Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bruce Willis, the Bulldog.

The new guy.

Watching out for the Cats
Well Chloe and I went out to St. Malo to pick up a Puppy. We drove out tonight. The lady is named Shirley who owned the puppies. Bulldog puppies. She has a nice place way out in the bush. She had three puppies left. So we picked out a male. On the drive back home, Chloe and I decided (tentatively) on the name, Bruce. His full name is Bruce Willis. And the way you say it is like this; bbrrrruce! Not high pitch, bruucie. He is named after the butches actor, manly man called Bruce Willis. You know him? Of Die Hard fame. Jumps off buildings, runs on glass, doesn't cuss, and is forever cool? That is who our puppy is. Our new baby.

Suz doesn't know that we have brought home a pup yet. We have broken the rules. We talked about maybe having a pup in the spring, but no decision. Never mind that Suz and Chloe said if we get a pup it was not to be one of those big faced slubbering dogs. Suz is at a Jan Arden concert and left us all alone. So we called the number on the Kijiji website and went out for an hour ride to the country. Chloe picked the pup, so I am in the clear. Even though Chloe really wanted one of those small non-shedding teacup size puppies, we got Brrruce Willis. Holy heck, she has to come home, about now.

Bruce's Pappa

Just got home
Bruce Willis April 22, 2012

Bruce Willis March 12, 2012

Boy! You look white, you should get back to the rez.

Was visiting out in the Reserve the other day. Visited with my Dad for a bit. After that I went to visit with a couple of Elders over at the Health Centre. Ken Courchene sat with me for about 2 hours. We had a very good visit. He was telling me about the art of visiting. Wishing more people visited in the old way. He also gave me some good Teachings. I need to learn Ojibway real good. You miss so much when the Elders have to go back and translate into English. My friend and Elder Fabian Morrisseau is always fun to visit with. I was wearing a Fedora hat and he said "Boy? You're looking like a whiteman, you got to come to the Rez". He was laughing. I like him alot he really knows how to cheer you up.

Ken and I spoke about the initiative of some Elders in Winnipeg that would like to see some type of "system" to validate Elders. A very controversial concept. You are moving into a certification area and that is a no-no. There are people that are concerned over the false medicine men/women and Elders. In the Traditional world Elder is bestowed on the Learned Ones and the Gifted. Age brings a validation but not all old people are titled with Traditional Elder. It is subjective of course and there in lies the issue. Who is an Elder and what constitutes an Elder? At the same time Elders are concerned of government attempts to determine who is an Elder. They are afraid that the mistakes of a few individuals will harm the reputation of Elders. That is a concern and they (Winnipeg group) want to ensure there is some accountability.

I ran into another Elder in the Reserve and we got to visiting for a short time. He works in Winnipeg and is concerned about Elders that crop up. He said we have "Elders that grew up in the city and have never been to the Reserve but have Elder status, they should go and spend some time in the Bush". That was his opinion. I am not sure how we got on that topic, but it was timely.

I have ideas like all people. But Ken was very right in his telling of some Teachings. I won't repeat the Teachings as I have to digest and learn, but one thing I can share is the aspect of 'freedom'. He said people are free to choose who they see. Some people won't go to some Elders and will go to other Elders. It is not about flash/style but of comfort and substance. People will go with what comforts them. So to try and regulate who people can see is a difficult concept and idea.

However, I do think having a list of people that are Elders/Teachers/Advisors/Medicine people can only be a good thing. Say you want to see someone for medicine and you don't know who to contact. Well a list can be helpful. After all you can't go into the yellowpages and look under Elder or Medicine man for a phone number. :D

You know, that is one thing about my Reserve, there are a lot of Traditional people there. It is great because it could be have been the other way. After all we had a very busy trade route; large Religious footprint (both Catholic and Anglican) in the community. The amount of pressure to abandon all forms of Traditionalism would have been tremendous. But yet there are many gifted and knowledgeable Elders in our Reserve. That is an awesome thing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What happens in Cuba, Shared in Cuba

Had the good fortune to go to KOBA! Suz & Chloe gave me a trip to Cuba for a present. Didn't I go get sick a week before the trip, and I am still sick. A lesser man would be in the fetal position, but not me, I don't even whine about it. I just kept coughing and hacking and being stuffed up, with a pounding headache. But I didn't say one word about it to nobody who wouldn't listen. Anyway the trip was fantastic. We left on a Sunday and went straight to Cuba, Varadero. We stayed in a hotel called the Iberostar Playa Alameda. The place did not disappoint in anyway. I am not sure how much it cost, my wife took care of that.
We did the tourist things, like going to Havana (Habana), checking out a museum, a jeep safari, and a bus ride into the town to meet with the "locals". It was a very nice trip. The people are in fact warm and friendly. We took a number of little gifts, baby clothes for folks out there. We know we can't have an effect on the life of people, but maybe we can brighten one smile for at least one moment in time. We know it's arrogant to think like that, but it makes me feel good anyway. I think most people want to think they can help in some small way. In any case, we took stuff and gave people stuff. No big deal, but to us we made a conscious choice to that.
Of all places we met some Indians that we know out there. The Fontaine family and the Wilson family of Peguis First Nation arrived on Wednesday.They took a lot of gifts for the people as well.
EJ & Steve

We had a good time talking and visiting with EJ and his wife Eva.
Suz & Eva

Their brother Don Wilson and Anita got married and went out there to celebrate. They took their parents along for the trip. Typical old Indian guy didn't want to leave the reserve. It was great to see them and it made us very happy to see them having a good time. I like that. We reminisced about childhood days, made jokes and told some stories. That Don was funny. We were having some drinks in the evening and he was telling Suzie that he thought he saw us at the beach. "But (he said) I thought it was Steve but it didn't look like Suzie, and he was hugging and taking pictures with this girl". That guy.
My beach woman

In some cases that would have been throwing gas on a fire, but Suz just laughs at my exploits. Me I think that all those KOBAN women were really saying "I like you" when they were saying "hola" or "gracias". At least that was what I was told that gracias means I like you.

The place we stayed at was filled with mostly Canadians. The Canadians are a funny bunch. Not very rowdy. But do they ever like to smoke. I was quite surprised at the amount of smokers that were about. Our hotel had mostly older folk and families with small children staying there. Older folk, I mean people around 40 and up. There were live bands ever night playing salsa, merengue, rumba and other Latin styles. Made you want to jump up and shake your booty, you know? Do the forbidden dance - dirty dancing. Can't you just imagine Baby and me? Me as Patrick Swayze aka Johnny?

We did go out and do a jeep tour. It was very interesting and fun. We went to some beach and the people on tour had a chance to go snorkeling. I am not a fan of the ocean, the beach or the heat. But I figured what the heck, I'll give it a try. You have to remember I was sick as well. So going into the ocean with this apparatus on my face, was not my idea of a good thing. Still. We took off into the ocean. After several attempts to put on the breathing apparatus, I finally put my head under the water. That is when it happened. I wouldn't say I had a spiritual experience or anything but it was close. Close to dying as I think. I must have swallowed a pint of sea salt water. It came out of my nose, my eye sockets, my ears. I could not breath, I could not see. I almost lost consciousness. The world was slipping away. I put my head in the water and came close to death. Panic. Panic. With an act of pure heroism, I pulled my head up,out of the water, I turned on my back, waved my arms like an octopus. Splashing around trying to get my bearings as I felt the cold grip of the deep dark water fill my lungs. I managed to look at the beach shore and I was way out in the ocean. I looked out to the ocean and my fellow jeep groupies were out there away from me; frolicking in the blue ocean like no ones business. All the while my darling wife and beautiful baby girl were watching snails on the beach, oblivious of my impending doom and my peril. I was in mid-scream when a beautiful Brown Angel appeared; A brown Mexican.  In this case, a Cuban. He was just there bobbing in the water, with snorkel pulled up on his head. He was one of the crew that was taking us out into the ocean. He asked if I was okay? I nodded and said, "yyyyyeahhh". "Want to go back?" He asked. "No, I am okay" I said. So we tried to go again. He told me to breath slow and close my mouth over the snorkel. Okay. It was beautiful once I did that. Breathe through my mouth and keep my head straight ahead. I was a natural. I should have kept my mouth closed the first time I put my head in the water. Now, I was guided by my Mexican angel to the group. I felt the assurance of other prey in the water. So I was not alone if something came looking for food. Although I might add, I would have been a good meal, having been a little meatier than those young slimmer swimmers. What I saw in the Coral Reefs was like in the movies. I was swimming where adventurer's such as Jacques Cousteau swam before me. I was in the clear pool of blue water, surrounded by schools of aquatic wildlife.
I became one with the coastal ecosystem of the coral reefs. I was a God! (Not "THE God, but "A" god)  Actually I still had some close calls of panic with me swallowing water. Holy heck that water burns your throat. (Actually, what happened was that I swallowed a bit of water and coughed it up)
Galloping on a Steed

We hired a local driver to take us to Habana (Havana).
We choose not to go on the hotel tour bus, and took our chances to venture on our own. A very affable guy named Ridel picked us up at the hotel in the morning. He was driving some old blue English car. He told us it was built in 1956. It sure ran like it. It was fun and an experience. It became apparent half way to Havana ( a 2 hour drive from our hotel) that our guide did not know too much English. So he and I were saying "Yes" to everything we said to each other. In Havana, he did not know where he was going. It was like he had never been there before. We kept stopping and talking to people on the street. He spoke in Spanish so I didn't know what he was saying. We did manage to go to some very busy places. We took lots of pictures. One of the buildings we went to, was incredible. It had marble everywhere and the architecture was spectacular. A very pretty and friendly guide showed us around the building. There was an art exhibition by Kcho. It was very interesting and I enjoyed it.
Kcho work of art
We got directions from the girl to go to the Poncho's restaurant. It was nice restaurant with eye candy servers. The Prices were about equal to Canadian prices for a nice restaurant. Not expensive but not cheap. In the restaurant this Cuban man was walking around. He came over and shook my hand. He was very nice, spoke no English so Ridal translated for me. Turns out this guy was an Olympic boxer. He was in Montreal 1976, and won Gold. I asked his name but it escaped me. So I asked his kilo class. He understood kilo and told me 81. So he is Teofilo Stevenson. He did tell us he won three gold medals. It was a nice visit with him. We gave him a sweater. I was told by Ridal that Teofilo is not  treated as well as he could be. His accomplishments have not been rewarded in riches.
Teofilo & Steve
We left Havana with Ridal driving. Oh I forgot to tell you, when we were walking around the city, Ridal asked me if I wanted a beer. I said no thanks. He said he was going to "have one and that's it". I am not sure but he must have had a few, as he kept buying them from the street vendors and had one or two in the restaurant that we went to. He was funny that guy. He took us to his home for a coffee. A very nice, and a very small home.
Ridel's home.

I had a good time in Cuba.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Circle of Life Gathering: Healing our Grief. Suvivors of Suicide

Suicide is an ugly thing. I know. I lost my son to suicide.

Friends and family of mine have organized Gatherings to help people coping with suicide loss. This year is going to be our third Gathering. A relative told us to have them four years. So we are going to be putting on the third Gathering on May 29 and 20th in Winnipeg Manitoba. The Thunderbird House has been our champion for the Gathering. They help us immensely. The time they put in and the use of their place is what makes the Gathering possible.

We do not pay anyone to come to the Gathering or do we pay Speakers to come and help people. It is a Gathering done through help of each other. We are very lucky that people donate time, energy, supplies and cash to help in the Gathering. We use those donations at the Gathering with supplying food, wood for Fire, medicines and other supplies. We can't do it without their help.

Although our Gathering is Native focused, the event is open to all people. So we hope that people will join us as we put on this Ceremonial Gathering and try to find ways to cope with Suicide loss.

Take care friends.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Economics not the only answer to Native prosperity.

Economics always the way.      No it's the Spirit that is the way.

Canadian Indians known as Status Indians, or Registered Indians (used to be called Treaty Indians) are legislated by an Act called the Indian Act. I won't bother to go over the Act, but lets just say it controls much. One of the things about Indians living on Reserve, is that held by the Canadian government. As a result Indian Land can not be sold. Many Indian people want that restriction waved. They want to be able to borrow cash from the bank on the land. That would help communities raise capital for projects and whatever. They say it is to become stronger economically. That could be true.  But....

This guy has said some things that I think should be looked at... 

"... the reserve system must end. Canada has to concede that the “Crown” does not have underlying ownership to native lands, but that territorial status is retained by the Native nations based upon aboriginal title.

The Native nations must also have direct, unimpeded access and control over the natural resources of their respective territories, including water, minerals and airspace. The definition of aboriginal territory should be interpreted to mean all areas not specifically ceded by treaty and indigenous to a specific native nation.

Third, First Nations must also be free to engage in unimpeded commerce among themselves regardless of location..."

 "Fourth, the 1794 Jay Treaty must also be formally enacted into law by Parliament. The Treaty required Britain and the U.S. to allow the free passage of Native goods across the border, but while Canada abides by all agreements entered into by the Crown prior to securing its dominion status in 1867 it will not concede to the treaty’s provisions...

"Fifth, Canada has to acknowledge that treaties are the supreme law of the land. When Canada entered into these agreements it recognized the right of Native nations to enter into these contracts based upon their status as politically distinct entities..."

"Sixth, all federal agencies must be required to respect the status of First Nations through active, ongoing consultation before any regulation or policy is enacted as it effects native peoples..."

"Seventh, First Nations must also be free to form their own regional alliances based upon their natural inclination to join forces and share resources..." Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk

I would add that the  Aboriginal People themselves must look at their own Traditional Belief foundation to begin with.

You're My Woman

Sometimes a song (or a few) just captures how you feel.

You're my woman
And you're my woman
You bore my child, lord
You bore my child, lord
I want to thank you
I want to thank you
And no one else will do
And no one else will do
And no one else will do
Baby, you, you are my sunshine
I am your guiding light
To like a ship out in the night
Returning for a light

I love you
I really love you
My heart is for you
My heart is for you
I long to feel you
I long to feel you
And every time i do
And every time i do
And every time i do
Baby, it's you, you are my sunshine
I am your guiding light
Just like a ship out in the night
Returning for a light, oh yeah

And it's really real
The way i feel
It's really real
Lord have mercy
Look into my eyes
Look into my eyes
And you realize
And you realize
Is really, really, really real

In kingston town now
In kingston town now
Walked up and down now
Looked at the ground now
You went in labor
You went in labor
And all our friends came through
And all our friends came through
And all out friends came through
Baby, it's you, you are my sunshine
I am your guiding light
Just like a ship out in the night
Returning for a light, oo-we

And it's really real
The way i feel
It's really real
Look into my eyes
Look into my eyes
And you realize
And you realize
It's really, really, really real, oh yeah
And you're my woman
And you're my woman
And you're my woman
And you're my woman

This one captures how I feel about my Boy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What should an Indian look like? Iconic old or iconic new?

I was driving down Main street Winnipeg the other day and I saw this mural on the wall. It was a scene of two Indians on horseback, by a shoreline, and dressed in breechcloth, as they were looking over at the water. It got me thinking, is that the only image there is of Indians/Aboriginal people?
Title: Invocation--Sioux. Date Created/Published: c1907 December 26. Summary: Dakota man, wearing breechcloth, holding pipe, with right hand raised skyward. Photograph by Edward S. Curtis, Curtis (Edward S.) Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

I mean that is good to have pride in our Ancestors. I am not sure about the Edward Curtis images, since he staged a lot of pictures and carried around the clothing styles, but anyway, he did take some pretty good pictures. What I am thinking, is it our heritage or our culture that of being an Indian stuck in time, or we are tied to an image?I think we are more than an image. Although the image is easily recognizable, but is it who we are?

Native American woman from Plains region, half-length portrait, facing right, with baby on her back / Beach, N.Y

If you look at many artists, they to tend to grab the iconic Native image; the warrior, the woods, the "look" if you know what I mean. Don't get me wrong that image is awesome! There are so many damn good looking Natives in those images. Women looking all regal and men looking so cool. You don't see no Natives smiling or laughing ( a great joke by Charlie Hill - "See all that land, son?"
"Yeah, Dad."  "Do you realize that one day none of this will be yours?") and that is a shame. After all we are known for our humour as well (or maybe only in Indian country).

Canada's Hugh Fisher (left) and Alwyn Morris celebrate a gold medal win in the men's kayak K-2 event at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles. (CP PHOTO/ COA/)
Some of the more contemporary images I like are that of an Indian (Native, Aboriginal, First Nations) who is seen as successful in today's world. Like that of Alwyin Morris. Now that is cool. In his Canada Olympic outfit, holding his hand raised by his teammate and holding an Eagle Feather in his other hand.

Waneek Horn-Miller, captain of the Canadian Water Polo Team
circa 2000
But you know the most iconic image of a proud Indian is that of Waneek Horn-Miller, Mohawk and Olympic champion.  Still with that noble savage stoic Indian look, all brown and cool. You have to say wow!

I like the way things are going. We may have the old image to keep reminding where we come from, but we have new images as well.

We are from the Stars and one of our own people went to the Stars - John Herrington. How cool is that image?
Even our artists are mixing the aged with the new.

So I didn't answer what an Indian should look like. I am not sure of what we should look like. But I am the wrong person to answer than anyway, as I don't measure up, that is for sure. I like to think that Indians are more than an image. They are everlasting. They are time immemorial. We are all beautiful...

As one well known artist once said "there are many beautiful flowers in God's garden".  

English Bulldgog, My dream dog

I have found this ad in Winnipeg Kijiji, and I want this dog. My wife won't let me have a dog. We have two cats. We used to have a dog, but he died. He was Rufus, a miniature Schnauzer. I love that dog. He was 13 years old and went and disappeared up at my Mother-inlaws farm. He was deaf, and had a hard time moving around, too old. He was happy at the farm. It was a hard year when he went. Lot of bad news that year. But now it has been 7 years so maybe we can get a new dog? I like the look of the bulldog. I am a little worried of their health issues. I need to read more about them; valley bulldogs, shorties, olde English, English bulldog.
"We have a small English Bulldog that we are looking to re home. He is four years old and has a very good temperment. He has TONS of energy, and likes to play, go for walks, and ride in the car. Good with kids, but a little skittish with some other dogs. All shots are up to date, and he is very healthy. He is fixed."

 Well I hope that I don't fall in love with you
'Cause falling in love just makes me blue,
Well the music plays and you display your heart for me to see,
I had a beer and now I hear you calling out for me
And I hope that I don't fall in love with you.
Well the room is crowded, there's people everywhere
And I wonder, should I offer you a chair?
Well if you sit down with this old clown, take that frown and break it,
Before the evening's gone away, I think that we could make it,
And I hope that I don't fall in love with you.
I can see that you are lonesome just like me, and it being late,
You'd like some some company,
Well I've had two, I look at you, and you look back at me,
The guy you're with has up and split, the chair next to you's free,
And I hope that you don't fall in love with me.
And I hope that you don't fall in love with me.
Now it's closing time, the music's fading out
Last call for drinks, I'll have another stout.
Turn around to look at you, you're nowhere to be found,
I search the place for your lost face, guess I'll have another round
And I think that I just fell in love with you.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Being Eigth years old in 1968.

You want to know something? I am thinking that 1968 was a happening year. Gasoline was at thirty four cents a gallon. The Beatles were singing Hey Jude. The Rolling Stones were Jumpin' Jack Flashing. Bonanza was a hit television show. Mission Impossible didn't star Tom Cruise. Apollo Eight went around the Moon. I remember my sister listening to Judy In the Sky with Glasses. My Dad was a country music fan and we had one of those cabinet stereos.

My Dad was still into the songs of Hank Williams, Eddie Arnold and Johnny Cash. Mom listened to what Dad listened to, I guess. Me I was into what everyone else listened to. My Dad had a Ford Truck and we piled into the back of the truck when we went somewhere. I don't remember going to much places when I was that young.  My Dad was working at the paper mill in the nearby town. Mom was a janitor in the school.  So life in my small world seemed good to me.

General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner in Saigon
Elsewhere things were happening. The Vietnam War was going on. People were dying. Bobby Goldsboro was singing "Honey". Star Trek and Batman were in their last year of television production.

Locally, a very bad car accident at the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation (known as Scanterbury) left a number of dead. Nine people died and one survivor was left wheelchair bound, while thirty-three children were orphaned. A very bad accident due to drinking.

The Manitoba Indian Brotherhood (MIB)was established and Dave Courchene was elected as the president. My Mishoom (Granpa) passed away that summer. I loved that man. Although I was only eight, I remember him well. He was a big guy, people knew him as Miskus (Red). He chewed snuff and he like to kiss the grandkids. He had whiskers that rubbed on your face when he kissed you. It was a welcome show of affection. The Residential school took those kind of things from my own parents.

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 ...