LETTER FROM THE EDITOR: RESISTANCE ISSUE
One of my favourite memories of my grandmother is her laughter. Not that she had an exceptional laugh or that one particular incident comes to mind, it was just the fact that she laughed at all. My grandmother raised her children in a tiny ‘house’ on the wrong side of Georgian Bay, without supports, without money, and often without a partner, food or an end in sight. She dealt with racism and poverty and surrounding her, alcoholism and domestic violence. She never went to a shelter because, as she told me once, there were none, not for women like her; Metis for whom English was only a second language. She didn’t run to a family member’s house because, as she explained, her and her children would then be a burden for someone else and she wouldn’t have that. What she did do was resist. She resisted by teaching her children, singing her songs, refusing to bend under even the strongest of opposition and never giving up hope. She resisted by never losing the ability or missing the opportunity to laugh.
When she did leave – the shack, the community, my grandfather, she stayed with her grown children until my own mother was married and I was blessed to live with her my entire life until I was twenty and moved out. Over those years she gifted me with a worldview that sustains me. To my brother and me, and then later to my own son, she gave her language, her stories, her teachings and her laughter; always her laughter. I watched her take joy in a new tea towel, revel in a well-oiled rocking chair and a cheesy book of love stories. Listening to fiddle music on a tiny clock radio and collecting costume jewelry from AVON, spending summers back up on the Bay with her sisters playing cards and sitting down on the shore; she was so full of joy. From her I learned to truly live and sought out that kind of connection down in the city, and I found it. Working at the friendship centre and the Native Women’s Centre, I was able to grow and help my community at the same time. And she was so pleased ‘we found our way”, that there was such a resurgence in community work within the family.
One of the attributes I love best about my community is our ability to do better than survive; instead, to find the lesson in the pain, the sustenance in the dirt, the laughter in the chaos. This issue gives honour to the struggle, the triumph and the next phase. We march and we fast, we change policies and we demand action. We also gather strength, teach each other, reclaim and repurpose. And, like my grandmother, we never forget to laugh. In the face of all that would hold us down, we break open our hearts with a strength so uniquely Indigenous it cannot be named so we call it joy. And we thrive, refusing to bend under even the strongest of opposition, never giving up hope.
MUSKRAT Managing Editor
A Cover Note from the Publisher
Within a Canadian framework Indigenous Peoples can be described as prisoners of democracy. Our population of 4% of the total Canadian population is too small for our communities to determine our leadership within national elections and we possess little control over how we are represented across the country in public media. Indigenous perspectives are often silenced through the lens and perspectives of non-Indigenous people speaking on our behalf. We often find our mouths are ‘taped shut’.
However technology has changed things. We can now publish our own magazines that have the power to reach the world and can organize a #IdleNoMore flash mob round dance on a whim. We are connected to each other and world like never before, and with this connection we have a renewed power to influence and ignite change.
We hope you will be inspired by all of the contributors we profile in our Resistance issue; we certainly are!
Chii Miigwetch (Big Thanks)
On MUSKRAT’s Resistance cover is contributor Leanne Simpson
Cover Photography: Robin Sutherland
Cover Design: David Shilling