Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tobasonakwut Peter Kinew Receives Honourary Doctorate

Honorary Doctorate

Tobasonakwut Kinew

Tobasonakwut KinewTobasonakwut Kinew – BA
Honorary Doctor of Laws

Tobasonakwut Kinew is an esteemed member of The University of Winnipeg community in his multiple roles as Elder and Faculty for the Indigenous Governance department and Master’s in Development Practice with a focus on Indigenous Development program.
As a compelling role-model and teacher, Mr. Kinew offers a graduate seminar, Pathways to Indigenous Wisdom, where students have their assumptions and world views challenged and enriched by a deep and complex understanding of Indigenous ways of knowing. By decolonizing the mind, students are open to imagining and, later, implementing governance strategies that are embedded in Indigenous teachings.
Born on a trapline in Lake of the Woods, Mr. Kinew was groomed from an early age by Elders for a political career and before the age of six was taken by an Elder to go on a fast and seek his vision. He is a pipe carrier, a high degree member of the Anishinaabe Mite’iwin, and a Sundancer of many years of both the Anishinaabe and Lakota traditions.
Through his long and varied career, he has instilled pride in his people, respect for all Indigenous peoples and their unique ways of thinking and perceiving the world. His journey has taken him to the Banff Centre for Management, the National Indian Brotherhood which he helped to renew in the 1960s, the Assembly of First Nations, and the International Indigenous Knowledge symposium in New Zealand (2009).  He is a founding member of the Native American Academy of Science and was the Elder for the Assembly of First Nations delegation visiting Pope Benedict XVI in April 2009.
Mr. Kinew is described as a man “who can walk in both worlds….who lives his life sharing the Anishinaabe teachings with others, to change the world for the betterment of all peoples,” according to Phil Fontaine, LL.D ’08, former national chief, Assembly of First Nations.Tobasonakwut Kinew works tirelessly to bridge two realities, and leaves everyone he meets richer as a result.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Can anyone answer this question on Status Indian for Me?

You know I was thinking, while in the shower, about the Jay Treaty and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. It is my intention to write the new Grand Chief of AMC about issues. You see I think AMC has become rather slow. Slow, not sloooooooow, in how they are operating. We need AMC to be fast, loud and brash. To be an effective something. As it is we really don't know their function. I assume they are advocacy for Status Indians or political pundits to the main stream audience on Aboriginal affairs, but I don't know me. Okay, I forgot I was thinking about the Jay Treaty and how it refers to Indians. That got me thinking to the whole Status Indian thing. For you out there that don't know, Status is a Canadian definition of who is Indian in Canada and who is not. A good resource for more information on Status refer to Pam Palmater ( an Indian woman who has knowledge about that stuff).

I am thinking about my girl. Her mom is a Metis woman (by the way their family has strong Indian lineage and Metis lineage, stronger than our National Grand Chief and the Grand Chief before him, but that is besides the point? Maybe?).  My daughter is classified under the Status Indian as a C62 Indian. In doing this her children (if she marries a non-status) will be non-status (unless I arrange a marriage for her with a Status Indian or she finds one herself). 

With my thoughts being all jumbled up I am wondering how this is the case. Yes I know the Status classification system is intended to eliminate who is an Indian over time. Got it. But what of the Indian? Just because we don't fit into the classification system, does that mean we are no longer Indian? And what does that mean about the Treaties? You see with the signing of the Treaties there was no Status system. You were part of the Band/Tribe regardless. Even the "mixed-bloods" were the People. The Status issue came later.
It is a weird thing. How come Canada can become a Nation well after the fact, and be determined a Nation, while the Nations of People in Canada are not allowed to remain Nations? How come other Nations can become Nations. For example Canada has become a Nation of Canadians.  The Metis evolved into the Metis Nation. They had customs, culture, governance, roles, uniqueness to their own lives. Same with Indians. But now the Canadian government rules are defining who belongs to what Nation. My daughter is in the Anishinaabe Nation and Sagkeeng Band. Her children (if they are not status) will be what? No longer part of the Anishinaabe Nation or Sagkeeng Band, because of a policy, a law made by Canada? What becomes of their Treaty Rights? Do those Rights, which have nothing to do with Status Law, become extinct?  That does not make sense. Do people that are not Status become Metis? When Metis Nations have their own distinct identity? Or do they become Canadians (only)? Why should Treaty Rights end with the end of Status? These are two separate animals. Two separate ideas/concepts and legal entities?

Why is it that Nations can develop over time, but Indian Nations can't?  You see Canada is a developing Nation. You have all sorts of mixed-bloods in their Nation, and no one is saying, "well you are no longer in our definition of Canadian, so you are no longer Canadian".  The point is that Nations evolve, add subtract, meld with other people, but they still are a Nation. Why are Indians different in that scenario?
Even the United States the biggest "melting pot" is a Nation. They have been a Nation, what 200 years? They change, evolve, add people.

My point is this, the Status thing is not about who is Indian at all, we all know that, it is about good old cash. Canada wants to get out of the Indian business once and for all. Damn if they don't want to look like they are not trying to follow the Canadian Constitution or adhere to the Treaties, but they want out. The way out is to have no Indians. Canada tried in the past; through legislation, enfranchisement, adoption out of the Indian community, and other genocide attempts, like Residential School. But this not what I wanted to understand. I know Canada is doing everything it can to abolish Treaty Rights, I get that.

What I need to understand is why are Nations, allowed to change, develop but yet the identity of the Indian Nation has to remain stagnant, stuck, frozen in time? Was our Nation never going to adapt with time? Yet it is clear we had commerce, trade links, laws, governance, culture, language, spiritual beliefs? Why are our Leaders/political pundits/advocates sitting there, saying "yup, I am Status".

The Status thing makes it seem like we don't know who we are. When I know who my relatives are. I know where my community is. I know who my people are.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Isaktewizaagegan no.39 (Shoal Lake) First Nation: ignore them and they will go away.

Isaktewizaagegan Independent First Nation, Box 1, Kijick, Ontario, P0X 1E0, 807-733-2560.

The People of Shoal Lake want you to understand what they are speaking about. This week the people walked from their Reserve in Ontario to the Legislative Building in Manitoba.

Here is their statement:
"For the Future: We share this plane and this particular place. Together, we have a reponsibility to enusre that as far as seven generations into the future there is a place of beauty, wonder and sustenance for those who will be here then. We ask that you join us in working together for a common future that benefits everyone. Miigwitch for taking the time to learn about us."

Reaching Mb Legislature
"Our Sacred Responsibility: At the time of Creation it was intended that we should reside in this place - Iskatewizaagegan. Our Teachings, Ceremonies and Experiences are deeply rooted in this place. There is no where that one can travel that you can't find evidence of our existence.
Our life here is guided by the Three Ancient LAWS - 'Manitoo Inakonigewin (Laws of the Creator0; Aki nankonigewin (Laws of the Land)
and Anishinaabe nakonigewin (Laws of the Anishinabe).
We have attempted since the time of the first contact to teach these laws to all of the newcomers who have arrived here since first contact and so once again we are extending this Teaching so that everyone is aware of the positions we take and the reasons for these positions.
We remain hopeful that we can come together as neighbours, as governments, and as people united by the beauty and wonder of this territory.
All We have asked for is respect for our Way of Life, the Treaty and our Rightful Place for our full participation in the growth and development of this territory."

"Our Shared History: Our Ancestors signed Treaty #3 in 1873 with your Crown and almost immediately a huge disagreement began over the terms and conditions of that Treaty. The written version that we received from Ottawa does not reflect our understanding of the terms and conditions. Our understanding is reflected in what is known as the "Paypom Version" based on the notes take by our interpreters.

Manitoba Colours
To our ancestors, the term Treaty means - "Tibaaimatiwn" and means the following: Tibaa: means a measure of payment in exchange for goods for something of equal value, currency and trade goods, etc. (compensation). Ima: means a place or the present right now, today. Tiwin: means the way in which business is conducted. Contractual arrangement with specific terms and conditions and to undertake a certain activity with time frames.
Thus the term "treaty" means annuities in exchange for granting the privilege of a right of passage to travel through the Anishinaabe Territory. There are two of these "travel corridors", one is the old Dawson Trail and the other is what has become Highway 17 - or the Trans-Canada.

Along with the permission to pass through our territory our ancestors set other conditions, especially on the acts of prospecting and exploration. That condition is simple, non-Anishinaabe were given permission to do these activities, and, if they found anything of value then they were to report to the Chiefs and Talks would begin about how to share the discoveries.
There is much more but these are two of the most important conditions concerning the issues facing us today.

We are not opposed to development and growth, but first and foremost it must honour and address the laws, traditions, and customs that we live by and govern human activity in this beautiful land."

The issues: Highway 17 Twinning. We have three concerns that we have talbed with the Province of Ontario regarding the twinning of Highway 17. That dips threaten a significant cultural area for our people and continues to infringe and erode our Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

We have asked that the dip be moved more northerly and were told by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) that it could not be done because the development of Royal Lake Resort had spent a lot of money improving their SEPTIC fields and there was no way not to impact those fields.

Quite Bluntly - this means MTO values a septic field more than our Anishinaabe cutural areas. This is Completely unacceptable to us!

Shoal Lake Flooding and Water Taking: Shoal Lake is constantly flooded by Lake fo the Woods water to provide water to Winnipeg. Winnipeg has been taking this water since 1913 without compensating our Nation.

In the almost 100 years of this theft we have lost wild rice fields, lost acres of shoreline and lost the economic foundations of our Way of Life.

Opening up the Water
Still on Trans Canada in Winnipeg
We have tabled a request for compensation in the amount of $124 million dollars a year. Dollars which are needed to strengthen our school, health facilities, housing and provide for economic opportunities for our People."

Proud Isaktewizaagengan Anishinaabe
ON the Steps of the Legislative

Winnipeg & Manitoba is not being Fair

Youth in Action
Youth Councillor, and Water Keeper


Chief Ovide Mercerdi

Chief Eli Mandamin Made a statement to the People gathered at the Legislative building.
" I want to begin by acknowledging the children, women, men and Elders our Nation for their strength, perseverance, and belief in our Rights as a people and Nation. This journey has been a heartfelt expression of the commitment and sacrifice our people are prepared to make to insure that justice and fairness are finally achieved...
...Water is the fundamental element of Life in the Universe. When we start our journey from the Spirit World to this Physical World, we must make that journey through the water our women carry in their bodies. During all the time we are in the Physical World we must continue to have that water to keep us alive.
In our culture we hold ceremonies thanking the Spirits of the Water for their continues support of our lives. We have asked the Water Spirit of Shoal Lake for her guidance on how to address this issue of her being taken to provide water to Winnipeg.
Since 1913, she was forcibly removed from her home and made to take a journey to a foreign place to be used by strangers. She wasn't asked if she wanted to come to this place because she his not seen as a living entity who needs to be respected and consulted.
She has reminded us that since the beginning of time her and all of the Life Sustaining Spirits have been here to make sure that us poor pitiful humans have a good life. She also stated that since the arrival of the newcomers they have brought only one thing that is now needed to support human life and that is - shooniya, money, and she said that she could assist us in building our economic capacity to meet our needs.
But her assistance is contingent on her rules. We as humans can never take for granted the gift she gives us. So we are instructed to carry out a yearly cycle of ceremonies to keep ourselves reminded of this gift.

She also said that no one person or family can reap any gains from this effort. That whatever is done, must be done in a way that benefits all of the people now and into the future..."

Councilor Fawn Wapioke

Chief Terrance Nelson

Councilor Fawn Wapioke also made a statement: "...I want to extend my deep gratitude to the children, women, men and Elders or our nation...
...Women and Water have a fundamental relationship as Life Givers in the Universe. From the time of Creation of First Woman and First Man it has been the Creator's plan that all Female Life will be the ones that insure that the next Generations of their kind successfully enter this Physical World.
Our fundamental relationship as Life Givers is honoured through our Ceremonies, Songs, and Traditions. The Teachings we received as we pass through our various stages of life deepen our understanding our role and responsibility and how Water is an ever present supporter and sustainer of our existence.
The removal of the water from Shoal Lake is an assault on all women. The female spirit of the lake was never consulted, never asked for her permission to be used in such a manner. Her assault is the same assault we have endured when our children were torn from us and taken to Residential Schools; when the Children's Aid Societies stormed into our homes and ripped our children away and when those children were adopted out all over the world with many lost to us forever...

Whenever the word consultation is the principle of free, prior and informed consent. Consent and Choice are Sacred principles in our culture. From the moment a child enters this world they have the power of choice and consent. When our ancestors agreed to negotiate treaties they saw this as a process by which they will make choices and grant consents.

The Spirit of the Lake and our people never the opportunity to consider the choices of how our waters would be used, so we never had the opportunity to gran our combined consent for the uses Winnipeg had in mind...

Our Requests are simple - extend to use the respect and dignity that was not extended to the Spirit of the Lake and our People almost 100 years ago...

Fighter Jet flies by a number of times.

Chief Eli Manitoba

Councilor Fawn Wapioke

Shoal Lake 39

AFN Vice-Chief Bill Travers, Elder Peter Kinew, Elder Frank Greene

Drum Carrier

Donald Courchene, Terrance Nelson, Bill Traverse

Arriving at the Legislature
We made the Walk from Ontario to Manitoba

There were no Provincial Government officials on hand to meet or listen to the People of Shoal Lake. No Winnipeg officials to listen to the People. No other Leaders of the Treaty One territory where Winnipeg sits on.

The People of Shoal Lake stood almost alone on the steps of the government building. There were some supporters: Chief Terrance Nelson of Roseau River First Nation, Elder Peter Kinew, Chief Ovide Mercerdi of Grand Rapids, Vice Chief Bill Traverse of the Assembly of First Nations.

The Mayor of Winnipeg has said that the Water issue is a provincial issue. The province is not really interested in meeting with Shoal Lake.

Chief Eli Mandamin made a profound statement regarding the absence of Native Leaders, "there are no honourariums here, that is the nature of things these days".
I was saddened and embarrassed that our Leaders chose not to support our relatives from Ontario.

For those of you that do not understand or relate to the Water Teachings that the People of Shoal Lake talked about, maybe you can relate to the documentary: Water.

For full movie watch over here:

The Provincial government, the City of Winnipeg, and other Manitoba Native Leaders can try and ignore the People of Shoal Lake. They can hope that Shoal Lake will go away.

Chief Eli Mandamin said it best:

"For 20,000 years we have been an independent and self-sufficient people capable of meeting our needs in harmony with this beautiful territory given to us by the Creator. It has only been in the last 100 years that we have lost our self-sufficiency and independence. That loss has been because of the deliberate laws, policies and regulations passed by the federal and provincial governments in an attempt to eliminate our Rights.

Those Efforts have not been successful. We are Still Here."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

And then this guy comes along

When your feelings don't match your mind.

I have been on Citalopram for almost six years now.  ("Other side effects, such as increased apathy and emotional flattening, may be caused by the decrease in dopamine release that is associated with increased serotonin. Citalopram is also a mild antihistamine, which may be responsible for some of its sedating properties." )  

I guess I started on anti-depressant to help me with my depression. Although I could not admit to being depressed at the time. I knew I needed to get out of the deep hole I was in all the time. Everything was so difficult. All I wanted to do was stop. Stop everything, stop breathing, stop thinking, stop existing. So going the citalopram seemed like something to do. Going to a doctor was a chore. 

But things are not as bleak as I once felt they were. I genuinely have fun when I am with the Grankids. I think about them all the time. I also feel the fear in me, when I think about them and the loss of my Boy. I am afraid of the damage that could happen to them. 

The last couple of weeks have seen some accidents. The kids have been getting bumps and lumps. Suz says its normal for active kids to get some bumps. I know I know that is true. A couple of weeks ago, I asked Amelia, my granddaugther to get her jacket, which was on the back of one of the chairs in the dining area. She is four. Jackson, her brother, who is two, ran for her coat. Jacks shoes were on the floor in front of the chair so he tripped and fell on the chair. His face hit the chair. The chair is wooden. He fell and screamed, jumped up and ran over to me. It was awful. He had a big bruise under his eye, which latter turned into a black eye. And then two days ago, I had them playing at central park, downtown. I go there to wait for Suz to get off work and the inner-city park has been fixed up pretty nice. Jack was running and another boy ran into him. He was crying and standing by the mom of the other boy, she was trying to comfort both boys, when all of sudden Jack just fell over and banged his head on the cement. He has a very huge scrape on the side of his face. And yesterday, I was at Canadian Tire, a hardware type store, looking for oil. I had both Amelia and Jack sitting inside a cart. I was at the counter asking for some assistance in looking for an oil filter. When I turned to move, I moved the cart with me. Amelia was standing in the cart reaching for something on the counter. The movement of the cart got her off balance and she fell face first onto the ceramic floor. The ceramic covers concrete. She laid still and did not move. I had seen it all because I was right there; the side of her head hitting the floor, the sound it made and her hair covering her face. I swore and picked her up. She started crying. I took her to the car and then went to her Dad's home. She was very quiet and wanted to sleep, not saying anything and looking dazed. I took her to a Walk-in Clinic to have the doctor look at her. As time went on she became more talkative and more like herself. Her Mom and Dad were there, so I left. She is all-right.

The thing that really bothers me, is that my emotions don't match what goes on in my head. In my head I am crazy with fear, with hurt, with pain about what has happened. But my emotions don't feel the same. It is really strange. It is like I am numb in my heart. But it's not that. The pain is mixed up. Lot of anger in there, but the sorrow is some how blocked. I could not feel right all night and today. I am messed up over what is going on. I feel fear and am scared to have anything happen to my family. Yet, my feelings seem all messed up. I see pain on others, but it doesn't register in my own body. It's like I am watching pain, but not feeling it. So that really scares me. There have been many instances where I see hurt and it doesn't register with me. In my head it is there, but not in the emotions.It's like I have a "stone heart".

Other things that happen are in my dreams. They are so vivid. Like being there. The dreams are so real and many times disturbing. And every single night I dream. Sometimes I wonder about what is happening in my head. The doctor says I will most likely be on the pills for my lifetime. I used to stop taking the pills and my emotions would return, but mostly anger, and things would feel weird. Like turning my head but the vision takes time to catch up, but not exactly like that. Difficult to explain.

I guess I am just trying to get away from feeling so awful for my grankids and my kids. It's like the black cloud is following me and is some-how starting to follow those around me. Most days I have a hard time liking myself, but lately I loathe who I am.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Road Kill (& other stuff)

Yesterday I went to visit my Dad in the Reserve. I noticed a heck of a lot of dead animals by the highway. I figured I would share some of what I saw on the trip. The trip is not that long. Sagkeeng is about 150 kilometers from the City of Winnipeg on Highway 59 north. I didn't take pictures of all the animals I saw on the road, but that's okay.

I was thinking about hosting another blog site entitled Road Kill (& other commentary). This site would be about crap. (No not the stuff you see in your toilet bowl after you have had a mean one. And why do they call it a mean one? And who says they don't turn around a look after the deed is done? Me, I check every single time. I want to keep a mental inventory of what goes out. I try to compare with what comes in and what makes it out. I even thought of doing a blog about that. Take pictures after every construction period and call it something like Crap & other nasty stuff in the world. I know you guys have "code words" for your bowel movements, everyone does. I call it construction. My wife says "I don't want to know". I even tell her about "maintenance". You know, when you have some remnants of construction that it kind of bugs you or hurts when you are out and about. So I say, "I got to go and do some maintenance", in other words, wipe my bum.  My wife hates that I share everything with her. With this blog I would do commentary on the shit that is happening all over, not just in Indian country. Like people getting all bent out of shape over driving in the city. Or politicians getting got with someone of the same gender, I mean who gives a crap?) The Road kill site would be a commentary on the highs and lows of society: road kill. The political environment, and other road kill nonsense. But I don't think I will. I am not sure if I could stomach researching about all the negative stuff in society. It's hard enough just keeping my mind sane with what goes on in Indian country or even what goes on in my community.

So I think I will stay with confessing my little sins on this site. After all, who says I can't (or haven't been) posting crap on here.

Good driving folks.

Poor animals. I guess they come close to the road in the evenings. The road stays a little warmer and maybe that is attractive to bugs, animals. So cars come along and bash their little heads in and smash up all the little bones. Destructive those vehicles. Do you ever wonder how many millions or billions of bugs are killed by cars? The amount of butterflies and bees that are smashed? No wonder there is now a bee shortage.

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 ...