Social issues

Indigenous Voices on Cindy Gladue: A Reading List

Yesterday, a concerted tide of Indigenous women’s voices swept across Turtle Island (Canada) to mourn and demand justice for Cindy Gladue.  Cindy was a daughter, a mother, a sex worker, a Cree woman who had a right to life, safety, and humanity.  And for whom the final indignity was violence at the hands of our justice system: a non-guilty verdict for the man who took her life.

In solidarity with our Indigenous sisters, Elle Beaver brings you a list of thought-provoking, haunting must-reads by Indigenous women who have wielded their pens to demand justice and an end to the colonial violence perpetrated against them.  And keep visiting – we will continue to add voices and views to this reading list.

Naomi Sayers writes, “Cindy is on her way home. The ancestors will keep her warm and safe now.”

Let us stand behind our Indigenous sisters as they speak. And let us keep them warm and safe, today and everyday.

Cindy Gladue, a daughter, a mother, a Cree woman, a sex worker.

Cindy Gladue, a daughter, a mother, a Cree woman, a sex worker.


“How do we heal from colonial gender violence? How do we heal from the violence when it is still ongoing? How do we heal from something that has never left us? How do we heal when we are constantly being retraumatized, even by those who “mean well”?”

Erica Violet Lee, Cree | Moontime Warrior
For Cindy, For Ourselves: Healing in the context of colonial gender violence full piece


“She was also a sex worker. And this is the thing that makes this verdict even more violent. Sex workers do not consent to the violence that they experience. Money does not change the circumstances of rape, violence or murder. Nobody consents to have an 11cm wound inflicted on his or her genitals with a blood alcohol level that is over four times the legal limit. That is something that a person cannot consent too. (…)  Some people say the Crown and the police failed her. But the system is doing what it was always designed to do… get rid of the Indian problem.”

Naomi Sayers, Anishnaabe Kwe | Kwe Today
Our bodies are not terra nulliusfull piece


“Cindy died four years ago. Her body is not whole in its resting place. In any other context this could be seen as desecration of her remains, but in this judicial process it is called preservation of evidence. It is simply horrific. It appears that the court did not contemplate Cindy’s dignity, death rites, or any indigenous perspective on caring for the dead.”

Christa Big Canoe | CBC News
Cindy Gladue suffered her last indignity at murder trial
full piece

Art: Angela Sterritt, Gitxsan Nation

Art: Angela Sterritt, Gitxsan Nation


“The criminalization of prostitution conspired to make the victim’s sex work experience the origin of the violence she faced instead of placing fault in the violent actions of the assailant. If the defence concedes that Mr. Barton committed the acts that contributed to Cindy’s death, the fact that money changed hands does not magically nullify the act. An acquittal should not have been an option.”

Sarah Hunt, member of the Kwagiulth band of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, & Naomi Sayers, Anishnaabe Kwe  | The Globe and Mail
Cindy Gladue case sends a chilling message to indigenous womenfull piece & supplement


“The refusal to address the countless — and don’t let the number 1,200 fool you — that number is limited to ‘known and traceable’ girls and women — number of our women and girls who are murdered and missing is of great significance in Canadian society. If we are unable to have violence acknowledged that Indigenous women face when physically ripped apart and with body parts on display before a jury, how confident can we be with the statistics that tell us how many of us have actually gone missing?”

Tracey Lindberg, citizen of the Kelly Lake Cree Nation / As’in’i’wa’chi Ni’yaw Nation Rocky Mountain Cree | Rabble
Violence against Indigenous women and the case of Cindy Gladuefull piece


“In a colonial country, the system protects those who perpetrate violence against Indigenous women.  Already seen as “less than” because she was an Aboriginal woman, Gladue had another strike against her due to her involvement in the sex trade. This double dehumanization helps explain the astounding court decision.  This type of thinking makes justice fail for Indigenous women more often than for other people in Canada.”

Leena Minifie, Gitxaala | Ricochet
Cindy Gladue case: a reminder the justice system is broken for Aboriginal women – full piece


“I know as an Indigenous woman with sex working experience and who has also been in the criminal (in)justice system that the system does not and will not protect Indigenous peoples, especially Indigenous women in the sex trade. I know that relying on the criminal (in)justice system sometimes invites more violence in my own life and my own community. This violence often is labelled as “helping” or “protecting” but in reality, the help or protecting does very little to actual help the situation.”

Naomi Sayers, Anishnaabe Kwe | Kwe Today
#CindyGladue: I want to think about ways that do not rely on the criminal (in)justice system to feel safe full piece

4 thoughts on “Indigenous Voices on Cindy Gladue: A Reading List

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