Tuesday, December 19, 2017

I'm Uncle, it's my Job

I gave heck to my niece a while ago. It could have been considered getting shit or it could bee seen as giving worldly advice. In any case as an Uncle it's my job to speak with her. I told her its my job as your Uncle to give you heck. She said yes.

Growing up in the 1960's as a kid in the Reserve it was not unusual to get heck from adults. If you did something wrong it was their job to correct your behaviour. It might even be a kick in the arse, depending on what you did wrong.

Smoking as a child, was not accepted by adults. We hid our smoking from the adults. Heaven help us if we were caught busting the outdoor rink lights. Once (I don't know what I was thinking) in the summer I was busting the lights at the rink. An older cousin caught me. He caught a number of us. First thing was we were going to run but knew to stop and wait for our punishment. He spoke to all of us and informed us that he would be telling our parents. He took me aside and said I won't tell your Dad as I know what will happen to you. I think we were about ten at the time. I never forgot the act of kindness by him (not that my Dad was a monster or anything) but the belt was spared that day.

The community was a community and it was the job of the Uncle to look after the whole community. That concept has changed in the community and perhaps in society all together. We drive by and even look away if we see something. The Child walking all alone, a woman being harassed on the street.

Yesterday I was listening to a woman speak about the crisis of abuse faced by women in our Indigenous community. She asked why are the men not standing up? Why are they not talking to the abusers? Why do they stay silent? Where are the Uncles? Women, Aunties are standing up and speaking up but not the men.

We may not like it when someone confronts us about our behaviour or if they try and correct our children's behaviour or actions. Still what message are we giving if we  allow the poor actions of others to go unchecked?

Should I hold my tongue when speaking to my niece and her drug use or the manner which she treats her mom or dad?  Should I not tell a nephew that hitting his girlfriend is wrong? Or should we leave it the women to be the only ones not afraid to speak out to this young man. Or should we continue to protect the hitting of women by  men?  My daughter had a very abusive boyfriend. She charged him after a violent attack. She was afraid to go to court but I went with her. The boyfriend had his dad and his uncles there to support him.  The thought was that my daughter would be too afraid to show up. So when he saw her there, his lawyer made a plea deal. But that's the thing isn't it as Uncles we are more willing to protect and even promote the ugliness towards women. As men we may give superficial mentions about the plights of Women. Yet it is not reflected in the actions of us Uncles.

We need Uncle's to stand up and to do their job.
Uncle Bob Uncle Herman-2  We listen to our Uncles. 
We need to act like the Uncles who watched over the whole community, the wellness of the whole community.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Looking Into My Brain

You're sitting in your car in traffic and you look left at the person in the next car; you start to wonder what is she thinking, where is she going,wonder what her life is like, job, kids and siblings? We wonder about life outside or our heads. We can't really imagine what is the heads of others and what their life is really like. I mean look at someone like Bjork. Who is she? Wonder what she thinks about in her life? But then who really cares?

My wife and I always say "we are so different from each other".  She will say " she never thinks that" when I tell her something I am thinking. I guess it is normal for everyone to be like that.

I will give a little glimpse in my head.

About 30 years ago my wife Suz went to buy a dog, a miniature Schnauzer. Went into the house and the people had the beautiful puppies in a large cardboard box. So they said want to see the parents? We did and they brought in the parent dogs. The woman took on dog and put it on the kitchen table for us to look at her. This was weird. Who puts a dog on the kitchen table? For us that is not a thing to do. The big thing do is to put a shoe on the table. You know like when you come home with your new shoes in the box and you put the box on the table. You are asking to go hungry with things like that. I remember saying this to a friend, who happens to be a Medicine man-Elder. He laughed at me.

The other day my Wife and I were in Safeway at the checkout line. Down at my feet was a folded up twenty dollar bill I said hey to my wife and picked it up. I paid for our items with the twenty dollars feeling all lucky. After we started driving the weight of the twenty dollar bill started to weigh heavy on my mind. What is going to happen? Sure enough couple of days later my Wife and my daughter were at the Bay store trying on coats. My daughter had left her wallet with the coats. When they came home my daughter told me about it and said it was my fault. I shouldn't have kept that twenty dollar bill. I should have passed it on. That's what goes on in my head.

Last night, after two days had passed I phoned the lost and found of the Bay. I was thinking and I told the Bay employee about the wallet and I said maybe some kind soul was thinking its close to Christmas and decided to turn in the wallet. Sure enough someone did. Awesome.

You see during the day a friend phoned me and we talked. His granddaughter was killed in a car accident last year and it is crippling to him. We shared about how when we get happy that we get scared. We get guilty for feeling happy. Fearful that if we get too happy something bad will happen again the spite us or make sure we don't forget to be sad and mindful. My son died of suicide 12 years ago and I live in fear of another tragic incident. I felt good after talking with him and glad that he was able to confide and share his feelings with me about his girl. So I felt good that I had listened to him in earnest. Maybe something good would happen to me for being empathetic. And the wallet thing for my daughter was that good thing.

My wife and I are committed to the Give Away. For a variety of reasons. First we like to make me people happy. The other thing is that its an act of kindness and we are kind generous folk. We always try to be generous. The other thing is that in order to get good things in our lives we should be willing to give good things in return. We have given many many gifts to people. In return we have gotten many blessings. Our grandchildren come to mind. And we want to make sure they are safe, happy and looked after. The more love and good feelings we get from people, all the better for our family. Of course I am like anyone and get upset when I feel or see that people don't seem to appreciate our gestures of kindness or generosity. But I remember the gift is not for them to return if they don't want to. It's for the blessings, the gifts we may receive in other ways; like maybe a friendly wave or smile from the stranger in the next car, or the person holding open the door from my wife or the kind smile to a grandchild.

In  my mind I am not isolated. Even though I am a home body and rarely go visiting friends and family I am not in the world alone. My actions have rewards and consequences. So I have to act accordingly.

I fear of being too happy or else I be  showed what saddens really is.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Chief Clarence Louie Can Suck It.

There is this Chief (or former Chief) of Osoyoos Indian Band in British Columbia. This Chief is an awesome success story. He has taken a small Native community - a Reserve and made it in a prosperous business juggernaut in beautiful Okanagan Valley. He is a very successful leader and has done great things. The surrounding communities love him as well as the Government of Canada. The success of the Osoyoos Indian Band is incredible. It is a great success story when you compare the Osoyoos Band to many other Bands in Canada, especially Bands in the Prairies. So we should not be surprised when the media, the government and chambers of commerce trot out Chief Louie to compare and shame all the lazy shiftless Bands out there in Canada.

Chief Louie has even become and echo chamber for the Government and more precisely, the Right wing Old Stock Canadian. Chief Louie is infamous (in Indian Country and in main stream he is golden) for his "pull up your bootstraps and get a damn job" lazy Indians mantra.

The media loves this guy: A gentle-looking man with greying bangs and an animal-skin vest, he deluged the crowd with morsels of advice that have transformed Osoyoos Indian Band, where he is chief, into a beacon of hope for economically ravaged First Nations. The poetic description carries the grace of a savior in the land of despair. Those words are gold in the White community. We should be all so proud. I mean after all we have a genuine success story going on here. It is what we all hope our communities should be: high employment rates, own source revenue and economic prosperity. That is cool and awesome for Chief Louie and the Osoyoos Band.

So why do I say Chief Clarence Louie can suck it?  Quite frankly, the guy is a douche, a pompous arrogant prick. Does it seem I am a bit jealous of Chief Louie? Perhaps. I mean the guy has a good message right? We should all follow his lead and his statements. He took a poor community and made it a rich community. No doubt this man is talented, strong and successful. 

I guess the baggage I carry is a bit of an excuse for not exactly embracing the philosophy of Chief Louie. His success is certain and a great achievement. The bug in my shorts is the constant comparison between other Reserves. Why not consider their achievement as one of any community in Canada? There are many communities (non-Indigenous) out there which barely survive and exist due to transfer payments. There are dying and Dead towns which exist all over Canada. So the media wants to hold this one community to be the threshold for all Reserves to aspire to. Canada itself has wide variety of regions governed by different circumstances. The results are you get the "have and have not" provinces. The Reserves in Canada operate under a variety of different circumstances as well: extreme climate, access, geography, resources and population. Louie and company shouting out "see? this how you do it" is not a true reflection of the overall situation on Reserves. 

The other reason I am not a fan of Chief Louie is his spitting in the face of our people with his condescending comments to Indigenous people. He is like the poster child for the racist elite who can't stand the Indian Nation. They think of us a tax burden and lazy do nothing segment of society. Never mind that our people have with stood years of persecution, legislation and societal norms aimed at killing us. Although the government through the Truth and Reconciliation said the Indigenous people of Canada have suffered "cultural genocide" its still genocide.  Louie discounts the historical trauma our people have suffered and still stand against. Trauma is still carried by many of our communities to this day. Economic success is not sole indicator of a healthy community. 

The money flow of a community is another reason for a stronger economy. With many Reserves there is no money to come in. Generally people don't come to the Reserve. The infrastructure (stores and other amenities) of many Reserves is lacking or non-existent. Business opportunities are non-existent so how can a community attract the flow of money? Either the population doesn't support or warrant a viable business. The consumer base is just not there. And resource extraction can be cost prohibitive to enter the market. Communities to remain strong, need money to exchange hands within the community before it leaves. With money leaving the community and no money coming in, the community remains a hinterland. Hinterland resource extraction was the recipe for colonialism. Our communities are still looked at as hinterland. The people don't get to exchange money in the community. I buy cigarettes off Barbie, Barbie pays Bobby to watch the till, Bobby spends money at Bennie's cafe and Bennie gases up at Robs place. Where the Damn Rob goes to the movie in the nearby town. And the town cinema owner shops in the city. That cash I started off with is now in Thunder Bay supporting the local economy. Most Reserves don't have hand to hand money exchange. 

At the personal or individual level, Chief Louie and company (main stream) don't seem to understand the impact of bullying. Chief Louie uses the bully stance to demean people. The impact of bullying has devastating consequences. The act of bullying is to crush the other person. From playground children teasing and pushing other kids to teens badgering and humiliating peers. The results are the same; a person gets crushed. Cities are at a loss to stop bullying because of suicide which bullying can cause. Just think about how much Indigenous people have endured, have been bullied over the years by governments, justice, church, school, society and by individuals. The results show up in various degrees. We have high suicide rates, murder rates, cancer rates, addiction rates, unemployment and numerous social measurements. So when someone like Chief Louie says "suck it up", "don't be lazy" I say suck it Louie. You embarrass yourself and you embarrass us.

I don't know what is worse: The Indian who amplifies his voice to echo the words of our oppressors or the Indian who mutes his voice in the presence of our oppressors. 

Oppressors being our governments and the business interests of main stream. 
Suck it Louie. 

The idea and the promotion of having wealth as the indicator for success is messed up. Not being interested by Indigenous people in acquiring wealth was part of the equation of making it illegal to practice Traditional Worship. It was deemed against the "Victorian etiquette" of acquisition. Today the chase of  the dollar has lead to a huge crisis in the world. 

I know many successful people, Indigenous and non-Indigenous and their success has nothing to do with affluence. They are successful due to their hard work, kindness, thoughtfulness, open mindedness, generosity, and good character. Has nothing do with their cheque-book. There are many rich folk who are not successful. Just look at the President of the United States. How can anyone say that person is successful. If that's success, that is messed up. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Seven Grandfathers and Little Boy

This is one of the Midewiwin Teachings. This is from the internet and not sure who told this version:

The Seven Grandfathers and the Little Boy. Ojibway tradition tells us that there were Seven grandfathers who were given the responsibility by G'zhe Manitou (Creator) to watch over the Earth’s people. They were powerful spirits. The Seven Grandfathers realized that life was not good for the people. They sent their Osh-ka-bay’-wis (Helper) to the Earth to walk among the people and bring back to them a son who could be taught how to live in harmony with the Creation. Six times the spirit messenger went to Earth to try to find a person worthy enough to bring back to the Seven Grandfathers. On the seventh journey, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis traveled to each of the four directions. The spirit came upon a village of people. He heard the people talking of a boy who had just been born to a young couple. The baby was still sucking on his mother’s breast for food. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis suddenly realized that this baby was the one he should take to the Seven grandfathers. He was innocent. His mind was untouched by corruption and pain of the world. This baby was still fresh from the Creator’s side where he stayed before he came to his mother’s womb. He had not yet opened his eyes and ears to the world. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis found the baby asleep with his parents in the lodge on the outskirts of the village. The baby was in a hand-carved dik-ki-na-gun (cradle board) wrapped in fine animal skins that were decorated with quills from Gawg (the porcupine). His parents and his people must have thought a lot of him. The Osh-ka-bay’wis left a pouch of tobacco and a piece of the child’s clothing behind to sho wthe people that baby did not fall victim to come wild animal. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis took the baby boy back to the lodge of the Seven Grandfathers. The Seven Grandfathers looked at the sleeping baby. “He is too weak,” one said. “He could not stand the sight of us or the sound of our voices. To do so could be too fatal to him.” One of the Grandfathers instructed the Osh-ka-bay’-wis, “Take this boy and show him all the Creation, show him the Four Quarters of the Universe. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis took the boy and did as he was instructed. It took a long time to travel so far to teach the boy so much. They traveled completely through all the Anung-go-kwan’ (Star World). The boy was seven years old when they returned to the lodge of the Seven Grandfathers. The Grandfathers saw them coming and realized that the boy had grown to be strong with a mind that was sharp and curious about everything around him. As the boy approached the Grandfather’s lodge he felt a power stronger than anything he had ever felt before. He looked up at the Osh-ka-bay’-wis and realized that this was his shi-shay (uncle) –someone who had taught him how to survive in the world. He realized that his uncle was a son of the Creator. He understood that he, too,was from the Creator’s side as are all people. As the boy came closer to the lodge a strong fear came over him. The closer they came, the stronger the fear grew. His uncle, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis, comforted him. As they approached the door of the lodge, a voice rang out, “Have you brought the boy?” “Yes,”the uncle answered. “I have him with me and he is ready to come inside.” With that the door of the lodge was opened and inside sat the Seven Grandfathers. “Been-di-gain”(come in), they said to the boy and his uncle, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis. As the boy stepped inside he notice that the door of the lodge was facing the Sun in the West and that the Seven Grandfathers sat in the East – the place his uncle told him was THE SOURCE OF ALL KNOWLEDGE. The Seven Grandfathers were dressed in very beautiful clothes and their hair was white as snow. On their faces was a glow of peace and happiness. The Grandfathers talked to the boy in a way that seemed as though they were not talking at all but using their minds to just think the words. The Grandfathers told the boy of how parents were expecting him to return someday. The first Grandfather pointed to an aw-kik (vessel) that was covered with a cloth made of four different colours. Each colour stood for one of the four directions. The Grandfather said, “Of these colours,Mis-kwa (red) stands for the South. Muk-a-day (black) stands for the West. Waa-bish-ka (white) stands for the North and O-za-wahn (yellow) stands for the East. These colours represent the four races of man that the Creator placed on the Earth. The Grandfather pulled the cloth aside and instructed the boy to look inside the vessel. It was a very quick glimpse but inside, the boy saw beauty that he could not understand. He saw colours that he has never seen before; he felt a peace that he had never known before. He saw all of yesterday and all of tomorrow. The vessel was like an opening and out of it came music such as the boy had never heard. All that could possibly be imagined flashed before the boy’s eyes in just a short moment. The first Grandfather reached into the vessel and brought out a substance on his hand. He then reached over and rubbed this substance on the boy. “I give you this gift,” he said. Then he passed the vessel to the next Grandfather who also reached inside and rubbed a new and beautiful gift on the boy. The vessel was passed to each of the Grandfathers just as the Water drum is passed from one person to another in our ceremonies today. Each of the Grandfathers gave the boy a gift. When they had finished, the Grandfathers instructed the Osh-ka-bay’-wis to find someone to return with the boy to his people. Four times, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis searched the Earth without finding anyone. On his fifth try, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis came upon Ni-gig’ (an otter) playing on the bank of the creek. But the otter would not listen to him. He was too busy playing. The Osh-ka-bay’-wis returned again to Ni-gig’ and told him of the task that he was needed for but the otter just yawned and continued playing. On his seventh try, the Osh-ka-bay’-wis convinced the otter to return with him and they journeyed to the lodge of the Seven Grandfathers. The otter received his instructions from the Seven Grandfathers and paid attention to each detail. Finally, the otter and the boy set off on their long journey. The boy had been given a huge bundle to take to his people from the Seven Grandfathers. Ni-gig’ and the boy took turns carrying the bundle. Along the way, they stopped seven times. At each stop, a spirit came and told the boy the meaning of the seven gifts that ere given to him out of the vessel of the Grandfathers.
To cherish knowledge is to know WISDOM. To know LOVE is to know peace. To honour all of the Creation is to have RESPECT. BRAVERY is to face the foe with integrity. HONESTY in facing a situation is to be brave. HUMILITY, is to know yourself, as a sacred part of the Creation. TRUTH is to know all of these things. The spirit taught the boy that for each gift there as an opposite, as evil is the opposite of good. He would have to be careful to instruct his people in the right way to use each gift. Also, at each stop, the boy found a strange kind of small shell sprinkled here and there on the ground. He sensed something special about these shells. He put down tobacco and took a few of them at each stop. For four days, the boy and the otter stopped at each place. But in the Spirit World, time cannot be compared to our time on Earth. During this time, the boy grew into manhood. He and the otter somehow realized that the next time they would set their bundle down they would be in the land of the people. At last they came upon a large body of water. They could see the people on the other shore. They looked poor and hungry. The otter realized that these people did not have the true Wayn-dah-ni-muk’no-di-noon’ (Four Directions) and therefore,could not live in harmony with the power that each direction offers. The otter dove into the water and swam to the middle of the lake. There he shouted to the people and told them that he would show them the true Four Directions so that they could live in harmony. The people cheered and watched the otter as swam to the East and thenback to the middle of the lake. He then swam to the South and back to the middle. The otter did this with each of the Four Directions. The otter finally returned to get his friend who was getting to be an old man with all the time he had seen in the Spirit World. He escorted the old man to his people. The old man carried a huge heavy bundle. It was a great power that he was able to share with his people. The otter showed the man the way. Then the otter realized that he had finished the task that the Seven Grandfathers had asked of him. He said to the old man, “My friend, we have been many places together. We have overcome all obstacles.” At this time, the otter produced one of the strange shells that were at each of the stopping places and held it out to the old man. “These are very special shells. They are an important gift and will figure into your life at a later time. They represent the shell that the Creator used to blow his breath on the four sacred elements and give life to Original Man. Keep this with you always. It is called the Megis Shell. “I have now done what the Grandfathers asked of me. I will continue to serve you if you can follow me.” At this moment, the otter remembered all the playful moments of his past and ran straight up at all tree and sat at the top laughing at his friend holding the heavy bundle down below. The otter is one today who accompanies the newcomers into the Midewiwin Lodge. He accompanies them only through their first degree then they must part. Realizing that he must now leave his brother, the otter, the old man picked up the bundle and continued to make his way toward the village. On the outskirts of he village, the old man came upon a very old couple. This couple somehow knew that this man with the heavy bundle was their son even though his hair was white like theirs. The only thing that kept them alive was the memory of their son and the faith that he would be back. The old man pulled a gift out ofhis bundle and said to his parents, “I give you this. It represents the power, love and mercy of the Creator.” He continued on to visit and talk with the rest of his people. To the middle of the village he went with his bundle and all the people followed. At the village’s center, he stopped and put down his bundle. With all the people gathered around, the old man old them of his journey to the lodge of the Seven Grandfathers. He gave the people the seven gifts that the Grandfathers had given him out of the vessel. He told the people of the dangers that came with each gift. He gave them the understanding of opposites. He told them of the way the Grandfathers said to live in order to have a strong physical body. He told them that nee-zho-day’ (twin) pf physical existence was spiritual existence. In order for the people to be completely healthy, they must seek to develop themselves spiritually and find a balance between the physical and spiritual worlds. The old man gave the people the avenue to use for this spiritual development. He gave them the Ba-wa-ji-gay’win (Vision Quest). He gave others the capability to seek out the knowledge of the Spirit World through fasting, dreaming and meditation. With the old man’s return, the people came better adjusted physically to live on Earth. The people had a sense of hope that gave them strength to face life’s daily tasks. No longer did accidents and diseases claim so many lives. With the knowledge of the Four Sacred Directions the otter gave them,and with gradual use of herbal medicines to treat illnesses, the people approached that delicate balance that lies in living in harmony with all of the Creation. It only remained now that for people to follow the me-ka-nay za’ (path) laid out before them by the old man for the development of the spiritual side of life. Author ~ unkown

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Could You Pass the Humanity Test?

We are in the midst of really ugly news: a terrorist loaded up with automatic weapons and shot people enjoying an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. US Donald Trump is scaring the world with his Twitter feed. Wealthy movie maker has been using his position, his power to coerce and even force his unwanted advances on Women. The story has prompted more Women to take a stand an expose others who have used their position in ugly selfish ways.

Many Women are now sharing their experiences of having dealt with the ugly side of men. The latest is Senator Al Franken.  I feel bad for Al. He was one Senator that I actually thought was a good person. Turns out he is just as bad as many of the men out there.

With all of the ugly out there I wonder how much of us would pass the humanity test. The humanity is more than  the attitudes or the actions we have done to women and to kids. Kevin Spacey and company are now facing their own tests for their actions. The humanity test is a look at how we are in many situations. How we react and how we think.

We have seen many people who pass the humanity test in big ways. In ways we could never understand. The mass shooting in Las Vegas brought out the humanity in many individuals. There were people in the midst of the chaos, the dying and the ugly, who took to helping others in a time of horror. You would think the first taught would be for your own safety and not thinking of saving others. What a humanity test to be faced with. These people passed the test.

The humanity test is not always so dramatic or in such dire situations. Sometimes the humanity test is simple as meeting someone on the street. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to a small concert. Most of the patrons were old people, like us (and older) and many were White. Outside in the cold a young man was standing with a sign looking for change. We had no money and told him sorry. As we were in line inside the hall a group of older White folk were talking. This older Woman was upset at the man. She said "I asked him what he needed the money for?" She went on this conversation with other women and men in their group. Each of them were making disparaging remarks about the young man. My wife was upset and said to me "I hope he told them to shove their change" in a voice loud enough for the group to hear. I don't think they passed the humanity test in this case.

A friend of mine was telling the story of this Artist. The Artist was painting a mural in Winnipeg and the subject matter was images of a number of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. While the Artist, a White man, was painting a young guy on a bike stopped and asked him about the mural. The Artist told him about the subject matter. The young man replied "well they were whores anyway" and rode off. The Artist was stunned. He met an individual who had not passed the humanity test.

The humanity test is a daily occurrence. It can be something that happens everyday like the letting someone into your lane when there is a stream of car line up or it could be the saying "Thank you" for the person who holds open the mall door for you.  It is the comment we post when we see someone complaining about the amount of assistance Refugees are said to receive from government. Can you remember the latest humanity test you had, however small or huge?

I guess it's like what is your moral compass really like; the things you would do in certain situations.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Southern First Nations Network of Care: Manitoba

The Southern First Nations Network of Care hosted their 14th Annual General Assembly.


The Southern First Nations Network of Care receives its mandate from the First Nations in Southern Manitoba and through The Child and Family Services Authorities Act (CFSAA). The Southern Network along with the other three CFS Authorities are responsible for the establishment and management of a province-wide service delivery system. This includes ensuring that services are delivered to Southern First Nation Citizens throughout the province, as well as people who choose the Southern Network.

In 2003, by proclamation of The Child and Family Services Authorities Act, four new Child and Family Services Authorities, including the First Nations of Southern Manitoba Child and Family Services Authority (Southern First Nations Network of Care) were established.  Through the AJI-CWI, the child and family services system has been restructured with the intent to better respond to and meet the needs of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba. 

The Southern First Nations Network of Care. General Assembly entertainment.

The Child and Family Industry in Manitoba (Canada, New Zealand,Australia and the US) has been very difficult on the Indigenous family and community. The problems are many: apprehension, laws and regulations not fitting with Indigenous community, bureaucracy disconnect, political disconnect, among other issues.

In Manitoba there are no clear answers to the nightmare of the Child and Family systems for Indigenous families and their communities. The legislation in some instances make it difficult for the Child Family Agencies to utilize some discretion. The reality of not following the rules could leave the Agency and the worker is a world of hurt and liability.

The sad thing about the SFNNC is that it can only follow the provincial legislation. What that means is that it is a another level of bureaucracy. It can challenge the legislation but has no real means to do it. So what can it accomplish? The status quo does not work for Indigenous community. The government does not seek input from the SFNNC. The government decides, announces and defends its decisions regarding Indigenous children (DAD principle). The strength of SFNNC is its communicating directly with communities through the agencies in the community. SFNNC has to take a stronger role in challenging the government and legislation. The consequences of standing up to the government are worth it. Its for the Children.

There were a number of speakers at the General Assembly.  Striking comments made at the annual assembly were made by Katherine Whitecloud. She said "I can't agree with a system that doesn't love our Children". She also said her Grandmother told her that "Someday you will eat your children". It has been said by others as well. Ms Whitecloud told the story of a former drug dealer; and his best days of sales came when it was the Child Tax days. In other words parents eating (drugging) off their children.

NOTE: The Caring Society


Friday, October 13, 2017

Points of View: Canadian Human Rights Museum Photography Exhibition

I had two of my photographs selected in the Canada Human Rights Museum contest. I was pretty shocked and excited. When you see the group of pictures selected you get a little shy as there are some very talented eyes out there.

I was lucky enough to actual meet some of the photographers. I would recommend going on their site and viewing the stories that go along with the pictures.



Below is the information from the Canadian Human Rights Museum web site.

Photograph by Jessica Sigurdson/CMHR-MCDP.

A National Human Rights Photography Exhibition

Points of View is a national juried human rights photography exhibition. We crowd-sourced exhibition photographs from people across Canada. The photographs tell stories of passion and protest, family and friendship, suffering and struggle, hunger and hope. Through this exhibition, Canadians share their views on human rights.
The 70 photographs explore human rights within four themes: Freedom of Expression, Reconciliation, Human Rights and the Environment, and Inclusion and Diversity.

Where did the photographs for Points of View come from?

From all across Canada!
We issued a Call for Entries in the fall of 2016. Photographers uploaded their images through an online portal. The submission deadline was December 31, 2016. We received nearly 1,000 entries, made up of incredibly diverse images from all across Canada

How did you choose the photographs featured in the exhibition?

A diverse, multi-disciplinary jury selected 70 photographs for the exhibition. Jurors have wide-ranging backgrounds, in areas such as human rights, law, museum curation, photography, photojournalism and art. The jury also selected the overall winners for each category.

Monday, October 9, 2017

For the Passed On: To The Sky World

Bear Fox

"Let's put our minds together as One  and remember the ones who have passed on to the Sky World."

Beautiful video and song by Fox Bear.


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mr. Fred Kelly Teachings of Turtle Island

Miigwech Mr Fred Kelly

Mr. Fred Kelly.
Fred Kelly is from the Ojibways of Onigaming and is a citizen of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty Number Three. He is a member of Midewewin, the Sacred Law and Medicine Society of the Anishinaabe. He is a custodian of Sacred Law and has been called upon to conduct ceremonies across Canada and in the United States, Mexico, Japan, Argentina, and Israel. He is head of Nimishomis-Nokomis Healing Group Inc., a consortium of spiritual healers and Elders that provides therapy to victims of the trauma and the horrific legacy of the residential school system. Fred is a survivor of St. Mary’s Residential School in Kenora, Ontario, and St. Paul’s High School in Lebret, Saskatchewan. He was a member of the Assembly of First Nations team that negotiated the historic Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and continues to advise on its implementation. He has served as chief of his own community, grand chief of the Anishinaabe Nation in Treaty Number Three, and Ontario regional director of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Fred is fluent in the Anishinaabe

Anishinaabe World View and Cosmology

 In the beginning, the Creator placed the four colours of mankind in the four directions: the yellows to the east, the blacks to the south, the reds to the west, and the whites to the north. To each was given special gifts and instructions by which to live in harmony with all creation. The people of the four colours would come together and, abiding by their respective instructions, would thrive in the collective prosperity of the human family. While distinct from each other, they were nevertheless equal in life, in will, and in freedom before the one and only Supreme Being; however, each one would understand the Creator. For the Anishinaabe, life is Pimaatiziwin, and its meaning is more than mere existence in a chronological progression of time. It is perfect, and it is intrinsically connected to Kizhemanito, the Great Spirit—the maker of all things. Therefore, like the Creator, life has no beginning and no end— everything that ever was continues to be, and everything that will ever be already exists in spirit. Pimaatiziwin, then, is the completeness and totality of creation itself imbued with the spirit of the Creator. In every direction of the sky is the eternal expanse of our cosmos in which, far beyond the human mind and eye, the physicality of life began. The Creator summoned four spiritual beings who, in their sacred essence, were in colours we would come to see as red, green, blue, and yellow. With them, the Creator shared his wishes for creation. Blowing a sacred wind toward one another with such force and speed, they created the breath of life that would permeate the cosmos.

Sky Order Woman (Nenaikiishigok), who had been given the duty to maintain perfect harmony in the heavens, thus assigned all starbeings to their places. We see them even to this day and night. Then she asked others to encircle the clearing that had been created by the swirling winds. This opening came to be known by the Anishinaabe as Pagonekiishig, meaning “Hole-inthe-sky.” The constellation Pagonekiishig is seen clearly as four concentric circles consisting of eight stars in each circle. These circles would become the life channel for life in our world, and it reveals the genesis of the Anishinaabe. Amidst all the starbeings was the special one that we call Grandmother Earth. At first, only the grandfathers—the mountains, the rocks, the boulders, the  stones, the gravel, and the finest of sand were on Grandmother. Then soon they wanted to share their place with other beings and asked the Creator to bring down other life. In time, one by one, four star spirit ladies appeared. The first one announced as she came down: “The Great Spirit has heard your pleas. And has sent me down to you.” As she spoke, something the grandfathers had never seen before began to trickle amongst them. She spoke again: “That which you see among you is saltwater. The Grand Father will place all waterbeings there, and I will look after all that. I will be with you forever.” The second star spirit lady now made her appearance and spoke: “The Maker of Life has heard your invocations, and I have also been sent down to you.” As she spoke, mists of water began to rise, forming clouds that fell back upon the rocks. “That which rises and falls upon you will cleanse and purify you and all the life that will grow among you. I will look after the rainwater. And I shall be with you forever.” The third star spirit lady came down and said: “Now among you have been placed your brothers and sisters: the trees, the plants, the winged-ones, the four-leggeds, the waterbeings, and the crawlers. They will need to drink and be nurtured. I will look after the freshwater of the lakes, rivers, streams, and springs. And I shall be with you forever.” Finally, the fourth star spirit lady came down and spoke kindly and softly: “The Grand Father has also sent me in answer to your invocations. He has heard you and is now preparing to send the two-legged brother down for you to love. He will be absolutely dependent on everyone and everything else in creation—all of us. He will carry sacred gifts of our Grand Father Creator, but he will not know how to use them unless we show him. We will all look after him and we will give him everything he needs. So helpless will he be that he will need to be cradled in sacred water inside the woman before he is born. It will be thirteen times for the Grandmother-That-Lights-The-Night-Sky to shine in her full glory before this one is born—four times as we prepare the woman who will carry him and nine more while he is inside the woman. I will look after the birth water and I shall be with you forever.”

The Origin of Turtle Island

So it was that the Anishinaabe came down through Pagonekiishig and was placed on Turtle Island, the western hemisphere. Why do they call it Turtle Island? The Turtle is one of the most exalted spiritual healers and benefactors of the Anishinaabe. Among his many other functions, he is the principal messenger in the shaking tent ceremony that is used in healing. He has sacred roles both on land and in water. The Grandmother-That-Lights-The-  Night-Sky so loves him that on each occasion of the full moon, she comes to kiss him. Now, look on the back of the Turtle’s shell (carapace) and one can count thirteen platelets that form the shell—five down the middle and four on each side—one platelet for each time the Grandmother has kissed the Turtle. Thus, for the Anishinaabe, there are thirteen moons in one lunar year. So the Anishinaabe accepts this hemisphere as Turtle Island and knows it as his special place i n creation. Nanaboshoo – the First Anishinaabe The first Anishinaabe was Nanaboshoo. There are many stories of his adventures, especially about his relationships to nature and the spirit world. Western-oriented writers have attempted to usurp his value as the first man by relegating him as a mere trickster in folklore and myth. But read Ronald Wright’s views on myths in his book Stolen Continents: The word myth sometimes has a debased meaning nowadays—as a synonym for lies or fairy stories—but this is not the definition I intend. Most history, when it has been digested by a people, becomes myth. Myth is an arrangement of the past, whether real or imagined, in patterns that resonate with a culture’s deepest values and aspirations. Myths create and reinforce archetypes so taken for granted, so seemingly axiomatic, that they go unchallenged. Myths are so fraught with meaning that we live and die by them. They are the maps by which cultures navigate through time. Those vanquished by our civilization see that its myth of discovery has transformed historical crimes into glittering icons. Yet from the West’s vantage point, the discovery myth is true. Nanaboshoo is alive and strong in traditional Anishinaabe life. He is responsible for the second creation after the great flood that destroyed the earth. He is capable of transformation. He is the Creator’s baby, factually and figuratively. He has all the gifts of the Creator, yet he is totally reliant on nature to survive. He learned his survival skills by emulating the birds, waterbeings, crawlers, and the animals. He named them all and gave them their distinctive markings and personalities. His adventures are replete with his creations and inventions. His misadventures are the source for the Anishinaabe’s sense of humour and his ability to laugh at himself. He discovers new ways of doing things and assumed new perspectives. He was given all healing and medicinal powers. He named all the trees and knew the healing powers of all flora and fauna. He was at once man and deity with supernatural powers, but did not and still does not know quite how to use them rightly except in sacred ceremony. Who else can this be but the Anishinaabe? Nanaboshoo is a spiritual archetype. Incidentally, when Anishinaabe people meet, they will greet each other saying, “Boshoo!” This has been misinterpreted as a poor emulation of the French salutation, “Bonjour.” The conjecture is not true. Boshoo is a contraction of Nanaboshoo—  an affectionate acknowledgement of the person being greeted as a brother or sister through a common progenitor.

The Meaning of “Anishinaabe” The Anishinaabe is at once proud and humbled by his origin: proud that he is integral to creation, humbled that he is totally dependent on it, and yet loved by all spirits. The word Anishinaabe is a self-designation and has two meanings: • The spiritual meaning of Anishinaabe comes from its two components: niisiina means “descended,” and naabe means “male.” Hence, “the man descended.” In the context of spiritual genesis, this morpheme brings all the sacred nuances of man and creation together in the one word. • The second meaning is colloquial: anishaa means “of no worth or value, nothing.” Combined with naabe, it means “man of no value.” But the Creator does not make anything of no value. It simply means that the Anishinaabe sees himself as neither above nor below any other life form. There is no mention of the woman. To put this into proper perspective, the star spirit ladies who came in answer to the Grandfather’s invocations at the beginning of life on earth are sacred. They fulfilled sacrosanct functions and are still with us, as they said. Women, as we see them, are still endowed with all the spiritual powers of these star spirit ladies and are, therefore, inherently sacred. To refer to them as anishaa or being of no value like the man would be to denigrate their sacred nature as the carriers of life. The Anishinaabe Nation continues to occupy a vast territory on Turtle Island, a tract that runs generally from the Maritimes in Canada and south along the Canadian Shield, west through the prairies, on to the Rocky Mountains, and then southeast to the present-day shores of the Carolinas. To be sure, we share this territory with other Indigenous nations. You know us by various foreign designations. In the Atlantic Coast, we may be referred to as the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Abenaki, and other names; in Quebec, we are the Innu and Algonquins; in Ontario, we are the Ojibway, Ojibwa, or Chippewa; in Manitoba we are called Saulteaux; in Saskatchewan, we call ourselves Nakaini; in the Rocky Mountain country, we are the Blackfoot; in Montana, we are the Cheyenne; the state of Illinois is named after us; in Texas, where some of our nation has settled, we are the Kickapoos. Some of us have also settled in northern California. The people of the nation are also known by other names that may reflect a clan or their geography. But we are all part of the larger Anishinaabe nation and recognize each other as such. 

The Seven Laws of Creation The Anishinaabe received the seven fundamental laws of creation to mediate his relationship with all other life: love, kindness, sharing, respect, truth, courage, and humility. The Anishinaabe sought to follow the meaning of these laws and came to understand that they could be deciphered through the sacred four that had touched him during his descent. The Principles of the Sacred Four Pagonekiishig: the four concentric circles of stars in Pagonekiishig reveal the gifts that give form and meaning to the sacred four of Anishinaabe spirituality. There are four layers of the sky: red, green, blue, and yellow; and there are four spiritual lodges: sweat lodge, shake tent, round house, and learning lodge. There are four drums: little rattle drum, water drum, hand drum, and ceremonial drum; and there are four pipes: red, yellow, black, and white. There are four seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter; and there are four stages in temporal life: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and elderhood. There are four types of clans: winged ones, four-leggeds, waterbeings, and crawlers. These are but a few examples that are only intended to indicate why the Anishinaabe’s fondness for doing and seeing in fours. Spiritualities: spirituality is a personal relationship with the Creator, and there are four principal societies through which an individual adherent may live this relationship. The way within each society is as individual as it is personal and is guided by its own ceremonies. But the four ways are complementary, meaning that a person can belong to all four: the spirituality of the east is Waabanowin; the spirituality of the south is Shaawanowin; the spirituality of the west is Ogimaawin; and the spirituality of the north is Midewewin, the principal society. At the appropriate time of each season, especially in the spring, the water drum calls toward the four directions beckoning all Anishinaabe into spiritual council. They meet at principal places in lodges or places specially designated for ceremonial purposes. Here the laws are recited and feasted. Civil ceremonies are performed. Relationships with other nations are feasted and celebrated. The well-being of the nation is scrutinized. The state of the land and resources is analyzed. Medicines and new therapies are dispensed. Healing ceremonies are conducted. External threats and opportunities are considered, and internal strengths and weaknesses are balanced.

Media of Sacred Symbols: the Anishinaabe is considered to be mostly an oral society. As such, some of the modes used to transmit knowledge are by means of language, song, visual symbolism, mental communication, and practice of spirituality that do not separate the sacred and the secular in daily life. In addition to the oral traditions, the Anishinaabe have a rich and powerful tapestry of symbolic media. The meanings of sacred events in their history are stored in birch bark scrolls, rock and earth formations (petroglyphs), and painted visions (pictographs), to name some of the other media. Sacred offerings are placed where these are found. Language is the principal means by which culture is transmitted from one generation to the next. It is especially vital for oral societies like the Indigenous people of Turtle Island. The very meaning of world views and traditional lifeways are understandable in their original languages. The origin, the history, the peoples’ relationship to the spiritual world, and the land are in the language. The totality of social, cultural, economic, and political systems of Indigenous nations is also in their native languages. The cultural nuances and intricacies of Indigenous constitutions, laws, and governance structures must be explained and understood in the language of origin. A language is one’s identity. A language is an inviolable gift to the Indigenous peoples from the Creator and their ancestors. The Spiritual Name and Identity: the spiritual name is one’s actual spiritual identity. According to the Anishinaabe belief system, each person is a spirit becoming manifested in bodily form through birth. A name is not selected as a mere matter of personal or parental preference. An Elder or a respected member of the community is chosen to conduct a ceremony. Really, it is not so much a name-giving ceremony as it is an invocation to confirm the spiritual identity. In effect, it is the passing on of a spiritual identity to an individual. But it must be done lest the individual becomes spiritually lost, disoriented, or even ill for lack of the spiritual identity. It is not unusual for a person to receive more than one name because spirits constitute one whole spiritual entity. Names may be given before, during, or some time after birth, although parents are urged to have the ceremony done as quickly as possible. Other names may be given out of love or honour, for strength, and also for recovery from an illness. In this way, a name will heal, and a name-giving ceremony is therapeutic to form part of one’s personal reconciliation when it is needed.

Ndotem: The Clan System The Anishinaabe also enjoy a spiritual connection referred to as the ndotem system of relationship from which the word totem originates.   It is told that at a time when the earth was totally covered with ice, the Anishinaabe found themselves in extremely dire circumstances. They were freezing, homeless, starving, and facing certain death as a people. The White Bear (Waabimuhkwah) came down from the north and saw the sorrowful conditions of the people. He took pity on the poor people and adopted them. He cared for them and protected them as little brothers and sisters, and thus became the first ndotem (clan). Then, the White Wolf (Waabimaaingan) came down from the east and also adopted the Anishinaabe in their miserable situation as brother and sister to become the second clan. In like manner, the White Winged Spirit of the south (Waabibinesse) came down in kindness and adopted the Anishinaabe. The White Buffalo (Paashkote Pishikii) then came down from the west and adopted the Anishinaabe and became the fourth original ndotem. In time, all other spiritual beings followed until all Anishinaabe families were adopted forming the original clan system. These events established the sacred lifeline to the four-leggeds, the winged ones, the waterbeings, and the crawlers who continue to look after the Anishinaabe. It also explains the spiritual dependence of the Anishinaabe on other life that enabled them to survive and maintain continuity. The Anishinaabe who seek personal healing and reconciliation must therefore know his or her clan. It is absolutely vital to the spiritual identity

Your Real Kids, the Blended Family

The other day I was driving a friend to downtown Winnipeg. He started talking about my Granddaughter.  His brother is the dad of our granddaughter. Our granddaughter is from our oldest daughter. I told my friend, "yeah the baby is awesome and we are so lucky to have her". Our baby girl is four and we have been raising her since she has been a month old. My friend said it was great for me to  have her especially since she was from my blood. I didn't like that but I didn't respond. I just told my wife this about baby being my blood and boy was my wife upset and I don't blame her. She doesn't believe in that kind of distinction. It is a hurtful thing to say even if people don't intend it to be disrespectful. It is like saying our love is limited to our DNA.

My wife and I have a blended family. I have two children from a previous relationship and my moral compass, my hero, my best friend and wife has a child from a previous relationship as well. We also have a child together; she is our youngest child. Our children are grown up now and we have three grandchildren. Our oldest boy has two kids and our oldest daughter has one. The grand children are ours regardless. We became a couple when our children were young. Of course it was an adjustment. There was some real good times and some rough times. The rough times on account of my insecurity and immature jealousy. It took some time, some patience on my Wife's part and some growing up on my part. We did make it. It was not without some struggle to start with. The "my kid, your kid" was a weaponized statement. It was used as a weapon; a club of insecurity. Now our blended family is no longer blended; our family is just our family. There is no "your kid" or "my kid" going on. Although now we may tease about the kids, "your kid." 

The other day I stopped to pick up a parcel that was from the pre-school fundraiser. The Woman handling the fundraiser was very nice.  There was an older gentlemen with her as well. I shook his hand and he introduced himself and he told me he was the step-father of the woman. It was interesting. I remembered what my Mom wrote on her death bed. My Mom was really sick with cancer and was dictating to her sister about Mom's wishes. In her death letter she talked about her siblings. She said the oldest brother was her brother and there was no such thing as step-brother. My Uncle Louis was her oldest brother. My Grandfather's first wife died and he remarried. His son Louis was the son of his first wife. To my Aunties and Uncles he was their brother and that is that.

As a young guy I heard many older relatives talking about other kids of a family, the blended family kids. It was not always pleasant conversations. It was the way it was, but shouldn't have been that way.

The really sad and messed up thing, it is the kids who are targeted. I know plenty in our community that are the outsiders in a blended family. It shouldn't be like that. My oldest grandchildren do not have DNA markers of mine. I dread the thought of someone saying to them or to me that they are not my "REAL" grandkids. They are my babies. It would hurt me deeply. I am their grandpa.

This week the government of Canada is trying to do something about their actions regarding Indigenous kids. The government and their agents stole thousands of kids from their parents and gave them away or sold them. These kids became the blended kids in other families. Do you think they were treated like "family"?  Some very luck ones yes. Others were the outsiders, the not real part of the family. Can you imagine that, growing up not being part of the family? I wonder if blood is the only thing which makes us family? It should not be. Look at it like this, your wife or husband is not your blood but they become your family, after all you don't marry your sibling, do you? So DNA, blood does not make a family. You become a family with friendship, and yes, love. 

My Mom didn't like that kind of thing, the outsider. Kids need to know they are loved all the time. People have to overcome the urge to be hard on the kids. Kids remember and will not forget what is said to them. Let's hope they have good memories. This reminds me of the time an older relative requested I ask my Mom about his Dad. You see there are stories that my friend, my relative is actually our uncle, as in his biological Dad is my Dad's Dad (sounds funny eh?) - my Mishoom. So I asked my Mom who was my friend's Dad. My Mom got mad at me and only said, "his Dad is his Dad." This was the end of the story. 

There is enough hardship in life that our children will endure, let's not add to it. Let's be kind to them after all they are real kids.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Being Fair Skinned Indian

"Fucking Whiteman". I was recently called this on my Facebook page. The author of the comment is actually a family relative. He pretended he didn't know who I was when he posted and insulted me. It still stings when this is said to me. I grew up in our Reserve of Sagkeeng and the taunt was common. It is funny because lot of the taunts came from my First Cousins and friends. The taunt was meant to hurt and of course it did hurt. It hurt quite a bit and it helped shape some of my attitudes towards people. I carried the Indian in me as a challenge. When ever I was slighted in any possible way, I immediately attributed it to being an Indian. If I was short changed in a store or had a food order given after someone else who was after me in a restaurant, I would get upset and say so. I was so stupid. Can you imagine the confusion of the people who I accused of treating me like an Indian? I can just see them in their heads thinking "what's going on here"?

I have since accepted the fact that I don't fall into the Indian category in the looks department. So now my outburst of racism are muted. Now I know if I am slighted it's because I am an old white looking guy. I save my comments about racism to people who actual know I am an Indian, aka Anishinabe, Indigenous. So now I have shaped my attitude to one of being an apologist. I apologize to other Indians and non-Indigenous people for my fair skin. I have to make sure to state my pedigree (family, community) in order to be taken as an Indian.
Eric Robinson & Steve

I know many of my friends still say things like "Oh he's just a white man". Now added to that description is the word, old.  It is now part of the formula; I am an old white man. It's quite funny because I kind of like the old tag to my handle. I know I am older but not old, like in old, walks with a cane old. I will never accept white man in my description but that's not up to me.  It is funny because for some people, other Indigenous folk, the colour is the only thing they have to grab onto. 

You will find many writings about the personal journey of Indigenous people who are fair skinned. The theme is always about trying to find acceptance among our own people and relatives. Heavy weight to carry when the outside world doesn't like who you are; Indian. Heavier still when your people don't like a part of you. I realize they need to step on the neck of others to make themselves worth more. It is also an attempt to mute your voice. You opinion is less than others, so any words you have on an "Indian" issue is not weighted as much as theirs. 

The thing is our Identity has been savagely attacked by society and we are trying to counter those attacks. Be proud, know our history, our value and our Spirit is a difficult trek. Especially when we have many other battles to wage as well. There are many, many Indigenous Women and Men trying to find their identity by accepting their cultural Teachings. I battle it by just shrugging it off or even laughing at myself. Me, my wife and youngest daughter tease about my white looks, especially when I spout off about white people.

The hardest thing to deal with is the condemnation from other Neechies for being who I am. I guess the best thing I can do is to ignore them. It's them who have the issue. It's them that carry a stick to hit others with. Still it's hard. When they insult me they  insult my family, my large and extended family. The insults may seem funny to them. 

I am very fortunate that I did grow up knowing my relatives and my community. My skin colour doesn't define me. It may have affected some of my attitudes but never my values; love of my people. I guess it will always bother me to be called White because it is not who I am or who my family is. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Battling Misogyny in the Indigenous Community

I had to look up the word misogyny the other day. I mean I know generally it has to do with the hatred of women but I was not sure of context. The way it is used historically and how it applies when we label someone a woman hater. We kind of know the President of the United States is a misogynist (among other things) a woman hater. We know because of his actions. I was wondering if there were different levels of misogyny or is it just one label to describe all the type of wrongs done towards women. I was wondering because there are tales of abuse to women in the media.

A battle is going on in the media regarding the new leader of the NDP; the Manitoba provincial left leaning political party. The newly elected leader of the NDP, Mr. Wab Kinew has been accused of throwing his ex-girl friend onto the rug causing her injury about 14 years ago. He has denied it occurred. Wab Kinew is an Indigenous man and he is the whole package; very articulate, educated, talented, well liked and handsome. He was raised by a father who was a Traditional Anishinabe, respected Elder and a respected, well educated white mother. Is he allowed a pass on his past transgressions? Or will the label of misogynist stick with him forever?

I think Women (oops, almost wrote our Women) have been at the shit end of the stick in society (and the people of color as well, in Europe and America specifically). I say it starts with any of the belief systems.  Christian society is notorious for its subtle and not so hidden views of domination on Women. The Indigenous community, after years of being bombarded with persecution for being who they are have embraced many of the nuances of Christian beliefs. Its funny the media seems to focus on the Muslim as the typical Woman hating belief system.

We as a community regardless of how Traditional beliefs we hold onto, are living with remnants of the Canadian onslaught to rid the country of the Indian. So of course we have those Woman and Indian hating traits. If you know Indians you know this. So when we see Indigenous people saying or doing something, we can guess as to what is happening. We know there is baggage, lots of it. With baggage there tends to be clutter.

The problem with the Kinew thing is not that he didn't do something to his ex-girl friend, its the nature of how it came out and the now denial by him. Media is saying "we believe her" and what does she have to gain by bringing it out? That's the thing, they dealt with it those years ago. The result of them dealing with it, is that they split up. So it is weird that the media makes it seem like the fight took place last week? Kinew and the Woman have been played by the media and by players in the world of politics. No matter what has happened the incident has made both of them scapegoats.

With Men in the Indigenous  community we try to give homage to the Women in Ceremony. A very good gesture and needed. However,  much of it is mostly words and actions don't follow the words; Mother Earth, Water Carers, Givers of Life and such.  We do that a lot in the community say good things; words like we need to look after  our children, our Elders and our Women. Our actions are different. Of course there are exceptions as is in all communities. There are those who are earnest in their words and their actions. So I am speaking generally about men in the Indigenous community.

We are so insecure and so jealous that we carry that into our lives and actions. "You were fucked before I fucked you!" "I wish I knew you long before." The types of statements you will hear men say to their "loved ones".  It is so ugly the way we think of Women. We use the "C" word (cunt) as the ugliest thing we can say to a person. When I grow up a couple of words were Pahgun and Frog. Both were meant to be euphemisms for the Vagina. So by association, the words to me, seem ugly, just as the C word was.

So where do we go with the battle to stop misogyny in the Indigenous community?  I think the word may lose its  impact with the way it is used in some cases. Doing harm or abuse to Women, children, Elders is plain wrong. When we harm them does that automatically mean we hate them? Or is it because we are selfish and stupid?

I hope to see a time where we really know how Sacred Women are. We have lost the action of seeing them in that way. We are conditioned to look at them in the second. To see them as lesser. That is not the case and we have to understand that. We have to make amends everyday, every hour, every minute to let them know we see them as the Life Givers they are. We can start with trying a little awareness, like calling them Babe, and other names. We call them words that seem harmless but really its part of the problem.

I watched a documentary on the Vietnam war.  On the show you heard a war Veteran say something profound about killing in the War. He was very upset at the first man he killed. He hated them for doing that to him. Making him kill them in war. So to combat his guilt he said "I stopped thinking of them as a human being and thought of them as a thing, an object; Gook, Zipperhead, Sloat. It made so "I never killed another man" but I killed a thing.  He went onto say it is text book racism.  Take the man out of the equation and make them an "it". I wonder with the amount of Indigenous Women that have gone Missing or have been Murdered in Canada, if that is one of  the reasons?  Where they are not thought of as a person? The extreme of hating and abuse to Women is on display for Canada to see. I hope Canada is looking. Society has made Women into an object. So the object loses its humanity in the eyes of society.

This making someone into a thing is what we have been doing with Women. Society is good at that: Bitch, Temptress, slut, whore, home wrecker, Barbie, etc. Its the constant labeling them as something other than a person.  To overcome this, we can start with seeing them as a person and not a thing. Of course we may not consciously realize that we are doing it, (labeling them as things) but that is why we need to become aware. Men abuse Women in other ways as well; with the disloyalty of being a partner, (a cheating dog) with hard words (you dirty)  and with neglect . Abuse is more than the hair pulling and tossing them to the ground or kicking them in the head. Abuse has many forms.

Like many folk I have skeletons. I have a bad history of not being good and being abusive. I was ashamed to say the abusive term and said things like, "I was volatile".  Like using different name for it makes it cleaner. We should be ashamed but we should also be judged with how we have tried to make  amends and continue to make amends. How does growth happen if we keep chopping the tree and keeping it down?  Still there are times when we need to see and wait to see if the past abusers are sincere in their repentance. For me I have a difficult time accepting the gang member. They are abusers of not only women, kids and Elders but are to the whole community. Yet after they "have left the gang", even for a short period, they have the ear of many folks; Chiefs, Councils, Grand Chiefs etc. They are the repugnant ones, only interested in a selfish lazy greedy life. So the amount of time where we see amends and label them as abusers is an unknown thing.

I think in my community people may know of my ugliness. My sister will bring it up once in a while to make sure I never forget. I don't forget. I live with the regret and the ugliness of who I am and was. It makes me try and be better. I will never get there but the journey will be taken until I am gone.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Bury the Bitterness

Warning. This post is filled with profanity and ugliness. So please disregard if you want to stay in a good head space right now. Come back and read if you feel like reading me gripe.

I learned the hard way not to vent to others. Write it down. Throw it out. Tell God Keep it to yourself

Canada is celebrating 150.  Canada is funny. We can talk about the whole Canada and Canadians defending and denying their treatment of Indigenous people or we can talk about more personal issues.

I am bitter. Bitter about the racist turds in Canada and the US. They are so ugly. I am bitter about White people in general. They are so messed up. I am bitter about growing old. I am bitter about the government sucking arse to big money, the lobby groups and face companies. I am bitter than a man like Trump exists in the world. I am bitter that he is allowed to shit on people and live large. I am bitter that his kids are arseholes. I am bitter that his wife sold her vagina for a piece of gold. I am bitter that Trump gets to fuck people over and is rewarded for it over and over again. I am bitter because of how stupid people are. I am bitter because evil fuck lords seem to winning in the world.

I am bitter because my son is dead and evil selfish people live life with no regard for the world. Why can't there be any way to make them pay? I am bitter because the world is dying. Stupid greedy people are killing the Earth. We all take part in the killing for the all might dollar. I am bitter because I can't say "you stupid fucking white people are the devil". You stupid money chasing arseholes are killing the world.

How come the ugly people don't face consequences? How come its poor people who get the stick up the arse? How come cars keep changing little things on them? They can't use the same lights, mechanical parts and more stuff just ends up in the garbage piles? How come actors and sports players get paid more than a brain doctor or cancer doctor? How  come CEO's of companies only think in quarters? They don't think of lives of workers or the planet, just the earnings of a company after four months?

Why in the fuck do people listen to celebrities? How come leaders are not in the front lines of war? Shouldn't that be the way?

Why do people continue to shit on the Indian? How come even new comers think we get free stuff? Why are Canadians and Americans so fucking stupid when it comes to the Rights of Indians?

Why do I care how people treat us? Why do I always get suckered into believing people are generally good? I mean I want people to be good and live good life. Why can't I be better?

I am angry that good people like my Mom got cancer and died. She didn't deserve it. Yes some people deserve it. Those who are ugly to the core.

I am angry I did wrong things and made ugly choices. I  am angry because I can't change the things I did. I am angry.  I am angry I couldn't be a better Dad, a better son, a better friend, a better husband, a better Indian.

I am bitter that politicians lie. They only think of getting back into office. I am bitter because people don't appreciate what they have.

I am bitter because we are not kind to people running from war, from death, from horror.
I am bitter

I am bitter because I don't live with the bitterness. I hold the door. I will pay for lunch for police and they don't know it was me. I will try to give rides to people who need it. I will try and share a smile to people. I am bitter because I will think of others and go and do something for them and they don't care. I am bitter because its not stuck in me to be bitter. I am bitter because so many of our kids are dying. Dying from addictions and from taking their own lives.

I learned the hard way not to vent to others. Write it down. Throw it out. Tell God Keep it to yourself. 

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 ...