Tuesday, April 27, 2010

It is a good day to fluff.

The Grandkids. Two of my many bosses. I really appreciate the time with these kids.

My two girls. I was glad to visit with my girl at her aunties yesterday. My sister had a small Feast for her husband, who is gone 4 years now. Remembering him in a good way. As well there was Good food and fun visit.

Our two friends from Long Plain First Nation. It was a pleasant surprise to run into them at a little restaurant in Winnipeg, Manitoba. What a chance to run into someone that we haven't seen in sometime. They are very good people.

The Reserve life is full of good things. Lots of friends and family. It's good to hang out in the Reserve but being in the City is okay too. Lots of Indians living in the city so you are not alone.

The late Chief Dan George said in Little Big Man, "it's a good day to die", well today is a good day for fluff. Fluff is that little bit of nothing. Nothing negative and nothing heavy. Just good old fluff. Something that the air can carry. Like a fluff posting. Fluff conversation. Fluff comments. Fluff argument. Fluff, just plain fluff. :0

Friday, April 23, 2010

Holy Smokes, not too old to find new Heroes.

So we had our Aboriginal Gathering for Survivors of Suicide. I am trying not to say Aboriginal Survivors of Suicide because the acronym for that is ASS. So ASS might not be the best acronym for something serious like this. It is a little catchy though and the best marketing names are short and catchy.

The Gathering took place in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada at a community Centre called ThunderBird House. Holy smokes that is a fantastic building. I was always hesitant to go there because I had my reservations about people affiliated with the building. But the lady that is managing the building, Chrissy is my new hero. She was so nice, so helpful, so sincere, so willing to do her best to help us. Chrissy and her staff sure have a lot of patience and willing to be flexible in meeting the needs of people using their facility. The ThunderBird House is a very nice building. The building is circular, with a beautiful cooper roof and a skylight shaped to the Head of a Thunderbird. Very nice. The flooring is covered with hardwood. People are respectful for the building and take off their shoes regardless of the weather conditions.

The ThunderBird House was the prefect place to hold the Gathering. We had a number of guests to come out and speak with the people in attendance. One of our Speakers was the Judge. Murray Sinclair is an Aboriginal Judge in Manitoba. Not too many of those I will tell you. Anyway, like most Indians I am hard on our public Indians. This guy is my new Hero. His words were very real. Very smart, very heartfelt, very insightful, and very true. He is going to be the leading the Commission for Survivors of Residential School stories. He is going around the country listening to Indians recount their experience at the Residential school and the fall-out of the experience. Not only from the people who went to the schools, but their children.

The Gathering was a two day event. We should have had more time for sharing circles with the survivors. We did have speakers come in. This one fellow is a Traditional Teacher from our Reserve. And you may not know but I think you can't be a prophet in your home town. It's a discrimination against the known. In any case this guy, Dave Courchene Jr. was asked to come and speak. You know what? He is my new hero. He was dynamic, well spoken, well informed, sincere, knowledgeable, and far-looking. He reached out with information from the Elders. He was an eloquent speaker and his message was not lost. He like, Sinclair, spoke of the Traditions. Not only the spiritual aspect of life, but remembering the Women. That is where we need to start listening.

I still have my old heroes, but it is nice to find new ones. The Gathering was a bit of work and it was great to see all the people help out. I was a bit disappointed with some friends. I was there for them when they wanted and needed help, but that's how it goes sometimes. I have to remember people are busy and they are dealing with issues themselves. So it is not right to think bad about them, or for me to think selfishly. I know negative thinking only spirals downward. It's best for us if we try to look at the good. I met some new people, shared some hurt and good thoughts together. Tabosonakwut and his son Wab Kinew shared their songs with us. Peter shared lot of Teachings with us and it couldn't have gone better. We have to laugh because the agenda goes out the window when you do things. You have to be flexible when it comes to Ceremony. You need to be patient so you can learn and accept things.
That Wab stole the hearts of many women in the audience. The gifts of being young, handsome and talented. Dirty bugger. :D
Me I was hugged a bit by the old ladies. Nice old ladies. They are so blind. They can't see. But they know a good heart. That's what we had there, lots of good hearts.
I even brought out the new mocassins. I love the woodland style of beadwork. It is what differentiates from the southern styles. I know remember where I got them from, Ojibway couple from Ontario.

Some of the kids that were visiting with the people at the Gathering. My boy was there. He was there with us. I know the Gathering for me was a selfish endeavour. I do it because I want my Boy to be remembered by everyone. I want everyone to know what he was like. I want to make sure he is still here. That is what I had hoped. That people don't forget our loved ones.
There were lot of people there that are my new heroes, Janice Green was awesome. A hard worker, good heart and plenty of energy.
My usually heroes, like Suz, Annette, April, Lorene, Leslie, Bob, Arlene, Barbara, Earl, Shirley, Donald, Ernest, Peter, Sally, Ron, Brenda, Smiley, Jean, Bernice came through with help as well.
All in all it was a good event. Some better people than me shared their hearts and their love with us. Now that is good.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

It's like death at a funeral

Went to the funeral of my deceased friend Merv's little girl yesterday. She was 21. Not sure how she passed, overdose is the talk. Sad situation. Very sad.
I saw a number of relatives from my family there. Our families are inter-twined in the Reserve. My sister is married to Merv's brother. The Mom of the girl comes from a big family on the North shore of the Reserve. Death can be a hard thing, especially unexpected. Death can also be a comfort. Not right away of course, but perhaps in the case of suffering. Still anytime you come close to it, it's difficult.
The church has a divider so it can be cut into two big halls. The church burned a number of years and they built and addition. The addition holds the main preaching area. The old portion is for additional seats and that is where WAKES (AWAKES) are held. When we went to the service, viewing of the young girl was still going on. Outside of the Church a fire was still going. People light a fire and keep it going throughout the duration of the Wake. Lot of people were at the church for the service.
I took my Dad, my daughter and my grandkids. People visit during the time of a Wake. I watched the family of the young girl, the siblings, the cousins. The crying was just too much to take. The hurt, the anguish, the sorrow. It felt we were intruding on a very private moment. I felt awful. It's like part of them was dying right there along with the girl.
It's a hard thing to keep your emotions in check. If ever there is a time to let your feelings flow I guess that would be the place. Being at the funeral service makes you feel sorry for the family, and a bit thankful for your own children's safety. I don't think that enters your mind, but after we think about it, we wouldn't want to be standing by the casket, wishing, wanting, longing for it not to be real.
I have to be positive and try the best we can to make sure our kids are okay. Make sure we listen. Make sure we have fun with them. Make sure they can come to us for safety. Make sure when they turn around we are there to be there with them.

Friday, April 16, 2010

When is it okay to butt into someone's life?

I am not the best person to be giving advice to people. I see trouble coming up for friends of mine. How can you mention something without butting in? It's like that. We know better now that we are older and want to give good advice to our younger friends and family.

We do not realize how much stress we can put on people. Our mannerisms, our barbs, our criticism of our partner, our grouchy mornings or days. I have seen it many times. I see how it can make you feel physically sick because of the stress.
We keep our biggest grouchy-ness for the home. We keep our biggest smiles for acquaintances. We hug those that are barely friends and are cold to those closest to us.

I want to tell my friend this. I want to tell him that we don't know what we have until we lose it. I want to tell him that it's not enough to be a good provider. It means more to say I love you. It means more to say I am sorry.

I want to tell them that make sure to give your friend the chance to go out with other friends. Keeping a wide circle of friends keeps your own relationship closer. Isolating ourselves can be hard on ourselves. We need to get our friends the chance to go out and share with others. Don't let them stay home all the time. Create some space.

I want to say we need to think about our friend. Think how our actions make them feel. Think about what we said. Think about if our words are causing too much harm that it can't be fixed.

I want to say giving gifts won't fix hurt. The fixing starts with being aware. Being aware of what we do and we what we say.

It's a hard thing to be aware. Because that means we might have to change. Might have to change how we act. How we say things.

It's never a good time to butt in. I am not sure if I would have taken advice. Even Mom's advice didn't take. Maybe it's a Mom's job to say something?

In any case our interest in people's life is because we care for them. We don't want them to make the same mistakes we have.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sagkeeng is a nice place to visit but would you live there

One of the homes on the North Shore of the Reserve. The Reserve is separated by the Winnipeg River. There is a Sweat Lodge in the yard.
There are Sweat Lodges all over the Reserve.

This is the Turtle Lodge. It was a Vision of one of the local Traditional Teachers Mr. Dave Courchene Jr. His dad was a very powerful Leader in the Native community He had a strong vision for the People. Mr Courchene, he is very busy doing Teachings all over the place.

This is the Ceremony grounds. Ceremonies are done here. The old lodges are left to decay on their own. People build new one every year. People also do Ceremonies at their own homes.

Poncho, my brother, he was supposed to be dead long time ago, but he keeps on going. He was in a very bad car accident years ago. He had to get a blood transfusion. He was given Hepatitis C from that blood. There was a big scandal in Canada, where many people received tainted blood.

This is the entrance to the Reserve.Sagkeeng is also part of Treaty 3 territory.

My sister Jean's house. It was purchased by her & Chris. Chris is gone now,cancer.

Oops this is not the Reserve, it's the farm and my brother-in-laws house out in the interlake of Manitoba.

Yes, I do love my Community. There are a lot of good people there.

The Reserve has a few small businesses that individuals try make a go. Some are successful, while many fail. But people keep going, keep trying to do new things there. The neighbour town benefits from the population of the Reserve and our numbers. Numbers create buying power. That power equates into thriving business in the town. You know Indians, they have a buck and they will spend a buck. Very good at driving the economy. Stimulus spending that's what Indians are. Actually it is a phenomenon of the poor. Poor people spend what they have. That's what drives an economy in some sense.

Sadly for the Town their paper mill closed down.They lost a lot of jobs. No real other industry in the area. The Reserve is an artificial economy, driven by social programs, education dollars and governance money. The jobs are all in the 'civil' area. No production dollars to be made. If it were not for the transfer payments from the Federal government to the Reserve, it would be a dead community. Sad, because the community is on the mouth of the Lake and has the river running through the Reserve. It's beautiful. Rich in that sense. We have to start appreciating the river and the land more. We have it nice there. Except for the social and economic ills its actually a very nice place to live. :)

This is now Poncho's house it was the house I grew up in. Nine of us kids. He put an addition to it on the east side of the house. We live on the south shore of the Reserve. You go east and drive through the town and cross over the river at the hydro dam, to get onto the north shore side of the Reserve.

Across the way is my cousin PutPut's store. She has a good little business going. A hardware/convrnience store.

The Personal Care Home, George M. Guimond. He and a number of the old people got the Care home going. He was my Uncle. Married to my Auntie Waabas. They are both gone now.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's it like to be depressed. It's really like this:

I noticed that my pictures are showing a smiling fellow. I find that pretty amazing. It is a good reflection of a person that is very happy. I even work at posting happy musings. It's all good. Thing is it's not all good.
Helping out with the Survivors Gathering I realize that I can't manage too much. Some days I wonder what am I doing, can't even hope to do something. I smile because I hate that person. That person that is always complaining. That person that is talking about how sad they are. How hard it is being them. How hard that no one knows what they are going through. Hell lots of people have it worse. Some people live in Hell. I got it real good. Supportive family. Good friends, a good friend that is also my Wife. My wife that does everything for me. Great grandkids. Good kids. :)
So what the heck is wrong with me?
Stop it already! Get off that lazy arse and get on with life, with living for the family, for your friends and for your boy.
I don't know. I don't know. I sink into these thoughts that are just not good. Everything is such a chore, such a black hole, a deep tunnel, a burden, a crumb of a person, a sloth, a rotten no good for nothing useless excuse.
Woo, that is harsh even for me.
I want to be that person that cares for everyone. Cares to do well in what ever task I have. You know I started painting our house 3 years ago. It is a joke now. I did one gable end. Even that looks like Hell. I don't know how long I had the ladder up. The can of paint by the ladder. I went a number of times to get paint brushes rollers. I have a bag of new ones in the shed.
This year for sure I will finish that job. I will complete something. I will do it myself. Not my wife doing stuff for me, but me doing it for us and me.
I know it's pathetic.
Just sounding off.
There is a lot of misery out there, I should remember how lucky I am.

Have yourself a great week. The spring is here and it signals a change. Let's ride that change for a great summer.

That's it, no more posting negative stuff about me. From now on, it's pooping smiles.

Adding to the post here on the first day of June. Boy I miss my boy. I am up late thinking and thinking. Thinking lots. Your eyes hurt from the pressure. You don't know if you can make it. Another day, just one more day. Let's get by another day.

For me its always there's something wrong with my life.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Indian Residential School Truth & Reconciliation

The Government has established a Truth & Reconciliation Commission to record what happened to Indians in Canada during the Residential School experiments. The Commission will work for five years on recording stories/experiences from people affected by the Residential School experience.

Justice Judge Murray Sinclair, Head of the Residential School Survivor Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada

Waiting to get into the offices of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Chief of Peguis, Glen Hudson waiting like the regular folk. The turnout to the Ribbon cutting was huge. So much people waiting out in the elevator hallway. Even the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs was waiting there for awhile. Lot of big people, both in job status and stature. I hung way back until the crowd was thinned out.

A few quilts are hanging on the walls of the T&RC offices. These quilts have messages from Survivors of the Residential school era. The offices are posh and really impressive as far as offices go. The T&RC is located in the Commodity Exchange Tower building on the famous Portage Avenue and Main Street corner in Winnipeg, Manitoba. A fitting place for a high profile, high costing endeavor.

I missed out on some of the action that took place at the Ribbon cutting ceremony. Seems this old guy from my Reserve started yelling at our Chief at the ceremony. I missed it because I had to go run and put coin into the car's parking meter. I didn't expect to be standing in the hallway of the building for over a hour while the dignitaries spoke. While waiting for the elevator to go back up to the 15th floor, I saw my old boss, the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs of the Provincial government. He now has no time to visit and chat with me, but he does "glad-hand" me. That's funny but the way it is now. I am tainted goods and not on his list of useful people. It's the nature of politics. Basically he is a good guy, funny and okay. I may become useful in the future and that will be alright. However, I have no use for the old guy that was yelling at our Chief. This guy is an abuser of children. Sexual abuser. He bothered his own girls. He finally had to face the courts when his girls told on him. They were our friends when we were kids. We didn't know about the sex abuse, we only knew he was real strict and could be mean to his kids. I don't think he can be redeemed for his actions. I know it's judgmental of me to dislike this guy, but I do.

I don't like having such a negative outlook but I do. Just the way it is sometimes. I want to be positive, want to think the best in people, in causes, in organizations, but I can't help but go through the ugliness of looking for the bad.

Like when I was standing around waiting in the hallway, I was thinking of how many jobs are created because of people's suffering. People that were abused, taken away from their parents, beaten for speaking their language, beaten for talking to their sisters, beaten for peeing the bed, beaten for not drinking their milk. I looked around and saw so much White people in the crowd; Dignitaries, bureaucrats, Prosecutors, Counselors, and politicians. There were the Indian equivalents as well.

We have become the same. Our agencies, our organizations, our Social agencies, our political arms all have become cheap imitations (in some cases we are not so cheap)of the White World. We put up the reception desks, we make sure that people are made to wait in the lobby, we put on the suits, we put on the blazer, the suit jacket, the polished shoes, we don't have tea, we don't have time to visit, we are there for the bottom line. We have business to do and that's that. We make sure to look like a special place, a place of professionals, a place of business. After all it is a business. Money is being made, money is being spent. It's the way things have to be. We need to look like the real world in order to be recognized. We need to have the corporate design in our world. We need to fit in. I kind of wonder, isn't that what the Residential Schools were designed to do? Make us like the other world?

I wonder how the T&RC will conduct itself out in the community. They say they are going to go see the people. I wonder if they will go to their homes and sit and have tea in the "homes" of people. I wonder how the people will be treated when they go to the "home" of the T&RC at the Commodity Exchange Towers?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fighting children is not an adult thing to do

I just read a story online where this man, this man punched a three-year old boy in a restaurant. Can you imagine? What could a child do that would anger a person to punch them? What kind of man could punch a kid, a three year old child? I was so angry, so hurt when I read this. This is a mild incident, considering. Considering how much worse it is out there in the world for children. I hope that the Mother of the child chooses the well being of the child over her own wants in this case.
People can be so phony. We can be so phony. "I would give my life for my child!" Shit, people won't even quit smoking when they are pregnant. Can't even give up smoking for their child, never mind their life. This is for both the man and the woman. A father should quit smoking when the wife is pregnant. But man will leave it to the wife to keep the child safe. It's easier that way. No sacrifice. People are drinking and damaging their children before they get out of the womb. There are so many children now living with the results. Protect our children, heck, we don't even give up the drink for our children. Our children end up in foster homes. If we were looking after our children, there would be no Fetal Alcohol. This is 100%, that's one hundred percent preventable. Yeah, we protect our kids alright.
I am very upset and angry. I remember when this boy (Marcus McKay)went missing in Waterhen, Manitoba in the summer of 2000. The boy disappeared after a hunting trip with the man. He has never been found. We went and searched for the boy that time. There is always going to be horror in the news regarding children; Phoenix Sinclair, the tragic story of a 6 year old who live in hell because of her parents. There is a boy missing in our Reserve. He went missing two weeks ago. He is 14 year old Tyler Arkinson. The police and the community searched for him and have not found him. He is gone. I can't imagine the horror the family is going through.
That is the life of our children. We have to keep them safe.
We have to tell on people that fight their children. Tell on ourselves before it is too late.

In the news:
Man arrested after boy hit inside Hortons
By QMI Agency

A 37-year-old Dartmouth, N.S., man was arrested Sunday after police say surveillance footage captured a man punching a three-year-old in the mouth at a Tim Hortons restaurant.
Police say a witness called officers to the scene at about 5:42 p.m. on Saturday.
By the time officers arrived, the suspect and child had left.
Police say the accused is the boyfriend of the child's mother.
Officers seized the restaurant's surveillance tape.
The child was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries.
Halifax police praised the witness who called them.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Roles of Indians: women & men

My wife told me to get my own tea when we were at her Mom's house. I said which pot is it? She said after 20 years you still don't know which pot is tea and which is for coffee?!? I said I never got my own tea in this house before. You see I was always sitting at the table and someone would pour me a cup of tea or serve me a cup of tea. I guess I just got used to it.
In our house my Wife still serves me tea and serves me meals. Yeah I know not very good. Not very politically correct. Not very equal.
It's weird and out of date, I know. My Mom was like that too. She had the girls wash the dishes as we grew up. She cooked and served the food. My wife and her sister are still like that. They get up and do the dishes at their Mom's house.
You know gender roles can make people really upset in today's world. I have no issue with not being served food, I have no problem cooking if I knew how. I am spoiled like that, by my Mom and my Wife. I should be helping with the food, but I am comfortable in the role I have.

That's the thing, people have roles but those roles are evolving, changing everyday. In the Traditional Indian world the roles of men and women were defined by what they did. Women carried power. Power because they have the power of life. Men were suppose to protect the life givers. There are many Teachings of the roles and Women and Men. It is the Women who give Teachings around Women. The Women carry the Water and they Bless the Water. Women give life that has how it has always been.

There is this Woman's Traditional camp out in the interlake region of Manitoba. Men are not allowed. It is how the roles in Traditions are changing. Women are singing on the Big Drum these days. I was at a Traditional Teaching Gathering a number of years ago in Pipe Stone Minnesota.  My buddy said to me ask the head Elder about women on the Drum. He is well known and respected Midiwewin Leader.

I knew not to ask, but I am stupid like that, I asked him anyway about the Woman on the Big Drum. He answered me with this question, "did you see the women take back the stick?" I said, no. "Well? What do you think?", he said. He is this big wheel in the Traditional circle, so getting shot down from him, stung a bit. The thing is Women gave men the sticks to hit the Drum with. The men hit the Drum and make the beat of the Heart. The Drum, the Sticks, (Woman and Man) create that life. In some views it is men and women that create life, not women and women. That is one reason that some Traditional Dancers won't dance to Women on the Drum. Some of the Teachings are like that, references to male and female and the answer meaning life. Like the Pipe. The Bowl and the Stem of the Pipe apart don't or won't work, but put them together, the male and female, it's significant. You can use this life to Pray with. To seek answers.

I guess in some cases the Women have taken back the drum sticks. I have mixed feelings about the significance of them taking back the stick, but that's only me. If Women want to sing on the Big Drum then that's up to them. Roles change. Teachings have to change along with it. It used to be that in order to be Midewiwin you had to speak Ojibway, Anishinabe. I guess there are people in the Mide' that don't speak the language. Roles change.

One role that I do not feel comfortable being is the Care-giver of the family. It was the role of my Mom and Dad. That is no longer the situation. My Mom is gone and my Dad, well, he has changed. He is no longer the same person he was when my Mom was here. So roles change.

I like the role right now of being a husband, a dad, a grand-pa. That is the role I have. I wasn't a grand-pa until two and half years ago. Roles change.

I hope your role is one that you are comfortable with no matter what society thinks. I had tea poured for me this morning and had breakfast made for me. That is one role that I am glad is still in our home.

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

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