Fear Isn’t a Healing Tool
I spent a lot of time debating how to start this. I've deleted several beginnings because they felt silly or they felt fake. Really, there isn't any way around what I don't want to have to say. The Freedom Convoy and the way that Canadians are reacting to it are scaring me. That's really how this needs to be started. I'm scared.
I'm scared because while so many people expect Indigenous Peoples to be celebrating "small wins" as they come, I've been waiting for “Canada's” mask to slip or the façade to crack. I've been waiting for the moment where people are finally confronted with the reality that we haven't made as much progress as they want us to think we have and when "small wins" are exposed for what they really are: minute changes in respect, recognition, and sovereignty. Well, the façade finally cracked - the mask finally slipped.
The Freedom Convoy has been shutting down Ottawa and wreaking havoc on communities across this Land for nearly three weeks, started and led by well-known racist White Nationalists. They've appropriated Indigenous cultures, assaulted people (mostly Indigenous individuals), attempted to steal Orange Shirt Day from us along with the Every Child Matters slogan for their anti-mask rhetoric, harassed and prevented parents from picking up their children at school, and so much more. These are hate-filled people seeking to hurt and divide this country. They're sick and they're racist. It's not about vaccines, no. They've brought their White supremacy out for all to see and the most upsetting thing is that most Canadians continue to give them a pass as "peaceful protestors” simply because they're White. Meanwhile, we are all painfully aware that if those protestors were Indigenous or Black, “Canada” would have snipers trained on them just as they do at all our get-togethers. Of course, brown and black people cannot be trusted, right? Everyone knows that…
I have to admit that the fear of how “Canada” is reacting, though not surprising, broke my Spirit for the first two weeks. How can any decent human look at this obvious gap in human rights and continue on business as usual? After all, if we don't condemn, we condone. If we don't condemn, we embolden. And that's just what we've seen. As more and more racist people are seeing that there is no sanctioning for their wrongdoings and that this way of thinking is actually common in “Canada,“ more and more closet racists are popping their heads out.
"Look, it's safe!"
The sheer number of them is overwhelming and demoralizing, and it really puts into context just how small our "small wins" really are. In that light, it's easy to give up, put up your walls and close off the world. Though, as much as I'd like to do that myself lately, I actually have a perspective to share that saved me and it might save you some pain too.
The people of the Freedom Convoy are colonizers. I think that that's a very important distinction. These are people who are looking to actively reinstate and uphold power and supremacy through means of colonization and colonial ideals. Every single racist tactic that they’ve thrown at us is intentional and calculated. Colonizers use fear and anger as tools to make us question ourselves, our allies and each other. Their entire Western-colonial system is built on the objective of making people feel incompetent, scared and dependent upon the government or the imposed rule, and it affects non-Indigenous people in the system as well. They want to wear us all down so we never feel like we have the ability to do what those at the top of their imposed system are doing. In reality, they use these tactics because they have no love or trust at their disposal. Their entire system is sick and designed to invalidate the leadership, power and competence of everyone except one person at the top. So each level moving down the hierarchy is forced to grip their position for dear life for fear of dropping even lower. What a sad way to live, instilling fear and hatred in the subconscious of your people.
Now imagine all that fear and the hate they must also feel when they see Indigenous Peoples who don't seek or require validation or power from their system. Imagine the fear they know deep down that they have no claim to this Land and that the only thing they can do is bully and bully harder while we refuse to change. Fear is their tool, and that's also why it eats at them so freely. Knowing that, I refuse to let them use it on me anymore...
I want to make myself clear, I'm not shoving my head in the sand and pretending Freedom Convoy isn't happening and I'm sure as hell not okay with what those assholes are doing. However, over the last two weeks, I let their sickness creep into my Spirit. I noticed that the lack of response from most Canadians became my reason to mark them as the "Other." I mean, how hard is it to condemn neo-Nazis in the capital right? Regardless, it became all-consuming. With every flag I saw, rage grew inside me. It wasn't until one day when I realized I was fuming over my husband's sarcastic "this is ‘Canada’" response that this is their goal...This is their goal and I fell for it.
In my fear, I had shut down and neglected my responsibilities to my husband. I wasn't seeing him as the person he is but instead, as the person I needed him to be to fit the narrative that my fear was telling me about Canadians. What’s worse is we do this on a huge scale with our Relations when we're leading with fear. That fear closes us off and gives us a false sense of permission to neglect our responsibilities to each other. We think we’re protecting ourselves, but we’re severing connections and denying our end of reciprocal relationships.
On the flip side of that, the only way to combat closing off our relationships and neglecting our responsibilities and reciprocity is by opening back up. Further, the only way to open up authentically is to lead with love and maintain trust in the relationships we're cultivating. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
We can’t decolonize with colonial tools.
Moving forward, here are just a few ways you can lead with love: 1. Prioritize the relationships that you have and spend your emotional and spiritual energy currency there 2. Focus on what you can give to your relationships instead of how much you need to protect yourself. The right relationships will give back to you (reciprocity and relational responsibilities) 3. Trust that the strength of the relationships you're building will be the protection and support you need 4. Believe in the strength and support of your allies and know that they are hurting as well. Allow them a safe space to grieve but don't take on the emotional labour of their grief 5. Remember that compassion is a perspective but it doesn't have to justify someone's actions or absolve them 6. Don't let the actions of White Nationalists and those who condone their behaviour poison the well for all the hard work that so many Settler allies are doing. Continue to breathe life into those relationships and work for the end goal of reconciliation and LandBack
The Freedom Convoy are racist colonizers. They are. Those who support the movement support neo-Nazis, White Nationalists, racists and colonizers. But guess what? History doesn't have a separate name for Nazis who supported the party because they liked the party platform or because they hated Jews. If you support the Freedom Convoy, you support the racism, the Nazi symbols, the slave-era confederate flags, the eugenics and the ongoing Indigenous genocide. This never had anything to do with vaccines, it was just a convenient cover.
I understand the pain that these people cause, and also understand that not everyone can turn their emotional energy away. After all, would we then have enough gusto to condemn these people? Maybe not, but if you’re like me and you find that your bank of emotional energy can’t handle the daily withdrawals to be given both to racists as well as to those that you love, the answer is easy. Always choose to give it to those you love. Mahsi, Jen