Monday, February 26, 2018

NAHM 2017: Taking sides

That title isn't exactly what it sounds like.

For the Aboriginal Worldviews and Education class, I watched 8th Fire: Aboriginal Peoples, Canada, & The Way Forward:

It was really excellent, and I highly recommend it from an informational point of view. I acknowledge that part of my enjoyment was the very charismatic host, Wab Kinew.

He did a great job, and I wanted to look up other things he had done. In addition to a pretty interesting career, that included two domestic assault allegations.

Well that was a turnoff.

He denies the allegations, and it would be easy to believe him, or to downplay the allegations against all of the good things he has done, but that doesn't feel quite right, especially in the wake of #metoo, which was at its height right while I was taking the class.

There is also an impaired driving conviction on his record and an assault on a taxi driver. Some of those charges have been cleared and he is applying for a pardon for another one, at least according to Wikipedia.

I mention that because we can look at the stereotype of the drunken Indian, and I have no doubt cracks have been made about that. At the same time, it was only a few posts ago that I was writing about how the disruption of the residential schools and the lack of autonomy and other things could have had a big influence on alcoholism.

In addition, I know Kinew's father was a victim of residential school abuse. I don't know if that abuse was passed on, but Kinew did experience "racially-motivated assaults" while he was growing up. He has definitely been a victim of violence, and it may have been hard for his parents to show him how to be affectionate and safe.

Beyond his personal experience, when we get into all of the rape and assault and harassment that has been coming out with #metoo, I know that there are cultural factors that make it easy to accept a lot of that - which is a vague way of saying it, but that can be explored more at another time.

I also know that there are victims of violence who do not commit violence; it's not an excuse.

In trying to think of how to navigate that - where I am looking at the big picture and having compassion for all parties - that is where studying the apology was most helpful. Seeing that the Canadian government was not asking the recipients of the apology how they felt or what they wanted, that is what was missing.

We are so used overall to focusing on those in power and their side that we may not even realize that we are doing it, but that's the part that needs to change. That's what we need to do for victims of colonialism and racism and misogyny. That's what we need to do for people who had land stolen and their careers halted and people who were raped. That's what we need to do for the descendants of people who had the primary crimes committed against them (though there are usually things still happening now).

It goes against tradition, but looking at the wreckage tradition has left, that's a good thing.

And it would be lovely if I could just segue here so that the next post would be about centering the victims of sexual assault and how we do that, and I would feel so organized and sharp, but I think I forgot to mention some things that are pertinent. I am looking at complex topics with messy intersections, and my posts will reflect that.

I am human, but I am trying to be a good one.

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