Redwire Mag restrospective - Interview with Simon Reece

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How did you get involved in the first place?

I come from very radical roots. My mother and father were involved in the Red Power movement in the 60’s and 70’s. I know it can be cliché to say that you are born into the movement, but I can say I was.  It was only natural for me to follow in my parents footsteps, which I did quite vigorously.  I was one of the founding members of the Vancouver Native Youth Movement and I am very proud to say so.  During my time with Van NYM we occupied govt. buildings and disrupted B.C. treaty meetings, it brought a smile to my face listening to a quote from Ujal Dosanj years later claiming that the reason why the B.C. treaty process fell apart was because of Van NYM.  I was arrested three times and I went to provincial court twice and Supreme Court once. I have to admit that shook me up a little bit, so after that the question I posed to myself was if I wanted to do my work in prison or outside?

And with Redwire?

I was just a really young guy, about 17 when I first met Nena and Billie Pierre. They had a contract offered to them by Doug Ragan to produce a Native youth magazine dealing with all our issues as young native people living in the city. Myself, David Dennis, Sean Desjarlais and Sacheen Pointe were meeting once a week when the 2 sisters approached us and said they were looking for young natives to contribute to their magazine.  So I said in exchange for us helping them out that they should join NYM.  I’m pretty sure Billie joined, but I don’t think Nena did. In the very first issue I had published an article about the Gustafson lake defenders. I was very close to a couple of the warriors involved and went on the road with one of them for cultural teachings.  Almost every day that I could I would show up in court to support them in their case.

  When I first hooked up with Redwire I was really involved in organizing and supporting different events, Native and non-Native.  I was trying to create more unity amongst activists in Vancouver. Everybody knew me at that time. I was getting kinda famous through the organizing I was doing, just being a Native radical; Outspoken and just being out there for people to see. This is after Oka and other arms standoffs. I was just trying to get myself wedged in that kind of energy so I could have the rush and have the fame of being a front line revolutionary fighter kinda thing. So I kinda got on a roll with that and went on the road for a few years. Going to different conferences and actions and becoming one of the main spokesmen for NYM.

It was never my plan to join up with Redwire but NYM was splitting up in lots of different directions and I also had been going through a lot of personal changes. I still wanted to be involved in the movement but I was trying to look into different roles to fit into.  When I was working for Redwire I was processing a lot of things about myself and the world.  In the back of my mind I had seen the movement as a way for redemption and that I could make up for a bad past by spreading the truth of colonization. You can hear the anger I had inside of me and it was very prevalent in my writings. They were super spazzy rants of how the world sucks [laughs] shit. I was very judgmental and it made me very narrow minded.  I was trying to be like the stereotypical Native revolutionary. I have made tons of mistakes and burnt tons of bridges but it was all just stuff I had to go through in order to be still standing here. I was just blessed to be in the right place at the right time.

My early days at Redwire were me being egotistical and kind of disrespectful. I would like to take this opportunity to thank and apologize to Tania and Peter if I caused them any stress or discomfort. Having that much notoriety and local street credibility at an early age was a huge privilege and I was very lucky to be around all of the staff and board for that period in time.

What articles stick out as being significant?

I think the favorite ones I’ve ever done was the article I did on fish farms. I think the information is still pretty current after all these years and I still don’t mind reading it.

What is your focus is now?

My focus now is to strive to be the best human being I can be. I think the movement was a great place for me start, I learned a lot about our people’s struggle. I truly believe that the movement starts with you!  Then after you are happy and healthy, hopefully you can help your immediate family, then ultimately your community. My experiences with the movement is that we must strive as Indian people to keep all of the ethics and teachings that the creator gave us through thousands of years of evolution as intact as we possibly can.

What are you up to?

I’ve been extremely blessed to be around the most talented and strong young artists the coast has to offer. I’ve been carving for the last 3 & 1/2 years and I am a student of the Tsimshian art form. I have writing bugging me in the back of my mind.  I feel that since my days at Redwire I have left something undone. I just completed the first northwest coast jewelers course under the tutelage of Dan Wallace and am planning of doing more schooling in the fall. 

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