Wednesday, January 27, 2010

You lie! Would I lie to you honey?

Lying is a kind of thing we do to get ourselves out of trouble. My son Donovan he was funny as a kid. He would say anything that came into his head at the time. No hesitation. On the garage door there was a big scribble of a name. The scribbling said Donovan. Suzie asked Don, "who did that?" Don said "Ed did it." No hesitation. Don was nine at the time. We laugh now. We wondered why Ed would print-scribble Donovan in big letters across the garage door. That type of lying is innocent. It's preservation. Trying to keep yourself alive. We know that at the time there was no malice, no intent to harm, no intent to injure when our boy lied. He was such a character. He always told on himself when he did something. He would tell on himself and his brother Ed, a little while after they did something.

I wonder when lying becomes instinct? When it becomes more than simple preservation and moves into the realm of being malicious, spitefull, hurtful and just plain mean? Lying is part of life, how we used the lie is a piece of what we are. I am notorious for slinging the bull. I do it as entertainment. The bigger the bull the more the fun. I am also gulity of being very naive. I will believe anything that I see or hear. Not very much of a critical thinker. I happily believe what I am told or what I see.

This one time I was watching a news show and the topic was about growing large potatoes (it is spelled with an "e"). The talking head was explaining about growth hormones and type of ground in the east, when the tv shot went outside and there was this potato the size of a man. I called my wife, "hey look how big this potato is". She came and looked, it turned out it was a plastic potato sign. I really did believe that they had grown a potato that size. I also remember being told by my grade 5 teacher that zink was the lightest metal and that we didn't eat enough meat. Our mouths were going to be shaped like that of a carp. That really scared me. I didn't understand how evolution works.

Lying can be an ugly thing. Or even calling someone a liar can be ugly. When Joe Wilson called President Obama a liar during his speech. Mr Wilson's insult was more a reflection of his own deep seethed demons, rather than Obama lying. The insult demonstrated that lying is not innocent. It can be a very awful and bad act. We are very interested in lying. We are infactuated with lying. There is a new television show based on the liar. The tv show is a reflection how ingrained lying is part of society. There are many movies that like to show us how lying can get us into trouble, even how funny lying is. People are used to lying. But at the end of day, people want to know when someone is lying. Even better is that people don't want to be lied to. We will tolerate it, but that doesn't mean we accept it. Whether its buying a car, renting a movie, listening to our elected leaders, we want to know that what is being said is true.

I don't like being lied to. I always tell my kids that lying is no good. It is almost as bad as betrayal. But yet, lying can save us from harm or can save others from harm. Lying like Bush and Cheney is an example of how devastating that lies can be. Still even though we see how bad lying is, there is some merit in it. I will always lie when it comes to how your butt looks in those pants. I will lie when I say that meal was great. I will lie when I say that our community is the best in the world. I will lie when I say that I will respect you in the morning. I will believe everything you tell me. I will not question what is said. I believe that my kids are good and always are doing right. They say what we don't know doesn't hurt us. I wonder if not saying something is the same as lying? If my daughter doesn't tell me that she is going with a loser, is that the same as lying? I guess it's not lying. Just don't ask anything and you won't be lied to. It really doesn't matter, as I should be satisfied that my girl is happy. Or I wish her to be happy. And as for judging anyone as a loser, I have no right, afterall I might have been a loser as well.

Yes, I want to believe that people will not lie to me, even if I am a big fat liar, pants on fire.


Monday, January 25, 2010

When you decide to re-enter the world of academics.

Us in 1961

When is it too late to go back to school? Is there a time when you stop to learn and have no more desire to try new things. I am considering whether or not to try and get into University again. If I do go I need to look at what area or what question I want to explore. In any case, not sure if I would even fit in or get accepted.

I miss school. Funny you never think you would, but it is a time when you are engaged in all sorts of new things. Even old things seem new. I know how ignorant I am because of some of the reading I did. You wouldn't believe how little we know. I remember not knowing anything about Australia. My image of someone from Australia was an English sounding bloke with a hat on and a boom-a-rang. That is how ignorant I am. I didn't know anything about the Aborinal population there.

My cousin Allan (Randy) is the principal of the high school in our Reserve. He has a difficult job. The kids are difficult and their lives can be difficult, so it sometimes comes to the school. He and the teachers have been successful in maintaining a relatively trouble free school. There is no tolerance for bullying or for illegal activity. You can't arrest it all, but at least they try. I am not sure if our kids realize how important and necessary school is.

I see lots of our kids, becoming adults way to young. Young families, lots of pressures, and lots of hope, but it can get crushed by the overwhelming odds against them. Getting educated arms you. It makes you ready for the real world. The mean world.

So as an old bugger I know education is important, just wondering if it's too late in life to move on.

If I did, I would look maybe at the identity crisis faced by Indians today, or the life of a political Indian. Not sure. Was at one time considering the Survivor of Suicide and what is there in the Indian community to help them. I don't know. I do know it would be focused on Indian issue.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Poor Man Shames Us All

"Even the milk from our own animals does not belong to us. We must give to those who need it, for a poor man shames us all" -- An elder of the Gabra, a pastoral tribe of nomads in Kenya

My Mom used to always talk to me about all things in life. She was pretty funny and pretty wise, way beyond her schooling (grade 3 Indian Residential school). She even told my wife, my wife mind you, that she was not 'stuck'. "Woman are not stuck anymore, they can leave." My wife laughed at me, my Mom telling her that was not stuck with me. Well, my Mom knew that I did not have the best temperament. I have come to learn that she was right, my Wife is indeed not stuck. My Mom also talked about other things, like how people get crazy over money. My Mom could not understand how money became so sacred for some people. Mom was telling me how crazy it looked when at Bingo, this woman kissed a Fifty dollar bill before buying break open tickets. Guess it was kind of an offering, who knows.

All of us like material goods, even so much so that we envy the people who have the toys. We brag about what we have. Reminds me of the story my friend told me. His Mom and her friends were talking about their kids as Moms do. This Mom talked about her son and how he was doing and that he had a "four by four". Four by Four is a four wheel drive truck.  This other older woman could not have been beat. So she said that is good and my son has a "five by five".  She didn't know what a four by four was. My friend's mom just bite her tongue and smiled. We are proud of what we get.

I know money is the blood of our cultures these days. We live in a market driven economy, society. We have left a sustenance society ages ago. But now we have a way of living that does not have a balance. It is all for the acquisition of money. Lately it has been shown that way of living is not without consequence. The richest people are being put in jail for taking money from others. It doesn't matter though, it is just aspects of our lives these days.

Generousity has been a part of our life as well. I have this saying, "it's easy to give a dollar when you have a hundred, but give a dollar when you have a dollar". There is the pretense of generousity and the pureness of generousity. You see in the streets and you see it in the lives of the rich and poor. The act of giving is a good thing. The reason we give is another thing. Do we give for the way we are preceived? Do we give because it is the right thing to do? Or do we give because it is for us, we make ourselves feel good by giving? All I know is that it is nice to receive a gift. A gift with no expectations of reciprocity. But that is not true. We always expect something when we give. We expect people to appreciate it. We expect them perhaps to return the favour to someone else. We expect them to gain some pleasure from our gift. We expect someone to see us as generous.

There is this guy in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. His name is Faron Hall.

I knew him as a kid. He spent time in our Reserve and lived across the highway from me. He is a street person in Winnipeg. He made the news this summer for his unselfish acts of heroism. He saved a drowning person.
He did it not once but twice. At two separte times, two separte incidents. He was drinking with friends on the shores of the Red River in the City of Winnipeg. When he saved these people. The Red River is fast and dangerous. It is not that uncommon to find bodies in the Red River. Faron, very reluctantly accepted the gratitude of a city. The city wanted to change him. Dress him in fine clothes, give him a place to live. The Mayor even invited him to a baseball game. (It was quite funny, Faron half-snapped giving the Mayor a hug on the news, the Mayor trying hard not to squirm) This winter Faron was the subject of a columist in the Winnipeg Free Press. It seems Faron got beaten up outside a Mainstreet bar. He was told he was "acting better than others and he was going to be shown, that he was no better". Faron did not seek the attention. He just did what he thought anyone would.

Yes, it is true, "A Poor Man Shames Us All".

Sad News People:

Today Faron Hall was pulled out of the river in Winnipeg.

Winnipeg's 'homeless hero' Faron Hall found dead in Red River

‘Homeless hero’ Faron Hall’s body recovered from same river he saved boy from in 2009

CBC News Posted: Aug 18, 2014 6:09 PM CT Last Updated: Aug 18, 2014 6:43 PM CT
Faron Hall is shown in this 2011 photo. His body was recovered from the Red River this weekend, according to family.
Faron Hall is shown in this 2011 photo. His body was recovered from the Red River this weekend, according to family.
Family members have identified the man pulled from the Red River on Sunday as Faron Hall, a homeless man known for rescuing a teen from the same river in 2009.
According to police, a man’s body was recovered from the river Sunday evening, just hours after police discovered the body of a 15-year-old girl who had been killed.
Faron Hall is shown here in 2009 when he was honoured by the Royal Lifesaving Society. He used the occasion to donate $1,000 to the Main Street Project, a Winnipeg homeless shelter. ((CBC))
Police had been searching for the man’s body since Friday, when a swimmer was seen in distress in the Red River. An off-duty police officer jumped in and tried to rescue him but was unable to.
Police have not confirmed the man whose body was recovered Sunday was Hall’s, but family members say it was Hall.
Winnipeg police do not believe the death is suspicious or that foul play was involved.
Hall had been released from jail on an assault charge not long before he was seen in distress in the river.
Hall's family said he had just lost his father and was having a hard time dealing with it.
Hall was well known in Winnipeg for rescuing a teen from the Red River in 2009. He had jumped into the icy river in May 2009. He was later awarded the mayor's medal of valour by Sam Katz for his bravery.
He would make a second rescue several months later when two friends were drinking and ended up in the river. He was able to save one, but the other died.
For his efforts, he received two commendations from the Royal Lifesaving Society. That day, he donated $1,000 to Main Street Project, a Winnipeg homeless shelter, from a national fund for the homeless set up in his name.
In 2010, Hall was badly beaten in a government-owned apartment block in Winnipeg on Christmas Eve. He said the people who attacked him recognized him from the media attention he had received.
Two people were later arrested in the case, and Hall became an advocate for the city's homeless, who he said had a lack of support when trying to overcome addictions.
Most recently, Hall was jailed for five months on a charge of assault with a weapon.
In April, Hall apologized for his actions in court and admitted he struggled with alcohol.
Hall told the court he was dealing with depression that followed the death of his friend in the September 2009 rescue attempt.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

People are talented. It might take work to get that talent

Some very talented people made these.

My cousin Barry makes his own fiddles and fixes fiddles. He fixed Suz's Dad's fiddle.

A Turtle Ribbon shirt. I want one of these!!! :-)

My brother-in-law Smiley preparing the Sweat Lodge for his Dad, Elder Fabian.

The fiddle of my Wife's deceased Dad.

People are really talented out there. It amazes me how good some people are at different things. My Cousin Barry has become quite good at different things. He makes Traditional items for Ceremonies; like hand Drums, the Big Drum, Pipes, rattles, is a craver and now makes fiddles.

My brother-in-law Smiley is very lucky as he gets to be a helper for his Dad at Ceremonies. So he is getting a first hand knowledge of how to conduct Sweat Ceremonies, Pipe Ceremonies, and the Talking Lodge.

The Ribbon Shirt is an awesome garment. I have only had one in my life. My cousin made one for me and I used that at the Sundance. I have met so much gifted people. Some people can just take to a certain thing and do it well, and others can learn to be good at something by repetition.

Sewing and beading is a good talent to have. My cousins are beaders and my other cousins' make Star Blankets. My kids all had Blankets made for them. My grandkids have Blankets made by people for them. My cousin Frankie and his wife Chantelle gave blankets to the Grandkids. They also gave the Blanket for my Boy's trip when he left us. I gave my blankets to my Mom for Big Gran when she passed on. I gave my Moccassins to my cousin Frank for his Dad when he passed. That's how it goes. We share what we have.

It is important to hang on to the skill sets that our Gran-parents used. Like making medicine, making music, and expanding our knowledge. I think new cultures have introduced some great new things for all of us to learn.

Me, I still haven't learn one cord on the guitar. Guess I have to get by the having sore fingers. In any luck my wife tells me I have 2 more years to learn. I am to play for her at our anniversary. Guess I will start practicing tomorrow or on the weekend.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A badge of failure that I must wear for the rest of My life

Sharing food with Donovan on his Birthday.

January 17, 1985 was the birthday of my boy Donovan Steven Scott Ray Courchene. He was my boy! The one who was going to be a better man than me. The one who was going to go on and be a good man. A good Friend. A good solid career. He was going to be all the things I was not. That is how I saw him in the future.

The way I see my boy is that he will always be that little boy. That son who was my everything. I think of him everyday. It gets a little harder this time of year and again in the August Month. He took his life August 25, five years ago. It is a long time ago. Yet the pain, the hurt, the horror is felt like it was that day.

I remember the day. I remember the week. I remember seeing him. I remember.

We can all go on living. It's never the same when your baby goes. Sometimes it is merciful that our baby goes, sometimes it's not.

I am not sure if it was merciful for my boy to go. I know it was not. It was a decision. Can you imagine how alone you must feel to make that choice?

We will never know his last moments, his last thoughts. Was he thinking of me? Was he thinking we would come through the door and rescue him?

I don't know. I only know I failed him. And that failure will always be a badge that I must wear.

I miss you Donovan. I love you.
Donovan with Grannie (my Mom)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

We measure our fortune by the Misery of others

Sometimes we feel that we are hard done by. That is the thing isn't it? We do right by people and people don't do right by us. It is a strange thing. It's like that old question, "why do bad things happen to good people?" I have been watching the hurt and disaster in Haiti, it brings out many thoughts and feelings. We should feel relieved to live in countries that have the infrastructure to meet a disaster (although Katrina is an example of where countries can fail). Pat Robinson said some real weird things the other day about Haiti. "Robertson—host of 700 Club—said that quake was God’s wrath for Haiti because they got themselves free from French colonial rule". This guy must feel some real hate to the Haitians to express those thoughts. Or if we are to give him the benefit of the doubt that he is just misinformed, misguided, misunderstood, or suffering from some mental impairment. In any case I feel bad for him. Why do we jump on the misfortunes of others. We either measure our good fortune or relish in the misery of others.

I don't know anyone in Haiti and that is a good thing. The horror doesn't hit home. Yet it should. These are People. People who love others like we do. People who laugh, cry, share stories, feel loneliness, feel happiness, have wonder, have dreams like we all do. People that have families, Moms, Dads, and kids. But they are far away and we don't know them. It becomes an oddity, a two-minute interest in the news story. While we go along our daily grind not really affected by the horror the people are living right now. Right now, someone is trapped under tons of concrete, unable to move, to breathe, to cry out. The life draining out of them. Still they hope that someone will come. Maybe their Dad will come and get them. Maybe the rescue crews. We will never know them, or feel their pain. We only use the news story as a measurement of our fortune.

In our own lives we measure our fortune and misfortune by our neighbours. We may not have the high paying job they have. We may not have the nice car. The bigger house. We look at the parents that are raising the child with a serious illness, or the parent that has lost a child to cancer, to an accident, to a crime. We look at the child that is in trouble with the law, with drugs and are thankful that it is not us. We continue to measure ourselves on the hurt others are going through.

I have no doubt that I will never go to Haiti, but as of today I will make an effort to think about the people.
Perhaps if I were a better person, I would pray for them. Maybe I could go the Redcross and make a donation.

Let's be thankful that we are not there.
Let's think about fortune and the misery they are living. Let's hope that aide can make it there in a timely fashion. Let's hope for miracles, big and small.

Happier days of Dad, his granddaughters.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Olympic torch relay not the time for Protests.

Jennifer went missing on her 18th birthday. Our Chief with Lucille holding Jennifer's banner.

I went to a Native rally this morning. The Rally was highlighting the disappearance of Indian women in Canada. Many of them are meeting death, disappearing and their killers are not found, or their bodies are not found. Our Reserve has seen four women disappear or have been murdered in the last few years. One of the women was murdered by the infamous pig farmer, Robert Pickton. Two of the women's murders have not been solved and the other girl has not been found. The number of Aboriginal (Native) women that are killed or disappear in Canada is very high, approximately 500 to date.

The Rally took advantage of the world stage. The Olympic Flame is traveling throughout Canada. Some say it is not the venue for this type of awareness campaign. I disagree. When China had the Olympics most Global North Nations took the opportunity of the world stage to highlight the treatment of citizens within China's borders. Canada is a good country, but it could always be better. Especially when it comes to the treatment of Indian people. Indians in Canada still suffer from a host of ills that mainstream society does not. There is quite a difference between the quality of life for mainstream Canadians compared to that of the Indian. How can you be expected to correct your behaviour if you are not aware of your conduct? That is the point of bringing awareness: you point out shortcomings or mistakes, that in turn gives the person or country the opportunity to address the shortcomings, the chance to correct their behaviour.

With democracies the electorate gives the government the chance to correct their behaviour and if they don't, the people vote them out. In the case for Indians, this is not a viable option due to the scattered electorate and the small number of voters. The Indians cannot affect change in the current voting system. So other avenues must be used to make the government/country correct their behaviour. The chosen way is to let the world know of Canada's conduct involving Indians.

I read with interest the comments made on the Winnipeg Free Press story of the Rally, or as it was put, the protest. It is funny as I was there and I didn't see anyone protesting against the Olympic torch relay. However, the media usually gets things right, at least that is what is the general belief about the media. In any case readers comments on the story were very harsh. The Indian Rally was thought of as a bunch of whiners, tax payer wasters, complainers, money wasters and other nice sentiments about Indians. The Indians shouldn't be going around protesting. People are sick of them crying all the time. That was the general view of the public regarding the Olympic torch rally of Indians.

I have come to realize that a person can not change their way of thinking. They only change if the issues, the theme, the incident coincides with their belief system. No one is really open minded. The number of hate filled comments to the Free Press or CBC feedback forms are not new or startling. It is the feeling that can be freely expressed when they can be anonymous.

I am happy the Olympics are in Canada. I am also conflicted about the issues facing the British Columbia Indian population. There are outstanding land issues being pushed aside in order to accommodate the games. That's the thing isn't it, there are always issues and how can we support all of them.

A portion of the Awareness Rally was on Horseback. It was cool to see and take part.

Cherokee Fiddle, cause Good Whiskey Never Let Him Lose His Place

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