“This is nothing new,” says Linda Many Guns, a professor in the Native American studies department at the University of Lethbridge. “The only reason we are talking about this particular incident is, somebody hit the wrong button and sent a message to the wrong person.”
While many of the incidents have occurred in and around Lethbridge, Many Guns doesn’t single it out as an urban hotbed of racism. “Anywhere you have a large population of indigenous people within a larger community, this will happen,” she says, noting that the Blood reserve is only 65 kilometres from that city.
Ramona Big Head, who has yet to receive a direct apology from the sender of the text, says she was first crushed by the slur. “I started to internalize it, like I was my fault,” she says. “I questioned myself, but Ramona the strong woman is back.”
In fact, the experience has been nothing short of transformational.
“I am not going to be silent anymore,” says the educator and current PhD candidate, who has been receiving messages of support from across the country.