Thursday, November 16, 2017

Could You Pass the Humanity Test?

We are in the midst of really ugly news: a terrorist loaded up with automatic weapons and shot people enjoying an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. US Donald Trump is scaring the world with his Twitter feed. Wealthy movie maker has been using his position, his power to coerce and even force his unwanted advances on Women. The story has prompted more Women to take a stand an expose others who have used their position in ugly selfish ways.

Many Women are now sharing their experiences of having dealt with the ugly side of men. The latest is Senator Al Franken.  I feel bad for Al. He was one Senator that I actually thought was a good person. Turns out he is just as bad as many of the men out there.

With all of the ugly out there I wonder how much of us would pass the humanity test. The humanity is more than  the attitudes or the actions we have done to women and to kids. Kevin Spacey and company are now facing their own tests for their actions. The humanity test is a look at how we are in many situations. How we react and how we think.

We have seen many people who pass the humanity test in big ways. In ways we could never understand. The mass shooting in Las Vegas brought out the humanity in many individuals. There were people in the midst of the chaos, the dying and the ugly, who took to helping others in a time of horror. You would think the first taught would be for your own safety and not thinking of saving others. What a humanity test to be faced with. These people passed the test.

The humanity test is not always so dramatic or in such dire situations. Sometimes the humanity test is simple as meeting someone on the street. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to a small concert. Most of the patrons were old people, like us (and older) and many were White. Outside in the cold a young man was standing with a sign looking for change. We had no money and told him sorry. As we were in line inside the hall a group of older White folk were talking. This older Woman was upset at the man. She said "I asked him what he needed the money for?" She went on this conversation with other women and men in their group. Each of them were making disparaging remarks about the young man. My wife was upset and said to me "I hope he told them to shove their change" in a voice loud enough for the group to hear. I don't think they passed the humanity test in this case.

A friend of mine was telling the story of this Artist. The Artist was painting a mural in Winnipeg and the subject matter was images of a number of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. While the Artist, a White man, was painting a young guy on a bike stopped and asked him about the mural. The Artist told him about the subject matter. The young man replied "well they were whores anyway" and rode off. The Artist was stunned. He met an individual who had not passed the humanity test.


The humanity test is a daily occurrence. It can be something that happens everyday like the letting someone into your lane when there is a stream of car line up or it could be the saying "Thank you" for the person who holds open the mall door for you.  It is the comment we post when we see someone complaining about the amount of assistance Refugees are said to receive from government. Can you remember the latest humanity test you had, however small or huge?

I guess it's like what is your moral compass really like; the things you would do in certain situations.






Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Southern First Nations Network of Care: Manitoba


The Southern First Nations Network of Care hosted their 14th Annual General Assembly.

Mandate

The Southern First Nations Network of Care receives its mandate from the First Nations in Southern Manitoba and through The Child and Family Services Authorities Act (CFSAA). The Southern Network along with the other three CFS Authorities are responsible for the establishment and management of a province-wide service delivery system. This includes ensuring that services are delivered to Southern First Nation Citizens throughout the province, as well as people who choose the Southern Network.

In 2003, by proclamation of The Child and Family Services Authorities Act, four new Child and Family Services Authorities, including the First Nations of Southern Manitoba Child and Family Services Authority (Southern First Nations Network of Care) were established.  Through the AJI-CWI, the child and family services system has been restructured with the intent to better respond to and meet the needs of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba. 
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The Southern First Nations Network of Care. General Assembly entertainment.




The Child and Family Industry in Manitoba (Canada, New Zealand,Australia and the US) has been very difficult on the Indigenous family and community. The problems are many: apprehension, laws and regulations not fitting with Indigenous community, bureaucracy disconnect, political disconnect, among other issues.

In Manitoba there are no clear answers to the nightmare of the Child and Family systems for Indigenous families and their communities. The legislation in some instances make it difficult for the Child Family Agencies to utilize some discretion. The reality of not following the rules could leave the Agency and the worker is a world of hurt and liability.

The sad thing about the SFNNC is that it can only follow the provincial legislation. What that means is that it is a another level of bureaucracy. It can challenge the legislation but has no real means to do it. So what can it accomplish? The status quo does not work for Indigenous community. The government does not seek input from the SFNNC. The government decides, announces and defends its decisions regarding Indigenous children (DAD principle). The strength of SFNNC is its communicating directly with communities through the agencies in the community. SFNNC has to take a stronger role in challenging the government and legislation. The consequences of standing up to the government are worth it. Its for the Children.

There were a number of speakers at the General Assembly.  Striking comments made at the annual assembly were made by Katherine Whitecloud. She said "I can't agree with a system that doesn't love our Children". She also said her Grandmother told her that "Someday you will eat your children". It has been said by others as well. Ms Whitecloud told the story of a former drug dealer; and his best days of sales came when it was the Child Tax days. In other words parents eating (drugging) off their children.


NOTE: The Caring Society

https://fncaringsociety.com/publications-and-resources







Friday, October 13, 2017

Points of View: Canadian Human Rights Museum Photography Exhibition

I had two of my photographs selected in the Canada Human Rights Museum contest. I was pretty shocked and excited. When you see the group of pictures selected you get a little shy as there are some very talented eyes out there.

I was lucky enough to actual meet some of the photographers. I would recommend going on their site and viewing the stories that go along with the pictures.

Miigwech

Steve


Below is the information from the Canadian Human Rights Museum web site.

Photograph by Jessica Sigurdson/CMHR-MCDP.

A National Human Rights Photography Exhibition

Points of View is a national juried human rights photography exhibition. We crowd-sourced exhibition photographs from people across Canada. The photographs tell stories of passion and protest, family and friendship, suffering and struggle, hunger and hope. Through this exhibition, Canadians share their views on human rights.
The 70 photographs explore human rights within four themes: Freedom of Expression, Reconciliation, Human Rights and the Environment, and Inclusion and Diversity.

Where did the photographs for Points of View come from?

From all across Canada!
We issued a Call for Entries in the fall of 2016. Photographers uploaded their images through an online portal. The submission deadline was December 31, 2016. We received nearly 1,000 entries, made up of incredibly diverse images from all across Canada

How did you choose the photographs featured in the exhibition?

A diverse, multi-disciplinary jury selected 70 photographs for the exhibition. Jurors have wide-ranging backgrounds, in areas such as human rights, law, museum curation, photography, photojournalism and art. The jury also selected the overall winners for each category.


Monday, October 9, 2017

For the Passed On: To The Sky World

Bear Fox



"Let's put our minds together as One  and remember the ones who have passed on to the Sky World."

Beautiful video and song by Fox Bear.

 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mr. Fred Kelly Teachings of Turtle Island

Miigwech Mr Fred Kelly

Mr. Fred Kelly.
Fred Kelly is from the Ojibways of Onigaming and is a citizen of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty Number Three. He is a member of Midewewin, the Sacred Law and Medicine Society of the Anishinaabe. He is a custodian of Sacred Law and has been called upon to conduct ceremonies across Canada and in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and Israel. He is head of Nimishomis-Nokomis Healing Group Inc., a consortium of spiritual healers and Elders that provides therapy to victims of the trauma and the horrific legacy of the residential school system. Fred is a survivor of St. Mary’s Residential School in Kenora, Ontario, and St. Paul’s High School in Lebret, Saskatchewan. He was a member of the Assembly of First Nations team that negotiated the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and continues to advise on its implementation. He has served as chief of his own community, grand chief of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty Number Three, and Ontario regional director of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Fred is fluent in the Anishinaabe


Anishinaabe World View and Cosmology

 In the beginning, the Creator placed the four colours of mankind in the four directions: the yellows to the east, the blacks to the south, the reds to the west, and the whites to the north. To each was given special gifts and instructions by which to live in harmony with all creation. The people of the four colours would come together and, abiding by their respective instructions, would thrive in the collective prosperity of the human family. While distinct from each other, they were nevertheless equal in life, in will, and in freedom before the one and only Supreme Being; however, each one would understand the Creator. For the Anishinaabe, life is Pimaatiziwin, and its meaning is more than mere existence in a chronological progression of time. It is perfect, and it is intrinsically connected to Kizhemanito, the Great Spirit—the maker of all things. Therefore, like the Creator, life has no beginning and no end— everything that ever was continues to be, and everything that will ever be already exists in spirit. Pimaatiziwin, then, is the completeness and totality of creation itself imbued with the spirit of the Creator. In every direction of the sky is the eternal expanse of our cosmos in which, far beyond the human mind and eye, the physicality of life began. The Creator summoned four spiritual beings who, in their sacred essence, were in colours we would come to see as red, green, blue, and yellow. With them, the Creator shared his wishes for creation. Blowing a sacred wind toward one another with such force and speed, they created the breath of life that would permeate the cosmos.

Sky Order Woman (Nenaikiishigok), who had been given the duty to maintain perfect harmony in the heavens, thus assigned all starbeings to their places. We see them even to this day and night. Then she asked others to encircle the clearing that had been created by the swirling winds. This opening came to be known by the Anishinaabe as Pagonekiishig, meaning “Hole-inthe-sky.” The constellation Pagonekiishig is seen clearly as four concentric circles consisting of eight stars in each circle. These circles would become the life channel for life in our world, and it reveals the genesis of the Anishinaabe. Amidst all the starbeings was the special one that we call Grandmother Earth. At first, only the grandfathers—the mountains, the rocks, the boulders, the  stones, the gravel, and the finest of sand were on Grandmother. Then soon they wanted to share their place with other beings and asked the Creator to bring down other life. In time, one by one, four star spirit ladies appeared. The first one announced as she came down: “The Great Spirit has heard your pleas. And has sent me down to you.” As she spoke, something the grandfathers had never seen before began to trickle amongst them. She spoke again: “That which you see among you is saltwater. The Grand Father will place all waterbeings there, and I will look after all that. I will be with you forever.” The second star spirit lady now made her appearance and spoke: “The Maker of Life has heard your invocations, and I have also been sent down to you.” As she spoke, mists of water began to rise, forming clouds that fell back upon the rocks. “That which rises and falls upon you will cleanse and purify you and all the life that will grow among you. I will look after the rainwater. And I shall be with you forever.” The third star spirit lady came down and said: “Now among you have been placed your brothers and sisters: the trees, the plants, the winged-ones, the four-leggeds, the waterbeings, and the crawlers. They will need to drink and be nurtured. I will look after the freshwater of the lakes, rivers, streams, and springs. And I shall be with you forever.” Finally, the fourth star spirit lady came down and spoke kindly and softly: “The Grand Father has also sent me in answer to your invocations. He has heard you and is now preparing to send the two-legged brother down for you to love. He will be absolutely dependent on everyone and everything else in creation—all of us. He will carry sacred gifts of our Grand Father Creator, but he will not know how to use them unless we show him. We will all look after him and we will give him everything he needs. So helpless will he be that he will need to be cradled in sacred water inside the woman before he is born. It will be thirteen times for the Grandmother-That-Lights-The-Night-Sky to shine in her full glory before this one is born—four times as we prepare the woman who will carry him and nine more while he is inside the woman. I will look after the birth water and I shall be with you forever.”

The Origin of Turtle Island

So it was that the Anishinaabe came down through Pagonekiishig and was placed on Turtle Island, the western hemisphere. Why do they call it Turtle Island? The Turtle is one of the most exalted spiritual healers and benefactors of the Anishinaabe. Among his many other functions, he is the principal messenger in the shaking tent ceremony that is used in healing. He has sacred roles both on land and in water. The Grandmother-That-Lights-The-  Night-Sky so loves him that on each occasion of the full moon, she comes to kiss him. Now, look on the back of the Turtle’s shell (carapace) and one can count thirteen platelets that form the shell—five down the middle and four on each side—one platelet for each time the Grandmother has kissed the Turtle. Thus, for the Anishinaabe, there are thirteen moons in one lunar year. So the Anishinaabe accepts this hemisphere as Turtle Island and knows it as his special place i n creation. Nanaboshoo – the First Anishinaabe The first Anishinaabe was Nanaboshoo. There are many stories of his adventures, especially about his relationships to nature and the spirit world. Western-oriented writers have attempted to usurp his value as the first man by relegating him as a mere trickster in folklore and myth. But read Ronald Wright’s views on myths in his book Stolen Continents: The word myth sometimes has a debased meaning nowadays—as a synonym for lies or fairy stories—but this is not the definition I intend. Most history, when it has been digested by a people, becomes myth. Myth is an arrangement of the past, whether real or imagined, in patterns that resonate with a culture’s deepest values and aspirations. Myths create and reinforce archetypes so taken for granted, so seemingly axiomatic, that they go unchallenged. Myths are so fraught with meaning that we live and die by them. They are the maps by which cultures navigate through time. Those vanquished by our civilization see that its myth of discovery has transformed historical crimes into glittering icons. Yet from the West’s vantage point, the discovery myth is true. Nanaboshoo is alive and strong in traditional Anishinaabe life. He is responsible for the second creation after the great flood that destroyed the earth. He is capable of transformation. He is the Creator’s baby, factually and figuratively. He has all the gifts of the Creator, yet he is totally reliant on nature to survive. He learned his survival skills by emulating the birds, waterbeings, crawlers, and the animals. He named them all and gave them their distinctive markings and personalities. His adventures are replete with his creations and inventions. His misadventures are the source for the Anishinaabe’s sense of humour and his ability to laugh at himself. He discovers new ways of doing things and assumed new perspectives. He was given all healing and medicinal powers. He named all the trees and knew the healing powers of all flora and fauna. He was at once man and deity with supernatural powers, but did not and still does not know quite how to use them rightly except in sacred ceremony. Who else can this be but the Anishinaabe? Nanaboshoo is a spiritual archetype. Incidentally, when Anishinaabe people meet, they will greet each other saying, “Boshoo!” This has been misinterpreted as a poor emulation of the French salutation, “Bonjour.” The conjecture is not true. Boshoo is a contraction of Nanaboshoo—  an affectionate acknowledgement of the person being greeted as a brother or sister through a common progenitor.

The Meaning of “Anishinaabe” The Anishinaabe is at once proud and humbled by his origin: proud that he is integral to creation, humbled that he is totally dependent on it, and yet loved by all spirits. The word Anishinaabe is a self-designation and has two meanings: • The spiritual meaning of Anishinaabe comes from its two components: niisiina means “descended,” and naabe means “male.” Hence, “the man descended.” In the context of spiritual genesis, this morpheme brings all the sacred nuances of man and creation together in the one word. • The second meaning is colloquial: anishaa means “of no worth or value, nothing.” Combined with naabe, it means “man of no value.” But the Creator does not make anything of no value. It simply means that the Anishinaabe sees himself as neither above nor below any other life form. There is no mention of the woman. To put this into proper perspective, the star spirit ladies who came in answer to the Grandfather’s invocations at the beginning of life on earth are sacred. They fulfilled sacrosanct functions and are still with us, as they said. Women, as we see them, are still endowed with all the spiritual powers of these star spirit ladies and are, therefore, inherently sacred. To refer to them as anishaa or being of no value like the man would be to denigrate their sacred nature as the carriers of life. The Anishinaabe Nation continues to occupy a vast territory on Turtle Island, a tract that runs generally from the Maritimes in Canada and south along the Canadian Shield, west through the prairies, on to the Rocky Mountains, and then southeast to the present-day shores of the Carolinas. To be sure, we share this territory with other Indigenous nations. You know us by various foreign designations. In the Atlantic Coast, we may be referred to as the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Abenaki, and other names; in Quebec, we are the Innu and Algonquins; in Ontario, we are the Ojibway, Ojibwa, or Chippewa; in Manitoba we are called Saulteaux; in Saskatchewan, we call ourselves Nakaini; in the Rocky Mountain country, we are the Blackfoot; in Montana, we are the Cheyenne; the state of Illinois is named after us; in Texas, where some of our nation has settled, we are the Kickapoos. Some of us have also settled in northern California. The people of the nation are also known by other names that may reflect a clan or their geography. But we are all part of the larger Anishinaabe nation and recognize each other as such. 

The Seven Laws of Creation The Anishinaabe received the seven fundamental laws of creation to mediate his relationship with all other life: love, kindness, sharing, respect, truth, courage, and humility. The Anishinaabe sought to follow the meaning of these laws and came to understand that they could be deciphered through the sacred four that had touched him during his descent. The Principles of the Sacred Four Pagonekiishig: the four concentric circles of stars in Pagonekiishig reveal the gifts that give form and meaning to the sacred four of Anishinaabe spirituality. There are four layers of the sky: red, green, blue, and yellow; and there are four spiritual lodges: sweat lodge, shake tent, round house, and learning lodge. There are four drums: little rattle drum, water drum, hand drum, and ceremonial drum; and there are four pipes: red, yellow, black, and white. There are four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter; and there are four stages in temporal life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and elderhood. There are four types of clans: winged ones, four-leggeds, waterbeings, and crawlers. These are but a few examples that are only intended to indicate why the Anishinaabe’s fondness for doing and seeing in fours. Spiritualities: spirituality is a personal relationship with the Creator, and there are four principal societies through which an individual adherent may live this relationship. The way within each society is as individual as it is personal and is guided by its own ceremonies. But the four ways are complementary, meaning that a person can belong to all four: the spirituality of the east is Waabanowin; the spirituality of the south is Shaawanowin; the spirituality of the west is Ogimaawin; and the spirituality of the north is Midewewin, the principal society. At the appropriate time of each season, especially in the spring, the water drum calls toward the four directions beckoning all Anishinaabe into spiritual council. They meet at principal places in lodges or places specially designated for ceremonial purposes. Here the laws are recited and feasted. Civil ceremonies are performed. Relationships with other nations are feasted and celebrated. The well-being of the nation is scrutinized. The state of the land and resources is analyzed. Medicines and new therapies are dispensed. Healing ceremonies are conducted. External threats and opportunities are considered, and internal strengths and weaknesses are balanced.

Media of Sacred Symbols: the Anishinaabe is considered to be mostly an oral society. As such, some of the modes used to transmit knowledge are by means of language, song, visual symbolism, mental communication, and practice of spirituality that do not separate the sacred and the secular in daily life. In addition to the oral traditions, the Anishinaabe have a rich and powerful tapestry of symbolic media. The meanings of sacred events in their history are stored in birch bark scrolls, rock and earth formations (petroglyphs), and painted visions (pictographs), to name some of the other media. Sacred offerings are placed where these are found. Language is the principal means by which culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. It is especially vital for oral societies like the Indigenous people of Turtle Island. The very meaning of world views and traditional lifeways are understandable in their original languages. The origin, the history, the peoples’ relationship to the spiritual world, and the land are in the language. The totality of social, cultural, economic, and political systems of Indigenous nations is also in their native languages. The cultural nuances and intricacies of Indigenous constitutions, laws, and governance structures must be explained and understood in the language of origin. A language is one’s identity. A language is an inviolable gift to the Indigenous peoples from the Creator and their ancestors. The Spiritual Name and Identity: the spiritual name is one’s actual spiritual identity. According to the Anishinaabe belief system, each person is a spirit becoming manifested in bodily form through birth. A name is not selected as a mere matter of personal or parental preference. An Elder or a respected member of the community is chosen to conduct a ceremony. Really, it is not so much a name-giving ceremony as it is an invocation to confirm the spiritual identity. In effect, it is the passing on of a spiritual identity to an individual. But it must be done lest the individual becomes spiritually lost, disoriented, or even ill for lack of the spiritual identity. It is not unusual for a person to receive more than one name because spirits constitute one whole spiritual entity. Names may be given before, during, or some time after birth, although parents are urged to have the ceremony done as quickly as possible. Other names may be given out of love or honour, for strength, and also for recovery from an illness. In this way, a name will heal, and a name-giving ceremony is therapeutic to form part of one’s personal reconciliation when it is needed.

Ndotem: The Clan System The Anishinaabe also enjoy a spiritual connection referred to as the ndotem system of relationship from which the word totem originates.   It is told that at a time when the earth was totally covered with ice, the Anishinaabe found themselves in extremely dire circumstances. They were freezing, homeless, starving, and facing certain death as a people. The White Bear (Waabimuhkwah) came down from the north and saw the sorrowful conditions of the people. He took pity on the poor people and adopted them. He cared for them and protected them as little brothers and sisters, and thus became the first ndotem (clan). Then, the White Wolf (Waabimaaingan) came down from the east and also adopted the Anishinaabe in their miserable situation as brother and sister to become the second clan. In like manner, the White Winged Spirit of the south (Waabibinesse) came down in kindness and adopted the Anishinaabe. The White Buffalo (Paashkote Pishikii) then came down from the west and adopted the Anishinaabe and became the fourth original ndotem. In time, all other spiritual beings followed until all Anishinaabe families were adopted forming the original clan system. These events established the sacred lifeline to the four-leggeds, the winged ones, the waterbeings, and the crawlers who continue to look after the Anishinaabe. It also explains the spiritual dependence of the Anishinaabe on other life that enabled them to survive and maintain continuity. The Anishinaabe who seek personal healing and reconciliation must therefore know his or her clan. It is absolutely vital to the spiritual identity


Your Real Kids, the Blended Family

The other day I was driving a friend to downtown Winnipeg. He started talking about my Granddaughter.  His brother is the dad of our granddaughter. Our granddaughter is from our oldest daughter. I told my friend, "yeah the baby is awesome and we are so lucky to have her". Our baby girl is four and we have been raising her since she has been a month old. My friend said it was great for me to  have her especially since she was from my blood. I didn't like that but I didn't respond. I just told my wife this about baby being my blood and boy was my wife upset and I don't blame her. She doesn't believe  that kind of distinction. It is a hurtful thing to say even if people don't intend it to be disrespectful. It is like saying our love is limited to our DNA.

My wife and I have a blended family. I have two children from a previous relationship and my moral compass, my hero, my best friend and wife has a child from a previous relationship as well. We also have a child together; she is our youngest child. Our children are grown up now and we have three grandchildren. Our oldest boy has two kids and our oldest daughter has one. The grand children are ours regardless. We became a couple when our children were young. Of course it was an adjustment. There was some real good times and some rough times. The rough times on account of my insecurity and immature jealousy. It took some time, some patience on my Wife's part and some growing up on my part. We did make it. It was not without some struggle to start with. Now our blended family is no longer blended; our family is just our family. There is no "your kid" or "my kid" going on. Although now we may tease about the kids.

The other day I stopped to pick up a parcel that was from the pre-school fundraiser. The Woman handling the fundraiser was very nice.  There was an older gentlemen with her as well. I shook his hand and he introduced himself and he told me he was the step-father of the woman. It was interesting. I remembered what my Mom wrote on her death bed. My Mom was really sick with cancer and was dictating to her sister her wishes. In her death letter she talked about her siblings. She said he oldest brother was her brother and there was no such thing as step-brother. My Uncle Louis was her oldest brother. My Grandfather's first wife died and he remarried. His son Louis was with his first wife. To my Aunties and Uncles he was their brother and that is that.

As a young guy I heard many older relatives talking about other kids of a family, the blended family kids. It was not always pleasant conversations. It was the way it was.

The really sad and messed up thing, its the kids who are targeted. I know plenty in our community that are the outsiders of a blended family. It shouldn't be like that. My oldest grandchildren do not have DNA markers of mine. I dread the thought of someone saying to them or to me that they are not my "REAL" grandkids. They are my babies. It would hurt me deeply. I am their granpa.

This week the government of Canada is trying to do something about their actions regarding Indigenous kids. The government and their agents stole a thousands of kids from their parents and gave them away or sold them. This kids became the blended kids in other families. Do you think they were treated like "family"?  Some very luck ones yes. Others were the outsiders, the not real part of the family. Can you imagine that, growing up being not part of the family? I wonder if blood is the only thing which makes us family? It should not be.

My Mom didn't like that kind of thing, the outsider. Kids need to know they are loved all the time. People have to overcome the urge to be hard on the kids. Kids remember and will not forget what is said to them. Let''s hope they have good memories.

There is enough hardship in life that our children will endure, let's not add to it. Let's be kind to them after all they are real kids.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Being Fair Skinned Indian

"Fucking Whiteman". I was recently called this on my Facebook page. The author of the comment is actually a family relative. He pretended he didn't know who I was when he called me. It still stings when this is said to me. I grew up in our Reserve of Sagkeeng and the taunt was common. It is funny because lot of the taunts came from my First Cousins and friends. The taunt was meant to hurt and of course it did hurt. It hurt quite a bit and it helped shape some of my attitudes towards people. I carried the Indian in me as a challenge. When ever I was slighted in any possible way, I immediately attributed it to being an Indian. If I was short changed in a store or had a food order given after someone else who was after me in a restaurant, I would get upset and say so. I was so stupid. Can you imagine the confusion of the people who I accused of treating me like an Indian? I can just see them in their heads thinking "what's going on here"?

I have since accepted the fact that I don't fall into the Indian category in the looks department. So now my outburst of racism are muted. Now I know if I am slighted its because I am an old white looking guy. I save my comments about racism to people who actual know I am an Indian, aka Anishinabe, Indigenous. So now I have shaped my attitude to one of being an apologist. I apologize to other Indians and non-Indigenous people for my fair skin. I have to make sure to state my pedigree in order to be taken as an Indian.
Eric Robinson & Steve

I know many of my friends still say things like "Oh he's just a white man". Now added to that description is the word, old.  It is now part of the formula; I am an old white man. Its quite funny because I kind of like the old tag to my handle. I know I am older but not old, like in old, walks with a cane old. I will never accept white man in my description but that's not up to me. 

You will find many writings about the personal journey of Indigenous people who are fair skinned. The theme is always about trying to find acceptance among our own people and relatives. Heavy weight to carry when the outside world doesn't like who you are; Indian. Heavier still when your own people don't like a part of you. 

The thing is our Identity has been savagely attacked by society and we are trying to counter those attacks. Be proud, know our history, our value and our Spirit is a difficult trek. Especially when we have many other battles to wage as well. There are many, many Indigenous Women and Men trying to find their identity by accepting their cultural Teachings. I battle it by just shrugging it off or even laughing at myself. Me, my wife and youngest daughter tease about my white looks, especially when I spout off about white people. 

I am very fortunate that I did grow up knowing my relatives and my community. My skin color doesn't define me. It may have affected some of my attitudes but never my values; love of my people.