Latest articles from Jessica Iron

Anger – useful tool or destructive enemy?

Jessica Iron

A friend and I had a disagreement the other day. I’d told her about an incident I’d had earlier in the week where I’d been so frustrated with someone I’d jumbled my words and it was obvious I was bordering on anger. Nothing more than that happened. We parted ways before the tension escalated but it left me with a lingering sense of disappointment.

I confessed to my friend that I had let myself down in that moment. I was in reaction-mode and teetering off the brink of logic, soon to reach unchartered territory where I would no longer be in control of my emotions.

That’s what happens to all of us when we let anger take over. We begin to do and say things that we would normally abhor, like a blacked-out alcoholic who is unrecognizable from their sober and meek self.

That’s what anger does: it transforms us, and never for the better.

However, like a dutiful good friend, my friend quickly came to my defence and argued on my behalf. She suggested that it wasn’t a bad thing for the offending party to see me angry. She thought the person might benefit from witnessing my boiling point as it would teach them boundaries.

She also remarked that there was nothing wrong with me not having the perfect response.

Those are definitely some interesting points, but I was less worried about what the other person thought of my frustration in comparison to how I perceived it myself. At one time in my life, maybe even not that long ago, I would’ve agreed with my friend—partly for my ego’s sake, but also because I willfully gave in to anger much easier.

However, that was also a time in my life where drama and dysfunction were the norm and anger flowed through my life freely and without abandon.

Now I try to examine my triggers and dismantle them before I set off into the world each day, mindful of the power my words and actions have upon those around me.

Anger is my responsibility, no one else’s. It’s also a reaction, always a reaction to something or someone we can’t control.

There is so much we cannot control that it would be so easy to remain in an angry state virtually every time we step outside. That doesn’t mean we must be servile and docile human beings, incapable of making change because we’re too busy with our spurious smiles; disguising thin efforts at refrain. We can certainly effect change without resorting to the upheaval of our most basic and primal selves.

I considered my friend’s words as I laid out a plan. I was to meet with the person I’d been frustrated with the very next day. Now, this person was comfortable with anger. I’d seen her outbursts before. I could do as my friend suggested and Alpha-male her; asserting my dominance which is always what anger and ego demand.

Or, I could try another approach which didn’t cause my soul and conscience to cringe in disapproval.

The next day I stated my boundaries, first and foremost, politely and with light humour. She understood instantly, was compliant and amiable, and do you know what? We had a great week full of laughter, good banter and joy. I like to think that was all possible because I chose to dismantle my anger and frustration rather than igniting them.

Anger may be a natural emotion, but we have the power to confront it and dissipate its energy or succumb to it and watch it consume us, devastating everyone and everything around us. It’s always our choice.

Opinion — Wanted in connection to murder: two angelic, teen kids from good homes


Jessica Iron, Herald Contributor

I’m sure most of Canada is watching the developing story of Kam McLeod and Bryer Schmegelsky. I hope they do the right thing and turn themselves in, but only time will tell.
In the meantime, I want to focus on the portrayal of these two men in the media.

My oldest son is the same age as McLeod — 19. I would hope my son wasn’t cruel enough to do something so horrific, or I would be leading the manhunt, not waiting at home for the police to find him. I wouldn’t stop until he was apprehended.

But, being First Nations, he probably wouldn’t be apprehended. There would likely be a violent showdown to end this story.

In any case, if he were to make the news for such crimes, the first thing that would be mentioned would be that he is from Canoe Lake Cree Nation. It would be right up there, beside his name, in bold letters — the big flashing “Indian” sign.

I know this because this is what is always done when a First Nations person is wanted for anything. I vividly recall as a teenager hearing on the radio or television about people, wanted in connection to crimes, who were always listed as belonging to such and such first nation.

This was particularly true for underage criminals, where their age prevented the release of their names. But there it would be, the name of their first nation, so that all of us wondering would know that the Very Bad Kid was an Indian. It was often cleverly disguised as in: “The youth cannot be identified because of their age, but they will be staying with family at Such and Such First Nation until their court date.” Isn’t that crazy? It was super obvious to me even as a teenager. Twenty years later, not much has changed.

For those who detest the word Indian, I’m using it for its full derogatory effect here. My beautiful friends from India are exempt from this because the slur is only intended when the word is applied to First Nations people.

So, next to my son’s first nation, which would be mentioned in every single update, would be a photo of him—the darker his skin, the better, so that even illiterate people would know that he was First Nations. Luckily my son is super dark to begin with, so those photos would be easy to find.

Naturally we wouldn’t want him to be smiling, but if he were partying, smoking something or drinking something, maybe even carrying a weapon that would add to the “dangerous Indian on the loose” effect. Bonus points if he had tattoos or piercings in the photo.

Also, he wouldn’t be considered a teenager at nineteen. He would be called a man, which is exactly how he would be tried in a court of law. Several articles have called McLeod and Schmegelsky teenagers, although both are legally adults. This error would never happen with an Indigenous man. Perhaps it is never an error though, which is precisely what I’m suggesting.

There would also be a total absence of background stories on what a “normal”, “happy”, “good” and “funny” kid he is. Or photos of him smiling. Even if my dark-skinned, First Nation son was an award-winning, overachiever no one would know because all that would be told would be incidents of his past where he made mistakes, playing into racial stereotypes.

Of course, not all reporters and media outlets have taken this approach to McLeod and Schmegelsky. I’ve learned of Schmegelsky’s nazi fascination also, which is obviously very disturbing. So far their victims haven’t appeared to be targeted by race, but seemed to be crimes of opportunity.

This whole storyline is reminiscent of our neighbors to the south and the “good” white kids who shoot groups of people in churches, mosques, malls, theatres, etc. But if a black kid puts his hand in his pocket, he gets be shot on site.

I really hope no one else is hurt or killed on this tragic manhunt, including these two men, and that they are safely apprehended very soon.

However, their crimes aren’t the only injustices of this past week. These very overt examples of racism continue to exist and perpetuate totally different narratives that have nothing to do with guilt or innocence, but rather perpetuate a great racial divide in Canada.

Cut it out, mainstream media. Please keep your stories fair and objective.