This hike took place on unceded, ancestral Lheidli T’enneh territories. This land (Ginter’s Meadow) is currently managed by the City of Prince George. The image of houses was taken on the unceded, ancestral territories of the Nazko FN (Hixon, BC) and is currently managed by the Regional District of Fraser-Fort George. The image of the lake was taken on the unceded, ancestral territories of the Xatśūll First Nation, a member of the Great Secwepemc Nation. I use a complicated boundary map and depending on the status of the land claim or the legal discussion at hand, the land of all these places could be shared by either FN. Check out the map here: http://www.nativemaps.org/files/images/maps/54299_boundarychaos.jpg
Back in 2015, deep into my second time living in Prince George, the proverbial King(s) of Prince George decided to harass me via the internet, putting my very public business and my fucking awesome queer relationship at risk. All of the threatening emails and direct messages, as well as the many comments on social media from the hoards of important community people who jumped on their band wagon saying I was a stupid bitch or a dumb lesbian or a terrible lady was overwhelming. The trips they made to threaten and intimidate other women who publicly stood up for me was disappointing and so fucking scary for everyone.
This kind of misogyny-filled dragging often happens to women (and non-gender binary folks, queer folks, POC folks) on the internet, at work, at home, wherever. A shallow glance at social media and you’ll see that this abusive shit happens everywhere, all the time. Being in a small, rural city (60,000ppl) meant that even though the sweetest friends and community members checked in on us (these fuckers also targeted two other amazing women who I adore and hold dear) I quickly hid myself from the public eye. I shut down my 10 year+ blog, I went black opps on my social media profiles and I kind of quit public life. Our business fucking suffered, my relationships suffered and my mental health suffered. I felt physically scared when I left my house and always anticipated one of my attackers would show up at my house and try to put me in my place. This anxiety and fear fucking crippled me and it sucked: no where was safe for me.
Before the public hazing happened I loved to go outside in Shit Town. We used our feet and pedals as daily transportation. We lived next to the river and would take in the cut banks and the big glowy yellow leaves. We’d lay next to cool, snakey streams while the kids rubbed magic mud all over their bodies, heading into the river for a dip. Or, we’d hike over the rambling hills behind the university, crawling into the pit house and admiring the pine studded ridges. Not feeling safe enough to go outside after was really, really shitty.
Just over a week ago I returned to Shit Town for 36 hours to see some friends and go to a work thing at the university. Before I left the big smoke on that small little plane, an exceptionally distracting and exhausting anxiety set in. I didn’t want to go to that place and be confronted with those bad, shitty fearful feelings. Sometimes I don’t even want to address them. These feelings aren’t the actual problem, the abusers and their capacity to continue to rule Shit Town are, and it absolutely drains me.
Even though it was the shortest visit, my BFF made sure we got in some outside time with two little dogs and my under slept, super cranky kid in tow. She hauled us up to Ginter’s Meadow (of which an adjoining trail was recently under threat of poor planning decisions by the Shit Town local government) and told us about the history of the Ginter Family (the patriarch invented the Pil’can). We climbed the old paved road up to the house’s old stone steps admiring the way the light green leaves were turning neon yellow, the babbling brook and the rolling, misty meadow below.
It was a bit cold, a bit rainy, but such a nice fall day. It was also a way to take an outside breath and to see Shit Town from a different (not improved or better) view. A reminder that going outside with those closest to me, even just for twenty or thirty minutes, is my very own kind of release. While women (and non-gender binary folks, queer folks, POC folks) the world over should not have to travel in pairs to be safe in their own communities, being outside with my BFF means we can hold a safe outdoor space for each other. At least until we crumble the patriarchy and we can all, safely, go the fuck outside.