murdered and missing women

I REALLY fucking hate the stereotype that Canadians are so nice and passive and apologetic about everything. The stereotype is more than just irksome to me; it’s damaging. It disregards the ugly realities of racism throughout the country, particularly towards Aboriginal people. 

I have witnessed way too much racism in this country to find the “nice Canadian” stereotype cute. The number of missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls in my city alone is horrifying. The abuse and flat-out hatred is grotesque. 

Here in Canada, people are really good at not giving a shit about the well-being of another human being if that person happens to be Aboriginal. Here in Canada, people are so well-armed with their assumptions and stereotypes that they can’t even bother to see Aboriginal people as HUMAN. 

So no. Canada is not a magical land where everyone loves each other and says sorry constantly. That stereotype is insulting to every Aboriginal woman who is assaulted, goes missing, and/or is murdered. It’s insulting to the families of those missing and murdered women who seek justice and answers that they will never receive, simply because non-Aboriginal Canadians don’t give a damn.

I came across this poster on Queen St. West in Toronto and I couldn’t look away. Posters such as these, strategically placed around the city are pushing people to question Canada’s dark, colonial history, as is the incredibly critical art being produced by Indigenous artists such as Kent Monkman and Rebecca Belmore. These artists, activists, thinkers and interventionists are destabilizing and dismantling biased, historical Canadian narratives.

In the decade or more of being in Canada, I have recently had the opportunity to establish close allyships with Indigenous friends. Through their research and lived experiences, I am learning about a side of Canada that I was not initially aware of. While the Canadian Citizenship book discusses our shameful history of residential schools, it presents a watered down version, summarized in undignified, short lines, mostly ending with, “Canada has since apologized.”

The abuse that was carried out on Indigenous children at these schools (the last residential school closed in 1996) was horrific and conveniently left out of textbooks. With more awareness around the topic, Canada’s internationally positive reputation is being challenged. Canada’s deputy minister of Indian Affairs Duncan Campbell Scott was quoted in 1920 to have said: “Our object is to continue until there is not a single Indian in Canada that has not been absorbed into the body politic.”

While an apology by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a start, it is not enough. After all, actions speak louder than words. Grave injustices have been committed against Indigenous people. Erasure of language, culture and customs so as to benefit and serve colonial systems of oppression, unsolved cases of thousands of missing, murdered Indigenous women, increased likelihood of sexual assault on Indigenous women, an alarmingly high suicide rate amongst Indigenous youth and deplorable living conditions in some parts of Canada where Indigenous people reside. By deplorable I mean run down schools and homes and no access to clean, drinking water. How can we justify this while being one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a global reputation for excellence in living standards and human rights?

Far too often I hear fellow immigrants from my own community refer to Indigenous people as “drunks” and “criminals.”

“Oh these natives, they’re such a menace to Canadian society.”

“They get so much funding from the government. All their schooling is paid for.”

“They should be grateful and move on from the past. Look at the state of poor people in the third world countries we come from.”

“These people don’t know the first thing about oppression. They take all the money the government gives them and waste it on drugs and alcohol.”

It is ironic to see new immigrants settle on Canadian land while demonizing and othering the original custodians of this land.

Indigenous people have been dealing with institutionalized racism, discriminatory legislation and federal under-funding for over 100 years. As we mark our 150th birthday as a nation today, I hope that we can work toward addressing these important and urgent issues. Indigenous people are bearing the brunt of genocidal, colonial policies while the rest of us immigrating to Canada are reaping immense benefits such as world class healthcare and education, services that many of our Indigenous communities lack full access to. Our indifference and lack of awareness around these pressing matters has dire consequences for First Nations, Metis and Inuit people of Canada.

Today, on Canada’s 150th, I am stating a land acknowledgment for the first time in all these years of living, working, giving to and taking from Canadian land.

***I wish to acknowledge this land on which I currently reside and work. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people and I am grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land. (Please correct me if I have stated this land acknowledgment inaccurately)

As a tribal daughter of the Indigenous Magsi clan in Balochistan, Pakistan, I stand in solidarity with my Indigenous brothers and sisters in Canada.

I wish you a safe, peaceful and more informed #Canada150 long weekend.

Horizon Zero Dawn and Cultural appropriation: A very different view.

For the first time EVER, I’m sitting on the other side of a discussion about appropriating native culture.  Why?  Well, let me lay the framework.

First off, I’m not a guy who “knows a Native American” or has a “Native friend”  I am a 100% Anishinabe (Ojibway) dude who lives on reserve and has fought racism, stereotypes, pan-Indianism, and cultural appropriation fiercely for as long as I can remember. I’ve been the victim of horrendous racial violence as a child, adolescent, and adult, and I’m also a gamer.

I am the first to point out anything that smacks of any of the above and after I saw the Dia Lacina essay on “Horizon: Zero Dawn” being culturally insensitive and appropriating Native culture, I felt for the first time in a situation like this that I had to say something in rebuttal.

Lacina takes issue with the use of the words Tribal, Primitive, Braves, and Savage being used in the game (fyi they’re used to describe predominantly white people in game and they’re White words we didn’t use to describe ourselves thus I claim no ownership of, nor want to, anymore than I want to be a redskin, Indian or Wahoo)  

It seems (IMO) that most of her beef comes from an apparent belief that numerous aspects of generic tribal culture that appear in the game (making clothing from skins, hunting with spears and bows, living in a Matriarchal society, etc) are the sole domain of the Native American and just to be safe and cleverly keep her POV less subject to scrutiny, she applies it even more broadly to indigenous people world wide (I will just refer to us in particular as NA cuz I’m lazy and I also don’t refer to myself as a Native American) and basically that anything that is remotely “tribal” shouldn’t be used in gaming without our or someone else’s permission.

 In fairness, I don’t know if she’s actually played the game but as someone who is currently in the midst of doing exactly that, I can tell you that I have a pretty good idea of what stuff triggered her being upset and why, and while I absolutely respect her right to get offended by whatever she likes, and she makes excellent points about some other games, I am going to point out that there are flaws with this logic.

First of all, the basics: HZD is set in a post-post-apocalyptic future where people are living in tribal groups in a very destroyed world.  Machines exist but as hybrid animal/dinosaur type creatures and technology is pretty much non-existent in day to day human life.  

The heroine of the story is a red haired, white girl named Aloy who lives as an outcast with her adopted father, Rost.  Without giving a lot away, they are fiercely shunned by the local tribe for something Rost did and also the fact that Aloy is motherless.  

Impressively and rightly, though somewhat dismissively remarked upon by Lacina, is the way women and especially women of color are portrayed so positively in-game as this particular tribe is a total Matriarchy run by elders of various ethnicity.  African, Asian, White, and a variety of undefined people of color are common everywhere in the game.  (The leader of one band of warriors is a very fierce, commanding, intelligently portrayed black woman with a powerful presence.)  It reflects a fairly global society from a “skin color” perspective without any horrible accents or broken speech.

They worship an “All-Mother” goddess and their culture is (at least how I saw a lot of it) fairly heavy on European i.e. Celtic, Germanic, Scandinavian, etc type symbolism and the rest is filled in with mostly generic tribal-ish stuff that you could find in countless cultures around the world.

 I really didn’t get a “Native American” vibe off the game.  Of course, I don’t automatically presume to claim sole ownership of things like tribal life, hunting with bows and spears, and worshiping spirits of various elements solely for my own.  Random fact: Because there are over 500 distinct First Nations in N. America, we, believe it or not, didn’t all ride horses, live in tipis, use bows and arrows, tobacco and sage, and worship Eagles and Wolves.  Why? Well…use your brain.  Tobacco and Sage don’t grow EVERYWHERE, horses came over with the Europeans (and if you saw where I live you couldn’t have and cant for the most part get a horse through the bush if you tried) Eagles and Wolves don’t live EVERYWHERE….get the point?  Anyways….

If you examine Rost, he like most of the men has a braided beard and other seemingly Viking/Middle Ages inspired features, is white, speaks clear, unbroken English, and is a loving, protective and very positive role model for the girl.   Aloy for her part, is also fairly Viking-esque (to the point of looking incredibly like Lagaertha from the show Vikings but with red hair) also Egrit from GoT, and is no damsel in distress who needs men to save her. NOWHERE in the game have I encountered any Tipis, wigwams, Sweatlodges, or Non-White people speaking in stereotypical “Me smoke-um peace pipe, He go dat-a way” fashion.

The  opening cinematic is very touching (and long) as we see the orphaned Aloy as a baby in Rost’s care being carried around in a bundle on his back (which pretty much every culture did in one form or another at some point in time) and him ultimately taking her to the spot where a child of the tribe receives it’s name.

I really liked this idea as it isn’t often portrayed in a lot of mediums outside of stereotypical “Dances With Wolves” bullshit. Also, naming ceremonies are not the sole domain of NA people and what occurs bears zero resemblance to any NA ceremony I know of.  (It was actually a little Lion King at one point lol) But it’s a powerful moment in the beginning with much more that occurs during it but I won’t spoil that either.

Aloy herself is a pretty complex character.  She’s extremely independent, defiant, and questions pretty much everything about why things are the way they are and wants to do something about it.  You actually begin playing her as a 6 year old which is pretty unique and even then she’s tough and fearless and determined to explore her world.  

She is in no way hyper-sexualized (I’m looking your way Overwatch) Her clothing and everyone else’s, is utilitarian and appropriate for the environments she lives in, and so far, I have not encountered anything with her or any other character that made me go “WTF?”and trust me, my radar for that shit is HIGHLY SENSITIVE.  This isn’t Avatar, people.  It’s not John Smith. It’s not The Great Wall or Pocahontas.  This isn’t white dude shows up and saves the helpless non-white people while helpless native woman falls in love with him stuff.  It’s a fictitious future where we maniacs blew it up, damn us all to hell!

But here’s the more annoying thing for me as an actual Anishinabe.  I don’t need people speaking for me or getting offended on my behalf.  I am very capable of doing that myself. I am also in no way writing this claiming to be speaking for any other NA people or persons. It’s based on my observations from actually playing HZD and examining the various fictional “cultural” elements in the game.

If you see a skin tied inside a hoop and automatically assume it’s a dreamcatcher” ripping off “our culture” (FYI Dreamcatchers are a 20th century thing whose popularity was a result of pan-Indianism that exploded in the 70s.) or if you see feathers on a spear or as part of a costume (nowhere is anyone wearing a single eagle feather in the back of a beaded headband or a Dakota looking headdress either) and automatically presume it to be ripping off NA culture, you’re REEEEEEEEEEALY reaching.  If you think caring for the environment, obeying matriarchs, worshipping elemental spirits, or making your own clothes is solely the property of NA culture, see previous statement.

By all means get offended.  Get offended by Chief Wahoo.  Get offended by the Washington Redskins.  Get offended that thousands of Native women have been murdered or gone missing and nothing’s been done about it.  Get offended by Johnny Depp or Robert Beltran playing Native people instead of actual Native people getting those roles.  Get offended by shit like Adam Sandler’s “Ridiculous 6” where a native woman is called a “hot piece of red prairie meat” or Depp’s “Lone Ranger” movie.

Get offended that my family was destroyed by the Residential Schools and that the 60s scoop took babies away from their families and people, that forced sterilizations took place and mass graves of dead Native children exist at former Residential School sites.

Don’t just jump on the I’m offended bandwagon because you saw some feathers or skins or spears or bows in a game and immediately grew indignant and wanted to claim them as OUR culture.  They’re not.  They’re almost globally universal in numerous cultures at various points in time.  Get offended, as she rightly mentioned, when the game Overwatch sexualizes the shit out of almost every female character and takes West Coast tribal art and makes a costume out of it.  

THAT is appropriation.  White people holding powwows in Europe (powwows are also pretty much not traditional and are extremely pan-Indian, not to mention full of us appropriating each other’s Native cultures ie. Dakotas wearing Jingle Dresses, Ojibway wearing Dakota regalia, etc) is appropriation.

This game……I’m just not seeing it the same way.  And I’m nobody.  I have no ties to Guerilla or anybody other than myself and my community.

#DearNonNatives: Don’t call yourself a feminist if you’re going to ignore the missing and murdered Indigenous women in this country, or the 1 in 3 Native women who were sexually assaulted, or the white washed and hypersexualized images of Native women in the media.

So when you say things like “Native Americans have a responsibility to teach [non Natives] their myths and legends and culture!!!” so you can shift the responsibility of being racist on the people you’re targeting, this is what you’re really saying:

In order for you to “understand why we’re so upset with you,” we are expected to talk about, in detail, every single aspect of our struggle for survival, again.

We are expected to talk about ethnic cleansing, genocide, war, colonialism, sexual violence, residential schools, forced assimilation,  the kidnapping of our children, skyrocketing suicide rates, cultural appropriation, racist stereotypes, our women going missing and being found murdered, again.

We are expected to talk about our personal experiences with racism from our partners, our friends, our friends’ family members, our teachers, our employers, our co-workers, acquaintances, online communities, fandoms, entire industries, pop culture icons, government officials, and even the lateral violence within our own communities, again.

We are expected to spell out, in detail, as to what our family members of the previous generation survived in order for us to be here, again.

We are expected to relive our trauma, again.

With all of the information already available for you on the internet that’s a mere Google search away, you expect us to start from square one all over again with no regard for the toll it takes on our hearts, just so you can ignore it AGAIN.

Excuse me, but fuck you.

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The reason National Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Day is so important because many indigenous women (obviously including trans/2spirit) have gone missing & murdered in an alarming rate. Our silent sadness was left without awareness, even our own people didn’t know what a national crisis this was. Too many missing & murdered indigenous women are left out of the inquiry and in discussion. 

I burn sage and sweetgrass for you, Tina Fontaine. For you, Loretta Sanders. For you, Delaine Copenace. For you, Annie Pootoogook. For you, Marilyn Munroe. There are so many names that should not be forgotten. MMIW awareness is important.

On this July 1st, this “Canada Day”, this “150th anniversary”, here’s your reminder that “Canada” is trash and not worth celebrating.

The “Fathers of the Confederation” acted out of economic and geopolitical interests and “Canada” was not founded on the interests nor the voice of anyone but the bourgeois’.

Hundreds of underpaid Chinese workers died building a transcontinental railway that ran through indigenous lands, violating the treaties. Reminder that the Québécois are as insensitive as any other white people when they call a certain meal “pâté chinois”. Reminder that the Québécois are settlers too and that past oppression does not excuse us.

In less than a decade in the late 19th century, Cree, the Niitsítapi, the Nakoda, the Métis and the Sioux, to name a few, dealt with the extinction of bisons, famines, diseases and persecutions. In 1881 the Saskatchewan Herald mocked them for starving in the streets. The Canadian government then sent in more guns to defend the food supply, than food.

The RCMP and the Canadian police departments have a history of violence against Indigenous people (and specifically Indigenous women), people of colour, leftists, and the LGBTQIA2S communities. “Canada” purged thousands of queer people from the government and the army between the 1950s and the 1990s. Despite it being continuously shown as a cute symbol of “Canada”, the RCMP represents colonialism, capitalism and patriarchy.

Tens of thousands of Indigenous children were taken away from their homes, their land, their families, their culture and their language to “take the Indian out of them” in residential schools. The last one closed in 1996. Reminder of the ongoing, historical, intergenerational trauma of colonialism and racism.

Thousands more Indigenous children were taken away from their homes between the 1960s and the 1980s and given to strangers’ families. Thousands still live in foster care today, away from home.

The deadly trains still go through the town of Lac-Mégantic (and many more towns), despite the 2013 fire and the lost lives and the trauma, as a false compromise for pipelines.

The Canadian army takes part in various wars, in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria. “Canada” sells tanks to Saudi Arabia.

White Canadians love to make fun of, co-opt, appropriate and folklorize other people’s cultures.

White Canadians relish in images of great mountains, white snow, strong rivers and mighty winds in books, poems, plays, music, paintings; they relish in an idea of the “True North” that was never theirs. They willingly take part in the destruction of nature for economic interests anyway.

Justin Trudeau (as if his family name alone wasn’t a red flag) is a liberal; his PR team should not fool us; he keeps promising without delivering; his speeches and symbolic gestures are not enough, and he keeps approving detrimental policies just like his predecessors.

Indigenous people are not an artefact or a relic from the past; speaking of them in the past tense only serves white people’s interests and embarrassment.

The people of Attawapiskat are still in a state of emergency and have yet to see any promise fulfilled, more than one year after 9 people attempted suicide on a single day.

The Inuit in Nunavut, as well as Indigenous peoples in Alaska and Greenland, are punished and marginalized nationally and internationally for seal hunting. Sealing is a traditional and necessary practice in the north.

There are still hundreds (if not thousands) of missing and murdered Indigenous women whose cases are ignored or unsolved.

Water protectors exist in “Canada”, too. Many communities don’t even have access to clean water or electricity.

There are currently Indigenous activists on Parliament Hill, which is situated on unceded Algonquin land. Canadians and the Canadian media are currently afraid of a tipi.

PM Trudeau sat in the tipi last night, while protesters could not enter it and many were arrested on the site.

Many other protests, demonstrations, drum circles, prayers and road blocks are being held around the country. Reminder that violence is as legitimate as peaceful protest in the face of colonial violence.

Reminder that land is not property, that it is not mine, and that us settlers are uninvited and occupiers. We live comfortably at the expense of a land that we distabilize, plunder, poison, drown, starve.

Reminder that Canada is a society rooted in colonial, capitalist, patriarchal and racist ideologies that should not be celebrated.

Sources will follow when I have access to my laptop.

Please watch Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries it’s a amazing show about a women in the 1920′s solving murders and its so sassy like  

first off she’s a feminist in 1920 Australia 


Plus she is a women of action

and she’s fucking gorgeous and knows it

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And she is 200% done with male bullshit of the era 

It’s on Netflix try the first episode it’s amazing 

oh ffs

Obviously the greatest portion of my love regarding Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries goes to Miss Fisher herself and the kickass lady who plays her (Essie Davis). She is smart and brave and sassy and intelligent and absolutely prepared to kick the patriarchy in the ass while also looking incredibly stunning, particularly her dresses and hats (I covet her wardrobe like whoa). Honestly even if everything else in this series were subpar, I would still watch it just for her. Both the character and the actress have charisma stats that are off the flippin charts.

BUT OMFG CAN WE ALSO TALK ABOUT DETECTIVE INSPECTOR JACK ROBINSON??

It’s bad enough that he is laconic and sassy and intelligent and awkward and much kinder than he seems to be. Please also consider:

  • His actor (Nathan Page) single-handedly redeems the fedora by rocking it hardcore
  • He actually uses the grammatically correct phrase LIE LOW vs. lay low
  • NATHAN PAGE CAN ACTUALLY SING AND PLAY THE PIANO FFS I AM DONE
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Don’t forget to wear red today in honor of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women.

Amnesty International reports that in the US native women are 2.5 times more likely than their non indigenous peers to experience sexual assault and rape.

In Canada, over 1200 First Nations women and girls have gone missing since 1980. The majority of these disappearances are murder cases.

Stand in Solidarity with us. Protect us and each other.

These stats are particularly important to note with the recent #ACA changes that may re categorize rape and sexual assault as pre existing conditions. Further convoluting an already traumatizing experience, when looking for help.