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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/12/2014 (2038 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
In the fall of 1988, I was in first-year law school at the University of British Columbia. Our criminal law teacher recommended we all go downtown and watch a trial where alcohol was being considered the murder weapon for the first time. There were over 200 of us in first year criminal law. Only my mom and I attended the trial.
Although Gilbert Paul Jordan, a.k.a. "the Boozing Barber," was linked to the deaths of at least 10 women, he was convicted of manslaughter in relation to the death of only one. Evidence at his trial showed all the women he had targeted, hundreds of women, were aboriginal. Fact is, aboriginal women who were alcoholic or down on their luck ended up dead.
That was 1988. I was 28, and had just finished undergrad work, escaped a violent marriage in my early 20s and had survived a teenage rape. In 2011, some 23 years later, I ran for national chief of the Assembly of First Nations as one of eight candidates, one of four indigenous women.
I'm writing this to share my views on sexism in our community and any linkage I see to violence against women in our community and our conspicuous absence as leaders within our communities. Some 90 per cent or so of the chiefs eligible to vote for national chief are men.
In my opinion, there is a link. Aboriginal men kill aboriginal women and girls, rape aboriginal women and girls, beat aboriginal women and girls, and no one is really talking about the moose in our living room.
Having lived through what is generally dismissed as domestic violence in several of my relationships, I've just had enough -- that's all. Of course I'm angry non-aboriginal men, primarily white men, are killing our women and girls, too, but I'm more angry we within our communities turn a blind eye to the violence against women right in our own backyards. If you stay home on reserve, you have a good chance of being killed, raped or beaten by a fellow member of your community, likely someone you love deeply, and if you leave home, well, the statistics are showing it is highly likely you, as an aboriginal woman or girl, will fall prey to the vultures that have been out there since contact -- beating, raping and killing our women.
Oh my God! Where did that come from? Well, it's our grim truth as aboriginal women, as aboriginal peoples and as Canadians. Boom! It's done. The emperor has no clothes! Just as I've told my young, brown son not to go out with his hoodie up and head down on the streets of Winnipeg.
You may get shot by the police, I say.
Oh you're such a drama queen -- exaggerating again.
No son -- just listen to me, pull your hoodie down -- please.
Just as I've told my daughter repeatedly, don't go ANYWHERE alone and never leave your drink unattended (good advice for any woman really), our reality as indigenous parents is sad and terrifying.
I don't want to hear about this anymore. What is the solution? Well, you tell me, what have you taught your children about the indigenous peoples within Canada, or about being an indigenous person?
We all must take responsibility to educate ourselves and not teach our children about the Bering Strait and how we apparently migrated here, but about how we are the indigenous peoples of this land. It is not our culture for our men to beat, rape and kill each other. Being drunk or high is no excuse. Sober up. Reach for help. Deal with your crap! I'm dealing with mine and have reached for the help I need. That is our tradition.
As for Canadians in general, ask yourself if you think there is a link between the violence we suffer as indigenous women and girls and our clear lack of political power. Inform yourself. Read a few books. Take responsibility and stop saying, "I don't know what to do"!
The Supreme Court of Canada has said "we are all here to stay." I say we're hurting together and we have to heal together if we are to have peace in our land. I stand for my children.
Joan Jack is a lawyer from Berens River First Nation who ran for the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations
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Updated on Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 1:15 PM CST: Changes headline