Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Search by a Young Sister to Find her Brother - Adopted Out.

This is a post shared on Facebook. It is the child (Delanie) of my Cousin Norman. This is her story and her words.

We all remember when he was taken.

Taken without permission from Facebook.

Let's talk 60s scoop.
Some of you probably have heard of the 60s scoop. The other some of you probably haven't and have no clue what the 60s scoop is, but that wouldn't surprise me. Because a lot of the stuff that happened to First Nations people isn't acknowledged or talked about. So for those of you that don't know, let me just briefly explain. The 60s scoop was a thing in Canada where First Nations children were taken from their families and placed into group homes, foster homes and where they would wait to hopefully be adopted. Some to never see their family again, never learn their culture or who they are (were). Leaving the parents/family of these kids who were taken from them broken, hurt, and filled with pain. Welcome inter generational trauma. The pain doesn't go away. It doesn't just stop. Neither does the hurt. everyone is effected. the generations after are still effected. How would I know? Because I live it. I see it. I see the hurt. I see the pain. and I feel the broken. Generation after generation of hurt, pain, and being broken. And so I guess someone has to try break the cycle. Here's my story about my brother Lee Ambrose Hall Bruyere.
In 1976 Norman had a son named Lee Ambrose. When Lee was just 3 years old he was taken from his biological family. And moved into the United States where he was placed into a group home, and waited a year till being adopted into a family.
Lee's family members in Manitoba tried to do everything they could to get him back but they never heard from him again after that. Let me remind you that he was only 3 YEARS OLD! imagine having your baby taken from you and never seeing or hearing from them again, awful isn't it. His family would continue to search and fight to try get him back. But everything they would do ended in failure. Leaving them grieving for Lee. As years passed they would still continue doing everything in their power that they could to try reunite with him.
Fast forward into the 2000s. And this is where my contribute in this search begins. I was young when I first learned about my brother. But when I was 9 or 10 I remember listening to a conversation and stories being shared about him and what happened. Then it hit me, I have a brother out there somewhere. I knew his name and later found out the state he was adopted into which was Pennsylvania. So having 3 sisters and always wanting a brother, when I found out about Lee I told myself I don't care what it takes, one day I will find and have my brother in my life. And
hope that finding him would bring some
healing to the family. So I did what a 10 year old with the internet could do. I searched Facebook, Instagram, twitter and google looking for him having no clue what he looked like or if he even still used his birth name. I remember one time when I was searching I typed in "people in Pennsylvania named lee." Haha ya good luck delanie. After being dedicated to searching for usually a week I would give up on myself. I was 10. Then a month or two would pass and I would find myself thinking of him and start looking again. This went on and on till I was in grade 10. I also was doing this by myself, as in I didn't really let anyone know that I was doing all this trying to find him, until March 2016. But when ever I had the chance to talk about him, I talked about him as if I knew him my whole life. I took lots of pride in having a brother.
On March 17 2016 my oldest sister passed away Lee's full biological sister. Me and my sister were really close. And finding Lee meant a lot to her. so I knew that no matter what, I had to find him. During that time I got to see my very first picture of Lee, of him as a baby. I then talked to Norman and told him that I wanna find him, I was sent to talk to Karen the aunty. We talked about him and she told me what she had done throughout the years of searching and having no luck. She told me that she had a letter that was sent to her and that she would give it to me in hopes that it could help me. The letter was sent from Southern Manitoba First Nations Repatriation Program, written on March 19 2004 (Lee age 28) saying his DOB, name and where he was adopted (Pennsylvania) already knew this. And that's what I was left with to try find my brother in a world with billions of people. I'm gonna be honest in the back of my head there was a thought saying that this is impossible you're wasting your time, but good thing I'm a bull head and don't listen. I didn't give up and continued my search. I phoned the number on the letter and emailed but no answer or response, I then looked for the lady's name that was on the letter, I found her on Facebook and personally messaged her. I was informed that the SMFNRP was no longer a thing. At that moment I felt hopeless. I didn't know what I was gonna do next or if there was anything I could do, but I didn't give up. I went online did a ton of research on the 60s scoop to help me understand a bit more. I was only 15-16 at the time, calling adoption reachers and emailing anyone that I thought might be able to help. But it didn't help me. Sometime last year it was announced that the adoption files from 60s scoop kids will be opened in Manitoba. Melissa helped me fill out the forms to apply to get the records. And she also phoned Manitoba adoption agency to help me get info on how everything works. I remember the day we called, I was frustrated angry and ready to give up. We were told that basically if we apply for them but Lee hasn't opened the files on his side then we can't get them. Which meant probably never finding him. I didn't really know what to think besides like what that's fucken crazy! what if he doesn't even know? What if this what if that. All these thoughts going through my head as I was about to give up after all these years. Melissa just says delanie let's just fill out the forms, send them in and see what happens. Ok I'm less heated again so we get the forms done and send them. This was on April 25 2016. Couple months pass don't hear or get anything back. So at this point I'm thinking well that obviously didn't work. Guess it's back to google searching "people in Pennsylvania named Lee" ha not even kidding. I was desperate to find him. I even sent in an application for that tv show long lost family. Messaging random people who I thought could maybe be him. I remember at school I would spend hours in the computer lab trying to get information, names, numbers, emails of people who I could contact to try and help me. Nothing seemed to work or help. It was very frustrating. But yunno I wasn't just gonna give up. I know what it's like to be given up on. Even though at the time Lee had no clue I was looking for him, at least now he knows I never gave up on him.
May 4 2017 over a year later there's a letter in the mail from Manitoba department of families. I never been so anxious to open a letter before, this letter meant everything. So I open the letter, and there it is my brothers name Lee Ambrose Priar. I can't even explain what it felt like, it was just unbelievable. Norman and other members of the family left it up to me to be the one to contact him. Little overwhelming but I got this far wasn't gonna get scared now. I found his Facebook and tried messaging him, didn't get a response but I wasn't sure if he was getting the messages. So I continued to Google him and see if I can get a number to call or email. I think I phoned like 5 different numbers, some not in service anymore, others no answer. Emailed 3 different emails all said the email isn't valid anymore. So I was on white pages or some site like that and I came across a name that was linked to him. It was his mother. And I called the number, it actually rang, and the craziest thing happened she answered! I hung up so fast. I sat in my vehicle listened to a few songs, did some breathing. And called back. She answers I say to her "hello, I'm the person who called and hung up earlier so very sorry. I'm just really nervous and scared and please just don't hang up on me" ironic.
so she just says "ya it's okay no worries what are you calling for?"
"Are you Lee's mom"
" yes I am "
" um my name is delanie bruyere I am from sagkeeng First Nation and I'm Lee's youngest sibling "
The conversation went from there. She was a very nice lady, open to talking to me, and very kind. At the start of the conversation I could barely talk, too having no problem at all talking to her. So I'm very thankful that everything went so well. The next day I woke up to a friend request on Facebook from my brother! Best friend request I've ever gotten, well besides when I was like 9 and thought I got a friend request from the real Justin Bieber. Besides the point, I personally didn't end up talking to Lee until June 5th that was the first time we talked through inbox. Anyway from their things went good more family got added on his Facebook and chatting with him, good stuff like that.
As of June 28th myself, my sister Dakota, my late sister hollies daughter Carrie, and Norman decided we are going on a road trip to Harrisburg Pennsylvania to meet Lee! as of right now we are about 2 hours away. After driving for 33 hours. And to think that I'm only a couple hours away from meeting my brother for the first time, it's fucking insane! Sorry bout the F bomb but it is fucking insane! Like this day is finally here! I don't know how many times I thought about the day I got to meet my brother, and here it is like 2 good albums away, yup I tell time in songs/albums. Who doesn't? Example my average shower takes like 3 songs unless my playlist is bumping then maybe 5 songs. Ok well after I meet him I will type the ending to my story of my search for my brother. And this isn't even really the end, it's just the beginning.
July 1 2017
Just officially met my brother for the first time.
I'm kinda speechless. It's just unreal. I'm sorry it took so long too find you. Glad I never gave up.
38 years later, search complete.
Love you brother❤️



https://www.facebook.com/delanie.bruyere/videos/1342136479133947/












Gas Sniffing Experience: Not Proud

I am not sure when I first tried sniffing gas as a kid. It was something the older kids showed us younger kids.

I remember sitting in the old shed that my Mishoom (Grandfather) built at my Dad's place. I sat there sniffing gas out of the spout of a tin gas can. I remember looking at the nozzle. It had those lines for screwing the cap. In my sniffed up head I saw myself falling down the nozzle into the tank.

The gas sniffing experience is weird. It straight kills brain cells and you see things not there. You also stink. It didn't become a habit the sniffing but I did it enough to remember some of the crazy experiences. There was a song that went along with the sniffing which we talked about. Sometimes we would go sit in the culvert that ran underneath the highway close to our house. The creek used to run through the culvert but the creek has long since dried up. The sounds of the cars passing over of us was a weird sound.

Not sure why I am sharing about these experiences. The notion of sniffing is not pleasant. It is still evident on the streets in Winnipeg. You see people of different ages holding rags to their mouth. The rags are dipped in different solvents. The people walking around in a stupor.

It is funny how your brain works. When we were young in the Reserve we thought the city was where the wild Indians and people were. They would sniff stuff like nail polish remover and we thought that was hard core and you would lose brain cells over that.

Just wanted to share some of the things done when we were kids. We didn't have dope. We had gasoline. We would put it in little cans and sniff it. Sometimes when high we would tip to our faces like we were drinking and the next thing we were wet from gasoline. Dangerous. One of the things I noticed as a result of the sniffing was the spitting. We tended to spit a lot. We didn't sniff it through our nose but rather breathed in the fumes through our mouth.

I saw many different things while all sniffed up. I saw a cartoon mouse dancing away on this big gasoline drum; I saw a big green mosquito on my back about the size of a crow; a battle between clouds in the sky. The headaches that followed were wicked. Not sure why we did what we did.

I remember the last incident I had sniffing. I was with my friend and we were sitting in the bush huffing gasoline. Next thing I know I am in the air looking down at me and my friend. Not sure how long it lasted. I went back into my body and started telling my friend what happened and he said I know I saw you.

It is one of the many regrets I have in my life; along with many mistakes, sniffing is one of them. I didn't do it for very long or that many times. I have and will continue to make mistakes until I die, its what we do. It was long time ago but I still feel bad over it.

We like to revisit our own histories and try and revise them but we can't. We can only affect what we do today and hope to do good tomorrow.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Revenge or Avenge?

Avenge is a verb. To avenge is to punish a wrongdoing with the intent of seeing justice done. Revenge can be used as a noun or a verb. It is more personal, less concerned with justice and more about retaliation by inflicting harm.

"An Ojibwe community was battling with another group of Indians. The battle was not without people getting hurt and sometimes killed. In this one battle the brother of one of the Ojibwe warriors was killed by one man in the other group of Indians. The brother was sad and hurt by what happened to his brother. As it was his intent to avenge the death of his brother, he went into the groups camp and sought to challenge the man who killed his brother. The challenge was accepted. The two warriors started to battle each other. The Ojibwe Warrior had finally got the man down and was getting on top of him. The man then spit in the face of the Ojibwe Warrior. The Ojibwe Warrior stopped, got off of the man and walked out of the community. He did not strike the man who had killed his brother."
_________

There is so much ugly happening all over the world. In the Native world we are hurting and we have anger. A young woman is killed and just a couple days later a young man is killed. We are hurting and we are angry.  There is an Inquiry as to what has and is happening to Indigenous Woman in Canada and why are they going missing and being killed.  The Inquiry in its current state is not looking too promising for getting answers. People are sad hurt and angry.

The Governor General of Canada, the person who is suppose to represent the Crown just called the Indigenous people of Canada immigrants. Then he apologized by calling Indigenous property; "Our Indigenous people are not immigrants."  That is so funny. Because of how clueless this guy is.

The list of things indigenous people have endured and are faced with, is long. Just ask any Indian and they will tell you. There are the deeds done against them individually and there are things done broadly across our larger community.

So what do we do with all this hurt?  With the anger building up? In the US  the anger is played out by violence to those who they don't feel fit with their thinking and lives. The amount of racist attacks has just increased and become more visible by the White population. In Canada attacks of racism by Whites have become more visible as well.

That is not the way our people are going. They still don't get into the act of violence and revenge. Regardless of how much they feel it is their right.

So not sure if we can ever see the difference between avenging our ancestors and getting revenge?

Many of the feelings are very personal to us. We are emotionally invested in our families, friends, community and our heritage. So of course there is strong feelings to what happens to us.

I still carry much resentment and anger towards people who I think hurt my Son when he was alive. I used to think of how to get revenge on them. I would cause them so much pain if I should follow through on my thoughts. It didn't happen of course. Not that I didn't have the anger or the wherewithal to go on with it (after all anyone can be mean and inflict hurt). Its a battle in my heart: I want to be kind but yet know I have the ability to be mean. So its a battle.

There are many of us fighting a battle between revenge with those who wronged, and there are those who are avenging what has been done to us. I like those that are taking the anger out of their actions and doing things because it is the right thing to do.



Do you know what the Ogichidaa (Ojibwe Warrior) story reminds us of and illustrates? 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sundancers Be Happy, Be Proud

Well it's the summer and with that come the Thunderbirds, the Ceremonies. The Sundance Ceremony is one of sacrifice.
Pictures taken after Ceremony competed
Pledging Before Sundance Ceremony




Complete Ceremony 
It is quite a thing making a commitment. You make a pledge to sacrifice for others. We dance for life; the good life - Mino Pimatisiwin.

So for all those who make the commitment to the Creator to try and live a good life, I think you should be happy and you should be proud.

I know from  experience life can be anything but kind. We can feel defeated, angry and hurt. Still it is amazing our people will still try to be good, to think of others.

I am so grateful for those who work at sharing their life of following a good path.
The feelings that come with being surrounded by positive thoughts is fantastic. Once the Dance is complete the amount of smiling faces, the hugging and the appreciative gestures to each other makes you wish it would spread all over.


There are those who wish to share their joy on social media and there are those who berate them for speaking about the experience.

I feel bad for those who try and mute the enthusiasm of the Dancer. You see it at many levels. For some arcane reason we are not allowed to share our activities with the Creator. Strange. There can be every form of notification and sharing of main stream belief systems but when it comes to Indigenous Traditions we are to be quiet or hide it? Doesn't make sense. Even some of our Teachers say not to share it?






Lot of shared happiness.

I think a lot of our misguided thoughts regarding the sharing of Ceremony, Traditional Indigenous Ceremony, and it may come from forced norms. The governments made Ceremony of Indigenous people illegal. What you going to do? You hide it. You pretend it doesn't exist. You can't share it without fear of repercussions. There is also the message made popular by media - film industry. We are so backwards that recording ourselves will steal our soul. The popular image in movies where they say we are afraid to have our pictures taken. The message being we are not sophisticated enough to understand a representation - like a picture. Yet Indigenous people have been recording events for ever with many different forms.

I think our people should be proud of their deeds, their accomplishments and share it with the world.

There is so much ugly happening in the world so why can't we share some good?

Share your pride. Share your dreams. Share who you are. Indigenous and great.

We need to love who we are more.

For too long the message has been not a good one. Now people are more open about the good life. I applaud you the strong proud Indigenous.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Can We Just Say "Ah, That's Okay, No Big Deal"

It seems like Indigenous folk are always angry. If you follow any media story about Indians it would seem to be the case. It seems there is no limit as to what will anger the Indigenous person.

This week a White Woman had her art show cancelled due to a backlash of angry Indians. She was copying the art works of deceased artist Norval Morrisseau.  Lot of anger for her copying his work. The gallery cancelled her show.

There was this other time when the Swine Flu hit Canada a few years ago and the Ministry of Health sent body bags to northern Reserves. People were angry that time. Not only did they send body bag but they considered not sending hand sanitizer to the Reserves because of the alcohol content in the sanitizer.  Now that was pretty funny. Funny as in stupid for even making it an agenda item for a number of days.

There are times in our lives when we have the right to get angry. The sanitizer is one of the times when a whole group of people were stereotyped by our government. I was pissed at the arrogance by the bureaucracy and how they see Indians.  Like we are kids and can't handle getting hand sanitizer. This is one case were we had every right to be upset  The body bags, however grotesque, was a mistake. In that case the powers to be should have said "maanoo, ani-sha, babaamendan." (let it go, its for nothing and don't bother) and laughed it off. The funny thing is that we should have laughed at the absurdity. Did they really believe the body bags were sent in earnest to prepare for the deaths? Now that is ridiculous. Some one made a bad goof, a mistake. Even if it was an ugly mistake, its a mistake. Give them heck and move on. But nope the mistake was used for political crying. The leadership should have used the incident to make fun of and ridicule the bumbling bureaucracy that they deal with day in and day out.

With many things we should speak up and voice our concerns and our outrage or our disappointment. There are times when a mistake is just a mistake. Those are the times when we should conserve our energy for things which are truly wrong. Of course I do understand the fact some things are subtle and many may not know its a point of contention; something which we should be outraged about. I understand and know we should be voicing about those times. Still in some cases we should have restraint when it is a mistake. Like the stupid white woman who copied Morrisseau's art. She just didn't show influence from his style, she just copied it. Some folks said she was engaging  in Genocide. If that is not hyperbole or over the top rhetoric, well then, nothing is. I think she was stupid in how she addressed the criticism. Of course she didn't understand the meaning behind Morrisseau's works. She should have said that. But nope she dismissed the critics. Which of course angered them some more. This is one instance where it got big and should not have been. But hey we have lost the ability to say "Maanoo".

In the news media people are starting an "appropriation fund" for writers. Now that is a direct attack on Indigenous and other non-white groups. This is a fight for white privilege. Here is one of those areas that is clear. The idea came up with a magazine wanted to dedicate and issue and have Indigenous input and views. The editor wrote in the same issue to go ahead and appropriate stories about People of Colour. The group wants to encourage cultural appropriation as it is their Right. The right to continue  with their dominance. That is what it plays out as. So this is one of those cut and dry issues, where we know they are dumb and it should be fought. But is it really cut and dry? In some ways yes. The appropriation fund is clearly an attack but the article to go ahead and appropriate stories or characters is not. That is the problem, the first issue was about difference of opinion and we can disagree with  what Hal Niedzviecki wrote.  He expressed an opinion and he wasn't attacking Indigenous folk. I was conflicted about this but kind of agree in some sense. I think we can write what we don't know. For example, I am a fan of Bernard Cormwell's fiction. He writes in the first person of a fictional historical heroes. So its not a cut and dry about writing. It is cut and dry when someone is openly supremacist.

Fighting for what is right and what is stupid are different animals. The problem is, we can never agree on what is stupid and what is right.

But I am always amazed on how people can explain the issues - cultural appropriation and what it means.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

David Blacksmith Artist


David Blacksmith is an artist. He paints and he also makes Drums, Rattles and many other items.
I enjoy his art, and the stories behind the art. 
12 inch buffalo hide with drum stick , painting on it is a mother that cries for her child and the wolf hears this cry , the wolf will look after the child and in cree MI CUN means wolf but it really means to cry for someone that's not there or missing etc , I put things on the side of the drum to make wild happy 














David shares on Facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/david.blacksmith.3
TheDavid Blacksmith

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Go Ahead Brag About Yourself, Break Social Norms

Why are we not allowed to brag about ourselves? You will find all sorts of articles stating the case of the braggart being wrong.  I am wondering if there is any a time when bragging is acceptable.

When much of the world tells us that no matter what bragging is wrong. It sends the message that you just want to look good. I guess that is true but there must be some good in telling others the good deed you have done. When I'm talking about bragging I'm focused on the things we do and not what we have: a high paying job, big house, fast car, trophy spouse, and big dog. No its about the good things you have done which helped others.

Its a bugger for sure. You may want people to know the good thing you did. Still you don't want to be seen as a braggart. You want to inspire others into doing more and Pay-It-Forward but how can you get people to pay it forward if  they don't know about it?

So I say screw it. If people think you are telling about a good deed you did to make yourself look good, so what? We want to hear good things in the world. We hear so much of the ugly things we do. We are also quick to shit on ourselves. Even if we make mistakes, don't we need a chance to make things right? We should be able to say good things about ourselves.


Society is hard. Our people have been slagged so much that it is part of our being and we need to change that. So start with shouting it out. We are pretty damn good. Let's show them this is what we are doing.




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Take Part in Give Away Ceremony

Have you given a gift and it made you feel good? That feeling is pretty awesome isn't it? The joy you feel is tied to many reasons. Generosity is an act of kindness. Kindness and generosity are virtues we should all try to hold. Regardless of the reason for the giving of gifts, it should be part of your life.

I have seen some cool examples of giving. The 1972 Canada Russia series where Peter Mahovlich gave his sweater to Czechoslovakian player. the Czech player in turn gave his sweater to Mahovlich Now that was so damn cool and generous. At the time Western world was not in good relationship with the Eastern Bloc and they were considered enemies; figuratively and literally. So the act of sharing by Mahovlich was a huge gesture. I think others have done the same thing since then.

Giving gifts I believe is part of everyone's culture.

In Indian country everyone is aware of the Potlatch Ceremony. The British Columbia Indigenous community is world known for their acts of Giving. Similar ceremonies take place in the Indigenous community which are still practiced today. Joseph Bruchac (Abenaki)  provides a very informative overview of the Give Away Ceremony in his article Sacred Giving, Sacred Receiving.

The Powwow is likely a place where you will see a Give Away: a new child entering the Circle or a Remembrance of a loved one who has passed on or a family member's celebration of healing. The Lakota Powwows are known for their "Specials" and Give Aways. Lot of beautiful Blankets given out. The Giver of gifts is acknowledging the Creator in front of witnesses.

There was a Tradition of gift giving that I am not sure is practiced very much anymore. It is like the old saying that she/he "will give you the shirt off of their back". This has really taken place. The person who will give you something because you are fond of what they have. I remember years ago that used to happen. Someone in earnest would say "I like your jacket".  The person who had the jacket would take it off and give it to them. Lot of people used to tease about things like that. They would say I like your car.  They would of  course not expect the person to give them, they were just teasing and acknowledge the old practice.  They were just being Indian and teasing.  You will notice a lot of "celebrity Indians", or well known Indians are wearing all sorts of nice beaded adornments. When they travel to different areas, cities or even countries. They seem to come back with all their adornments; beaded medallions and things like that. I think about them and think if you are coming back with all your stuff, you're doing it wrong. And because  I am somewhat of a jerk I will go and test people with "I like your stuff". In one instance I even said to this one guy, "give me that". He was wearing a beautiful Maori Bone Medallion.   He was a Maori fellow and he was shocked. He stammered and said something like it was his Iwi or something like that. My friend a Traditional Maori just laughed and said to me "you got his number".

I think we are becoming more and more like main stream culture with acquisition as our default position: getting more stuff. That is too bad. I see many of our people embracing the Spirit of our Ancestral Teachings and wanting to live with those virtues. Still there are many who like the "idea" of being Traditional with not really understanding the significance of the Teachings. We can mouth some of the good things behind the Teachings but have difficulty letting go of our main stream norms and behaviours.

I like that many are bringing back many of the old ways and teaching them to others. I wonder how many practice the Give Away?

This summer will begin another season of the Sundance Ceremony. Some of the people who have pledged to Dance in front of the Creator will be finishing their 4th year of dancing. Upon completion of their 4th year, these Dancers will be having Give Aways. A way to express their gratitude to the people for the support and to honour the people. All of this is always in front of the Creator and in mind.

I like the Give Away. In general I just like generous people. I am not a fan of the cheap arse. It bothers me how people can be so selfish. Its not the price of stuff or the item, its the sentiment behind it. With Give Aways I have seen lot of the Dollar Store items and I have seen the handmade item as well. The act is about how you feel. Sure its nice to be on the receiving end of the Give Away but it sure feels awesome to be the one giving as well. That is the other thing of Give Away; if you are on the receiving end, try and be gracious. I have seen many who will come back and ask for some more stuff or even try to trade the gift for another. Take the gift in the manner it is given.

So consider the next time you have a celebration, an anniversary of some type about hosting a Ceremony of the Give Away. It will bring good feelings to you and your family. And we can always use good feelings towards us.







Thursday, April 27, 2017

Horrible Death of Young Woman in Sagkeeng by Teens

A horrible incident occurred in Sagkeeng First Nation Manitoba. A young girl was killed. She was brutally beaten. Beaten by other young girls while it was being recorded. 




Steve Julian You know I had a copy of the video in messenger. I made the mistake of asking to see it. I looked at it for 5 seconds. The image and sounds is now in my head. That night I couldn't sleep knowing the connections we have with them. It was my stupidity and morbid curiousity and just being a f**ing nosey person. I am so mad at myself and sorry for getting it. The brutality of death is nothing to search for. The poor families involved. I am surprised the guy who recorded the incident has not been charged?

Sagkeeng.
We can't deny the ugliness in the community. We can try and deflect it and say our community is fine and that this incident was an anomaly. It isn't. It may have been the extreme of ugliness and it is. There are many who are affected by the killing of the young woman. Lot of hurt people. Its tragic and its horrible. The poor families of all involved; victim and perpetrators. Its not a bad scene from a movie or from a different country. Its here in our home. Sadly our community has seen lot of death, either by killing of others, by taking our own lives or by sickness. Our community is is despair. We can do all the smudging and the vigil' now but what and where we were before? We need more of the good efforts and there are some but let's look at what is happening. The pill explosion has expanded to the meth disaster. We can point fingers for sure. You know the way other communities and reserves see Sagkeeng? We are dealers of death.Our community is so filled with bad that it glows at night. We can and try sanitize the reputation of the Reserve but we all can see and feel the way it is. Of course there are pockets of good in the Reseve, no doubt. But the ugly and the bad is like cancer; it grows and it kills. We need to actively try and change that. How do we that? First is to admit there is in fact an ugly. Then we can start to fight the ugly, the bad the evil. We need to acknowledge there is a cycle of ugliness. There are bullies who thrive in the dysfunction. There are rodents who prey off the sick and the addicted. There are opportunists just watching for any excuse to market themselves. There are those with integrity who just go along trying to make the Reserve a better place. I truly love my community and it saddens me to see what is happening. The old adage of a village raises a child is not applicable here. "Who the fuck are you to give heck to my kid?" "Fucking teachers calling cops on my kids." "Fucking crooks." "Someone gives heck to my kid I'm going to kick ass." 
I was speaking to a friend in the Reserve and he/she was appalled at the situation of what took place. No one intervened. No one checked. No one. 
It can't happen to me is not a safe way to live. Anything can happen to anyone. 
We are not immune to bad things happening around us. 
I for one know ugly. 
The big problem is we are not engaged. And its not the fault of anyone. The change just happened. From a community where everyone thought of everyone to where we are only concerned with our immediate group. 
The other thing is we know who people are and we care or don't care for what goes on. "Its not my business." Or we can turn away from what we see.
The justice system is not kind to us. So of course we distrust them-the police. Will having more police in the community cure the ills we face? Nope. Just have more folks in the jails. 
So what can we do? Where do we start?
Banning dealers? Perhaps a start.
More community involvement in people's business? Why not?
More discipline in the community? Curfews? Stricter rules of behaviour in school?
Are we afraid to say anything for fear of our own history?
We all have a past and we may have all made mistakes but does that now exclude us from having a voice?
Are we afraid if we say something, someone will say "but what about you, you fucking piece of shit?"
I feel bad for the families all our families. People will point and blame. That is not going to be helping. 
Sagkeeng is a beautiful place and does have good good people. At the same time we do have a great number of ugly things.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Let's Knock Down Some Heroes. Eh Folks?

It is true some people really need to be kicked off their high horse. Some not only need to be kicked off the horse but also to be stomped on for good measure. Still there are many out there, just regular people who shouldn't be knocked down. Many of them are not on a horse to begin with (for those literal folk, high horse is a metaphor them trying to be all good, acting better than you). They are just people who for whatever reason are in the spotlight. some are heroes and some are just part of a story in the media.

There was this Doctor who got carried off a plane the other day. No fault of his. He was just selected because the airline sold too much tickets. He was hurt as the police carried and literally dragged him off the plane. The CEO blamed him and there was talk about looking at his criminal record. They wanted to bad mouth him; he was labeled belligerent and disruptive.  Its a common pattern when someone is in the news, to label them in a negative way. I remember when I saw the coolest Dude on the planet. He is Charles Ramsey, the good guy who helped rescue the three women in Cleveland who were captive for ten years. Not too long after his famous  interview on TV, there were those folks who started to look at his record and started knocking him down. There are numerous examples when someone gets attention there is someone to knock them down. Remember the Homeless man with the golden voice? He has talent and he has problems as well. His talent got highlighted and his problems were brought out as well.

In Winnipeg this guy is deceased now, Faron Hall, he got noticed and he got noticed for his heroic deeds. Not once but twice. He was beaten up because of his notoriety. "You think you're good".  Poor guy he didn't want the notoriety. The media likes a good story. His "friends" or contemporaries didn't like his good deeds and attention.

Not all folks need the notoriety of news story to make them targets. We will target them anyhow.

I admit I am quick to judge and can call down as well. Many a time I will use the ugly practice of passive aggressive attacks. I try to catch myself and check myself but... I'm a jerk. I own it.

The default position of people seems to be set on negative. We see someone or something and its almost a given we will look for the bad. Why? Are we so stuck in ugly that we just can't see the good? Or even look for the good?

In the smaller community, we do it to people we know and kind of know. We do it with no regard for how they feel or what they are doing.

I started this post because of the negativity we are witnessing in our community (Indigenous community) and was going to use some specific incidents in our province, city and Reserves but have decided to keep it left open.

So let's enjoy the coolest dude on the planets interview. Charles Ramsey.  Samuel L Jackson could do him justice in the movie.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Indigenous Woman Blasting the Big Drum

Had a visit with a friend of mine, Gladys.  She is a very good person. One of those kind generous giving folk. She is on a journey of good life; mino-bimaadiziwin. That life is honouring and following the Traditions of our Ancestors - Keta Anishinaabe. Today we talked about the Big Drum.
She is one of those women; the women who sit on the Big Drum. Women on the Big Drum is becoming more and more common. She also said Women are taking back the Stick.

There is a radio show on CBC called Unreserved. It is an Indigenous content one hour segment hosted by an Indigenous woman. On this one episode there was a focus on this young Women's Drum group.  A group of high school students in Regina is bucking the trend by participating in an all-female Indigenous drum group at Thom CollegiateThe discussion on the Facebook site of Unreserved had a number of Women commenting on the Drum and how good to see patriarchy challenged. A number of the comments seemed to leaning towards man bashing. That's fair in today's climate considering how the world is treating Women.  The trend of Women on the Big Drum is relatively new as the Big Drum was mainly men's territory.

One thing missing in the Unreserved segment was the Drum Teachings. The focus was more on Women breaking barriers or perceived barriers they face. It is true there is discrimination towards Women on the Big Drum. I do think the discrimination will subside overtime. However right now there are those who hold on to the Teaching of the Drum. I admit I am not a Powwow aficionado but I have been fortunate enough to listen when someone speaks. I had the opportunity to be at Teachings in Pipe Stone Minnesota years ago. The Pipe Stone Sundance was about to take place and there were days prior to the Sundance Ceremony for Teachings. Elder Eddie Benton was speaking on the Big Drum. The Big Drum is the Heartbeat of Mother Earth. The Big Drum was the Women's and they gave the Men the Right to have the sticks for the Drum. It was Women who gave the sticks for the Drum to the men and that is why they sit at the Drum. I asked Benton about Women on the Big Drum and he asked me, "Did Women take back the stick?" End of conversation. Another Teaching to note is that the Drum represents Woman and the Stick, represent Men. The Heartbeat of the Drum is life and it is Women and Men which make life (not Women and Women). So this might be why there is some apprehension with seeing Women on the Big Drum. Another note is the Women around the Big Drum when men are singing they look like back up singers and most call them just that, back up singers. The Women are the Drum and so are part of the protection and overseers of the Drum.

The discussion of Women being barred from the Big Drum is a cause taking up by feminist advocates. They are wrong. Its not a feminist fight. Its not truly about men taking power from the Women. I think the discussion coming from the Traditional women is the strongest argument on the situation. I have heard it now I think it is true; women are taking back the stick of the Big Drum. You know why? Its because men have lost their way. Its not that women are inferior. It is because men have forgotten the true role of Women and their place in our lives. Men (and Women) have bought into the tenets of Christianity where Women are made from man's rib and they are responsible for tempting man thus getting him kicked out of Eden and starting original sin. Women are less. When its not the case. Women are the true powers of bringing life to our Nation. We don't live that life of honouring Women. We say we do but our actions show otherwise. Just look at our Leadership entities and the lobby groups. It is an anomaly to see Women in leadership roles.

With so much conflict happening in both our communities and what is happening to the land, the Women are stepping up to the battle. Men are too busy hanging to roles that establishment promotes; men in suits making high level decisions. When our youth are attacking each other, selling drugs, selling women, beating women, killing Women and men have abandoned the role of being a Dad. Many Mom's are left to raise and care for children without men. While many Men carry themselves in a very good way, there are many that are lost. Some even use the Drum in a bad way. Sitting at the Drum while high or hung over, or seeing as a way to get after Women or just earn money.

Women are taking back the stick and men need to see why.


Women are going to establish the balance which exists.


I heard a presenter share a teaching about how men lost more of their roles in Native life than women did. I believe that is why men suffered greater loss with the destruction of our culture & life ways. Men could no longer be the providers & protectors of their families. Men could no longer earn their honors as warriors, chiefs & hunters, spiritual leaders & wisdom keepers. How could men grow into roles that were main targets for attacks by oppressors?
But women could still be valued & honored as creators of life, nurturers & becoming the backbone of our families & communities. Today women are more involved with tribal organizations & employment in tribal government than men. I think women are seen as less of a threat to the European power structures so women have a better chance to succeed. As a Native woman, I can recognize the losses our men have experienced. I don't feel the need to take back the stick and sit at the big drum. Let our fathers, husbands, sons, brothers & nephews keep that honor.




Saturday, April 8, 2017

Eva Cassidy: Its not your fault, your voice breaks open my wounds.

I was sitting in a little coffee shop on Davie Street in Vancouver in around 2004.  It was a JJ Bean shop on the corner of Howe and Davie, it's not there now. The young barista was playing some music and this beautiful voice played on.   The Coffee shop is a good memory for me. I asked the young man about who was singing on his play list.  He told me it was Eva Cassidy.  What album is that I asked. He told me she didn't have an album, he just made a number of songs from the internet and made it into a cd. The songs and the coffee house and the young handsome man are a good memory for me. I used to go and have tea in there with my boy, Donovan. Donovan stayed with me in the bachelor apartment on Howe Street off Davie. (Side note I subbed the apartment off Jody Wilson, the now Federal Minister of Justice.) My last memories of my son are mixed with regret and sadness. He was struggling in Vancouver with addictions. He went back to Manitoba in January of 2005. His Granny, my Mom died of Cancer in March and he killed himself in August. He hanged himself in the closet of his mother's apartment in Winnipeg. It was a bad time.

When I go to some places both in Vancouver and in Winnipeg there a couple of business places that remember me and my son. The JJ Bean barista asked me "where is your son"? It was difficult question to answer. Same with the hair dresser at Dimples on Sargent Avenue in Winnipeg, he had asked me about my son. I told him.  It wasn't too long after my Son's death when I lost my mind. I barely lasted six months until a complete breakdown. Still a struggle every single day. Most times I pretend and pretend to be happy, but inside my heart and my mind I am sinking to a darker and darker place where one day I will not be able to climb out of. For now I try hard to just be. I think many of us are trying to do more than just exist.

So Eva Cassidy a beautiful voice which had been ignored and then discovered after her death is a voice that reminds me of my Boy.

Its not her fault her singing breaks open my wounds each time I hear her.

Steve.



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Throw Out Nice Stuff Done by Bad People

OJ Simpson gave you his football that he carried for his last touchdown. You own it. OJ has a notorious reputation; repugnant even.  So what would you do with the football? Would you attach sentimental value to it? Or would it be purely a dollar item?  Okay maybe that's not a fair question. You would be pissed at the decrease in demand and the falling price.

But what if you had a nice painting given to you by a friend. The painting is nice but the value is not monetary. The value is the more the pleasure you get from the painting. In addition the gratitude and good feeling and appreciation you feel when you look at it. Knowing it was given to you with no favour attached to it. Just a nice gift from a caring friend. Cool right? Now what happens if you find out the artist of the painting, did some dirty rotten deed. He wasn't convicted or even charged but an acquaintance of yours said the artist did something to his child. Now the painting is still very nice and has been on your wall for some years. So what becomes of the value of the painting now? Do you still feel the same way about the painting? Do you keep the painting? Do you get rid of the painting, regardless of the sentiment behind the gift?

The same thing happens quite often with gifts from your love. What happens when you get a nice gift from your friend. She or he gives you  something like a ring, necklace or watch; something personal for you. You fall out of love. Your friend runs off in the dark of night with your other friend. The value you placed on the item changes or does it? Do  you give it back or do you sell it off or do you throw it away. Or do you say heck with that noise I'm keeping this sucker its nice as all heck, so its staying.

The thing is if someone does the repugnant and you have something of value, how do you reconcile with it? You have a mentor and it turns out he or she is just as human as you. They let you down, do you discount everything your learned from the mentor?

Was thinking that's all.  There are so many examples of people out there that have done some stuff, bad and really bad stuff: Woody Allen, Robert Blake, Michael Vic, Peyton Manning, Mel Gibson, Hulk Hogan, Paula Deen and so on. There are so many ugly incidents by people.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Travel to Cuba Should be about Making Relationships



William the Cabbie
 Well my Wife and daughter took me to Cuba for a trip. This is the second time they have taken me to Cuba. First Time was five years ago.    This time around I was so excited that I may have had my hopes about the trip so high. I was telling Suz that I shouldn't get too happy before we go because I would jinx the trip; making it not as fun as the last time we went.

Vivian's design
Worker cleaner. 


Alberto - maitre d
hydro pole

Havana tour guides & driver


Random Havana Resident
Darren Karen Donovan


My victim
Mike's Cafe
Frankfurt Couple
The thing about Traveling is we should all do it.
When I went to Cuba the excitement was about not the place we were going to stay at but with meeting people. We (Suz Chloe Aviree and I) started looking to buy stuff for the trip. The stuff we are talking about its gifts. I asked other relatives what we should take to the people. EJ and Eva Fontaine have been to Cuba a number of times. So we asked them. EJ said shirt ties would be good for the professional workers. I told my neighbours, Keith and Linda Farley about the trip and what we were intending to do. Keith gave  us a bag of about forty ties to take. We gave the ties to lots of folks there. We also took toys, nail polish, underarm stuff, and sunglasses. My cousin Allan Courchene said people like sunglasses. 
I guess the act of giving makes us feel good. For me its kind of an arrogant thing to think I am some type of benevolent soul and gracious human being by giving token gifts. I mean its not really life changing stuff to give a pair of sunglasses or a little bit of perfume. Still in my mind it was significant. In reality its not. I had an image of being appreciated for the little gift. 
I was disappointed at the beginning of the trip. I was not meeting people as I imagined I would. When trying to visit the "locals" in the very nice resort, they were busy working. Imagine that. They were working 12 to 16 hours a day. And this old guy is trying to make small talk and be all intrusive about their life. So it was my delusional vision of being this "cool kind" guy being all generous to the local folks. That should not have been my focus but just enjoying the opportunity to travel and if it was to be, to have good conversation with anyone. 
So I altered my thinking and sure enough I started to loosen up and got to visit with different folks. I stopped trying to be critical of the resort, the tourists and the working staff. However, I did complain to Suz and Chloe about all those tourists sitting around the common area staring at their I phones. I would say, "how in the heck can you start up a conversation with those people, when their faces are locked on phones?" I complained about the hotel being boring with all those old people. I'm old but they were old as well. I complained about the lay out of the hotel. I complained for nothing. The hotel and the people were good. Mixture of tourists from Moscow, Sweden, Italy, Montreal, Czech Republic and the UK. 
I met some nice friendly people; a couple of young men from Montreal. These young men were so up beat and friendly.  Nice enough to be patient with my endless questions. I know I am messing up Dappies name. He and his friend Steve seemed to be having a good time as well.

Darren and Karen Donovan from Manchester, UK.  Well rounded travelers this couple. I met a couple from Halifax, Daphine and her husband. I asked them how the met. On internet they said. The man went to the Philipines to meet someone. They married after 4 months and they have been together for about nine years. She is 33 and he is 70. They look good together. He is a retired plumber and she works part time.  He had strong opinion on how to stop the Indigenous youth suicide. She was teasing him quite a bit. We met Alberto from Cuba and a number of patient serving staff at the hotel. We met Maria on the bus and she was from Dominican Republic.  we met  a very nice couple from Frankfurt at a bus station. I of course was a pest with teasing people at the resort.  My antics could have been mistaken for cute about 35 years ago but at my age its old creepy. At the end of it, the trip to Cuba was one of joy, pleasure and appreciation by me. I was so happy Suz and Chloe think about me and are able to spend time with me.

There are similarities all over the place and some little differences you tend to notice. Like some of the hydro poles are made of concrete. The type of trees are different of course, with big cactus trees and many short ones and of course the palm trees. The birds singing beautiful songs, while the vultures look like ravens in the sky. The absence of kids bikes. Its weird we look at the clothes drying in outside the balcony of apartments and we think its odd. When in fact its normal. We like to see the same and the different in our travels. But the biggest thing is the people. The trips only mean something when we meet people. A good visit can make the trip that much more special. Its about the relationships.

Suz Chloe Aviree and I went by taxi cab to downtown Varadero. William took us in an old  vintage American Classic car with a Hyundai engine. It was 20 Cuban pesos one way. He waited two hours for us to walk around and he brought us back to the hotel a 12 or 16 kilometer ride. By the way the Canadian dollar is worth 67 cents on the Cuban peso.  We told William were wanting to go Havana. He spoke to a guy at the hotel security and arranged a trip to go to Havana the next morning - 150 pesos.  Suz didn't want to take Aviree on a long trip; no car seat and long rode trip for a three year old. We left Suz and Aviree behind, just Chloe, me and three Cubans; a driver named Enzo, a tour guide named Elvis and a tour guide trainee named Juverre. The tour was very fast. We went to a number of places in Havana. We spent three pesos on a lady wanting her picture taken with a cigar in her mouth. We went to eat at some restaurant outside of the city. Old style restaurant that was a house with tables and chairs in the court yard. The tour Cubans were going to wait as many of the tour drivers waited outside as tourists ate inside. Weird. Mom always said you don't feed yourself in front of people. We all had a nice meal for $135 Canadian. Lucky for us we had enough cash for the meal. We didn't take a lot of money to Cuba so the trip and the meal ate most of our tour cash.  The chance to sit eat and visit with these cool Cubans was one of the coolest parts of the Havana trip.

Like I said at the start of this blog, everyone should travel. Even if its close to your home. We can meet people everywhere. All we have to do is say "hello" and start from there.