ATROCITIES AGAINST INDIGENOUS CANADIANS FOR DUMMIES
A zine series created out of emotional exhaustion
Boozhoo, Tân'si, Shekóli, Tanshi, Aanii, Hello
The zine series I wish I never felt compelled to create...
Welcome to the online resource companion for the first issue of Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies. This project has been a cathartic release as well as being hella heartbreaking. I have grown up and made a life for myself in London Ontario, a city that is equally as frustrating as it is delightful, you know? We are seemingly slow with bureaucratic progress yet, we are home to an amazing arts, music, theatre and LGBTQ2S+ scene which keeps my heart full most days. London is nestled next to and is located on Indigenous land though most maps consider it neutral and it is the largest and closest urban centre to three Indigenous communities within a 30 minute drive. They are:
Oneida Nation of the Thames, with an on-land population of approximately 2,200 and total population of approximately 6,100.
Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, with an on-land population of approximately 975 and a total population of approximately 2,738.
Munsee-Delaware Nation, with an on-land population of approximately 175 and a total population of just over 600.
That's about 9,500 people from these communities alone with a connection to London. Many folks in these Indigenous communities attend and have graduated high school in London, work in London, shop in London, get medical care in London-man oh man so much going on London! That's just three Indigenous communities and these numbers do not account for all Indigenous people in this region, myself included, who are "registered" with other Nations.
All these Indigenous folks in and around London and so many people who do not know about our history, our painful and awful history, but you can bet the judgements around us are fresh and alive...
While in my teen years, zines became a fundamental way for myself to connect with other hormone ravaged and angsty teenagers, there was something comforting in knowing I wasn't the only person sobbing over the injustice of it all. As I grew older, zines changed into an affordable and cost effective manner of relaying information that was still able to retain an a visual art element. While trying to envision ways that I could make something happen, anything, a zine kept floating back into my mind. There is indeed a lot of information out there regarding Indigenous issues but I need something that isn't 500 pages, I needed something that could be rapid fire in its words, isn't visually sleepy and that people could learn from in a quick break. I needed to make something that felt as slightly distressed and layered as my mind and heart while reading and processing every word I read.
Every zine is in a 5.5x10.5" format and vary from 20 to 22 pages of mixed media work, mainly hand drawn and collaged work. This project has differed from the zines of my youth by being printed in full colour and I did not have to wrestle with the local library photocopier for a few hours.
Back cover image of Issue #2
As I mentioned above, there is a large Indigenous population near and within my hometown and despite this, there are an alarming number of folks who either know very little of Indigenous history and struggles or know nothing at all. I recently had to explain what a residential school was to a person in their fifties as they said THEY HAD NEVER HEARD OF THEM?!?!? They then Googled them, you know, to make sure I wasn't off my rocker. This blew my mind as while I'm used to people knowing so little I'm not used to meeting people who have lived their entire lives in a city of nearly 400,000, with three Indigenous communities so close, who have NEVER HEARD OF RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS?! LET ALONE THOUSANDS OF WOMEN AND GIRLS MISSING OR THE SIXTIES SCOOP OR ANY OF THE MILLION OTHER ISSUES!
This is completely unacceptable. There's a lot in the history of Indigenous Canadians that is unacceptable and there are many atrocities still occurring across Canada as I write this which is heartbreaking. Out of this heartbreak I have been feeling a seething rage which then turned into a whole lot of annoyance with explaining everything related to Indigenous issues. So here I am, spending many nights making ragey and hopefully visually interesting zines to educate folks.
I'm just a brown woman, standing in front of entire communities, asking for people to smarten the hell up and treat Indigenous people like the complex and beautiful humans we are and not second class citizens on our own ancestral lands. Is that too much to ask?
I hope you love this project because you feel your compassion and your mind opening a bit. Thank you for being a part of my own tiny revolution <3
Discussion question page for Issue #2