A couple months ago as we collected story, perspective, and understanding for our Tell the Story topic on The Listening Project blog we joined the TsuuT’ina Nation Police for a community discussion about Canada’s high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women.
We attended the event as an opportunity to better understand what our government was or wasn’t doing to help. To our surprise … we realized that as citizens, we have a bigger role in helping than we could have imagined.
We learned that the individuals choosing to leave their reserves at a high rate are young people and women, and that they share the same experience as anyone who has ever moved to a city…they are vulnerable.
Understanding moving as a vulnerability was an easy concept to grasp. And feeling vulnerable in a new city was very easy for us to relate to… Have you ever moved? Did you move with someone? Yes? Imagine doing it on your own… maybe imagine doing it on your own when you weren’t on good terms at home.
That evening we asked ourselves why we were more concerned about what the government was or wasn’t doing than about our own potential to help? We weren’t quite sure. Especially when a very clear logic of thinking was present for The Doorway:
- We meet many young people who tell us stories of leaving their reserves, some connect and reconnect with us as they bounce from the reserve to the street and back to the reserve back to the street.
- For 30 years we have listened to how the street takes advantage of people who are young, new, and/or detached from loved ones.
But yet, the discussion around the missing and murdered Indigenous women seemed out of our ability to influence.
One woman’s statement drew us closer that night, she said:
“Our children are coming to the city because they were hurt in their community.”
These words are easy to relate to. Easy to connect to.
Remember back to when you moved? Did you have hopes for your move? Try to remember those. Did they come true?
If yes, imagine how it would have felt if it all fell apart.
If no… we are sorry you understand so well.
Are you starting to see our role and your role? We may see little we can do to solve large social issues around murder and race. But caring for and welcoming hurt young people to our city and community… this seems possible.
That night… We were first saddened to connect our young people as those vulnerable and at risk. Then troubled as citizens that we hadn’t yet identified out loud and in action the same street culture we listen about, with its cold realities and codes, is a major contributor to the crisis experienced in this vulnerable sector of our community.
We felt a deeper empathy and understanding of the issue …
We saw hope in seeing there are solutions closer to each of us than we knew.