An excerpt from UNENT!TLED
A Canadian Exorcism
By Allan Louis
I am seriously obsessed with postage stamps. I started collecting stamps as a kid cause I liked the colours, birds, flowers, butterflies, and especially the ones with the royal family. They’re like a record of the people and things a country values, it’s like Canada’s identity. Looking at my collection, I hardly ever see any Black faces on Canadian postage stamps. But when I see Kay Livingstone’s face on a stamp, shoot, I’m like, OMG. She’s a Blactivist and a Blactress, just like me. She was the president of the Canadian Negro Women’s Association. They gave out scholarships to encourage Black students to stay in school and her women’s group organized the Calypso Carnival in Toronto. Caribana baby! I’m like, if she could do it, so could I.
My dream is to be on a stamp. Cause, I seriously want that someday. My face IS going to be on a postage stamp. This morning I said to myself, “Natasha you gotta figure this stamp thing out.” Once I set my mind to something, you best believe it’s gonna happen. But, like two hours later, I started to deflate cause it just feels like it’s gonna take forever. Shoot, Albert Jackson was Canada’s first Black letter carrier, like in the 1880s. He worked for Canada Post for 36 years and just got his stamp in 2019. That’s like 7200 weeks, like 1655 months. I gotta wait 138 years, dang, that’s a long time. Portia White, she was an opera singer and had one heck of a voice. The most inspirational woman in Canada’s history; she was the first Black Canadian singer to reach world-renowned status. She died in 1968, and she finally ended up on a stamp, something, like, 30 years after her death. I wish I could sing opera. Now, Viola Desmond was fierce on the activism tip. She was arrested in Nova Scotia in 1945, for sitting in the “whites-only” section of the Roseland Theatre. After being dragged from the theatre, sitting up all night in jail, she was still wearing her white gloves. OKAY?! She was tried, convicted, and pardoned. And, in 2018, that diva became the first Black Canadian woman to appear alone on a Canadian banknote. And she’s getting her face on a stamp 47 years after her death. Now see, that’s what I’m talking about! But is that supposed to make it “all good?” Canada Post is so shady, they’re like, sorry bout it girl. Byeeeee!!
The hard part is, I think I need to die. The only way to end up on a Canadian stamp is to be dead. One of the problems with being dead
is that you don’t get to fully appreciate the honour or anything else for that matter. And the way Canada Post is running these days, don’t expect your stamps to arrive in time for the wake. But I think they changed the rules about being dead and all that in 2005. OMG, I wouldn’t mind having a stamp that celebrated my birthday though. Regular people don’t get that, unless you’re really important, like The Queen Mother. Hold up… even she had to wait until her 100th birthday before landing the honour of being on a birthday stamp. Her stamps are so cute, they came in a presentation folder with a souvenir pane of nine stamps. Not a bad birthday present, at least she was alive for it. She died right after that though, yup. I was thinking of starting a petition to get me at least nominated for a stamp, but you can’t do that. You can’t nominate yourself; people have to write letters on your behalf. My bae was like, “Don’t suck up to Canada Post. The pressure thing never works; if anything it turns off the committee.” Right? Like, if you wanna be on a stamp and run into Doug Ettinger, president and CEO of Canada Post, like, at a cocktail party or wherever you meet those kinda people, don’t bring up the stamp thing. It did not work for Pamela Anderson. They used a picture of a grizzly bear instead. Is she even Canadian? It didn’t work for Rob Ford either, no surprise there. And I am comforted to know that crack-smoking ex-mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, will never make the list. His image will NOT suddenly appear, out of nowhere, on a postage stamp, dead or alive.
I gotta go to court today but it’s not for doing anything wrong. My bae and I own a small bakery in West Van, Tasha’s Goodies. You might have heard of it, it’s on Davie Street. I love all the rainbow flags, bus stop benches and garbage cans painted bright pink, it’s so cute to me. My bakery is right next to Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium.
If you never heard of Little Sister’s, you gotta get up on them. Little Sister’s is legendary on the activism tip! Little Sister’s vs. Big brother hunty! Back in the day, they took Canada to court over the Butler test. They called the Butler test a “harm-based” test but it was really like, morality in disguise. It’s like a legal test for obscenity but it discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community. Customs officials confiscated, destroyed, damaged, materials imported by the bookstore. Little Sister’s lawyers said, “the test was simply a front for the imposition of majoritarian tastes in sexuality.” Okay! They won the case cause the courts agreed that it was “systemic targeting” of the store. I mean, my court case is not that grand but it is serious though. I got an online order for a cake, and they wanted me to write “Homosexuality is a detestable sin. Leviticus 18:2” on it. At first, I thought I was getting trolled cause Christ Forgiveness Ministry, you know, the David Lynn-type folks have been coming in from outside the city spreading anti-LGBTQ+ hate and hurting people. But when the client sent a follow-up email I realized the order was serious. So, I wrote them back and I was, like, “ I’m the owner of Tasha’s Goodies and I’m not making any cake with that hateful homophobic message on it. Go F- yourself.” That’s exactly what they wanted. They knew my bakery would refuse the order for a cake that said, “Homosexuality is a detestable sin.” Now, they’re taking me to court for religious discrimination against them. Can you believe that mess? I’m a Black Queer Woman, my bae is Trans, and they’re taking me to court for discrimination? The F-. They can take me to court…But, they will not take my joy. Tasha’s Goodies brings all the boys to the yard and gives me and my community pride. So, they will not be feeding off my Queer Black pain today, not today! I will be coming for their whole life in court and I’m going to slay those monsters like the queen of swords. And if I have to, I’m gonna fight them to the highest court of Canada to reclaim my joy. Yes, queen! Alright, don’t forget- Y’all already forgot, you know, about me being on a postage stamp. It would mean a lot to me. Cause I know I’m gonna do something great someday! So if you have an idea for a stamp subject
— preferably living — feel free to send it along. My name is Natasha Gene Mitchell. Oh… and the address is:
The Stamp Advisory Committee
2701 Riverside Drive
Ottawa, ON H8T N0T