In the winter of 2017/2018, Canada saw a lot of heartbreaking and frustrating verdicts in trials where Indigenous youth had been murdered. These events along with Northern Canada’s suicide crisis, Indigenous communities without potable water and my own day-to-day frustrations of the average Canadian’s lack of knowledge or truthful history lit a fire in me. I needed to turn this frustration and sadness into movement and I realised I could start with educating people on the basics of Canada’s dark history
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Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies, Jenna Rose Sands
Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies is described as a zine series created out of emotional exhaustion. mindyourmind spoke to Jenna Rose Sands, creator/founder of the zine. She describes herself as "a brown woman, standing in front of entire communities, asking for people to smarten the hell up and treat Indigenous people like the complex and beautiful humans we are and not second class citizens on our own ancestral lands."
The zine about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is a hard one to get through. It details the decades long crisis of Indigenous women and girls being targeted for violence and more often than not, murder. This zine also dives right into how the federal government, police and Canadian society at large turned a blind eye to thousands of Indigenous women who went missing and eventually murdered. This issue unfortunately is not resolved.
I feel a key message is to realise we weren’t given the full story or even a small portion of truth in school. There is so much to learn about Indigenous history that is painful but there is also so much out there in our collective history as Indigenous people that is and should be celebrated. We are a diverse and culturally rich people and I feel Canadians are really missing out in learning our stories.
I have an issue with the term “reconciliation.” For me it implies that at one point, Indigenous people and the Crown/Canadian government were in an excellent partnership that fell apart and we’re trying to get back to it. This isn’t the case and I really don’t know what a healthy partnership with the government and settlers looks like. I do know that knowledge is the first step in creating change, knowledge of facts, of oneself, of a society and I think we’re starting to see people wake up a bit which is nice. Though I will say we are still in the Truth portion of Truth & Reconciliation.
Learn! Learn about the true history of the land you build your lives upon. Learn about those who thrived before, learn about who calls the land you live your life on their ancestral home. Research and learn on your own, Google questions, be informed and try not to place huge emotional and mental loads on Indigenous people to “teach you” how to be a better ally.
Indigenous authors are seeing a boom in people devouring their stories. Get out there and support Indigenous authors, artists, activists that are our there sharing their ways. Use the Internet to search for museums or workshops with Indigenous focused learning. If you’re near an old residential school, go visit it and learn.
As much as I say the zines are for others, they are equally huge therapy for me. I get lost in putting them together and I have the chance to really think over how I feel about these issues. When they’re done and I’m holding a finished copy in my hands I feel a huge release, it’s ready to come alive and speak to the masses.
I feel that zines will always be in my life in some form or fashion. From creating them to planning zine fairs in my hometown of London, I’ll be active. As for art, just telling more stories and growing as a person within my work. Folks can track me at my website: atrocitiesagainstindigenouscanadians.com
Photos from HRM Photography and Jenna Rose Sands