Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Travel Should be about Making Relationships

William the Cabbie
 Well my Wife and daughter took me to Cuba for a trip. This is the second time they have taken me to Cuba. First Time was five years ago.    This time around I was so excited that I may have had my hopes about the trip so high. I was telling Suz that I shouldn't get too happy before we go because I would jinx the trip; making it not as fun as the last time we went.

Vivian's design
Worker cleaner. 

Alberto - maitre d
hydro pole

Havana tour guides & driver

Random Havana Resident
Darren Karen Donovan

My victim
Mike's Cafe
Frankfurt Couple
The thing about Traveling is we should all do it.
When I went to Cuba the excitement was about not the place we were going to stay at but with meeting people. We (Suz Chloe Aviree and I) started looking to buy stuff for the trip. The stuff we are talking about its gifts. I asked other relatives what we should take to the people. EJ and Eva Fontaine have been to Cuba a number of times. So we asked them. EJ said shirt ties would be good for the professional workers. I told my neighbours, Keith and Linda Farley about the trip and what we were intending to do. Keith gave  us a bag of about forty ties to take. We gave the ties to lots of folks there. We also took toys, nail polish, underarm stuff, and sunglasses. My cousin Allan Courchene said people like sunglasses. 
I guess the act of giving makes us feel good. For me its kind of an arrogant thing to think I am some type of benevolent soul and gracious human being by giving token gifts. I mean its not really life changing stuff to give a pair of sunglasses or a little bit of perfume. Still in my mind it was significant. In reality its not. I had an image of being appreciated for the little gift. 
I was disappointed at the beginning of the trip. I was not meeting people as I imagined I would. When trying to visit the "locals" in the very nice resort, they were busy working. Imagine that. They were working 12 to 16 hours a day. And this old guy is trying to make small talk and be all intrusive about their life. So it was my delusional vision of being this "cool kind" guy being all generous to the local folks. That should not have been my focus but just enjoying the opportunity to travel and if it was to be, to have good conversation with anyone. 
So I altered my thinking and sure enough I started to loosen up and got to visit with different folks. I stopped trying to be critical of the resort, the tourists and the working staff. However, I did complain to Suz and Chloe about all those tourists sitting around the common area staring at their I phones. I would say, "how in the heck can you start up a conversation with those people, when their faces are locked on phones?" I complained about the hotel being boring with all those old people. I'm old but they were old as well. I complained about the lay out of the hotel. I complained for nothing. The hotel and the people were good. Mixture of tourists from Moscow, Sweden, Italy, Montreal, Czech Republic and the UK. 
I met some nice friendly people; a couple of young men from Montreal. These young men were so up beat and friendly.  Nice enough to be patient with my endless questions. I know I am messing up Dappies name. He and his friend Steve seemed to be having a good time as well.

Darren and Karen Donovan from Manchester, UK.  Well rounded travelers this couple. I met a couple from Halifax, Daphine and her husband. I asked them how the met. On internet they said. The man went to the Philipines to meet someone. They married after 4 months and they have been together for about nine years. She is 33 and he is 70. They look good together. He is a retired plumber and she works part time.  He had strong opinion on how to stop the Indigenous youth suicide. She was teasing him quite a bit. We met Alberto from Cuba and a number of patient serving staff at the hotel. We met Maria on the bus and she was from Dominican Republic.  we met  a very nice couple from Frankfurt at a bus station. I of course was a pest with teasing people at the resort.  My antics could have been mistaken for cute about 35 years ago but at my age its old creepy. At the end of it, the trip to Cuba was one of joy, pleasure and appreciation by me. I was so happy Suz and Chloe think about me and are able to spend time with me.

There are similarities all over the place and some little differences you tend to notice. Like some of the hydro poles are made of concrete. The type of trees are different of course, with big cactus trees and many short ones and of course the palm trees. The birds singing beautiful songs, while the vultures look like ravens in the sky. The absence of kids bikes. Its weird we look at the clothes drying in outside the balcony of apartments and we think its odd. When in fact its normal. We like to see the same and the different in our travels. But the biggest thing is the people. The trips only mean something when we meet people. A good visit can make the trip that much more special. Its about the relationships.

Suz Chloe Aviree and I went by taxi cab to downtown Varadero. William took us in an old  vintage American Classic car with a Hyundai engine. It was 20 Cuban pesos one way. He waited two hours for us to walk around and he brought us back to the hotel a 12 or 16 kilometer ride. By the way the Canadian dollar is worth 67 cents on the Cuban peso.  We told William were wanting to go Havana. He spoke to a guy at the hotel security and arranged a trip to go to Havana the next morning - 150 pesos.  Suz didn't want to take Aviree on a long trip; no car seat and long rode trip for a three year old. We left Suz and Aviree behind, just Chloe, me and three Cubans; a driver named Enzo, a tour guide named Elvis and a tour guide trainee named Juverre. The tour was very fast. We went to a number of places in Havana. We spent three pesos on a lady wanting her picture taken with a cigar in her mouth. We went to eat at some restaurant outside of the city. Old style restaurant that was a house with tables and chairs in the court yard. The tour Cubans were going to wait as many of the tour drivers waited outside as tourists ate inside. Weird. Mom always said you don't feed yourself in front of people. We all had a nice meal for $135 Canadian. Lucky for us we had enough cash for the meal. We didn't take a lot of money to Cuba so the trip and the meal ate most of our tour cash.  The chance to sit eat and visit with these cool Cubans was one of the coolest parts of the Havana trip.

Like I said at the start of this blog, everyone should travel. Even if its close to your home. We can meet people everywhere. All we have to do is say "hello" and start from there.

Friday, March 17, 2017

When Local War is Waged.


The "Alt Right" is a new term for an old theme.  The political Right seems to be gaining some of its historic brashness. The media calls the push for racism in politics as "populism".  The Americans have embraced the hatred they have elected a lunatic. Canada has had its own crazy with Stephen Harper and his Old Stock Canadians rhetoric and governing. Now that he is gone the political is going to fill his void with an even wackier version.

The world is sure embracing racism hatred and just plain ugliness. The media and many call it challenging political correctness. Funny stuff. I wonder where this will end up?

In the US police are assaulting Women, killing them in many instances and seems like they have waged war on the Black man. Let's not forget other people of colour. The Indigenous person is more likely to be killed by a police officer than any other group in America.

So again I wonder what will it take in this civilized country of ours for a War on the government to happen?

In many other countries civil wars break out when the locals have had enough of the pressure, the persecution at the hands of the ruling elite. We have seen micro-bursts of rage happen. The governments protect (at all costs it seems) the backs of the corporations, the resource sectors and the financial institutions at the peril of the ordinary citizen.

I think the government is prepared for this. Many of the police forces have been fully militarized and have begun capital expenditures for all sorts of big weapons. Makes a person wonder, who is  the local police going to war against?

They are preparing for war against the disenfranchised. Who are the disenfranchised?

Look in the mirror.

It may happen in our lifetime where you will start to see more and more unrest against the government. The same people who voted for Trump and who will vote Conservative in Canada are also the ones to watch. They identify with the hate promoted by the Alt Right but when the policies and laws by the government start to affect them as well...then you know they are going to wake up.

But for now the disenfranchised are the First Nations, the Black the Muslim and some other smaller groups. There is a point where someone is going to get tired of their kids being taken, their women being killed, their rights taken away. When they get finally see no alternative of their own. War will happen. It happened in the 1970s with Quebec; the FLQ and you will see it happen again.  It happened in the 1800's so its not new to Canada.

I guarantee you the police services speak about local wars and plan to address them.  I also guarantee you that there are many in the country who are itching to start a war.

Wonder when it will happen?
Will the Rich finally push the poor over the edge?
Will the Right finally push the poor over the edge?
Will the Government finally push the Indigenous over the edge?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Women: Are You a Garbage Can for Sperm

In 1981 I was hired as nightwatchman and for general duties at a residential treatment centre. Both men and women from all over came for addiction treatment. A local priest, a relatively young White man was volunteering counseling services there. I befriended many of the men and women at the centre. This one young woman told me of her counseling session. I of course don't know the whole context of the session but what she told me was kind of weird, shocking.

The priest had asked her; "are you a garbage can for sperm?"  I guess the word sperm from a priest is what I found shocking and weird. I think about it now and try to understand his motives. Maybe he was trying to build her up or get her to examine her choices? Still the woman didn't appreciate it and thought it was creepy and perhaps perverted.

Our feelings or views on a woman's life has a deep-seated negativity. We see them as the temptress in the Garden of Eden. We see them as the person who introduced AIDS in to your life. The person who took you down into the world of addictions. We blame the Women on a host of individual and social ills faced by man: the cheating wife, the home wrecker, the break up of the Beatles.

Why do we continue doing that? Why do we ask them if they are a garbage can for sperm? Why do we not treat them with the respect they deserve? It is now part of the social norm where Women are seen as the garbage can for sperm. The advertising agency knows and uses this to sell their goods. Women are using the image for success in today's consumer world. Regardless of the endeavour (business) chances are a Women's image - provocative and sexual will be used.

We need to start being aware of how we view Women. Would you call your Mom a garbage can for sperm? Would call your sister a cock-teaser? Would you call  your daughter a whore? If you would there is something deplorable about you. If you wouldn't say that to them, then why the same judgement of other Women? And why is the most vile thing  you can think of calling someone is the "C" word?

So how can men join the move to change our thinking?

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Say Their Name Keep Them Alive.

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” - Banksy.

They say don't hold onto your grief as you keep the dead ones from moving on. I hear it told at many a Wake service. I understand the well meaning of the sentiment. I know people don't want you to suffer with the longing of missing your loved one. That is nice. In some Traditional homes they expect you to turn the pictures of the loved on who died for a year. There is also the Taking Away the Tears Ceremony down after a year. It is for you to let go of the pain of your loss. All good things meant to try and ease  your grief and pain. 

Me I say keep them alive. Sure let the grief ease and the pain become numb or slight. Still never forget them and keep them alive. Say their name, put it print. 

Society does it all the time. Look at the some of those gone long time ago. We keep them alive in print, in song, in  print, statues and in  movies. You remember John Kennedy, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, and lots more.

I get almost happy when I hear my boys name being said. My Mom, my Dad, my Brother and Mishoom and Kookum.

We  should keep them alive in our hearts and minds. I think when my Aunties and Cousins my age are gone I wonder who will  remember my Mishoom and Kookum. My grandkids don`t know them and I don`t talk about them so they don`t know them. I should have their photos up so the grandkids can ask, `who are they.`

So I will continue to say their names of the ones I know and remember. I hope you will say the names of the ones you lost as well. If it is keeping them back I am sorry but I am selfish and want them here. I hope to see them again. I hope that is true. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Get Your Knife and Lets Go Battle: Meth

Jib is a slang for Crystal Meth.  The life of an addict is sad, ugly, scary and has a finality to it. We struggle with the news of a body found. That is the reality of any person dealing with a family member, relative, friend or child. We have no clue as to the life she/he has to endure; where she/he is and what she/he is doing.

So what can a Dad, a Mom, a partner, a sibling, a friend do? What can anyone of us do?

Can we force them into treatment? Get them on Methadone? Do the "tough love" thing and throw them away? Enable them? The truth is intervention is good tv but not reality. Treatment can be a chance for them to breathe. Methadone is not for everyone. Tough love is pure selfish crap. Wanting your loved one only when they are at their best.

I know the only thing we really can do is to thread with kindness. Not enable but not to throw them away. They already know the guilt, the pain, the hurt, the lies, theft, selfishness of what Meth has them doing. Doing ugly things they never knew they were capable of. So what do we do?

On March 16, 2017 at 6:30 pm, I am going to do battle with Meth. I hope you join the battle.

I am going to try and use the power of meditation, thought and prayer to do battle. Along with lots of wishing.

I will sit in my living room. I will have a cup of water and I will bring my weapon; a knife and a club. If I had Pipe I would bring it as well. So I could start off with a Talk with the Creator with the help of the Smoke from the Pipe.

I will close my eyes and meditate, pray and think of finding the one who is addicted to Meth. I will offer water to the person. I will look at the Meth and I will strike Meth. As many times I can. I will keep giving water, the good life to the person who is controlled by Meth. I will do battle. I hope I can win.

I can share with you the power of meditation - group meditation - power of prayer - and the control of our thoughts. You might already know the control you may have in the choices we make.

So it may sound crazy. It may sound silly. What have you too lose? A moment of time?
Meth has taken and will take so much. What is a life to Meth?

Too me and to others, life - good life is what we want for our loved one.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Being Indian, Don't Ruin it For White People.

"Long time go, me walk far."

Let's face it, the noble savage is a cool image. Everyone wants to be the noble savage; the Long Hair Dark Skin Deep Voice Tone and heavy accent. The Indian who speaks like he is communicating with the Spirits. That guy who's voice sends chills down your spine. The guy who you just know is wiser than any old Owl.  Now that guy (and Woman of course) is just cool.
 I really want to be that Indian. Heck everyone wants to be that Indian, including Indians.

The thing is those Indians really do exist. They are the ones who have the knowledge. They can hunt like a bugger, ride horse like a bird and get all the little White girls giggling, biting their lower lip and tousling hair in their fingers.

I have seen those Indians. At powwows. At bingos. At Walmart. At KFC. Those Indians exist.

The Women are even more deadly. Now they can steam bacon with just their gaze. They have the voice like an Eagle. The strength of a 56 Thunderbird. The scent of a fresh water fall.

These are the Women who turn the heads of the richest White man. White men would stalk her but would say to the authorities; "I wasn't stalking her, I only drove by her place a few times, tonight."

I have seen these Women. I have seen them at Star Bucks. At Boston Pizza. At the University book store. They exist.

The big problem I see for all other Neechies (a colloquial term used by Indians to describe other Indians - friends) is we don't all fit the noble savage image. Or in the case of the Women, the sexy glamorous Indian Princess. You know like  that of Disney fables. Where the young strapping handsome blonde White guy gets to be rescued by and falls deeply in love with the bronze wild untamed maiden.

You see these are the Indians everyone wants to be like, or to meet and be close with. The problem is that these Indians that fit the mold of noble savage and princess have no desire to meet sickly pale skinned folk. No heck no. They  are in  a cool group of their own. They don't need to get with White to know they are the real deal. They are the whole bag; the fully popped bag of popcorn, the jello that is jiggly and not rubber, the tea that is just warm enough to sip with out burning your tongue, the long fringe on a bead vest.  There's no way in heck these noble savages and Indian princesses have time for the pale skin.

So where does that leave us, mere Indians? The White folk can't be with what they want so they have to settle for the rest of us. And we have to try our best not to disappoint. We need to break out our best beadwork and have those moccasins with real Beaver fur and not that rabbit fur dyed shit. We have to carry a handdrum in a nice bag for emergency round dances. We don't want to ruin it for White people by being an ordinary everyday, get on the bus, playing 20 bingo card, buying Velcro running shoes at Walmart type of Indian.

We can at least try to play the part they want. That way we don't ruin it for them.

*Disclaimer *
Just so you know, not all Noble Savages or Indian Princesses are averse to White partners. Heck for some of those Indian men the paler the better - white like that of a high end sheet of copier paper... see Emma Stone, Nicole Kidman, Jullianne Moore for example. Now these women are almost translucent. The Indian Princess have been seen to dine at the White table. In fact there are families of sisters who will make it a mission to marry white. It results in Women on the hotness scale to go out of their range. You will Indian Women 10's, 9's,8's and 7's hooking up with white 4's 3's and even 2's - the two is short bald pudgy but has personality. Personality is still a given. 
Also note, later in life things will change and the Indian princess will always come back to the Indian table. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Murdered Missing Indigenous Women's Inquiry - Enormous Task - Enormous Hopes

"Our women and girls are sacred." 

The first line from the web site of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The operating principles:

The Inquiry has been been launched and the Commissioners  have been selected and the terms of reference have been set. 

"Whereas the Government of Canada has committed to launching an inquiry to identify and examine the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada and to make recommendations for effective action;"

The task for the Commissioners is enormous. I wonder where they will begin first? I wonder how if it will fulfill expectations from families of MMIW and others? 

I have mixed feelings with the Inquiry. I believe people are not going to get to where they want to be at the end of it. People will want to get answers to who did what and what happened to the Women and Girls. Wish it were so but I am not sure. You see it will need to be like an investigator; to look into the files of the cases. Will there be access to look into "open files"?

I also wonder about the power, the authority the Commissioners of the Inquiry will have. Will they be able to get access to the police investigations? Will they be able to get to get Bureaucrats interviewed? 

Will the Commission have the authority to do that; to look at the files of on going investigations? The Inquiry Act gives them the authority yes, but the specific MMIW Inquiry only refers to Part one of the Act. The Terms of Reference for the Inquiry identifying the Authority of the Commissioners does not reflect Part Two of the Inquiry Act. The Authority of the Commissions has no "compelling powers." 

Still on the Canada page outlining the announcement of the MMIW Inquiry does say they have power. :  The Inquiries Act gives the commissioners powers to conduct the inquiry independently. The commissioners will have the power to:

  • call any witnesses
  • require witnesses to give evidence
  • require the production of any document or item that they need relevant to their investigation

The Terms of reference of the MMIW Inquiry do not match the statement of the Government. Where the powers of the announcement does state the Commissioners will have power to compel individuals to provide evidence, those powers seem to absent in the Commissioners authority list.  

It may be nothing. Maybe the Inquiry Commissioners will be able to get the Police to testify or sit for questions. Maybe the Inquiry will be able to get Government officials both bureaucrats and elected members to testify. As we have seen in British Columbia it is important. There was a purge of emails regarding the Highway of Tears issue by high level officials. Since most of the MMIW are still open cases there will be no way to access information as to what is going on. So you can understand the barriers to access and on going investigation.

So that brings in the question, What will the MMIW Inquiry solve? What will it accomplish? It might be a huge exercise in letting parents, family, children speaking about how they feel? Of course that is needed, for those affected to be able to voice. Will it bring answers?

I am not sure if it will. 

The lines below show the difference between usually powers of an inquiry and you can see the MMIW Commissioners powers are muted compared to regular Inquiry powers. 

Inquires Act   http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/I-11/page-1.html

Powers of commissioners concerning evidence
 The commissioners have the power of summoning before them any witnesses, and of requiring them to
  • (a) give evidence, orally or in writing, and on oath or, if they are persons entitled to affirm in civil matters on solemn affirmation; and
  • (b) produce such documents and things as the commissioners deem requisite to the full investigation of the matters into which they are appointed to examine.
  • R.S., c. I-13, s. 4.
Marginal note:Idem, enforcement
 The commissioners have the same power to enforce the attendance of witnesses and to compel them to give evidence as is vested in any court of record in civil cases.
Powers of commissioners
 For the purposes of an investigation under section 6, the commissioners
  • (a) may enter into and remain within any public office or institution, and shall have access to every part thereof;
  • (b) may examine all papers, documents, vouchers, records and books of every kind belonging to the public office or institution;
  • (c) may summon before them any person and require the person to give evidence, orally or in writing, and on oath or, if the person is entitled to affirm in civil matters on solemn affirmation; and
  • (d) may administer the oath or affirmation under paragraph (c)..
  • R.S., c. I-13, s. 7.
Marginal note:Subpoena or summons
  •  (1) The commissioners may, under their hands, issue a subpoena or other request or summons, requiring and commanding any person therein named
    • (a) to appear at the time and place mentioned therein;
    • (b) to testify to all matters within his knowledge relative to the subject-matter of an investigation; and
    • (c) to bring and produce any document, book or paper that the person has in his possession or under his control relative to the subject-matter of the investigation.
    • _______________________________________________________________________

As you can see the Inquiry Act gives some broad powers and can compel interested parties to testify. Now compare to the powers under the MMIW terms of reference

  1. direct the Commissioners to inquire into and to report on the following:
    1. systemic causes of all forms of violence — including sexual violence — against Indigenous women and girls in Canada, including underlying social, economic, cultural, institutional and historical causes contributing to the ongoing violence and particular vulnerabilities of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and
    2. institutional policies and practices implemented in response to violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada, including the identification and examination of practices that have been effective in reducing violence and increasing safety
  2. direct the Commissioners to make recommendations on the following:
    1. concrete and effective action that can be taken to remove systemic causes of violence and to increase the safety of Indigenous women and girls in Canada, and
    2. ways to honour and commemorate the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada;
  3. direct the Commissioners to conduct the inquiry under the name of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls ("the Inquiry");
  4. authorize the Commissioners to adopt any procedures that they consider expedient for the proper conduct of the Inquiry, to sit at the times and in the places, especially in Indigenous communities in Canada, that the Commissioners consider appropriate and to conduct the Inquiry, to the greatest extent possible, by means of informal processes such as the gathering of statements by qualified trauma-informed persons to record the experiences of families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and survivors of violence against Indigenous women and girls participating in the Inquiry;
  5. direct the Commissioners to take into account, in conducting the Inquiry, that the Inquiry process is intended, to the extent possible,
    1. to be trauma-informed and respect the persons, families and communities concerned,
    2. to provide an opportunity for persons, families and community members to express and share their experiences and views, particularly on ways to increase safety and prevent and eliminate violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada,
    3. to be culturally appropriate and to acknowledge, respect and honour the diverse cultural, linguistic and spiritual traditions of Indigenous peoples, and
    4. to promote and advance reconciliation and to contribute to public awareness about the causes of and solutions for ending violence experienced by Indigenous women and girls in Canada;
  6. authorize the Commissioners to provide any person having a substantial and direct interest in the subject matter of the Inquiry with an opportunity to participate in the Inquiry;

The MMIW Inquiry is quite long on soft power and absent is real power of an Inquiry. 

So I wonder what will the end result? 

There are high hopes for concrete answers to what happened to these Women. 

I feel bad for the Commissioners they have a big task with no real tools to complete the task. 

You have to ask why are the Commission not voicing concern over their lack of power? The Inquiry Act gives them the power but the government is taking those powers away? So what is the MMIW Inquiry supposed to accomplish?