candleEvery December 6th hundreds of vigils are held across the land now known as Canada for the 14 white women killed in “The Montreal Massacre”.  Many people have pointed out that women from many different groups (Aboriginal, Of Colour, Trans, Disabled, Sexworker…) have been excluded and forgotten during the December 6th vigil.  The December 6th vigil is supposed to be about stopping violence against women and honouring women who have experienced violence.  Why exclude certain women?

Sadly, this year, 2013, twenty-four years after the killing and the first vigil, the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is hosting a vigil which openly excludes Transgender women.

For the last three years I have brought attention to the problem of exclusion during December 6th (see links below the poem).  This year I have named the week Remembering All Women on December 6th.

An open letter from Trans woman Cindy Bourgeois to the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter will be published this coming Wednesday on  On Friday December 6th, poet Whitney French reads a poem by Aboriginal poet Connie Fife called Resistance.

We start the week of remembrance with a poem by Mohawk poet Janet Marie Rogers…

Move A Mountain (Walk A Mile In Her Shoes)

By Janet Marie Rogers

We want more

and we want it now

We want it to stop

and we want it to stop now

lies are violence

stop telling lies

and holding back


there is only truth

and you know this

we know this

we feel it

truth is a choice

so choose it

it will set you



is worth it


We are survivors

with many scars

lined along body territories

brought together making

road maps looking like turtle’s back

this land mass

our home, where sisters

go missing, we miss them

this physical place so disconnected

we hear them call to us

they keep calling to us


Come back Sisters

to the teepees and lodges

Come back Aunties

to the bighouses and wigwams

Come back Grannies

to the forest deep lean-tos

Come back Clan-Mothers

more than ever, we need you


Do not walk softly

instead let your steps resound

on solid ground, travelling down into

earth where my grandmother

sleeps and yours does too.

We knock on her door and say

show us the way

teach us, the words

feed us knowledge and

reconnect us to earth


Criminalized catastrophes

make headlines every time

The time it takes to keep

us safe takes up so much.

Hours better spent collecting

beautiful lessons and blurring

the lines between us until

we begin to move together

venturing outward under

magical moonlight without

worry of darkness or danger.

Running in celebration through

light filled fields

this need for protection

produces so much distraction

makes my head, and body

ache with exhaustion.

Stay calm reclaim your place


If we can really walk in her shoes

we wouldn’t be walking at all

but running for our lives

running with the wolves


We stand and watch

digital clocks rollover

into another year

without resolution or solution.

We see Elders mimic

Creator in folded-armed stances

They ask

“you don’t know war is wrong yet”

“You haven’t stopped the violence”?


Simple teachings are within reaching

we take it one step to the next

we make it our business

to correct this

we expand our minds

to the endless possibilities.

It looks like razor sharp wit

and feels like fire flares

sounds like heart beats on the ground

so you better walk loud


there is nothing more powerful

than a woman naked

standing in nothing

but her intoxicating beauty

her gorgeous forthrightness

her strength to protect those

she loves.

No weapon can penetrate this.



Our survival is a political


we walk

with intention

our legacy

is us, living

as examples

agents of change

moving in unison.

It is time it is time

To move, move

move the mountain.

Janet Marie Rogers performingJanet is a Mohawk/Tuscarora writer from the Six Nations band in southern Ontario. She was born in Vancouver British Columbia and has been living on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people (Victoria, British Columbia) since 1994. Janet works in the genres of poetry, short fiction, spoken word performance poetry, video-poetry and recorded poems with music and script writing.

Read an interview with Janet Marie Rogers here.

Watch a video of Janet reading poetry here.

Please SHARE (on Face Book) and Tweet this post, and Comment (below). 

To learn more about December 6th vigils and their exclusionary practices click on the links below:

Challenging The Whiteness of the December 6th Vigil

Honouring The Forgotten Women of the December 6th Vigil: Indigenous, Of Colour, Disabled, Queer, Transgender, Sexworker…


About Black Coffee Poet

Black Coffee Poet is a mixed race poet, essayist, and journalist who focuses on Social Justice, Indigenous Rights, STOPPING Violence Against Women, Film, and Literature.
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  1. Katy mcCuish says:

    To me, the Vigil is as meant to be – for these fourteen women and as such it embodies all women and all people and hopes for an end to violence.

  2. prairiepomes says:

    No, katy, with all respect, it does not embody all women. If it truly did, we’d also see those who attend the dec 6th vigil attend, support, and promote, as a matter of course, other vigils, specifically vigils for women of colour, sex workers, marginalised women. As it stands, those 14 women are re-victimised, by being post-humously appropriated as representatives of, just for one example, the 26 (known, and how many more?) victims of Robert Pickton. The latter were as much women as the former. They too are re-victimised as are their families and communities re-traumatised, when you and others tell these people that someone else ‘stands for’ them, that honouring someone else is the best they can hope we will do for their memories, for their loss, for their responsible call for justice.

    The choice of those 14 women to ‘stand for’ (or, to use your bitterly appropriate term ’em-body’) all women may resonate for you. But it does not do so universally.

    To put it another way, would you accept it, were Canada to adopt the celebration of, say, Martin Luther King Day, and then declare that, because we celebrate MLK, Christmas is no longer a holiday, because MLK stands for christmas, and now embodies Christmas.

    Do you see it now?

    All respect.

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