Alanis Obomsawin is an Abenaki woman from Canada who has been making films, story telling, singing, drumming and speaking out about Indigenous peoples for many years. I had the great pleasure to meet with her for an interview on her thoughts about Security and Peace.
Here are some excerpts. To watch the (6 minute) interview and meet Alanis, click on this link:
This link may be available only in some areas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZcg8dJNBmk
A second Facebook link that should be available everywhere: https://www.facebook.com/100008452390334/posts/1997046817253712/
Alanis: So, the main important thing in life for me is to be able to have a place to stay, and lock the door, and nobody’s going to force themselves in, and that’s the only way that I can feel safe. But you never know what people can do to you. And the reason why I wear red, especially when I am performing, is to honour the Indigenous women who have disappeared and that have been killed and tortured and raped - and that’s the reason. And for a lot of people in general they might feel that red is a common colour, which I think is very wrong. First of all, it’s my favourite colour, and second of all it’s the colour of blood, and it is to remind us of what our women have been through, and I want it to be respected...
Squaw. It’s an Algonquin word to describe “woman”, “squaw,” in English, well it’s not in English, it’s an Algonquin word, means “woman” and, but, over the years I learned that whenever I was called that, yelled at, “squaw” had another meaning by those who were yelling that. Instead of letting this word be, which means women, and is beautiful, for them it means you are a common thing and I’m going to rape you, and I have a right to do this. And it’s very difficult, when I was a young girl I didn’t understand, this took me quite awhile to understand what they were using it for, and what they said the meaning was, which was untrue, and dangerous, and awful. And I am very much against that kind of thing that people of other nations are able to change the meaning of what the words mean...
I think the whole country has to understand why these things have happened. There are many people who have contributed, for our people to have been treated that way. First of all it has started with educational books in the classroom for many generations when they were teaching the history of Canada, and also taught you that, taught the rest of the country to create hate for our people...Where there has been no change, and it continues, is the attack on the women... the church also, these books were written by the church, and here it is called the Brothers of the Christian religion, who wrote these books with so much hate towards our people... So, there's guilt, all over...insulting our people, continued to make us feel like we do not belong. It’s our own country.
...what the Reconciliation did is very important. I see a lot of changes there...you have to start teaching the real history...You have a feeling that Canadians are listening now. Not so, twenty years ago. So I think we’re at a point that a lot of people want to see justice done. I really feel that. The place where I don’t see any change is how our women are treated.