Friday, June 24, 2011

A visit with Iskatewizaagegan (Shoal Lake First Nation #39) Ontario

Shoal Lake First Nation is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes drive from Winnipeg Manitoba. The Reserve is located northwest of the Lake of the Woods Ontario and is signatory to Treaty number three. The current Chief is Eli Mandamin.

The land is typical Canadian Shield; lot of bedrock, granite, some swamp and deep cold water lakes. The scenery is spectacular. It is like you are in one of those National Geographic documentary film.

The Shoal Lake is almost prestine water. No development has taken place near the Lake or in the Reserve. The beneficiary of the Lake is not really the Anishinabe of Iskatewizaagegan, but the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winnipeg has NO agreement with Shoal Lake for the water. The Water is pumped from Shoal Lake Ontario to Winnipeg Manitoba. It is a 135 kilometer "aqueduct". There are NO agreements in place for Shoal Lake  to compensate them for the water and the impact the aqueduct and the loss of water rights and some land has caused. I don't know much about the situation, so I won't comment on what is taken place.
However, the Shoal Lake people are getting tired of being ignored by the city of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba. Winnipeg is getting their water free from them and are now in the act of selling the water to other neighbouring municipalities. Shoal Lake has lot of patience, but that they should be treated better by Winnipeg and Manitoba.
There is a barge that takes people across the lake to the other side of the Reserve. A new road is being planned that will eliminate the need for a barge.

My visit came at an opportune time, the Reserve was celebrating Treaty Days. The events that took place were great. Lot of children came out to take part to have some fun.
The day was gorgeous with the Sun shinning and the air filled with laughter of children. You could not ask for anything better.

The school was the site for the Treaty Day Celebrations.

Green house

Band Office

Sagkeeng Lacrosse boys

Two man three leg race

The title holder

Shoal Lake muscles

Organizing the games


Karate Kid Flying Swan Kick

Look what I won

I'm taking home food
The Reserve has a very beautiful Powwow arbor. When we drove by I notice that there was a Teaching Lodge set up near by the Powwow site. My sister told me that Mediwiwin initiations were taking place in Shoal Lake this week. I asked the Chief if Ceremonies were taking place and he said yes. I didn't get to take a picture of the Powwow grounds. My brother tells me that people are very Traditional in Shoal Lake. It is good to hear a lot of Anishinaabe Language being spoken. They are strong in that area as well.

To serve and protect - with style!


Behave yourself, she's an Officer of the Law

The food was plenty, the cooks were busy, the people were friendly and generous. Lot of laughter and some good feelings. There were some good people: Chief Eli, Marion, Charlene, Barb, Christine Chan (school principal), Chuck and all the people on hand.

Sagkeeng High School principal Allan Courchene, along with Teacher Rich Bruyere brought a group of boys to demonstrate Lacrosse. Sagkeeng is very active and very good in Lacrosse. The boys did drills and had some of the Shoal kids taking part in shooting at the goalie.

A very handsome young man was eating a watermelon. He was cute as can be. Don't you love little Indian kids?

Shoal Lake people showing some good hospitality to the Sagkeeng visitors.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"It takes a community (whole village) to raise a child"

You know the thing about living in a Reserve is that it is a community. Community in the sense that everyone belongs to the community. It makes sense that everyone would want the best for the community since everyone thrives from the community. A thriving community means the the people in the community are thriving. The essence of a Reserve was to have a safe place, a permanent home for the people. It is still home for many. Home to come back to even if you are a world away.

We are in an ever changing climate. The home we knew or expect to see is something different. You ever here the phrase "you can never go home again"? It is from a book written by Thomas Wolfe:
The title comes from the finale of the novel when protagonist George Webber realizes, "You can't go back home to your family, back home to your childhood ... back home to a young man's dreams of glory and of fame ... back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory." Our homes are like that, gone and we can't get it back.

I think our community has changed. Not just the Aboriginal community but the way we live all over the world. There may be a few exceptions, but I am speaking generally about Western society. With our community we have changed quite a bit. So much so that you may not recognize it as a community. We are a community in the sense that we all reside in the same place. But as for it being a community that is not truly there anymore. We are a place of individuals. We no longer act like a whole community. Self interest rules the playground. We are more interested in short term immediate wants. With that way of living the good of the whole community is neglected.

We have become so individualist that the community has no say in our lives. We don't want anyone telling us what to do. That means correcting our behaviours. When we were kids, the whole community could correct our behaviour. It was the way it was. Now if you try to correct a child's actions, you are at risk for some angry parent coming after you. "Who the heck are you to say anything to my kid?" This really comes out with the schools. Teachers are hand-cuffed when dealing with students. Parents are so angry towards Teachers. Everyone is so guarded.

A community is not allowed to raise a child.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Wisdom: of the Seven Teachings.

I admit I don't know the Seven Teachings. I mean I can memorize them and the descriptions of what they are and who carries what and that sort of thing, but "I don't know them". The Teachings may be part of the Little Boy Teachings and I don't know enough to really know.

I wrote about Humility in an early blog post. In that post I joked around about being great and being good at being humble. I really don't know how to walk with that Teaching. As well as the other Seven Teachings. Really I don't know where these Teachings come from. I just know that they are everywhere now. Like many people I get schooled in Teachings by many different people. This Teachings I get schooled in are all different. Sometimes they relate to the popular Seven Teachings and many are different kinds of Teachings. Sometimes I am schooled by a little child and sometimes it is an authority figure and sometimes it is just some schmo that I don't think much of. If you think about it Teachings are Experiences. We are shown them, but it is what we do with them, that is the trick.

Take Wisdom for instance. I am not sure how to use that Teaching or how it is schooled to us. I want to think that some day I will have Wisdom, but not sure when that will come. Is there an age when you are suppose to be a holder of Wisdom? I don't know. How is Wisdom a Teaching? I wonder.

In the meantime I am searching for some answers to that Teaching. "The wise know their limitations; the foolish do not." — Benjamin Hoff (The Tao of Pooh)

Until I find out how that Teaching of Wisdom is to be carried I will try to get that Teaching from the Wisdom of others.

"In the story of Ugly Duckling, when did the Ugly Duckling stop feeling Ugly? When he realized that he was a Swan. Each of us has something Special, a swan of some sort, hidden inside somewhere. But until we recognize that it's there, what can we do but splash around, treading water? The Wise are Who They Are. They work with what they've got and do what they can do."
— Benjamin Hoff

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lots of Prayers at the Sundance

Kete'Anishinaabe      (The Old Ones)

 Such a beautiful sight. A Lodge filled with offerings to the Kimaamokimishomisinan, Creator, to God. Prayers for loved ones, for family, for community, for the sick, the loved ones gone, for the people. Can your hear the Whistles blowing. The beautiful sound of the Whistles from the Dancers. The Colours of your family, your clans, your names, your offerings.

 The Nest sits high on the Lodge.

The Colours, the Cloth, the Prayers of the Dancers, wrapped on the Tree. 

 People offered their lives here and sacrificed their flesh here for the sick, and for the families.

The Stalls of Dancers are now empty, but the Prayers are remembered. The Stalls have been broken at Dawn for the new beginning.
Colours of Prayers.

I Never took pictures of People Dancing. That is something I know not to do. However, this Elder and friend of mine did say "our Ceremonies are strong" and "not disappearing, we have no fear of people stealing them".   So Don't be afraid if someone takes a picture.

These Lodges are in our Reserve. The People come from all over to Dance.

There a number of Lodges going on right now and will be going on in Indian Country for some time. David and Sherryl will have their Lodge next weekend.

Now you have Four Songs.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Never ending song of love for you

Most likely the best song ever. It reminds me of people having fun. Having fun.  

I like the way others chime in and hoop and holler as the song goes on. Just like a Powwow song, when some of the singers hoop and holler or give Eagle cries.

 Excitement and fun built in.

This song reminds of my Kookum. When I was a teenager I would go visit her and she listened to the radio all the time. Songs on the radio of the time. Another great song that she bounced her feet to was We should be together by Don Williams.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tooth decay high among Native Children

"Tooth decay study targets Native kids"

"a release from the university's media relations office
A Waterloo health researcher is collaborating with colleagues around the world to develop a program to reduce incidences of childhood dental caries among First Nations populations.
The unique program designed for pregnant First Nations women will begin this spring in several communities across Ontario and Manitoba. First Nations populations have a higher-than-average rate of dental caries — a bacterial disease that results in tooth decay."
"Indigenous people in Canada, Australia and New Zealand experience a much larger burden of chronic diseases compared to their non-Indigenous counterparts," said co-investigator Laurie Hoffman-Goetz of Waterloo’s department of health studies and gerontology. "Extensive tooth decay among young Indigenous children is common, is linked to the development of other chronic diseases, and significantly reduces the quality of life for afflicted children, their families and communities. This international collaboration will provide a foundation for culturally-appropriate preventive dental care, oral health education and greater oral health literacy for pregnant Indigenous women, which will hopefully reduce oral disease for their children."

I have seen lots of baby bottle syndrome and how it looks. My own son had it. Rotten teeth, and if you don't do something about it, the teeth get pulled or they get the silver caps all over them. Not very nice.
My brother in law Al, introduced me to something new for brushing your teeth. He said just use soap, a white soap bar. So I have been trying for the last couple of weeks. Your mouth gets really full of soap and it doesn't taste too bad. It really lathers up. My wife says as long as I don't use the arse soap that is in the shower (might have it's own floss ewww).  You know the soap bar you use to lather your self all over your body, in every nick and cranny. That's the soap bar not to use. But hey it's soap, it must be clean. My wife said do I listen to everything Al says. Well he is a very smart guy and I just looked it up and some people agree with him. So go out there start to brush your teeth with soap people. Save your teeth. :D (big toothy smile) you enjoy paying dental bills? Or having dentists scraping plaque from your teeth? If it's a pleasure, there's no need to read this column. But I've never enjoyed these regular checkups. Now there's a way to retire dentists, prevent cavities, protect gums and rid teeth of plaque, using cheap, ordinary soap.
My first reaction when I read this report was, "Come on, Dr Judd, you must be kidding! Who would ever brush their teeth with soap?" But Dr. Gerald F. Judd is no nut. He's a retired Emeritus Professor of chemistry at Purdue University.
I admire people who have the intestinal fortitude to question well-established theories that may be wrong. Besides, I discovered he and I both believe dentists are wrong on another issue.
Dr. Judd reports that acid destroys enamel and that cavities would vanish if people rinsed acids from their mouths quickly. Tap water is all that's needed to do the job.
He also claims that bacteria cannot damage the tooth's hard outer enamel that is composed of calcium hydroxy phosphate. The proof is that bones and teeth are resistant to earth-bound organisms. After all, we've all seen pictures of skeletons that have been unearthed after hundreds of years with teeth still intact.
But why use soap to clean teeth? Judd says glycerine is present in all toothpastes and it's so sticky that it requires 27 washes to clean it off. This means that teeth remain coated with a film and cannot rebuild enamel. And if they're not clean, adenosine diphosphatase cannot provide phosphate to enamel.
His next point is what I wanted to hear. Brushing with soap destroys bacteria and viruses. No professor at The Harvard Medical School told me about that. Or that brushing with ordinary bar soap not only cleans teeth but also removes hard plaque stuck to the bottom of enamel.
Removing plaque from teeth is vital as it invades gums, separating them from teeth. This sets the stage for gingivitis, poorly anchored teeth and eventually possible loss of teeth. It's shocking that 25% of North Americans over age 43, and 42% of those over 65 years of age, have no teeth!
Dr. Judd also believes that the fluoridation of water and the use of fluoride toothpaste is a useless, dangerous biological poison. He says calcium fluoride seeps into enamel, making it weak and brittle, destroying 83 enzymes along with adenosine diphosphatase.
I couldn't agree more. Look at the warning on fluoride toothpaste. Parents are told to watch children under six years of age while they brush their teeth. To be safe, only a tiny amount of toothpaste is used, and none should be swallowed. That should tell you something! In 1974, a three-year old child had fluoride gel placed on his teeth. The hygienist handed him a glass of water but rather than rising out his mouth, he drank it. A few hours later, he was dead.
If fluoride toothpaste is the answer to dental decay, why is it that 98% of Europe is fluoride-free? Sweden, Germany, Norway, Holland, Denmark and France stopped using fluoridation 29 years ago. These are not backward, depressed nations.
The sole argument for fluoridation is that it reduces tooth decay. But several studies involving as many as 480,000 children found no beneficial evidence between fluoridated and non-fluoridated communities.
Dr. Hardy Limeback, Professor of Dentistry at the University of Toronto, says children under three should never use fluoridated toothpaste or drink fluoridated water, and mothers should never use Toronto tap water to prepare baby formula.
Will I practice what I've preached in this column? You bet, as I'm curious to know whether I can say goodbye to the dental hygienist who scrapes plaque off my teeth, not to mention the cost. The test will take three months and I'll report the result.
No doubt all hell from the dental profession will descend on me. This doesn't worry me. What does is that my dentist will read this column and keep a big rusty drill handy for my next appointment.
Visit Dr. Gifford-Jones' website at

Painting the City Poor areas.

My Friend says you can tell when an area of the city is going down, they put murals on the buildings. I thought I would take a few pictures on a quick trip around the city. Some of the murals are quite nice. I only took a few snapshots, but there are murals all over the place in Winnipeg. Not all of them are in the poor neighbourhoods, but all of these paintings are in the poor areas of the city. 

ADAM BEACH on Ellice Ave.
Ellice Ave.

On Sargent Ave.


X-Ques cafe, my buddy Sal's place.



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 ...