Sunday, January 17, 2016

Indians Need Discipline

I remember as a Kid in the Boarding School.  I took a package of those little wooden ice cream spoons. Those little ones that came with those small ice cream cups. It was from the top of her desk. Anyway it was my cousin Todd Fontaine and myself and we got told on by Preston Henderson. The Sister gave us six straps on each hand in front of the other students. We were in grade one or two attending school in the Fort Alexander Indian Residential School.  It was those famous black leather straps which Teachers used on the kids.  I stole so I got disciplined.  Not the first time and not the last time.

This is not the kind of discipline I am talking about when I say Indians need discipline. Not to strap them until they cry or have blue and purple welts on their arse. Another time my cousins and I got straps on the bum from the man in charge at the school.  Those big black leather straps.
You had to see them.   So the kind of discipline is the other kind of discipline. The kind a farmer has.  The kind a bushman or bush-person has. The kind a Trapper has. Discipline of a fisher-person, a military person, the musician, the health conscious and the discipline of knowledge.  The kind  of discipline I wish had.

You see there is a disconnect. People in the Indian community need to learn discipline. They had it. Many still have it. Many got lost. Lot of reasons the discipline got lost. We know the reasons really well. Yet it does not help us. We need to re-learn the discipline of commitment, of effort or passion.

Elder David Blacksmith 
George Muswaggon
I see the discipline in many and they are people we should look to and emulate.
Al Spence 

There are people in this world that have discipline. I see them  in many places. These people discipline usually comes with them having a connection with the land. My in-laws the farmers. You won't see plastic bags floating around the yards or the fields here. They have a respect for the land. That is where discipline comes from; respect. Respect for the land, for your home, for your community, your family and for yourself.

I admire a man like George Muswaggon. He is an educated Indigenous man. He knows his language. Has strong ties with the land; his identity and his culture. Most of all he has discipline; self discipline. This is a man that still travels with work clothes in his vehicle even though he is leader of an agency. He will be one of the first to get dirty, to lend a hand, to work hard. That is a man of discipline a man who respects himself and the world. That is what we need more of in the Indigenous community.

You know there were these old guys in the Reserve that work in the bush. They would joke with the younger guys and say "I wonder what will happen when us guy are no longer around, who is going to do the work?" One of the guys is my cousin Bepkins. He is 75 years old but you would think he is in his forties. He works hard, volunteers and has discipline.

My brother in law Al is like that. 75 years old and works everyday looking after cows, feeding them, repairing equipment and being disciplined.

You know people like that. You admire people like that. They know what it means to respect themselves and have tie to the land.

But we know many that are not like that as well.

My brother-in-law thought Reserve school for many years. A big problem for students was being tired. They would come to school not having enough sleep and many missed classes altogether. I remember as a young guy, my Mom would get me and my siblings up in the morning to get to school no matter what time I came in.  No a situation happening today. Either the parents don't get the kids up or the kids just refuse to listen to the parents. Either way the situation is a lack of discipline.

It may not be the answer to the ills affecting our community but it is one thing we can focus on.


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