Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What Have You Done For Your People?

No one can say I never acted like an arse.  In fact it is the one thing I do well. Not at the professional level mind you but I have been guilty of teasing way too much. Teasing can be fun and it can be just mean as well. When it becomes too mean it is past being an arse and into the arsehole territory. Arse and Arsehole are two different animals. One is relying on the ironic, the facetious, factual, sardonic and the funny. The other is just preying on the weak, the vulnerable, the public, the past, and innuendo of someone's life.

I was looking at a recent tit for tat on social media. A Native politician is being slagged and he responded with "what have you done for your people?"  A classic comeback. He also said "say it to me in person."  Another classic comeback but this is kind of a Reserve comeback; meaning someone is going to get a bannock slap to the chomps.  Its funny because in the Reserve even people over 55 still say stuff like that; never mind we are at the "I shit myself age."

It got me thinking about the classic "what have you done for your people" line.  What have we, what have I done for our people?

It is a fair question but at the same time, who judges what you have done?

Is it public figures who get the accolades for their service and notoriety.  Is it really fair for the quiet reserved private individual?  After all they could be the "person behind the throne."  One the things which is implied with every what have you done is the "you are a nobody" label. If you are not in the spotlight doing the work for the people, then you are a nobody.  The implication is your voice is not as valid as theirs.

I saw on social media attributed to Judge Murray Sinclair. Now Sinclair is a well known and well liked public figure. His work has been phenomenal.  However the post is a bit interesting. It is about Traditional Teachers - Elders. He says many don't have the knowledge and they should identify their Teachers. There are some new-age or practicing Elders out there who are making things up as they go along. That is not a good thing. However not ever Elder has gotten her/his Teachings from a famous Elder - well know and well respected. Is a lesser known Teacher any less qualified?  In any case, we seem to be judging on the famous - how much someone is in the public eye.

I don't think that is really fair. Not everyone hosts a radio show. Not everyone is in politics. Not everyone is a book writer. Not everyone travels out of their home community. The point that if you are not a public figure equates to you being a nobody. That sucks.  I see and hear many public figures and quite frankly they might do with a little more private time.

Just because you have a public persona does elevate your value over the next person. We are all somebody.  A dad that acknowledges their children.  A mom who raises children alone with no spouse support. A Traditional Teacher who quietly works in the background helping at as many ceremonies as they can. The top manager who willing cuts wood for an unemployed Elder. The youth who is struggling at home but maintains a school attendance. The labourer who works to feed the family. All doing stuff for the people.

The thing about working for your people many times we blur the lines between working for our own interests and that of our people.

My friend works as a director in a health sector position. Working for the people; thing is it is all this person does. No other work for the people. So in a sense the work for the people is feeding them but outside of that, well its anyone's guess. So are we working for ourselves and the job of helping is a secondary thought or benefit? We can take credit for what we have done for our people when it is actually what have I done for me?

The other thing about being a public persona, you can't hide how you truly are indefinitely. Your attitudes and character will ultimately shine through. We can see some people are actually not good people as they pretend to be. Working for the people can be exposing yourself to the people.  Social media is a good indicator of your inner character and our inner character can be quite ugly.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Songs of Death

I just noticed or should have noticed some of the songs about death. I do think about death a lot. Its one of my passions; to think of loss.  The songs of death can be quite refreshing and some, well they are about death. Some of the songs will immortalize a person or some will just do a lonesome homage. As you get older you will notice more and more how people are dying. Mortality - That happens.

So let's try and get some tunes out there which cover death in different ways. The Great Johnny Cash sang of death in different ways, he sang in Cocaine Blues about killing his woman and in his song God will cut you down he sang of smite.  He sang a song of missing a loved one with I Still Miss Someone.  There are many artists who stabbed the subject in different ways.

The Pogues - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda. This is a great version of the song. The song speaks of war the Australians and the Turks. A few lines stand out - "we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter... we stopped to bury our slain..."  This song makes no glory of war.

Canadian Blue Grass band Uncle Earl sings a very good version of Ola Belle Reed's My Epitaph . has real Haunting lyrics.  The poetry is not lost in this beautiful song - Flowers you give, please give them today Don’t waste their beauty on cold lifeless clay

The Rolling Stones do a very good version of the Towns Van Zandt song Dead Flowers   Addictions is an ugly thing and addictions is going to kill you.

John Prine most likely wrote one of the baddest death songs out there.  Sam Stone.  The PTSD of the veteran. "There's a hole in Daddy's arm where all the money goes... Sam Stone was alone when he popped his last balloon. They played his last request when the room smelled like death..."  

Eva Cassidy Came into my life about 11 years ago. It  was in a small coffee shop in Vancouver on Davey street. This handsome young man was playing it on his stereo.  I asked him about the music and he told me of her and how she is dead. She covered a few songs and she did this one by Sting, Fields of Gold. She made it her own and it is such a lovely sad song. 

Sarah McLachlan does a very good song with In the Arms of Angel.

The Long Black Veil is another song that has been covered by many including Johnny Cash. My favorite version is Mick Jagger's version with the great Chieftains.   This song reminds me of my loss; my boy. He liked the song. He enjoyed many songs I enjoyed. 

Van Morrison is most likely my favorite artist. His songs are just killer. He does this old Irish song called Carrickfergus.  He does this with the great Chieftains.  It deals with death.  "my boyhood friends and all my relations have all passed on like the melting snow..."  "come lay me down..."

Van Morrison seems to like the old Irish tunes and they seem to like death. This haunting song is covered by Sinead O'Conner as well. Both good versions. She Moved Through The Fair Love lost and grief. 

Some old Country songs hit the death bell as well. Big Bad John Jimmy Dean: John Henry Ballad - there are many many different covers of this song.  I think Johnny Cash did this one as well.  

The late Harry Chapin was a pretty good song writer and story teller. I always enjoyed this song - 30000 pounds of Bananas.   "This song starts out with a brilliant Chet Atkins guitar lick"  Poor guy in the song.  The description of how he meets his demise is classic. This song makes dying fun.  

Oh Death is all about death with Ralph Stanley. You will remember this song from the movie O' Brother where art thou.  And if you want a picture of death, this song will give it to you. This song has death being all scary and stuff. 

Not sure if this really can be classified as a death song but I relate it to death or memorium. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole does a fantastic song with Somewhere Over The Rainbow

You can't speak about song writers without thinking of the great Tom Waits. He does songs like no one else. Dead and Lovely   Come on to the House is a better song but it only refers to the Cross so only Jesus was on the Cross and he died. But its not really about death.

The Dixie Chicks can do death both fun and sad. They sing Goodbye Earl and Traveling Solider. Both songs of death and both different themes. One song where death is deserved and another where it is heartbreak.  

Rhianna Giddens and the Carolina Chocolate Drops speak of death of a town and not a person .Still its a story of death and living. Leaving Eden live is just awesome, no other way to describe the story and the song. The Cello is alive in this song.

For some reason singers seem to kill off women in their songs. Willie Nelson has an awesome story with the Red Headed Stranger.  This is the live version and it is so cool. Death doesn't even get the hang man's noose in this story. "He shot her so quick... well you can't hang a man for killing a woman who is trying to steal your horse..."

Thinking of songs and death and you realize how the subject is close to home. We can remember many of the country artists told stories and shared the aftermath of loss. Of course the Gospel Songs sing of a Glorious reunion with God when we meet death. 

Well I hope you heard some good songs hear and got you thinking of mortality. It comes for us all. 
Here is the Great Singer Edmund Bull (Red Bull singers) and his song  of Remembrance  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

You Pious Indian Bastard

You pious Bastard!  I always thought pious referred to the Priests back home but now I see it can mean me as well. You kind of think about being when someone says to you, you're talking out of both sides of your arse.

I have deep deep conversations (if you can call them conversations and deep)on Facebook. Most of those conversations end up with someone calling me a jerk. Me? A jerk?  Go figure?  I guess maybe it  might because of those conversations I have with folk who are super Indians, the "more Traditional than you" Indians. The way they talk its like they walk on water just like... the man who walked on water.

You must know those Indians.  I went for a trip to Rocky Boy Reservation in Montana with a friend of mine. We went to visit and pick up Grandfathers - some lava rocks to bring back for the Sweat Lodge Ceremony. Anyway we were hosted by Alvin and his daughter. We stayed at their house, very nice people. When we finished our task of picking the lava rocks I said to my friend "let's go say goodbye to Alvin." He says to me "Indian don't say goodbye".  You pious Indian Bastard.

You see my friend is one those real Indians; jet black hair long braids deep brown skin fluent in Cree knows traditions an excellent craftsman can make all the traditional tools can sing the songs he is the whole Indian package and he knows there is no adios, sayonara, au revoir, arrivederci in Indian language. So the pious Indian bastard was schooling me.

Was answering this post on Facebook. Its funny people who ask questions really don't want to hear answers. Only if the answer agrees with them. Anyway... the question was about "asking for payment of Sacred Medicines."  The purpose of the question is really a segue to putting down Medicine people. People are strange. We want to bait all the time. I hear it in the questions of tv or radio interviews when they Race bait. In this case its baiting for Traditional Teachers. We don't mind the pious Tent shakers and holly rollers but let a Medicine person get some exposure and they are scum.

We want our Medicine people to walk on water. We want the Medicine people to fit a stereotypical or Hollywood caricature of what a Medicine is expected to be. Never mind she and he is a human being; prone to life's daily struggles. But hey, we want them to be able to talk to the wind, the animals, the birds, the water, the fire and to the Creator. I get that. I also get they have to live in a real world. The real world doesn't care if you can talk to the Creator as long as you can pay at the pump. Thing is we don't want that. We want our Medicine people to be beyond the dregs of society. Heaven forbid or god forbid the miscreant of a Medicine person who wishes to be given some gas money for their effort, expertise or knowledge. The Pious Indian Bastard will damn the Indian Medicine person to hell. The Medicine person will become the dregs of society in the eyes of the Pious Indian Bastard.

As one person said "If money is requested I will move on."  I think its safe to be wary of those seeking cash and I agree. Thing is most Medicine people don't seek pay. At the same time most people who seek out medicine don't offer payment in return. Reciprocity was and is in  some Indigenous societies a foundation for living. We seem to think its wrong now because cash has come into the equation which replaces the concept of having a favour or a good in exchange. So we become pious Indian Bastards and put down the life of  a Medicine person. We seem to believe it taints the medicine?  We are so pious it must be ugly and repugnant to even consider offering a woman or man anything other than a pinch of tobacco. The same tobacco which we purchased with cash at a local convenience store.  We are such a pious bunch of Indian Bastards.

The pious bastard has moved away from the Sunday church goer to our Sweat hog.

Friday, March 18, 2016

More change and More of the Same - Vancouver City

Vancouver Airport Showcase of Art
British Columbia is a beautiful place to visit. The mountain view  and the clement weather makes it a place for many to visit and live.  I lived there 10 years ago and it was pleasing as any place can be I guess. My experience was on a whole good. This week I had to opportunity to go visit. I even visited my old work place, different but the same.

NVIT Burnaby
I walked around downtown - Gastown - Olympic Village - Commercial Dr. - Granville Island - Tinsil Town - Old China Town -  East Hastings - Whistler Ski Town - Metro Town/Crystal City and of course the Airport.

The old work place is now the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology the Burnaby campus; used to be called Institute of Indigenous Government. Things change and things stay the same.

I went to purchase a hoodie sweater for the kids. We stopped at some little old shop not too far off Main street, the Bus depot and China Town. An old Asian lady watching the store. Purchased 3 sweaters which same price and cheaper at Gas Town - always negotiate purchase price before you pay.

East side Market
East side
East Side 
The culture of the East Hasting is lively, close knit, sad, hurt thriving surviving painful kind generous violent and poor. They have a market area where they bring wares to sell. They are very protective of each other. I took a picture of the vendors and was told no pictures of the market.
East Side
Chinese Herbs
 The East Side bumps about against Gas Town and China Town.

You can see the difference in Gas Town and East Side by just how the sidewalks look. Clean new concrete on the West Side and literally across the street a different place.

China Town is changing as well a number of new buildings - condos have replaced the old character buildings. Still there are the shops with Chinese food outlets to buy fresh and frozen fish or go into a Pharmacy with Glass filled bottles of herbs-medicines.
It is cool to see different aspects of different cultures. It is also sad to see the poverty and addiction in the area. Congregating all along the East Hastings Street.   When the Olympics came to town there was some investment in the area. I may not be sure but it just moved the poverty a little bit and not too much. Not sure if Pidgen Park is still a focal point anymore for the area people.
Artist East Side Co-op

Saw an artist co-op across from the park. A few ladies allowed me to take their picture and to look at the wares of the store. Nice friendly people.

Gas town steam clock 
The Gas Town is very busy and very clean. Many tourists from the Cruise Ship industry frequent the area. The area is filled with tourist shops for T-shirts, hoodies and of course the Beautiful West Coast Indigenous Art.

Granville Island is a place for shops and Theatre. Public markets for fish fruit vegetables and all sorts of artists.  Of course I couldn't go to Granville without stopping in to view the art work. High end and high end prices. The tourists love this place.  Many different food vendors in the market place. We joined a very nice Vancouver couple at their table. Originally from France Virginie and Stephan had many a good thing to say about Vancouver.  We were glad to meet them there.
Stephan & Virginie

Pictures really don't do justice to Vancouver area.

If you do go to Vancouver walking is part of the culture. You can get around by the Sky Train or buses to just about anywhere in the city.

Vancouver is a trigger city for me. Trigger in that it brings many many memories. The old work place and the colleagues I no longer have. Some of them have been fortunate to move with the NVIT while many were not so fortunate. I regret not being part of the institution. I was pretty happy there. I learned that I was not a bad instructor and had some good fun. It is also a trigger of course because I spent some of my boy's last days with him in Vancouver. I didn't get to go to walk around some of the streets - Robson Granville, Davie Street. Davie was a fun lively place to walk around. Lot of little food vendors and generally friendly neighbourhood. Granville was the tourist street. Some food establishment and entertainment venues, local pubs. We used to live downtown and it was fun to have this outside your door. My boy is gone so it is a bit much to walk around the area and change happens; new shops new venues new apartments but the feel stays the same.

I stayed with a friend of mine. He is a security conscious fellow and is wary of Big Money Big Government and other entities.

Me I have no clue what he is talking about half the time so I give him the Russian treatment; yah yah - or in our case the Chief Treatment; yeah yeah. Let him know I am listening, but that's as far as it goes.

My friend is one of those people that "escaped" from foreign soil and a system different from ours. He is skilled at many things; an Electronics Engineer, MBA, and a Karate fanatic. I think I could take him.

The trip was quick fun and interesting. When you listen to someone who has an informed world knowledge it reminds you of how narrow a Canadian vision could be.

In any case. Vancouver is a nice place. If it wasn't so nice you wouldn't have so many people going there from all over the world. We went to Whistler and met Australians working in a hat shop. I think its a marketing ploy for companies to get people with different accents working. People seem to be drawn to the different. In Winnipeg Malls there are this hallway kiosks which sell nail products; cute boys and girls with accents are the sales people. The lure of different.

Different but the same.

I think poverty is the same all over Canada. Same with prosperity. Different but the same.

Granville entrance
City Culture
20 bucks

Moving out

Union of BC Chiefs own a great office or building in Yale Town. Grand Chief Stewart Phillip's office

Main street area
Niece Cassandra
Commercial Drive

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Looking For The BoogeyMan: MMIW Inquiry

If you case you missed it, there is going to be an inquiry into the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women in Canada.  Canada has a problem and its that someone is killing the Indigenous Women. One fellow has been caught and put in jail. He killed, dismembered and fed to the deceased to his hogs. An inquiry into the murders found the police and society was to blame.  Although the police were biased in their treatment it wasn't intentional, "There was systemic bias by the police," but the bias was not intentional,"claimed the author of the report.  And I am the Grand Chief of Canada.  Really I'm not but if you believe that crap in the report than you would believe anything. Of course the police are bias and it is their fault. So now we are into a much larger inquiry and we are unsure of what we will find. In the BC inquiry it was to address why 49 women were murdered and how it happened. In this case it is much wider, much bigger and much more scary.

There is this notion of Criminal Minds type activity going on here; a multitude of serial killers (you know someone who has killed three or more persons). The Highway of Tears in British Columbia is one such setting where a serial killer or killers could possible exist. The other setting would be the City of Winnipeg where Women have been going missing or are found murdered. One mother stated about her murdered girl; "They treated her like garbage, wrapping her up in a bag and throwing her into the river, She wasn't garbage. She was my baby."  We have no clue as to how it affects a family.  So the chance of finding answers is better than never knowing.

With the BC murders we had the chance to meet the monster, the boogeyman. He is everything you would think of a monster; dirty, smug, no remorse, alone (although he has a brother?) arrogant and ugly. In this case the new inquiry is seeking to find the monster, the boogeyman.

I think the Boogeyman the inquiry will find is going to be huge. I think we see a glimpse of him/her everyday. Like when Christy Clarks' staff triple erased emails relating to the BC Highway of Tears. "The letter says it all about how Christy Clark's government approaches its responsibilities to the people of B.C.," Horgan said in a statement, "'You do whatever it takes to win.' Even when it involves missing and murdered women."  One of the biggest Boogey-monsters was/is Stephen Harper. He and his league of Ministers did much in the  Prime Minister's Office to rid Canada of Indigenous people. In Saskatchewan the Premier Brad Wall is becoming a monster when it comes to Indigenous people. 

Are these people killing Indigenous Women?  Not in the manner like the BC monster, I don't think. I don't think we'll  see them beheading our Women and putting them in garbage bags and dumping them in the river. What the inquiry will find is the  ground is fertile for killing. The manure for the fertile killing ground is in: the policies, the attitudes, the business of government, the lies, the justice system, the social system, the ignorance and the bias of society. These are all pieces of the Boogeyman. 

We will see the Boogeyman in the poverty that plagues our young, our people and our Women. 

It will be in the face of the police officer that is so jaded with the "job" that every Indian he/she meets is a dirt bag criminal or worse a "fucking cunt".

It will be in the face of the taxi driver who only sees the media portrayal of Indigenous Women. Who believes they are "easy" and willing to have sex with any man.

It will be in the face of the judge who believes that Women can say no to rape and just keep their legs together and not dress for sex. 

It will be in the face of the Peace Keeper who betrays his sister solider with rape and brutality. 

 It will be in the faces of our men. The ones who commit violence and fight our Women. 

It will be in the faces of gangs. The gangs who sell drugs and who live off the Women, and who try to sell women. 

It will be in our Mom's  and Dad's that abuse drugs and chose the "life" over the welfare of the children, our kids. 

It will be in the social ills faced by our Women.

It will be in the stranger who is preying on the vulnerable, the poor, the unlucky, on the Woman who just wants to live. 

Women who just wanted to live 

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 ...