On Cam­pus

The Coast - - ON CAMPUS -

It was the same thing with not par­tic­i­pat­ing in Canada Day, which we never have, mind you, be­cause stu­dents aren’t on cam­pus. The SUB is closed. We’ve never par­tic­i­pated in Canada Day, so it was re­ally more of an ac­tion of sol­i­dar­ity. You know, it got some back­lash.

Were you sur­prised by the re­sponse?

Yes and no. I ex­pected there to be dif­fer­ent opin­ions, but I didn’t ex­pect it to be so tar­geted.

Tar­geted at you?

Yes, be­cause I’m not the is­sue. If you’re go­ing to tar­get it at the is­sue, let’s talk about Indige­nous is­sues. I don’t want to be the fo­cus of that.

Peo­ple feel re­ally strongly about Canada, es­pe­cially with folks who are im­mi­grants. They feel a re­spon­si­bil­ity to this coun­try to show love and re­spect be­cause it’s given them a safe home. I un­der­stand that. My par­ents are im­mi­grants too. But I don’t be­lieve that be­cause of my par­ents’ dis­place­ment I need to abide by the op­pres­sive rules of this land in dis­plac­ing Indige­nous folks.

In re­sponse to com­ments from the Young Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives, you pub­lished a Face­book post say­ing you wouldn’t stand with “priv­i­leged white peo­ple” cel­e­brat­ing “over 400 years of geno­cide,” along with a few hash­tags, like “white fragility can kiss my ass.” Why’d you post that?

At the council meet­ing where I brought up the mo­tion, a council mem­ber ba­si­cally told me if I don’t like Canada, I can get out. I think Canada, this land, needs more peo­ple like me that will stand in sol­i­dar­ity. I was up­set, and to see a post crit­i­ciz­ing the DSU for tak­ing a solid stance and ac­tion in sol­i­dar­ity was re­ally hard for me. Es­pe­cially some­one who comes from a long line of re­sis­tance. My fam­ily, on my mom’s side, is part of the last royal fam­ily of Afghanistan. My great-great-grand­fa­ther was ac­tu­ally the king. He fought the sec­ond An­glo-Afghan war and helped kick out the Bri­tish. My fam­ily has this long his­tory of de­col­o­niz­ing the land.

I was an­gry, and anger’s valid. That was my way of reach­ing out to my sup­port groups. Some­body asked me to make it public be­cause they thought it was an amaz­ing post. So I did, and got more back­lash, which is fair. Peo­ple are al­lowed to have their opin­ions.

Why’d you delete it?

The de­ci­sion was not en­tirely my own. I think it’s fair to say a lot of peo­ple have been dis­ap­pointed in my post or an­gered by it, or felt like they dealt with some kind of racism from me point­ing out white priv­i­lege. I was be­ing pres­sured by some group—I can’t say who, def­i­nitely not the DSU—but I was be­ing pres­sured over my ac­tions and my words. They felt I was be­ing dis­crim­i­na­tory to those who iden­tify as white. So the post was deleted be­cause of that.

How much pres­sure is there to be a “good” activist, who’s re­spect­ful and doesn’t show that frus­tra­tion or anger?

A lot of peo­ple come up to me and say, “You should be more like Martin Luther King.” I’m more of a Mal­colm X type of gal. He was my role model—an activist who was Mus­lim, find­ing his way through the civil rights move­ment, who had no tol­er­ance for any kind of in­jus­tice and re­ally ridiculed the sys­tem. This is the kind of per­son I want to be.

Peo­ple are like “You need to speak more elo­quently.” Why is it I need to use this lan­guage in the way you want me to por­tray my own feel­ings, when I can use this lan­guage in a way I want to con­vey my feel­ings? Nova Sco­tia here, we use the f-word like it’s the sec­ond word af­ter thank you. That’s just how we are. We’re Sco­tian, that’s how we speak. But peo­ple had a prob­lem when I said it. To them, my anger is not valid and they don’t want to give me space to val­i­date my­self in the world. For them, my anger doesn’t ex­ist; my in­jus­tice doesn’t ex­ist; my iden­tity doesn’t ex­ist.

How do you avoid get­ting burnt-out?

Go cud­dle my cat. I sur­round my­self with sup­port­ive peo­ple. I’m very close to my sis­ter, so I hang out with my sis­ter a lot. My mother is an amaz­ing woman, and my fa­ther is an amaz­ing man as well. Some­times you just need to go home and eat like a good meal, eat some Mama’s cook­ing and get full in that way.

What does Hal­i­fax still need to con­front about it­self?

Our racist his­tory. Peo­ple don’t talk about the fact that Citadel Hill was made by the Ja­maican Ma­roons. They don’t talk about Africville, even though we know it. They don’t talk about Corn­wal­lis, or when we do the mayor is like, “Mm­m­mmm, we’ll see!”

Peo­ple are tak­ing ac­tion in the States. We’re sup­posed to be this mul­ti­cul­tural, di­verse, in­clu­sive coun­try, but we’re not. Peo­ple aren’t ac­knowl­edg­ing the fact that geno­cide has hap­pened here. The steal­ing of land has hap­pened here. En­vi­ron­men­tal racism has hap­pened here. They don’t even rec­og­nize that these in­jus­tices, on many lev­els, hap­pen ev­ery day here.

Hal­i­fax, wake up, have your cup of cof­fee in the morn­ing, breathe in this fresh east-coast air and re­al­ize there’s a lot we need to change in our city. It’s time we get to it.


Jade Byard Peek and Khan hype up the crowd last fall at a march agaisnt tu­ition fees.

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