Friday, February 26, 2016

Indian Voice: Looking At Ways To Be Heard.

Robert Falcon Ouellette is a Member of Parliment. He has an impressive background.  It is a good move for Canadians to have someone like him as part of the government. He has it all - smart, experienced, passionate, good looking. So good for him and us. He is pictured here holding a Pipe.

Derek Nepinak is the Grand Chief of Manitoba - Assembly of
Manitoba Chiefs. AMC has a rich history. Rich in it has been a strong voice for Indigenous people, not only in Manitoba but throughout Canada.  Derek is quite known for his fierce look. Not one to hold his tongue.

Perry Belgarde is the Grand Chief of Canada's First Nations - Assembly of First Nations. The national entity has seen its successes and failures.  Perry has an endearing quality, it is his never ending sense of optimism - his happiness. You see it shine through in the oddest of settings. He is frequently caught in a good smile or a big laugh.  You never see this in most politicians or advocates.

 Dawn Lavell-Harvard is the President of the Natives Women's Association of Canada. The  NAWC organization has a " goal of achieving equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada."

Dawn was just in Winnipeg attending the round table for MMIW.
“The Western patriarchal paradigm paints Indigenous women as vulnerable; unworthy of value or respect. We know better. We know that we as lifegivers are strong, resilient, and capable of great things. This document is proof of that. It’s time to move forward – out of the darkness and into the light. The road ahead will be grueling, but it is nothing we can’t handle if we remain focused and committed to our overarching purpose: bringing justice to our women and girls.”
―Dawn Lavell-Harvard, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada

So many competing voices out there. Each with a different style or approach. MP Robert sure made a splash on Facebook with his holding the Pipe picture in front of the Capital. Lot of jokes about the picture. Also some conflicted ideas and thoughts. On the surface its a "look at me I'm Indian" photo opportunity. Maybe its deeper than that and only Robert knows for sure. Still we can rationalize it and give him the benefit of sincerity. Derek has also taken part in some questionable decisions. He went on a ten day Harley Davidson motorcycle ride to raise awareness for Treaty Rights. Cool in one sense and silly in another. Whether or not it had a positive and long term worthwhile effort is unknown.  He also went on to have a public Fast in Ottawa. Perry on the other hand, has been getting pretty cozy (they say) with the new government and the oil industry. The grease needs to put on the wheel to turn it is said. Perry is following the past leaders of AFN in same style of leadership, look stoic, and have some good photo ops. Trouble is Perry has a personality of fun. So his stoic and fierce face is betrayed by his smile and laughter. He has not made any real difference in getting his voice heard or to differentiate it from past Grand Chiefs. Derek has no such problem of being looked at as fun, he has a permanent scowl.  As for Dawn, her trouble is systemic. The larger audience and media ignore them. Their voice is rarely heard. If you ask many Indians or public out there of who is the NWAC president, who would know?

So what is the best way to get your voice heard?  Get your voice heard without looking insincere, media seeking, glory hounding, stupid or just plain crazy?  

Sadly we don't seem to take notice unless it is beyond sensible. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Humanize The Dead: Murdered Women, Murdered Syrians, Murdered Jews, Murdered Blacks.

I admit I did not watch Schindler's List, nor did I read I am Malala, but tonight I watched a film called the Woman in Gold. I like Ryan Reynolds, he is kind of funny so I imagined this movie would have his cheeky wit. This was not a comedy but some good scenes between Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren did have some moments. It tells the story of Maria Altman a Jewish Refugee living in the U.S. and her court battle to get back some of  the ill gotten gain by the Nazis. I was moved almost to tears. The scenes where she remembers back to her childhood and her wedding and the arrival of the Nazis in Vienna. By the way Canadian actress Tatiana Maslany is gorgeous and talented who plays a young Maria Altman. The movie is okay, its no Deadpool. The thing is it makes you humanize Maria. Not only Maria but many of the Jews of the Second World War. What I mean is that you want to know them. In this case you get know one family, just a little bit. But that little bit makes them seem so human. That's the key isn't it. We need to humanize many out there. They are not just nameless, faceless unknowns.  They were someone's Mom Dad daughter son - family. It is the human connection we normally don't have with people who have been victimized. We need to humanize.

It is important.

If you notice things many times we don't humanize the beings. In the case of the Syrians we either look at them as immigrants, refugees, war victims, and terrorists. We don't humanize them. If it wasn't for Aylan Kurdi we would have a hard time even thinking them as living beings - children - human beings.

Aylan Kurdi 
Malala is another one of those Muslims. We only see them as the troubled Middle East population. A population. Not human beings. With Malala we learned her name. She is a human being. 

Blacks in the United States are seen as segment of the population. Usually the Black population is in trouble or causing trouble. We don't see them as human beings - generally. We generalize the population and the generalization is usually negative. But we need to see the human being; the Eric Garners, the Sandra Blands. We need to see them more as just a population being killed by police forces. 

In Canada we have a movement to try and get government to look at why Indigenous Woman are being murdered and gone missing.  Right now the estimate is 1200 but Canada's  Minister of Status of Women  believes its more than 4000. 

We need to humanize the Women. The Indigenous public is trying to do that. Family members are speaking up. Wanting the general public to know these are not just "working sex trade" people. The media keys in on describing women as sex trade, workers. Not sisters, Moms, aunties or daughters. 

We need to humanize the LGBT community. Its easy to dismiss the community. We label them a community and don't look at the person, the human being

There is so much destruction going on in the world and the efforts of humanizing the dead takes effort. Remember Genocide in Rwanda? The Chechen Russia conflicts? The Bosnian war? The war rapes and ethnic cleansing (what an ugly ironic phrase). We heard about them but we don't humanize it. Do you know why we don't humanize it?

It fucking hurts to humanize things. Its easier to just think of an event or to label it. But to put a face to something. A name to something. It makes its hard to discount. Makes it hard to ignore. 

So we try everything to de-humanize events, and people. If we don't see them as human beings they are easy to dismiss, to disregard, to ignore. 

We should be humanizing the dead. They were - are living breathing beings. Just like you. 
They have Moms Dads Sisters Brothers Children. Just like you. 

Humanize them, just like you, you are human. 

Maybe if every one of them was made into a movie we would humanize them. 

Reasons why I didn't watch Schindler's List: its going to be sad.  We don't want sad. We don't want to be reminded of how ugly it is. 
We want comfort. We don't want to humanize the events - the people. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Yeah But You Haven't Done Anything Lately.

There are many of you, many of us who have done some very good things. Things which have helped someone immensely. You know like you baby sat the kids so they could have the time of their lives at dinner at the new snotty restaurant where the latest stars are known to hang out and you have a secret crush on the one actor who is there tonight. Or you co-signed a loan for their brand new car and they have consummated their new car with the the sights sounds and smells of amour. Or you managed to stop logging company from successfully being granted a license to rape the country side in your Traditional territory. You started a wild Wood Bison project in a community. You marched with Women to get their plight on the national stage. You built a National Museum for Human Rights. You built a Turtle Lodge. You built a Thunderbird House. You fasted for your people to bring awareness to their health. You sacrifice your life for four days every spring.

I guess its kind of cool you done all of that, But really what have you done lately?

I think we all feel like forgotten or neglected. Its okay. It seems to be a normal reaction to the good you've done. You helps someone or do something significant but the people either downplay how you have helped them or ignore what you have done. I visited a friend of mine the other night and remember how smart she is and how hard she works. She and her deceased husband did some great things for this one community. The community has either a skewed, short or revised memory of the work my friend and others did on their behalf.

Skownan First Nation receives Excellence in Sustainability Award

“Skownan worked with the province for approximately 15 years to establish the park, which encompasses the core of Skownan’s traditional use area, officially designated in 2014,” says Ron Thiessen, executive director of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS) Manitoba chapter, who nominated the community for the award on behalf of the International Boreal Conservation Campaign. “It is the first to bear the provincial land designation of Indigenous Traditional Use. This designation supports cultural and economic well-being by honouring the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of Skownan members to continue traditional land use practices within the park.”
The park is co-managed by Skownan First Nation and the province and straddles more than 1,000 sq. km of healthy, intact swaths of Aspen Parkland and Precambrian Boreal wilderness. Notably, Chitek Lake is the site of a successful establishment of Manitoba’s only free-roaming herd of North America’s largest land mammal, the threatened wood bison. It is also the only known area on the continent where wood bison are found in boreal habitats with white tailed deer, elk, moose and the threatened woodland caribou. Within the park industrial logging and mining are prohibited, and the wood bison are protected from hunting. With a lodge already in place, the community is exploring various opportunities to develop sustainable ecotourism in the region as a local economic asset.
My friend Karen, Deceased Harvey Pane, Harvey Nepinak worked long and hard to get the project on the ground.  They won't be acknowledged for all the ground work done. They won't get any credit for going every year to the Forest Management License process and giving reasons for not granted a license to the logging company. They won't get acknowledged for working and writing the terms of land protection for the area. They won't get acknowledged for bringing up lands management topic to a hostile provincial government-where they are told not to even mention co-management. Nope but that's okay,  because people know what they accomplished on behalf of the community.

That is the way it is in many situations. Our heroes just go along in life. We see that everyday. 
Dr.Karen Stock Phd Author Artist 

Still a Thank You - Kitch Miigwech is appreciate every now and then. Many times its not the lack of recognition that hurts its the absence of friends or how we are now ignored. The act like someone doesn't exist is what hurts the most. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Can You Hear Me?

I watched the King's Speech a while back and the one scene resonated. I must admit I am not one for the dramas. I like action romance comedy murder mystery intrigue :) like the move Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Now that was a love story. The Kings Speech was a very feel good movie. The scene where Colin Firth yells out at his speech coach, "I have a voice". I hear you.

There is this old saying "if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound?" Although its simple question, there is no simple answer. As with this blog, do you still have a voice if no one listens? Or do I talk to hear myself talk?

I want people to hear me. Its an ego thing but also its about how fragile we are (me). How many of us want to be heard? We have something to share, to say, to point out, to argue, to vent and to cry. Just someone to hear us.

Our people have a voice. That voice is getting louder. Doesn't matter if some people won't want to hear. They are going to be heard regardless.

Me I want to be heard as well.

About what? I really couldn't tell you. At first I thought a good way to tell some stuff about me. Maybe share some experience. Maybe cry a little bit. I don't know. Maybe leave something behind when all is said and done. Still I will continue to make noise even if there are no ears out there. Like the tree in the forest, it does not make a noise if no ears are there to hear it, but it still falls anyway. We all have voice regardless of how we use it.

I'm drunk today and I'm rarely sober
A handsome rover from town to town
Oh, but I am sick now and my days are numbered
So come ye young men and lay me down"

Van Morrison - Carrickfergus 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Fucking Stupid Indians.

Was going to start off talking about the internet and all its wonders and lead into all the stupidity on the internet as well. But nope just going to get right into it; Fucking Stupid Indians.

That's right, stupid fucking Indians. Of course it could have been fucking stupid white man or fucking stupid black man or stupid fucking women, but today its those fucking stupid Indians. You know them. They are the ones I'm talking about.

Those fucking stupid Indians. Like one of my  relatives. She has been in a relationship with a habitual Woman beater. Her last beating he gave her, he wore steal toed boots and kicked her around. He is sitting in jail right now. Thing is he has done numerous stints in jail for beating her. They have three small children together. Stupid Fucking Indian. Get this she started another winner. This man has never done anything in his life except sell drugs. Guess what? He stole her children's money and beat up her up as well. Put in hospital. She was on the internet ( a wonderful place) and started posting about how much she misses him. Stupid Fucking Indian.

There is this young ex-loser Indian that is now a "Advocate and Spokes person" for Indigenous issues. Seems there are many of these reformed gang members or fucking stupid Indians who are now spokes-people for the Indigenous. Fucking stupid Indians. These are the pariah who are selling poison to our kids. Their own families. Stupid Fucking Indians. The harm these drugs do to the Whole community is ugly; pure ugly. When you see your our family member looking like walking death, you yell stupid fucking Indians. You wonder will this be the last time I see my baby. The last time I see my baby in part because of some stupid fucking Asshole selling drugs?

Fucking stupid Indians trying to down play the vile repugnant life of a gang member. Sure stupid fucking society is not fair or even nice. Still its ugly the way gangs prey on their own community. The gang member may have all sorts of reasons for joining a gang, in the end they are still stupid fucking Indians. Stealing off their loved ones. Abandoning their kids and spouses. Living off the spouse. Bumming off their parents and the endless lies. Fucking stupid Indians. Crying on the phone from jail because they are fucking stupid.

The fucking stupid elected Indian leader. Prancing around with the honorarium. Crying around they are hard done by and are working for the people. All the while undermining other fucking stupid Indians in the same role and occupation. Fucking stupid Indians when will they get it that there is strength with the people and in unity?

The fucking stupid Indian who tells all other Indians to "pull up their bootstraps and get a job". Never mind generational trauma.

The fucking Stupid Indian who is constantly calling everyone a sell-out but participates everyday in the market driven economy.  Calling down elected leaders of every Indigenous community, but yet has been unsuccessful in being elected. Calls down all avenues of Indigenous actions but has nothing to offer in return. Yeah, that fucking stupid Indian.

The fucking stupid Indians who think the only way to be Indian is to be stuck in the past. They think like the courts, Hollywood that we were never evolving. We can't use technology to revive or to share our Traditions.. We will lose our souls if we tape our Ceremonies.

Fucking Stupid Indians worshiping a god who's religious soldiers are killing their spirits. The bible worshiping fucking stupid Indian are the most stupid of all. They are carrying out the mandate of "kill the Indian" on their own people. Fucking stupid Indians must realize the severity of the damage done by this christian war?  They must know its not about worshiping god but worshiping the dominant society. Fucking stupid Indians. They must know every culture is built on their belief system; so destroy the belief and you destroy the people. Stupid Fucking Indian singing Leonard Cohen's hallelujah. Stupid fucking Indians.

Fucking Stupid Indians bashing each other. Being better at bashing each other than any White man or government official. The fucking stupid Indian who plays victim at every opportunity - work or personal events.

The fucking stupid Indian who is part of the right wing political entities. These people are the same stupid folk out there who are told don't touch the fire its hot, but stick their hands in there to be burned and decide maybe it wasn't that hot and do it again, and again. 

Fucking Stupid Indians are too damn smart to let society beat them. Too fucking stupid to know they are suppose to be gone, to be extinct.

Fucking Stupid Indians refuse to die.
Fucking Stupid Indians refuse to give up.
Fucking Stupid Indians refuse to be stupid fucking Indians.
Fucking Stupid Indians are not stupid fucking Indians.

There I said it. Indians are just like everyone else. Some very stupid and some very intelligent. This is just life. It could fucking stupid redneck or anyone else.
While the Redneck doesn't even know they are stupid.
At least Indians know the stupid ones and recognize the good strong ones.
Fucking Stupid Indians are too damn good to be stupid fucking Indians.
They have survived genocide and are still surviving and even succeeding.

P.S.  Have to admit I really messed up this post. I was wanting to focus on the realities of how the colonial experience has warped some of our own thinking. Where we become our worst enemies. Where we promote the message of hollywood type stereotypes and old xtian thinking about our way of life. Instead I rambled about the stupidity of everyday folk that could be anyone, no matter from which segment of society. Well sorry about that. I know the post didn't offend many because it was done not to highlight stupidity of Indians generally but just stupid people.  Miigwech folks.

Knowledge Keeper and Knowledge Giver

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