Indigenous writer jailed

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Free Wrongfully Jailed Indigenous Writer, Domestic Violence Survivor Dawn Dumont Walker

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Dawn Dumont Walker is an Indigenous activist from Treaty 6 Territories or the lands colonially known as Saskatchewan, Canada. She is an award winning playwright and writer who was wrongfully jailed... in Oregon for trying to escape domestic violence. Although she is now back in Saskatchewan, she is subject to strict house arrest, including being hooked up to an electronic monitoring device, and forcibly separated from her child. Dawn needs to be freed and charges dropped. She currently faces decades in prison if convicted on all charges. Her situation reflects a systematic failure to support her when she was most in need. Dawn has not failed anyone; the system has failed her as it does so often with Indigenous women, women of colour and LGBTQIA2S+.

This petition text was composed by Dr. Tasha Beeds, a water walker and woman of nêhiyaw-Metis ancestry and a 2nd degree Mideiskwêw dedicated to the continual resurgence and revitalization of Indigenous thought, knowledges, and sovereignty in all forms. She writes:

Dawn’s unfolding story strikes a chord to a melody that is very familiar, unfortunately, for many of us as Indigenous women, women of colour and the LGBTQIA2S+ communities. It doesn’t matter whether we are professionals, academics, writers, activists, addicts, poverty-stricken, rich, middle-class, young or old, we face violence at every level and the most pervasive violence occurs within our homes: it is also the type that is given very little support, despite its prevalence and the education surrounding the issue.

According to the World Health Organization, domestic violence against women is a global epidemic, occurring in all settings and among all socioeconomic, religious and cultural groups. In discussing her 2016 CBC documentary on domestic violence, War at Home, Canadian filmmaker Shelly Saywell writes, “The numbers are staggering. Domestic violence causes nine times the number of deaths as civil wars, globally … In Canada, in the same ten year period, three times more women were killed by their partners than all our troops killed in Afghanistan. Every six days, a Canadian woman dies this way.” We know from statistics, and from experience, that a disproportionate number of those women are Indigenous.

Indigenous women are seven times more likely than non-Indigenous women to experience violence by current or former partners, and three times more likely than non-Indigenous women to be killed by someone they know. As Indigenous women, we also face the deadly combination of racism and gendered violence outside our homes; we are five times more likely than any other female population in Canada to die a violent death. The same statistics apply in the United States. No matter what we call it, no matter where we live or what we do, violence stalks us because we are Indigenous, and because we are women.

As reported by the CBC, there were “at least 37 intimate partner homicides in Saskatchewan from Jan. 2015 to June 2020.” Saskatchewan also has the highest rate of reported intimate family violence across the country; more than double the national rate. It is common knowledge that the most dangerous time is when a victim of domestic violence decides to leave. More than half of the victims in Saskatchewan were killed after they left the abusive relationship.

As Indigenous women, women of colour, and LGBTQIA2S+ , the violence we face inside our homes extends outwards to institutionalized violence from the colonial justice, health, and social systems that are, in principle, supposed to help us, but, instead, often enact more harm or place us in situations where we, and our children, are put at serious risk. Human Rights Watch has documented numerous cases of police brutality against Indigenous women and LGBTQIA2S+ for instance, as well as inequities within the justice system, which has led to the also well known over-incarceration rates we experience.

Indigenous women and LGBTQIA2S+ have been the targets of colonial violence since the time of contact. We have been deliberately constructed as worthless; continually objectified, and deemed as inferior to all others. Those created stereotypes that vilify us have been carefully placed by colonial powers not only inside settler consciousness, but also the consciousness of our own people and, thus, when we turn for help, we are met with a particular type of lateral violence that negates our very real and horrific experiences within domestic and family violence, creating more trauma in the process.

Inside these multiple layered spaces of violence, we have little choice in terms of our survival. We can’t win no matter what we do, even when our lives are on the line; our death rates show us this simple fact.

If she and her child had been found missing or murdered, Dawn Dumont would have been valued, upheld, and memorialized right now. Instead, she is ruthlessly judged and painted by many, particularly within settler society, as a criminal, an unfit mother, unworthy, undeserving, and unhinged. Those same labels have been applied to us as Indigenous women, women of colour, and LGBTQIA2S+ people since the beginning of colonization to serve the same colonial purpose.

The extenuating historicity and the continued violence we face as Indigenous women, women of colour, and LGBTQIA2S+ must be considered in Dawn Dumont’s situation; collectively, we need to send a strong message that living Indigenous women are valued as much as the deceased.

If we don’t, we will continue to experience unparalleled violence; we will continue to be jailed; we will continue to go missing; and we will continue to be murdered.

Bring Dawn home. Free her. Stand with her. Stand with us. It is long past time to address the systemic failures that have led to the wrongful jailing of Dawn and so many other Indigenous women.

Stop criminalizing survivors of domestic violence.

Please show your support of Dawn Dumont Walker and all survivors of domestic violence by signing and sharing the petition below.

We will ensure it is sent to the colonial authorities in Canada.

If you would like to contribute to Dawn’s legal defence, please donate to the Go Fund Me created by Idle No More found here:

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