Regina, SK – Earlier this week at the University of Regina, about 30 students and guests attended a book lecture and reading by Radio Host and Author, John Gormley. Everything seemed to be going fine until a group of protesters with hand drums including a man in a mask with feathers on his head interrupted Gormley’s book reading. Based on the video below, they were protesting Gormley’s views and opinions of First Nations people that he usually shares on his radio show.
The protestors pounded on hand drums while the one in the mask walked circles around Gormley yelling phrases like, “It stinks in here, it stinks in here” and “Come on Gormley you can talk big on the radio”. When Gormley asked him if he would like to discuss things, the man responded, “how can I discuss things with a forked tongue?”
The protesters also gave Gormley some gifts, one of which was a toy snake (possibly referring to him having a “forked tongue”) while one of the protesters, a woman, handed out flowers in the crowd. They also threw a shoe/moccasin at the floor beside Gormley, another sign of disrespect.
It is important to note, that the protesters were not Idle No More protesters, as some media have reported. The woman seen in the video handing out flowers goes by Evening-Star Andreas and is not associated with Idle No More. She told RezX she only represents “The People”.
She also explained to RezX what were the intentions of the group.
‘”Yes there was a shoe throwing on the floor not at him…and yes he was given a snake because of his racist remarks on the radio. But also I gave him a Flower from Our March for Stolen Sisters Memorial March…we did not get violent we don’t not stand for violence…we went there for our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Mother Earth and Survivors from the Residential Schools”.
See video below of the incident (which begins at 8:50) along with reactions from students after:
So what seemed like an odd and unexpected protest, now has people talking and watching as the video has quickly made its rounds. RezX caught up with three students who were there to give us a first hand account of what happened along with their reactions to the protesters whom they had nothing to do with.
It is important to note, that it wasn’t just about the incident, but what happened after based on what these these students had to deal with as observers. Also considering they were some of the only First Nations students who attended the book reading. The President of the University of Regina, Vianne Timmons has since publicly apologized for the incident saying, “All I can say is that that’s not acceptable at our university and we will take measures to make sure that our speakers who come on campus are assured that it won’t happen again.”
Reactions from the First Nations students who had to deal with the aftermath.
Katryna Smith – Student
I walked into this computer lab of the library where the reading was taking place and I was surprised at the 30 people who were in attendance. I thought there would have been more. My sister friends and I sat down and waited for John Gormley to come and speak. We came to start an intelligent dialogue at least we hoped for one. Just as Mr. Gormley started speaking then we heard the banging of the drum in such a manner that spoke out of hatred, like they were saying, “get the F**** out of the way, I don’t care who you are”. What was left after this display was a sense of injustice, hatred, “if there is an Indian in the room…they are the first to be gunned for”. It was confrontational after the protesters were removed from the room. My sister friend was the first to be under attack.
Julianne Beaudin-Herney – Student
I was sitting in on a book club event, that was going to be presented by John Gormley, I sat there as a home fire keeper, a student, and an activist with purpose. I knew this, I knew no one could take that away from me. Every word I heard after the protester came in, was a bullet aimed at my “left winged” head. Mind you I am no longer on the leftist or rightest side of the spectrum, I’ve decided to have my own spectrum. I was told directly by Gormley himself, “ I will not respect you. “ I asked him repeatedly about- why the inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, failed on behalf of Gormley’s beloved Right side of things. It is however, a beautiful feeling to be in a room that was once again bombarded by the spirit of passion which leaves us eager to find answers, and forces people to acknowledge a soon forgotten perspective. That perspective being the other, the non-Canadian, the brown, the powerful, the restless Indigenous, In which we are educated and know what we are talking about. Unfortunately, Gormley could not answer this primitive-savage-princess’ questions. He is the epitome of what we have been up against, the prime example of what we don’t need on our campuses and in our bookshelves.
Geraldine Carriere – Student
After the Gormley event I was left in a state of confusion. I didn’t know how to feel about what I had experienced. I wasn’t sure if I was feeling like a coward or a warrior? If by being there was I being relentless or abiding? I found myself wondering if I was so desensitized not to lift a finger…Wondering have I allowed my colonized mind to get in the way of my passion for justice. All because of my patterned straying from over-sensitivity in a public setting.
I was reassured by my initial reaction to the events that brought something deeper to light. I realized I felt taken care of. I felt like how Indigenous woman in the old ways must have felt. As it was the woman who started the conversation and the men who stood by their side to close the show. This was clearly on display at this event, as the other men in the room stood up and supported us.
They backed the women, their voices, and their pleas. This for me made it all worth it. This was a bigger issue, as I have never felt that presence and support ever before by a man, a father, an uncle, a male confidant. That I had never felt that before in my life…..support! It made me vulnerable, empathetic and free. Things all women should feel but even more so, Aboriginal Woman, daughters, mothers and sisters. That this is what it is all about, the ignition of Wahkohtowin (kinship beyond the immediate family; the state of being related to others) That to us, it is bigger than you or me, bigger than the cause, bigger than this reality we call our world. But it is essential to regaining who we authentically are.