The last time I can remember making a resolution, I was living in London, Ontario. Earlier that year, I was living in a dancer house. I think it was the year before I applied to college which was also the same year that I was arrested (again). And that following year, I jokingly said to myself, “Okay, let’s try to not get arrested this year.” So far, so good.
Being an Indigenous woman in the sex trade, the police were everywhere but nowhere—everywhere when I didn’t need them but nowhere when I did. I learned quickly that police are not there to protect Indigenous women, especially Indigenous women selling/trading sex.
I was good at noticing the police whenever they came into the clubs that I worked in. “There they are.” I pointed out. My girlfriends or colleagues confused. “Who?” Looking in their direction. “The police.” And, my girlfriends or colleagues always disagreed with me. “No, that’s not the police.” Then, five to ten minutes later, the management would tell us the police were in the bar. Walking past us, whispering, “The police are here.”
I know. I knew.
It’s not hard to notice the police if you’ve been around them your whole life. The first time I came into contact with the police, I was “formed.” Being “formed” wasn’t and isn’t fun. The last time, I was arrested on my birthday, during thanksgiving weekend. Within that time frame, from the age of (about) thirteen to my early twenties, whenever the police entered into my life, they first showed up in pairs. Later on, they began to show up in packs. Five or six at a time. But they were never there to protect me and they are never there to protect women like me, Indigenous women especially Indigenous women selling/trading sex. My existence of just living, breathing, and walking is always the problem. Colonialism’s problem.
I always marveled at people who call for the criminalization of sex work. I guess the police must have shown up at the right time for them.
Everywhere but nowhere.
Then, colonialism’s greatest mystery is that Indigenous women continuing to be packed in prison cells but we continue to see Indigenous women, especially Indigenous women who sell/trade sex, going missing or being murdered. Voila! Police can find all the Indigenous women to put into prison but cannot find the ones going missing or find the killers, the murderers.
If Indigenous women’s prison population count has grown 112% over the last decade, what has this done to help end the violence in our overly criminalized lives? By relying on the criminal justice system for “protection”, we only invite more violence into our lives. So, my resolution? I will try to not get arrested this year. I try to set my standards high…