Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's about the search

"I want my child's name in metal, in stone..."

Why do parents, families, and friends of a suicide have a difficult time 'letting go'?
I think it's about the search. With other types of death there is a search. A search for answers. A search for the cure for cancer. A search for the offender that has taken the life. A search for a safer highway, safer drivers. A search for revenge. A search for justice in some cases.
It is all about the search for answers. Why! Why?
I think that is what we need as survivors of suicide loss. The search for answers that we may never find.


The above quote was from a CBC radio interview with a professor at the University of Toronto. He had lost three daughters when his house was destroyed in Palestine by tank fire. He is searching for justice, for forgiveness and for someone to say they made a mistake and acknowledge it.

Ask your mom for 50 cents




Tiny Tot song.  There is one the sesame street tiny tot song that I think is the best tiny tot pow wow song out there.
http://www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf9235

Thursday, December 23, 2010

What is in an Apology?

What can we expect when we apologize? I believe an apology should be unconditional. You should not expect anything in return for the apology. You should not be able to use and apology as an excuse. A way to rationalize out the wrong we have done.
I have been rude where there was no need for it. This lady, her name is Shirley. She is the director of a local Wellness program in our Reserve. She walked by me at the office and I yelled after her as she walked down the hall, "well hello". She looked back and did not say anything. She knew my remark was meant to be rude. I went on to tell the receptionist that it is not good for a director of a wellness centre to be rude.
In actuality it was me that was rude to her. Her behaviour is fair, after-all about 3 years ago I swore around in her office and questioned the policies of the Wellness Centre. 
So what can I expect when I go to apologize for my insensitive and rude behaviour? Absolutely nothing.
I find that we can use an apology as an excuse for our own behaviour. That is not what an apology should be.

I speak of being kind and struggle to follow that Teaching. It is a hard thing to do. Always be mindful of what we say, how we act and what we do. There are many people who are at the receiving end of someone's wrath, rudeness, impolite behaviour or just plain meanness. The ones of us who are at the giving end, must be more aware of what our actions mean to people. It takes a little effort to be mean, so why don't we use that same effort to be kind.

Here's to you, your families, your friends; let's use our best hugs and biggest smiles, our most sincere apologizes to our friend's, families and to those that need it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Powerview RCMP and the Sagkeeng Reserve

I remember how the police used to seem to us on the Reserve. They were not our friends. They were considered mean. I had the opportunity to go to the Powerview high school in 1976 and 1977. Powerview is a small town not too far from our Reserve. I didn't mind going to that school. We made some friendly acquaintances with some of the people in school. Never went to socialize with them outside of school. Anyway the kids used to talk about the weekends. As most teenagers do, there had been some drinking on the weekend. This kids in Powerview talked about getting driven home by the police. On the Reserve that didn't happen. The only real relationship with the police was the one where you tried not to let them catch you. I had numerous drinking under age charges. With the court system at the time (and may be still that way)  you were suppose to have your parents or guardian accompany you to court. We didn't really do that. I just went and pleaded guilty on those occasions and took a fine. Not all the police in Powerview were considered bad. A number of them were pretty good people. There were a number of Native police officers that treated the community very well and treated the people decently, with respect and kindness. Strongquill, Munroe, Wilson are just a few names that stand out. Sadly not all the police behave in the professional manner.
I think the reason for this is the environment that the police come into. The town's people are not that close to the Reserve community. There are two town's that border the Reserve, Pine Falls and Powerview. Pine Falls was private industry town for many years. The main industry in the area was the paper mill. The paper mill was the town of Pine Falls. Sagkeeng and Pine Falls were not close neighbours in the get along sense. However, some of the land that Pine Falls sits on is Reserve land. I think the town's culture influences the RCMP's view of the community. In addition the police officer meets people at their worse, so that skews their view even more. In any case the police does not have a relationship with the Reserve community, except as the odaapinigewininwag, (the men who take them away).
I had the opportunity to talk with the Sergeant of the Powerview RCMP detachment this summer. He is Brian Jack. I asked him about the relationship of the police and the community. "How come we never see the police having coffee at our restaurants? How come they never take part in the activities of the community?" I brought up the issue of gangs and how they do not represent any of the people in the community The Sergeant told me they were working towards a good relationship with the Reserve. He also said that he was speaking with the Chief about the gang situation in the Reserve.. I am not sure how realistic this is as one of our Councilors has very close family ties with active gang members in and out of the community. I imagine the police know this and would not be willing to let the Chief and Council know of their initiatives regarding the gang membership in our community. Lot of people are related or are friends and acquaintances of gang members. It makes for a difficult situation for the police to infiltrate and eradicate. There have been no major arrests of drug dealing in the community.

Not too long ago a friend and acquaintance was arrested in the community. He is a local businessman that owns and operates a hunting supply shop, White Wolf Hunting Supplies. This fellow, Cory is a very nice guy. He does a valued community service by providing gun safety instruction and administers the license requirements for gun owners. In Canada there is a law that prohibits people from gun possession or gun acquisition unless they are licensed. Prior to Cory offering this service, most of the Reserve members were in breach of the law.Cory has provided community members with local access and instruction of the license process.
The police acting on a tip said that Cory was a gang member and was providing guns for gang members. They raided his home, his place of business and have revoked his license. His stock has been seized and he can not conduct business as either a sales person or a safety trainer or a license provider.
He is in a battle to clear his name. Problem is this will take a lot of time. He will most likely lose his business. He will win his charges, but the damage to his reputation has been done. The police admitted to the news that none of the guns seized were illegal. It is likely the police have been provided gossip information about Cory. The nature of Reserves and the Indian factor. Community members can be very jealous of someone doing well in the community. Instead of wishing them well, Reserve members will hope for them to fail. That is the reality of a Reserve. Cory is just another casualty of a hurtful entity and individual. The police instead of investigating just go for the easy kill.

One of the things about police is that they paint everyone with the same brush. The Natives gangs make it difficult for everyday Native people to go about their daily lives. The reputation of gangs falls on the majority of Native people. What are the police going to do? Well they will treat everyone like a criminal and let the courts deal with it. It doesn't matter to them. Doesn't matter if an innocent person's life is in a shambles.
This is where the leadership of our community has to stand up. They have to make sure the police are doing their job responsibly. They have to make sure the community is not poisoned by gang activity.
However, the situation remains one where the police push forth with harassment of regular folk in the Reserve; the Chief and Council of the Reserve allows gang culture to putrefy the rest of the community.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dead man's curve.

Our home in Sagkeeng First Nation or as it was called the Fort Alexander Indian Reserve, had a speed limit of sixty miles an hour. This was in the 1960's. I don't know about now, but back then to drive at that speed was to drive fast.
Our house is on the river side of the highway. The highway is paved. Long story but some of the Reserve land was taken and surrendered to the provincial government. A transport route for the truck hauling industry. That is why it was paved and had posted speed limits.
The road by our home was on a "S" curve. This S curve and high speed limit caused some excitement, scary moments and sadly even death on the road in front of our house.
I remember the worse accident to happen in front of our house. It was a car collision between Deceased Sam Bruyere and the Guimond family. I didn't see the actual crash but was there right after. As the families around the curve, my relatives, all came to the accident. I remember Sam sitting in his car. It was an old big car. You know the type with the big steel steering wheels. His car slammed into the side of the other car. The door of the other car was stuck to the front end of his vehicle. My brother Poncho picked someone up the was in the ditch and carried him close to the road. I believe 4 people passed away from that accident. Sam being one of them.
Another accident that I did witness was the rolling of an old black car, like a 55 chevy or one of that style. It looked wild. The car rested on it's four wheels after coming to a stop from rolling over and over. When it was stopped. There was a guy laying on the road face first. He lay there for a while. He got up and went to the car where there were some people inside. He took a lady out of the car and left the other people there. He and the lady walked into the bush. His name was Canada.
There were lots of accidents on that S curve. My brother Poncho and his friends crashed in front of the house as well. They hit our driveway and the car filled. It was 57 Ford. My brother had flew out the back window and had hurt his back. My dad put him in his truck and drove him to the hospital. Shorty and Buck were there too. Shorty got his hand stuck between the door and the car frame. It almost cut of his hand it seemed like.
The road ditches have since been widened and the speed limit through the Reserve does not exceed seventy kilometers or 45 miles an hour. There were other fatalities in front of our House and numerous car accidents.

It was  an exciting time living in on the S curve. Thankfully you don't see that too much these days. But there are still a number of people that drive wreckless in the Reserve.

Sadness and glory in songs.

Songs mean lots. I wish I could write songs/poetry, but that's not a gift I have.



I wonder about the messages that are put into the words of a song or poetry. Even in stories. We may get it or maybe we won't. Still it's good to listen.

"I'm drunk today and I'm rarely sober..."

"my days are numbered ... and lay me down..."


"I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"

Friday, December 10, 2010

We are all a little bit crazy.

I was downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba today with my Grandkids. An old man was walking down the street. Every few steps he would do a spin, a turn around and he didn't miss a step. I at first thought he was getting away from the cold wind. It was about minus 29 with the wind chill this morning, so it was cold. He kept doing the twirl as he walked, so I decided that guy is crazy.

It is funny how we like to think each of us is crazy. We have our little quirks that we like to do, that someone else may think 'that guy is crazy'. I like to say "those bastards" when a story is told. (Craig Ferguson, that bastard has stole my line on his late late night show) My wife will tell me a story of just about anything and I will answer with those bastards. She was telling me to stop it this morning as I was driving her to work. My grandson and granddaughter, the boy and grandgirl; Jackson - meeya were in the car. Boy can only say a couple of things, like papa and doon touch. So my wife figured his next sentence will be "doon touch you bastard".  I say those bastards as my "yoohoo". The Elders in the Reserve would answer a story with yoohoo, to let you know they were listening and it wasn't questioning the story like it may sound. It is to acknowledge that I am listening.

I am not crazy but I do get quirky about certain things. I will get on a kick. Like a frying pan kick. I will look for them, buy them if I have money. Years ago it was a bag kick. I liked to get bags, like gym bags. Cheap ones if I could get them. A couple of years ago it was brooms, this summer it was socks. I don't go over-board with the stuff but like to make sure we have them. I gets in my mind and I look out for them.

So this crazy guy that was walking is kind of cool. He makes a twirl as he is walking and it looks good on him. Just like those people that have really good conversations with themselves in public.

Now that's crazy. :D

Saturday, December 4, 2010

G'waabaamin Poncho

 My brother Poncho is now gone. He was sent off by his family and friends.  A one day wake was had. He wanted the Fire to be at his house. My brother is a man that will be missed. He was easy to make friends for sure. A guy that liked to work. I will miss him that is for sure. His daughter Shirley came on the bus from Calgary. I hope she will have a quiet and safe trip home. She is gone back today.


My uncles Robert and Herman are pictured together.




Uncle Harold with cousins Barry and Lawrence.






 Cousin Chipper. Poncho's God son.


COURCHENE, Russell Michael (Pancho) - September 10, 1949 -November 30, 2010 On November 30th, 2010 surrounded by his family Pancho Courchene peacefully passed away. He leaves to cherish his memory his beloved wife Jeannie, children Rick (Christina), Carmen (Mike S), Mike (Maya), Cara (Lionel ?Duke?), Crystal and Shirley, numerous grandchildren, his father Henry, and siblings Leonard (Isabel), Carol, Donald, Howard (Valerie), Steve (Susan), Jean, Sally (Daniel), Brenda (Alvin) and Lorraine, brothers and sisters in law, as well as numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Pancho was predeceased by his mother Mildred Courchene, brother Luke, sister Jean and nephews Donovan and Evan. Wake services will begin at 11:00 am on Thursday, December 2, 2010 at the St. Alexander Roman Catholic Church in Sagkeeng First Nation. Funeral service will follow on Friday, December 3 at 1:00pm also at the St. Alexander Roman Catholic Church in Sagkeeng. Pallbearers will be Rick Simard, Mike Courchene, Lionel Guimond, Howard Swampy, Wayne Courchene and Norbert Bruyere. Honourary Pallbearers will be his Godchildren Amber Simard and Barry ?Chipper? Courchene.