Many blackcoffeepoet.com readers have commented on the email exchange between Alex Wilson, a member of Helen Betty Osborne’s community, and myself. In case you have not read it, here it is:
February 16, 2011
Thanks for posting the interview. Robyn sounds like a brave and intelligent scholar and activist.
I am from the Opaskwayak Cree Nation and The Pas. I just have to clarify that 60% of The Pas and community is of Aboriginal descent, so it is important to understand that the whole community did not know about the details or condone the silence around Osborne’s murder. While it is easy to say it is a brown and white issue, it is much more complex. I am confident that Robyn’s dissertation will go into this complexity.
Also, on another note, a couple of years ago Rose Osborne aka Calvin, Helen’s younger sibling was murdered in Winnipeg. The media attention devoted to the coverage focused on the fact that ‘he’ was Helen’s brother, which diverted from the fact that she, Rose, was transgendered, and a victim of a heinous hate crime. I think this is another example of how forms of oppression interconnect. Rose was a friend and I am hoping that people might consider her story as just as important to understanding and undoing and advocating for “Murdered and missing Aboriginal women in Canada”.
Alex Wilson, Opaskwayak Cree Nation
February 17, 2011
Dear Alex Wilson,
Thank you for taking the time to read blackcoffeepoet.com.
You are right in your clarification. I should have made it clear that the white people of the town started, condoned, and maintained the silence about Helen Betty Osborne’s murder for 16 years. And, as you said, it is a “complex” issue.
Respectfully, as you know, it was white folks who hid information about Oborne’s murder and protected the four white boys who did the killing by doing so. And the white controlled police agency and court system gave two of the white killers immunity, and an all white jury found a third white killer innocent.
In Monday’s review of Lisa Priests book Conspiracy of Silence I made all this clear.
I appreciate you calling me out on my mistake in wording. It would be great to continue this dialogue and discuss the complexities of this case and the many other cases that exist.
You are right in saying that oppression interconnects and that Osborne’s sister, Rose, is sadly another case of a Missing and Murdered Aboriginal woman in Canada.
You can see a photo of me on blackcoffeepoet.com holding a sign that says, “Aboriginal Women, Mesitza + Latina Women, Women of Colour, Trans Women are Loved”. To this cis-gendered writer, Rose Osborne and all Trans women matter just as much as Helen Betty Osborne and all cis-gendered women.
In November, blackcoffeepoet.com did a special week on Trans Day of Remembrance that might interest you.
Thank you for your words, time, and consideration.
I hope we stay in touch,
Black Coffee Poet