a letter to Joseph Boyden

tan’si Joseph,

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

keeping fires

putting out fires


and growing

burning to the ground

and rebuilding

We are here.

but where are you?



Samantha Nock.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Cześć 🙂 Fajną masz stronkę Często tu wracam bo jestem pewien , że będzie intersesująca notka. Chyba mamy podobne podejście do życia bo często czytając wpisy czuje podobnie. pozdrawiam

  2. Cat says:

    He needs to make a statement on his involvement with this issue. His silence is only serving to alienate people further. He’s already lost his partnership with Briarpatch, which is a significant loss. Staying mum on it with the exceptions of a couple sentences on Twitter are not enough. EVEN IF his letter was purely addressing policy and not guilt/innocence of Galloway, as he claims, he still failed to see the impact it would have on Galloway’s victims. EVEN IF he in no way meant to cause harm, it still happened. He needs to acknowledge this and do or say something to make up for it.

    1. thomas says:

      Good lord!! If there were crimes committed, let’s find out. Having a voice is one thing – having a clear, intelligent, compassionate and articulate voice, is another matter, and it appears, that voice is quite beyond your grasp.

  3. GMcJ says:

    I appreciate the sincerity that shines out of this letter. But those of us who are critiquing Boyden and the rest need to work harder and make better counter-arguments than you do here. Wouldn’t he simply reply that he’s read the survivor’s statement and that he cares deeply about mmiwg? My point is that we’ve got to be more critical and less rhetorical.

  4. juliawrote says:

    Wonderfully written and so important. Thank you.

  5. thishotplace says:

    Thank you so much.

  6. Karyn says:

    Your letter is beautiful. Powerful. Important. Brave. Honest.
    It hit me hard.
    Thank you.

  7. Mod says:

    I’m so grateful for the indigenous voices that are speaking out on this issue. As an alum of UBC and a member of the CanLit community I’m shocked and horrified and how this has played out, especially with regards to the lack of consideration to victims.

    I don’t know what to say, so I’m just trying to listen and learn. Thank you.

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