31 August, 2014


  • We need a national inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women. We have needed one for a long time — it is sickening to imagine what might have been prevented if we had begun investigating this in a systemic way years ago. The time is now: We have a problem, a Canadian problem, and instead of pointing to racism in the US or elsewhere, we need to look at whose lives are valued here, and who we seem to see only in death. The premiers have all recognized the need, and are calling, with many, many others for a national inquiry. We need to look at this problem nationally because there is not a single cause, a single actor. We must examine what is happening in our communities, with our policing, in our courts of law. But Stephen Harper insists, despite all evidence, that this is not a “sociological phenomenon.” His distaste for sociology is not new, but it’s incredibly harmful, hampering our ability to deal with structural injustice in Canada.  There is much to read on this issue: A small selection this week includes thoughts on why Harper insists on spinning this issue politically, apihtawikosisan on the false rhetoric of whether we can afford an inquiry, and finally, looking forward and asking what an inquiry should look like when it happens. If you’re on Twitter, check out #MMIW, and #ItStartsWithUs  to find out more about some of the amazing work being done.
  • “My grandmother, I remember when she used to work, we’d get milk and a pound of butter, I mean this was pay. I’m thinkin’ about what my poor parents worked for, gettin’ nothing. What do the white think about when they think? Do they ever think about what they would do?” A Longform reprint of a 1974 oral history of Women at Work by Studs Terkel brings to life some incredible, vivid voices.
  • “When you have been a feminist killjoy, when she has been part of your embodied history, she can still appear willful to you, insisting on coming up, whenever something comes up. She can be tiring!” Sara Ahmed’s work on the feminist killjoy is a constant source of thought, nourishment and challenge. The most recent piece, on crisis and confrontation, is no exception.
  • Hands Up United is the new site for news and information from Ferguson, and offers many ways you can support the movement in Missouri.
  • “Such online interjections—“‘Shut up you bitch’ is a fairly common refrain”—often contain threats of violence, a “predictable menu of rape, bombing, murder, and so forth.” She mildly reported one tweet that had been directed at her: “I’m going to cut off your head and rape it.” A profile of the brilliant Mary Beard, Cambridge classicist and online “troll-slayer.”
  • Two great pieces from Rabble this week: The first is on the history of migrant farm labour in Canada, and the urgent need for immigration reform to end this unfair system and overhaul the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. The second looks at what is missing in Stephen Harper’s economic plan for the North, announced this week: jobs and training support for women. The figures on the wage gap for Northern women are particularly shocking: “Women working in oil and gas industries experience one of the largest wage gaps across industries — with paycheques that are 63 per cent of their male peers. In mining women make 66 per cent on the male dollar. Those are the Canada-wide figures. In Nunavut, the median employment income of women working in the mining sector is just under $20,000. Not only is there a gender wage gap of 69 per cent, but the gap between northern and southern paychecks is immense.”
  • “Good mothers love their children above all else. Good mothers sacrifice everything. Good mothers stay at home. Good mothers feel grateful. Good mothers love mothering. Good mothers find it all worth it. Good mothers don’t cry all the time, don’t feel completely overwhelmed, don’t want to run away, don’t resent their children, don’t hate their lives, don’t want to kill themselves.” Mimi Khuc on the difficulties of motherhood, and what it would mean for our society to truly support mothers and their children.
  • This fascinating history of Liberia gives insight into the country beyond Ebola and child soldiers, focusing especially on the role of women and women’s work in holding communities together.
  • “I used to be considered aggressive,” said one subject. “Now I’m considered ‘take charge.’ People say, ‘I love your take-charge attitude.’” Transgender scientists and other workers explain how perceptions of their work changed as they transitioned: To no one’s surprise, those who presented as women were valued less in the workplace. An interesting area which needs much more research and attention.
  • “The thing about having a movement rather than an agenda, is that it is going to move and be moved.” On the value of humour in sex work activism, and the necessity of being able to laugh.
  • Tomorrow is Labour Day! On their website, The Poetry Foundation has curated a number of incredible poems on the themes of work, and on the end of summer. In particular, check out Gwendolyn Brooks’s heartbreaking “A Sunset of the City”: “I am not deceived, I do not think it is still summer/ Because sun stays and birds continue to sing.” and Jane Kenyon’s “Three Songs at the End of Summer”: “It was the only life I had.”



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