independence, and interdependence
Julie is a women's studies student and an artist.
Julie and her partner live in Thompson.
My mom wasn't paid to work at home. She made no decisions
in the home whatsoever. My dad had complete financial control.
As I grew up I looked at my mom and I thought, "No way!
I don't want to be that. I'm going to be independent. I'm
going to have my own job. I'm not going to have children.
I'm not going to be tied down like my mom was."
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I thought everything that she did was so negative. It
wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally realized
that my mom did work, and she just wasn't recognized
for that work. I think it's because of what I was taught
in society. We only value people that get paid and we only
value people that get paid a lot. I think it's interesting
that I myself believed those socially-constructed ideas
that my mom's work wasn't valued.
We could look at the problem in two ways. We could pay
unpaid labour. Or, we could look at it the completely opposite
way and say we don't want to value people through money.
We want to go back to people being people, spiritually,
mentally, physically, and approach each person differently
and not put them into these categories. If we solved
it by giving people money it would mean we'd be back in
the system and that's like saying that this system is working
for us and we all know that it's not!
People are just so intent on money. How many times have
you gone to a party and the first question people ask is,
"So what do you do?" What they mean is how much
money do you make. Here in Thompson it's especially hard
because there's such a class split. We have absolute poverty
and we have high middle-class. And within that high middle-class
there's so much striving for more. You got to keep
going, keep working, pay for this, pay for that. It's all
wanting more and keeping up.
When my partner and I meet people it's funny how people
respond so differently to him. They're like, "Wow,
you're a Chartered Accountant. That's awesome." And
then they'll look at me and ask what I do. When I say that
I'm an artist and a women's studies student, they go, "Oh
yeah." They don't understand anything about what I
do and they don't really understand what my partner does
either but they just assume that he must make a lot of money
and he must be good at what he does and so his work becomes
more important even though it means very little to him and
my work means so much to me.
I'm the first person to go to university in my entire
family so I'm the first person to be in that kind of income
level. But because of who I am I still don't fit in well
into that monetary economy. If I was to be a full-time
artist I would have to live off grants. That's the reality.
As a student I don't fit into the economy because I'm in
debt. And as a woman there are barriers too. As much as
I know that I could be and do whatever I want, the reality
is that even if I did I would get paid less than my male
counterpart. So my reality is that if I were by myself,
I wouldn't be able to do what I do. Instead I'd have to
take a different job and pay off my debts.
Going into a relationship I was so afraid to give in
a little bit. You're so afraid of that control being
lost. I didn't want to be dependent. But finally this little
light bulb went on and I realized that even though I had
my own credit cards, my own school fees, I was dependent.
I had tricked myself into thinking that my mom was a bad
person because she was dependant on my dad. I had also led
myself to believe that I was financially independent of
my partner when in reality I wasn't.
Now my partner and I are interdependent. I provide lots
of emotional and mental support and he provides most of
the financial support. I am learning not to feel embarrassed
or badly about that. I am learning to value myself as
a person no matter what money I bring in to the relationship,
and I am learning to value other people in the same way,
including my mom.
Julie is a faculty member at OCAD University in Aboriginal Visual Culture and Liberal Studies and a PhD. Candidate in Social and Political Thought at York University. Her research interests are a (re) mapping of a colonial state through creative interventions and currently her artistic practices are focused on an oral sound project of a site specific area of the city of Toronto. The more exciting news is our daughter Nahanni who is almost 2 years old. She makes our life exciting and busy. We live in Toronto, which of course is a stark difference from Thompson.