Thursday, March 29, 2012

What happened to...

The notion of Communal ownership? Reserves were like that. People were part of the community. Everyone had a stake in what happened in the homes and the whole community. Now we see that there is a push to privatize the Reserve? Manny Jules wants us to be able to sell off the Reserve. Let business come in on Traditional Territories. Oh well, I guess things change.

We don't think about our Children's children anymore. It's all about now. What have you done for me lately? Not yesterday but today.

Paramount in the Native community was balance and that included thinking for all. Not one or two, but for all.

It looks like we've lost that, what do you think Manny Jules, Patrick Brazeau, Joseph Quesnel?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Circle of Life Gathering: Healing Our Grief

March 27, 2012

Re: Circle of Life Gathering: Healing Our Grief After Suicide Loss

Hello Folks;

This is the third year of our four year journey. We are hosting a Gathering for Survivors of Suicide this May 29 and 30th, 2012. The journey is a personal journey for many of us. We are Survivors. A loved One of ours has passed on by way of taking their life. We started this journey with the intent to let people know that they are not alone. There are others that are trying to cope with the loss due to suicide. It is a difficult journey but one that is filled with hope. It is a hope that others will come out and share, while lending us a helping hand and helping others as well.

The theme of this years’ Gathering is Healing our Grief. Elder Kinew has pointed us in that direction. There will be more open and sharing forums for the people at the Gathering. We will have Traditional Elder Ron McDonald and his wife Sally to share how they are walking through their grief. Donald Courchene hass begun the information sharing with the public. A few entities have come forth with donations to help with the Gathering. The success of the Gathering has been through the generousity and kindness of others. This year Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation will be donating one thousand towards the costs. CTV had donated a four hour hot air balloon ride. Manitoba Hydro has donated 2 backpacks. Sally McDonald has promised two Star Blankets. David and Sheryl Blacksmith have donated a number of art prints. Edwin Twoheart has made two Single Eagle fans. Stephanie Eyolfson at Thunderbird House has again donated the use of their building for the Gathering. Jackie Traverse is donating art work for Give-Away. Susan Courchene, with her friends continue to support the Gathering with the preparation of food and labour. We have commitments to help the Gathering from Chickadee Richards, Mitch Bourbonnier, Cheryl James, Billie Schibler and David Blacksmith. The Gathering is always looking for more help.

We spoke with Gerald Folster from Brokenhead Ojibway Nation. Gerald has a Ceremony called the Medicine Tree Ceremony for people who have lost someone to suicide. He is willing to participate in the Gathering and do the Ceremony. Corinne Kennedy of CMK Design is working on a poster. Donald has been corresponding with Wendy Hill of Ontario to participate in the Gathering. In the past we have brought in many guest speakers from various places, but this year we are focusing on local people to lead the Gathering. Been also speaking with Bertha Fontaine of Native Addiction Council of Manitoba and they are interesting in taking part at the Gathering.

We will keep you updated as to the Gathering’s progress. Feel free to contact us at We would like to hear from you about the Gathering.



“They keep telling us that we have no control to stop this demon of suicide, and they’re lying to our faces. They gotta be stopped. HE’S gotta be stopped. He needs to understand that he causes the very problem that he writes about–the type of person who convinces us that we cannot help us. That we cannot find the answers within.”
–TRAUMA– by Gyasi Ross

We have been very fortunate to have lots of people supporting this Gathering. We of course go hat in hand looking for help. Individuals and some organizations have been very supportive. We  send out lots of requests for help. The response is very good.  

One of our letters looking for donations. :)

April 18, 2012
(Business identified)


Re:      Circle of Life Gathering – Life After Addictions and Suicide Sponsorship

This is a letter of introduction and request for a financial or in-kind contribution.  The Circle of Life Gathering is in its third year of occurrence.  The gathering was first started in 2010 as a result of the numerous deaths of young people attributed to suicide.  Suicide has no boundaries and can be contagious in some communities.  The initial Survivors of Suicide Gathering was a gathering of people who had lost loved ones to suicide and for people who wanted to share their efforts for bringing awareness to suicide and comfort for those that had lost loved ones.

The gathering is strictly a volunteer effort; the coordinators of the gathering receive or seek no compensation for their hard work in bringing this gathering to its happening.  Steve  is the main organizer of the event, with the assistance from Don Courchene and the spiritual guidance and assistance from Elder Peter Kiniew. Together they coordinate the event and seek donations for the event.  The gathering is not affiliated with any organization, political or service delivery agency, but attempts to be inclusive of some groups that offer services and support to individuals seeking emotional and spiritual guidance and assistance.  The Thunderbird House has generously donated the use of its facility for the event.  We have received personal donations from individuals and agencies that support such an endeavor to bring attention and focus on the issue of addictions and suicide.  TBH (a registered Charitable organization) administers donations on behalf of the Circle of Life Gathering.

The past event witnessed personal accounts of the devastation suicide and addictions have on the people left behind.  We were fortunate to have a funding agent fund the cost of bringing in two dynamic speakers last year, George Chuvalo and Theo Fleury.  Mr Chuvalo is a long time speaker on suicide and Fleury was a professional hockey player who had is career end as a result of his addictions.  Both delivered emotional speeches that enlightened the people at the gathering.  The gathering also made available sweat lodges for those wishing to seek healing through the sweat lodge.  Some of the First Nation high schools sent their students to the gathering to hear firsthand of the devastation of suicide and addictions.

The gathering is free to attend for any individual but we have limited space because of the facility in which we are fortunate enough to be able to use.  The gathering is evolving and has received attention from various service delivery agencies but we are not practitioners and attempt to offer no “how to” advice in suicide prevention.  We believe by bringing people to the gathering they can share their experiences with others and they can be spokespeople in trying to address suicide and addictions in their communities.

One of the groups we include in the gathering is Compassionate Friends, a volunteer group that helps people who have lost loved ones through different unfortunate circumstances.  We this year have accepted the volunteer services of Mr. David Blacksmith to act as the emcee of the gathering, Mr. Blacksmith is a well-known spiritual healer.  Some First Nations would like to bus their students to the event, some from as far away as Cross Lake.  Suicide has devastated some of the remote First Nations in northern Manitoba and we simply want to be able to demonstrate to the students that people care and are willing to share experiences. 

The gathering is scheduled for May 29th and 30th, 2012.  (Amount of type of donation looking for inserted here)   Should you wish to discuss this matter in person with our council, we would be pleased to meet with you at your earliest convenience and can be reached at (204) 470-5207.

Yours truly,

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Power Dynamics in Friendships.

You know who is the greatest? Muhammad Ali. He is in fact a great individual. Not just for his boxing career, but in how he stood. He was born on January 17, 1942. He is a great man because he made mistakes. He was not a god or a king, he was the greatest, but yet he made mistakes. He fought too many fights. The last two he should never have done. But maybe it was his ego, or wanting a taste of one last glory or maybe a pay cheque. In any case it was his being a man of mistakes like anyone else that made him so great. He did great things and yet he was just one guy. You have to like that. He was also a gifted poet. One of his many quotes and quips is "A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life." I really like that one.

If you are the same way you are after 50 as you were when you were young, well that says something. Maybe it says you are still fun and never let age stop you. I guess that would be okay, but what I think it means is that if you are still as stupid as you were when you were young, than something is really wrong. I think that many many people are like that, still at that mindset. Still trying to control our spouses. Still getting upset over things that really don't matter. Trying to have everyone do what we want. Not having the patience for different opinions. Than we are a sure sorry grown up.

I have many friends growing up and also in my adult years. I see them and speak with them on occasion. It is interesting to see how they are. I hope that I am not speaking or acting the same way as I was when I was twenty? But I know that many times it is the case. I still get mad, lose my patience and say bad things. I try to remember to be kind. A chore sometimes, but it is how I want to live. Hard thing to do.

With friendships or any relationship for that matter, there is a power association that binds, overlaps or interferes in that friendship. Lets look at a marriage; man and wife. They may say that they are equal partners in their relationship, but are they truly? In some cases maybe, but most likely not. Someone is the dominant one.
That is how it is in many friendships. I had many friendships like that. I was not the dominant one. I guess many factors go in the power dynamics of a relationship; age, character, personality, physical structure, job stature, education and so on.
I am no longer in many of those types of friendships now a days. It just like being 20 and now being 50. If you still think the same at 50 as you were 20, well that is just sad. I think many women go through that; being abused when they are young. When they are older, no longer taking it. Maybe for men it is a hormonal thing. Lots of testosterone when you are a young guy. You start to lose testosterone as you go older. Maybe your jealousy, anger are lower as well because of the testosterone and not because you have changed your thinking, but who knows. So your new patience and lack of anger is not due to your enlightenment but to hormones? Anyway, some people never change.

Never change like me, my daughters have been saying I am an arsehole, and that is true. I really really want to be not an arsehole. Still I don't think the same way as I did when I was 20 as I do now. At least I hope so. The power dynamics in my relationships have changed, I am no longer subservient with old relationships. I don't need to be in those type of relationships, I can just walk away from that type of power relationship. I also no longer trying to be boss at home. As a matter of fact the role is reversed, my wife has the power as it should have always been. Although I still have the bad habit of trying to control my adult kids. Oh well, maybe at 100 that will finally come. The power relationship with the children will be one of equals.

So if you are STILL in a relationship with a disproportionately power connection at this age, then get the hell out. :D

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Redemption: Is it possible?

In order to redeem ourselves that implies that we were once good, I think? What happens if you lived almost your whole life as an arsehole? What if you were a bad person? What if you were a bully? An angry dude who got away with fighting people all the time? Then how can you seek redemption? Maybe change is the better way to go?

I know these guys that are now Traditional; Spiritual Advisers, Teachers, Elders. But that has happened in a relatively short time, considering their age. But I am not here to talk about them, perhaps they have changed or have redeemed themselves, who knows. I am talking about me. A guy who lived a pretty good life but was also very volatile, angry and quick to get explosively mad. Maybe that anger was a defense mechanism, but anyway what does it matter, it is behaviour not to be excused.

Who really knows us behind closed doors? Are we the type to get mad, swear around because the child broke a glass on the floor? Are we the type to swear or even hit our spouse for what ever "reason" we think of at the time? Or do we swear and threaten our kids when they try to speak up for themselves? Who knows? Well your family knows, your wife knows, your kids know. That's who knows.

So to the outside world you are this pretty good person but we know who you really are. You are an arsehole; a bastard. Can you change? Can you seek redemption?
Or should just vanish. Save the family by stopping? There may be suffering but what is the bigger suffering?

Today A former hockey coach (Graham James) was sentenced to measly two years in jail for being a child predator sexual abuser. He took 30 hours of a program and is redeemed in the Judge's eyes. Unreal. This is what I am talking about. This guy lived his whole life a certain way and now has gained redemption. Shit, that is wild.

There is a process going on called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential School Survivors. Don't know if any of the Teachers, supervisors, Nuns, Priests, police and government decision makers can ever ask for redemption. But hey what the heck, only they know, right?

People are on a campaign in the media telling Indians to "get over it. How can it still affect them? Hell some of them never went to school."

I guess even if you lived a life in a certain manner, it doesn't matter, you can always be redeemed, no matter what you did.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Indians are just so Damn Cool!

Just have to share these videos with you. Just cool. No words needed.

 Cinnamon Spear, Northern Cheyenne, graduate student at Dartmouth College, pursuing a Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies degree with a concentration in Creative Writing. -- She also has a video blog titled CinnaDocuTell, @BeeautifulEnergy. She is a 1491. Believe.

Music: Eyabay

Kayla Gebeck, Red Lake Ojibwe, studies linguistics and Native American Studies at Dartmouth College. She's a 1491 and she represents. Cinematography by Hillary Abe. Directed and Edited by Dallas Goldtooth and Ryan Red Corn. Music by Little Otter

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Thank you for following the blog

What do we do? Say hi to a stranger on the bus. Take time to talk to a homeless person? I don't know.

I heard "do something that matters" on a CBC radio interview with Robert Amsterdam.

"Robert Amsterdam is a lawyer with the firm Amsterdam and Peroff. He also blogs on global politics and business at Robert" Amsterdam has been fighting for democracy with the cases he takes on. Representing underdogs against entrenched oligarchies, Amsterdam is a man of conviction.

When interviewed he was asked why? He said that it Matters; "to do something that matters". I like that.

Not sure if it applies to the everyday things, but what does matter?

I like to think we can all do something that matters. But there is a degree of what matters isn't there. After all a professional athlete does something that matters; entertainment. As well a Doctor, a police officer, a Fireman/woman does things that matter as well. But I think what Amsterdam was referring to was something else as well. No doubt that people that are in the public service do things that matter.
I also think that other people do things that matter as well, even if in different degrees. The single Mom who feeds their kids and keeps them warm. The person that volunteers at a shelter. The manager that gives her best at running the office or the business. All things matter.

What I hope is that we take the time to appreciate what matters. Everyday things do matter. We need to remember what matters. Life matters. Living matters. Being kind matters. Being respectful matters. Talking up for Right matters.

Saying hi to a stranger matters. Smiling matters.
 76 followers on this date

Saying Thank you matters.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

We're all His Children

Just sitting out on the deck this morning, enjoying the warm Sun, as the snow melts, drinking Earl Grey Tea, scratching the head of Bruce Willis and missing my son badly. Suz made me breakfast as we listened to CFRY radio station from Portage La Prarie. CFRY plays dedications on Sunday mornings. Most of the dedications are from Reserve people and Metis. Lot of old country songs. Indians sure like their country tunes, the old stuff for sure.

Heck of a day, heck of a day. It is beautiful out there folks. We must enjoy while we can and what we have. Not talking cash and shit like that. But the joy of friends. The joy of a family that shares much of your secrets. I want the best for you. I like that thought.

"Its been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
Cause I don't know whats up there beyond the sky
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come I know it will..."

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Standing in Our Truth Gathering March 21 -23, 2012

Standing In Our Truth
Gathering March 21, 22, 23, 2012

March 21, 2012 6pm -9pm
Pipe Ceremony – Lawrence Henry. Roseau River Okijidaa
Opening Remarks – Barbara Nepinak, Chickadee Richards, Sheryl Blacksmith
Introductions of Elders/Healers/Teachers/Helpers
What is our goal? What would the people like to see? What are the issues we face? What should our Roles be? Should there be a data base of Elders?
Melvin Swan – Protecting Our People. Role of a Warrior.
Michael Champagne – Moderator
Tea – Coffee & Visiting among the People

March 22, 2012 8am – 5pm
Pipe Ceremony – Margaret Lavalle. Anishinaabe Elder, Grandmothers Council
Opening Remarks – Billie Shibbler, The Grandmothers Council – We are here.
Panel Discussions – Moderator Michael Champagne & TBA
Panel will include the Elders Council of Thunderbird House, Grandmothers Council, Ogichidakwe, Community Based Elders/Teachers/Healers, TBA guests, (panel open for all Elders to participate)

Moderator will provide Panel with topics and questions
Open discussions from Gathering Participants.

Lunch – Volunteers and food donations needed for the Gathering. Please contact Rose at 940-4240 and let her know if you can help with food or your labour. Miigwich.

Presentation – Johnny Hawk – Anishinaabe Ogichidaa Ontario. Living as an Ogichidaa.

Break –

Peter Atkison – Anishinaabe. The Clans and how they are relevant today. What are the Teaching behind the Clans?

Open forum until close

Closing Prayer – Clarence Nepinak - Closing Song. Singers & Drum needed to participate. Please contact Rose.

March 23, 2012 8am – 5pm
Pipe Ceremony – David Blacksmith Community Elder-Healer

Presentation – Comprehensive Community Initiative on Addictions (CCI) – “Should there be an Elders list for the wider community to have access to?” What happens when a person does wrong and how it impacts the community?

Presentation Jo Seenie-Redsky. - What is the impact of colonialism? Do we recognize colonialism in our daily actions?

Panel Discussions: What are our roles? Grandmothers Council will lead the Discussions with their presentations.

Lunch – Volunteers needed and food needed.

Ogichida – Lawrence Henry. Meaning of Ogichida. The Relevance today.

Panel Discussions – Open forum of the Gathering. How do we walk what we say? Working for togetherness. How do we stop abuse in our homes, from rogue Teachers?

Where to from here?


Ceremony Protocol in Place.

Please have your Tobacco, presentations (gifts for Elders), Women Skirts, Moccasins (slippers) Respect and Kindness to your Relatives at the Gathering.

Sage is needed for Smudge.

*This is not a funded Gathering, it is done by the community for the community. Please come and take part in any way that you can.

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 ...