Thursday, August 30, 2012

We accept idiots all the time and often

Can you really accept your friend the way they are, or can you accept their views and not be affected?  I was thinking about this the other night. Some friends are comfortable saying whatever comes to mind, no matter if it is racist, sexist or of hatred.  After all we are friends and they are safe to say anything, isn't that right? This seems to be the way it is. If we are friends with someone, we accept how they are. Same with family members, we have to accept them. I was thinking about this a lot lately.

I am not a fan of ex-comedian Dennis Miller, the guy is a hack!  He is on par with Right Wing Extremist, Ann Coulter.  My dislike goes beyond their conservative political views. Miller and Coulter come to mind because their views piss me off. My dislike is based more on their framing of arguments. They typically use hate. Hate as the foundation of their views. Dennis Miller had been on the comedy circuit for years. Being one of the cast members for the television show Saturday Night Live.  Dennis Miller came out of the closet as a Right Wing Extremist Nut Job after the attack of 911.  One could understand his anger for the attacks. But it seems that his way of thinking and hatred had been hidden from sight for many years. Many of his colleagues are not openly right wing, rather many are openly left wing followers. You could not say that Jon Stewart is right wing and may even say he is left wing, i.e. Liberal (you know that bad word). Senator Al Franken  once a comedian as well, is a Democrat. He is on the political left, a liberal. I understand the two (Miller & Franken) are or were friends.  I wonder can Al Franken or Dennis Miller accept each other as friends? They are on opposite ends of a wire. Can they accept the wide difference of opinion and views? I think they can, we do it all the time.

But maybe over the long haul, I don't know if that really can be done. At some point, the opposite views, feelings about something, someone are just too much to carry. You have a friend that you know to be racist or homophobic. How long can you carry what he/she feels? I know its not you. You may have different views altogether, or your views may not be as extreme as those of your friend. So why not just ignore the views? Why not just accept them as they are? After all its not you and it should not affect you, right?

I have friends that are conservative in thinking. What I mean is that they believe in the Bible and its use should be part of the rule of law. They even wear shoes that would make Preston Manning proud.  (You know those black shiny loafers with the soft spongy soles. The kind, that old men with their pants heft up to their breasts wear.) Not something I agree with, but that's okay. I have friends that are racist homophobic and just plain negative thinking in every way imaginable, and I have grown accustom to their views.I know I know, you should speak up against the negativity in the world. I agree, I agree. However, sometimes you just lower your head and let the water drain off your back. Get me?  We accept idiots all the time. I know people accept me for all my quirks, stupidity, shallowness, narrow-mindedness and smell. So there is reciprocity. They accept me for being an idiot and I do likewise. We save our barbs and wars against the other guys. The strangers. Not the people we know. We accept idiots all the time.

Not only do we accept idiots that are close to us, we accept idiots that we don't even know. Steven Fletcher  is a Member of Parliament of Canada. He is the guy that as a sitting MP said that the "Japs were Bastards". He later apologized as saying he was using language historical to the time period. The word Jap is  commonly accepted as an ethnic slur. When Steven made his angry comments about the Japanese, he had a colleague in Parliament that is of Japanese descent. Bev Oda of course accepted his comments. We accept idiots all the time.  I am ashamed to say that I can't stand Steven Fletcher. Steven Fletcher is a quadripaligic. He was a very active man prior to (and still after) his car accident.  It's not his situation that I dislike, it is him, his demeanor, his attitude. his smugness and his hatred to the poor. I think he uses his situation as a stick to hit people with. I guess I would be angry to, but from all accounts he was a dink prior to his accident and is still a dink. We accept idiots all the time.

Even the rich have their share of idiots. The Baldwins;  Alec and Stephen seem to accept each other.  I don't know who is the bigger idiot. Alec for his telephone rant on his child or Stephen for being a right wing nut bar?  We accept idiots all the time.

 Some of the biggest idiots accept all the time are in our own backyards. My Reserve is like that.







Thursday, August 16, 2012

From the mouths of Babes... & Buffoons.

My wife and I were trying to remember when our girl "got it". The moment when she saw what race is, what people can be like. I don't remember what brought it on, but I do remember her saying "people are mean to brown people". She was about five years old. Wish I could remember the incident. What does matter is that when things happen, children kind of lose that innocence. When all are friends.  I guess this topic is in my mind because of the political climate out there. I really get physically sick and worry constantly about what is happening in the world, and the Indian community. I worry about my girl and my grandkids, and my friends and our people. It is scary. The world does seem to be mean to the Brown People, the Black People and the Poor People. In Canada we have a Prime Minister that is mean and wants to control everyone and everything. It seems he does not like poor people, brown people and black people. He has passed laws that will hurt the Brown, Black, and the Poor. Stephen Harper is mean.

The United States is gearing up for the Presidential election and the blanket of  hatred is being spread all over. We see it from an outside view here in Canada. However, it is something that we worry about. We see the type of people running. The two party system: one of hate, the other of compromise. Hate seems to be stronger of the two and that is sad. Compromise should be strong and good but it is not. Sometimes compromise can't win. So the compromise party should take lessons from the hate party and just go ahead and make changes, rather than expect reason and sanity from the party of hate.

The U.S. Vice-President Biden, a Democrat said that the Republicans would like to see people (Black People) back in chains (slavery). Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Ryan, and Republican leaders are calling the President a thief, he should be "patted on the head" and told to "go work for somebody".
Here all we see is hate coming out of the election. I feel bad for all the Poor, the Brown and the Black people down there. It seems that hate is the fuel that gets people involved over there.

In Canada with our own haters and meanies, it is sad for the PBB (poor brown and black). Our Prime Minister Stephen Harper has an loaded gun and he is using it. He has attacked Labour in Canada. He is exploiting the new Immigrant, making the Old work harder and is punishing the unemployed. Yeah, "people are mean to brown people". He even went as far as attacking those behind the poor, charities. He has set his sights on the educated as well. The Scientific community is being shot all to hell from the Prime Minister. Guess he does not want the environmental scientists to slow the well oiled machinery of the Resource Sector. I guess Harper is not only being mean to the PBB, but he is shooting anyone that he does not like. That is scary because he is attacking people that normally have a voice. People that are educated, and vote. Can you imagine if he has no fear about being mean to these people, how bad he is to the PBB?

The Aboriginal people are pretty close to the bottom of the PBB, meaning they are the floor mat of the government. Prime Minister Harper is wiping his feet on the Indian. We are seeing that action as we speak. Never mind that there is a Constitution that recognizes Aboriginal Rights. Never mind that there are Treaties with obligations that need to be met. Never mind that Aboriginal people are the most marginalized of any Nation in Canada. Harper is just that guy; no concept of respect.

There are so many buffoonery comments out there by both Canadian and U.S. leaders that I just can't list them. So I will leave you with one from a guy in our community. He looks like a buffoon and sounds like a buffoon, but after his keen observation and succinct description, I am not sure he can be seen as a buffoon. You see he was standing outside the community store when he saw this local female resident walking out of the store. This woman is a relative of mine. She dresses extremely well, is very opinionated, thinks very well of her self and is "loud round and brown". The local buffoon looked at her as she walked to her expensive car and said "boy, she must have a big shitter". 

From the mouth of ... 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Boo Boo Shuck

Was visiting with my brother today and talking about this one guy from the Reserve who had some bad things happen to him. He has always been one of those good guys, friendly, generous and outgoing. He was in a car accident years ago. He lost use of his legs. I was telling my brother that I ran into him a while back in a downtown mall in Winnipeg. He was of course friendly and happy to to visit. My brother said that he was always a good guy, just had some bad stuff happen to him. My brother started to tell me how some people would go and take advantage of his good nature in the Reserve and drink up his disability money. People would go and drink with him at his home. This guy would drink too much and not be able to control the flow of pee in his stomach bag. So the pee would leak out of the bag. There would a trail of pee all over the kitchen. Guys used to say, "we're going to have some beers down at cripple creek".  Sorry but I did laugh. And I did say "ho wa".

That is the way things go.

It got me thinking about my friends that have passed on and how things go. My cousin Larry passed away suddenly last year. A heck of a good guy. Funny as all heck as well.  He was one of our (cousins around the same age) heroes growing up. Too bad Larry drank too much, that may have contributed to his death. Anyway, Larry was one of those guys that would help anyone. He was real Rez. He had to mannerism that you would expect from some Indian living on the Rez. He still used the old sayings; you know not quite English and not quite Ojibway. For example, He did not know what thistles were called. He only knew them, even as an adult, as Boo Boo shuck. You know the word Boo boo? It is common colloquialism in Canada when you speak to a child who has gotten hurt. Like a scratch or a small cut. You call that a Boo boo. Well thistles are those plants that have sharp needles on the leaves. Our parents in the Reserve (and most likely all Ojibway and Cree Reserves) called those plants, Boo boo shuck. with the emphasis on the "shuck". Referring to something kind of ugly. Larry still called thistles by the name of Boo Boo Shuck. And I loved that about him, No pretense.

There is the Reserve and there is the REZ.  Indians that have the accent, the little subtle ways of the community. Our community was really like that. Many communities are still like that. Not getting "white-washed" as my daughter would say. Some guys/gals never stray off the Reserve. Sure they have some overnights in the "Peg", but mostly they are Rez bound. These are the people that continue with the mannerisms, the humour and the language of the Reserve. One of those guys is my cousin BoyShum. Boyshum is one of those guys that works hard with his hands. He of course is older now so his boys work hard for him. They have been a family of bush workers. Now that the bush work is gone, they are doing more landscaping. Boyshum is real Rez.

There are lot of people from our Reserve that use the word "boy" in their everyday speech. Everyone is called "boy". Hey boy!  It is not negative or a slight on anyone. It is just the way it is.

It is a good thing really. Because with all those Rez folk, you still have the connection. The connection to what makes us different from main stream. The connection that we can not afford to lose. That we are all about the community. Even if it seems strange to outside eyes and ears.

The one sad thing is with the loss of Ojibway language being spoken, lot of the English-Ojibway made up words are also dying. I guess that is the way things are. 

So next time you see a thistle or are pricked by its needles, don't forget to say, "watch out for those Boo Boo Shuck". 

It is not true Ojibway, but hey Boy, it's still Rez.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Assembly of First Nations should follow their Declaration.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national lobby group for First Nations in Canada.The AFN is the national voice of the First Nations in Canada. There are about 630 bands in Canada with over seven hundred thousand people. About half of those people  live on Reserves.

This is their Declaration: 

A Declaration of First Nations

"We the Original Peoples of this land know the Creator put us here.
The Creator gave us laws that govern all our relationships to live in harmony with nature and mankind.
The Laws of the Creator defined our rights and responsibilities.
The Creator gave us our spiritual beliefs, our languages, our culture, and a place on Mother Earth which provided us with all our needs.
We have maintained our Freedom, our Languages, and our Traditions from time immemorial.
We continue to exercise the rights and fulfill the responsibilities and obligations given to us by the Creator for the land upon which we were placed.
The Creator has given us the right to govern ourselves and the right to self-determination.
The rights and responsibilities given to us by the creator cannot be altered or taken away by any other Nation."

 I started this posting that AFN should make a Declaration. I changed it because they are already have a declaration, and one that is better than that I was going to suggest. I was going to suggest something about being sovereignty and asserting Rights. However, this AFN declaration says what we should be living and it declares it succinctly. The declaration makes a clear link to what the Creator gave us. Not what government gave us.

I think as Indians, and communities we don't even consider this declaration. But it should be on the minds of all First Nations. Especially at the community level. When we make decisions at the community level it affects people in a real tangible way. We may deny the person a job, because we don't like their family. We can grant favours because we like certain people. Or we give in to the demands of the unreasonable individual or groups. And this decisions may not be in the best interest of the whole. The whole community. First Nations govern in a manner that is different than mainstream governing bodies. Decisions at the local level do affect people for a long time and can lift them up or put them down. If local leaders started to think about the declaration than perhaps they would start to think about the larger community. How individual decisions affect the bigger picture.

If you look at Manitoba First Nations for example,  many of them have signed agreements with the provincial government. For example gaming agreements. The agreements seek permission from the provinces for First Nations to do gaming on their own territory. I believe it was the late Oscar Lathlin, who was Chief of the Pas, who signed the first gaming agreement with the Province of Manitoba. Prior to that Reserves in Manitoba governed over their own gaming initiatives. I never agreed with a First Nation going to the province for permission on anything. And it seems to be the norm now-a-days. So much for declaration of "the Creator has given us the right to govern ourselves and the right to self-determination". It looks like that does not enter into our Leaderships minds these days. This decision by an individual Chief or Band has made it difficult for all other Bands and Chiefs. Essentially what this person did is take away from what the Creator gave us, and had given it to the province. Does that make sense? Something that all sovereign First Nations assert they have; the right to govern themselves, was ignored and signed away by this one individual. Now how can we say we are sovereign when we keep going to the province (or any other government) and ask for permission to do something, that was already ours?

I say our communities should start to voice the AFN declaration and maybe it will sink in. Not only to the Leaders in our community but to the people as well.

We are sovereign and we have not given up that right. The first signed Treaties were not surrenders but sharing agreements and now is the time to assert those sharing agreements. Today the new agreements are meant for First Nations to surrender. That is what is happening in British Columbia and the outstanding Treaty Land Entitlements (TLE) agreements. Now when you sign an agreement (treaty) you are basically surrendering all Rights to the Land. This does not follow the declaration principles of AFN.

So what is going to be, a declaration that means nothing, or a declaration that should be a guide for how we live?