Indigenous woman's zine series gets response that 'makes her heart flutter'

Jenna Rose Sands created the zine series "Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies" after becoming emotionally exhausted hearing negative Indigenous stories. She hopes they can educate people and get them to start having tough conversations.

Jenna Rose Sands has produced "Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies" since 2018

Jenna Rose Sands created the zine series after feeling "emotionally exhausted" watching tragic Indigenous stories. (Submitted by Jenna Rose Sands)

When Jenna Rose Sands was feeling helpless watching and listening to the news about Indigenous tragedies, she decided she wanted to do something about it.

That was three years ago and her efforts have had an impact in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.

Sands created a zine series in 2018 called "Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies" with a new issue coming out nearly every six months.

"A lot of people are very moved, because they had no idea, like what had occurred in my history and what is ongoing," said Sands about feedback she's received.

An issue of "Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies" by Jenna Rose Sands (Submitted by Jenna Rose Sands)

"It is a lot of people just being very saddened, but also being moved to do some change and to do some own work about learning about the land that they're building their life upon."

The zines have covered topics such as residential schools, MMIWG, the 60s Scoop, and cultural appropriation.

She's also created mini zines which covered residential schools formatted for children, pow-wow etiquette, and one that's a collection of strange reviews she found online of Indigenous events and places.

A cover for one of the issues of "Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies" created by Jenna Rose Sands (Submitted by Jenna Rose Sands)

"I was sort of thinking like, 'What can I do? I'm just one human being in regards to Indigenous issues', but I realize that change happens a lot on the micro scale," said Sands, who is Cree and Anishinaabe and lives in London, Ont..

Both Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people, as well as organizations, have ordered the zines. She says people have also purchased zines to give to others, which makes Sands' "heart flutter."

"People are going to Indigenous artists and Indigenous writers and being like, 'here you need to read what the voices are saying' Which is, I think, really critical," said Sands.

She initially created them to set out and try to educate people in her community about issues she noticed "people have really no idea about."

Sands grew up with zines and collected them, so it was only natural for her to keep coming back to something where her strengths of creating art and writing would come together.

The cover of an issue from "Atrocities Against Indigenous Canadians for Dummies" created by Jenna Rose Sands (Submitted by Jenna Rose Sands)

"It's pretty cathartic. You know, I get to sit and think about what are my own opinions on these issues and what I can do even further beyond the scenes. And I put them [zines] all together," said Sands.

While she says a lot of the zines are opinion based, they're also based on facts and research as well, such as using examples of survivor stories from the Truth and Reconciliation report from 2015.

Sands says the report is a hefty read and it's "really hard" to read all the documents together, so she really wanted to create something that is a "punch of information."

"People have a lot of prejudice against Indigenous people and communities and have a lot of like, 'Why is this or why does that happen?' Well, there's lots of reasons why," said Sands.

"I want people to have discussions about intergenerational trauma and racism and systemic violence and stuff. So I'm hoping that these zines will start a conversation around that and have people walk through their day and be able to recognize these harmful systems."

For the next issue in the zine series, Sands plans to tackle Indian status and blood quantum, something she says will appear in two parts.


Jasmine Kabatay is an Anishinaabe journalist from Seine River First Nation in northwestern Ontario. She is based in Thunder Bay and has also written for the Toronto Star, and VICE News.