Sunday, February 28, 2010

Time to take a dump or get off the pot.

Moaning and groaning all the time about how I messed up with my Son,is not positive. It is time I took a stand. Stop wailing about stuff and do something. If I didn't know better I was exhibiting signs of Munchausen Syndrome. You know where someone pretends or fakes illness for the attention it gets. Well if I wasn't so messed up in my head I would think that I was constantly trying to get attention and garner sympathy. A selfish act as usual. All about me. Well that is how I see thing a lot of the time. There is much more agony in the world that what I experienced. So why in the heck do I feel so alone. Feel the need to let people into my little world? It doesn't make sense. I should be moving on, whatever that means. I mean look at the things and people I have: a caring wife who is my friend and backbone; a beautiful little daughter that is so full of life that it has to be contagious; two grown kids that are working and living their lives; two great grandkids who are my new world. So what is it that makes me want to toil in the darkness, the isolation, the self loathing, the wanting to step off the world? It just doesn't make sense.

So I am going to do something. I am going to organize a two day get together for Survivors of suicide. The idea is to have an outlet for people in the community and the larger community to share their experience. For them to look for some help. To get ideas on where to go to seek help. To look at what is lacking in the community and go forward from there. To do it for people to help themselves. In the larger community there is help out there. Lot of that help is self sustaining. We need to that in the smaller Aboriginal communities.

I contacted an Elder for his thoughts and his help to see if this is an idea that we should take forward and try. He is a very good man, Tabosnakwut (Peter) Kinew. I value his word and would not take it forward if he thought otherwise. I was happy to hear from him right away. I think his knowledge of the Traditions is the key to helping our people.

Well there you have it. I am going to be talking with Peter again and hope to have some concrete ideas. His story is something I have not right to share, but he knows all about the pain that people go through. My brother Donald is going to be looking at venues to where we can hold this gathering. We could have it in the Reserve, but as my brother has said, hurt, grief knows no boundaries. It can happen to anyone and should open to anyone. So I guess attempting to hold the venue in the city of Winnipeg Manitoba, may be good for people.

If you see the news, even the rich are not immune. As two celebrities have lost their children this past week. Sad.

"Suicide loss is the subject of many myths and misconceptions. The greatest of thesesis often voiced by suicidal individuals -- the mistaken belief that no one will care or will be affected by the suicide. Other myths of suicide loss are equally misguided:

Myth 1: There is nothing that anyone could have done to prevent the suicide. - Not all suicides can be prevented because some victims show little sign of their suicidality and others take steps to avoid discovery or rescue. Nonetheless, at some point in the process a timely intervention might have averted the tragic outcome.

Myth 2: In time those affected by the loss of someone to suicide will get over it. - Suicide loss is characterized by a long, severe, and painful grief that may not abate. It certainly takes longer to resolve than grief associated with more "normal" deaths.

Myth 3: Someone who has never experienced a suicide loss can know what it is like. - "I know what you are going through" can only be true if the speaker is also a suicide griever. Those who have never endured trauma can learn to be sensitive to those who have, but this does not result in "feeling" the trauma.

Myth 4: Those who endure a suicide loss are made stronger by it. - Suicide loss shatters personal beliefs, depletes self-esteem, leads to depression, and sometimes to suicide. Recovering from a suicide loss alone is a demanding process. Most who experience it have little energy to do more than survive.

Myth 5: Those who are young when a parent or sibling suicides are spared the pain. - The very young often feel the effect years later when they learn what happened. Children grieve and may have serious problems if it is not acknowledged and supported.

Myth 6: A suicide by an older person doesn't affect others as it does if the victim is young.- The grievers of an elder victim may be told that he/she "was old and going to die anyway." This marginalizes their grief.

Myth 7: Being around others who have had such a loss will just make you feel worse. - Such contact is usually beneficial. It shows that one is not alone. Interacting with other survivors helps "normalize" the loss by demonstrating that one is not alone.

Myth 8: Those around someone who has had a suicide loss shouldn't talk about it. - Ignoring loss is denying loss. It should not be given "the silent treatment." Hurtful or stigmatizing comments about suicide should be avoided, but talking about the loss with a survivor can be very supportive.

Myth 9: Learning about suicide after having a suicide loss will not do any good. - Most who suffer a suicide loss need to know how it came to happen and understand "why."

Myth 10: Stigma is no longer associated with suicide loss. - There may still be hurtful remarks about the victim, what motivated their death, and the grievers' responsibility or knowledge of their intent."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Bully and the legacy they have to live with.

I went over the University of Winnipeg. I figured what the heck I will give the coordinator of their Aboriginal Governance Program my resume. I don't have much hope but as they say "hope is not a method" anyway. When I was there I took a look at the bulletin boards to see what is going on in the world of Academia. Turns out there are bullies everywhere. There was a posting for a seminar on bullying, to stop bullying.

The bullying thing sure makes me think. When I walked with Pungese on her support of Missing Women Memorial march, she talked about bullies. She said she was bullied a bit at school. I was bullied that I can remember. She said people liked me, I was likeable, and seemed fragile. Fragile? I suppose that's one way to describe it. I say I am sensitive. You know like "in tune with the Earth" and all that stuff. I'm sensitive in a real manly way, not Senseeteeve, like in a fragile way. You know not like Nathan Lane. But Pungese was right. There have been some real bullies in our Reserve. I imagine it's like that in small communities everywhere. I have friends in other Reserves and their community has their share of bullies as well.

I wonder now if the bullies of old ever think back to the hurt they caused? I wonder if they try to reconcile with what they did, or does it haunt them? The other side of the coin is do people ever let it go that they were bullied by these people? Do they (we) keep a harsh view of them through out our lives? Heavy duty questions for a light weight to ponder.

I believe that bullies are not really born but are made. In the Reserve there are limited resources. You can get part of the resources by working for it, you know with merit. You can be favoured into the resources, you know by having a good relationship (get it) with the ruling leadership. Finally you can bully your way into the resources, by being as unruly as you can, so finally your demands are met. I don't believe in the present system that you can reason your way into the resources of the Reserve. However, that is not an excuse for bullies. Tying to get a piece of the small pie is not a valid reason for bullying. Even if it is successful in getting you the head of the line. It's quite funny because Indians,(well most Indians) believe in Onjine or maazhi-bimaadizi; not to lead a bad life or things will come back on you; maazhi-ayi'iin wii-azhegiiwemagadoon agiji.

You know the old saying there is strength in numbers? Well in Reserves family units can be quite large. That is not including extended family, like cousins. In our family for example there were 11 children, with 9 still alive. That is not out of the ordinary, and it is not considered high. Having those big families can be helpful in guarding against bullies. In some cases it could work in favour of the bullies. I recognize different family names from other Reserves in Manitoba and you know they are part of the big families in those Reserves. Big families can also be beneficial in getting favour from the leadership as most likely the leaders are part of the family.

Growing up there were specific bullies in the community. There were the usually bullies you get in school. The ones that thrive on picking on the small or the weaker. There were also bullies that went out to bully the whole community. Beating up people if they felt wronged or wanted something. People that expect the community to give into their wishes. Many a time the community did give into their wants. The leaders of the community made sure they were looked after. When you think of bullies you automatically think of men, but women are also bullies. I know this one lady who beat up her uncle's wife. Beat her real bad at her place of work. I wonder if she ever apologized. Do you apologize for something as bad as beating up a person real bad. I know of this guy who is a big guy and he didn't care who he beat up. Bulling is a such common place in the world that it is accepted (to a point).

I see these people today and wonder if they ever feel regret for how they were. I don't believe they are. If you are rewarded for a certain behaviour what is the incentive to change; there is no incentive to change. Although we learn from our mistakes and we are expected to make mistakes when we are young, it still haunts us. I mean can we forget the hardship it caused on others. Should there be an attempt to make amends? I don't think we can be expected to make amends to every individual hurt, harmed by our actions, but maybe, just maybe we can make a difference by the way we carry ourselves today. I don't know, but at least it is a start. I look at the bullies and don't carry too much contempt for them, but at the same time I do wonder if there is room in their own hearts for guilt, remorse, regret, and contrition.

Today our bullies are coming in the form of the gangs. They are the pariah of the Native community. Yet despite being despised they are the ones that get an audience with the leadership. So what is the incentive to try and be a good person? Our own Spirits are what keeps us reminded to be that good person. At least I hope so.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I got an ace up my hole.

This is a re-cycled post I did on line somewhere but thought I would share it here anyway. You know how it is, re-cycle, re-use and re-post.

I really like using quotes, cliches (idioms) and the colloquial speech. My problem is that I kind of get a little mixed up with my quotes and my cliches. My wife is rotten to the core because she will get me all worked up and that is when I start throwing around all these quotes and cliches. I use them to try and sound smart or to win an argument. I use them to put emphasis on my stories. She baits me into these little spats to see what I will say. It is not until she laughs and repeats what I said that I sometimes get it. Other times I don't know what the heck she is laughing at.

We, my wife and me, were talking about some item in the news that didn't sit right with me, I turned to her and said "I am appalled and sickening" regarding what had took place. Another time I was sitting in a restaurant with a friend and an Elder. We were talking politics, the community and my work situation. I was leaving a job at the time and it was not really a good move on my part. I told the Elder that for my decision "I still have an ace up my hole". I guess looking back that correct cliche could have been I have an ace up my sleeve. Or I have an ace in the hole. I am not sure or which but I now know that it is not up my hole. That poor Elder. His coffee shot out of his nose. He looked like someone poked him the ribs or something. It was kind of embarrassing. Coffee spilled all over him.

In our Reserve there are many sayings people use that are only familiar to the people in our community. I don't know why that is. When I talk to people not from the Reserve they look at me like I am nuts. We say things like "fucker John your moneys gone". I am not sure why that money is gone but it's said by people anyway, even if money is not involved in the situation. Another saying is "your gay as a blade". Not sure what the heck that means but it is used when referring to a stupid person. I never did understand these but people use the words plude and frog to describe genitals. Weird I know. Not sure if it is still used by the younger crowd these days. One saying that I like but is disappearing as it was used by the old folk, is "yo-ho". It is an acknowledgment when someone is talking. It's not a question of what they are saying, but it's like ah-hah, to let them know you are listening intently.

Me I never say Yo-ho, it was the old people that used it. It would be nice if the younger crowd still said that but that's the way it goes. I will continue to use quotes if I can remember them and will mangle cliches, because I like them. So eat "moo" people and remember "the hottest hells are reserved for those in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality".

A true story in the midst of whole bunch of make believe, lies

One of the things I do like about the way Indians are portrayed in the movies or television is the idea that we are linked to 'spiritual' forces. "Listen to the wind" is a line that Graham Greene said to Val Kilmer in "Thunderheart". Val Kilmer replies what the heck does that mean. It was a show of how Indians are "in-tune" with the world. It worked, I went out and sat around in the back yard for a while trying to hear what the trees were saying. Actually, we spent lots of time in the bush when we were kids. It was nice. I don't do much these days, can't think of the last time I just went for a walk in the bush. Don't think I ever took my little girl for a walk in the bush. But anyway, back to the spiritual thing. There are things we Know and things we believe. I know that there is more to us than what we see, hear and touch here on Earth. There is something else.

There was this great little film called "what the bleep do we know". For the person that is not crazy over the supernatural this is a good 'science' type look at things beyond the physical Earth. I enjoyed this take on the world and the possibilities of being more than what we are. There are things that we don't know about. We can question the heck out of it, or we can just shrug and say "Okay then". I like that, Maanoo (let it be). The film explores the notion of Quantum Physics. I know diddly squat about quantum physics, but I do know that it is either the "science of possibilities" or "bunk". One thing though it makes you think.

I have experienced the supernatural. Yes, I said it. I have "been through the hole-shoelace" (it is a back home saying for those that have 'experience'). I am going to share some experiences on here and at least one of those experiences is true. I won't be sharing any Ceremony experiences, that's just bad form (to steal a phrase from the English).

I once saw a ufo. I was about 9 or 10 years old. There was a trio of lights hovering over at my uncles place. My uncle had an a little caterpillar tractor and the lights were floating over the tractor. I believe there were blue, green and yellow lights rotating in a circle over the tractor. At the time I was sniffing gasoline out of a little can, so I can't be sure if it was an actual ufo sighting.

I was doing some respite work for a Child and Family Agency. I was holed up in a hotel room with this 14 year old that was under care. He was a very trouble kid. He was a friendly guy, but liked to get in trouble with the law. He was a habitual car thief. There some cognitive disability, but I'm no expert on those things. One morning I woke up and was lying in the bed. I looked over at his bed and there was something hovering over him. No it wasn't lights. It is very hard to describe. It was sort of a dark green beast coming out of his midsection. It just hung there over him. I looked and looked. I wasn't scared or anything, just weirded out. I questioned myself if I was really seeing this.

I was about 17 or 18. One morning after I woke up. I looked at my bedroom wall and there was a little man standing on the wall. One of the little people, Memegwesiwak that my Mom and Dad used to talk about. Actually everyone in the Reserve talks about the little ones. This little guy he didn't look Indian, he looked like one of those garden gnomes. He walked across the wall and just faded away. I shook my head like in the movies and wondered if I was awake. I was awake.

One day I was sitting on my couch and looked back and there was a big spider sitting there. It was all black. It disappeared really quickly. It wasn't real but I saw what I saw.

Since we have been hearing about 3D a lot lately, I will tell you my experience with the next dimension, maybe the 5th dimension. I was 18 out drinking. Me and my friend, Merv had run out of beer. We still wanted to get high, so we figured we would sniff some gas. I know stupid and a childish thing to do. Only kids sniffed gas in the Reserve. Well we were sitting in the bush sniffing. I was sniffing away when all of sudden I wasn't there anymore. I was up in the air. I could see me and Merv sitting against some trees sniffing. I was looking at me looking at something, weird. Suddenly I was back in my body again. I said to Merv, "did you see that, I was up in the air". He said he saw it too.

Some girl pissed on my hair. I don't know who she is or who she how she got my hair but she got it. Her doing that caused me to be visited by the Demon. The demon always appeared to me in my dreams and as a woman. She would try to take me away with her. I remember in one contact she was walking down the stairs of our old hockey rink (it burned down years ago and there is a new one now). I could she her in a red dress with sometype of print pattern on the dress. I was scared of her so I ran into one of the dressing rooms. The room was dark and the concrete floor was wet in some areas. She came into the room and came over to me in the corner to hug me. I thought it was going to be an erotic dream, but she started spinning me, and I was fighting to get away. I yelled at her. She said your going to "Hhhhhhhhhhellllllllllll" as we spun in a quick circle. Another time there was this kid sitting in a boat at a beach shore. The boat started to float away. This woman was crying for help. I went out to the boat and was able to pull it to shore. The woman was so thankful that she came to hug me. Again I thought it was going to be dream erotica. But nooooo. She started squeezing me so hard I couldn't breathe, I started trying to get away, but she turned into a big snake trying to squeeze the life out of me.

But there's more. :-D

There is this neat little book by A.C. Ross called "We are all Related". In this book Ross talks a little about the supernatural. He does make comparisons to many religions across the globe and their similarities. I guess that's okay, but I am more interested in his "science" of things. His own experiences with the supernatural and the science behind some ceremonies is pretty cool. If you have the opportunity read the book.

Just got an email from a friend to try EFT Emotional Freedom Techniques. Not sure if it fits here, but just thought I would let you know about it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

It takes nothing to be nice, at least civil or respectful.

My brother has lent me his truck until Thursday, so I am pretty happy. If I am happy why in the heck did I act like a jerk to the police? I gave my daughter-in-law a ride to work this morning. Along our ride, I pulled beside a cop car. There was a woman police officer driving. I stared at her for a long time at the stop light. I don't know why I did this, nothing was in my mind. I guess her partner saw me staring and she looked quickly at me and stared. I kept staring. As the light turned green I got ahead of them and passed into their lane. I turned off onto the street to Brandi's work. The police took a different route and came up to me at a cross street. They must have gone pretty fast to get there. So they pulled behind me and put the lights on. I went a full block before stopping. They put their siren on to get my attention. When the male police officer came up to the car he was polite, while I was not. I said "why'd you stop me? Because I was looking at you?" He said "the registered owner does not have a valid license." "Well, I am not the registered owner," I replied in a snotty attitude way. How the heck would he know who is driving. So he went on to check out my license in the car. I was commenting to Brandi how I am not a fan of the police. The woman police officer came back and informed me that I did not have a valid license. "WHAT!?" I was choked, to say the least. It was real funny. I was 'jarred' because I was acting like an A-hole and this is what it got me. The cops then took their time deciding if they should have the truck towed. The lady cop told me that even driving it into the close by parking lot would have me still breaking the law. I was at their mercy and they had every right to tow the truck. I had no rotten license. I did not re-new the rotten thing in December. I guess I should be glad they stopped me before I got into an accident with no license. Regardless if I would have gotten a break or not, it really showed me something. I always think we should be nice to people and here I was not adhering to what I feel. Doesn't matter that I have resentments towards the police. I should have at least been civil or at the very least respectful. In the end they let me park the truck in the adjacent mall parking lot. I told them I would go over to another mall and go pay for my license at one of the insurance brokers. They agreed. I don't know if they agreed because it was easier for them or they were just being good people. I waited in the truck for about 20 minutes and considered driving over to an insurance place. I decided to walk. Just as I got out of the parking lot onto the street the police drove on by. I guess they waited down the block to see what if I would drive again. Sneaky. :-0

It takes nothing to be nice, but the rewards can be much.

I told my wife about what happened and she had no sympathy for me. I get what I deserve.

You know when I was a kid about 15, there was this one cop, Wyman Sangster,a RCMP officer that took the time to get to know us in the Reserve. He went on to coach our baseball team. He was a pretty good guy. Many of the other RCMP officers were not kind to us in the Reserve. I ran into him a few times as an adult, he is still a pretty friendly fellow.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Equality for all People No! It should be Equity

The Winter Olympics are taking place in Vancouver British Columbia, Canada. It is a sporting event that hosts the best athletes in the world. Theoretically everyone is equal in these games. Everyone should have a chance to win. If all people were equal each of the countries participating would have a chance to win. That is not the case, not everyone is equal. In the world of sports not everything or everyone is equal. The countries with more people, more resources, more venues have an advantage. The athletes with more money can train more. They can devote more of their time to training rather than splitting time with earning a wage. Each country tries to level the playing field by putting money into their athletes efforts. Even at the sporting events the organizers of the games try to get everyone to have a chance at winning. The racing starts are staggered to give people a chance to win. Not all race starts are staggered. The short track speed skating races favour the inside lane. The outside racers have to go and extra distance as they are on the outside of the track. In summer games the race starts have staggered positions in order to compensate for the inequities in the outside lane starts.

That is the nature of the world, not all things are equal. If people tell you that all people are equal, they are mistaken. I find it funny that many people that are saying all people are equal are many times those on top of the food chain. It's like that line in "Animal Farm", "We are all equal but some are more equal than others".

There is a book and documentary out entitled "Guns, Germs and Steel". It puts forth the notion of geographical advantages of Europe in the expansion of the world. These people had the advantage of different elements that gave them advantage over other places and people in the world. It outlines how people are beneficiaries of geography, time, and other elements. Just as this book highlights the benefits for specific regions and people, it denotes that not all are equal.

Conservative folks and the political Right want everything to be equal. Treated equal so there are no favorites. That is a very good notion, but it cannot really happen. It can't happen because we are not equal. What they should be aiming toward is equity. Making the playing field equitable, so everyone has chance. We all don't have the same chance at jobs, at education, at health care, and social status. Our status in life either benefits us or starts us at a disadvantage to the rest of society.

People say we all have the same opportunities to succeed in life. Perhaps that is true, but where we start at is different. So if we had some equity in opportunities that might level the chance to have the same opportunities as everyone else.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Walking with Women.

Tonight I went for a walk. It was a cold walk in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
It is a sad event for many people. For some others it is a something to take part in. In Canada there are about 520 Aboriginal women that have been murdered or gone missing in the last 30 years. Our Reserve is home to some of those missing and murdered girls. Someone's mom, sister, daughter.

I walked in the crowd and was in my own world when to my right was Pungese (means little bit in Ojibway). Her name is Dorothy and we were in the same school as kids; the residential school in Sagkeeng.
Her Sister Bernice is still waiting for her baby Jennifer to come home. Jennifer Catcheway went missing June 19, 2008.

Pung and I walked in the cold and talked about people we remembered as kids. The smart ones, the tough ones. We joked and laughed as we walked in the memory walk. Life goes on. I teased her about chewing snuff when she was little girl. She denied chewing snuff. I never saw her chewing snuff, but accused her anyway. We talked about our kids, and Bernice's girl Jennifer. I didn't know Jennifer and it has been a lifetime since I had seen Bernice. They moved to the city when they were kids and I didn't see them. Heck I barely remembered Bernice, but I do remember her. As we talked we admitted that there is no way we could ever understand what it is like to have your baby disappear. The longing, the unknown, the hope for something, the hope for life.

The walk made me realize we need to listen, we need to walk, we need to remember all those girls that are missing. After all those missing girls, those ladies have families. Families like you and me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Shania: means not really an Indian in Ojibway

I asked my wife if Shania ever wanted to hook up with me, if that would be okay. My wife said "if Shania ever ever wants to hook up with you, then it will okay with me." My wife is the greatest.

By the way Shania is Ojibway by adoption and raised. So the title is an attempt at being facetious. Shania is more Indian than many of the Indians we see in the news: Ward Churchill, Joseph Boyden for example.

Everyone likes the Indian. They like to be more than the average everyday individual. We want to belong to something bigger than ourselves. That is why we join groups, make affiliations. We are lucky by birth as to who we belong to. I belong to the Ojibway of Sagkeeng. That is so cool.

Some people can only pretend or wish they belong to a certain group. In Germany Karl May made the Indian image famous. So famous that people dreamed of being the Noble Savage. That is okay.

I like Indian art. I used to get the artwork framed at a local frame shop called Fleet Gallery. The owner was Klaus from Germany. He loved Karl May and the image of Indians. He was a bit disappointed at what he found in Canada. He still wanted to hang on to the Karl May image.

 There is a television show in Canada called Mix Blessings. It is about a Canadian who marries a Cree Woman. It is a funny show. It airs on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network APTN. I like this show. The guy doesn't try to be Indian but it shows the differences that he and his wife encounter. One of the episodes explored the German Indian. It was really funny. The German fellow ended up being disgusted with the Indians. He said "I am more Indian than the rest of you." He knew how to build canoes, pitch up a teepee and ate wild meat. He was in love with the Noble Savage.

I am not a noble savage or a stoic Indian. Hell, I don't even look Indian. I still belong to the Ojibway and I am an Indian (although the label Indian is not one most Indigenous people like).  No one, no one can take that away. :-)

Everyone likes the Indian. That is, they like the Vanishing Indian, the Stoic Indian, the fantasy book Indian, the Hollywood Indian. They just don't like the real life Indian.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Indian Factor: Battling our demons, Raising Pride

"I didn't get a rock, me!"

There is a story from a Reserve in Ontario. The Band was doing road work and putting in an asphalt paved roadway in the community. While widening the roadway, one of the machine operators dug out a large rock. So they put it on the side of the road in front of a person's house. The rock sat practically in the yard. The owner of the house liked the aesthetics of the rock, so he asked the road crew to leave it in his yard. As it turned out as the road work continued and completed, other people complained that they didn't get a rock in their yard as well.
Here we have an example of one aspect of the Indian factor, the "I don't have one", jealousy of each other. Indians are not only jealous of what you got, but of who you know, what you are doing, what kind of job you have, what family you come from and what Spiritual path you follow. I know jealousy is common to all segments of society, not just the Indian. So jealousy alone does not make up the Indian Factor.

You know it's hard to be critical of people you love. We don't like it when other segments of society criticize us, so why would we accept it when our own people are putting us down? It's a hard thing, but that it is also another portion of the Indian factor. We seem to be most critical of our own. If there is some Indian in the news or has made something of themselves, we are quick to look for tarnish in their armour. All of us are like that. In most instances it's not automatic to say "good for them." It's work to think that way, but it is worth it to feel good for someone else, even if it is work.

A friend of mine has sure had some bad luck, mishaps in his life and it has taken a toll on his body. He has been deemed disabled and is on the Welfare roll for not being able to work. It's strange and funny what happened after he was put on permanent disability. Some young men in the Reserve said "you got it made." My friend laughed at how absurd it is and how we are oblivious to how far we have fallen. To take joy in the fact that the Welfare cheque will increase by one hundred dollars. My brother is one of those people that is disabled. He continues to try and work when there is work to be had. He doesn't like being sick but it's something that he must live with. My friend expressed the same sentiment; he would rather be healthy than living on Welfare. Of course that is not the overall sentiment of the Indian population. However, with the situation on Reserves and inner-cities, the options for the poor and the uneducated are not too plentiful. We gravitate to what we know. If all we know is poverty, crime, alcohol, gambling, fighting, what are we going to be pulled or pushed to?

There have been some business ventures in our community, the Indigenous community which continue to succeed but many have not been able to survive the Indian factor. We want to support Indian's but yet we somehow end up finding reasons not to support each other. When there is a business in the Reserve some  fellow Christian or Traditionalist, will come up to a cousin and say "I won't spend a penny in your place." That is the mindset of people that are hurting and need to get into a better place. Better place in terms of our thinking and of course our Spirits. It is not enough to say good things, we need to believe in good things. Like how beautiful, how resilient our people are. How generous we are and how kind our hearts are. I love  part of the Indian factor, the Spirit of our people. We know what our pains are and we are battling those pains. We continue to do right by our people. We have a lot of things to do to continue healing our Spirits but we are slowly and consistently battling. That is what I like about Indians, we love other Indians. Come to a ceremony and people will help you. Of course there are some exceptions where people want to play the role of leader and know everything, but that is okay too. People will help you. Even in your darkest hour there are people thinking of you. I remember talking to this lady in the Reserve, Lorraine. Her mother was very sick in the hospital at the same time when my Mom was in the hospital. Even though this lady Margaret was very ill and terminal, she was concerned that she was taking up a bed in the hospital where my Mom could have. My Mom did have her own bed in the hospital and that is the Indian factor, caring for others.  My Mom was worried about her kids, her relatives while she was dying. She told her kids to not hang out in the kitchen area, while her Wake was going on. She wanted her kids to make sure to feed people and make them feel welcome. The Indian factor. The Indian factor has elements that touch all people. All people can come together and be kind. It doesn't seem to be happening much these days with all the talk of war, bad economy, natural disasters, religious differences, global warming and all the other harsh things going on. We can only take care of our own little worlds.

It is true, Indians are the biggest bigots of our own people. We call down each other with the best of them. We are jealous of the new shirt that he is wearing. We don't like it that our friendship is not exclusive to us. We want to have the better looking toys. We are hurting so they must hurt as well.

The Indian factor has all that negative thinking and living but it also encompasses all that is good in people. The Indian factor is a contradiction; we don't like each other but we really like each other. Strange, I know.

With the Indian factor you will get told if you are doing good and when you are doing wrong.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Your Spirituality battling with your Character

This fellow, a Traditional Teacher/Elder once commented about a colleague and friend of mine that "she has no Spirituality, what-so-ever." Now that is a pretty condemning statement. I, for one would not want to be the judge of who is Spiritual or not. I also don't think we need to try and be Spiritual. My friend, cousin, Teacher once told me this story about a Teaching from Peter O'Chiese. Mr. O'Chiese was a very respected and knowledgeable Elder. This White woman sought him out at a Pipe Ceremony in the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The woman went up to speak with Peter. She started off by saying that she was having a difficult time with her Spirituality. "Stop" was what Peter said. "You already know how to be a Spirit, it is learning to be a Human Being, is where we need work." You see people are already Spirits. You are Spirits before you become into this world and go back to being Spirits when you leave this world. That's why it seems that very young children still have that connection to the Spirit world. They can see and hear the other Spirits; you know their imaginary friends, but I digress (I kind of like that saying).

People are confused about their Spirituality. They believe if they pray, follow the rules set out in some Religious dogma, it means they are Spiritual. If they spout Religious doctrine or refer to themselves as followers of: Christian, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or whatever, then they are of a Spiritual nature. With a Spiritual affiliation, they can now use it as a moral shield or moral spear. That becomes the nature of following the rules or "Teachings" of a Religion or quasi-Spiritual calling, you can claim to be more than just a regular person. For some strange reason we give those people that weight of moral superiority. We acknowledge them as if they are superior to us. Superior in their integrity, virtue or in their following of social norms, customs, and faith. We think they are somehow closer to being next to the Special entity, God,Creator or whatever.  Their words or their prayers carry more weight to God or whomever, than us 'regular' people. We view them with a sense of reverence. If we dare to question their word or their behaviour, then we are the ones with a moral deficiency. The people with a public relationship with the Spiritual calling or an official attachment or role in their respective Religious group, believe that they are in fact superior to us, regular folk.

With both our expectations of the follower of Religion and their own expectations, it is a hard station to live up to. Our naive belief that people are morally superior if they follow Religion (regardless of what religion or Spiritual path) is not fair. Our judgment can be harsh if we do not believe they are living up the conditions as a religious person. If the religious person has character flaws, we are quick to jump on them with cries of hypocrisy. We see them and all that are similar to them as hypocrites, and phony. They themselves, the public follower of religion, have put themselves in a difficult situation. If they as a human being make some type of mistake, they fall short of being next to God. They fall short of what they think people expect them to be. Either way it's hard to be religious. Although there are some out there that have no expectations either way.

This is where I think the battle between Spirituality and Character take place. We believe or think that people who are religious are beyond mistakes. We view them as bound by conduct that even the Saintly might not measure up. We put all sorts of limitations as to what they can do and how they must behave. Who are we to put limitations on human beings, just because they openly follow a certain faith path? If a person is a Pipe Carrier, we expect him or her to be a higher quality person. If a person is a preacher, we expect that person to be beyond reproach (what the heck does that mean?). If a person is a regular church going bible thumper, a tent revival singer, or a church lady, we want them to measure up to certain standards of decorum (Again what's with these words?). We don't want to see them having a beer in the local pub. We don't want to see them spitting on the ground. We don't want to see them talking about other people in a negative way. We don't expect them to behave like a regular person; losing their temper, being greedy for money and material goods, being a bad parent and all the other pitfalls that human beings struggle with. Many of us are quick to attack those who openly state they are religious or spiritual practitioners. We judge without mercy. We say they are suppose to act a certain way. We will not give them any benefit of doubt when they do or say something.

People have it wrong, your Spirituality and your character are two separate things. Your character is who you are. Your Spirituality is what you want to be (trying to get back to). They have a role in each other but are separate. Like a hand and a glove. Just because you may be an Arsehole does not mean that you do not believe in your Spiritual path or your God. People are quick to say "how can that guy be a Pipe Carrier he drinks beer." Big hairy deal that someone drinks beer. It is a social convention that drinking is a bad thing. If you drink you are a bad Christian, a bad Jew, a bad Muslim or a bad Traditionalist. Does it mean your beliefs are less than some else? Or as the Fellow said, does it mean you have no Spirituality?  Maybe you like look a little too long at the opposite sex. Maybe you make jokes or post pictures which can be hurtful or sexual. It is true you should know better.

What I am saying is that we should hold off on our criticism of the Holy Roller, the Pow-wow drummer/Sweat-hog, the one life only Buddha , the pork eating Jew, the burka-less Muslim, and the beardless, turban-less Sikh. Who are we to measure people? Who are we to put them up on a pedestal and kick it out from under their feet? Who the heck our we to judge someone else's Spirituality? We don't know what is in their hearts or what they believe. We can only see what they are like, not what they believe. If they are not living up to some set of made up standards, who are we to say they don't measure up? I guess I do not want to be that person that says she and he has no Spirituality. I will say if someone is an Arsehole, but that is their character. Even Arseholes have the ability to pray. So we know they are failing in their path to "salvation" or "walking softly on Mother Earth".

From my experience it seems like that people who jump to criticize the most are the people who profess to be of a religious affiliation. The most hypocritical.

We are fierce when we guard our belief systems. No matter what our belief system is. There are some interesting views out there, some old, very old and some new.

I am of the opinion that comparing our belief system to others is not a positive exercise. There are comparisons between Religious beliefs. There is a tendency to measure against the most popular belief systems in order to confirm or legitimize our own beliefs. I put forth my belief that we are all aiming for the same thing. At the end of the day, whether our character is full of flaws or a non-believer in any type of spiritual belief we want the same thing; we want to have a good life, whatever that good life means to us.

You know I was pretty lucky in some ways. I got to listen to this old Lady talk about NanaBooshoo.   It is interesting about the ways of NanaBooshoo; he was a Spirit but also a human being. He had power and he had flaws; the power that Creator gave him and the flaws that comes with being a Man.  Imagine that.  So in his travels he did some pretty crazy things. That is what we need to know, that even the most Spiritual being that was on Earth made mistakes. So how can we be so quick to put down a person of religious or Spiritual recognition for their human mistakes?  

Let's just face it, some people are just mean. No amount of Halleljuahs, five a day eastern facing prayers, baptisms, Sweat lodge rocks are going to help them. Regardless of their love for God, Creator Allah Budha, they are just pure Asreholes.

That is the bottom line, it's just me and god, if there is a god.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Okijiida Ceremonies

Roseau River First Nation, Manitoba Canada.
Youth Violence/Youth Suicide and Community Economic Hardship are devastating first nations and native americans on turtle island. more young people are turning to the warrior societies. they need more than empty promises, they want action, they need solutions.

On July 23rd/24th/25th/2010 Warrior Societies from all over North America
will gather to give first hand information on the goals and objectives of thier organizations.

Various chapters of the American Indian Movement, Anishinabe 0-kii-ji-da Warrior, the Mohawk Warrior Society, the Lonefighters Warrior Society, the Cree Warrior Society, the Dakota Warrior Society,the Edmonton O-Gitcha-Da Warrior Society, the Thunder Bay Warrior Society,the Miq Mak Warrior Society,the B.C Warrior Society and the Native Youth Movement and Native Organizations have expressed interest.

Everybody is invited to this Gathering, we have sent tobacco to all of the people This is the largest of Warrior Societies Gathering.

TOPICS : Missing and Murdered First Nation Women
Missing and Murdered Native American Women
Community Economic Hardship
Youth Siucides
Community Violence
Sovereignty Rights, Treaty Rights, Land Claims
Drugs and Alcohol in your communiites
Child Abuse
Youth Violence

for more info: contact Derek Cassidy at 204-209-0073
e-mail address
e-mail address
or leave message at 204-427-2312

this gathering will take place @ the powwow grounds, so if you have teepees, bring them..there lots of camping room. there will be a feast @ 6 pm

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Manitoba Aboriginal Political Groups abundant in number and in acronyms.

In Canada the Treaty Indians (also known as Status Indians) are represented nationally by the Assembly of First Nation (AFN). I believe they are our National political voice. At the regional level we have the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC)that is suppose to represent the Treaty Indians; 63 Reserves in Manitoba. There are also two political groups that represent the north and south; the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc (MKO) and the Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO). Each of these organizations are political voices of the Treaty-Status Indian. A number of the 63 Reserves in Manitoba belong to Tribal Councils. These Tribal Councils (Dakota Ojibway Tribal Council-DOTC;Interlake Reserves Tribal Councils-IRTC; Island Lake Tribal Council-ILTC;Southeast Resource Development Council-SRDC; Swampy Cree Tribal Council-SCTC; West Region Tribal Council-WRTC) are entities that lend a bigger voice for some of the smaller communities. There is also the economies of scale factor with service delivery of programs and services. Being larger can keep costs down for administration in small communities. Some of the larger Bands (Eight of the bigger populations) have opted out of Tribal Councils and are considered Independent Bands. That is they are independent of Tribal Councils. The Bands are further divided into Treaty Groups. Right now the Bands have not organized into political Treaty specific groups, with the exception of Treaty One. In Alberta the Aboriginal political groups are set up as Treaty areas, i.e. Treaty Seven.

The political groups are elected positions, with the exception of the Tribal Councils. All of the national and regional organizations are elected by the Chiefs of the Reserves. The general Aboriginal population does not have a role in the election of these political agencies. The titles of the Elected officials is Grand-Chief. With the AFN there is also a Vice-Chief elected to each province. The Vice-Chief for AFN is elected again by each regions (Province) Chiefs. That sure makes for a lot of political representation. With so many political representation it should be easy for the average Treaty Indian to have his or her voice heard. I have only once sought an audience with one of the many political groups. I was told that they do not handle personal issues. So if I want my voice to be heard I am to turn to the Provincial government Members of the Legislature (MLA) for my area. The MLA's represent all Manitobans regardless of their issue. MLA's are elected by the general population of Manitoba. As a side note there are three Aboriginal MLA's in Manitoba. I could also turn to the Chief of our community. The Chief of each Reserve is elected by their membership. In many cases both the on-Reserve population and the off-Reserve population (people who have moved off the Reserve to towns, cities or other Reserves)take part in election of Chief and Council. In other jurisdictions there maybe hereditary positions. Most if not all in Manitoba have some sort of election process, be it Traditional Custom or Department of Indian and Northern Affairs format. There is one Reserve that has a Chief for life system (really weird situation in that small Reserve). Weird because of who controls the Band registration and the bloodline discrepancy of the Chief's family (but that is all speculation on other people's part).

There are a number of other Aboriginal groups that are quasi-political representatives of Indians and Metis people in Manitoba. It becomes clouded as to who they represent and where their mandate comes from. There is the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg(ACW). They say they represent all Aboriginal in Winnipeg. There is the Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) which represents the Metis or Non-status Indians in Manitoba. There is the Mothers of Red Nations (MORN)an Aboriginal advocacy/political voice for women. There is a national body for Aboriginal called the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC). Not finally but another National group that reports to represent Indians across Canada is the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP). On a side note the last National Chief of CAP, Patrick Brazeau was appointed to the Canadian Senate. CAP refers to their leader as National Chief as opposed to Grand Chief.

I think with all these Grand Chiefs, National Chiefs, and Presidents that the Aboriginal population is well represented and they would have a loud voice. I am not sure of how effective these voices are, or even if they are needed. I would hope that their track record is very good at fulfilling their mandate (whatever it is), but I have some skepticism as to the effectiveness of these organizations.

There are three Grand Chief organizations in Manitoba, the AMC, SCO and MKO. Is there really a need for three political voices. Sure there are a number of political and quasi-political governments in the mainstream system: Federal, Provincial, Municipal (Cities, towns, villages, etc.). There is a bit of difference in this situation where these mainstream governments do administer over people. In the case of the Chief organizations, they have no people and capital to administer. They are suppose to be political advocates for the Chiefs. That is part of their problem, the Chief entities are not sure of their own roles. They have now become service providers of programs and services. This is a problem. It takes the funds away from the communities and puts the funds into an entity that is purely political. There is also the problem of overlap. Each organization doing the same action as the other organizations. Another problem is with saturation, there is the weakening of the voice. With these many voices speaking on behalf of the Chiefs (or the Aboriginal population) which voice is the voice of authority. Which voice is of most value? The Grand Chief organizations are taking over the roles that Tribal Councils were set up for. The Tribal Councils are meant to be a united voice for a number of Bands that are either geographically linked, Culturally linked or politically linked. The Tribal Councils also realize economies of scale as service providers. They can have one worker or office to administer finances, education, counselling, capital projects, social programs, economic development, etc. With the Grand Chief organizations they are trying to justify their existence so they move into these areas of service providers.

The biggest and oldest problem that these agencies face and cause is the "divide and conquer" phenomenon. With so many voices, who does the talking? If you don't like who is talking, just go to another voice. The main issue for Indians stem from the interpretation of the Treaties. The Federal government and the Canadian public (and other Governments in Canada)is who the Grand Chiefs need to speak to about the Treaties and issues. If the Federal government and Canadian public don't like what is being said by the Grand Chief, they can move on down the line to another Grand Chief, until they like what they hear.

The other problem faced by these Aboriginal political voices is the issue of who feeds them. These agencies are funded through monies that flow from the government. All governments, in mainstream and in the Aboriginal community say that there is not enough money to work with. In this case the Aboriginal political agencies try to gain more funds by applying to become service providers. These funds for service provision could be best used by Tribal Councils and independent Bands. Instead the funds go to a political organization. Politics is all about getting back into office. How do you get back in office? By promises, and favours. Sometimes you get into office by being effective at your job. Realistically that is not always what takes place. So there you have it. The other issue with being fed, is that the food provider can take away food if it doesn't like what you are saying. Talk too loud or too strong and your food gets taken away.

The Aboriginal voice is stammering. The reason it is stammering is because it does not know what to say and who is to say it. We need to be clear in our voice. With all these voices, there is no clear message. Instead it becomes a competition among themselves. That competitive energy could be better used to listen to the people and give a united strong voice.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A funny thing happened on my way to the lab

Well I went and got some blood work done today. This is the third time I have blood tests that I can remember. The first time I had blood taken was in about 1985. I was sent by a dentist as I was to be put under for a compact wisdom tooth extraction. When I went for my blood tests. I went to the local hospital in Pine Falls, Manitoba. The lab tech had me sitting in a chair. The chair had an arm that moved to the front of the body of the person sitting in the chair. I guess it's there for you rest your arm in front of your body. As the technician was taking blood I glanced over at the vial. The vial was filling with blood at an incredible fast pace. The blood flowed in the vial quickly, so quickly that blood looked like it was swirling. At the point I passed out. Right out. Like I was hit with a brick. I woke up still sitting in the chair. Thank goodness for the arm rest. It stopped me from sliding onto the floor. The lab tech asked me what happened. He said, "Your colour is coming back, one minute you were fine and than you just fainted." I looked over at my arm and there was another vial being filled. I fainted again. At this point, the lab tech had a nurse set me up in an adjacent room. I laid there for a while.

The next time I went was about a year or two ago. I went got blood letted. I didn't look at the vial. I was fine. Today I went for blood work again. My doctor had sent me a while ago but I kept putting it off. My wife made me go. At this lab, the space is small and there is absolutely no privacy. My name was called and I went gallantly into the blood work room. There were all sorts of posters, photocopies of funnies and other pictures to distract you from what is going on in your arm. Well, the young pretty and tall nurse started to take my blood. She said there will be a pinch and that will be about it. I felt the pinch for a Milli-second and then she would reach across my body and pick up a vial. There was a whole bunch of vials in a tray. The chair was the same type I had sat in before. A safety arm to protect the weak. Well the blood removal went without a hitch. I was fine. She asked me to hold a piece of cotton swab on my arm for a while. At this time, things seemed kind of weird. I was feeling a little off. I started to feel a little nauseous, but no big deal. I have felt that way before. I started to daydream, next thing I know, it feels like I am drowning, can't breathe or something, my body is moving like mad. I am waking up from a bad dream. It is a terrifying feeling, I don't know how to describe it. I feel like my body is leaving or I am stuck somewhere, like I can't get out. I don't know if I can breathe or not. Way in the background, I can hear a voice far on the outside of this tunnel. "Are you okay?" "No, I say". I don't know if I voiced this or it is in my mind. I didn't know where the heck I was or what was happening. I can see the nurse and she says do you have seizers. I say no. "You are having seizure". "No" I say. Next thing I know they are putting a wet cloth on the back of my neck and are trying to get me to drink some cool water. They get me to lay down in an adjacent room. After a while I get up and have to give a urine sample to end the lab trip. I courageously look at the people in the waiting room as I leave the lab.

I called my wife and she told me that my trip to donate blood will be cancelled. My wife is one of those people that donates blood regularly. I have told her that I should do it as well. Today I am reconsidering my charitable efforts.

I am a lucky person. I get to go to receive medical treatment, tests and advice. Lot of people in our country don't do that. Lot of people have to leave their communities to get medical treatment. Our Reserve is one of those that has a hospital in the near by town. There is even a doctor in our medical centre on Reserve. Lot of Reserves don't have the benefit of those services. I can't imagine how bad it can be in the U.S. Specifically for those without insurance.

In any case I made things exciting for the lab and gave my wife a few chuckles. I blamed my wife for my episode at the lab.

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

 Urban Cowboy is a 1980 movie with a soundtrack steeped in western songs that had great Redneck lines like, "single bars and good time ...