Wednesday, February 27, 2013

don't despair my friends

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

Marcus Aurelius  

Had a pretty good conversation with this great lady today. She is in a state of despair. She is starting to meet a number of Traditional Indian people (Elders, Healers, Helpers) and learning about the Teachings.  However one the things she is having trouble with, is the character of people. She was raised in a Christian household (not sure but might have been non-Native). To her, the surrounding community of the Christian folk were very supportive to each other and they really loved God. To her these people really did try to live a virtuous and kind life. Now with the people in the Indian community there seems to be so much anger or maybe distrust for each other. She is getting disillusioned about the way people say they are and in the way they act. People are trying to live the "Red Road" but seem to be straying. She loves the words of the Teachings, but wonders why the word don't match the actions.

Don't despair my friend. People are flawed. We don't need to worry too much about the character traits of others. I know the old saying that "actions speak louder than words". People will speak good, but the way they behave reveals their character. We can judge and be disheartened by the selfish or bad actions of someone, who professes to live a life of virtue, or we can just try and control our own actions. I say don't let the flaws of others discourage your journey. Your journey of discovery. We may never know the lives the others have lived and what influences them. Perhaps they are damaged by a trouble past; poor environment; horrible instances; abuse; addictions; isolation. Maybe they are trying to live a kind and good life but are confused. That is the thing with any life. Myself, I struggle every day with my demons and the demons of my actions past. It is a hard thing.

Many of our people are going down the same journey as my friend is. A journey to discover their heritage. A journey to the connection with the Creator, to God. The journey is for many reasons; Adopted out, raised out of the Native community, lost heritage, denied heritage, residential school survivors. So they may be in the same situation. Loving the concepts, the intent of the Teachings. But they are faced with the fact that people are flawed. Peoples character traits are not synonymous with the way of life of a Traditional belief system. That's okay. Don't let the actions of others interfere with who you are. You will no doubt meet both people who are walking the Red Road in earnest and those that are struggling. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just take the good in all things. There must be some good in all people; at least I hope there is.

We all have our own traits, good and bad.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Standing Senate Committe on Human Rights: Winnipeg

Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee onHuman Rights

Issue 19 - Evidence, November 19, 2012 (afternoon meeting)

WINNIPEG, Monday, November 19, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 2 p.m. to study issues pertaining to the human rights of First Nations band members who reside off-reserve, with an emphasis on the current federal policy framework.
Senator Patrick Brazeau (Deputy Chair) in the chair.

A number of people presented to the Senate Committe on Human Rights in Winnipeg, MB this past November. I was fortunate to be one of those people. My view is that the government is just looking a more ways to divide the Nations. Continuous categorization of Indians to separate them even further. We cannot get caught up in playing that game. Instead we just spoke about Thunderbird House to give some context to the plight of Indians in Manitoba and Canada. Here are the words I spoke to the Senate.  There were a number of other speakers there that day. You can click on the heading to link to their thoughts.
Thank you for reading.


Steve Courchesne, Member of the Board, Circle of Life Thunderbird House: Honourable senators, meegwetch. I would really like to welcome you to the area of Treaty 1. As an Ojibway person and signatory to Treaty 1 as our family was, thank you for coming here and allowing us to present.
I sit on the board for Thunderbird House and also Native Addictions Council of Manitoba. We are here to talk about some of the issues pertaining to urban Aboriginal people, especially within Winnipeg.
Let me start off with a story, this is the way the elders back home do it. I am from Sagkeeng First Nation. Back home, every year there are a number of sundances on our reserve. That was not the case when I was a kid in the 1960s. You would not know there was a sundance ceremony going on on our reserve when it happens, people know and they go. The sundance ceremony is a ceremony of sacrifice; you forego food and water and you dance for four days. The elders tell us that is the closest, while you are on earth, you will get to the Creator, who comes and sits. There is a tree in a circle. You stand and you dance and you look at that circle, and that is where Thunderbirds come, and that is where the Creator comes and listens to you. It is not about bravery, like the movies say, it is about sacrifice. You sacrifice for your people for your community. People come and do that.
After this one sundance in our community, after the ceremony was done, the flags were taken down, and people's offerings were taken away, someone from our reserve went to that tree and defecated at the base of it. Now, what does that have to do with Aboriginal people and us? Well literally, as Aboriginal people, we are shitting on ourselves, and pardon me for the vulgarity, my vulgar language, but that is a reflection of where we stand right now. The basis of where we stand is that, you know what? We are damaged people. Why are we damaged? Let us look at the history, and I am not going to go over the stats and rehash everything because our people have been saying it over and over here, and pointing it out quite clearly. I want to say that if you are going to step on the tundra, there is going to be a footprint there. That is what happened to Aboriginal people. The churches and the government stepped on the people and left a footprint. For some people, they have managed to succeed even though they have been stepped on, but many of our people have not.
Look at the city of Winnipeg. You have an exodus of people leaving the reserve and coming primarily to the inner cities. Why are they going there? For a lot of reasons: work, lack of housing lack and resources. There is another reason they go; it is a brain drain. People who are educated are going to look elsewhere for opportunities. There are some good people who stay and try helping the community, but opportunities are few and far between.
Here in Winnipeg, there are a lot of good people out there and a lot of organizations out there, like the Christian sect. If you look around this area here in the heart of Winnipeg, Thunderbird House is on the notorious Main Street, Main and Higgins. At one time, I remember in the 1970s there used to be a bar right where Thunderbird House is situated — the Patricia. Beside the bar there was a row of buildings. In that row, right where Thunderbird house sits now, a place of spirituality and a place of welcome, was a shooting gallery. It was like in the movies where you knock on a hard steel door and people let you in. There is no electricity. It is dark and it stinks. There is no real furniture there, but there are people everywhere, and there are spent needles all over the place. I happened to frequent that place when I was younger.
Anyway, it was an eye opener. People would curl up into a ball and try to find a vein just to get that Talwin, Ritalin — it was Ts and Rs. It was the cheap drug at that time. Indian people were poor. They had to make do. The drug of choice in the 1970s, early 1980s was Ts and Rs. I remember one girl, a friend of mine, they could not find her vein. What they did was there was an old mattress and they laid her down, tilted her head back so she could find a vein.
Thunderbird House and other organizations like it are ship havens in a sea of decay. You have a lot of people accessing the city for hope, but a lot of times there is no hope here. What you have is gangs and unemployment; you have no opportunities.
People talk about equality. Well, we want equality; we want to be equal. That is not the case. What you want is equity, the same starting ground. I will give you an example. When someone goes to race in the Olympics, say the 800- yard dash, what do they do? Nobody starts at the same place; they stagger the start so there is equity in the start, so it becomes equal after the start. That is the same thing with Aboriginal people. It is not equal because it cannot be equal, because there is no equity there. The starting lines are different based on White privilege, education factors, poor this, poor that, and all of that; you know that already. If we are honest with ourselves, we know the history of Aboriginal people and we know the history of the government initiatives. Rather than rehash that, we are going to talk about the realities of the situation.
I volunteer at a couple of places, at a lot of different places. A lot of my friends do. There are a lot of volunteers, a lot of good people out there in the Aboriginal community. There is also a lot of despair. We call it the "Indian factor." Do you know what the Indian factor is? The Indian factor is this: We are hardest on our own selves. Why is that? Like I said, we are stepped on; we are damaged. There are only so many resources out there. There is the Aboriginal Council, there is MKO, SCO. There is a whole bunch of organizations, but only a little bit of resources there. So what happens? Well, we try to step on each other to get on top. That is systemic, colonial mindset.
As my daughter says, "We are whitewashed." That is what happens — a lot of Aboriginal people become whitewashed. We do not recognize our own colonial attitudes towards each other and towards other people. Aboriginal people will be stepping on the recent immigrants because they get resources. That is the reality of fingers — little bits of resources, small pieces of the pie, but there are a lot of people that need it — not want it, but need those resources.
Thunderbird House was built in the year 2000. There has been some political history. Like I said, the Indian factor is there. We attack each other and we bash each other. One of the things about it, it is a safe haven. Aboriginal elders tell you that organizations working for the people are actually working for the Creator, because those are the Creator's children you are trying to help. That is synonymous with what happens with some of the organizations we have here, not just Thunderbird House, not Native Addictions Council of Manitoba, but a lot of the organizations that are here. I am here because I want you to feel what we feel. You know, we are goodhearted people, kindhearted people. We believe in that sharing, that kindness, that honesty and that faith. If you believe in those four things, at least a little bit, then that circle works for you.
I wanted to greet you in Anishinabe, Ojibway. I cannot. Why? Because I am damaged. Years ago there was the Heritage Language Act. Was Aboriginal language part of that Heritage Language Act? Of course not.
Aboriginal people are here in this situation because of the foundations of the roots of our relationship with the Crown, with the bureaucrats and with the church. The church acted as an agent. The story I told at the beginning here, it brings around what we are dealing with.
Aboriginal people have suffered an identity crisis, but there are strong people out there that are keeping that identity alive and people are grabbing at it again. They are embracing their identity. Those are the people you see standing up and saying, "We can do it as Aboriginal people if we look at being in an equitable position."
I will give you an example of what is not equitable. NACM is a native addictions treatment centre. It has been here for 40 years. It is poorly funded. It is in a building the government said itself is dead, basically you are on a life line. Yet, you have a comparable organization like Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, where they have an endless supply of resources. That is the reality of things. You have Aboriginal people down here and the main stream that are up here, and that is not equity.
I just wanted to say that what is happening with the Aboriginal people here, Thunderbird House and all of that, is that you are creating a service dump. In the big scheme of things the feds are getting out of the Indian business. What they are doing is doing a service dump. What they want to do with the service dump is dump their fiduciary responsibilities. Look at the transfer agreements that they started with in the 1980s. That is exactly all it was. They wanted to ease off and give responsibility to Aboriginal people. Really what it was was a "fiduciary dump."
Aboriginal people are not as dumb as a lot of people think. We learn the system just like anyone else.
In closing, I want to say that urban Aboriginal people need places like the Thunderbird House, like NACM. There are a lot of comparable organizations for Christian groups, non-native groups. You look at an example right across from Thunderbird House, Youth for Christ. They have huge money, millions, from the city. You look at Thunderbird House — my executive director here, Sasha, works for nothing. There are absolutely no dollars at Thunderbird House. Yet it shows the need and it shows that it is viable.
One other thing about Thunderbird House is they have a host of ceremonial aspects. A lot of Aboriginals say the city is dirty and they cannot do ceremonies in the city. Where are these people going to have access to do ceremonies? You see a lot of people in the city here, how many people have an eagle feather? I bet one of you have an eagle feather. You look at the average Aboriginal person and they will not have that eagle feather. It is out of their reach. They do not have the resources or they do not have the network to get that. Yet, that is something that is coveted and sacred. A lot of people do not have one. That is something that is basic. They do not have sweetgrass. It is just the way it is.
People like Sasha and a lot of my colleagues here, a lot of Aboriginal people here, are fighting to change that. I will give you an example. We are talking about a partnership with an organization called Comprehensive Community —

* end of time.

Here is what Walter Wastesicoot had to say to the Senat Committee.

Walter Wastesicoot, Advisor Special Health Projects, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak: My name is Walter Wastesicoot. I have approximately 30 years of experience working with First Nations on issues that directly impact them. In my personal experience, I was at the same residential school that the previous speaker attended, the Mackay Indian Residential School in Dauphin, Manitoba. I have that experience that I have always drawn on in pursuing and attempting to gain redress for First Nations issues.
I have a home that I own in a community in northern Manitoba, Thompson, Manitoba. I have been paying taxes for a long time already, and I know what that includes.
In terms of impacts of First Nations that are leaving reserves, in my personal experience I never had the opportunity to go by choice to live on the reserve because I spent much of my youth in an Indian residential school. Upon leaving that institution, I returned home to find my family all over. They too had attended different residential schools. I believe Robert was speaking to the dysfunction that is left by such an experience in terms of returning home to family.
One thing that we discussed in preparing this presentation was the fact that racism in this country is so normalized. An example of that is the discussion that we are here for today, the fact that we sit in this forum and talk about the difference between on reserve and off reserve in relation to the first citizens of this country. That is an example of how racism in this country is normalized. In our experience, when there is a discussion between on reserve and off reserve, that comes with a certain connotation that usually involves money. People are looking to offload responsibility in certain areas in an effort to save money.
Some time ago the leadership in our community spoke to the issue of on reserve and off reserve. In trying to understand that myself, I approached one of the community elders who happened to be living off reserve but had spent most of his life on reserve. The only reason at the time he was living off reserve was to access health care. However, when I asked him the question about on reserve and off reserve, he was offended because of his belief in the Creator's purpose. He said, "When I was born, the Creator prepared everything on this earth that I would need to sustain myself." The only thing that he had to do was respect everything that was prepared for his use. However, the Creator never told him you cannot go here, you cannot go there. Those were laws and regulations imposed by man.
I think I will leave it at that. Thank you.

That last paragraph from Walter, says it all. A great presentation and emphasis on the Creator never told him you cannot go here, you cannot go there..."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Holy Man People,can you feel the love?

You know love is a funny thing. It means many things. It could mean the kind of love between you and your woman or man (in Bible speak, Eros), or the type of love you have for your friends and stuff (in Bible speak, Phileo), the love you have for you kids (in Bible speak Stroge) and of course the love you have for the Creator (in Bible speak, Agape).

Me, I was not really used to the word love. I always equated it with love between a partner/spouse. So it was not something I would say lightly. I would not say it to my friends, family or my Mom and never to my Dad. It seemed wrong. Seemed normal enough to me to not say love. Seemed weird if you would say it to your family member, whether it be Kookum or Mom or brothers and sisters. So when others say it, I would be uncomfortable. I know the thinking was due to the impact of the "schools" that my ancestors, parents and us, went to. Love was dirty I guess?

But I am better now. I know love means many different things and all equally powerful. My deceased Brother Poncho was cool like that. "I love you bro", was a common thing for him to say. He didn't even have to be juiced or drinking to say it. :0 I love my family, my kids, my grandkids and my Reserve as well. My wife I really like her and love her. I still think Like is a very powerful word. It was the word that I used as the word love for most of my life.

So as the immortal Tom Wait says, " I hope I don't fall in love with you", but if I do, its all good.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Terry Nelson supports NHL Evander Kane on Racism in the Sport

 The National Hockey League NHL is one of the few team sports in North America that is dominated by Whites. 

Native Activist and former Chief of Roseau River, Terry Nelson writes to the Winnipeg Sun to offer his point of view on the young Black hockey player and what is happening in the main stream media. 
Winnipeg Jets left winger Evander Kane warms up during the pre-game skate prior to playing the Philadelphia Flyers in NHL hockey in Winnipeg, Man. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. (BRIAN DONOGH/Winnipeg Sun files)

Evander Kane says some of the criticism he receives is because of his race.
The Winnipeg Jets forward made the comments for a story in an upcoming edition of the Hockey News Magazine, due out early next month.
“A good portion of it is because I’m black and I’m not afraid to say that,” Kane told the interviewer, according to the Twitter feed of Hockey News editor in chief, Jason Kay.
The publication will feature Kane and Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane addressing the off-ice controversy that’s dogged them early in their careers.
Since coming to Winnipeg from Atlanta, Evander Kane has been the subject of criticism in both social and mainstream media regarding rumours of unpaid restaurant bills, an alleged bar-room fight and his supposed desire to be traded.
During the recent lockout, he drew negative attention by posting a picture of himself on Twitter holding stacks of cash on a Las Vegas hotel room balcony.
He’s also not shy about getting flamboyant haircuts promoting boxers or rappers and posting those photos, his latest featuring the letters ‘YMCMB’ shaved into his head — an acronym for ‘Young Money Cash Money Billionaires,’ a company owned by rapper Lil Wayne.
“I don’t feel like a victim and I don’t want to be perceived as one,” Kane told the Hockey News’ Ken Campbell.
“It’s just the way I’m wired. Maybe my parents loved me the proper way, so I love myself.”
The Jets say they’ll wait until the entire article is published before offering any comment.
Campbell sent out the following message via his Twitter account, Wednesday: “Amid all the controversy surrounding Evander Kane’s comments to THN, I want to make one thing perfectly clear... the young man is engaging, intelligent and uber comfortable in his own skin. He should not be vilified for speaking his mind.”
Coming off a 30-goal season, Kane, 21, signed a six-year, $31.5-million contract with the Jets in September, just before the lockout.
He has three goals and six assists in 12 games this season, but hasn’t scored in his last seven games.
Patrick Kane’s off-ice behaviour has faced similar scrutiny in Chicago, an altercation with a Buffalo cab driver in the summer of 2009 the low point of his tenure with the Blackhawks.


From: Terrance Nelson []
Sent: February-20-13 10:39 AM
Subject: Evander Kane

Refusing to be the "house nigger"

Evander Kane has every right to challenge racism in the NHL and in Winnipeg. Despite the attack by Don Cherry upon Evander Kane for using the "race card", there is no doubt that racism in the NHL is real. Not long ago Boxing, Baseball, Football, and Basketball were white only because blacks were excluded. The last bastion of white dominance in a sport is hockey, why wouldn't there be racist reaction to blacks in a "white" sport. Paul Friesen who initially wrote in the Winnipeg Sun about the complaint Evander Kane made should go see the movie Django Unchained. My 20 year son loved the movie so much, he went with me to see it a second time. Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, the word "nigger" is used so often in the three hour movie, the shock wears off. The movie is cartoon-ish, something like "Kill Bill" but although I didn't initially like it, I got into it as I watched the reaction of the white folk in the theatre. Don Cherry would squirm in his seat if he watched the movie.

Dicaprio as the villain was a poor choice, he doesn't make the grade as a villain. The real Oscar role belongs to Samuel L. Jackson. Director Quentin Tarantino read what Malcolm X wrote of the difference between the field nigger and the house nigger. Jackson delivers an Oscar winning performance as the "house nigger". What Don Cherry wants for the NHL is gratitude from the black man that you have been allowed into a white sport. Cherry wants Evander Kane to "suck it up" and be another Jackie Robinson, a class act taking all the taunts and racial slurs without responding to the racism. Robinson, the first black man in major league baseball did what he had to do in his era, he was a great man. Howard Cosell on television at an NFL game calling a black man a "little monkey" and others calling the first black men in the NFL, "jungle bunnies" is what racism was. The NHL is no different. The white guys just don't want Evander Kane telling it like it is. Evander Kane deserves to say what needs to be said, the days of the house nigger are over, no more grovelling in front of the master, no more sucking it up just because someone paid for the ticket to see the game.

Thank you Evander Kane for not being quiet about racism. Remember Evander that even though 70% of the white people who voted in the United States election voted against Obama, there is still a black man in the White House. Obama is not a house nigger and you don't have to be either. Some people want you to be quiet, but you belong to a different era, you have every right to tell like it is. The indigenous people who live in Winnipeg have felt the racism and know that you are speaking the truth.

Terrance Nelson.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Circle of Life Gathering: Survivors of Suicide, Journey

This year will be our final year of a four year journey.  We are going to hold a Gathering for families, friends and anyone who has felt the pain of suicide loss. This year we will hold the Gathering without Elder Peter Kinew. We will miss his guidance, knowledge and Teachings. The journey began with Peter Kinew, Don Courchene, Ron McDonald and Sally MacDonald. The journey may have been started through common experience of pain, but the journey has resulted in renewed hope. That is what the journey is all about; hope that we can manage the hurt, that we are not alone, and that maybe others will not have to experience that hurt; the hurt of losing someone through suicide. The Gatherings do not belong to us. The Gatherings are meant for everyone. We are merely part of the journey.

This year the journey will be again a two day Gathering held at the Circle of Life Thunderbird House in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The date is set for June 25, 26,2013. Each year we have held the Gatherings with a theme in mind. This year we are thinking about "keep them alive".  Keep them alive is a feeling about our family and friends that have gone. We keep them alive with our love, our thoughts and our speaking about them, never forgetting them. Keep them alive is also about making sure we don't lose anyone. The first day will be devoted to Prevention of Suicide.

We need someone to facilitate the first day of the Gathering. Someone who will set the day for Prevention strategies and practices. Someone to host the first day and all that is required in a day Gathering. Please contact us and let us know if you are the person, or that group that can take on the first day.

The second day of the Gathering is for Sharing. Sharing our hopes about going forward after a suicide. We will ask people to come and share their life with us. We will close the day with a Thank You. We will Feast our Loved Ones and have a GiveAway for them as well.

The Thank You is to all those that have been part of the journey. Those that shared at the Gathering. Those that shared their experience, their time, their resources, their kindness to the Gathering. If not for all of you, the journey would have not been possible. There are so many of you that helped. We hope that you will come and take part in the Gathering. So we can say Kitchi Miigwich, Big Thank You.

Please contact:   or  204-470-5207, Steve

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Blog Title

Well Thinking and thinking, maybe time to change the name of the blog.
I have seen other blogs and they are catchy.
Maybe people don't know Ojibwe. Or maybe the confessions part reminds them of confessionals? You know like when you were kneeling in that little booth and having to recite the last time you were in confession and how sorry you are?

In any case thinking maybe. Native Ojibway? but is that redundant? Would it matter?

So if you can think of something, don\t be shy, let me know.

Oh yeah no prono names. I already tried that.


Brokenhead Ojibway Nation has a petition. or should I say some people in Brokenhead Ojibway Nation have a petition to bring back Banishment into the community. There is a petition for signatures from Band Members only to support SCRAM; safer communities rising agaisnt, movement.

The idea of Banishment is not new. The target group that this petition is aimed at are: drug dealers,and  violent offenders. I think Banishment is still an option is some Indian communities in Manitoba, Canada. Banishment was one of the hardest punishments you could administer in a community at one time. Think of it in historical context. Winters were very hard. Mobility was a difficulty and a neccessity. People live a communal style which meant for the greater good. Disruption to the social fabric to a sustenance lifestyle could be catastrophic. People could go hungry. So out of safety for the whole community some people had to be kicked to the curb. Norway House Cree Nation tried to enact Banishment by-laws in 2001 Not sure what happened but Indian and Northern Affairs Canada was against it. Funny a bureaucracy can over turn or influence a supposedly sovereign Nation. Guess Reserves are not sovereign after all. But that's another story.

Right now many of the Indian communities are dealing with many social ills. Unemployment, poverty, addictions, crime, gangs, and other social dysfunctions. Some Indian communities are trying to battle the problems. One of those ideas for helping restore a healthy community is to get rid of the pariah that infest some of these places.

Banishment may work. It depends if it is handled fairly and is enforced. In some communities, with holding community services is a start. Services, such as funding for school or job opportunities are with held from the offending individual or individuals. People are given a chance to correct their behaviour.

I heard Banishment in the historical context was akin to a life sentence or a death sentence. People needed and relied on the whole group to help them live and sustain each other. Banishment meant that a person could not access the hunting, trapping areas and could not rely on others if you had no food or shelter. Can you imagine that, set adrift in a vast wilderness with only you to depend on. Wonder how many could manage that.

Today of course Banishment is not a death sentence or seen as all that hard. And Banishment is really not that uncommon. There are types of banishment all over the world. Provinces in Canada used to get rid of people that came into their area for Welfare. European Countries are flying the Gypsies out of their countries.

So I wonder if Banishment in Brokenhead Ojibway Nation will occur?  I guess it could work. Hard thing to do banishment in your community, practically everyone knows each other and many are cross related. So can you imagine having to ban your cousin? 
Footnote to the Norway House Banishment story.  The couple who were banished took it to court, and it was ruled by a Provincial court that the Reserve banishment law was illegal. Something I don't agree with. Read the story on the link.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"That One Thing..."

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
[holds up one finger]
Curly: This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don't mean shit.
Mitch: But, what is the "one thing?"
Curly: [smiles] That's what *you* have to find out.

Quote from the 1991 movie City Slickers, with Billy Crystal and the Late Jack Palance. In the movie Curly was a rough old sod buster of a cowboy named Curly. Billy was a smart assed city slicker named Mitch. They end up on a cattle drive together with Palance (Curly) as the guide and lead, while Billy (Mitch) is a tourist on vacation. Typical Hollywood movie but with one scene that I did remember. It was the secret of life question.

You know what I know what the secret of life is.  Yeah, crazy old me, knows what everyone in life wants: Right from the religious nut bar to the lowly atheist. And you know what that is?  Its easy. All it is, is to live a Good Life. Indians know that and say it all the time: Mino Pimatiziwin.

Everyone wants that, the Good Life. Thing is Good Life means different things to different people. For the die hard Holy Roller, its to sit at the Right Hand of God, that is the Good Life. In order to get to the Right Hand of God, they follow certain rules and Teachings from the Bible. In the end if they do it right, they will in fact reach that Good Life. For the Athiest, it is to have a life free from the concept of a Deity. For them it could be to make a financial stable living and have a set retirement date and savings for college for the kids. Others it may be to adhere to the norms of society and go along not getting into too much trouble. Others it could be to follow an exemplary life of kindness and generousity. For others it is to wait for that big space-ship. For others it is too follow those 141 rules of can't do. Others believe that only 144,000 of them can get to the Good Life, but keep trying maybe you will be one of those. Others believe the Good Life is in a place of "joy and bliss" and doing certain things here on Earth will get you there. So the Good Life has many different versions by many many people. For many people the Good Life is simply having a roof, food, and family.

So the Good Life is that one thing. How you get there is all about the choices you make. Some things you can control and somethings you can't.

I want to live the Good Life and for me that means Kindness. Living to be kind is a hard thing. It means lots of things. Maybe I will never get there, but what the heck, I can control some things to help me get there and well as for the things I can't control? Oh well.  As a person who has been very violent and have a tendency for rage, kindness will always elude me. It's still not hopeless to try. That is what the "One Thing" is, to live the Good Life.

Brazeau: talk of the Indian town

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Brazeau symbolic of Harper's indifference to First Nations
By: Don Marks
Posted: 1:00 AM
Senator Patrick Brazeau (CP)
The latest problems of Patrick Brazeau raise much bigger issues than his personal fall from grace and Senate reform. Brazeau represents all that is wrong with the Harper government's approach to First Nations.
First Nations have long claimed the Harper government doesn't take their concerns seriously and that they can't trust the prime minister. These feelings started when Brazeau was paraded out as the Harper government's "go-to boy" on all things "native".
At that time, Brazeau was "chief" of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples; the derivative of the Native Council of Canada. Notwithstanding the fact CAP's credibility had been in decline for years, that its leaders were routinely re-installed by acclamation by a small control group of bureaucrats and that it loosely represented so-called non-status aboriginals in just a few provinces, the Harper government increased funding for CAP while decreasing funds for the official and accredited representatives of First Nations, the Assembly of First Nations.
Brazeau was completely in line with the Harper government's imposed policies of fiscal reform; a good Tory in all ways. First Nations people throughout the land decried Brazeau as an "apple" (red on the outside and white in the middle) but he was Harper's toady and the government was sticking with him.
Some concerns about misspending at CAP were dismissed by claiming they took place before Brazeau became chief, but with allegations of sexual harassment and drinking on the job swirling around, the Harper government decided to try and hide Brazeau in the Senate.
Despite the fact the Reform/Tories had campaigned against all things Senate, they tried to sell the idea Brazeau would provide value by providing them with expert advice about aboriginal affairs from the red chamber.
And Brazeau, ever the dutiful soldier, proceeded to criticize the Idle No More movement and make fun of Chief Theresa Spence. Unfortunately for the Harper government, Brazeau also got embroiled in charges he was falsely claiming his primary residence was back in Maniwaki, Que., which made him eligible for a Senate subsidy (as if his $132,000 a year stipend to set a record for not attending Senate meetings wasn't enough).
Then, on Thursday, he was arrested at his home in Gatineau, across the river from Ottawa and charged with domestic violence and sexual assault.
Oh yeah, his salary is being garnisheed for falling behind in child support payments.
It is bad enough the Harper government trotted out such an individual as representative of First Nations and relied on him for advice on important issues; it was obvious to First Nations people the Harper government doesn't care enough about their issues to undertake even the most cursory research.
And it has continued to do this.
Everybody knows that changes were needed at the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. So what does the Harper government do? It changes the name to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
Anybody who knows anything about First Nations in Canada knows that the term "aboriginal" is on the way out. Yes, it is going to cost a helluva lot to re-print business cards and letterheads, let alone office signs, but the only reason most indigenous organizations are sticking with that name is because government is so choked up with it and that affects policies, programs and funding. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has gone so far as to say it won't do business with organizations that use the word aboriginal in their name.
Next move: The Harper government makes the request by First Nations to have the Governor General attend meetings appear naive and frivolous.
Yes, the Governor General has very limited power over Parliament, but the sacred treaties signed by First Nations were with the Crown, and the presence of the Governor General indicates the federal government, which represents the controversial Indian Act, is taking this process seriously and is willing to return to the treaty negotiation process seriously.
Impressions are important and if it looks like you don't care, then people will think you don't care.
The Harper government doesn't care because it appears not to care.

Don Marks is a Winnipeg writer and the editor of Grassroots News.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 11, 2013 A11



From: Terrance Nelson 
Sent: February-11-13 9:27 PM
To: Gerald McIvor
Subject: Re: Redford says Pipelines will proceed to Quebec


The attached article on Patrick Brazeau is written by Don Marks in the Winnipeg Free Press. The picture of Sandra Brand and Patrick Brazeau is attached. Sandra Brand is a Colombian who came to Canada in 2008. Brazeau is on a summary charge not an indictable offense. Perhaps a little favor from high up, a parting gift. Harper was given the gist of the 911 call made by Sandra. I am not sure if Sandra Brand has a Canadian citizenship but if she doesn't, she is likely to get one if she wants one. The 911 call is "privleged".

Brazeau's drinking history is well known and has been known for several years. Several incidents regarding women are known. There is very little sympathy for Brazeau amongst First Nations people in fact a lot of people are celebrating his fall. The Harper Government had been concerned with him for a while but he got in trouble when he went against the Harper Government in his public support for a National Inquiry on the Murdered and Missing Women. The cover for his actions seems to have disappeared since then.

I predict that Brazeau will beat the charges.

Sex, Politics and Power. A milder version but something like President Clinton and Monica. The Red Chamber doesn't get this type of attention on sexual stuff because most of the male Senators are asleep or in need of Viagra. I don't think the Tabloids in Britain and the United States even care about this one.

Harper survived the Colonel Russ Williams story. The pilot for Defence Minister Peter Mckay, killed two women, raped many women and broke into homes of women. He operated right in front of the Harper Government for a long time. A serial killer has just been caught in Ottawa but Ottawa has a lot of stories of M.Ps and Senators and Bureaucrats that never get in the news because the media refuse to investigate or file stories on the "private" lives of the powerful politically connected

If a National Inquiry into the 600 Murdered and Missing Native women in Canada ever was done, a lot of information would come out in public, something that many in Ottawa fear. 

These are the same people who condemn the treatment of Iranian women. When I was in Iran, I saw many women who were part of all government departments; still I realize that every society can improve. Seventy percent of the University students in Iran are women. I wonder if other people in the world would condemn us for how women are treated in Canada. In Manitoba, the government licenses alcohol, gambling and cigarettes. They profit by hundreds of millions of dollars every year from all the "sin" taxes. To help bring in customers to the beer parlours where gambling is done, the Province also licenses nude dancing. What do Iranians think of our liberated women? Is it liberation or exploitation to be a nude dancer? Aren't Canadians great? They get to tell Iranians how they should treat their women. I think if enough women in Iran are educated, they will create the changes they want without us trying to force them to live like Canadians.

Brazeau is finished but the story of the 600 Murdered and Missing Native women is an unfinished story.The 600 Murdered and Missing native women died in as much terror as women stoned to death in Iran or raped on a bus in India but no National Inquiry will be called by this government. Whether the native women's groups put pressure on Harper on the Brazeau issue remains to be seen. Brazeau, the "scout" who was riding against his own people will now discover that once the white man tires of your services, you get to join the "Indians" on the Brazeau ride back to the reservation. Crazy guy, he may have pissed away the next 35 years as a Senator. 

Terrance Nelson

Sunday, February 10, 2013

You saved my life.

I wonder how many people don't realize that they saved someone's life? I mean you will never know. If your friendly gesture made someone think about living?

This winter I lost self control and did an ugly thing. I was so upset at myself for not being in control of my emotions. It's ugly. After my loss of control I needed to think. I took a walk with my dog, Bruce Willis. We went over to this park area. There is a clump of trees in the field and we went over there. I was distraught. I could see no future, no way out of being back in control. My anti-depressants don't seem to be working as good as they have been. My emotions are starting to take control; the black deep outlook on every single thing. I had taken with me a rope. I had every intention of stopping my life. Standing in the clump of trees with the winter wind wailing around me and Bruce Willis tugging on his leash wanting to continue with his walk. I stood among the trees for a long while. I was summing up the courage to tie the rope to the tree and to gently go to sleep with rope shutting off my brain. Its a difficult thing to go through with ending your life. I am sure if it wasn't so hard, many more people would end up at the end of a rope. I chickened out. I thought of the anguish of my wife and my kids. I would miss my grankids, the light in my life. Living won on this night.

My wife and I talked about how much I fight with the idea of suicide. She says I know how it feels to be left behind. I wouldn't want to do that to my wife and kids.

It has been a long struggle and an on going battle with dark thoughts and getting off the Earth. I know that I would not be here if it were not for the intervention of people in my life. I am very thankful for my friend Sorin. It is because of him that I am able to spend precious moments with my kids and my wife. He may not know how he extended my life. Same with these women Oghichidaakwe that sat and sang and prayed with me in a Sweat. It was with a sense of clarity that I found a sense of relief in ending my life. Ending my life is something that I don't relish. Think of the things I would miss out on. However, there is this dark black cloud over me that is weird. I can't shake it. Feelings of deep ugliness. No explaining it. At the least I can smile at you and even share a funny story at worse, I can't open my eyes without seeing the end. I think of all the ugliness that I caused in my life and any ugliness that I endured. I wrote a note to my girl and it still sits in the computer.  I did hand write my wishes to my wife a while back and keep it in my drawer for her to find one day. Weird eh? 

So right now I can say my life is going well.  I can even look happy. My wife cares for me and keeps me busy and teases and eases the darkness. My grandkids give me hope. That is all we can hope for, some hope to keep us going.

Thank you for many of the un-named folks that have carried me, you may never know how much your kind gestures, your visit or a small chat has meant to me. I bet there are lot of you people out there that have helped someone make it one more day. 

Symptoms and Danger Signs

Warning Signs of Suicide

These signs may mean someone is at risk for suicide. Risk is greater if a behavior is new or has increased and if it seems related to a painful event, loss or change.
  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
  • Sleeping too little or too much.
  • Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.

Additional Warning Signs of Suicide

  • Preoccupation with death.
  • Suddenly happier, calmer.
  • Loss of interest in things one cares about.
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
  • Making arrangements; setting one's affairs in order.
  • Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
A suicidal person urgently needs to see a doctor or mental health professional.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Thunderbird House launches digital scavenger hunt

Maybe something you might try in your community.  The list of items could include having your photo taken in the bingo hall. or the back seat of a police car, or with a powwow dancer, or anything and anyone. Hope you give it a try. 

Okay time to make up your teams, and challenge other teams. This is a fun event with plenty of time to finish, doesn't cost a whole lot, gets you away from the computer for much of the contest, but also is super fun.
Teams of four so if you don't know what a computer is, your team-mate will. It will be easy, take the clues (to be given on start date of February 23, 2013) A good opportunity to challenge other colleagues, offices, friends and family.
We are hoping to get at least 40 teams.
Let us know if we missed any details on the contest, so we can address before the start date.

Good luck.

Please share this email with your contact lists.

Miigwich - Thanks

Thunderbird House
Digital Scavenger Hunt  
Game:  Teams will search for a set of items and record the items with a digital camera or camera phone. First team to successful collect all items in the allotted time, wins the contest. 

Contest: Teams made up of four (4) players will be given a list of items. Each team will look for the item and record a successful find. Anyone of the four members must be included in the photograph of found item. Items may include people, places, or things. Some of the items may be disguised by a clue or riddle. Items that are in a digital database and not able to be photographed should include the URL.  Team leaders will be given a list of items once the date for contest entry has closed.

Rules:  Have fun. Not just fun but lots of fun. No photo-shop of pictures with you and a lion. Try to get in the cage with them. Don’t trespass or push people out of your shot.  Upload your team photos onto photobucket for other teams and Thunderbird House can track your progress (can encourage others to step up their game, or de-moralize your opponent). List the photobucket team name and post on Thunderbird House facebook page. Like the Thunderbird House page so you can post on it.  And most of all, it is a game, a contest for fun and entertainment. We encourage fun and kindness to all of your competitors. Pick a team that will compete right to the end. TBH will list names of teams and updates on their facebook page. Oh yes, and if you don’t win, smile and give all the best to the winning team. Teams are open to anyone in Manitoba. We hope to limit the travel to the City of Winnipeg. Not going to expect someone to travel to Cuba or to Churchill for a picture.We could assign points to each list item, in that way in case of a tie, the person with the most points wins, and failing that, we will put the teams in a draw to see who wins. That would be fair.

Costs: $40.00 (forty dollars) per team. That is 10 bucks a person in each team. Entry fee will be collected by Sasha Marshall at TBH and the winner will receive fifty percent (50%) of the entrance fee. TBH is trying to have a video security system installed for $1,500.00. Thus the reason for the cost of the game.

Activity: Get a team of four people. Can be friends, colleagues, facebook buddies or acquaintances. Pay your forty bucks to Sasha at Thunderbird House. Entry deadline February 22, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. Lists will be sent out to team leaders via email on February, 23, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. You must have an email address for the list or pick one up at 2p.m. February 22. The list will remain under lock and key by security expert Sasha Marshall of Thunderbird House. Last day to have digital images loaded will be March 18, 2013 at 1:00 p.m. First one to complete the list will win according to posted date and time on TBH facebook page or first email to reach Sasha Marshall at Thunderbird House. 

Good hunting. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Election time in Sagkeeng

Well has it been two years already?  Seems like just yesterday we had a vote for Chief and Council in Sagkeeng First Nation. Personally I would like the community to be called Sagkeeng Anishinaabe Nation, but First Nation is popular all over Canada. Our Chief and Council only have two years to make an impact in the community, unless they of course are re-elected.

Election time is a fun and interesting time in the community. Rumours run amok. Lot of speculation of who will run and for what position. Actually a person can run for both positions if they prefer. Some communities actively practice that custom. If a person is not selected for Chief, she or he might be elected as a council member. In our Reserve that has not really been the case, and I can see people not looking favourable on something like that; people generally don't accept change.

I have made attempts to get into council in our community but have been unsuccessful. That tells a person something: your politics is not acceptable, you are not acceptable, or you are not getting your message across. In any case I will stand on the sidelines and watch to see what takes place this year. I think the nomination process will take place in the next two weeks, February 20, 2013.

A person can still try to participate in a Reserve election process even if they are not running for council. They can talk with candidates and let them know your ideas. You can publicly support a candidate or candidates. You can try to speak with other community members on the merits of a candidate.

In an election on Reserve some things you can be sure of: someone will win and someone will lose. Someone will say bad things about a candidate. That is a given. Sorry state of politics anywhere. There is a tendency to knock down rather than build up. I am the same in that regard and that's such an ugly trait. We can always try and be better in that respect. Talk good instead of bad, about people.

My Thoughts on community:

I believe in a Chief and Council position as vital to our community. We must respect those roles. However, it is not a dictatorship. They say the most efficient system of governance is a single voice system. That is good if that voice is benevolent and considers the whole interests of the community. However, if the single voice is focused on self, than the whole community suffers. Our Governance system is flawed as it is. It was designed as control mechanism in the time of the Indian agent. No real consideration for the electorate. That system has just continued to thrive.  A real change in how we govern our community is required. What that change is I have no clue. I just know its not a copy of the Indian Act election process and governance that we currently exercise. 

I would really like for the community to think of our council as a government. Not a loans office.  That seems to be a common function of Reserve councils. They are bombarded with requests of help from the community members. "I need this..." Treat them as leaders and perhaps they will see what leadership role means.

When our Chief and Council are elected there is no protocol or ceremonial aspect to the assuming of those leadership roles. The people are nominated, a date is set, people vote, votes are counted, at the end of count chosen candidates start to work. There is no transfer of power. There is no oath to office, or pledge to the people. There is not visible acknowledgment that a vital community event took place. What's up with that? I think our council should have at least a Community Feast. Make a Pledge to the Creator in front of the people that they will work for the people. I would like to see that. Maybe if they openly pledge to the Creator that they will try and continue good for the community. At certain Initiation Ceremonies, the people take a pledge to the Creator, in front of people, to do what they can. The selection of a Chief and Council is a huge event and should have some type of commemoration of that event.

The biggest concern or issue that I have is information. Information gate keeping is a power aspect. Or an attempt to have power. That is arse backward. Sharing of information with the public is the true power. Let people know what is going on, and whether or not people agree, people will respect that. Of course in our community there are those that will never be pleased no matter what you do. That is the nature of an ill community (as many Reserves are).  In my opinion we could always use more communication from the Leadership to the people. Right now, the election is used as the main venue for communication. Chief and Council have in the past (and this year is no different) used the timing of the election to put out information as to what is taking place at Council level. The communique is carefully scripted to highlight only successful maneuvers and leaves out short comings of the last two years. A tactic that is not fair to prospective candidates. I don't appreciate that type of manipulation for individual gain or praise.

I hope that people in the community can think critically and not emotionally. Think about what is being said by each candidate. Look for substance rather than hollow parlance. "I will work for the people, I will fight for more houses, I will work with everyone".  There are many good meaning people that want your vote. It is not enough to be a good person. You have to have the tools to be able to be in that position. We have all seen the glad handling and superficial gestures that have put people in office before. With all the motion in the Indian community and the Federal government, you know we need effective and long range thinkers to lead with us.

I would like to see our members take stock of what has happened to the whole community. Not just individually. Sure if I received a house I would be grateful, but would I be thinking of the whole community's future. Sentimentality is one way to choose a leader, but is it the right way?

 My critique is meant to be general and not aimed specifically at any Council member, past or present. It is more of the structural nature of community councils and systems. Maybe some of my own bias seeped out and I apologize for that.

Good feelings to all the people taking part in this years election. I hope for the best choice for the community.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Look on the Brightside.

I found this facebook site called, Healing and working towards Peace.  It is just a little place that has a message of compassion. I like that.
You know if you listen to people or even read their posts, in blogs, twitter, and especially facebook, there is so much pain, anger, frustration, and hate out there. So its nice to see a little bit of compassion.

I am working at that all the time. I normally don't succeed. I get angry at the careless driver, the old lady who is so slow in the line up. But I am exercising compassion. So I hope to get better. So when the next old lady who holds up the line, I can smile and wish her all the best I can offer. That is the bright side. There are actually people out there, that are the bright side.

February, (winter months actually) is very hard for me. Lot of grief, hurt and regret around that time.  I think about my Mom alot. It was February 2005 when she was brought into the City of Winnipeg, by my sister Jean. That night she stayed in the emergency ward, while the hospital staff did test. Next morning it was the Cancer. We never in a million years even considered that. Never even thought. She complained of a sore stomach for some time. Went to the local doctor and he told her to walk, drink coffee. So she must have been sick for some time. Anyway, she didn't get better and passed away a month after that diagnosis. Man happened pretty quick. I regret some of my actions of inactions of that time. I should have stayed with her all the whole month. Instead I joked with her, told her "don't go anywhere, I will come back". I went back to work in British Columbia. I got a call some time later, maybe two or three weeks. She told me she couldn't wait. So I came back and was in horror. The Cancer started to take her and fast. She was small but still her good self. Thinking of how others were feeling. My Dad thought she was going to get cured. He got some Indian Medicine for her to drink. But she couldn't eat or drink anything. My Mom asked me to talk to Dad and tell him that she tried to take the medicine. It was a hard thing for me to do. Telling my Dad that she can't take the medicine. Anyway, I get all sad, lonely and angry this time of year. I still go and pretend that I am getting fine. But my thoughts are still real dark. I still think of my Boy and I get real angry. So angry at myself that I continue to exist. But  I do know, someday things will get better.

A friend of mine continues to play victim. I guess that is a symptom of being a victim all your life. I guess that will always be the case, we never accept our own role in things. I know some of my faults and I tend to gossip to much. I have been told "don't talk about me on your blog". And that is true, I tend to open my mouth or use my typing when I shouldn't. I need to protect the privacy of others.

Getting back to drama. We all experience it in our lives. Sometimes it touches us directly, and sometimes we are just the witness, but it does stick to us in some way. Hard to get away from drama. So much drama: the politics of the country, the local politics, the family politics, the friendship circles, work and everything else. So if the drama seems to be a bit much, stop and go read some positive cliches, sayings and encouragement. Exercise your compassion and I bet you will feel just a little bit brighter.

Knowledge Keeper and Knowledge Giver

There are many beautiful things in the world. Of those beautiful things are youth. How beautiful everything and everyone is when they are yo...