Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Be the change you want to be - is futile

Change is all around us, it is inevitable. We can accept it or we can go on fighting change. I can remember when the government changed the measurement system in Canada. There were a lot of people that fought against the metric system. There were arguments about the costs of the change. The confusion the change would cause. The change went ahead and the world didn't end. The big three car dealers have been forced to change and the end of the world didn't happen. The banking industry needs to change before the world comes to an end. Health care in the United States needs to change but you would think it would bring the end of the world if it is changed. The climate is changing and that may bring the end of the world. The change of the climate is still up to debate and if in fact it is changing.

That's the thing about change, we don't know whether to embrace it, try to affect it or ignore change. I mean, holy smokes, can you imagine trying to affect climate change? The thought about having any type of direct affect on the climate is staggering. We are mere ants in a concrete city. Picking at the crumbs of the big bad world. It is the bigger beings that may be able to affect some type of change. What that change is I don't know. But you know what is funny, it doesn't matter if we know what we do might not have an affect and we maybe ants, but we are a determined bunch. We will do what we can even if it may not directly or indirectly affect change.

In my Reserve there is so much social strife, political dysfunction and a host of other community problems that we don't know where to start when it comes to affecting change. Some change just happens. Our Reserve is on both sides of the Winnipeg River. Some very beautiful land and a history of using the water ways. Now no one is on the River anymore. The water is a dirty filthy remnant of what it used to be. That is not the reason people are not using the water anymore. It is a lifestyle change. We don't swim there, we don't fish there, we don't get our food from the water anymore. It is the same change with using the bush. We don't use the bush anymore. No more wild berry picking, no longer trapping and no longer getting our food from the bush. It's a change but one that has been slow and not really a conscious change. It just happened. Lots of change like no music, no community visiting, no helping each other as a community. Only time we seem to come together and try to help each other is when there is a death. Even at that time people are changing the way we interact and help each other.

I still try to affect change in our Reserve. I write letters to the Chief and Council with ideas. Proposals for them to consider in administration. Some policy ideas as to what they can do that may affect the cultural change in our community. I know it's futile, but I still do it anyway. Just as the naturist believes they can lessen their footprint on the Earth. I hope that in spite of being insignificant in a big world, we can still make an effort towards change. The change we want to be.


  1. Maybe I am naive, I thought the "traditional" Reservation(Is that the right term?) was a very close knit unit? One leader, or maybe a Council, but even they only suggest to the Leader(Chief)? When did the change happen? I am also trying to pinpoint the time when people stopped helping elderly ladies across the road, and helped one another. I remember being taught this as a kid, and seeing it done, then one day poof! no more.

    Is there a way to get a "stronger" Leader for your community? Isn't the land and the river considered "sacred"? How could the let it get to that point? My Indian knowledge is limited(obviously) essentially what I learned in school, but I thought those were the basic tenets regardless of the "Tribe"? Am I wrong?

  2. Big change in how things are in the Reserve (at least ours). People have lost that way of the bush and the water. That is one thing. Change in attitude towards the community. Becoming more individualistic these days. Cultural norms changing. Extended families getting smaller.

  3. But, again forgive me for being in the dark, the "bush" and the water are supposed to be like the basis or foundation for everything right? Each thing has its place, and should be respected, and whatnot. How can they "forget" that? It is the basis for the "religion"(probably not the right word) right? I understand that as everything and everyone modernizes, they move away, and move on, but these beliefs are not just beliefs, they are at the core of the being, correct?

  4. It is true that Aki is the fundamental to being Indian as well as belief in the Creator. I might have been over generalizing in how things are changing but there is truth to what I say. Sure there are many people who still have the connection to Aki and all that goes with it. But there is a strong influence on the community to leave those tenents behind. There are still many Traditionalists in the community but it is getting harder and harder for the population to hold on. Loss of language, loss of land, loss of lifestyle, all play a part in the change. From a sustenance lifestyle to a market economy is a change. Especially when work is sparse. It's a complicated thing.