It’s International Women’s Day today, March 8th. It’s a day that has been celebrated for over 100 years, celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women all over the world. At Zero Ceiling, we’re working to change the systems that we operate in. We will not falter in our drive for justice, equity, decolonization, and inclusion. We advocate for a world where systems of power do not create homelessness and exclusion for our society’s most vulnerable. Our courage to challenge starts with ourselves. Through relentless self-reflection, we push ourselves and our community to evolve, creating a world without youth homelessness.
In honour of International Women’s Day, we thought we’d share a poem written by our Indigenous, female colleague, Jill.
*Author’s note: I am an Indigenous woman and wrote this poem in 2022, when the bodies of missing Indigenous women Chelsea Poorman, Tatyanna Harrison, Noelle O’Soup, and Kwem Manuel-Gottfriedson were discovered in quick succession under suspicious circumstances in Vancouver. An alleged serial killer was apprehended in Winnipeg, yet RCMP refused to search for the remains of his three Indigenous victims. I was angry that these women and their families had not been supported; that their deaths were being swept under the rug as just another Native from the Downtown Eastside. At the time, it seemed like being an Indigenous person with a vagina was the most dangerous and degrading thing you could be. That’s where this poem comes from. And while it is inspired by many Indigenous women’s experiences, it is not necessarily mine.
My Indigenous Pussy never belonged to me. It belonged to my mother, who told me to keep it hidden from the men at her parties and the boys who seek out such things. Hers belonged to the Priests, who hunted it down in the dorms of St. Mary’s.
It belonged to my father, who gave me his name.
It belonged to the first man who penetrated it, for what is the purpose of virginity unless it’s won and lost?
It belongs to my children now, for they lived there longer than I.
It belongs to the Government of Canada, who tells me when it can or can’t be emptied.
My Indigenous Pussy wears ribbons for the Creator, who told me it is life.
It wears lace for the white man who claims it, only because he longs to return to nature and this is the closest he’ll ever get.
It wears orange for the Residential School survivors and victims.
My Indigenous Pussy clenches its fist and cries in blood every waning crescent.
It carries pain, carries memory, carries us forward.
I have always known my Indigenous Pussy has the power to kill me. 6 in 10. 215. Roe v. Wade.
My Indigenous Pussy is resilience and hope. 7 Generations. 4 Directions.
Everyone wants to claim it. Plant their flag in it. It is a medicine they could never burn. Spirit they can never claim. That’s why they fear it. Worship it. Kill it. Covet it.
My Indigenous Pussy is untouchable.
If you are affected by this poem and need support, there are support systems that can help:
- KUU-US 24-hour Crisis Line (Toll Free) 1-800-588-8717
- Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of BC 1-866-661-3311
- Howe Sound Women’s Centre Traverse Project 24-Hour Support Line 604-389-9168