This post is written after spending two years in an executive position on a commission (at the national level) for a political party in Canada. I am set to attend (probably) my final convention (because these things are fuckin expensive) within the next few days. Nevertheless, I will be happy to see my friends. Over these last few years, I learned a lot and definitely can appreciate why some people are never involved with politics. Would I say that someone should never get involved? No. I think you have to experience it for yourself in order to truly understand if this is the route you want to take. I’ve decided that this isn’t the route for me. This is based on my own personal experiences especially with particular non-Indigenous commission. This also isn’t a post that is generalizable to all people, especially Indigenous persons, in politics and the work they do. Again, this is based on my own personal experiences. I wish I could say that I was writing a different post about my experiences, but I can’t–it is what it is, and here it is…. Why politics isn’t for me (from an Indigenous woman’s perspective).
1) Because it’s fuckin politics and the political system is the most fucked up system out there (especially for those who come disadvantage backgrounds, like being Indigenous AND being women)
2) Because white people don’t really care unless there is something in it for them (including their platform, their cause, or their own hidden intentions—whatever that may be)
3) Because if white people care, it means that they only considered you at the end of the entire process. (Oh, but what about the Natives!)
4) Because when white people (especially white women) asked you for their opinion, it means that if you don’t agree/critique their efforts, they will find someone else who will support and praise their efforts (Hooray! White women have come to save us!)
5) Because if white women care it only means that they considered you at the end of the entire process (Oh crap! We can’t forget about the Natives! …. Again.)
6) Because when it comes to women in politics, it is more tolerable if you are married (or in any relationship really, preferably one that maintains cisnormativity)
7) Because it is also better if you sustain and maintain this cisnormativity
8) Because for Indigenous women who don’t align with middle-class values (or who are not even apart of the middle-class), it means they will never fit it in (especially for a party that is striving to protect the “values” of the middle class)
9) Because it is also better if you sustain and maintain these middle-class values (sit quiet, do right/white, and don’t attract too much attention—don’t act “too Indian”)
10) Because for Indigenous women who can’t afford (this includes, not being able to afford a ticket, not being able to afford travel, not being able to afford accommodations) to attend the political events (policy forums, general events, etc), it means you remain invisible to the entire political process
11) Because for Indigenous women who remain invisible to the entire process, this means you are erased from the political process altogether
12) Because for Indigenous women who are invisible/erased from the entire political process, this means issues as it relates to Indigenous women/girls, they will always be heard last
13) Because for Indigenous women/girls it means being integrated at the very end of the political process (the add-Indigenous-women/girls-and-stir approach–actually it is more like, add-Indigenous-people-and-stir approach, with Indigenous women/girls added at the very end.)
14) Because addressing the rights of Indigenous women/girls never includes the rights of Indigenous men/boys or Indigenous trans/two-spirited individuals
15) Because policy and politics is blind when it comes to history/context
16) Because for Indigenous women/girls, policy resolutions attempting to address lack of access to reproductive justice/health doesn’t mean addressing the lack of access to basic (universal) health (Don’t believe the hype that Canada has a universal/accessible health care system)
17) Because for Indigenous women/girls, policy resolutions attempting to address violence against Indigenous women/girls always means that they must be in a relationship WITH children and currently living in a home in order to access basic services/rights (Remember? We. Must. Maintain. Cisnormativity. And also, brownie points for heteronormativity).
And last but not least…
18) Because when it comes to politics, the rights of Indigenous women are always deemed separate and not attached to other rights, like rights to land/access to land (Because there is NO! connection between rights to land/access to land and the violence committed against Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women/girls. Nope. No. Connection. AT. ALL.)
Note: I use the term “white people” because this is where the chunk of my experiences (based on these points above) in politics with others lie. I understand and appreciate discrimination can also come from non-white people. However, I have yet to experience that… just sayin’!