Friday, February 13, 2015

Driving Your Car To Heaven Or Are You Walking?

Hey, are you driving your car to Heaven?  

I think you are.  I think you are on that highway just cruising, listening to tunes, with the window open, the sun shinning, you with your Ray Bans, a cigarette in your mouth, a babe or hunk beside you, and the road is smooth like glass, your gas tank is full. 

But you don't want to go to heaven? You don't believe in Heaven. Then why are you headed that way?  You are an Athiest? Don't believe in Heaven? Well where in the heck are you driving too? Oh, I see you are a Tradionalist and you think Heaven is a white thing?  Okay, I get that. Still you are on that highway now, aren't you? A Muslim?  Holy Heck and your driving straight to Heaven. Sheesh. Lot of people on the Road to Heaven.  All in differen cars too?  I see some of them are walking, biking and jogging to get to Heaven. 

 "... Lord my body has been a good friend, but I won't need it when I reach the end..." 

It doesn't matter what you drive or where you think you are going, you are all on the same road. Sure some of you drive first class and some have to push a cart with no wheels, but you are going to the same place. 
That place whether you call it Heaven, or the grave, is where we are all going. Just that we are in different vehicles and different roads, but make no mistake you and I are going to get there. That place where we all are going or where want to end up is called the "Good Life". 

We all want it and use different fuel to get there. Some use the Christian Bible as fuel. With all that goes with it. Some use the Sundance or the Sweat Lodge or the Sacred Mountains or some people just believe in the social customs. That is their car.  They use the norms as fuel to get to where they are going. They don't call it Heaven, they call it Retirement and Legacy. 

In any case, drive safe, walk sure and keep your eye on the highway,  Lot of crashes out there. Just look at the Jails, now that is hitting the ditch and doing a 180 on the highway to Heaven.
I like to think we are all going to the same place with our own vehicle. But you know how it is, Some people just don't know how to drive.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Numbers are Very Scary

Over 1200 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women In Canada.
Police have compiled nearly 1,200 cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada over the past 30 years – a number that is three to four times higher than their average representation in the country.

It is a scary thing the numbers game. Can you imagine all that is happening right now and has happened in the past?

Last week over 2000 Women, Children and Elderly were slaughtered in the town of Baga Nigeira. One point five Million people have been displaced - no place to go in Nigeria.

Numbers are very scary. Be afraid be very afraid. So many numbers and so many things.

Over Seven Billion 7,000,000,000  in the world and growing. Go to the World Population Clock and just watch how fast the numbers grow. How are these people going to eat?  You know what is really staggering is that they estimate that since the time of people, there has One Hundred and Six Billion (106,000,000,000) people that have walked the Earth.  Wow!  In the after life, how are we going to find our lost loved ones?  That is a fear that I have sometimes. What if I can't find my Boy in the midst of all those people or Spirits? But I guess that is a different conversation for later.

There are pages on the internet where you can go and read about the number of deaths from wars and disasters. Incredible!  The numbers are just numbing!  Between 58 and 85 million lives taken in The Second World War (six years and one day). Can you imagine that number in a relatively short period of time?  In Europe the number of Jews killed  is said to be six million, the Holocaust.  Six million people gone.  Can you imagine the logistics in murdering slaughtering that many people? Six cities the size of Edmonton. Staggering. The number of people killed per minute, per day?  The number of times people were put on a train? The number of families separated?  We are aware of these numbers but it is hard to imagine.  We can only say "ruthless". 

The number of conflicts throughout history are many and the number of people killed is staggering. Not to mention the amount of people that have died through natural disasters. Holy numbers.

What about the Earth and the numbers that affect the Earth? Yes we are on a water planet with 70 percent of land under water, but most of it is salt water. So a miniscule amount of water can sustain our drinking needs. And guess what? The salt water (Ocean) is rising about 3 meters a year. Know what that means? The small number of fresh water supply is being contaminated with salt water. We can't drink that. We lose about 260 billion tons of land ice per year. Unreal and that land ice raises the ocean levels. Scary stuff. And guess what else? We are concerned about Climate Change but not really. It's a topic but we don't really think about it. We have no concern about the declining rain forests. What does it have to do with anything?  Regardless: The study estimates that tropical forests absorb 1.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide out of a total global absorption of 2.5 billion — more than is absorbed by forests in Canada, Siberia and other northern regions, called boreal forests. The forest is our lifeline.  But those numbers mean nothing to us.

You know what is also scary, the population decline of animals, birds, fish and insects.  The numbers are staggering. But really who cares?  The "Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past forty years..."  We are eating too much food. What that means:  "that today’s average global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it. But four planets would be required to sustain US levels of consumption, or 2.5 Earths to match UK consumption levels." One of the biggest losers in the fresh water systems.   "As well as pollution, dams and the increasing abstraction of water damage freshwater systems. There are more than 45,000 major dams – 15m or higher – around the world. “These slice rivers up into a thousand pieces,” Tickner said, preventing the healthy flow of water. While population has risen fourfold in the last century, water use has gone up sevenfold. “We are living thirstier and thirstier lives,".  Yes, we are eating and drinking ourselves to death, and that is not alcohol drinks.

"What about the children? Who will care for the children?"

The numbers of too much. We get them everyday.
The number of crimes in the city, the province, the country and the world. The number of Women being killed, raped or missing. The number of children living in poverty. The number of people living on the streets. The number of people that are in jail. The number of politicians that are not taking part in legislative votes. The number of cold days in winter. We take the small doses of numbers so that way we don't go out of our minds. The numbers mean nothing to us.

You know what numbers mean something to us?  The number in your pay cheque.  The number of cheques you will get untill that vacation or until next Christmas. The number of  litres it takes to fill up your car. The number of coins you have to park your car downtown. The number of weeks until you get holidays. the number of days until the Superbowl. The number of tickets you can get to the game.

Those are the numbers we know. Are they scary

There are so many people that have diabetes now. They have to watch numbers in order to keep on living. Watch your numbers or get a scary number.  Those numbers are affected by other numbers. The weight you are carrying around. Your belt size. Your calorie intake, your exercise numbers, the stress level you face.

Other scary numbers are the number of people in our community dying by suicide. So many deaths that may be preventable. Also the rise in FASD - Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders are scary numbers. So many numbers of things that we are or should be scared of today.

I'm like most people. The numbers important to me are not relevant to the Universe. I count the number of family members left. How many children and grandchildren I have. The number of meals I have in a day. The steps I take. The number of shows I watch on television. The number of days before garbage day (to see if my bin is full).

But if I sit and think about the numbers like -  the time that the Earth has left, how much time beore the Sun burns out, How long until Rain Forests are cut down, how high and fast the  Oceans are rising, the time it takes for Polar Caps melting, the next time a World War will occur, - I get scared. Yes I do. I put it in this  way, what kind of world will the Grandchildren have? What will the numbers have in store for them?

For the scary numbers to mean something - Make it personal I guess.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Nepotism in the Reserve. "Hey Cuz"

I like Nepotism.  Sure it is a monster but I think it is all about the context.  Context is everything.

Our Reserve is set to be gearing up for the Spring community election. Our current Chief is acting due to our former Chief's resignation in the summer. A heck of a thing being elected in the Reserve (or I guess anywhere). The demands are immense.  The decisions scrutinized relentlessly. The politics down and dirty. The attacks are personal ( in many cases). The family, well the families are huge.  Just kidding but that is what people will bring up regardless of who or how someone gets in.  In fact some of the candidates in previous years have campaigned on getting rid of big families.  Yeah, figure that one out.  In any case the issue of nepotism is one that is close to home. I got where I am because of big family.  Lot of siblings, lot of uncles, aunties, cousins ( and I mean lots of them) have all had a hand in my up bringing and experience.  I mean how could it not?  We are in a community where you know who you are and who your relatives are. Is that a bad thing? Of course not. And if you can help out one of your family members, well that's great. You give them a car boost in the winter, let them use your phone, give them a ride to town, lend them a few bucks, loan them a rifle, give them some fish, pass on clothes to them, or let them know about a job coming up, or the big one, give them a job. There is is the conundrum; giving jobs to family members (including friends) when jobs are scarce. That is what gets people upset.  The problem is compounded when the family or friend hired does not know how to do the job. Now that is the thing that gives nepotism a bad name.

How can anyone who doesn't benefit from nepotism support nepotism? Can you support it? I mean when you even say nepotism it sounds like a gross word, doesn't it? Sort of like pedophile, necrophilia, coitious and stuff like that.   It reminds me of this story.  I went to a general assembly for this Native entity over twenty years ago. The entity was giving its annual report to the people and they were also having an election for Board members. My cousin told me about the assembly, so I went to be nosey.  One of my best traits by the way. The meeting was run in a semi-professional manner. I mean it had people and it had a person sitting as the Chairperson, in other words this person was running the meeting. As meetings tend to go, in the Indian community,  things quickly got out of hand. Yelling started, personal attacks and just your typical chaos and mayhem (as I like to tease my grandkids about their behaviour) ensued. The Chairperson sort of lost control of the proceedings and well, she sort of lost control of herself. She didn't take kindly to people talking loudly, shouting at the staff of the entity and calling out the sitting Board members. The Chairperson quit the meeting, yelled at people and left the building. The Board president took to Chairing the meeting. In the end, an election of new board members for the vacancies did occur. And I was elected into the Board.  WooHoo!  If my cousin, a staff member had not told me about the meeting I would never have went and I would not have gotten elected to the board. Cool, eh?  So I joined the Board and I really didn't know too many people on the Board personally. I did know who they were, after all it is Indian Country and you sort of know who is who, or know someone who knows whos who, you know?  So as  new member of the board I did the one thing I never usually do, I kept my big mouth shut. I wanted to know what the issues were, who the players were and who was good and who was not good. As it turned out, it was interesting and kind of fun. So in a short period of time I got to listen to the Board and make my judgements. The Native entity I was  now a board member of, had a family foot print in operations. They were part of the startup of the entity. Some staff were family siblings.  Okay no big deal I figured. The Board knew the family and got along well with them. This particular family had a long history of working for the people and was involved from the beginning of the entity's development. Anyway, the Chairperson of the annual meeting,  who had left the meeting was not happy as it turned out. The meeting had left her with a sour taste and she didn't like it. So she wrote the new Board to complain of the family ties in the entity. She felt it was that family's fault that the meeting got out of hand. In any case and a new board member, I was privy to the contents of the letter and the board discussion of the letter. Seems the Chairperson blamed the family for the chaos and mayhem of the meeting. Even though they didn't seem to be involved in any of the yelling or discussions that took place at the meeting. The Chairperson was so upset she wrote the board and told them to get rid of the family. In her words, the atmosphere of family was "incestuous". For me that was an ugly way to describe nepotism in the work place. But there it was. This Chairperson was a well respected Indian person in the community. The Board discussed it for some time and a few even agreed it was an "incestuous situation". There was some momentum for bad mouthing the family and the entity. It was getting a bit much. I listened to all this taking place. The board didn't know who I was really, I was the new face on the board. Finally I decided to say something. "I know those people, and I am going to tell them what you are saying". The looks on their faces. I told them that the Old Lady was well respected and I didn't appreciate the way the board was talking about her. One fellow tried to backtrack his comments. He is a well known "Aboriginal Elder" in the City of Winnipeg, kind of the go to guy for smudging in public. I still see him quite a bit around the City Traditional circles.  Anyway, before I got to speak to any of the family members he spoked to one of the siblings. He said "I really respect your family" and all that sort of jazz. Later I did speak to the same person and I didn't know that the Board member had got to her first.  She was telling me, that it was weird how she was approached by this board member and how it now made sense as to his behaviour.  It is quite interesting to note that many years later, this angry Chairperson of the annual meeting spoke publically on the virtues of family and how you go to who you know. That it was how it was done before, you relied on family and they would be the ones you could count on and that it was the reason she choose to employ her family member.  Cool eh?  I guess for her, someone else was guilty of incest while she was carrying on a respected Tradition. Cool.

You know what, the world is built on relationships. That's the thing. You know someone and you know their skill set, their strengths so you get them. You know they are going to be good. In theory that is what you think. Sometimes (maybe many times) who you know is no damn good at the job. That sucks for sure. The reason we feel it more in the Indian circle is because it is a smaller community. Compared to a City, a province, a country.  So getting your family or friends in the door is not that big a deal. But in the Reserve, everyone knows and sees. Not only that, the resources are smaller so everything that happens is magnified. In the big world, no one real notices the nepotism so much.

Ideally if you got your friend in, they would be grateful and try their hardest to make sure they don't dissapoint you. That doesn't happen. The people you count on, nowadays, just can't be trusted to do their best or better than their best. So they give nepotism the bad rap. Bunch of lazy arseholes. Making it bad for the rest of us.

Oh well, what you going do, eh Cuz?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Goodbye 2014

Well it has been another year come and gone, in the year of our Lord 2014. I always wanted to say that. Not sure of its meaning or where it came from, but it sounds cool, don't you think?

A friend of mine just lost his brother to cancer. I didn't know him well but in passing and he always had a great smile on his face. Life is weird like that.

My grand-daughter will be 2 years old in April and that is cool. She is now my side kick and my great dreams. My daugther is thinking of post secondary education, so that is a good thing. I think education is the best thing for anyone.

We start the new year hoping for all sorts of things. Some of you make resolutions to do this or do that. Lose weight, exerise, be better to our family and all manner of goodness.

I think why not? It can be a start, right?  I mean who knows? This could be the year that you quit smoking. The year you start caring about the Earth. The year that you start caring about Murdered and Missing Women. The year to start being a kind person. Or the year to start living.

Yesterday I spent the night at my wife's Mom's house. It is beautiful there. Quiet. In the country where you can actually see the stars. I didn't hear the coyotes this night. I stood out in the quiet of the night out at their road gate. I looked at the treeline out across the field.  The wind blowing a little bit. My mind lost in thoughts of the night. Missing my Mom, my Dad, my brother Poncho and of course my Boy.

I thought of my misdeeds. My goodness but mostly my mistakes. I was thinking about how good my boy was. Not just in my mind but the good he actually was. Not in the last while when the devil had him. It was when he was a young boy. All the goodness and potential in him. Like all of our kids.

He was sensitive and happy. I know it was me that took that away from him. I know that.

So it is heavy burden to carry all the pain of grief.  I know there are more people out there with fresh grief. And I know how that grief feels like it is the heaviest in the world. That the individual pain is just too much to bear.

Crazy after 9 years I still carry that pain. Maybe I don't cry as much as I did those first few years. But he is on my mind all the time. A little reminder here and there. A young couple I see, a song I hear, a road sign, a passing remark, all bring me to the time when he was here and when he left.

I will be marking his birthday this January 17, 2015. He would have been 30, what a milestone. 30 years old my Boy. Wonder what he would become. Would he have gone back to school? Would I have changed to become a better Dad? Would I still be the selfish asshole?   Would I know that I should be grateful for every minute I have with him?

I still have the anger. But mostly it is self hate or self loathing that I think I have. Sometimes its pity. Lots of pity. but lots of anger to who I am or was. Wonder did I really change? Can I really try and appreciate life? Life that has been lent to me with the kids I have and the grandkids I have? Do I know to cherish them?

Lot of useless thoughts in my head I know. Lot of regrets. Lot of mistakes. Lot of heartache. Can the new year be better in how to deal with those thoughts? Can we really start with one foot in front of the other.

So have you decided to start the new year with good thoughts? Maybe change abit? Maybe stop being mean to your spouse or your kids? Maybe be a little more patient with the server at a coffee shop or the driver ahead of you in the lane?

Maybe you don't believe in change? Maybe its a waste of time and you are just content with who you are and what you do?

I wonder about that. What is it anyway that makes us better than animals? We just keep going year after year the same way. What's the point? I mean if we are not trying to be the best we can be what is the point? Is it too much effort to try and live a good life? What ever the heck that means?

I am confused.  Well here's to 2015 and what lies ahead.

If I had a choice or is wishes were real -- not sure about global wishes, but my individual needs would be to have some kind of assurance that my son is good. Good and living in some other time or some other world. And he would make sure I knew. Now that is a faith that some people really truly have. I need to find that. Maybe i will find some kind of peace, who knows?  I need to know that my kids will be okay in this world. That there will be a decent world for them to live in. That lives matter. That living matters. That we are more than a speck. That we are part of something better than existing and just breathing air.

as for the world... Maybe Obama would do something real crazy and try and kill Keystone. Or maybe he would do something real wild and make the republicans really hate him by leaving the eastern countries to deal with their own.  Or maybe he would stop big oil from killing the planet by increasing environmental rules/laws. Maybe Canada's Stephen Harper would decide he did enough damage to Canada, find god and retire. Maybe Harper would find out his wife hates his politics and can't support a despot any longer. Maybe after Harper realizes that he is replusive to his wife, he decides to quit politics? Who knows stranger things have happened?   Maybe the Indians will find out that Christianity is a false promise and decide to abandon it.  Maybe Aliens will come here and say "hey you dumb stupid (redundant) ignorant rednecks and fucks, don't you know the Earth is mad at you and is going to shake like a dog and shed its fleas?" Guess what humans are the fleas.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Science Says: Red Indians Are Just Retarded Chinks

 "Science says: Red Indians Are Just Retarded Chinks"

Funny how people are. 
I was out with my Wife the other night. We went for a nice dinner with a very nice couple.  Ken and Denise are our friends. Denise is a close friend of my wife. They worked for the same employer.
Ken is a brilliant computer guy. You know one of those guys that fixes programs. Not computers but the language that machines talk with. We went to a nice little golf club restaurant called Tapastry.   Its one of those places that serve you tapas, those little meals, like a Dim Sum. A place where you will not find many Neechies (Indians).  Ha, just kidding and teasing, but really.

Denise is Chinese and Ken is White. Very nice people. I didn't even think about that and this note until just now. After the meal, my wife and I decided to stop at the Super Store for a quick look around. Get some snacks and chocolates so that we can take to the Reserve today. We were going to the Reserve on Sunday to visit with one of my sisters.

Anyway, you know how it goes after you eat at a restaurant (or anywhere actually) your body starts to do some work. You sometimes need to make room in the stomach. We were at the Super Store and I needed to do some construction. I didn't think I would be comfortable trying to wait until we got home. So I decided to use the public washroom (for you American folk that is rest room).

I was done my construction and I noticed this on the wall. I had to get kind of close as it is not that bright. My initial reaction was to laugh (We tend to do that alot) and then go on my way. For some reason this was picture worthy. I took a picture of the note. I went and decide to show my wife what I took a picture of while I was in the washroom. For some reason she didn't want to see the picture?  Don't know what she was thinking.

This note is picture worthy not because its a work of genius, but because I have not heard this one before. I mean you must have heard a lot of them; the racist comments, the stupid, the ugly, the mean and even the witty, the funny.

This one little note of racist babble brought a number of things to consider.

I thought maybe you could see all it has to say as well. How it is a comment on the little world we live in and how it affects us all.

Can you see it? 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Where is that guy? Where is that George Dixon?

I was visiting with Doug at South East Tribal Council and he told me this story:

"The folks at Sandy Bay First Nation (could actually  be any Reserve) were having regular meetings with the federal and/or provincial representatives of health agencies. Health is a very important issue and concern for many Indian Reserves. The meetings are important so the Indians make sure to have an Elder present at the meetings for guidance and to offer Prayer."

"Anyway this Indians were having quite of few meetings with bureaucrats. With the bureaucrats its either the federal reponsibility when it comes to Indians but the province delivers health services. Each time it always comes down to who has jurisdiction. The feds will argue that health is a provincial responsibility. The province will argue that Indians are a federal responsibility. The Indians don't care who has jurisdiction they need the services of health programs like any other citizen. Damn bureaucrats always throwing out jurisdiction."

"At one of the meetings it was clear the Elder was getting upset. He was visiable shaking and getting angry. Finally he speaks out. "Where in the heck is these guy? Always talking about him and he never is here?  Where is this George Dixon? Get him to the meeting." "

 I laughed hard at this little story as I could just imagine that Elder outraged, cute.  In this story the Elder is a man but it could have been a Woman in the story.

I think about a the old people and how cool they are. We know they have knowledge and are willing to share. We need to visit with them more.

Walter Bonise is a good man, I am lucky enough to know him. He visited my Dad years ago.  Walter moved back to Edmonton.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Compassion Fatigue kills Homeless man, not homicide, says Judge
Brian Sinclair Sinclair died of a treatable bladder infection in September 2008 after sitting in his wheelchair for 34 hours in the Health Sciences Centre's waiting room
Brian Sinclair lost his legs when evicted in 2007. Forced to sleep outside, "He was found, literally frozen to the wall of the church."

"The inquest into the death of 45-year-old double amputee Brian Sinclair in a hospital waiting room in Winnipeg has found it was not homicide and doesn't require a public inquiry. However, Judge Tim Preston says in his final 200-page report that Sinclair "did not have to die." 

Robert Sinclair, a spokesman for the family and Sinclair's cousin, said they welcome the report's recommendations, but they're disappointed it does not address what they believe is the main underlying issue: negative stereotyping of aboriginal people.
"It was disappointing because the truth still doesn't exist there. Yeah, it made some good recommendations, but the burning question is why did he wait there 34 hours?" Sinclair told CBC News in an interview.

This is what the Judge said killed Mr. Sinclair.  "Poor communication, overcrowding, understaffing = compassion fatigue".  Can you fucking believe it?  I think everyone knows what took place. Compassion fatigue??? Compassion Fatigue???  Holy Fuck can you actually believe that??? I mean how many people walked by this man? Even when other Native people went to tell the nurses that he needed to be looked at? No one looked at him. He did what you were suppose to do when going into emergency. He went to the desk and told them why he was there. Then guess what happened?  Compassion Fatigue. That is what happened. Compassion Fatigue. How many white people died in an emergency room from compassion fatigue? 

The inquest heard Sinclair hadn't urinated in 24 hours and so was referred to the hospital by a clinic doctor in September 2008. He wheeled up to the triage desk and spoke with an aide before taking a position in the waiting room.
Sinclair vomited several times as he languished there. A housekeeper cleaned up around him, but no one asked him if he was waiting to see a doctor.
By the time Sinclair was discovered lifeless by other patients, rigor mortis had set in. The cause of death was a treatable bladder infection.
An internal review found 17 staff members saw the man, but no one assumed he was waiting for care.

"According to inquest report, Brian Sinclair was kind, humble, fiercely independent- and sober when he went to ER for a treatable infection." 

Can you get that? Compassion Fatigue killed this man?  Compassion Fatigue???

If you believe that, you must believe the police in the U.S. are not unfair to the Black Man.  If you believe that you have no problem when a police officer stops you in the U.S. or Canada. You must believe that racism does not exist?

The fact is there is a race war in North America. The White population (many) does not like, even hates the man/woman of colour. That dislike, or judgement of Colour (Black Brown) comes out in different ways: lack of jobs  - discrimination in hiring, education - discrimination in school admission, health - discrimination in services of health care, justice system - discrimination in judgement by all components of judicial system.
You know what people of Colour are warring about? All they want is equity. Never mind equality. That doesn't exist. But give them a fair chance at society's amenities. That is what they are trying to get.  Simple.

People (main stream, the conservative, the religious wingbat, the Klu Klux Klan, the Heritage Front and the person living in your neighbourhood) will say "they get everything for free", or "why don't get a job", "look after their kids" and other pearls of white (there are of course the misguided person of Colour that echoes this sentiment as well) wisdom. 

You know what it really comes down to?  People don't like people that are not like them.  They fill their heads with evidence of bad things that "these" people are known for. Blacks are hostile, angry. Indians are drunks and lazy. This is what people (society, whites) want to be true. They want to be able to stand tall on the tops of other people's heads. To be better than others. They want to live in privilege.

Its comfortable to live with privilege. You don't have to worry about getting shot by the police for getting your drivers license out of your car. You don't have to worry about your son or daughter being shot by the police for playing with a toy gun. You don't have to worry about your crippled grandmother being tackled to the ground for reaching for her walker. You don't have to worry about your eight year old daugther being tasered by the police. You don't have to worry about your brother dying in a hospital waiting room.  You don't have to worry about...

....Compassion Fatigue.