Enough. I mean it. Enough of the stereotyping and ignorance. My community has faced a backlash of criticism and has become the victim of ignorance in so many comments in the last few weeks. Most recently our community was made infamous for someone announcing that violence was a regular occurrence in the North End. When he apologized, the online comments went berserk calling him a wuss, telling him to stick to his words and bashing the school division for not facing reality. Also, there was an announcement yesterday that there is going to be a TV series that is made about the North End. Again, the amount of ignorance and racism in the few comments that I read (or could stomach) have led me to write this response.
My North End
I have grown up in the North End of Winnipeg. I am a product of the child welfare system being adopted at a young age. My family lived in poverty, resulting in us having to move around a lot. I am Cree, from Shamattawa Manitoba and at 24 years of age, have not become entrenched entirely in addiction and crime. I am well spoken (thanks to St. John’s high schools Advanced Placement English program), I am self-disciplined (thank you 1226 Fort Garry Horse Army Cadet Corps) and I am connected to my community at a grassroots and organizational level (shout out to AYO! and North End Community Renewal Corporation).
I am a product of this community in any way you look at it. My gifts and my dreams have been developed because the individuals that live and work here believed in me. They knew what the odds were, and still they believed enough to tell me that that I could do it. They believed in me enough to share their hope for my future. They provided opportunities for me to try new things, challenge myself and eventually, create my own reality. I am so full of thanks for these individuals and groups that I have committed myself to giving back to the community that made me who I am. I live here still, as an adult and am proud to go shopping here. I am proud to be involved in community action initiatives, and also at attempting some form of political awareness and education.
Shout Out to the Haters
I also need to give a shout out to all of you people (yes, I said you people) who continue to demonize my community. We are not all violent. We are not all “dirty natives” we are all not “crackheads”. Our community is sick, like ALL of our communities because we have to deal with the bullshit that these systems have fed us. When you have families living in poverty concentrated into one area of the city, litereally isolated by the tracks and then trashed time and time again by many media outlets and ignorant (but somehow influential?) individuals, what do you expect?? We will not reflect the materialistic ignorance that is so common in mainstream culture. We are in the process of taking our community back and if you don’t believe me, meet us at the Bell Tower on Friday April 13th and we will show you. With love.
MORE THAN THAT
We ARE more than this. It has been proven time and time again. It is proven every time we meet at the Bell Tower on Selkirk Avenue, and laugh and cry and share our ideas and talk about how we ARE going to change things. I believe in the 10 year old girls that lead our marches, because they deserve a future. They deserve a future where ignorant, racist mouthpieces eat their own words. these young people, so stereotyped, judged and overlooked are going to be the change. You can laugh and question it all you want, but in the end, it will be our community leaders and elders who will do the laughing. We are learning. We are growing. We are healing.
So keep talking, so our kids can make you eat your own damn words.
Courage friends, courage.