ear Robyn and Leanne,

My letter begins and ends with immense gratitude for all that I have learned and continue to learn from you. Thank you for offering me, and all that are moved by your letters in Rehearsals for Living, a glimpse into the beautiful friendship you have crafted with one another. A friendship grounded not only in a love so tender, a care so abundant, and an admiration so deep, but also a desire to work together for just and livable futures. The friendship that you make, that you then share with us, offers a model for how Black and Indigenous people can live through and build otherwise worlds at the end of this one.  

For me, Rehearsals for Living, and your friendship, are grounded in remembering. It is the kind of remembering articulated best by Caribbean transnational feminist scholar, M. Jacqui Alexander (2006). Alexander urges us to remember what we have been forced to forget in nations built on stolen land and stolen life. Robyn and Leanne, you teach me what becomes possible when Black and Indigenous people keep each other in mind.  

As I read through your letters, one by one, it was clear for me that you were both making an intentional decision to keep each other in mind. It was also clear that you both took getting to know each other deeply seriously. In one of your letters to Robyn, you express to Leanne that you both had “committed to being in relation and communion” (Maynard and Simpson, 2022: p. 57). In one of your letters Leanne, you reflect on the time you spent with Robyn at a solidarity gathering in Yellowknives Dene First Nation, writing, “we were coming together to nourish each other, to relate to each other, to listen and share, and to breath together, to use NourbeSe Philip’s thinking” (Maynard and Simpson, 2022: p. 32). This commitment to be in relation and communion, to nourish, to listen, to share, and to breath together is another way that we can know each other outside of logics of genocide and antiblackness. It is another way to know each other outside of mandates of empire that attempt to foreclose any possibilities of Black and Indigenous people and communities being in close - and good - relation.

If we take NourbeSe Philip’s poetics of breathing seriously, an offering you draw our attention to Leanne, being in close relation gives and sustains life. I learn from my dear friends and scholars, Sefanit Habtom and Megan Scribe (2020) that breathing together is a way that we co-conspire. To breathe together as co-conspirators is a way that we can survive “the world that white supremacy built” (Maynard and Simpson, 2022: p. 26). It is a way towards decolonial and abolitionist futures.

As friends and co-conspirators, you attend to the unfolding catastrophes experienced by Black and Indigenous people and communities in and across Tkaronto, Turtle Island, Africa, the Caribbean, and South and Central America. Robyn, on your walking tour of some of the Canadian extractive industries with headquarters in Tkaronto, you illuminate the Canadian companies that are key players of ecological destruction and Black and Indigenous dispossession experienced by people in places we oft forget.

I learned from your walking tour that:

1.     James Bay Resources Limited is responsible for oil extraction in the traditional homelands of the Ogoni people in Niger Delta.

2.     Acadia Mining re-acquired by Barrack Gold is responsible for gold mining on the traditional homelands of the Kuria community in Tanzania.

3.     Belo Sun Mining Corporation is responsible for building the largest gold pit in the Amazon Rainforest, which is home of the Indigenous Juruna and Arara peoples in Brazil.

4.     Copper One is still trying to mine resources on The Algonquins of Barrière Lake despite Algonquin people’s resistance to mining on their traditional territory.  

You facilitated my own remembering. It brought the Ogoni people in Niger Delta, the Kuria community in Tanzania, the Juruna and Arara people in Brazil, and the Algonquin in Barrière Lake to the forefront of my thinking. Rehearsals for Living brings the interconnectedness of Black and Indigenous life and struggle to center frame. We have learned how to not know, but you refuse this. You insist that we remember what is often obscured or intentionally forgotten through imperialism, colonialism, racism, Indigenous genocide, and antiblackness. This is precious and painstaking work.

Whenever I came across declarations of your commitments to be friends, to know each other and to illuminate Black and Indigenous struggle, I would take a moment of pause, underline what you wrote, and think to myself, “this is just it”. To be in good relation is a responsibility to care deeply, to acknowledge one another’s heartbreak, loss, and grief in ongoing and unending catastrophe. It is coming to know each other as whole people, knowing each other’s children and kin, and knowing each other’s worries. It is sharing moments of laughter, eating together, and admiring each other’s lipstick choices. It is entrusting each other with our stories and listening with gratitude for the stories being shared. It is a commitment to make our world more livable for more than just us.  

For me, Rehearsals for Living is, what you describe Leanne as, a “constellation of co-resistance” (Maynard and Simpson, 2022: p. 7) and a “record of [your] relationality” (Maynard and Simpson, 2022: p. 34). What an honour it is to find breath in your words, to hold them close, and to carry them with me along the way. Thank you, Robyn, and Leanne, for offering me so many lessons on how we can breathe and give breath to each other in a world so hellbent on taking our breath away. To more and more life.

Your co-conspirator,



Alexander, M J (2006). Pedagogies of crossing: Meditations on feminism, sexual politics, memory, and the sacred. Duke University Press.
Habtom S, and Scribe M (2020) To breathe together: Co-conspirators for decolonial futures. Yellowhead Institute (64).
Maynard R and Simpson L B (2022) Rehearsals for living. Knopf Canada.
Philip, M N (2020) The Ga(s)p. In M. Nourbese Philip. Available here (accessed 6 July 2023)

Jade Nixon is a Ph.D. Candidate at the Women & Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada.