with Janet Marie Rogers
You’re listening to Medicine for the Resistance
Patty: So Janet, tell us a little bit about yourself. I know you as a poet and although that’s true, that’s also a kind of a very one dimensional way of knowing who you are.
Janet: Sure, I’m transmitting from the Six Nations reserve right now where I moved back home last June, June of 2019. Prior to that, I was living for 25 years on Coast Salish territory on the west coast of the occupied territories of Canada in what they call Victoria, British Columbia. Now, you can’t get a more colonial name than that. I stuck it out and created a presence over there on Coast Salish territory for the Haudenosaunee.
That territory was very, very good to me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have stayed there as long as I did. And as things went on that’s where I started writing. Eventually, I became the Victoria Poet Laureate for three years, which was a really fun gig. I really liked that. And after that, I kind of felt like I had reached a pinnacle in my career. And I thought, you know what, maybe it’s time to come home.
I had been creating some media work with a collaborator, friend, and brother of mine, Jackson Two Bears and every time we went to collaborate on new media work we always wanted to come back to the territory. So that was our excuse for coming back home – if we set our media work in the in the territory, we can get back home.
And so we kind of did that a few times. And then I was traveling, doing residencies, fellowships, and things like that for about two years, after I moved away from the west coast, before I settled back home. It was kind of it was fun being on the road, you know. I have zero children, which I’m happy to say. And so I was able to do that. I could be this wandering artist, you know, which is really, really nice.
Patty: What does a Poet Laureate do? I know that there are Poet Laureates and you’ve applied, have you not, for another one?
Janet: Yes I have. Well, for me, there was a sash involved. So I didn’t make a salary but there was sash wearing.
Janet: Somebody really did make a sash for me because I did kind of want to wear as sash so I go “Hey, you know what, I think I need a sash.”
<more general laughter>
Janet: Yeah, so basically, the Poet Laureate is an ambassador for the city or the region where they’re elected, where they are tapped to be the Poet Laureate. And I enjoyed doing that very much. You also do a number of Public Engagement events and I enjoyed that as well because I was able to bring poets that I knew into these public forums where they wouldn’t ordinarily get a chance to have a presence. I could also reach out and kind of dip into communities that wouldn’t ordinarily go into. For example, the Jewish synagogue in Victoria was celebrating its hundredth anniversary. So we delved in and they asked if I would write a poem for this for this occasion. So I delved into a bunch of research (which I enjoy doing research very much) and then from that research I penned out a lovely poem for them and I got to be at their celebration it was felt very honored.
Janet: I am intrigued. So what I’m hearing you say is how you have been able to embody the spirit of your artistry and really create your roots from it all over the country and spread your indigenous understandings, your truths, and who you are. What has that experience been like for you? What is that living your truth for you? It sounds like you’re living your best life girl!
Janet: Well, yeah, I mean like talk about the stars lining up and the ancestors being with you and everything. Just like blessings raining down on the way I live are not lost on me. Just every day it’s like burn that medicine, say thank you, express that gratitude. I know not everybody gets to live like this.
And I’m just getting a little choked up speaking about it actually, because think, like, the blessings are so great. One of the other parts of the things I’m so grateful for is that when I did land back home I managed to find a house. Everybody just keeps saying, you know, how hard it is to find the house on the rez? And I’m like “Yes, I’m getting the sense of it’s very difficult.” Because people keep telling me, it’s so difficult. And I believe in that it is but I vow to make really excellent things happen out of this house. I have been doing that so far. So, you know, you put out you put out good and good comes back to you. I mean, it sounds very simplistic, but that’s what’s been happening, it’s been this kind of cycle of this good energy, you know.
Patty: That is resistance, right?
Janet: I know, it is resistance. When you do when you are able to live your best life, it is resistance. It’s not about decolonizing, it’s not about –pulling back from– it’s about –putting forward– it’s about –putting all of that good stuff forward–. And being out there in the best way that you possibly can. To me resistance. and especially being an artist, it’s not about the negative message all the time? Yes, awareness is part and parcel of what we do. Awareness is part of the responsibility we serve as artists. To create that awareness, spread the message. It’s about, you know, putting those message based art pieces out there, and then, and then —occupy as much space as you frickin can.—
<general laughter and lots of agreement>
Janet: And just keep doing that and doing that and you know, just being amazing and being wonderful, and finding the people who want to be amazing, too, I think is part of it, as well. Because you know, unity is frigin’ strength.
Patty: Mm hmm. So Caribbean culture, you know, the development of reggae… Because we talk about poetry is resistance and on a superficial level that sounds, I don’t know, maybe pointless or “extra” when there’s so many important things to do. And yet, poetry, the arts … When I think about the origins of reggae, that was communicating political messages across the island, that was a way of getting the messages out there and poetry, the arts in totalitarian regions is always …
Janet: It’s rhythmic, and you’re a hundred percent right. I’m a believer. You know we are passionate people. I think when you come from an indigenous understanding and / or you come out of strife, because they’re synonymous, we’ve come from those spaces. We’re being in the moment, we have had to, as a people, all just be present and take the joys that we can in each moment as we live them.
Because as real as our suffering and our pains may be, so have those joys been really front and center, and pivotal in recognizing the joys when we get them so we’re going to snatch that up. I think that’s what comes through in our expressions in artistry. You know you always see this deep passion when we create and I think that’s what it comes from.
We recognize from an innate level there’s an epigenetic level of that understanding of diving in and just holding on to that moment and that experience that we have, and we express it.
Janet: And it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, sometimes it’s all over the place but it is expression. And I think that’s one of the things we do so well.
Janet: I hear you in that. With your ability and this beautiful gift that you have and have been given, how have you found ways, what has been your way to take it out there?
So when you went down, let’s say, you know, into occupied Victoria, which really I had never even thought about that. How just in your face that word is? How do you take yours and be in that space?
Janet: That’s the thing. In order to be in the position as the city’s Poet Laureate, I didn’t try to be anybody I wasn’t. You know what I mean? So that when they when they tap you and they go “Okay, would you like to be our Poet Laureate” they know what they’re getting? So I don’t have to do a sneak up on them and go “Oh, this is what I’m really about you guys. And like, haha, jokes on you, I’m here now.” And it was an interesting time. I’ll just reflect back to the first year that it was Poet Laureate in 2012. And the city of Victoria, Coast Salish territory celebrating their 150th year of being incorporated. And they said “Janet:, will you write a poem for that occasion?” I’m like “Where’s this…” I was just dumbstruck about what the hell am I gonna do, so I, I just trusted.
I trusted that the creative source that always serves me and me it and walked around everywhere, everywhere I went I had something to write with waiting and asking for those verses to come. And after a while they came and the result was a six page poem talking about the real history of that city. It started out saying the city is a midden with layers of truth, 150 feet deep. Starting in this vein, just talking about how the city is just truth on top of truth on top of truth on top of truth, and it’s all there. And of course I couldn’t not work in the fact that Coast Salish people, they welcomed me in as a as an outsider, as a bit unwelcome visitor, on Coast Salish territory.
[Janet’s poem, Lekwungen Land, was written to mark Victoria’s 150th anniversary ]
And so I made mention of that, and it was just, it was, it was an honor, it was, it was the most honest, way, I could respond really, to that daunting task. And everything seemed fine. And I never did get asked to leave my position once which I was seriously waiting to happen. <laughter>
Now I am McMaster University in Hamilton Public Library writer in residence. And, as it so happened, the previous writer in residence, Kate Cayley, could not finish her term. And so I got to start my term, three months early, in the spring. So I went into the position, April, May, June, did other work for July and August. And now we started again (September, 2020).
This is not so much an ambassador role is as it is writing. I’ve done lots of writing consultations since started. And that in itself is like really, really interesting and fulfilling, because you get to be privy to what other writers are focusing on, and how they’re writing it. And you know, you get to provide feedback. And to me, like, this is just so fun. It’s so fun to read other people’s work. You know …
Patty: You talked about that in the poetry café. About working with writers, because you talked about, you’d worked with Cher?
Patty: And you talked about being able to work with writers and kind of build their voices up. That’s just such a really neat space to occupy, which is also great.
Janet: Again, that’s the resistance too – it’s about growing that circle. It’s not about fighting for a place in the circle, man, it’s about growing it. This sounds a little Kumbaya, but I mean, that’s what I’ve come to learn. Through my time in the poet laureate position the parts that I liked the most about it was the subtitle that goes along with it — the people’s poet.
And that’s exactly the way I wanted to occupy and serve in that position. I want to be the people’s poet and I in this role, I’m able to do that as well. Because the people, you know, the people are already out there writing. They want to find a community and I want them to find a community as well. So when they come to me, that’s what I say. I go, “You know, it was easy in the day when there were the open mic nights and we could get together.” But now we have to find virtual platforms, these virtual events where we can find each other and connect with each other. But I enjoy seeing people come into that and come into the fold. I really do. The more voices the better. And when people get caught up in competition, I don’t know what that is.
Patty: Yeah. Valerie (online) was wondering how you chose poetry to express resistance. How did that come together for you?
Janet: I think it kind of chose me and you know, I mean, probably a lot of poets say that. There was a time when I was still living in Toronto, from 1981 to 1994, 13 years. While I was living in Toronto, I was a visual artist. So if you can see <art is visible behind Janet:>
Patty: Your art is gorgeous.
Janet: Yeah, my art wall. And so I had a little budding career as a visual artist and then I can actually remember the time when I made the conscious choice to leave the visual work and really just focus on the literary work. And, you know, I’m glad I did.
Janet: I’m now curious and intrigued, because the artwork behind you is beautiful. What made you make that choice? What was that shift for you?
Janet: Well, I think it was because I was being far more encouraged with the literary work than I was with the visual work. The visual work was a bit of a struggle. I couldn’t find my community as well as I did with the writing. And with a poem, I could pick up a pencil, have a piece of paper and boom, right there create something. Yeah.
Janet: So I think it was like, just the simplicity, but also, I didn’t start writing until I moved to the west coast. And I think those words, the words were waiting for me out there, there was something about that move, that that really brought me into being writer for sure.
Janet: I love this. I’m always interested in in the creative process. And what brings you into that space where the words come out? Do you have any rituals, any ceremony? What is your process of being in creation?
Janet: Um, I’m not disciplined. So I don’t follow The Artists Way and do a daily journal or anything like that. I’m very task oriented, though, and I kind of wait for the good stuff. I wait for the inspiration to hit, I don’t force it. That’s just been the way that I go about it. But Funnily enough, I have found that when I am tasked to write a piece about a certain thing I can do that. I can write to spec and enjoy that process. And as such, if we’re talking about resistance, what I have done for the 1492 Land Back Lane Legal Auction, is that I’ve offered a personalized poem. So somebody can bid on having a personalized poem written for them or your loved one or something like that. And people have been bidding on that. And then, that process is I would sit down with the people. I’d take some notes down about who they want the poem to be written about or what they want the poem to be written about and then just get to it.
Janet: What I love about what your methodology seems to be is that you’re very rooted, as you mentioned, in the task orientated space, so you can you can just pull it out of the practical. If that’s such a thing. I know for myself, I like to think of myself as a budding artist, you know, the artistry is there, it’s real in my reality, but I know it comes out for me in angst, mostly, you know what I mean? It’s got something there, where I’m in some deep something, and then that inspiration hits. But I love that for you that that that process is just in your being, you know what I mean? Like you can pull it out, in I’m sure in the angst that’s gonna happen. But you can also pull it out in in just your every day. So it’s a skill set too.
Janet: Yeah, it kind of is. And you know, that’s another blessing. It’s not something that I’ve kind of learned, or maybe I have learned it along the way you do it through osmosis. But don’t get me wrong. I have, you know, there’s been times and especially in our political times where I was, situations were so frustrating. I had no idea what to do with that emotion that I had to write. For example, you know, that was when I wrote the piece titled, “We’re all Michael Brown” We are all Michael Brown, you know, at any given moment, we’re all Michael Brown. And one way that I found that helped my response with that poem was that I helped, that I learned to help and that helped me. And, you know, there’s several more poems, volumes that could be written from those emotions and you know, those circumstances, sadly to say.
Patty: Talking about volumes. Odd segue there. <laughter> Anyway, you have one coming out. How many have you published and then can you talk about it? Talk a little bit about this one because I just like the title.
Janet: “Ego of a Nation” so that when I published and here when I got home before coming home, I was doing a Writer in Residence at University of Alberta in Edmonton Treaty Six Territory. I was developing this collection while I was there. And I was sending it out, sending it out, and I’m just impatient. So I just thought “You know what, I could do this, I know how to do this.” The Red Erotic collection in 2010, I put that collection together. And it went to four printings. And I thought I did that before, I can do it again. And in doing that I realized I came back home to start a publishing press. And that’s one of the things I’ve done. And so “Ego of a Nation” is self published, but I call it self produced. And there’s still the Ojistoh Publishing label, let’s start this little press. And now we’ve identified our next author, who is from Six Nations. So I’m focusing on all Haudenosaunee authors, because, you know all it takes is like a little bit of digging, and those writers are there. That’s all it took was a little bit of digging, and I realized, “Oh, wow, there’s some great authors here that a lot of people don’t know about.” They’re not out there touring, they’re not published. And so I kind of wanted to create a press for that for them.
Patty: That’s kind of neat. Yeah. Because I think I first came across your name and a conversation with Kim Tallbear. And you were talking, you have been talking about some of your pieces in Red Erotic. It has to do with the land as a body?
Janet: Oh yes
Patty: I really enjoyed what you said about that. So I kind of want everybody else to hear it, too.
Janet: Yeah, there was there was a presentation at a sex positive event in Vancouver and Kim Tallbear had come into Vancouver. At that time, I was doing a residency in Vancouver at the Joy Book Gala. And I have the Red Erotic collection and I thought, yeah, I’ll go and I’ll do some because I developed some performance art pieces from those homes.
And in this one group presentation someone said “What do you do when someone approaches you and starts asking about your how you identify sexually?” About, you know, who you are, what are you? And I said to them, you have to think of it as someone coming into your territory, and how you would respond if they just started popping off these questions, demanding information from you when they haven’t even introduced themselves. So I said, think of it that way. Would you allow someone to come onto your territory? And do that? The answer’s no. Because that’s not following protocol. That’s not following our protocol, or even a personal protocol. It’s like you don’t start popping off questions and demanding information from someone you don’t even know. You know, so let’s get to know each other first. How about you introduce yourself? How about you tell me where you’re from? How about you tell me why you’re asking these questions? What are you going to do with that information?
So it was the same thing with someone who is just going about their day and getting accosted in public with questions about identity, how they identify sexually or gender wise or culturally or anything like that. It’s like “Whoa, back it up. Who are you?”
Janet: I you’re speaking right up my alley. I am an intimacy and relationship coach.
Janet: Oh, hey!
Patty: I knew you two would like each other.
Janet: One of my areas of support, I also identify in the LGBTQ plus community as well. And so hearing you speak about this really just resonates with me. Because as one we are people of color, being indigenous, we are assaulted just every day. Add that of this extra layer, where you know, judgments are being made about you know, who and what you are. I’m very much about advocating to create a sex positive culture and understanding the etiquette that needs to be adjusted a whole line around these perceptions and assumptions and ideas of how we are seeing each other and our perceptions of gender identity, you know, we can tick the boxes off. It’s just boxes and boxes.
Janet: Yeah, Kerry, a lot of it is, number one, none your business. And number two, don’t worry about it.
Janet: Absolutely the truth of totally what I believe and I think once we can start to have these kinds of dialogues, you know, really standing in this space and saying, you know, “Enough already, we are the being accosted from all ends is tiring enough, let alone adding this other layer that I think we as, as indigenous and people of color, sit in. This hyper sexualization and stigmatization that sits around just being what we are. I love that you are really speaking to that. I want to hear more about this series. You were talking that you mentioned, you mentioned Red Erotic?
Janet: So yeah, it was built from an energy, during a time when I was just starting to get my work published. And I realized that I had this collection of indigenous erotica that didn’t fit into the other collections. And I thought, “Well, why don’t I just go ahead and make it its own collection?” You know, you have to give yourself permission, like this was in 2010, you know, when, gosh, I guess 10 years ago, so I was 47, holy heck, still maturing. And I was just realizing, even at that time “Hey, I could just do whatever I want.”
And then presenting that work. And I have a nice funny story about presenting that work for the first time. There was maybe one or two indigenous erotica collections that came out prior to my collection. (I’m talking about in Turtle Island and that I’m aware of anyway.) And so when that was published I brought it out to read at Trent University at an Indigenous writers gathering. And there, in the front row of this gathering was all aunties and grandmas, eh?.
So here we go, here we go. This is gonna kill my career, or we’ll see what happens. So I started with the first piece, which is pretty hard hitting. It was talking about one of the lines that pops out of that piece is “I have your territory, come claim it” you know?
Kerry: & Sally: Ooo, I love it
Janet: And then and then when I finished reading that piece there was a few beats of silence in the room. And I looked over to the edges of this row of grammas — and they started laughing and laughing. And I thought, whew, who knows?
Janet: I’m thrilled by the story, I am absolutely, because I think that’s a real thing. You know, when we can feel into these spaces and be able to talk about pleasure, sexuality, eroticism we’re touching audiences where it may not have always been front and centre. It’s like we all are in that space, though. And when somebody as you mentioned, I think it was so powerful when you said give your giving yourself permission. That is such a key. And we see that even in our more seasoned generations. They may not have been afforded that space and you can put them front and center. It brings us all into that.
Janet: Yes, yes. And that’s exactly why it wasn’t about saying “Hey, I’m doing this brand new thing. Check it out. I’m the first and da, da, da.” It was about “Now you go. Okay, now you share.” And that was one of the messages I heard from more mature, indigenous women. They’re like “This is not new. This is old.” It is about timing. And it is about what people are ready for. And it certainly wasn’t, the erotic, the idea of sensuality and spirituality, living and seeing in the same spaces wasn’t about forcing that into people’s psyche. It wasn’t about bringing that out in a forceful way. It was “Here it is. If you’re ready for it, here it is. If you need permission to enjoy yourself, if you need permission to tell your lover, do it better.” Then here’s this, here’s a little book for you.
Janet: I love it, because you’re bringing it. It’s really revolutionary, you know what I mean? Especially when you would have brought this book out in 2010, you were really paving this way. So I salute you and celebrate you for opening these doors. Because I know now that I am speaking some things that I know probably couldn’t have been over this threshold without you creating in the way that you have for me. So I honor you in that way.
Janet: And with that, how have you found that response? Like, how did that open up your work? Or did it open up your work? Like Where did that take you?
Janet: Yeah, it did, it was like, because then it kind of it was like, Okay, I wanted to put all that work together. And then that collection actually and I didn’t bring that I don’t have that collection handy right now, or else I would be showing you. But it afforded me the opportunity to invite some visual artists into that collection. So I have invited eight different indigenous visual artists to work in the collection on erotica. And when I start to put my feelers out there into to see “Okay, who’s producing visual work that has to do with indigenous erotica” people started coming out. Man, they started to say, “Hey, I got I got a whole body of work about that.” “Oh, really? Let’s check that out.” you know, so it just it opened up a whole community.
Another story comes to mind just now it’s funny. When I was touring a lot, and you know, going down to Washington, DC, I got to present two or three times at the National Museum of American Media in Washington, DC and in Maryland. And I remember bringing the erotica collection down there and they said “Oh, no, no, no.” In the museum they didn’t really want to hear about the erotica and I certainly couldn’t sell it. But that could have been more their gift shop policy. So I was always telling the audiences “Well meet me in the alley, after the reeading, and I’ll sell you a copy of the book.”
Janet: Maybe not in Washington, DC. Maybe meet me at the lighted lamp post. I love it, though.
Patty: That’s amazing, I love it. I love what I’m hearing and what you’re talking about, whether it’s as the Poet Laureate or the Writer in Residence, or even in your publishing itself, you’re always looking to draw more people in. Let’s get more people in!
Patty: A friend of mine had asked me a long time ago, a number of years ago, because we’re talking about revolution all the time. And he says, Well, how do we do that? And what do we do? And I just want to just keep building circles. Just keep building circles, just keep finding your people, and then build them up. And then they will build circles. And eventually, we will just crowd them out.
Patty: And it sounds good. And that’s what I’m hearing. And what you’re talking about is you’re just, you know, you’re bringing them in and you’re paving the way where it needs to be. You’re bringing them in. And that’s just such a beautiful resistance.
And now you guys got some stuff going on. Yeah, at 1492 Land Back Lane, which is now available on Google Maps! Is that I mean, those things only happen because you have built relationships and circles like within like, because a community has that. That’s what gives them the capacity to take these kinds of steps.
So can you for people who don’t know what that is, and what’s happening. Can you just explain a little bit about that?
Janet: Yeah, it was what about two, three months now that people from this territory, from Sixth Nations of the Grand River Territory, came to the realization that the newest land development that was about to take place butted right up against our territory.
Upon research and close examination, we couldn’t find that the proper channels of the transference of that land could be found. So that’s what I think sent a group of individuals over there to take occupation and to stop, to halt the development because those front loaders and all of that equipment was already on site. You can see when you go on site there that there have been some pipes implemented to plumb the homes, all of that was already in the works. And so what 1492 Land Back Lane looks like now is a cleared out section of semi developed land.
They didn’t get to the point where they were actually putting buildings on the site. Not like over at Akwesasne which was in 2006, they actually had houses erected on that site before the Haudenosaunee came in and put a halt to that. So that resistance again, nobody’s armed. Nobody is planning to do anything of a violent nature in the in the protection of that land and the resistance to that development. There’s nothing like that afoot. No indication of that whatsoever. And that’s the fact of it.
What you have is impassioned indigenous people who want to say “Enough, enough, we have Caledonia right next door to us. And look how that’s going.” You know, that town I boycott that town I’ve been boycotting that town ever since I got back home. And for good reason. It’s palpable. The racism that exists in that little town is palpable. And I don’t want to even go through that town on foot and have to kind of like dim down my energy just so other people feel safe around me, a visibly native, beautiful, gorgeous woman.
Patty: Absolutely stunning!
Janet: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be threatened. I just don’t even want to have to do that. It’s like you can’t handle Haudenosaunee energy, that’s not my problem.
Patty: You know, you sort of don’t need anything in that town anyway.
Janet: Exactly. So I support Land Back Lane because they’re doing the right thing. They’re doing, I talked about artists who are artists working with the responsibility of artists, in terms of message art, or bringing more people in and growing the generations. Land defenders do the same thing. They are working to responsibility. Cultural and traditional responsibility.
And that’s why I support this occupation. It’s not an occupation, it’s a land defense. And I’m thrilled with the leadership there. And I’m thrilled with the creative minds that are there and keep creating platforms for artists to come in.
Patty: They’ve even held concerts.
Janet: They have open mics at these concerts on a weekly basis. And my God, that is the right energy to put on that land. It’s healing the land that has been traumatized. And, putting playing creator’s game on that land is medicine, playing music on that land is medicine, people cooking and feasting and talking and connecting and staying on that land is medicine. And I’m really impressed with all of the support that comes from outside the community as well.
So that’s why I support what they do. And it’s almost become a template. We know, if we do this move, we know what that move is. You know what I mean? We know what’s going to happen. And these injunctions and these arrests, it’s just part of the game. It’s part of the game that that side likes to play all the time, they’re going to play those cards. They don’t have the capacity to understand what’s happening.
Patty: When you write the rules, you get to decide who’s legal and who’s not legal, right. Because you wrote the rules in a way to … We’ve talked with Tamara … about that. About the history of criminology, when you write the rules, you’re criminalizing a particular group of people for a particular reason. And with indigenous people, it’s always been about separating us from the land.
Janet: I just take a deep breath on this space, and thank you for sharing the story and bringing this awareness out there because I think it needs to be told. I think for the layman who live in the suburbs who aren’t privy to the understanding of what is actually happening and get their news on TV. That reality, right, that reality needs to be shattered. So with you just discussing, and bringing that space into truth how can we support, what can we do to show up? What can people do?
Patty: Yeah, what can we do?
Janet: You’re doing it, I think. You guys are doing it, because you’re providing this opportunity for this kind of discussion to take place. And you start with the nugget, and the nugget is the awareness. And then it grows into action. And then it grows into including more people into the action. And then it grows into what you see happening, which was kind of growing in parallel with the COVID.
Interesting enough, it’s like, “No Covid’s gonna keep me home”, you know, everybody’s out with their masks, protesting and rallying. And that’s right. That’s right. That’s what you do. You do it however you need to do it. And in whatever way you can do it.
But if you’re coming in as an ally, you will listen to the community that those issues are affecting first and foremost.
People are asking “How can I help?” Well connect. Connect with someone who’s directly affected by these issues and listen to what they’ve got to say about it. Just take that direction. I’m here back home, but I’m new. And in a lot of ways, you know, the most honest way I can come back home is to say “I’m gonna just keep coming back home.” I’m still learning who’s family, I’m still learning who is my Clan Mother, and so on, and so forth like that. And I’m going to keep just returning back home probably for the rest of my life, you know?
I listen to the leadership that’s over there as well. I don’t have all the answers but I know what I can do. I can go bring supplies and I have done that. I bring firewood, I bring ice, and I asked one of the people who’s staying out there “Well, what do you need, bro?” and he’s like “I just want some Pepsi.” I said “You got it, man.”
You know, you can ask whatever you want. I can do that. Maybe that can make your day. Let’s do it.
Patty: You know we had somebody comment “We show up.” Because that’s what I always tell people — show up. That’s what you said — you should show up. Listen to the leadership, listen to what they want you to do. Sometimes, and I think we’ve all done it, we get passionate about something. We you know, we see the wrong that’s happening. We get passionate, we want to run in and help and it’s not helpful sometimes, yeah.
What you said is so critical because wherever people are their stuff happening it’s important to take time to listen to the people. Like you said “You’re home” but you’re also new to home. So just because you’re a name doesn’t mean that you should take any kind of leadership role. And I feel the same way. I’m on this journey home so although I care, and I’m allowed on Facebook and Twitter saying stuff, but I also make a point of following people who are more embedded than I am so that I can take my cues from them about where to push.
And there’s things that I just don’t comment on because I don’t I just don’t know, or it’s really not my place. Particularly a lot of times around black issues. It’s just not my place to talk about certain things and so I don’t go there. There’s some things I don’t even retweet. It’s not that I don’t agree with it. I do. It’s just not my place. And if you don’t have black people in your Twitter feed that’s on you find them.
Janet: Yeah. Show up in a good way. I often call it holding space. Really recognizing that allyship can just be in knowing that you are in this in a in a embodied way. But knowing where your lines are. I can offer so much into, I’m loving, I’m holding, and I could bring a Pepsi. You know what I mean? I could give you the Pepsi. You know? And just offering up ourselves in that way.
So for all of you out there who are wondering those are the ways that we support.
And then you have a GoFundMe.
Patty: You can google 1492 Land Back Lane and you’ll find their fundraiser link below and you can give can give it money.
Janet: Yes, there is a GoFundMe, so donate, because we all know that if it don’t make dollars, if it don’t bring in dollars, it don’t make sense in this colonial system
Patty: Somebody’s got to pay for the Pepsi. Right?
Janet: That’s right. Yeah. And, and, and the legal fees, because, as we all know, that people are getting like, literally plucked off the street. Because they have been to Land Back Lane or they’ve been reporting on Land Back Lane. And they, you know, you try to go about your business. And the next thing, you know, you get a phone call or an email or somebody, you know, stopping you and saying “Hey we’re going to charge you with mischief.”
Patty: Three journalists now.
Janet: So the numbers are climbing
Patty: 22 people?
Janet: I’m not sure. But I do you know, about the three journalists. I think it’s 29, 3 of whom are journalists?
Janet: Yeah. So, you know, that’s just fascist state stuff. Yeah. Plain and simple. When you shut down the voice that has the farthest reach that’s fascist. That’s fascism. So the legal the legal fees are real. And they’re, you know, there’s there’s a lot of people who’ve got charges now. And I mean, we may see something like, and I’m crossing my fingers, like what happened at North Dakota, South Dakota.
Patty: Standing Rock.
Janet: Right, where everybody who got arrested, all the charges were dropped, or a lot of the charges were dropped. And I’m hoping that that’s what we’re going to see here. But at the time being, you know, people who have families and jobs and who you know, who won’t be able to go travel now. And they’ve got people kind of fearing?
Patty: Well, I was talking with Karl Dockstader. He was one of the journalists arrested. He said that he’s gonna be fine. He’s got legal representation. He’s a journalist. This happened with Muskrat Falls as well and for the journalists, the charges were eventually dropped.
He’s concerned about all of the other people who, maybe they have previous charges for other things, or maybe they’re involved with child welfare, or, you know there’s all kinds of other complicating things in people’s lives. And we know that because we know the way black and indigenous people are criminalized in Canada and the United States. So these charges, you know, he’s not worried about himself, because he was shaken and his girls were shaken. But he knows he’s gonna be okay. Plus, he’s got tons of community support. But that’s not always the case for everybody. And it’s a scare tactic too, right? It keeps people away. People may think about what they’re going to risk.
Janet: They play it like a chess game?
Janet: Yeah, absolutely. And I’m so great. Glad that both of you have called that out.
Janet: Yeah, I think I’ll just say something about resistance and the word resistance. I guess, the shift is so prevalent and the shift (the change) is such in the state of polarity that I feel like oftentimes, we’re not the ones resisting anymore.
It’s is the colonial state that’s resisting. They’re in a state of resistance. You know, we’re just, we’re just pulling stuff to the fore that’s always been there. And we’re finding each other again, yeah, strengthening that circle. Who’s been saying the same things and feeling the same things, having the same experiences and now everyone’s going, Oh, yeah. I feel you. I agree 100%. And maybe we have social media and the internet to thank for widening those circles and strengthening those circles and bringing those awarenesses to the fore. Because I really don’t think that I’m in a state of resisting. I think they, the colonial state. It’s shaking in their boots and going “They’re on to us.”
Patty: You know, you’re right. Arresting journalists is a strategy to shut down the story. And yet, look at us. Here we are talking about it.
Janet: Thank you right now.
Patty: So you know, you can’t stop the signal. Anybody can give me a price.
Janet: Now the name of the poet is eluding me, but the revolution will not be televised.
Janet: Oh, yeah. I want to say Saul Williams, but it’s not Saul Williams it’s …
Janet: Somebody ought to look it up now.
Patty: It’s a Gil. Gil Scott. Gil Scott and Gil Scott Heron.
Janet: Yes. And I agree. I think you’re right on the money, you know, if there’s nothing new under the sun. Empires have risen and fallen, before.
Patty: Rome didn’t last forever.
Janet: And I just, you know, I think that’s an interesting point. And for me, it I’m kind of tickled I sit back.
Patty: And this reminds me actually of our conversation with Daniel, see, these conversations always interconnect with each other, right? Because Daniel’s Quechuan, Daniel Delgado, explained that in the Quechuan world cosmology, there are several kinds of worlds that rise and fall. And it’s basically our job is just to be ready. Because there’s going to be a shift. Shifts are inevitable. So our job is to be ready for when that shift happens.
That ties with what you’re talking about, about building. Getting those voices out there building community in whatever way you can, building those circles, claiming your people and your cohort. And having that meeting circle or whatever it is that you do, to build relationships and to talk this stuff out, and start doing something new.
That’s how we get ready, because the shift is coming. I think we all everybody feels it. Something is happening. And you can see it in Trump the way he’s just holding on tight. I saw somebody tweet that he’s running against the election itself. He’s running against the election itself and I don’t think he knows it.
Janet: He’s such the white windigo, eh? Yes, the trickster. And if you if you can possibly just put a filter up so that you don’t catch any of that crazy, it’s really entertaining.
Patty: Yeah, if he wasn’t so dangerous. Yeah.
Janet: You know, the way that that operates, but there was another point that I wanted to make. I remember back to Idle No More which really wasn’t that long ago. The winter of 2012 2013. And it was interesting time. Because again, we saw the power of the internet for its ability to mobilize people and call people together. That was my experience. And I was actually doing a radio show at that time in Coast Salish territory. And I used those airwaves to let people know where the next rallies were, and the next teachings, and data like this. But it was it was also interesting, because I realized that there was like a whole generation of new activists, if you will, who didn’t know really how to do the activist thing.
Or they were not following the way that our older activists were doing things, you know what I mean? And we were learning from those young people, the new activists, and just realizing that people could sit at home and be warriors and still have a say. There was a lot of crazy back and forth stuff happening at that time. And I don’t see that so much now. People have kind of leveled off in the way that they approach events like the land reclamation and things like that. We’ve all kind of come to a good mind about it. So anyways, I’m just comparing all of these events and seeing how we’ve kind of evolved and, and we really are, if nothing else, adaptable and versatile.
Patty: Heck yeah.
Janet: That is our middle name. And I think it’s a reflection that is important. It brings to me the tendrils that I think resonate through all of this struggle, this strife. This idea of the Empire, and yet, you know, it’s been the tenacity, it’s been our strength to do that adaptation. And just to stand and we stand on our ancestral understandings as well. And it’s through that that we are holding the line. Yeah, I think that’s what this is. There’s a note that we have a knowing that just is like, yeah, you know what, no matter what you do, we’re in it. Because we stood, you know? Yeah,
Janet: Yeah, we grew up blood, like we like we did it. Our ancestors did it. You know, we have a long, long history.
Janet: So we’re here all day, and we will be here all day.
Janet: I love this conversation.
Patty: I just want to say thank you so much. I’m just so glad that you were available. And I just really enjoyed talking to you. And Sabrina (online) wants to know if there’s a process for how she can become your BFF.
Janet: Sure, everybody needs more BFFs in their life.
Janet: So where can all our crew find you?
Janet: Right. So if you’re looking to, you know, in the capacity of the Writer in Residence thing, if you’re looking to book some writing consultation, hit me up at englwir@ mcmaster.ca. And that’s my email for that business.
I’ve got an Ojistah Publishing and Poet Laureate, Facebook page. I don’t even have a website. And I was just I’m kind of grappling with the idea of getting a website. I might need one, I don’t know. Still decide if I’ll make one. But I’m still I’m on the Facebook, I’m on the Twitter, and I’m on the Instagram. So just try to keep up with a peep every lot of people.
(see bottom of page for links)
Janet: So you heard you guys have heard if you want to follow Janet: like Janet:, feel free. She’s got an incredible message. And I am so grateful that you’ve taken the time to talk to us to spread the word to enlighten us with your joy, your poetry, and we got to have you back.
Janet: Oh my god, I would love that. Yeah, and Thanks for the invite to be part of the this chat was fun. I’m glad
Patty: We are fun. We’re hilarious.
Janet: Love it.
Patty: We’re gonna have to change our name though now. Resistance is the other guys.
<lots of infectious laughter>
**Janet’s Contact Information**
Writer in Residence: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find Medicine for the Resistance on Facebook and the website http://www.med4R.com .
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Our theme is fearless.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai