Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Salt in an Open Wound

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Christie Blatchford is writing a whole series on the issue of aboriginal suicide… “Lifting the Veil on Native (there’s that N word again!) suicide” is the name of today’s atrocity I mean column.

That she has the audacity to do this is amazing to me. It is so loaded with her smug, white privilege and consequently that hand-wringing – “Oh look, those poor NATIVES are so despondent, the white people have to rescue them” thing, which is pretty much the tenor of this article. It centers around some benevolent white policemen – her favourite fucking subject – who are trying to work in suicide prevention in the Nishnabe Aski Nation. More power to them if they can make a difference, but we have been working on this terrible issue ourselves and need to develop more of our own culturally-relevant ways, thank you very much. But since this new series comes in the wake of her so-called “expose” of the poor white folks’ problems in Caledonia, I’m feeling a tad suspicious as to her underlying motivation to write this column.

It makes me want to scream. Especially since I am so raw in light of my family’s loss -- all I can think is, fuck you Christie. You have no fucking idea. About us or why suicide is such a tragic, terribly common affliction in our communities. About the fact that our children choose to kill themselves before they reach adulthood, rather than live as indigenous people. About how fucking hard it is to deal with the realization that our people are thought of as a waste of space, as a money-sucking black hole of all the hard-working taxpayer’s money as most Canadians do – or about the fact that the most common perception is that we are conquered and dead already, so why don’t we just shut the hell up?

It’s hard to be indigenous in this colonially-occupied country, where every move that your community tries to make to lift itself out of the economic cesspool of poverty and resultant cultural stagnation is scrutinized and passed judgment on by a government agency that would rather be doing anything but working so that you could actually do something for the benefit of your people. It’s hard to try and make something of yourself when right from the beginning the educational deck is stacked against you. Hell, it’s hard when your very identity as an indigenous person is dictated by an outmoded, racist piece of legislation written up by colonizers that decides whether you have enough blood to be shoved into the concentration camp – whoops sorry I mean reserve.

I feel so raw about our beautiful little Jewel that this just feels like salt in an open wound. I know that the issue has to be more broadly publicized, that more people need to understand the realities of our communities – but why does she get to be the voice? And herein is the crux of my problem with it – that a white woman with all the attendant privilege and forum to do so gets to wring her hands and essentially wail while the subtext of her writing is, those “natives” just can’t get their shit together. To which I say, get out of our fucking way and maybe we could.

Here's a link to it so you can see for yourself.
Lifting the veil on native youth suicide - The Globe and Mail