Breaking: A few days ago, an Indian woman was gang-raped, beaten, and left to die by thugs. So far, this hasn’t made the news in any major venue. But, you say, doesn’t India have a rape problem? And aren’t there huge mass demonstrations against it? Yes, that’s right. But this isn’t India. And this woman isn’t THAT kind of Indian:
“There was a woman, who was taken by two non-native guys, raped and left for dead,” stated Chief Peter Collins, the Chief of Fort William First Nation. Collins says “It is a hate crime against our community”.
In a media statement issued today, Idle No More states, “On Thursday evening Angela Smith (not her real name to protect her identity) was walking to a store in the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario. Two Caucasian men pulled their car up along side her as she walked on the sidewalk and began issuing racial slurs while throwing items at her from the car. When she continued to walk, the car stopped and the passenger of the vehicle got out of the car and grabbed the woman by her hair and forced her into the back of the car where she was held her down in the back seat by one of them and driven out of the city.
“They drove her to a surrounding wooded area where they brutally sexually assaulted, strangled and beat her. During the attack they told her it wasn’t the first time they had committed this type of crime and added, ‘it wouldn’t be the last’. They also told her ‘You Indians deserve to lose your treaty rights’. Making a reference to the current peaceful protests being undertaken by First Nations in Thunder Bay and throughout the country under the banner of Idle No More”.
Thankfully, unlike her counterpart in India, this woman is still alive, conscious, and talking about it:
Left for dead in the wooded area, ‘Angela’ managed to walk for four to five hours back to her home, where police were called. She was taken by ambulance to the hospital and the crime is currently under investigation.
Speaking from her home in Thunder Bay on Friday, ‘Angela’ said, “The only thought that came to my mind were my children. I thought I would never see them again.”
She said she also wanted to get the information out to community members in Thunder Bay, “It’s a cruel world out there and right now with the First Nations trying to fight this Bill (Bill C-45) everyone should be looking over their shoulder constantly because there are a lot of racists out there and to be careful.”
Yeah, John Fucking Baird, go right ahead and reject what Amnesty International is saying about us. Who the hell cares what you think? It’s all too true. Canada has nothing to boast about on any front right now. Canada has a racism problem. Canada has a sexism problem. Canada has a RAPE problem. None of these problems have been resolved, so there can be no “moving on”.
And all these human rights abuses are the “proud” legacy of conservatism. You know, the doctrine of white male Christian capitalist supremacy? Where one relatively small group of people goes around telling all the rest what to do…and if the Others don’t obey, they rape, beat and kill them with virtual impunity.
Now, I’m not Native. My parents are German immigrants. I’m a first-generation Canadian. I suppose I should, by the lights of our lovely SupposiTories, just wash my hands of all this and make like it’s not my problem.
But it IS my problem.
Because I am a woman. Because I too have to watch my back, constantly. From the moment I hit puberty, when I was 10 years old, I had to be on guard against prying eyes, groping hands, and worse. I had to face bullies who couched their threats of violence in graphically sexual terms. I have no doubt that at least some of them, if they felt they could get away with it, would have carried out all their threats and then some.
And while I didn’t know it at the time, it was only the fact that I was white that saved my skin. White girls and women have the narrowest margin of safety over their aboriginal sisters in this regard. We get harassed and molested, and sometimes raped. THEY get beaten, raped and killed. And they get that all the time, and nobody from the media seems to ever say boo.
And the reason all this happens is because there’s this age-old mentality that the “Indian” must be killed. Residential schools were built on the belief that it was necessary to “kill the Indian in the child”, so that all these pesky indigenous peoples, with their quaint belief in the sanctity of nature and the land, would not get in the way of capitalism when the settlers took over what had previously been owned by no one, and home to all. They could not be allowed to speak their own languages, practice their own customs, or worship their ancestral deities and spirits. They were stripped of everything, even the hair on their heads; one of the first things that happened to Native children when they were incarcerated in residential schools was that they would have their braids cut off. After all, that long hair was symbolic of the entire culture that they were meant to abandon. Whitey had to show ’em who was boss, right off the bat. What “better” — more traumatizing, more scarifying — way to do it than to just hack off their hair?
Well, I suppose it was a little bit more humane than smallpox-infested blankets. But still.
When I think of that, and then look at the Native people around me — and I live not far from the Alderville reserve — I’m amazed that there is anything left of the old ways at all. But like the last remnants of the tallgrass prairie here in Ontario, they still stubbornly survive. It isn’t much, but somehow it’s enough to keep going on.
And now, with Idle No More on the rise — and not only among Natives — it’s obvious that the days of conciliation and accommodation are over. And I’m glad of that. I don’t like seeing people being forced to accept oppression in any way, shape or form. I was bullied as a kid, so I have an idea of how that feels. I know what it means to wish you could fight back, if only you weren’t so alone. I’m glad when I see the victims of bullying band together, turn around, and fight back.
And they ARE fighting back. They are fighting back in a big, albeit peaceful, way.
The other day, the CN rail lines between Toronto and Montréal were blockaded. I only knew it was over when I looked out the window and saw the first VIA trains moving again. It takes a LOT of people power to block off a major rail line like CN, and in such a busy corridor. They must have inconvenienced hundreds of holiday travelers, who only wanted to carry on their New Year’s revelry uninterrupted. But they made their point, and then let them go on. No one was hurt or harmed; they just had to cool their heels for a few hours.
And, let’s face it, the mere discomfiture of some privileged white folks is nothing compared to what the Natives have suffered for these past four centuries here. It is nothing compared to what the woman who survived that racist rape has suffered. It is nothing compared to what happened to the Native women kidnapped and killed by Robert Pickton, or those who disappeared off the Highway of Tears. It is nothing compared to what has gone on for literal years out on the Prairies, where an intoxicated Indian of either sex can get dragged off the streets of Saskatoon by the local police, taken to some remote place beyond the outskirts, and simply left to die of exposure.
This all has happened, and not long ago, either. For all I know, it could still be going on. Police racism is a fact in Canada. It is what kept the Highway of Tears from being properly policed, and the Downtown East Side of Vancouver. It was what sent Donald Marshall to jail for more than a decade for a murder which had been committed by a white man named Roy Ebsary. The cops who put him away were blatantly racist; their attitude was that the only good Indian was a dead Indian. Sending him to the penitentiary was as good as a death sentence, since that sort of thing has a terrible effect on the mind of an innocent person. Donald Marshall was never the same again.
One might say that they sent him off to residential school.
One might say similar things about the as-yet-unnamed thugs who assaulted this Native woman, and all the others like her.
And one really ought to say the same about our Conservative politicians, who are currently trying their hardest to ignore a Native woman to death.
Well, if Chief Theresa Spence dies, there will be no end of uproar. They will not have killed the pesky Injun in anyone. They will have awakened that person in all of us, and not only those of indigenous descent. We will ALL be Indians on that day.
And good fucking luck trying to ignore THAT.
PS: This just in…the Grope & Flail has covered the story. And who got them to do it? My friend Brenda. Verbatim, from her Facebook page: “I am pleased to report that The Globe and Mail’s national editors kept their word. First thing this morning, I emailed them (in my capacity as a publicist) to ask them to please cover this very important story – and included all of the details I had gathered. The article was just published online 20 minutes ago – and should be in your morning newspaper tomorrow. Yes!”