Thursday, September 17, 2015

Moved to New Blog

I hope that you come visit the new blog.

You have a great day.

Miinaawaa G'waabaamin


Don't be shy come say hi.

Friday, September 11, 2015

From Ashes To Ashes: Sweet Justice for the Survivors of St Anne''s.

From Ashes to Ashes: Sweet Justice for the Survivors of St. Anne’s

September 10, 2015
By Susan G. Enberg
Fort Albany First Nation in northern Ontario is a small community that—fifty to sixty years later—still reels from the pain caused by brutal abuses inflicted upon children of the James Bay region due to the residential school system. From 1920 to the 1960s, a great number of First Nations children from this region suffered brutal physical and sexual abuses in Fort Albany. Children from the reserve areas of Attawapiskat, Weenusk, Fort Albany, and Peawanuck were forcibly interned at St. Anne’s ‘Indian’ residential school as a matter of Canadian government policy, a racist-colonialist policy known as the Indian Act.
Many small children were ripped out of the arms of tearful parents who were threatened with imprisonment, excommunication, or loss of government subsidies should they refuse to place their children at St. Anne’s, a total institution that aimed for social engineering through Christianization. A culture of fear and silence prevailed as both children and parents were intimidated, told by staff members of the Roman Catholic Church that they would go to hell if abuses by the clergy were ever brought to light. Only since the 1990s has it become known that many of the abuses wielded against the children were inflicted by their caregivers and their teachers: the Roman Catholic clergy of St. Anne’s and workers at the school, with the complicity of the Canadian government.
As an academic and a human rights advocate, I had done much research before travelling to the Fort Albany First Nation community. I was well informed and greatly disturbed when first learning about tortures endured by the children at the hands of their Catholic caregivers. These horrific acts included sexual molestation, rape, being forced to eat their own vomit, and being electrocuted in a homemade electric chair for the ‘amusement’ of bishops, priests, brothers, nuns, and visitors to the school. There were other students who became bullies at the school; bullies who learned from their teachers, the Catholic clergy, that brutal violence was not only socially acceptable but also encouraged. However, speaking with the Survivors in person has provided me an opportunity to truly humanize their stories.
Ed Sackaney asserts that boys at St. Anne’s were taught by a priest to dehumanize and objectify women and girls. The priest forced the boys to look at pornographic magazines, while missing no opportunity to highlight in very derogatory language the various private parts of a woman’s body. The priest taught that women were to be controlled by boys and men, and that girls and women were in no way equal to their male counterparts. This directly contrasts with traditional teachings of the Cree where women, as the life-givers, are to be highly respected. Thus, such an example helps us to understand that self-loathing and hatred of others became learned and ingrained through indoctrination and brutal violence. The violence inflicted upon the children of St. Anne’s led to a legacy of violence passed down through the generations. It is now being recognized, albeit slowly, that Survivors are not just those who attended residential schools, but also their children and grandchildren. It is a legacy that the Indigenous communities of James Bay are desperately trying to dismantle and to consciously uproot from their lives. One recent event in particular may help this along.
On September 4, 2015, I was informed through social media that the rectory, the last standing visual reminder of abuses by the Roman Catholic clergy at St. Anne’s, had burned to the ground. The rectory was a living hell for many of the children of St. Anne’s as they were often brought to that house of horrors through an underground tunnel. In both these places, the tunnel and the rectory, children suffered physical and sexual abuse, possibly including forced abortions. These brutal experiences turned the lives of the children into ashes. So, for many in the James Bay region, the rectory turning into ashes is perceived to be sweet justice.
Indeed, the implosion of this last visual reminder of St. Anne’s may be considered punishment for the crimes, indeed the ‘sins’, of the caretakers who destroyed the lives of the children. The burning of the rectory is also highly symbolic and timely as the Fort Albany First Nation community is taking many steps toward deeper forms of healing. A healing ceremony for Survivors is being planned. The Catholic diocese will be called upon to renounce and denounce its policy of protection for sexual predators among the Catholic clergy. And the OPP and United Nations will be called upon to search for the bones of the many children who were recorded as ‘missing’ from St. Anne’s.
For myself, I am grateful that my crew and I were able to capture the last known images of the rectory before it burned to the ground. Creating an archival database to be shared with the community and researchers will help to preserve the historical record for generations to come. For many who attended St. Anne’s, the smoke and fire emitted by the rectory may be considered a grand smudge, a catharsis that is long overdue. From ashes to ashes. From these ashes, may the Survivors of St. Anne’s begin anew.
Photo: Rectory burning (4 September 2015): Elizabeth Kataquapit, St. Anne’s Survivor
--Susan G. Enberg is currently directing and producing her second documentary film, Erasing Cultural Genocide, in collaboration with the Survivors of St. Anne’s ‘Indian’ residential school (Ft. Albany First Nation, Ontario). A published journalist, Susan continues to pursue a Master’s degree in Documentary Media  (filmmaking) at Ryerson University.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Time To Moves Ons. Maybe Go Word Press? Yeah, Let's Blow This Google Popsicle Stand.

Been Blogging for a few years now. It has been pretty interesting, kind-a-fun, kind-a-sad, kind-a-maddening and entertaining for me. But the last little while its been not as fun. I want to joke around but just haven't been able to do that. I seem to dwell on being rotten and well that's not fun. I'm also a bit "J" because I see some blogs that get 10000 hits in one day?  Wow, I don't get that in a month.

So I think this might be a good time to try something else. I still like gossiping, being nosey and spreading my three cents all over the place, whether its right or wrong, good and bad or just plain crummy.

It will be 10 years since I first dealt with the loss of my son Donovan. You may know he took his life by hanging in the closet of his mother's apartment. So that's coming soon, this August. I still have his suitcase that he was living out of. Not sure if I will do something with his stuff this year. Not sure if we should have Ceremony for him or do a family Feast like we do every year.

For me suicide has become something that is on mind all the time. I wonder how there can be a cure or a way to really have an impact on the  lives of our children?  Or on the lives of the ones that are here to live with the aftermath?

My cousin lost her boy to suicide three weeks ago. We went out to the Reserve Muscowpetung to support in her boy's service. It was Traditional (Indian) service.  I was sorry for my Cousin and my Auntie. No one should out live their children.

This last week I was at another service for one of my oldest friend's daughter. She died by suicide. I don't know how the family is coping. My friend is struggling but what can one do?

So I struggle about the whole living with the aftermath thing. So does a lot of people. My children, especially my oldest daughter is not dealing at all with the aftermath and its going to be ten fucking years.  Ten years but the pain still drives a nail into your heart. For me I think the constant talking about it, might lesson the sting but not sure. Triggers are always within a side glance, a song, an incident or a word away from suffering the pain all over again.  I live in fear. Fear my kids. There is no way I can ease their pain. Steer them to a place that can ease that hurt.  So for me I just blab it all out there. I don't bottle it up and drink it down, or pill it away. Or do I?  I have been on anti-depressants for 9 and half years now. So I guess that's one way to cope. But the fear is there and its constant. Will my child live? Will the hurt take them too?  What a way to live, to be in fear all the time.

Anyways, that's enough of the fear thing.  I was thinking about trying to spend more energy on suicide prevention and the aftermath of suicide. One of the things for sure is that lot of people are injured when one person takes their life. Lot of people are affected and hurt badly. So maybe I can share some experience on how to cope? Not sure.

I do read a bit on the care of suicide loss and the prevention. There are some good groups out there so maybe my effort is not really necessary or might be redundant?  I like that little semi-colon thing that is happening to stir talk and to remember. One Semi-colon movement is the tattoo semi-colon for suicide awareness. That's nice. And lately Inuit superstar Susan Aglukark has started an Artic-rose-warrior suicide awareness dialog.

For Sure One Day is something I would give my life for. One day to spend with my boy, to talk to him, to stop him from hanging himself. One day so my children, my wife wouldn't suffer the pain. One day to tell him I LOVE YOU.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Coolest People on the Planet: Indigenous.

Indigenous - Coolest People on the Planet.

2-Step Dance - March 2015 - Video 32-Step Dance (Also known as the Rabbit Dance or Raven Dance or Mountain Dance). Video 3March 2015 - Behchoko, NWT, Canada.Camera Person: R,Laboline.
Posted by Our Tlicho Drummers on Sunday, May 31, 2015
Singing the Birds Festival 2015
Posted by Tyrone Harper on Saturday, January 31, 2015

So cool those Neechies, that having cookies and Tea is the most wonderful thing you can think of to do.

The Neechies don't just honour Veterans and Elders once a year. Every Powwow has the Veteran and Elder held in esteem. They sing songs of honour to them. Think about that.

And the Dancers will also honour the Drum.  A Whistle gets blown.

Women, they never forget the Women. Everyone loves a good Jingle, Shawl, Smoke, & Traditional Dance.

There are lots of reasons why Indians or should I say Indigenous  (we can't forget our Sisters and Brothers around the globe) are the coolest people on the Planet; its because the Creator liked them more.

Kia ora

Waea atu ki te Pirihimana! 

So all you non-Indigenous, tongues are sticking out at you.

Ha just kidding, don't get upset, I'm sure the Creator thinks you're cute too.

But not these guys...

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ugly Guys And Ugly Girls.

Been watching a few films on line. One of them was the documentary by Alanis Obomsawin called Rocks at Whiskey Trench.  This film is about the ugly men and ugly women of Quebec.

"During the Mohawk Oka Crisis of 1990, Canada and Quebec directed vigilantism against the Mohawks. On August 28, 1990 a convoy of 75 cars carrying Mohawk mothers, children and elders left the Kahnawake community on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River across from Montreal. Many were the sick and elderly. They were being removed ahead of a forewarned Canadian Army attack on Kahnawake.

Quebec Police, posing as part of the mob, forced the cars to remain on the bridge for 7 hours on one of the hottest days of the summer. On the other side of the Mercier Bridge a white crowd was being organized. Prejudice was spurred on by a local popular radio announcer, Gilles Proulx, urging people to kill “les sauvages”.

Ambulances were let through after patients were examined by the crowd. A young woman in labor had her cervix examined by the mob. When the cars started to move, the crowd pelted the vehicles with rocks while the out-of-uniform Quebec Police directed or looked on. One elderly man was killed. None were charged or went to trial."
Because they are Different is a film made in 1964 and it is quite telling. It shows the ugly guys and girls. Not the Indians, but the White people. Boy they sure have ugly hearts.  The film shows how people see the Indian and interpret their lives.  Me I see beauty in those lives. I also see how ugly views make you think you are ugly as well.  The narration is like that of one those old animal shows. That is exactly the tone of this film, its funny.  
It makes you feel ugly watching the people throwing rocks trying to kill the Indian and the voices of those talking about Indians, saying things like: "they live one to another, get more liquor..."
They described the Indian situation as a "anti-social behaviour".  Crazy eh? 
Well boys and girls, its ugly.  

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wanted Do Nothing High Paying Job With Cool Title

My friend has been joking around with me for some time now about my employment status, you know no Job!  Anyways he says you need one of those high paying do nothing large title type jobs.  I says, yeah, but I don t think they post those kind of jobs.

Guess What, I know where one is coming up.  It is right here in Winnipeg and I think its open for Neechies. That is an Indian job. Cool I say.  I am wondering how do you put your name in for that job.  I am not sure. I do know that a few people have already put their names in for the job: Kevin Hart, Bill Traverse, Wendy Whitecloud, Ken Young, so far.

The good thing about this job is that it doesn t matter if you have a clue how to do the job, or even know what the job entails. I don t think even the people who are doing the hiring know what the job is.  That is a plus because the job is a good one. It is a perfect job for those old recycled political hacks, the brainless ambitious Leader wannabe, the clueless uneducated and unashamed job climber. That is a perfect do nothing high paying with a cool title job. Not saying any of the current candidates fit the bill as described, just saying that is who could be attracted to the job.  Like someone like me.

The job is at the Assembly of First Nations and it is the regional Vice Chief position. That position seat is currently being occupied by the one and only Bill Traverse. An old war horse that may be put out to pasture. There is a campaign going on called Kill Bill in the urban community. Its tongue and cheek of course and it is in reference to someone else taking the steel throne that Bill is sitting on.
AMC Grand Chief, Some Guy who wants to be famous, Vice Chief Traverse.

I don t think I have a chance at getting this job. First thing is I wouldnt know  how to apply. Second thing it means that you have to be used to sitting around not doing a damn thing.  That is something I am uncomfortable with. So I guess the do nothing aspect of the job is not very appealing. Its too bad because that position or dollars from the position could be used for something great. And that is not going to happen under the tutelage of the current AFN Grand Chief. Status quo seems to be on the agenda. And that is sad and stupid. After all the Indigenous folk have been in a nasty battle with a federal regime that is keen on killing the Indian. So if you are going to go into battle with a strategy that has not been successful in the past and currently, so why keep trying it.

So folks if the do nothing get good pay and have a cool title excites you, the AFN might be a place to put your name into. But oh yeah, thats right eh, the federal regime has stripped you of most of your hiring dollars.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Time To Stop With Eagle Feathers

I know this is not popular for many of us Neechies to hear, but Man its time to stop using Eagle Feathers at Powwows.

Yeah, I know! Who the heck do I think I am and what business is it of mine? Since I am one of those people that have took part in and still will purchase the Feather or even a Bustle.  I mean the Feather is beautiful and the Bustles that people make are just works of art.  I wrote a piece called "Too Many Eagle Feathers Floating Around" sometime ago. I think it about it some and really think we should start to conduct ourselves with some restraint when it comes to handling the Sacred.
I mean really? We surely don't want the outside world (again) pointing at us (like they have stopped) and saying "Uurrgh, those Redskins are killing all the Wildlife".  It is the similar chant when we go Moose hunting, fishing, and other Indians type stuff. We are accused of being wasteful, over killing selfish hunters, fishers, and gatherers.  Oh yeah, a new one, we are also hoarders (we used to be Indian Givers) because we don't want to share the Water with Big Greedy Corporations. You know like Alberta Tars Sands, Nestle Water plants and other water destroying engines. I hope that people catch on to what the Natives have been Teaching: Water is Life.

Oh yeah, before I got all David Suzuki environmental on you, I wanted to discuss (or at least put in my opinion) the Eagle Feather thing. No doubt that having an Eagle Feather is a big deal. A huge deal, a mega deal in fact.  It is like getting the Order of Canada (like the medal Conrad Black got and I think Allan Eagleson got one as well) or some other big award that someone or some big wig might bestow onto you. I do think it with the Eagle Feather and how it is now relatively easier to get that it might be less of a super mega deal these days. Not saying that is not Sacred anymore. But take a look at what happened to Tobacco. Its the context thing that I have used in the past. The historical significance of access to Eagle Feathers has somehow become distorted. I remember when the whole DDT thing made the Eagle a dead bird. Remember that?  Eagles where in short supply. I wonder did the Native folk also do their best to save the Eagle during that time?  Anyway, the Eagle has made a recovery but still is in need of protection. Today the harvesting of an Eagle is unknown to me as to how one gets the privilege? But that's for Traditional people to know and for Teachers to know.

The point I am making is this, we need to stop using Feathers in the way we are currently using them. I mean not the way they are used Healing but how they are used for competitions and as commodities, purchasing power. I know I don't have the right to say that. But I am. I think that some of the Elders Teachers and Traditional leaders should say "Hey Neechies, maybe we should slow down on those two and three layered bustels, what you think?"  Or maybe even say something like this "Hey! Those Eagles are our brothers, they take the messages of our prayers to the Creator, so why the heck are we killing so many of them?".  Or maybe they could say something like this, "Hey Endenawaamaganuk (relatives), what you say we start using imitation feathers in some of our dance bustels?"  "It won't diminish your talent or how cool you look, some of those pretend Eagle Feathers look pretty damn good".
Pretend Eagle Feather Looks Pretty Good.
I think if we really know that everything is Alive and everything is Sacred that we would start to consider this holding off on everything Eagle Feather thing. Kids, I mean our kids are great, wonderful, precious and our gift, but come on, having them wear full Eagle Feather Bustles and carrying Eagle wing fans?  Its beautiful and that is great. Let's think about where that Bird came from and how did it get there? What was earned, learned about the Ceremony behind harvesting that Eagle?  If we look at the Feathers we have do we know the story of where they came from?

I don't think this topic will go anywhere. It may get some Traditional folk angry at me, I can understand that for sure. The Traditions of our people are vital to our existence. I know that. At the same time we have to look at everything with the Spirit and Intent of the Teaching.  No saying get rid of the Feathers floating around out there, but consider for the new era of Feather use.  

If all of the Creators beings are Sacred why not use goose feathers, turkey feathers for bustles?  

Listen my friends, it is an idea. Only you have choice. 

Ask these questions: How did that Eagle Feather come into your possession? Do you know how where it was harvested?