20 Pedagogical Considerations on Teaching “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women from a Global Perspective”

Brenda Anderson

Brenda Anderson[1]

As a non-Indigenous person who has directly benefitted from the colonization of prairie soil into white settler farmland, I am confronted with the question of what roles and responsibilities I now have in my privileged position as a white feminist academic choosing to be a witness to the past and an ally for the future. The issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW) was the catalyst for turning my questions into action. The repeated horror of listening to news stories and reading posters on pharmacy windows asking, “Have you seen . . . Please call . . .” led me to ask Indigenous women—Elders, activists, mothers and daughters—what key lessons a non-Indigenous ally needs to learn about standing alongside, and how those with social privilege can make space for things to happen.

This chapter is a practical reflection on my experiences since 2008 of teaching a university course on MMIW with an emphasis on Indigenous and feminist methodologies and pedagogies. I write in the spirit of the Truth and Reconciliation process, which has challenged all Canadians to locate themselves in the narrative of colonialism and commit to the full acknowledgement of our joint history, no matter how painful, as a means of beginning reconciliation. I write mainly for those who may wish to teach in this area, as I move back and forth between theoretical questions and personal observations from the classroom. I challenge readers, as I challenge students, to consider whether Canada needs to name our historic and current treatment of Indigenous women as femicide, as has been done in countries like Guatemala and Mexico, in order to acknowledge not only the violence but the complicit acceptance of this phenomenon within our social and legal fabric.

Three ethical questions guide my teaching: what are effective steps that can be taught to non-Indigenous allies to facilitate movement through the inevitable but immobilizing “white guilt” to a more productive and accountable position of witnessing or standing alongside; how do we teach about trauma without further traumatizing, particularly for Indigenous students for whom this has tragically become a personal journey or, to put another way, how do we equip our future activists with concrete tools for self-care to prepare them to redress violence and inequity; what theoretical feminist and Indigenous methodologies work well in bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous students together in community-engaged research. These themes are reflected throughout this chapter as I discuss content and pedagogy. I conclude by offering a sample syllabus for a third-year Women’s and Gender Studies course called MMIW: A Global Perspective.

The course is designed to teach students about the history of colonialism in Canada and its effects on all Canadians in general, but Indigenous Canadians in particular and Indigenous women and girls specifically. A theoretical emphasis on the intersections of racism, sexism, capitalism, and neo-liberalism, among many other layers of oppression, demands that the students and I recognize our own personal location in the oppression or experiences of oppression. The majority of students are females from white settler backgrounds, along with a number of self-identified Indigenous and Métis students, and one or two from more recent immigrant backgrounds. We usually number about thirty students, which is ideal for table-talk exercises designed to blend analysis with personal debriefing opportunities.

From the Local to the Global and Back Again

The course is modelled after the goals and principles that guided a 2008 conference held in Regina, SK on missing and murdered Indigenous women. The conference created a forum for voices to be heard from a variety of social locations and professional perspectives that address this issue with their particular lens; to formulate a global analysis of colonialist gender violence from which we can recognize patterns of violence that occur in Canada; and to care for the whole person in this painful recognition that the problem goes far further and deeper than the individual acts of a few violent men. I bring those principles into the classroom with the 2008 MMIW conference proceedings, Torn from our Midst: Voices of Grief, Healing and Action from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Conference, 2008 (Anderson, Kubik, and Hampton 2010). To move forward, we cannot afford to scapegoat any one group in Canada (e.g., police, media, government), lest it mollify our own complicity in a colonialist country. In fact, perspectives from all areas are needed to grasp the full complexity of how a colonialist and sexist nation was originally created and is currently perpetuated. The global nature of colonialist violence against Indigenous women and the subsequent resistance movements clarifies what happens in our own backyard and offers paths forward on redressing the problems.

We begin the semester by locating the history of Indigenous women within Canada’s pioneering history through showing their relationship to white settlers. We discuss the Pocahontas-squaw motif described by Janice Acoose in IskwewakKah’ Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak: Neither Indian Princesses Nor Easy Squaws to illustrate how and why the fantastical Native is framed in our national imagination as either the noble, exotic savage to be conquered or as the beast of burden to be despised or pitied (49). We move to current media representations of Indigenous women, particularly the stories of victimized women, and pay attention to the language used and the assumptions made. These representations are juxtaposed with personal stories shared by family members who visit the classroom. Journalists also talk with us, and one in particular recounts how her representation of the issue has changed as she became more aware of Canada’s history and of the personal stories from families. Journalism students accept the challenge to change the narrative when they enter the workforce. Resisting the historic pattern of blaming the victim is possible when white settler language and assumptions become recognizable and students see the opportunities they have to shape the national narrative of MMIW.

Although I begin the course with Canadian history, I frame violence against Indigenous women in the global context, examining Mexico, Guatemala, and Australia. Moving outside our own frame of reference illustrates that colonialism survives off violence against brown-skinned women everywhere, for even though each country has its own unique history, the violence is replicated in similar ways. For instance, the effects of neo-liberal trade agreements connect misogyny with economics. Activists in Mexico and Canada bring attention to the decline of local artisan’s sales, particularly detrimental to Indigenous women, when multinational companies are allowed to become monopolies (Erno 2010, 57). They attest to the governmental and military violence perpetrated in Mexican towns, such as San Salvador Attenco where attempts to remove Indigenous people from their land in preparation for free trade plans, including premeditated kidnapping and raping women (Perez 2010). Pastor Kim Erno’s analysis of the effects of neo-liberal economics on Indigenous women pinpoints their vulnerability for “exclusion, exploitation, expulsion, (and finally) extermination” (60). Students are asked to locate if, and where, these stages occur for Canadian Indigenous women.

Mexican gender roles were shaped by eighteenth-century wars between the Spanish, by Catholic conquerors, by the manifest destiny that gave “permission” for American frontiersman to expand and conquer the continental United States (M. Anderson 2007, 22), and by the Mexican revolutionaries. Continuing today as the hegemonic masculine ideal, the caudillo (military strong man) became “rooted in the family” as the independent breadwinner in contrast to the idealised feminine of domestic production (Healy 2008, 5). When neo-liberal economics no longer support traditional livelihoods, instead favouring young, easily coerced women as workers in sweatshops (Portillo), traditional machismo roles are displaced and increased domestic violence makes women vulnerable at home as well as at work (Healy 2008, 154). Women’s deaths in the maquiladoras (sweatshops) in northern frontier cities, such as Ciudad Juarez, have been linked to the lethal blend of frustrated misogyny, neoliberal economics, political corruption, and drug cartels (Bowden 1998).

Recent works on Canadian Indigenous masculinities, such as Sam McKegney’s (2014) MASCULINIDIANS: Conversations about Indigenous Manhood, mark a similar pattern for Indigenous men. The class discusses displacement of traditional male roles from an economic, social and spiritual perspective. The systemic exclusion, exploitation, expulsion and extermination of Indigenous people through Canada’s reserve system, residential “schools,”[2] the 60s scoop, increased foster care and incarceration, and the resulting rise in gangs and exploitative forms of the sex trade and sex-trafficking reads like a global manual on colonialism.

Identifying global patterns of dislocation and alienation from traditional social values encourages students to see Canada’s history differently. But distant stories aren’t enough, so I invite professionals who work with MMIW to tell about their experiences and tell the stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women. Police officers from the missing persons unit discuss local cases; hearing about the lack of necessary resources and support for family members allow students to see how individuals often struggle within the systems purportedly designed to provide assistance. In contrast, government policymakers from the Saskatchewan Provincial Partnership on Missing Persons have shown what is possible when things are done differently, when all voices, including government official, representative from social organizations, and victims’ families, are present at the table (Pottruff 2010). Speakers from local activist groups, such as Sisters in Spirit or Amnesty International, ensure we hear firsthand how systems of governance replicate the oppression against First Peoples generally and Indigenous women specifically. In one three-hour class, students see a PowerPoint presentation with the faces of Indigenous women from Saskatchewan who have gone missing or been murdered, listen to police and provincial government responses, and write names of those who have most recently been taken onto an Amnesty banner. It becomes not just a question of the need for correct information and education, but shows students the measure of power, or lack of power, those who work within government have. The students begin to ask what challenges they will face if they find themselves working in police, judicial, or social work capacities.

What I have observed over the years of teaching this class is the increasing number of Indigenous people employed in the professions who are able to bring their stories of what it is like working within a white-dominated profession on issues that may be near to their own experiences. How it changes the messages and perceptions when an Indigenous journalist or police officer tells the story! That problematic perception of white settlers “helping” Indigenous people dissipates when everyone is understood as an active and essential agent for change. The balance of power is slowly but incrementally shifting, and students take note of that change.

Moving beyond Canada again, the familiar pattern of British colonialism in Australia mirrors the historic violence against Indigenous women here. The racist notion of “breeding out” Indigenous blood inspired the creation of the half-caste system in Australia. It is a jolting reminder of the intentions and consequences of Canada’s Indian Act and Bill C-31, particularly in its implications for Indigenous women who experience the double burden of sexist and racist ideologies (2010, 75). My class examines the Australian half-caste “school”[3] system through the 2002 film Rabbit-Proof Fence because it opens up space to speak about the potential of re-traumatizing people when their stories are told by outsiders (Noyce 2002). Is it helpful, harmful, or both to recount stories of girls being torn away from their mother’s and auntie’s arms and driven away to the school when the actors themselves experienced that very trauma when they were girls? Is it okay for a white male director, no matter how sympathetic, to direct Aboriginal girls to “get in touch with the pain” of trying to return to their families when they may suffer from intergenerational trauma?

In the Canadian context, the film The Healing Circle describes Canada’s residential schools and the complicity of the churches in carrying out the government’s program of cultural genocide. The film was created by the Anglican Church of Canada as one of their earlier reconciliation projects. It portrays the history of the schools and their lasting effects on the children and on the adults from whose arms the children were torn, who experienced such a massive cultural disruption in terms of family norms, cultural values, spirituality, languages, governance structures and land-based knowledge. The class discusses intergenerational trauma and connects today’s increased domestic violence within Indigenous communities to the unaddressed trauma of the residential school system. The intentionality behind the deliberate actions of the residential school system is stark, and Canadians can no longer wilfully think of the present as an unfortunate and unintended consequence of centuries-old practices.

What students find most disturbing about the film, perhaps, are comments made by the teachers. Although most of the teachers in the film express considerable confusion over why they felt it was the right thing to do at the time, some say it was, and would still be, an appropriate response to “the Indian problem.” Naturally, this raises the youthful ire of the classroom. However, it is not as simple as blaming people from the past. Anglican priest Cheryl Toth speaks to this response. She calmly notes to the class,

While I understand you being upset at those types of comments, as am I, I’d like to suggest that many of us in this room, compelled to be here because of our sense of justice and wanting to make this a better world, might in fact have been amongst those who taught and worked in the residential schools. The sad and frightening fact is that many of those well-intentioned people genuinely felt they were helping those children.

This is met with silence because the next logical question is, “what am I doing right now that I think is helpful that might be looked at decades from now with similar horror?” Perhaps this is the strongest message to non-Indigenous students: the best role of an ally is to learn to stand alongside the efforts of those who have experienced the abuse and to ask what they need in order to reconcile the past and move forward.

The compelling notion of deep healing helps move students forward to a new narrative in Canada. To begin helping students discover that narrative, I first contrast it to the concept of deep colonizing as the covert “practices . . . embedded in the institutions that are meant to reverse processes of colonisation” (Rose 1996, 1), which Deborah Bird Rose raises in the Australian context of land claims procedures. She describes Aboriginal peoples’ gendered relationships to the land and how deep colonizing continues to erase Aboriginal women when this relationship is ignored in modern land claims court challenges (3). Differentiated sacred spaces traditionally demand women’s voices be present at the negotiating table, yet court practice has been to exclude them (4), which neglects knowledge to be gained from understanding which spaces, with their associated rituals, are, indeed, sacred to Indigenous women. Deep colonizing is the erasure of women’s presence in sacred rituals and court systems alike under the guise of land claims talks. The questions students can pose in the Canadian context are, what form does deep colonizing take in Canadian legal treaty contestations and environmental challenges? And what does the absence or presence of women at our highest courts say about our national views on Indigenous women?

In contrast, deep healing becomes a form of active witnessing associated with everything from sacred rituals to legal procedures. Family members of the missing and murdered, Elders, and Indigenous leaders require intentional, deep listening from the rest of Canada. How do students imagine deep healing could happen in Canada’s court systems during trials relating to missing and murdered women? How will deep colonizing be replaced by deep healing in the Canadian context? Considering the original narrative, and how that can lead to important questions about systemic erasure of Indigenous women, helps students understand their role in changing harmful practices.

With this wealth of global and national stories interwoven throughout the semester, we arrive at a point where the class debates whether the word femicide fits our national context. My colleague, Leonzo Barreno, originally from Guatemala, describes that country’s struggle with drug cartels and female mules (drug couriers who often don’t know they are carrying drugs) who disappear along the drug routes to North America. He shows how activists in Guatemala and Mexico define femicide in terms of not only enculturated violence against Indigenous women and girls but also in the nation’s complicity with its denial of any systemic problem (2010, 71). A national inquiry in Canada—particularly when led by family members and the findings and recommendations of Sisters in Spirit researchers and backed by legislative deep healing across the country—can redress Canada’s femicide. Acknowledging its existence is the first step towards prevents it.

Weaving the local and global contexts together throughout the semester allows students to recognize patterns, reorganize their perspectives and priorities, learn about global efforts to end violence against Indigenous women, and commit to effective decolonizing and deep healing in Canada. The commitment is crucial for the well-being of all who call this land home—Indigenous Peoples, newcomers, settlers, and my students.

Accountability and Belonging in a Classroom Community

Locating ourselves in this issue is a thread throughout the course. I relate my story of growing up in a farming community that did not acknowledge its white privilege. Racism was assumed, rarely challenged. In its best light, this at least affords me an awareness of what white guilt and tears of shame are all about and how, as the late Elder Ken Goodwill advised me, they are neither required nor wanted. I learned that my heritage as the grandchild of a white Scottish settler from Prince Edward Island gives me certain insights into the task of reconciliation. I can tell where other’s white privilege turns to white guilt. The class discusses those terms, and how neither can be the default position of an ally. When we learn about a history that has been withheld from us, despite twelve years of grade school and university classes, and learn of its direct consequences in every Canadian life, we often feel rage and shed tears. Tempered, that realization becomes motivational. Untempered, it can lead to dissociation, as evidenced in rhetorical questions like, “how could they have done that to other human beings?” Carol Schick and Verna St. Davis note the essential task of pressing students to realize the they is them, today, now (57). Just as men need to stand alongside feminists, non-Indigenous allies need to move from the historical to the present and from the “tsk tsk” to a personal awareness of, and accountability for, their own white privilege. That transforms pity into deep healing.

White guilt is often accompanied by its fellow traveller, trauma. The potential for triggering students who themselves have suffered from abuse is real. I am not a psychologist, nor should a professor assume a counselling role. What I can provide is a number of ways to become aware of our own trauma. I tell the students I am concerned about the effects that studying trauma has on our classroom community, including myself. I bring in a psychologist to talk about the symptoms of, and responses to, post-traumatic stress disorder. I ask students to carefully consider whether this class is suitable for them given their own experiences. It is not uncommon to have students in the class who have had a family member stolen from them. Students are asked to talk about what they already do in terms of self-care. What are the simple habits we do but usually forget at the peak of semester deadlines? When do we know that we need a break from the topic? We share our simple stories and ways, discuss the efficacies of friendship, support groups, spending time in nature, and, if necessary, speaking with counsellors available at the university. Students are required to continue to assess their own capacity to respond to trauma as part of their journal reflections.

I have to be comfortable with how making space for things to happen means relinquishing control. I don’t know what the guest speakers are going to say or how the students will respond. Students tell me that they go home to “have a good cry.” Sometimes what they hear is upsetting because they don’t agree with the speaker—what a wonderful opportunity to analyze the problems! It makes a difference to the students to point out that the fact they are in this class means they are already contributing towards the reconciliation process.

The notions of accountability and belonging within the classroom are often new constructs for students. One transformative learning tool is the interactive “blanket exercise.” This was developed by KAIROS to involve people in re-enacting the history and effects of colonialism on First Peoples and can be led by anyone who is comfortable working with groups and with sensitive material. My college has partnered with the Canadian Roots Exchange Program to form a reconciliation team of young adult leaders made up of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. The effect of students sitting on blankets, only to be moved or removed from this Turtle Island of blankets as the history is recounted, including a narrative on MMIW, is profound. When followed by a talking circle, the experience and learning time lead to a very personal accountability. The movement of the body engages and commits the whole person to the story. As one student noted to me, it made her feel physically connected to Canada’s history.

This can be a painful experience for Indigenous participants. One student told me that, although his family was affected by the residential schools, he had been kept largely in the dark about the stories. This was the first time he had “felt” the history. Although it is a sobering exercise, it shows what educational decolonization looks like. Acknowledging the past moves the nation forward; the blanket exercise creates witnesses who are now accountable to the decolonizing process. A relationship is established between the past and the present, not to mention between the participants.

Recognizing the intersections of sexism and racism for Indigenous women is heavy work. Intersectional feminist and Indigenous practices both emphasise that the personal is political. Melding the two into Indigenous feminism combines principles of individual rights with social accountability and the theoretical understandings of the intersections of oppression and privilege. Indigenous feminism echoes traditional Indigenous practices, such as the talking circle and the teaching of balancing personal rights with social accountabilities. What has been particularly appreciated by students is my adaptation of Kim Anderson’s work from Life Stages and Native Women: Memory, Teachings, and Story Medicine. Anderson uses the teachings from Elders to counsel inner city youth about how the four stages in life—birth, childhood, adult, and elder—bring membership and ownership to the whole community. In each stage, a balance is struck between personal accountability and the reciprocal knowledge that one belongs to a caring community. As babies bring joy, they require safety and nurturance. As youth bring energy and new questions, they require teachings and guidance. As the middle-aged provide material wealth, they require their children to be guided and sustained by Elders. Elders bring their time and knowledge; they require care and respect. Feminist? Indigenous? The labels matter not, but the teaching means a blending of the individualist and the collectivist with the aim of a healthy community. This portrayal of the ideal community is offered not to romanticize and locate Indigenous teachings in the past, nor is it to be understood as essentialist or normative. It is offered as non-gendered guiding principles that identify needs and gifts throughout our life journeys. Balancing notions of individual rights with accountability and social duty underscores what powerful decisions students can make in their lives.

An Indigenous feminist approach that redresses issues of violence against Indigenous women is found in Lina Sunseri’s book Being Again of One Mind: Oneida Women and the Struggle for Decolonization. Laying the personal stories of women—mothers, daughters, Elders, activists—alongside the history of the Haudenosaunee nation, the book illustrates how Oneida women have negotiated the meanings of traditional womanhood as the drummers of the nation (2011, 16) and by “mothering a nation” (126), with the feminist commitment to non-essentialist gender roles. This understanding is not linked to reproduction but to all who “sustain the community and (support) women’s achievement of self-empowerment” (131). The process of students evaluating methods of decolonization situated in women’s self-empowerment speaks directly to redressing the vulnerability of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Who are our nation’s drummers and mothers?

In her work on “de-centering damage,” Indigenous theorist Eve Tuck calls attention to the damage that is done when the focus remains on the victimization of Indigenous people. Not only does it maintain the hegemonic meta-narrative of settler culture as the source of liberation from colonialist policies, language and systems, it instills and perpetuates the victim imagery in its language and very focus. For me, it even raises the question of whether it is appropriate or legitimate for an ally, a non-Indigenous person, to teach this class. Currently, I continue my commitment in the belief that it models a way of moving forward together, but to do this, I have to reiterate my commitment for making space for things to happen. Like Tuck, I believe the answer rests in showing the power within Indigenous knowledge systems and the roles of Indigenous female leaders both historically and currently. Readings, films and guest speakers can bring that forward every single class. Literature by Indigenous authors such as Teresa Marie Mailhot in her 2018 book Heartberries: A Memoir resonates with students, as do taped lectures on land and treaty rights by Mi’kmaw lawyer Pam Palmater (Woodrow Lloyd) or videos of the Algonquin Water Song (Jerome). Perhaps most importantly, finding ways for students to become involved in local and global Indigenous communities, spiritual ceremonies and activist work inscribes new ways of knowing and might prevent prescriptive colonialist practices. In ways such as these, change does not “rely upon the benevolence of the state or of the dominant in society” (Tuck Toward 17). Ultimately, it is my belief that the next person to teach this class must be herself Indigenous. This isn’t merely a question of representation, it is about ensuring that we are not content with the consciousness-raising or educational phase of change, but rather, as Tuck again reminds us, be willing to radically question what “change” even means (I Do Not Want to Haunt You).

Conclusion

This is the most difficult course that I teach. The reconciliation process that academics can engage in—must engage in—makes us all vulnerable, as a nation, as a community, as an individual. But vulnerable to what? To painful and often unresolved stories, certainly, but also vulnerable to change. A national inquiry on MMIW, the gifts from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the growing leadership from within Indigenous women’s circles, means the nation’s deep healing work can begin. There is hope. The students who, of their own initiative, bring the REDress Project to campus, who hold awareness nights on MMIW, who faithfully attend the Sisters in Spirit annual vigils, and who demonstrate, ring bells and say, “Not One More! Ni Una Mas!” show that each and every one of us has an integral part to play in countering and ending our nation’s legacy of femicide. This is no fairy tale with a guaranteed happy ending, but we are capable of unwinding ourselves from the colonial project, and we are capable of weaving a new future. The evidence is already before us in the writing of this book.

 

References

Acoose, Janice. IskwewakKah’ Ki Yaw Ni Wahkomakanak: Neither Indian Princesses Nor Easy Squaws. Toronto: Women’s Press, 1995.

Anderson, A. Brenda, Wendee Kubik, and Mary Rucklos Hampton, eds. Torn from Midst: Voices of Grief, Healing and Action from the Missing Indigenous Women Conference, 2008. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Centre, 2010.

Anderson, Kim. Life Stages and Native Women: Memory, Teachings, and Story Medicine. Manitoba: University of Manitoba Press, 2011.

Anderson, Mark Cronlund. Cowboy Imperialism and Hollywood Film. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 2007.

Anglican Church of Canada. The Healing Circle. Toronto: The Anglican Book Centre, 1995. Film.

Barreno, Leonzo. “From Genocide to Femicide: An Ongoing History of Terror, Hate, and Apathy.” Torn from Midst: Voices of Grief, Healing and Action from the Missing Indigenous Women Conference, 2008. Eds. A. Brenda Anderson, Wendee Kubik, and Mary Rucklos Hampton. Regina: CPRC, 2010. 69-74..

Barry, Lisa, and Jim Boyles. Topahdewin: The Gladys Cook Story. Anglican Church of Canada, TO, 2006. DVD.

Bourassa, Carrie. “The Construction of Aboriginal Identity: A Healing Journey.” Torn from Midst: Voices of Grief, Healing and Action from the Missing Indigenous Women Conference, 2008. Eds. A. Brenda Anderson, Wendee Kubik, and Mary Rucklos Hampton. Regina: CPRC, 2010. 75-85.

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Chakarova, Mimi, dir. The Price of Sex. New York: Women Make Movies, 2011. Film.

Erno, Kim. “Political Realities: The Effect of Globalization on Indigenous Women.” Torn from Midst: Voices of Grief, Healing and Action from the Missing Indigenous Women Conference, 2008. Eds. A. Brenda Anderson, Wendee Kubik, and Mary Rucklos Hampton. Regina: CPRC, 2010. 57-68.

Healy, Teresa. Gendered Struggles against Globalization in Mexico. Burlington: Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2008.

Jerome, Irene Wawatie. “Algonquin Water Song.” Vimeo, uploaded 25 October 2020, https://vimeo.com/273112273?1&ref=fb-share&fbclid=IwAR0YFI6BQzuP176Z6HFTXtCYSjJr-KKtYI5VqkXmrCB58V_ZOeSMcunLLiQ.

Mailhot, Terese Marie. Heartberries: A Memoir. Canada: Doubleday, 2018.

McCallum, David. (November 29, 2017) “How school has been used to control sovereignty and self-determination for Indigenous peoples.” The Conversation. Retrieved on June 29, 2019 from, https://theconversation.com/how-school-has-been-used-to-control-sovereignty-and-self-determination-for-indigenous-peoples-87440

McKegney, Sam. MASCULINDIANS: Conversations about Indigenous Manhood. Manitoba: University of Manitoba Press, 2014.

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Perez, Marta, public presentation on dvd in Torn from Midst: Voices of Grief, Healing and Action from the Missing Indigenous Women Conference, 2008. Eds. A. Brenda Anderson, Wendee Kubik, and Mary Rucklos Hampton. Regina: CPRC, 2010. Film.

Portillo, Lourdes, dir. Senorita Extraviada. New York: Women Make Movies, 2001. Film.

Pottruff, Betty Ann. “Presentation of the Provincial Partnership Committee on Missing Persons.” Torn from Midst: Voices of Grief, Healing and Action from the Missing Indigenous Women Conference, 2008. Eds. A. Brenda Anderson, Wendee Kubik, and Mary Rucklos Hampton Regina: CPRC, 2010. 104-109.

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Rose, Deborah Bird. “Land Rights and Deep Colonising: The Erasure of Women.” Aboriginal Law Bulletin 69 3.85 (1996): n.pag. 6. Web. 15 Dec. 2015.

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Gendered Intersections: An Introduction to Women’s & Gender Studies. Eds. C. Lesley Biggs et al. 2nd ed. Halifax: Fernwood Publishing, 2011. 57-61.

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Tuck, Eve. “I Do Not Want to Haunt You, But I Will.” uploaded 25 October 2020, https://www.artandeducation.net/classroom/video/253794/eve-tuck-i-do-not-want-to-haunt-you-but-i-will-indigenous-feminist-theorizing-on-reluctant-theories-of-change

           Tuck, Eve, K.Wayne Yang, eds. Toward What Justice? Describing Diverse Dreams of Justice in Education. Routledge. 2018.


  1. This essay was originally published in Forever Loved: Exposing the Hidden Crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada and is published here with the permission of Demeter Press.
  2. I use quotation marks around school as a form of literary decolonization to raise the question of whether this term should continue to be used given the overall lack of education received by children. For more information on adult's experiences in trying to obtain jobs with their diploma, see Topahedewin: The Gladys Cook Story. For ease of reading, subsequent uses will not use quotation marks, but they are implied throughout.
  3. Mission schools in Australia, much like residential schools in Canada, were ways to manipulate and control Aboriginal adults and children. They were political, rather than educational institutions that were open from 1864 to 1964. Successive governments characterized Aboriginal people as “helpless children” who needed to be protected from themselves and integrated into white Australian society (McCallum 2017).

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