Sunday, July 22, 2018

Go Ahead, call them Aunty, Uncle

Go to any Indigenous community and you will hear someone call an older person Uncle or Auntie.

Its the way it is.  The kinship of Indigenous people is important and continues to be. The family, and the extended family bonds were almost stopped. For some reason other segments of society discriminate a bit more when it comes to who they acknowledge as their relative. For Indigenous folk there is really none of this limiting who is your relative (unless it comes to dating). So the act of calling someone your cousin or you Auntie was not being used too much when the big heavy stomp of Christianity and the Boarding schools stepped on our people. Weird and not sure why it was not okay to acknowledge relatives?

The practice of calling our older people as Auntie or Uncle has not died. It has been returning in our circles. It is a great thing. It brings us back to how we honored each other. I like that, I encourage it. Sometimes children will ask you, "how are we related" to them. When I speak of my cousin's kids who I refer to as my niece and nephew. We are conditioned in modern society to use the labels; second third forth fifth cousins. There are even tools online called Cousin Calculators.  If I were to guess I would say its the whole White society is into the "individual" thing. They pride themselves on being individuals and independent.

Indians us Aunty and Uncle as Terms of Respect all through the World.

I hope you will continue to call the older ones, Aunty and Uncle.

One of our Relatives from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Carmen Heteraka told us this little story of a young man paying respect to an Older Maori woman.

"This Maori fella was partying around the town. He met this more mature Maori Woman. As things went on in the evening they found attraction in one another. They closed of the evening with going to her place. They engaged in pleasurable entertainment and fulfillment. After copulation they lay together. He looked into her eyes and he thought of the nicest thing he could say to her. Looking in her eyes he said, "I love you... (dramatic pause)... Aunty".

Friday, July 20, 2018

How Long Can We Grieve

I haven't been to visit Compassionate Friends in sometime. Always intend on going but it just doesn't happen. I should make an effort. 

This newsletter lists the children who have died. The list is for parents who have joined Compassionate Friends. Our son is listed in this newsletter.

Seeing your child's name on a list of the dead brings out different thoughts. Sometimes it stirs the emotions and sometimes it brings thoughts. Thoughts which mess you up. Thoughts where you wonder, why? Thoughts where you want to be angry. Thoughts were you want to just give up as well.

So how long should we have our child's name on a list? How long can we grieve? How long before it becomes a drain on others who know you? How long before you are to bury the grief and not show it to anyone anymore? 

Is there a certain amount of time where you are suppose to let "time heal the wound?" 

I can't seem to find the date. I can't seem to bury the hurt. I can't seem to behave like normal people who have lost a child to suicide.

So what do you think? Should we stop  with the misery now?  I mean it will be 13 years and it is a long time. The death should be a distant memory now.

What is the fucking convention for grief?

13 Fucking years and the hurt is still here. So what the heck is up with that shit? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Silaada: I Miss Your Wisdom

I think I have been blogging for  9 years now. When I first started I just wanted to do something, anything to feel, to feel part of something.

I had been suffering (and still do) from the suicide of my son, (plus other things which happened in my life) and really I don't think I wanted to live anymore.

So I took to writing. I wrote about anything but my love is Indians. Indians with all their self doubts, self hatred, self loathing, their pride, respect, humor, family, community and all they are. So I wrote about Indians and what I think in the Indian world. I know its not Indian, its Indigenous.

Many of my posts  were negative. Of course its where my head was and is. Lately its much more manageable. There were times when I just hated my self and was so tired of pretending. I laughed, I teased, I joked, and teased so much, but it was hard. The thoughts of ending my own life have since eased but never go away. Still there is always a plan, always a revised plan, a time-table, the moving of the time table. Blogging was a distraction.

In my blogging I have come to meet some interesting people. I don't know really who they are or what they look like. Its their link and thoughts which have helped keep me writing. For me there is always the chance I will meet another interesting person. When I get emails from visitors of the blog with questions, it always bumps me up. I look forward to the comments and the emails. I check them daily, sometimes multiple times a day. The comments have slowed and the views have gotten fewer. Still I think maybe one more blogging will spark a new interest or a comment.

Silaada is one of those people who have commented. Her insight is amazing. I imagine her as this strong brown fit Native woman, wise for her age.

Her comments to my blog, especially when I am whining has bumped me up and made me think. It is those who  can make you  think or reflect which we should turn to in times of confusion. They lead the way.

So just want her and all those others I have come to know on here, I appreciate you.

I do appreciate you.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

AFN - Assembly of First Nations: Lobby Group for Canada

This July 25 the AFN will be electing their Grand Chief. AFN is elected by the 634 Chiefs across Canada. British Columbia and Ontario have the most Chiefs. They have a major influence in who is elected. 

I am not really sure of the effectiveness of the AFN and other regional Chief organizations. They are lobby organizations but not sure of really the effectiveness. 

One thing I will say about AFN, they have the greatest declaration out there:

A Declaration of First Nations

We the Original Peoples of this land know the Creator put us here.
The Creator gave us laws that govern all our relationships to live in harmony with nature and mankind.
The Laws of the Creator defined our rights and responsibilities.
The Creator gave us our spiritual beliefs, our languages, our culture, and a place on Mother Earth which provided us with all our needs.
We have maintained our Freedom, our Languages, and our Traditions from time immemorial.
We continue to exercise the rights and fulfill the responsibilities and obligations given to us by the Creator for the land upon which we were placed.
The Creator has given us the right to govern ourselves and the right to self-determination.
The rights and responsibilities given to us by the Creator cannot be altered or taken away by any other Nation.
The problem with AFN and the other Regional lobby groups, is their funding and membership. They are funding by the Canadian Government. Their identity is not as clear as you would think. In  this case it seems the regional national groups are lobby groups for the Canadian Government and not the other way around. The Canadian government has AFN selling their policy ideas to the Chiefs. Same with the Regional Chief organizations. Of course there is always the obligatory table pounding by the angry Grand Chief but at the end of the day, they tow the Government line. If they don't follow Canada's plan, the funding is cut. In some situations the Canadian government just ignores the National group (AFN) and deals directly with Regional Groups.

The whole problem with the Indigenous lobby groups is their real disconnect with the people; all 1.3 million of them. The other issue is their title, Grand Chief. I wonder why they came up with this title? As a lobby group, they are to be champions, fighters, warriors of your cause. The title Grand Chief gives the false notion of leadership over people. This is not the case.

So what can AFN do to become a more effective lobby group?

Lots of things.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Thunderbird House: Winnipeg's Albatross

The Thunderbird House is a beautiful community building located in the North-end of Winnipeg. The building is designed by the famous architect Douglas Cardinal.

The Thunderbird House is in dire need of up keep and operational funding. The City of Winnipeg is home to some of the poorest people in Canada. The services of the House are open to many different people from different walks of life, Indigenous and non-indigenous. The House serves as a hub to Indigenous population in Manitoba. Various activities in the House have ranged from: Wake services for Elders, Adoption Ceremonies for Children and adults, Sundance preparation Ceremony, Sweatlodge Ceremony, Wiping Away the Tears Ceremony, Suicide grief and loss gatherings, different training venues, social events, government events, fund raising activities for many causes, and various community driven events.

The House needs financial and political support. The House has fallen on difficult times, both structurally and financially.

The City of Winnipeg funds a variety of community clubs but will not help the Thunderbird House. It is too bad. The population it serves is poor.

Winnipeg has a very large and growing Indigenous population. It could do well to champion the Thunderbird House.

As it is the Circle of Life Thunderbird House is becoming an eyesore. The beautiful copper roof is in need of repair. The washrooms plumbing has to be fixed. The grounds are keep clean by volunteers. The Thunderbird House provides a lot of services and rents out the space but it is not sustainable. There are only so many renters of events available in the City and there are many venues to choose from. Even if the House was to be rented on a much more frequent basis, the revenue generated is not enough to sustain the operation: mortage, utilities (garbage bins, electricity, internet, phone) taxes, supplies and so on.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Wally Chartrand
7 Grandfathers Teaching

7 grandfather rocks are placed to represent grandmother turtle... it is a reminder of acknowledgment and gratitude for all that she gives us so that we may have this life...
the first grandfather at the top represents “that fire of long ago”... and how that fire almost went out for us as Indigenous people of Turtle Island... because when the Europeans first came here to Turtle Island... they brought with them their own ideals and beliefs... they saw the Anishinabe people here and they thought that their ways were better then ours... so a not-so-long-time ago in Canada’s short history... it was against the law for Indigenous people to have ceremony... the old people would be threatened with limiting their rations... or threatened with imprisonment should they continue to practice their heathen ways... so under the cover of the setting sun, the old ones would sneak away from their communities into the forest... and away from prying ears and eyes they continued to ceremony knowing if they were caught that there would be consequences to pay... so the old people tell us that’s how the fire was kept alive...
the middle grandfather represents “the fire of today” and how it is that the fire is becoming stronger once again... how more of our people are coming back to ceremony... how, more of our young people are coming back to ceremony... wanting to know who they are and where it is that they come from... and it’s not only our people, but it’s also our relatives from the other three human tribes... they too are coming to ceremony wanting to regain their place within the sacred hoop... so they say that for these reasons the fire is getting stronger once again...
the third grandfather at the bottom represents “the fire of tomorrow “ and how it is our responsibility to ensure that it never goes out... how it’s our responsibility to make sure that we pass on our teachings, our songs, our knowledge of the medicines , and our ceremonies... to ensure that the fire will never go out...
The four grandfathers that make up grandmother turtles legs represent those four elements we all need to have life... earth, wind, fire and water... they represent also the seasons of life... childhood, adolescence, adulthood and Elderhood... the old people tell us there is something wrong with this circle today ... that is ... children today are not being taught the 7 Sacred Teachings early enough... so our children today are not growing up to respect life as one example ... we just have to open our papers in the morning to learn another life has been taken ... it’s because children are not being taught these teachings early enough... our youth today are too busy living the fast life... they no longer have time to go and sit with the Elders to listen to their stories, their teachings... they say parents today have forgotten their roles and responsibilities... that’s why we see so many children growing up in foster homes, group home and institutions .. because parents have forgotten their roles and responsibilities... they say that some of the Elders have become stingy with their knowledge for some reason... they no longer share or pass on their teachings ... or are afraid to do so for some reason... they tell us that is what is wrong with our sacred circle today...
lastly, together all seven grandfathers represent... the 4 sacred directions because that’s where the grandmother and grandfather spirits sit, they are the ones who guide us everyday... the 5th one represents Mother Earth because she carries us everyday... the 6th one represents Creator... because it’s Creator that watches over us everyday... and the 7th one represents “us”... we are the centre of our being... healing comes from all 7 directions ... if we’re willing to look ❤️

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wally Chartrand: Kindness Teaching.

Wally Chartrand
Sweetgrass - a kindness medicine... has a sweet gentle aroma when we light it... 21 strands to make a braid... 
the first 7 strands represent those 7 generations behind us... our parents, grandparents... 7 generations behind us... our parents, grandparents... 7 generations behind us.. who we are and what we are is because of them.. they’ve brushed and made the trails we have been walking up till now... the old people tell us that it takes longer for us to heal today and the reason is because the old trails our ancestors used to use to find us have been destroyed... they’ve build dams which have destroyed the old trails... they’ve build towns and cities where the old trails used to be... so now our ancestors are having a harder time trying to find us to help us heal...
the next seven represent the 7 sacred teachings... love, respect, honesty, courage, wisdom, truth, and humility... the old people tell us how simple, powerful and beautiful the teachings are... love- a very simple teaching... respect- a powerful teaching... humility- a beautiful teaching... when we truly understand the teaching of humility... that I am not any better then anyone else and you are not any better then me... that at the end of the day we are all simply human beings... this is what makes this teaching powerful and beautiful... the only thing wrong with the teachings is that we don’t walk them everyday... love is only a 4 letter word... it’s when we walk that love, when we show it, when we live it... that’s what makes these teachings powerful and beautiful... one other thing we are reminded is that how can we love someone else if we don’t First love ourself... how can we respect another if we don’t First respect ourself... they tell us that the teachings need to first start from within ourself...
the last 7 strands... those 7 generation in front of us... our children, grandchildren... those children yet to be born... why are they important... everything we do to Mother Earth will one day affect them... right now the earth gives us everything and anything we can possibly want to have the life we have... but if we don’t look after her, what’s going to be left when it’s their turn... the circle that’s around me today, is that the same circle I want to pass on to them... especially if my circle involves alcohol abuse, drug abuse, family violence, lying, stealing or cheating... sometime it’s up to us to break the cycle... and hopefully replace it with something better ...
we put those 3 braids together... they represent yesterday, today and tomorrow... mind, body and spirit.... man, woman and child... man, woman and Creator ....
When my son was born I made him a promise that we wouldn’t cut his hair till he was 7... we cut it 8 years ago, he’s 15 today... but when he was 4 years old he already knew this teaching... because every morning as I’d get him ready for daycare, I’d braid his hair... I’d ask him... Misko what does your braid represent ... sweetgrass he’d say... what does sweetgrass represent my boy I’d ask... kindness he’d say... and what does each of your braids represent my boy... my mind, my body and my spirit was his reply... ok what are you going to do at daycare today my boy I’d ask... dad!!!! I’m going to be kind to my mind, my body and my spirit he’d say... awesome my boy!!! What’s going to happen if you do that today my boy I’d ask... he’d say... dad! I’m going to be STRONG !!!!
You see that’s the second teaching that comes with this medicine... it’s through our kindness that we are most strong... anybody can raise their fist at anyone else... anyone can use their words to hurt or put someone down... but when we have someone in our face trying to hurt us with their actions or words... and to still love, respect and show that person kindness... that takes a lot of strength !!!! ❤️