There is no name on the frosted window of her office, no signage pointing to the location of the office on the Mount Royal University campus. Panic buttons are installed and security guards perform daily area checks.
This is the working life of Linda Manyguns since her office opened in late August.
Manyguns is associate vice president of naturalization and decolonization at the University of Southwest Calgary. manyguns is a black-footed woman, born in Tsuut’ina Nation and registered with the Siksika Nation.
In July, many guns publicly announced that she would only use lowercase letters for her name, in addition to not using uppercase letters, except to recognize the indigenous people’s struggle for recognition.
“I had expected to argue for my position. I was ready to do so. I had no idea my life would be threatened,” manyguns said.
“To show solidarity with others facing the same problems as the Aborigines, I wanted to consciously and publicly join this initiative,” manyguns said.
dr. linda manyguns joins lowercase letters to reject the symbols of the hierarchy wherever they are found and will not use uppercase letters except to acknowledge the indigenous peoples’ struggle for recognition. read her full statement: https://t.co/4CIjB5bRNp pic.twitter.com/tPHDxfb3yq
This is something other academics and writers have done over the years, including author and activist bell hooks and poet ee cummings.
When many guns did, interview requests came from various media, both local and international, she said.
Then came the answers.
There were emails, she said, filled with disgusting and horrible words that called her all derogatory names in the book. There were over 3,000 messages.
“I had no idea of the vulgar, vulgar nature of these. The people who feel they have a right to continue this way, they are cowards.”
Michael Quinn, vice-provost and associate vice president, academic at MRU, said he cried when he saw the messages.
“The level of personal attack is above all reasonable. We expect and want to have dialogue. We do not expect everyone to agree on ideas, but they must happen in a civil dialogue. They must happen with respect,” Quinn said.
manyguns is now working on a poster campaign dealing with direct colonization.
“Things that say, ‘if you think Aborigines get everything for free, you have a colonized mind,'” manyguns said.
Manyguns said other post-secondary institutions in the province are also adopting the campaign.
She said she expects more pushback, or what she referred to as the “response,” calling it a measure of success.
“You know you have to expect it. Not by the institution itself, but precisely the job you take on requires you to put yourself in that position, otherwise you are not doing the job right.”
Calgary police say they are investigating the messages sent to many guns through its hate crime unit.