Monday, February 28, 2011

Hanging out in Sagkeeng Ojibway Nation.

I am not a fan of the "First Nation" handle that many Aboriginal (not a fan of the term Aboriginal either) communities go by. It does make sense in some way, but I prefer to be Anishinaabe or Ojibway Nation, perhaps even Saulteaux Nation. Indian Nation is old but I am comfortable with the term Indian. Grew up with it, so used to it. Not many people like the term. Ideally we should be called Anishinaabe.

 The New Health Centre of Sagkeeng. The staff are just moving in this week.

 The atrium of the Health Centre.  Executive Director Ken along with a number of the community members and staff of Sagkeeng.

 A Piece of art by Spotted Wolf to be hung at the new health Centre. Symbolic of the Seven Teachings.

 Alvin and Ken at the new staff lounge of the health centre.

 A blanket with the Seven Teachings represented on the edges.

Darlene Hope at the new Health Centre

 A cloth hanging of the Turtle one of the Teachings.

Danny and my niece Heather at the Wolf FM radio station in the Rez.
My cousin Shigun at the Wolf's Den Restaurant.

Gerry Sinclair teacher at the high school.  Karen Courchene at the Sagkeeng Arena.
High School students speaking with Dad.
My Cousin Marie at the Multi-plex finance office.

Students at the high school hallway. My cousin Allan Randy, the principal of the High School.

Was visiting in the Reserve and wanted to see our new Health Centre. It is an awesome looking building and it should serve our people well.  So here are a few pictures of today's going around the Rez.The old health centre is still a very good building, I think the doctors office and dentist will stay at that building. While administration and other community based programs will be in the new centre.
I stopped in at the restaurant, the Wolf's Den. My cousin Claudette and her husband Renee run the food business. I hope they make good. It's difficult to have a successful business in the Reserve. I sat with my cousin Shigun and visited. He might be heading out to see his wife in BC Hazelton Reserve.  I ran into my good buddy Danny Fontaine. He is currently doing a DJ stint at the local radio station. The Wolf FM radio of Sagkeeng.

Picked up my Dad and we went over to the high school. There is a teacher there, Liz Gray, that takes an interest in local history and tries to get her students to learn as much as possible. I like that idea. Lot of old people are gone now, and with them goes the knowledge of the community.

My Dad and I like to visit at the High School. My Dad likes to talk about the Reserve and the old days to the young people.  Young people do have the best smiles. We need to listen to them and talk WITH them about life and the opportunities that they have. Education is important and I hope they grasp that.

I have some very talented, gifted and generous relatives. They make me laugh with their stories. I was sitting with my cousin and like me, he talks about anything. He likes to make Traditional gifts for the people. He does not charge for his talents. Especially when people are using those gifts (like fans and rattles) for ceremony.  Sometimes people will give him offerings for his gifts. He was telling me that a few members in the Reserve saw him with some of his gifts and wanted some. So he made some. He was telling me they ask how much? Of course he says I can't charge you. But if you want to give something that is up to you. So people did him some offerings and payment for his gifts. He was telling me, "holy, they gave me lots" for those stuff" and he told me how much. I told him "holy, you are going to be shown, that your getting to big."  He laughed and said this old lady went to his sisters looking for him. He was asked to make a fan for her. So he did. By this time he was use to getting some high offerings for his stuff. When he gave her the fan, she was overjoyed and said "wait here". She went out to her car. Anticipation, (wonder what she will give?)  She came back into the house, opened her bag and started to dig in it. She pulled out a pouch of tobacco, opened it, and pulled out a pinch and put it on the table. She went into the bag and started to dig again, this time she pulled out a wooden spoon. She put it on the table. He was telling me "what am I going to do with a wooden spoon?" All the while he was laughing. Laughing at how a Windigokan can come see at the right time. Stopped his head from swelling and showing him what was important.  I like my cousin.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Hidden Legacy of Residential School

This week a conference/gathering was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba for Survivors of the Residential School system. If one thing came out of this well organized gathering is that the effects are multi-generational.  The conference was initiated by The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.  They did a masterful job in getting people involved and having people take part. This is how a Gathering is done right. There were so many  speakers and topics that anyone could have benefited in the Gathering.
I was but an eavesdropper in the seminars going on. It was a chance to see old friends, tease other Neechies and shop or wish at the crafts booths.  It was also a reflective time. Many people are re-living the horror of abuse and want to try shed themselves of that hurt. I do not know how that can be done. The hurt carries on in their children.
Stories from the old people and from the not so long ago about how hard it was to live with the effects of ridicule, abuse, hurt, shame, and constant negative self-imagery can not be erased like a chalk board. It will take effort to fill the void that the Residential school system has caused in the social, cultural, spiritual psyche of the Indian.

This young man Wab Kinew was on hand to show case his family documentary. A very powerful portrait of the effects of abuse in the Residential School system. Take a look for yourself. I admire the courage of Elder Tabosonakwut and his family  for their honesty.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chief and Council Elections in Sagkeeng, Manitoba.

Nominations were held this week in Sagkeeng Manitoba, for Chief and Council. The positions are held for two years and follow the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Election codes. In Sagkeeng there are currently six people vying for the Chief position and 36 people seeking the positions of Council member. There are four positions open for Councilor.
The job of the Chief and Council is a tough one. You can measure the amount of responsibility a Chief and the Councilors have as that of a Mayor, or a Minister.  However, you can not measure the Role of the C & C based on main stream politics and ideals. The Chief and Council have a (in my opinion) a different if not harder position. You are governing (and many times managing) community dysfunction. It is not unheard of for people going to your home at all hours seeking some type of remedy for their problems. Whether it be gas money to get to an appointment in the city or someone looking to let off some steam about the housing situation.
Jobs in the Reserve are scarce. And everyone is looking at you at how the jobs are given out or won at a competition (if one occurs). Nepotism is a part of the community being and history. It is good and bad. People want to help their relatives, that is only natural. But in a Reserve, the optics are magnified. So everything that happens in the Reserve looks bigger than it normally is. Like positions given or won in main stream politics. Most of the appointed high ranking jobs do go to "friendlies" of the ruling party. That is how it works. It can't be like that in the Reserve because the pool of jobs is smaller and the optics or results are bigger. The biggest thing that the C & C have to deal with is the overwhelming atmosphere of discontent.
I don't believe the C & C have an easy job.
It is quite interesting that people are always, always talking about change. But I don't think people really know what that is. If there is change it has to come from the community. And for that to happen there has to be a real awareness of how they have been affected by history; the colonialism, the paternalistic operation of the government, the effect of cultural loss, language loss, family disconnect due to the policies of government and the religious imprint left on the people.
We are a people with deep internal conflict. We take that conflict and push it forward on ourselves, our brother and sisters, cousins, friends.  We use that conflict on our Leaders. We push them until they give in to our demands, our conflict, our dysfunction.
It will take a hard turn to affect change. First thing is to recognize the dependency on the Band office. Everyone and their dog goes to the Chief and Council for remedy.  It has to start there. Everyone expects the C & C to fix their problems. INDIVIDUAL issues and problems. Never mind the community. We need to start being a community and not an island of individuals. The common good is what we need to tackle.
It is hard because a lot of the common good may be inconflict with our individual needs.
I do not know if things will change in our lifetime, but it has to start somewhere. The first step is to have a good foundation for the community. I think that foundation is a strong Indian spiritual belief system. Having that in the schools. Having it in our assemblies, and most important in our homes.

I have my name in for the position of Chief. I don't know what the future holds, but I like to say my piece and this is just another way to go about it. In any case I look forward to the end of the month and see how it goes. The current Chief is a strong contender.

So what are my reasons for putting my name in for Chief?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bringing Ceremonies to the Youth: Turtle Lodge Dave Courchene Jr.

"Built in 2002 based on a vision received, the Turtle Lodge is founded upon spiritual, land-based teachings that bring balance to life. It has been built for our children ~ the center of our lives. Our fundamental goal is Mino-Pi-Mati-Si-Win – A Good and Peaceful Way of Life. The Turtle Lodge is based on the Seven Sacred Laws and the Eight Paths of the Medicine Wheel, the ancient universal values of the Anishnabe People of Turtle Island (North America).
The Turtle Lodge offers Children, Youth, Adults and Elders the opportunity to come together in a sacred environment for:
  • Traditional teachings
  • Ceremony
  • Healing
  • The sharing of Indigenous perspectives on how to have a good and peaceful life.
The Turtle Lodge is a place for sharing our universal and ancient knowledge, and also, a place for sharing among people of all races and nations."

David Courchene  (Nii Gaani Aki Innini – Leading Earth Man)
Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan (Manitoba, Canada) 

"Dave Courchene - Nii Gaani Aki Innini (Leading Earth Man) has travelled internationally, carrying a message of hope and peace.  Dave shares ancient Indigenous knowledge that he believes can act as the foundation in supporting the New Life that Mother Earth is now entering, and that the Elders have confirmed has arrived.

He has created a special place for sharing ancient Indigenous knowledge - the Turtle Lodge - built based on a vision he received many years ago. Indigenous people have always relied on visions and dreams to give guidance and direction in life.

Dave was recently honoured by Indigenous leaders and Elders at the 2010 International Indigenous Leadership Gathering for the work associated with his message and vision, including the work he has done inspiring young people.  His recent work has involved initiating International Roundtables Supporting Ancient Indigenous Knowledge at the Turtle Lodge (May 2010) and the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC (September 2010), which have been co-led by US Congressman Dennis Kucinich. He delivered the Opening Keynote and conducted the Opening Ceremonies at the 2010 G8 Summit on World Religions.  In the Spring of 2011, Dave will be initiating Makoose Ka Win and the Vision Quest rites of passage to take young people of all cultures entering adulthood back to the land and the Elders to find their uniqueness and promote peace."
 Taken from the Turtle Lodge Web site:

Dave will be holding the Makoose Ka Win and the Vision Quest this coming June 10 to June 14, 2011 in Sagkeeng, Manitoba. The ceremony will be a Right of Passage for the young woman and man.

This is something that our community (the Indian community) truly needs. For years the act of "killing the Indian" through main stream government policies and institutionalized religion has been practiced  on the Aboriginal community. It is because of Dave and other Teachers, and Elders that Indian people are still able to feel good about who they are. This ceremony and gathering is something that I hope the youth will embrace.

Good for you Dave and keep up the journey.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Basket Social at Thunderbird House. Anishaa

Just an idea that I will send to Stephanie, Chrissy and Rose over at the Thunderbird House. 

Basket Social Thunderbird House.  Anishaa (for the fun of it)
Rationale: A Basket Social is a social event that brings people together to share their talents and their goods with the community. People make and decorate baskets of various sizes, styles, shapes and fill those baskets with all sorts of amazing goodies, gifts, food and prizes. People in the crowd bid on the Basket as the auctioneer rattles off the amounts. The Basket is carried and even danced around the community hall or house for people to see. The Basket Social has not always been part of the Aboriginal culture, but it was embraced in the Aboriginal community. The Basket Social brings the opportunity to have fun, socialize and to support each other in the Aboriginal Community.
The Basket Social has been dying out in the Aboriginal community. A number of Aboriginal communities still have Basket Social events  but there has been little activity in the City of Winnipeg for a Basket Social. Thunderbird House is going to bring back the Basket Social and invites the wider community to take part. Another opportunity for the main stream and Aboriginal community to come together.
Thunderbird House will not only bring the larger community together with the Aboriginal community through the Basket Social but TBhouse will use the event to launch their fundraising strategy.
Activity:  Stephanie, Chrissy and Rose will send out a public announcement and invitations to various entities in the City of Winnipeg, seeking their participation in the Basket Social. Public and Private sector will be challenged to make baskets for the event.  The making of the Baskets will be fun for the organizations and individuals participating. It is a chance to be creative with the basket design and have groups trying to see who makes the “best” basket. Think of it as a parade with baskets, instead of great floats you have great baskets. The ‘surprise’ factor is another element of the Basket Social. The great gifts inside the baskets could range from chocolates to vacation trips, flashlights, shoes, artworks, socks, IPODS, colouring books, jewelry, moccasins and a host of other surprises.
Entertainment of fiddle music and singers will be asked to set the mood of the event. Ray St. Germaine will be asked to play music at the social. The event is not a dance but will have a “smattering” of music for entertainment.   Some jigging will also take place with the crowd encouraged to dance.  Clarence TwoToes will be asked to act as the auctioneer of the baskets. Once the participants have been confirmed, a media release will be sent out to various media outlets. TBH will get 40 confirmed basket makers.
At the mid-way point of the Basket Social, Stephanie and the Board of TBH will make the announcement of their fund raising strategy. They will announce their “celebrity faces” for the strategy. Rosanna Deerchild, Wab Kinew will be the face of the Fund Raising Strategy. TBH will have their financial statements available for public, a list of activities, a Board and company profile.  TBH will seek audience and partnerships with various philanthropy organizations for their support and technical guidance.
The target goal of the 2011 to 2012 year will be outlined. (for example a goal of one million dollars)
*names are examples of who could be asked to participate as MCEE or Auctioneer, or be the face of the fund raising strategy.
Invitations: the key to a successful event is participation, confirmation of participation, and confirming by contact of participants. Contact requires follow-up, i.e. personal contact.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

If you could read my mind - goodbye bluesky

Hey Folks.
Sorry for not posting anything of interest. Having some real real hard days and want to contribute but stuck.
Stuck in  a sad place.
Guess that's the thing about being depressed. It can be like a big heavy weight on you and you can't get over it.
I tried to get out by going over to the Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. To visit with the Women that work there. Good people.
I wanted to thank them for their support and use of the TBHouse last year when we did our Gathering for Survivors of Suicide Loss.
I thought going over there would boast me up. And it did. I wrote out a Thank you card for Chrissy. She is the first person I met over there last year. And there is the other woman in charge, Stephanie. A nice person. So I went and looked around for some moccasins to take them. I went to an Aboriginal owned craft shop called Neechi Foods to get the slippers. They usually have lots in stock from the local Women in the northend of the city. No such luck this day. So I went to another craft shop. One that is in a little house in the city. I didn't seek anyone out, like a cousin to make them, as I didn't plan on getting the slippers.
I found some nice ones at this place Bessies. There are always Neechies at the little shop getting their beading and craft supplies.
At the TBHouse, they make sure you take off your shoes to not damage the floor. I saw Chrissy had very worn out slippers so it was appropriate gift. And turns out someone stole Stephanies slippers as well. She was away sick, so I didn't speak with her.
I also was hoping to speak with them about this years Gathering. I have been so slow to act on anything. So have to push myself. It shouldn't have to be a push for me, because I like to do it, need to do it, want to do the Gathering again.
In any case enjoy the videos I am posting for now.

Thanks (Meegwetch)


Been having a heck of a time this past while. I am struggling these days, but guess it goes like that.

Oh to go back and fix the mistakes

Friday, February 11, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

I gotta feeling. Kids are great! Have fun kids! Let old folks join :D

 University does a one take on the song.

It is going to get good.

"We're going to have a ball...

Isn't it great there are young people in the world?

Others: UVIC  British Columbia  Boston EMLYON business school  Montreal

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rewarding bad behaviour

Anti-gang initiatives have been in the news lately. With the month of April anti-gang programs are being dropped by the Federal government, some people and politicians are showing concern. "It costs less to stop kids from joining gangs than putting them in jail". Jail is an awful thing for the young people, Aboriginal kids. Death is also an awful thing for our kids.
Our kids are dying. Maybe not right away, but the life for Aboriginal people is a tough one. Going into gangs might be a way for some kids to try and make money. Gangs is not about alternative families. If someone tells you that, punch them right in the face. That is pure bullshit. Gang lifestyle is all about being lazy. A lazy way to make a living. Think about it. They make money by visiting, talking with other people. Lot of them sit at home and the buyers come to their house. No having to be on time for anything. No deadlines to meet. No obligations. Except for owing the supplier. Even then sellers mess up. Can't even make that one obligation. Gang lifestyle, drug dealing life is the easy lazy way out. However, it steals life. Drug dealers and gangsters are directly responsible for loss of life.
So why do Gangsters get rewarded by the public? If you quit the gangs, or pretend to quit the gangs you are rewarded. Paid for doing anti-stuff? In many cases the anti=gang message is pure bullshit. Exaggerated stories of big money and fun in the gangs. Are these the same gang members that stay in public housing complexes? Drive stolen bikes because they can't afford a vehicle or license? The same gang members that stand around the outside of skid bars? Are these the same gang members crying for their women to wait for them to call from jail? Wanting their girl friends to bring the babies over to the remand centre so they can look out the windows? Make their girl friends do time with them, making them stay home while they are in jail? Yeah the good life for sure.
I think that the Native communities should try new things. Try to encourage good behaviour before they need to reward the bad guys/girls.
Let's face it.Aboriginal people face hardships. The hardships manifested in the lifestyle of our kids, our selves, our community and our politicians. If this were not true, wouldn't we be in a better social, economic, spiritual, healthier, and political environment? Wouldn't our kids be finishing school? Not joining gangs? You want to know the reflection of our community, start at home. Of course we have exceptions, that is true in all of society. Largely our community(s) is suffering. How do we fix it?How do we fix it?
That is where the dialogue starts.
There are training programs and funding for Aboriginal people. I think instead of continuing with the same old lifeskills programs that are band-aid solutions, maybe the community should do something more drastic.
I know that it may not be a solution, but it might be an different try for a short-term.
But maybe good behaviour or trying could be rewarded. The Reserve could give cash incentives to kids that are successful in joining the army or the police service or some other career organization. A place that takes the youth out of the environment and gives them a new look at things.
Giving a cash reward of ten thousand to a kid who has successfully been accepted in the police or army. These two entities teach new skills. Like discipline, team work, obligations, commitment and it goes on. Pride in accomplishment will just come with that as well.
It may not be the answer for everyone, but it could be for some.

Tommy Prince, decorated warrior.

A reflection in pride, heritage and an alternative to the "life".

Friday, February 4, 2011

Heard you been talkin' bout me?

My brother in law Smiley and I were friends as kids. Not best friends but did alright. He lived about a half-mile (a kilometer) away from the school. We were about 14 years old. He asked me to come with him. Poody and his brother Waab lived not too far away from Smileys. Smiley had an older brother Merv. Merv was a fantastic fighter. But in this case Smiley asked me to come with him. He was going to fight Poody.
We caught up to Poody on the road close to his house. I was only there just in case his brother was around. To make sure two of them didn't jump on Smiley.
So we walk up to Poody on the highway and Smiley says "heard you been talkin' bout me?".  Poody says "Let me go home and change my shoes". So Poody walks away and goes to his house. We stood around on the road talking with each other. I don't recall how long it took, but "I don't think this guy is coming back?".

Old Poody sure pulled a good one.

Funny how kids are. I don't think that kind of thing would happen these days. I believe that for what ever reason kids are wiser. If not wiser, more aware. Like childish things are not for children anymore. No more pretending to play with imaginary men in war or other games> Kids seem to have different interests. It is not cool to be a kid for too long. I worry about that. I know every kids wants to grow up, but I like the child who can laugh at farts or just laughs because they like to laugh.

Too much sadness and trouble in growing up. I prefer  kids that are kids. Dumb as knobs. Happy as a puppy in a pile of stink.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


I have been thinking of medicine a lot lately. Been wondering why we discount so much Traditional medicine. For example the Chinese have a civilization that is ancient. They have practiced the art of Medicine for so long that some of what they have learned must be valuable. But yet we are attracted or conditioned to go right for the "pill". A pill, made of things that profit companies have put out to help what ails us. We depend on the companies to cure us of sickness. I wonder why we do not have belief in things that are not company driven? Even if we do not believe in a higher power, prayer, we should have some faith in our fellow people. Belief in things other than companies, institutions but of people. I am hoping to have a more open mind when it comes to thinking about modern medicine and old medicine. Maybe each has good to them.

When you go to ceremonies there are Women who carry the Water. Water is the life-giver. In Teachings there are the Women of the water. Each a different aspect of Water and Teachings.
Most likely ALL people realize that water is beautiful. That we need water. That water is vital to life. I think we can agree on that. But how much do we really know about water?

"The Seventh Prophet was younger than the others who had come and there was a glowing light from his eyes. He said that there would come a time when the waters had been so poisoned that the animals and plants that lived there would fall sick and begin to die. Much of the forests and prairies would be gone so the air would begin to lose the power of life."

I saw this film the other day and felt that maybe it might interest some people. It is quite extraordinary look at the memory that Water has and its structure, properties. The amazing memory of water. The way it bends, and moves. It is unbelievable.

I really liked the words that mean much: Love & Gratitude. That is what I took away from the movie.

If nothing I hope it entertains your brain and gets you to question.

Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The littlest birds sing the prettiest songs

Babies cry and they laugh. No one has the best laugh as a child does. I like that.
Can you hear the laughter of the children?

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 ...