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Mona Stonefish's Story — Transcript

And my grandmother told me “You know my girl, whatever they do to you whatever happens to you know this – that I am with you that the same blood that runs in my veins runs in your veins and will continue running in your children your grandchildren and their grandchildren’s veins if you make it. And if you don’t may your spirit rest not sleep but rest in power. Don’t every give up your fight my girl.” And I never did.

I had been injured very badly because of the heinous crimes that happened to me at the Mohawk Institute in Brantford Ontario. And because of the injuries I have a limp. And because of the humour the sense of humour that we have as Nishnaabeg and Onkwehón:we people, the girls in my dorm started calling me “step-and-a-half.” [Laughs]. So when I’d walk you know they could tell. So they’d say “hey step.” So and we were always very careful not to speak our language in front of some of the older people because they'd been there for so long and they would tell on us because it was better us to be harmed than them. So I want to read this to you because I am victorious today.

Terrible gut-wrenching things happened to many Anishinaabe Onkwehón:we.

Milk white hands hands with thick hair

hands with protruding veins

hands with baby silk skin

hands that felt like lumberjack skin

all types of hands would slip under the covers

boldly commencing their exploration of our tender bodies.

White hands would press against our breasts

caress our necks.

Like a canoe on calm water

white hands would travel the length of the sternum

the ebb of the abdomen

curve and wind around our innocent and restrictive thighs.

Under the covers it meant to be a place of comfort not fear.

Head falls and rests upon pillow.

Innermost thoughts overcome possessed with worries

Swirling notions of fight-or-flight.


Our dreams are vivid and sacred.

Confronted by a rapist at 7-years-old

whom by day priest, brother and sister.

As long as the sun shines bright white hands are cloaked

in black robes.

Once in the sun is put to bed engulfed by dusk

white hands disappear under my covers

I lay ever so still

like death we are without breath

Waiting for my anticipated violator

baby lamb, never quite ready

for my premature slaughter

Tiny frozen shells

agonizing, how agonizing

Nights unforgiving

Sure thing pure souls full of fear

guilt, shame, shut down.

That's why we have murdered and missing women.

That's why we're wearing orange shirts

that our children matter.

Do they matter? Do we matter?

I give that to you.

Civilized courts that rule this vast land proudly define these acts as heinous crimes yet nothing has been done and it's 2019.

Decades pass, we the gullible are taught to swallow the lies. Even our own mouths forsake us refusing to utter the truth, silencing our pain, hiding our shame under the covers, white hands have everything to gain. But I don't have any shame – it was not my fault, I was a child.

Tragic and chilling things happen when we are left alone with only white hands. They beat, rape, molest us. Still do. While hands have robbed us of our childhood, good health, when we enter adulthood with rigid bodies and closed minds, what is to become of us the Nishnaabe Onkwehon:we. How do we fulfill our dreams, become political leaders, athletes, teachers? Raped then, incarcerated now. We are left numb forever trapped within our own hell.

They call us marginalized women, but we stand together women of all colours, women of all shapes, all sizes, non-verbal, blind, we're together and we're going to move forward together. I wasn't able to speak ‘til I was 20-years old because of the heinous crimes that took place at Mohawk Institute at The Mush Hole. But you can't shut me up today. [Audience laughs] And I'm very proud to say that because I am one of the backbones of our nation. ~ Mona Stonefish

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