Tuesday, April 9, 2013

We Can't See Ourselves

Went to visit my Friend today. She does not consider herself and Elder but she is one of the people that I go see for Teachings and just to enjoy company. I have to fight the downward spiral of getting dark. Dark thoughts, dark feelings, overwhelming sadness and some anger. Not sure where it is coming from, that dark stuff?

So I go there just to talk about anything and everything. I don't go over to say "I am depressed". I just go over for tea and some chat. Pretend as usually that everything is "good". I 'm good when people ask. But really I am just sliding down. Wondering when I will finally crack.  I remember when I had my "mental breakdown" all those years ago. I wanted to just end it, to kill others to lash out to stop everything. What a heck of a place to be.  Now I know better. I do spend some time trying to breath. Out with the bad. Not sure if it works, but hey what the heck. Anyway this post is not about that.

We got to talking about a lot of things, her work, the way people are treating Indians. She was telling me about this fellow who called her today. He sobered up a number of years ago and works around the city. He has one prosthetic arm. He is a single dad. Anyway, he was asking if she noticed how the police are treating people these days. She said she hasn't really noticed. She just goes to work in the North End, and back home. The North End of Winnipeg is a very poor area of the city. Lot of Aboriginal folk in that area. The fellow said that the police presence has increased in the North End since Idle No More started. The police have become very angry towards the Aboriginal people on the streets. This fellow was telling my friend that he walks alot in the area. Many Aboriginal people do in that area of town. He said that the police will taunt them with racial comments and frequent stops. When there is a call to the area, police come in a multiple of units. I wonder what is the message that police are trying to send? I really think the general population is not sympathetic to the Aboriginal people. In the news a rally was held at the downtown Mall. The rally was to bring awareness for the conduct of security guards and their treatment of an Aboriginal Elder. On the news station you could hear some of the comments from the crowd to the rally spokespeople; "your not wanted here, anyway". I think the Idle No More movement is showing people for what they are; angry and hateful towards Aboriginal people.

We were talking about this and my friend says "can they see how they are?" I don't think they can. I mean really how many of us can see ourselves for what we are?

Can we see that our actions are hurtful? That our jokes or name calling is rather disgusting? Oh, its really just a joke. Or I don't think that way of all of them.

I visited with another friend of mine today (Boy I did a circuit, actually I have my Dad visiting and want to keep him occupied going out and about, he likes that). So like I was saying, I was visiting my friend (a relatively new friend) and I noticed this guy was back at her place of work doing some volunteering. I had not seen him for a long time. She told me the story. He was volunteering daily for over a year. One day he came to her and said he was charged with domestic abuse. He said, he supports his wife who is addicted to pills. He said he told her to get help or he wasn't going to support her anymore. Which was where she went wild and attacked. She then called the police on him to have him charged, according to him. Well my friend agreed to help him, and did send a letter of reference to his lawyer saying that she could not see him as being violent and that he never displayed anything of the sort around her work place. So that was a good thing. Later, not sure if the letter helped or not, the charges were stayed, meaning he was let go and free. So that was that. She did not see him for sometime after that. He started to come back and volunteer again after some time. On this one day, there was a fight going on outside the building. This fellow and another man were fighting. The other man was trying to hit him in the head with a rock. Police were called and came to separate the men and take them away. This bystander was standing around there and said to my friend, "so you going to protect him again?" She said what are you talking about he was being attacked with a rock. The bystander said "that guy is a woman beater, he beats his wife all the time."  Later a woman showed up at my friends place of work and asked for the man's bag. She said her keys were in the bag. My friend said the woman looked beat up, so she asked her did that, "did your husband beat you up"? The lady said all the time. She went on to say he beat her up a number of times in the last few days and that she always felt that he was being sheltered at the place. My friend told her that was not the case and that she should be there and not her husband. When the fellow came back to my friends place of work. she told him he was not welcome there until he got some help for his violence towards his wife.

My friend was devastated. She said I could not see it. I guess its not only that we can't see ourselves but we can't see others as well.

There is this fellow on the news and he has been proclaimed as a "Grand Elder". That is really something. People are praying for him, rallying around him and following him. Quite the thing. In his home community he is seen in another way.

For me this is what I think.

My Dad is going to be 83, he was born in 1930. Grew up in the Reserve, speaks Ojibwe, worked in the bush, did trapping fishing, hunting and did go to residential school in the Reserve. Was cured with Traditional Medicine as a young man. My Dad is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, but that is beside the point. My Dad does not consider himself an Elder even though he is a man of the Reserve. He of course is and Elder in the sense that he is an old gentleman, an old man. But to him and many other Native people, an Elder is one that is knowledgeable of the Traditional Teachings, or someone that is gifted in that way. My Dad would hold younger man in high regard that are younger than some of his own children. He held them in high regard because they were Elders; knowledgeable and gifted, like the Late Mark Thompson and even David Blacksmith. David Blacksmith a very young man came and blessed my Dad's Pipe for him. That is how an Elder is regarded. David didn't announce himself as an Elder to my Dad, but my Dad respects his Teachings as that of an Elder. People know who is an Elder in the Aboriginal community. We may not all like or agree with the person but we know who they are. Why am I sharing this? Not too sure.

Just like when I went to my friend and cousins' Ceremony at the hospital a couple of weeks ago. The Elder who was tasked with the Ceremony was a young man. Everyone there, knew and recognized him. He didn't make a grand announcement of who he was. He was there by invitation.

In the case of the Grand Elder, well that is interesting...

We can't see Ourselves...

Sometimes we can't see others as well.  


  1. Good story. You are also on your way to being an elder.

    Enjoy your journey

  2. Thanks for the comment. I saw this comment on my blog and decided to come back and see the original post. Made me think of my Dad. Thanks