." Of course a children's book is limited in its ability to express nuanced layers of analysis, but I often wonder about how relevant this articulation of a particular version of feminism will be for her.
"Your good words make my ears tingle," says Elaine Durocher as she overhears Glen Coulthard at a diner in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, unceded xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh) territories.
In December I had the opportunity to sit down with Coulthard, and in our discussion, he is describing how the granting of certain rights by the state works perfectly within colonialism by effectively masking the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples. Durocher, a Metis grandmother and activist who I know within the Downtown Eastside community, joins our conversation and is nodding along.
John Graves Simcoe, whose "day" we're celebrating, finally got some serious recognition this year, courtesy of U.S. TV. He appears as a magnificent British villain in Turn: Washington's Spies, on AMC, the Mad Men network. It recounts "America's first spy network," during the American Revolution. Simcoe is played by Samuel Roukin, a U.S. actor with BBC cred: he sneers, he taunts, he tortures, he kills. Every actor knows the real heroes are the villains.
Lionel Pett was a scientist with the precursor of Health Canada, a leader in his field and in charge of the program of apparently half-starving aboriginal children in an experiment to measure nutrition in the 1940s and '50s.
Amid the national revulsion over this revelation, his son has emerged to defend his reputation, telling the Toronto Star that his father "was just trying to do good work" as he was tasked to study the effects of vitamins and minerals in order to keep Canadians healthy, especially in the context of wartime and post-war privation.
On January 24 a gathering will take place in Ottawa that will define a point in our shared history where, as a nation, Canada will either succeed or fail. Personally, I am not optimistic. As leaders of indigenous heritage pack their bags for one more effort to achieve peace and friendship with fellow Canadians through negotiations with the Federal leader they may be completely unaware that this is a make-it or break-it moment.
If you can cut through the racism, ignorance, and half-baked opinions of pundits, politicians and sound-bite media, most folks will realize that Attawapiskat and many other First Nations have been labouring under the repression of colonialism far too long.
The antidote for poverty is self-determination and no one can give you that. You have to stand up and take action yourself to make it happen. Colonialism does not give way on its own; it must be defeated through vigorous and enlightened opposition.
Angeline Eileen Pete, 28, reported missing from British Columbia in May. Roberta Dawn McIvor, 32, found murdered near Lake Winnipeg in July. Kimberley Nolin Napess, 15, last seen in Quebec City in August. And two Friday's ago, Verna Simard, 50, dead after plunging from the sixth-floor window of her residence in Vancouver.