Letter from a young activist on her 21st birthday

Katie Nelson is a twenty-one year old Anarcho-Syndicalist, insurrectionist, and anti-fascist, organizing against neo-nazism and combating Police repression. She was raised on the Mexican Border in Texas, moved back to Alberta at eight years old, and last year moved to Montreal to support the student strike and never left. To date she has racked up almost $6,000 in fines, almost all to do with peaceful participation in protests.

Letter from a young activist: On my 21st birthday

I have lived an amazing twenty-one years. It truly has been out of the ordinary, one hell of a ride on a road that has never been straight. For those of you who don't know, I am five years clean and sober. I am an ex-addict, and entered drug treatment at a very young age. Shortly after finishing that I became homeless, and was homeless for a year before transitioning into my own apartment at sixteen. Since then, I have been fortunate enough to travel the world, meet amazingly different and diverse people, work in amazing places and organize with incredible causes. In all of that, I have been human. I have hurt and have been hurt, I have loved and have been loved, I have ran until I couldn't breathe and I have screamed until I couldn't speak. I have lived.

To be honest, I am not sure how I am alive to see my twenty-first birthday; whether it be alive after having flash-bang grenades thrown at me, or alive from not killing myself... I am not sure how I am alive. All of this said, this past year has been one of the hardest times of my life. From seriously pissing off Nazis, to fighting cops, to getting into relationships with abusive piece-of-shit boyfriends to having to leave behind one of the most amazing children I have ever met. This year has been one of the most challenging times I have ever endured. And to be honest, it was last night that I realized really the odds we are up against, the reasons we fight and the encompassing suffering that is happening across the world.

So it is, with that, that I make a request to all of you:

I don't want much. I want you to take today and think as much as you can about what you are fighting for. And when you realize what it is in specific, big or small, that gives purpose to you in this struggle, I want you to grasp a hold of that and I want you to fight harder and stronger than you have ever fought. And then, I want you to tell others to fight.

I want you to acknowledge that among cops, as bad and fucking disgusting as some of them are, there are a few that simply don't get it yet, and I want you to be patient with those ones, until they do. Because we all get it at some point. I want you to care for the people around you, for these people are not only Comrades, they are the only people who are willing to fight to the end. I want you to take care of yourself, I want you to tell people when you aren't well and I want you to make sure they realize your struggle. I want you to cry when you need to cry and scream when you need to scream. But most importantly, I want you to see that there is still beauty in all of this and until we stop recognizing the bad in the world and start noticing the good in each other, we are never going to win.

The most honest thing I have ever heard is that there will be bad days. There will be days that you won't be able to leave your bed, and nights when you can't stop crying. There will be hours when you want to give up, and moments when you do; but these are only bumps in the road, and if you can conquer your own self-destructing desire to quit, you will be unstoppable.

I wish everyone could see the abundance of suffering around them, but they can't. And regardless of that fact, the alternative is not an option, and the only way to start destroying what destroys us, is by taking one step at a time and beginning to carve a path in which generations after us will walk.

I want to thank the people who have supported me this past year. It is for your courage and trust that I am grateful today. I didn't think I would ever live to be twenty-one. For me, this is an unbelievably impossible day, one that five years ago, I didn't think I would ever see and that a month ago I didn't think I would live to experience. But despite every dark hour and every night that I got close, I am here. And for now, I'm not going anywhere.

So if I don't live for the twenty-second birthday, remember my only request: What you are fighting is the most honest and amazing thing, and no matter how many people tell you different, you are doing the right thing. So take this system by the balls and burn the mother fucking city to the ground. 

In love and in rage, 


Thank you for reading this story...

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all. But media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our only supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help.

If everyone who visits rabble and likes it chipped in a couple of dollars per month, our future would be much more secure and we could do much more: like the things our readers tell us they want to see more of: more staff reporters and more work to complete the upgrade of our website.

We’re asking if you could make a donation, right now, to set rabble on solid footing in 2017.

Make a donation.Become a monthly supporter.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.