White Gatekeeping and the Promise of Shelter: Confronting Colonial Logics within Women's Anti-Violence Services
MetadataShow full item record
In response to the recent surge in activism surrounding the missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada, the state has attempted to address colonial gender violence through strategies that involve the ongoing support and implementation of antiviolence services. While antiviolence agencies provide crucial short-term assistance to women in crises, indigenous women and two-spirited people have long questioned the ways in which these institutions exacerbate colonial gender violence by relying upon and strengthening apparatuses of state violence such as prisons, police and child protective services. In response to this problem I ask how white feminists invested in confronting colonial gender violence might begin to reform antiviolence service provision to help make indigenous women’s lives more liveable on both an individual and systemic scale. Answering this, I highlight the meaningful ways that indigenous women are addressing and alleviating violence through approaches that recognize the interconnectedness between all forms of violence indigenous people face. Contrasting these thoughtful and diverse approaches with those of mainstream antiviolence shelters exposes the colonial logics that continue to permeate white feminist antiviolence agencies. Speaking to white feminist women working within these institutions, I argue that white feminists working within the antiviolence sector must recognize their obligation to stand in solidarity with indigenous communities in their struggle against colonization. Providing ongoing support to indigenous struggles for decolonization provides a framework through which white feminists can begin to self-reflexively confront and undo their investments in whiteness, recognize and reform the aspects of service provision that uphold colonial logics, and support decolonization struggles that seek to eradicate all forms of violence against indigenous people.