My name is Samantha; I am a Cree-Metis woman. My family comes from Ile-a-la-Crosse, Saskatchewan, but I grew up in Treaty 8 territory in Northeastern British Columbia. I am writing this letter to you while I live on the unceded, ancestral territories of the Squamish, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. I am constantly humbled and thankful to be a visitor on these lands.
I remember the first time I read Through a Black Spruce.
Then I remember the third.
Then the fourth.
I remember feeling like this book was a grounding weight I could read and get lost in, because the story is real, it’s raw, it’s beautiful.
Your writing influenced mine and I added your books to my list of inspirations
of where I wanted to land as a young Indigenous writer.
I’m writing to you because I feel let down, lost, and confused. I read the open letter you signed regarding Stephen Galloway. I read it, and felt silenced. I felt great sadness for the victims whose voices were not consulted. I feel embarrassed.
I’m not going to go through the letter, others have done that work already. Instead, I just wanted to write to you, because that’s what writers do. We tell stories. We talk back.
Every woman, two-spirit, and queer person I know has in some capacity felt the pain of sexual violence. As an Indigenous woman who has felt my own pain from those experiences and also carries the trauma from my ancestors in my bones, reading that letter and the ensuing fall out has added more weight. It’s made thick skin even thicker.
You’re calling for accountability from UBC. I want to see accountability from you. I want to see you be accountable to survivors. I want to see that you have read the survivor’s statement. I want to see more from you than just a clip from an e-mail interview where you use missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit folks as a diversion tactic, creating a false dichotomy between those who fight and those who do not fight.
Because we are here, fighting this fight which is that fight.
We are here, fighting every day.
We are here
putting out fires
burning to the ground
We are here.
but where are you?