Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why are you mean to me? I wasn't kind to you lately.


You know the old saying "familiarity breeds contempt". Well it is a very good and appropriate saying. I mean how many of us have had someone we come to know dislike us, just because they got to know us. It happens all the time. I know this lawyer, he does a lot of work in the community for Residential School Survivors. He has become friendly to the point of almost being friends with many of the people. The problem with that is people now "know" him. They don't see him as the lawyer. The don't see him as this navigator of the judicial system. They seem as a regular person. With knowing him as a regular person the mystic of having him as their solider doesn't keep. They are no longer in awe or no longer have the unknown factor or the expert factor in their view of him. He is just a regular guy. Regular guys make mistakes. Regular guys are not super smart. Regular guys are not winners. Regular guys are not going to get things done. Regular guys can be nobodies. That is what happened to this guy. People start to treat him with contempt. Not because he did them wrong, but because he became familiar to them.

Same thing happens when you are kind to people. It's true. I'm serious. People for some strange reason get mad at you when you are kind to them. Not right away, but they will. Have you ever loaned money to a friend. You help them out when they need help. Everyone does it. We want to be kind to our friends if we can. I loaned money to different people and have done many favours for people. In the end it seems to come back and haunt me. I loaned this couple (my cousin and her husband) three grand so they could buy a car. They were real happy and I was happy to be in the position to help. When it came to paying back it kind of turned weird. They had paid me about nine hundred and couldn't or didn't pay anything after that. I never asked them to pay, never brought it up to them. But when I would try go visit the atmosphere was strange in some cases it seemed almost hostile. I would get ugly stares and one word answers when trying to have a conversation with my friend. I stopped visiting them after awhile. This was not the only incident. I helped other friends and relatives in different situations and now I don't see them too much.

I now know how it works. It is guilt that turns people. Like this: If I owe you money or a favour, I am in your debt. I see you but for some reason I am unable to fullfill my debt to you. I begin to feel bad about seeing you. I am not trying to dodge you but it is not right how I feel. So I don't like this feeling. I feel awful. I wonder why I feel awful. It is when I see you that I feel bad. It is you that is making me feel bad. I feel guilty and I don't like that feeling. So it is you that makes me feel bad. So now I feel upset. I am upset at you for making me feel bad. It is you that has caused this. Now I am mad. I am mad at you. You were kind to me so I am going to be mean to you. You make me feel bad.

Well people I hope you are still kind to people even if it results in people being mean to you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Drag those Buffalo Skulls for the People

Mr. Joe Esquash of Swan Lake First Nation. He is a very humble and Traditional man. My Dad calls him the Old Man, and he calls my Dad the Old Man. He has handed and taught the Ceremony to my cousin's husband. I was lucky enough to be a Whip-man at that Ceremony for a while. I really miss that Old Man. He is what is best in Traditional people. Here he sits among the Flags of Offerings at a Sundance Lodge.


Bronze of an Indian dragging Buffalo Skulls. One rope has broken off of his back.




Why do people do it? Why do people offer themselves to be cut through the skin, have wooden pegs pushed into their skin, have ropes attached to the pegs, have the ropes attached to Buffalo Skulls, and then drag the Buffalo Skulls around the grounds of the SunDance Lodge?

It is about sacrifice. We sacrifice our lives for the people. The symbolic act of giving of ones life for the life of others. I have heard of people dancing for the health of loved ones. They forgo food, forgo water and continuously dance all day and into the evening for someone's health. You are tested. Not for strength or courage. You are tested for belief and prayer. You pray for others. For you children, your parents, your community, for the people. You are told not to pity those that are dancing. You rejoice for them. They are doing what is best for the people. It is up to the Creator to pity them.

I love that about Indians. They are still trying to give for people. Lot of different people in a lot of different societies know sacrifice. We see everyday in the news with the people that are battling in war-torn countries. We see in those countries that people are suffering from natural disasters. We see it in the people that are not able to feed their families.

We hope that sacrifice is answered.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Celebrating anniversary dates of death and birth


March 16, 2005 is the day my Mom passed away. She was diagnosed with Cancer February 12, 2005. I always thought it was the 14th but my brother told me he remembers the date due to some other circumstance. In any case its been five years. Wow, time is sure flying with that anniversary. The thing is I have no issues with my Mom's passing. If there was a good thing, was that she did not suffer long. She was strong willed to the end. She did not show weakness but only grace and concern for those around her. Yeah, she was amazing. I treated her good when she was alive and that makes for easier memories of me and her. Of course like anyone I could have done more or did things differently when she was here, but I don't let that cloud my good thoughts of our relationship. I was her favourite. :-0 I think my siblings would say the same thing.

We put her picture and a short note in a local Aboriginal paper for this Month. The paper owner was very good and he put it in the paper even though I was late with my submission for their edition. Some people are just nice like that. I kind of wonder about that, you know the memorial notes and pictures in papers. Why do we want to make a public show of it? Not sure. Is it we want the public to know we are thinking of our loved ones? Or is it for our own measure. You know we want to show ourselves that we care. So we have a concrete way or measurable way to show we are thinking of our loved one. Strange but I guess it is a good thing.

I think its good too if we just keep things private as well. After all only we know what is in our heart. So if we miss and celebrate our loved ones life by ourselves does it really matter if anyone else knows but us? Who knows. I like to remember that 'crazy old lady' in my own way. Sure it's nice to put up a picture and a note letting the world know about her, but its our own feelings and memories that ultimately count.

Speaking of celebrations, my brother had his birthday on March 15. I think, not sure but he might be 52. I guess I should phone him and wish him happy birthday. He is a good guy. I don't mind him.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Why good things happen to good people


I listened to this author speak about his book, "why good things happen to good people". Basically they say do good things and good things will happen to you. I kind of like that idea. You know back in the day, 1800's under the law it was criminal to be generous. It was considered a bad thing. It was "against Victorian etiquette of material acquisition". People, well the government of the day, both Canadian and U.S. found it crazy that Indians were giving away stuff. The Potlatch got the most press because of the size and the duration of their Give-Away Ceremony. It interfered with people working at fishing canneries and the Church hated it. The Church felt it was a way to practice ancient religion. They spoke hard to the government about outlawing the Spiritual practices of the Indian. The police also didn't want Indians gathering. They wanted to stop the problem of "old warriors stirring up the young warriors with their battle stories".

In any case, the Give-away was and is a very good part of the Indian custom. Some have lost that way, but it is coming back. Science backs the good value of the Give-Away. Even if you are not the Spiritual, holy roller, new-ager, type person, than perhaps the cold impartial findings of science will persuade you into giving away your stuff. When you Give-Away you expect something in return. Yes, it's all about us. What you expect is good feelings. You expect good thoughts, good prayers for you and your family. You expect that people will think of you in a good way. They will send good energy, good spirits your way. That is what you want. You want to make people feel good by giving them something, and in return you get something in return as well.

My family tries to do the Give-away for some of our Celebrations. Not only Christmas practice but a element of our lives. I hope it continues on to the children. You give stuff away that you like.

I really want my kids to live a happy good life. Hopefully by being generous folk we can achieve that.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Aboriginal Survivors of Suicide: To Carry Ourselves



“wait for me” by Benjamin Chee Chee 1944 -1977

What: A Gathering to Honor Our Loved Ones.
For every suicide a minimum of 7 Survivors are left to deal with the loss. Please come out and show our support for Survivors. Support for Survivors is needed across Canada. Aboriginal Survivors of Suicide is a small step on providing the support to individuals and communities.
Place: http://thunderbirdhouse.com/ Circle of Life: ThunderBird House, 715 Main Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Date: April 21 & 22, 2010 9:00am - 4:00 pm
Speakers: Tobasonakwut Peter Kinew, Sally McDonald, Ronald P. McDonald of Wabaseemoong Ojibway Nation, Harold Fontaine of Sagkeeng First Nation, Jessica Burton of Suicide Prevention Education Awareness Knowledge (SPEAK) Winnipeg, More TBA,
Contact: Peter Kinew 204-256-4861
Sally & Ron P. McDonald 807-927-2020
Steve Courchene 204-255-8152

Participants are asked to bring pictures of their loved ones. People wishing to present are welcome, Please call As Soon As Possible. Guests wanting to take part in Giveaway Ceremony for their Loved Ones are encouraged. Please contact us with the number of people that will be attending the Free Gathering.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aboriginal Survivors of Suicide: Gathering In Winnipeg, April 21 & 22, 2010
Winnipeg, Manitoba March 17, 2010. For every suicide, there is an average of 7 survivors left to deal with the aftermath. In the Aboriginal community the number of survivors is greater due to large families, extended families and small communities. There is little or no grief support for the survivor of suicide in the Aboriginal community.
Survivor grief is most difficult to deal with because of the choice. People chose to die over staying with their loved ones. At least that is how the survivor may feel. There is devastation to their life. A loved one has died and there are no answers. The survivor must continue to live but many times the survivor just exists. The stigma over suicide continues to go unaddressed. With many Aboriginal communities heavily influenced with Christian doctrine, the act of suicide is looked at as a Sin. Suicide is also viewed as the cowardly act of someone who has chosen to escape a hardship. The negativity of view on suicide further compounds to the survivor agony.
The Survivor must deal with the myths, the psychological damage, the fear, the anguish, the blame and the what if’s. Some survivors never recover. Other’s take control of the situation and try to prevent it from happening to others, or make an effort towards a living memorial of their loved one.
Ronald and Sally McDonald of Wabaseemong Independent Nation, Ontario have chosen to remember their grandson Nolan by way of hosting an annual hockey tournament. The McDonald’s also donate their time to other Native communities and discuss their loss and talk about suicide prevention. .
Peter Tabosanakwut Kinew an Elder from Onigaming Ontario shares his wisdom and has searched a more Spiritual route to his loss. He is a member of the Grand Medicine Society and is a Teacher. He does not turn down anyone who seeks his council and prayer.
Germaine Cameron of Swan Lake First Nation is a multiple survivor. Her latest loss was her teenage daughter. Germaine sees the help that volunteer groups and peers have to offer. Her means of working with her grief is attending Compassionate Friends, a peer group of parents that have lost a child.
The Aboriginal Survivors of Suicide is a volunteer driven group that is hosting a Gathering of Survivors in Winnipeg, Manitoba, April 21 & 22, 2010 at the Thunderbird House, 715, Main Street. The Gathering will provide Survivors with a place to listen and understanding. The aim is to provide tools and ideas of how to start support groups at the community level. The Aboriginal Survivors of Suicide is not an agency sponsored event. It is a volunteer event. The Aboriginal Survivors receive no financial support and is not affiliated with any political group.

Contact: Sally & Ron McDonald (807) 927 -2020. Peter Kinew (204) 256-4861.
Steve Courchene (204) 255-8152. Box 554 Pine Falls, Mb R0E 1M0.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Finding hidden treasures in all the right places




Been out running around the city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg is said to have the largest Aboriginal population in Canada. Other people say it is Toronto that has the largest population of Indian people. All I know is in Winnipeg, you can see an Indian everywhere. Anyway, been going around to the North End of the city, where there are some Native organizations. Trying to get some interest from them into our Gathering. While in the north end I stopped at a second hand shop run by the Mennonite Central Committee. The MCC does a lot of charity work. When looking around second-hand shops, I don't really look for anything in particular. Sometimes I look for "silent butlers". I use them for smudge bowls and end up giving them away. I didn't find a silent butler but I found something way cooler. It is an outside popcorn maker. At least that is what the gentleman told me. I think it will make an awesome smudge bowl. I am so excited about buying this smudge bowl/holder. The best news was that it cost me one dollar! Yep, one little dollar. Maybe it's not the best news. The best news is how the little things make you feel charged.

I am going to keep running around the city and start bumming from people for our Gathering. So far it's going pretty good. The first week going and we have a place to hold the event, several speakers, a few Elders, some Traditional people wanting to take part, a medical clinic and a established Survivor Group.

So I am encouraged by the response from people. It is funny as to how good people can be and how apathetic people can be. My daughter is fund raising for a school event and it was our turn to sit at a local grocery store. Fund raising is a hard thing to do. Many people would not make eye contact with the two girls at their table. I kept teasing the girls to make eye contact with the shoppers when they give their sales pitch. A good number of people politely say no thanks, while some just walk fast and stare ahead. The girls had fun and didn't take rejection badly at all.

That was such a treasure to see. In the midst of a lot of "no's" and being ignored, the girls laughed with each other and just had a heck of a good time doing what they were doing.

That is the lesson I got to learn and the attitude I have to keep when going around drumming up interest into our Gathering, don't take rejection personally. Don't get upset when people don't respond.

Trouble for me, it does bug me.