I appreciate your contribution to the CanLit narrative that’s developed as a result of events at UBC. Your open letter to Joseph Boyden moved me to tears. I didn’t really want to follow the debacle. I’ve been busy with my own life, purposefully removing myself from everything I could to focus on my creative work this year. But I couldn’t escape it. I’m grateful my daughter posted your letter on Facebook.
To be honest, I usually pay little attention to universities. I think I’ve written them off as ivory towers divorced from the grassroots, where I live and work. That said, there are some I know who have done and are doing important things within the oppressive place. Women, for example, have ensured that collective agreements and institutional policies are in place to address issues, such as this one, when they arise. Still, universities are imperfect institutions. How could they not be? They’re operated by imperfect humans working in stress-filled environments on too little money. It doesn’t surprise me that situations are handled inappropriately even when policies and procedures are in place.
I’m also of the #ibelieveher variety, tending to believe women’s stories of abuse. That letter just didn’t fit, for all the reasons you suggest. Now, it’s possible that the high-profile case of a former CBC employee left me more wounded than I’d thought. And yes, I’ll readily admit to a degree of jadedness from my decades of feminist activism. And, yes, yes, the whole thing rekindled memories of the abuses I’ve experienced at the hands of men. But I’m a survivor who’s made her way through the pain, continually spiraling inward to shed more light, and then back out as I heal and write, edit and polish, and eventually, publish. No decision about my work has been more difficult than whether or not to include a rape poem in my collection of poetry.
And so, my heart goes out to all the women who have been touched by this case. As a white woman in a heterosexual relationship, I have the privilege of calling up a healer and being treated at my convenience. I want everyone to find whatever it is they need to heal — be that their anger and rage, a community of love and support, a special friend or healer. I hope you, Samantha, get the apology you request. Perhaps this meagre response can help with that.
Thanks again for your inspiration.
Author, Editor, Activist