Diversions Reading Shopping

Being Disgruntled

Nothing like being annoyed by something to rekindle the desire to write and share my experiences!

As much as I try to support local shops (especially, as you may know, local bookshops) it can also be an easy decision sometimes to stop shopping somewhere as well.

Me: reads bookstore’s book review newsletter; sees glowing review of Robert Galbraith book

I e-mail the bookstore:

Ugh very disappointed to see any promotion of any of Rowlings’ work – she is an ardent transphobic voice and needs no further accolades of any sort. If any of your readers happen to be trans, or just like me are supportive of all people regardless of sex, orientation, gender etc, then it’s easy to see that you didn’t consider the effect on them of seeing her lauded, yet again.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to receive as a reply but it definitely wasn’t what I did get!

Hello Lisa,

Thank you for your note.

According to the Canadian Energy Centre, Canada imported over $26 billion worth of oil from Saudi Arabia between 2010 and 2020. So, since you have used some of that oil—in your car or taking public transit or your last winter holiday or maybe to heat your house—shall I reach for the same sweeping conclusion that you care not for journalists nor that they get dismembered and killed?

Keep safe.
[initials removed]

P.S. Perhaps you should unsubscribe from the newsletter and not risk being offended by some author who might offend your sensibilities.  

I included a link to the Wikipedia article on whataboutism in my brief reply:

Thank you for making my decision much much easier.
also you may wish to review:

But maybe it is just me? Am I the only one who thinks that the reply was way out of line? I shared the above on FB – because I really was so taken aback.

I got almost immediate responses back like:

“Which bookstore am I never to step foot in or order from”

“Holy crap!”

“How is that a proper professional response by the shop?”

“That’s quite a shocking and disappointing response”

“What a needlessly offensive retort.”

Two friends made the following points for which I am very grateful:

Promoting Rowling is a choice. Using Saudi oil is not.

So tired of people reducing responses like yours to “being offended” you were clearly trying to voice care and an opinion, not whining about being offended. Advocacy is not being offended.

To be clear – this exchange was not with any of my favourite bookshops: Book City, Queen Books or A Different Booklist (or even the Bookmark in Charlottetown) – all of which I have mentioned at one time or another and definitely do not want them tarnished by this brush.

First – it’s amazing to me that the shop doesn’t see the difference between selling the damn book – fine do that if you must – and promoting it!

Second – really? Saudi oil? I mean maybe they were expecting me to also include my voting record and charitable receipt printout when I write to a bookstore about a book review they wrote and distributed?!?

p.s. A friend is the Exec Director of Journalists for Human Rights and I cannot pass up this prime opportunity to share that work too.

p.p.s. A couple people who matter to me said that I should just name the bookstore – so it’s Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto.

Indigenous Shopping

Indigenous Women’s Market – an intro

In early November 2020 I stumbled across a facebook group that had formed to help connect Indigenous women/women identifying artists/creators/beaders/chefs/writers/etc with those looking to purchase gifts with meaning for that holiday season. The name expanded from by dropping the “holiday” qualifier and is now “Shop Indigenous Women’s Market.” Covering all of Turtle Island, the breadth and scope is amazing. Beaded jewellery, moccasins, ribbon skirts (and ribbon shirts), soaps and lotions, dream catchers, horn, you name it and someone can make it for you.

It’s amazing to think I remember when there were less than 8 – 10,000 members in the group. And now there are close to 79,000!

I thought I would share some of the people I have met through the page, some things I’ve purchased and also some stuff I’ve learned. Because of my love of cross-stitch and embroidery, I’ve been quite taken by the beauty and intricacy of beadwork. So I have tried to learn a little and will be sharing some of that too.

But for now, here’s how it all started. An exchange with my mother that I posted in the group in December 2020:

Me: the bread wreath is from an Indigenous baker in Sudbury.
My mother: How did you find wreath bread from an Indigenous baker in Sudbury?
Me: well, I found this group on FB; and I found lots of lovely things. I bought some lip balms for our stockings (from BC), and some chocolates and a bread wreath (Sudbury) and that necklace I wear a lot now from an Inuk creator who is now in the Maritimes I think. And I bought three pairs of earrings from someone else in BC and a seal cuff from the NWT. Whew.
My mom: sounds lovely dear. And like you’re broke.
Me: yep! both! I hope it sticks around after the holidays.

Links to the people/shops in the exchange above:

The “Indigenous baker” who also makes the most amazing chocolate –

BC lip balms – in gorgeous flavours (I love earl grey and Q loves summer love) –

My ulu necklace was made by Iviok Akoak –

brass ulu

The earrings I mentioned were made by Georgia May Creations –

And the amazing seal cuff from Inuk 360 –

Such a gorgeous deep blue

I just fell in love with the idea of buying directly from the person who made the thing. And a little bit of knowing there were only a certain number – or maybe just one – made. Though thankfully the lip balm is still around so I can buy more! (Our friends’ kids all got a special edition Orange Shirt Day lip balm from Black Bird Holistic in their Hallowe’en treat bags)

And it also hit all those feel-good points that you need around the holidays: buying locally, buying sustainably, supporting women, supporting women-owned businesses, supporting Indigenous women, supporting Indigenous-owned businesses, knowing where your money goes, and so on. In short, I’m glad I found it and will be sharing some of things I bought and people I’ve met (some of whom I am lucky enough to now consider friends).