“Rebellious emergence”: manifesto for the credibility of indigenous women

In the test Rebellious emergence, Anishinaabe and Attikamek author Cyndy Wylde deplores the lack of credibility given to Indigenous women in the public space, more than three and a half years after the death of Joyce Echaquan.

Not believing or listening to these women can have “tragic consequences”, maintains the writer. “Joyce’s word was questioned,” she recalls, about this Atikamek mother who succumbed to pulmonary edema in 2020, under racist insults from Joliette nursing staff. “We tried to label her as a drug addict,” which means she was not taken seriously, she adds, in an interview with The duty for his first book published at the end of April.

Shortly after this event, the author from Pikogan, in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, says she decided to postpone a surgical operation that she was due to undergo, for fear of receiving mistreatment. “It was during COVID-19 and we couldn’t be accompanied. Given that I had to be anesthetized, there was no way I was going to a hospital alone,” says the woman who has been a professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Ottawa since 2021.

According to Cyndy Wylde, the effects of the lack of credibility suffered by indigenous women are numerous. “I am a committed citizen, I participate in collective reflection at the university level in social work,” she continues. So, I wonder what it takes for me to stop being picked on when, for example, I express an opinion on social network X? »

Without having done empirical research on this subject, she argues that this phenomenon arises from “everything that has been conveyed since the beginning of colonization to [les] dehumanize.”

However, society is becoming a little more aware of indigenous realities, believes the mother of two young women. However, there is still a long way to go, she adds.

Prisons and indigenous women

Even today, there is too little discussion of the over-representation of Indigenous women in prison, says the woman who worked for 25 years with Correctional Service Canada. “As I write these lines, a reality persists: one in two women behind the bars of penitentiaries in our beautiful country is an Indigenous woman,” she emphasizes in her book.

“If I could take the microphone like Celine Dion and sing to denounce this situation, I would. Unfortunately, I don’t have that talent,” she says in an interview.

Joyce’s word has been questioned. They tried to label him a drug addict.

She therefore chose to talk about this “tragic issue” in the pages of her essay, in addition to making it the subject of her doctoral thesis, the initial submission of which was made a month ago. “It is not because we are indigenous that we are criminal. It does not work. Just that, it should be the big yellow light of warning. But it seems that it is difficult to move people when it comes to the plight of indigenous women. »

More than six years after retiring from correctional services, Cyndy Wylde denounces the “punitive ideology” that reigns there. ” We [y] systematically applies a bunch of policies and rules, without wondering if it is correct, if it corresponds to this or that prison population and even if, at a minimum, it is humane in terms of treatment. We are talking about decolonization across the country, but what are we doing with prisons and penitentiaries? »

Always “rebellious”

Over the years, the author reports having seen many “injustices” while working in prisons. She says she also experienced it in her personal life, particularly when she was studying at CEGEP in the early 1990s.

Enthusiastic about the idea of ​​discussing indigenous realities with students and professors, Cyndy Wylde set up a one-day kiosk at the establishment she attended. However, no one showed up. “It sawed my legs off. It was a traumatic situation for me. »

“However, I would not be the person I am now if I had not experienced that,” she specifies, indicating that this experience is one of those which later encouraged her to make her voice heard.

Currently, she is delighted to see young Aboriginal women giving talks and expressing themselves through blogs. “I find it beautiful that they finally dare to assert something and speak out, without being afraid of the legendary crushing that we have always faced. »

Cyndy Wylde also maintains that she comes from a line of determined ancestors who knew how to stand up for themselves and others. “Insubordination is something that characterizes us across generations. And a chance,” she confides.

Rebellious emergence

Cyndy Wylde, Les Éditions Hannenorak, Wendake, 2024, 78 pages.

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