List of Demands


I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts for almost two days now. They’re still a bit muddled, so bear with me.The earliest exit polls from Tuesday’s American election had me in shock immediately.

Shock that such an overtly racist, sexist, misogynist, anti-LGTBQ, ableist, and disturbing specimen of a man could be elected? No. Not at all. I know how the United States is. I always knew there was a chance. If you didn’t think it could happen, then you’ve been burying your head in the sand for far too long.

My shock came from the fact that this nightmare scenario was about to become reality. That what we witnessed in the 2011 Canadian election was happening again – the apparent outrage over Stephen Harper was not quite enough to make ordinary Canadians dust off the complacency and get out to vote against him.

As the night progressed, it was evident that the American populace had elected not only Donald Trump, but a Republican House and Senate as well. That Nebraska reinstated the death penalty, and Oklahoma just made it more difficult to abolish capital punishment. A Colorado amendment to its constitution proposed removing outdated language revolving around slavery and the results were still too close to call as of the morning of November 9.

The results clearly showed that the disenchanted part of the US stepped up in a big way. So why does this Canadian care, you ask? What’s in it for me?

Technically, there aren’t many things that will directly affect me. But I’m still heartbroken over the results. So why is that?

I’m a human being. I have empathy. I understand the pain that so many are coming to terms with as I type this in the north, far from the Canada-US border.

I am a woman, and as such, have dealt with my share of sexism and institutionalized misogyny.

I am not part of the LGBTQ community, but it doesn’t matter. I know those who are, but they were human beings worthy of equality before I personally knew anyone in the community.

I am not a person of colour, but it doesn’t matter. I have friends and family who are, but they were human beings worthy of equality before they became my friends or part of my family.

I am not religious, but it doesn’t matter. I have friends who are Muslim, Sikh and Hindi, but they were human beings worthy of equality before I met them.

Are you starting to see a pattern? We don’t have to know someone in a marginalised group to feel empathy. We don’t have to know someone who is being oppressed to understand that they are worthy of the same rights and freedoms as we are afforded. We can give respect to anyone and everyone.

The United States does not exist in a bubble. Being one of the two nations with whom it shares a border – the snow Mexicans, remember? – we have ringside seats to potentially watch the biggest fall from grace since the Roman Empire. There will be worldwide repercussions for many issues. Pulling out of NAFTA, NATO, and climate change agreements are a few that strike me first. This new government seems to be interested in becoming increasingly isolationist, yet the effects of such a taken direction will be far reaching.

I’m terrified and dismayed that the legacy of one of the most effective and progressive Presidents we have ever seen is about to have its slate wiped. For eight long, gruelling years, Barack Obama and his government fought. They fought tooth and nail for every little advance. Don’t let that be forgotten. And if it’s all taken away, keep fighting. No one should have to fight and fight for the same thing over and over again, but if it has to be that way, so be it. We will fight and fight hard. And we will win.

And I’m angry. I’m angry that the uphill battle against systemic racism and sexism and everything else has had its incline increased. Abhorrent behaviour has been normalised. The reports of attacks, aggressions – micro and macro, threats; I grit my teeth with each heartbroken messenger. Each mother whose son has been bullied for Mexican heritage. Each girl and woman who no longer feels safe wearing their hijab in public. Each person of colour who continues to bang their head against a wall because their white friends just don’t get it. I’m angry because you may say Trump is #notmypresident, but guess what. He is. Somewhere along the line, your efforts, and the efforts of other Americans fell short. (Admittedly, there was voter suppression happening too.)  Own it. And let’s figure out what we can do about it.

I have a list of demands (written on the palm of my hands). The list is short:

  1. Stop saying ‘let that sink in’. If it hasn’t already sunk in, you have a problem. You shouldn’t be shocked. You shouldn’t be surprised. You should understand that Trump is a dangerous man. Not for what he can and will do, but for what everyone thinks he will do. Don’t be afraid. Take him on. Millions have your back.
  2. Don’t let these election results get to you in a way that sends you to defeat. Let them energise you. Let them spur you to action. Fight racism. Fight sexism. Fight homophobia. Fight xenophobia. Don’t let the ‘locker room’ jokes squeak through in everyday conversation. Don’t stand for microaggressions and please stop contributing to them yourself. If you are white, educate yourself. If you are cisgendered or heterosexual, educate yourself. If you are male, educate yourself. Understand that no one is coming for your rights; they merely want to be elevated to your level.
  3. If you are not an American, do not abandon the United States. But don’t abandon your own place of residence either. Every ‘ism’ exists outside of the United States too. Remember that this behaviour is not limited to Trump’s America. That this movement is worldwide. And if we are not a part of the movement, it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to stop it. Expose racism, sexism, homophobia, queerphobia, transphobia, xenophobia and everything else when you see it. Make it known that it is not acceptable.
  4. Use humour to react and deal if you must, but remember this isn’t a joke. Don’t tell people to relax, calm down, stop whining, stop protesting. Join them. Understand that while you might be able to live with the next four years, the target is on their back simply for existing as someone not of the ‘chosen’ interest groups this government will not go after. Stand beside them. Stand in front of them if they need protecting.

I am not as afraid of Donald Trump as I am of the climate he has ushered in. It was always there. It was just waiting in the shadows for us white people to notice. People of colour always knew. The LGBTQ community always knew. Immigrants always knew. Women always knew. Now it’s bubbled to the surface, and the bigots are not afraid to show their true colours.

People are posting that we need to unite. We need to be kind. We need to live and let live. If Hillary Clinton was sitting as the President-Elect, do you think the other side would be doing so? Make your anger productive. You do not have to coexist with bigots. Fight for the right to exist and thrive as a person of colour. Fight for universal health care. Fight for maintaining the hard won LGBTQ rights that have been achieved. Fight for climate targets. Fight for humanity.

Let’s change the fucking world.

Advertisements

She’s Got Issues


It’s that time of year again.  Escape from Iqaluit for a vacation in southern Canada.

That means I get to see a lot of people whom I haven’t seen in a long time.  About a year, to be precise.

The last time most of said people saw me, they saw me after I had been losing some weight and trying to get healthy.  And since the last year hasn’t been particularly kind to me, things have changed for this visit.

I can see it in everyone’s expression as they lay eyes upon me for the first time in a year.

Wait…didn’t she…?

Wasn’t she…?

I thought she was smaller….?

And while trying to prevent their faces from screwing up into a weird mesh of disgust and surprise, they manage to let loose a gem like this:  “Suzanne, you look good!”

No.

No, I don’t.

So seriously…just stop.

I have gained back almost all of the weight that I lost last year.

So the subject is eventually broached and people start to wonder why it happened.  For everyone who I haven’t seen yet, here’s the story.  Remember how I broke my wrist back in November?  Well, it certainly threw off my workout schedule.  I didn’t want to go to the gym, because I was afraid to walk anywhere in the city for fear of finding another super patch of ice to fall and break something on.  I fell out of the gym routine and let’s face it…that was a miracle in itself that I actually managed to develop that routine in the first place.  It became difficult to keep up with the healthy eating in the winter:  Iqaluit barely has fresh produce that’s tasty in the summer, so the winter is next to impossible to find the kind of food to keep me happy.

And then…my mental state was not exactly peak either.  After another battle with depression in excess of a year, I started to wonder if I wasn’t actually dealing with a personality disorder.  After doing a lot of reading, I had begun to recognize patterns within myself that suggested I might fit into the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.  That’s a scary thing to face.  And in Iqaluit, it can be difficult to find proper mental health care, so I because really nervous.

I began to hate myself.  Yeah, yeah…I know.  Who doesn’t hate themselves?  Seriously though.  Hatred.  Full on self loathing.  I’m not the kind of person to feel suicidal.  I don’t get those thoughts usually.  I sometimes consider what life would be like for people around me if I wasn’t around, but that is pretty much the extent of it.  And with the hatred I was feeling, I was to the point where I didn’t even feel like I was worthy of ending it all.  Yup.  That was my hidden life for a pretty long time.

I began to let my eating get reckless.  I ate for comfort.  I ate for boredom.  I ate because I hated myself so much, I just didn’t care.  As a diabetic, it’s not a particularly safe way to go about things.  But I didn’t care.  Some people drink.  Some people turn to drugs.  My path to self-destruction began at the grocery store.

With luck, I managed to find an amazing therapist in Iqaluit thanks to a recommendation from a friend and I have been seeing her since.  She has helped me learn to meditate and accept and recognize that it’s okay if I can’t solve my problems.  It’s okay to feel what I’m feeling.  It’s okay to let myself be myself.  To be honest, it’s been so long since I really understood who I was that it seemed like an insurmountable task to just be me.

But I’m getting there again.  I’m beginning to feel at peace with the woman I’ve become.  I’m getting there mentally.  I’m getting there emotionally.  And one day, I’ll be there physically too.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to be where I want to be in terms of weight.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get rid of that flab that I don’t necessarily feel like looking at.  I’ve never been a small girl.  I’ve always struggled with body image.  I know I’m lucky that I have a supportive partner in that regard.  Ian doesn’t really pressure me one way or another and it’s helpful.  I hope I inspired him last year with what I accomplished, because now I need that same inspiration to get myself back to a healthy lifestyle.

I recognize the amount of work that it’s going to take for me to maintain a healthier body and in being honest with myself, I’m not sure if I have the energy – mental or physical – to spare.  I will certainly try, but I also am trying to accept.  Whatever path I take, I am trying to accept that I am who I am…and that’s okay.

If that’s the only lesson I learn in this journey, at least it’s one of the good ones.

The Shape I’m In


I’ve been trying to write a post for a long time.  Putting pen to paper, figuratively speaking, has become an impossible task for me.

It probably doesn’t help that the topic of the post I’ve been trying to write has been my all-too-fragile mental state.  I find it easy to write anonymously on the internet.  But this wouldn’t have been anonymous.  This would have been akin to an expose, I suppose.  Well, that might be a little melodramatic.  I don’t tend to have a reference point these days for that sort of thing.

The point is that writing in general has been extremely difficult for me lately.  And my writing this now is not necessarily because things have changed; it’s more that someone else has written a really great account of far too many of the things I’ve been going through.  Rather than re-inventing the wheel at this point, I figured I would just link to the post.

Will I eventually write the post I’ve been meaning to write?

Yes.

Maybe.

I don’t know.

Until then, I think you should go read Allie’s posts on depression.  The first one…and the second.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t have depression.  Chances are, there is someone you know that does.  And that someone is also probably pretty good at hiding that fact.  And if they do open up to you, trust me…they don’t want to hear “Cheer up”, “this too shall pass” or any other contrived bullshit that people tend to come up with when they don’t know how to respond to what’s in front of them.  Not everyone who has depression can point to a singular cause or event that led them to feel the way they do.  Not everyone with depression will ever be able to just snap out of it and feel better.

Anyway, before I end up actually writing a really poorly written version of what I’ve been trying to write, just go and read the posts.

And I’ll just go back to dealing with life the best way I know how to – at least until that shrivelled up piece of corn appears.

A Moment of Clarity


The end of 2012 is finally here.  I haven’t been active on the blog, so many of you aren’t aware of this year’s challenges.  Here’s a summary of the biggies:

  • fractured three toes in February
  • depression’s back in May
  • car problems in July – fun because it was during my vacation /sarcasm
  • ketoacidosis at the end of August, hospitalized for a week – Happy Birthday to me!
  • audited by Canada Revenue Service – apparently I don’t live in the arctic
  • stuck in DC during Hurricane Sandy – not terrible, but did miss my second chance to get to Banff
  • returned to Iqaluit just in time to fall and break my wrist
  • not to mention that I’ve been sick off and on all year

Anyhow, I’m not here to complain.  I’m here to say my goodbyes to 2012.  It’s been swell.  Good riddance; don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Now, most of you know I don’t do resolutions.  But I do want to make a point of discussing my hopes for the year.  I’ve got to get ready for the end of the world year party I’ll be attending in a few hours, so I’ll make it quick.

  1. Writing.  There was a good four-month period last year where most of my free time was consumed with writing.  Most of you haven’t read that stuff, and I’m completely fine with that.  But it kept me sane and it introduced me to some fantastic people in the process.  I want to get back to more writing.  I need to do it.  Some people have said that I’m good at it.  Frankly, I like to do things that I’m good at.  So I hope to feel more inspired to keep it up.
  2. Healthy living.  Before breaking my wrist at the beginning of November, I was eating healthier and exercising more.  From about March until October, I had lost about forty pounds.  That’s pretty amazing for me.  But since the accident, I haven’t been diligent about any of it.  I’d say I’ve fallen off the wagon, but that would require a lot of walking to keep up; getting on the wagon seems more conducive to a lazy lifestyle, doesn’t it?  I’ve all but stopped going to the gym and it’s tough for me to prepare what I’m wanting to eat with this gimpy wrist of mine.  But since my wrist is getting stronger, that’s going to change.  I’ve recently become a board member for Atii Fitness (the gym I’ve been a member of for over a year), and that means I also plan to get back on track with my exercising.  And I plan to continue with that healthy lifestyle.
  3. Travel.  I got a taste of travel this year, and I’d like to do more of it.  I’m a geographer, for crying out loud.  I need to see more of the world.  There are inexpensive ways to do it – I just need to find out what they are.
  4. Balance.  Sometimes I get a little too focused on others.  Sometimes I get a little too focused on myself.  This year, I desire balance.
  5. No broken bones or hospital visits.  Self explanatory.
  6. Oh, and maybe a tattoo.  😉  But we’ll see.

Thanks for coming back to this blog on the rare occasions where I see fit to grace its presence with a post.  I appreciate hearing from my blends and blikes even if it doesn’t seem like it.  I miss you guys…maybe that writing bug will bring me back here, huh?

Happy New Year everyone.  Let’s hope 2013 is a good year for everyone!

It's a new day!  Sunrise over Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012.

It’s a new day! Sunrise over Kimmirut, Nunavut, October 2012.

Think Before You Speak


Indian? Perhaps. Inuit? Maybe. Ignorant? Without a doubt… (Source: Shutterstock c/o Huffington Post)

Okay, so call me late to the party, if you must.  But to be honest, I wasn’t even going to comment on the recent gaffe committed by Justin Bieber regarding his aboriginal heritage.  It didn’t seem worth noting considering…it’s only Justin Bieber.

But then, a couple of things hit me today.

The first was the fact that it’s Justin Bieber.  Harmless?  Not in the least.  This young man’s influence has grown worldwide, and ignorance – no matter how innocent it may appear in an off-the-cuff response – is not bliss.

The second was reading an article in the Winnipeg Free Press by Colleen Simard, Let’s cut the Biebs some slack.  Go ahead…read it.  I’ll wait here.

While Ms. Simard does make some valid points, the fact remains that there is something seriously wrong with an eighteen year old that does not know his heritage, yet feels the need to joke about it.  I mean, that’s like converting to Judaism for the jokes, am I right?  Jerry Seinfeld would agree, I think.

Let me clarify, before anyone jumps down my throat here.  I recognize that some families do not know their full heritage.  At that point, it absolutely makes sense that an eighteen year old would not know much about their background.  However, if one is “part Indian” or “Inuit or something”, it might be prudent for said individual to perhaps do a little digging into their family history to confirm that fact.  Not only that, but last I heard, aboriginal groups didn’t always get along with each other – so which is it?  “Indian” or Inuit?

I suppose I shouldn’t complain – he didn’t use the “E” word to describe Inuit, at least.

Maybe all the “Inuit or something” folks that I’m acquainted with are pleased that Bieber has made an attempt to identify with them – but then, perhaps not.  I think I’d be happier for a better role model.

Simard states that “anyone who believes aboriginal people get a free ride isn’t very educated.”  Might I remind you, Ms. Simard, that many of Justin’s fans are young, impressionable teens?  Younger even, than he is?  And I’m just going to put it out there – I don’t think that the educational system is making it very well-known that aboriginal people aren’t getting a free ride.  There is still a great deal of people who believe this very idea.  I mean, considering the number of Tweets I see on a regular basis where the biggest concern over Nunavut from Canadian students equates to how annoying it is to colour on a map in Geography class, I hardly think his fans are concerned over knowing the truth about the myth of the aboriginal “free ride”.

From what I recall of being eighteen, and forgive me because it was quite some time ago, there were a lot of expectations put on those of us on the cusp of adulthood.  I was in the final years of high school, ready to step out into the world to make something of myself.  In a short time, I would be going off to university, making my own mistakes, my own decisions and my own choices.  Perhaps I didn’t always make the right ones, but I also didn’t have millions of fans around the world hanging on to my every word.  If that were the case, I think I’d have ensured that I did my homework before making statements to major media outlets.

“C’mon, cut the Biebs some slack. He is, after all, just a kid,” insists Simard.

Here’s the thing…he’s not just a kid.  He’s eighteen now – in the eyes of the law, he can be tried as an adult for any crime he might decide to commit.  He can buy lottery tickets (not that he needs to).  He can vote.  I’d say that the “just a kid” excuse won’t fly.  And considering just how worldly he is in comparison to others his age, I’d say the excuse is even less valid.

Hannah Taylor founded the Ladybug Foundation to teach others about the plight of the homeless at the age of eight.  Craig Kielburger founded Free the Children after learning of child labour around the world at the age of twelve.

Just a kid, indeed.

Perhaps this is the reason I can’t stomach ignorance from an eighteen year old – particularly one who has such influence.  Perhaps looking to a pop star to be a role model for intelligence is asking a little too much, but I’d have much more respect for Bieber if he’d own up to his ignorance and set the record straight…not just for the aboriginal groups that he painted with such a wide brush, but for himself.