I have been writing and rewriting words about Cindy Gladue.
I have opened and closed so many word documents that I have lost count.
I realized, after the last attempt, that I am so exhausted writing about murdered women. I am so tired of reading headlines about murdered sisters, missing teenaged girls, and unsolved cases of vanishing aunties. I am so profoundly sad that sometimes these stories make my bones ache.
My heart hurts for the families and communities that are still searching for answers, that are carrying their grief with them.
I want to be clear, this sadness is not a burden. I would like to earnestly think that none of us carry this with resentment to our own. I do not resent that we have become witnesses to these injustices, I just resent a government that does not care. I resent that our bodies are still trespassed, that body parts are preserved and displayed in a courtroom. I resent that when someone says “Indigenous women” the words “missing and murdered” follow so automatically, because I resent that it took this long and this many lost loved ones to make people see this colonial violence. I resent that Indigenous women have to battle to have autonomy over our own displays of sexuality.
I resent every single person who has ever uttered the word “squaw”.
The more I am reminded of these things I resent, I have to constantly remember the things I love. Like, I love the way my mum’s eyes crinkle at the sides when she smiles. It’s the same crinkle my kokum and my aunty has. It’s the same crinkle I get when I smile. I love the way Cree sounds when we are trying to learn it. I love the way the syllables fumble off our lips as we stumble through syntax to find our place. I love the way drums sound. I love the sound of a group of elders laughing. I love that even in the darkest places, we have managed to find laughter. I love how at home the smell of sweetgrass makes me feel, and I love how I begrudgingly tolerate fiddle music.
I have to constantly reminds myself of these little things I love because sometimes, with the mass perceptions of indigeneity being pathologized to poverty, death, and sadness, I have to remind myself that these little moments of peace and beauty are what matter. We need to fight, we need to find solutions, we need to heal, but we need to take a deep breathe and remember to find something beautiful in the places we are at.
We need to keep grounded. We need to keep breathing. We need to keep loving. So we can keep resisting.