An Interview with Alanis Obomsawin on Security and WorldPeace

Tamarack Verrall
Posted October 9, 2018 from Canada
Alanis Obomsawin

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. 

 

 

 

This story was submitted in response to The Future of Security is Women .

Comments 13

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anita shrestha
Oct 10, 2018
Oct 10, 2018

Nice work for indigenous woman

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Thanks for your message, Anita. Now I have a link to the interview, which you might enjoy watching.

Jill Langhus
Oct 10, 2018
Oct 10, 2018

Hello lovely Tam,

Thanks for sharing this great interview with Alanis. It's great to hear about her work, films and some progress being in Canada for women and how indigenous people are portrayed, too.

Hope you're having a lovely day!

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Thanks Jill. I feel so fortunate to have met Alanis at an early age. She has long been an important part of my life, a mentor and dear friend, as she is to so many here and around the world. She is very aware of and glad for what we are doing through WorldPulse. The video link is now posted. You might enjoy seeing and hearing her "live".

Jill Langhus
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

You're welcome:-) Yes! That's cool.

I couldn't get the link to work, but it could be a rights protection for outside the country?!

Hope you're having a great weekend!?

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Hi Jill, thanks for the alert on the link. I have added a second one, my Facebook link to the same interview. I hope it works. And yes, a great weekend so far. All morning clear, to be reading stories on WorldPulse!

Jill Langhus
Oct 14, 2018
Oct 14, 2018

Hello Tam:-)

You're welcome. Yep. I bet that's what it was. Still can't get the first one to work, but the second, FB one, is perfect:-)

Have a great Sunday!

khayimoti
Oct 10, 2018
Oct 10, 2018

I am so impressed that you hit on misconceptions and wrong use of terminologies. I am sorry for the loss of your indigenous women, and i love red too, but because it's love. I beg of you to start finding inner peace and goodness in the colour. It can help take away the bad memories. Keep the flame burning so the pulse stays on.

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 13, 2018
Oct 13, 2018

Dear Khayimoti,
Thank you for your lovely message. Like you, Alanis spreads love. The video link of the interview is now posted. You might enjoy seeing and hearing her "live".

Beth Lacey
Oct 18, 2018
Oct 18, 2018

What an accomplished woman! Especially in the adversity she must have experienced. Thanks for sharing, Tam.
Beth

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 25, 2018
Oct 25, 2018

Hi Beth,
Yes, Alanis has become well known throughout Canada and globally for her work. Her films are available through the National Film Board of Canada. She has made 50 films in 50 years and is working on another. She is so well loved across Canada.

Tarke Edith
Oct 19, 2018
Oct 19, 2018

Hi Tam
Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview on our platform

Tamarack Verrall
Oct 25, 2018
Oct 25, 2018

Thanks Edith. I am so glad that you enjoyed "meeting" Alanis.