Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Stick With Your Own

There is a beautiful song by Van Morrison called Irish Heartbeat. I listen to it but think Indian Heartbeat.  The song makes me think of our people, the Anishinaabe, the Indigenous relatives all over.

You see I have a love for many many people, all kinds of people. I hurt for those we see on the news, dying and starving. I laugh with those we see laughing, teasing and living a good life. At the same time I feel really bad.  I have many friends who are not Native and family who are not Native. They are very good people. Still I see the pain the majority of non-ethnic people do and cause. Is it not my friends fault their people cause and inflict so much damage. I don't need to outline the damage, we see it play out every single day.

It pains me but I have known this realization for a long time. We as Anishinaabe folk have to stay with our own ones.  I have a good friend  who is Portuguese. He told me sometime ago about how people stick together. We have a mutual friend who is Italian, a very good guy. My Portuguese friend told me that no matter what, we can marry an Italian but we will never be Italian. Meaning our Italian friend will always view us as "other than Italian." This is how the world is. We see people not like us but as  Others. Others can be good, special and all of that but we are never going to be them. Same with us as Indians, we have great Others but they will never be us. It is not wrong to be us. It is not wrong for Others to be themselves as well.

A friend of mine, Indian friend, had a White girlfriend. They were good together. It was like they fit like a hand and glove. She called his Mom, her Mom and his siblings her siblings. After many years they had a child together. They broke up. She stopped being his friend, and stopped being sibling and daughter to his family. Never reached out to his family.

My wife had these friends. One she treated like a sister. Even had her as the God-mother to our girl. The friend just stopped being a friend. Not a break up or anything. Just stopped. My wife used to reach out and try to maintain communication. The friend only reached out when she wanted to sell something.  Needless to say God-mother is no longer in our lives. Another friend of my Wife's was a younger girl. The younger girl did not have a good relationship with her own mother.  My wife took her as a daughter and when she had a child, we took him as our grandson. As time went on the young woman stopped being part of our family. No real reason why. We went visit her when she had another son. The young woman showed us some family photo albums. I noticed of all the photos, none of my wife and our daughter. My wife was absent in her adopted daughter's family photos, but there were many of her birth mother. My wife didn't seem to notice. I noticed.  I know sometimes friendships just run their course and it's not bad or wrong. Still I have seen many other situations where Others have stopped being part of the Indigenous family. 

I see this quite a bit in the Ceremony community. Others come in and become part of the community and then they stop. The novelty of the Native Ceremony ends and they go back to living in the White world. So for them, they can always just leave the family of Natives.  Our people embrace lot of people into our lives. We don't seek them out but they come and seek us out. It is our generous nature to accept and we do it over and over again. Is it wrong? Of course not, it is part of who we are as accepting of folk. I like that about us. 

The point is we are who we are. We can have many friends who are Other but they will never be us. Not wrong but it tells us to remember who to stick with. Just remember we are different and we should celebrate and embrace those differences or better yet, love the sameness we have.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Decolonizing Christmas?

The month of December is a good month where many faith based celebrations take place. Just before December is to begin a few celebrations and actions take place: Mawlid el-Nabi, the celebration the Prophets birthday.  Advent Fast also starts a couple days before December. In December we have Saint Nicholas Day, the Fiesta of Our Lady Guadalupe, S. Lucia Day, Hanukkah, Christmas Day, Three Kings Day, Kwanzaa, Omisoka, Yule, Saturanalia, Solstice,

For many December, specifically the holiday celebrations bring mixed feelings and in some cases dread. For many Indigenous folk around the world it is an acknowledgement their Belief system was attacked, was changed and no longer part of their life. So December brings out some heartache. It is either a day of a reminder of suppression of your beliefs and people or it is a struggle to buy things you can't afford.

I see many of the Indigenous folk who really despise the "Christmas season" in all its flashing lights and candy canes. They have every reason to not want to celebrate Christmas. What the hell for? Its like celebrating Columbus Day: remembering a raving madman monster.

Me, I have conflicted feelings about the whole Christmas celebrations. I mean I know what it is suppose to represent but I also realize its a commercial holiday tied to an institution which has caused so much horror throughout the world. So no I won't be raising a glass of wine to the New Born Son come this December 25th. Instead it is about a day to see the kids smile, be happy and have a meal with family. Still there is a nostalgia which I can't help but think about this time of year. It reminds me of being a little kid, growing up with bunch of brothers and sisters with Mom and Dad. Mom would use lunch bags and fill them with Japanese Oranges (that is what we knew them as kids), with hard candies, a few chocolates. Each bag would have our names written on them in my Moms beautiful handwriting. We would go to mid-night mass at the church because it was you did. Our home was Catholic. We all have the Church imprint on us. It is about the feeling I had for my family in  those young years.

Today the notion of Christmas in our household is about the family and nothing more. Still the underlining reasons for Christmas will always be there. And until we finally stop the celebrating it in our home, the imprint will be there. Wrong but there it is. Its like many things rooted in colonial acts, we do them but the foundations of what was wrong is still there.

I read this Christian Pastor who does not celebrate Christmas and he says it for the reason that it is not about Christ. He says no where in the Book does it say anything about Christmas.

For me I'm not Christian and no longer Catholic (is hard to get rid of the indoctrination from Fort Alexander Boarding School and  the Reserve) so Christmas is the buying gifts day. I have always really like the act of giving. Give-Aways are part of  our life. We celebrate, we remember, and the Give-Away Ceremony is a means to doing that. The gifting of presents is how I reconcile the December holiday. It works for me.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Just Following Orders. Not Right Then and Not Right Now.

Befehl ist Befehl ("an order is an order") is the famous defense during the Nuremberg Trials. There is the "I was just following orders" excuse for doing ugly things. Today our society is really doing ugly things. We are seeing people who are loyal to ugly leaders, governments, and corporations. So why is it we don't see people questioning the wrong happening in their circle? Look at Florida police force who were told to frame Black people, the officers just followed orders. The United States have a White House staff who are actively lying to the public. The World is going through a climate crisis and people are just following the same route of adding to the crisis. 
Migrant Babies running from Military

A number migrants, refugees from Central America marched towards the US through Mexico seeking to find a safe haven from the horrors of their country. The President of the United States  and numerous politicians screamed about criminals coming to the US. The US President sent Army Troops to the border with the intent to stop the migrants. The US Army were geared up for a war. The first wave of migrants were shot at. The Army shut down the border in California and shot tear gas at people trying to run into the US. There are so many ugly situations happening all over the world. We think it can't happen to us. It is a thing happening far away.  

As we see the ugly is not always far away. it happens in our lives as well. Maybe not in a grand scale but still an ugly event. It can be a very personal action. The police officer who will use the baton on a person exercising Rights to question the powers. The border agent who empties all the water containers left for people crossing the desert. The manager in the office who follows the lead of the company to terrorize the staff into compliance. The leaders who get their colleagues to follow their every decision, whether the colleague thinks it is the right thing to do. 

It is baffling to see how people justify the actions of their leaders. 

The excuse of "just following orders" was not a get out of jail card for Nazis. Nor was it a cleaning cloth for the absence of morals and human decency. The just following orders or just following our leader, does not excuse any of us from our misdeeds and wrongs today. The Nazi situation is of course the extreme but the use of "just following orders" is still wrong today as it was then. 

The government bodies who make decisions which hurt the public are followed out by the numerous politicians, bureaucrats, police/military folk.  I always wonder when they put on their suits and tie, power woman blazers, uniforms if they lose the ability to have decency? 

There is a photo of a police officer spraying a young child with pepper spray. The picture is real and the incident happened in Brazil in 2011. Another 15 year old girl was pepper sprayed by a police officer while in a car and they shut the door on her. There are so many  instances of a public official some how losing their control on the public.  The instances seem to be all to common, with some incidents resulting in death. 

We are in an era of ugly incidents, ugly policies, ugly laws, ugly politics, ugly encounters and a very ugly atmosphere. Big Money and Nations are ignoring the signs of a climate catastrophe. 
People are being attacked just for being who they are.  The attackers are being instructed to do harm, being congratulated on the harm they do and are unrepentant for their actions. After all they are just following orders. 

We all follow orders in our actions. Still we must be held accountable for our actions. The ugly must be held accountable. 



Thursday, November 22, 2018

No Promise of Tomorrow to Come

When I go from this life, let me go in peace
Don?t want your marble at my head and feet
Don?t gather round me oh just to weep and moan
Where that I?m going I won?t be alone
The flowers you give, please give them today
Don?t waste their beauty on cold lifeless clay
One rose with love could do so much good
And I think all would give it if they just understood
Now God gives life freely, then he takes away
What we do for eachother let us do it today
For we have no promise that tomorrow will come
Don?t sing my praises lord after I?m gone
When life has departed it?s not me any more
Just a form that has suffered, A still heart that was sore
For the soul that has blossomed, it don?t need you anymore
So let it freely to God?s evermore

Friday, November 9, 2018

I'm not Good, I'm not bad, I am Me.

I have always said "Be Kind" but have come to know kindness is very hard to achieve. I like to think I am aiming to be kind. It hasn't found me yet. Sure there are moments, many moments actually of doing kind things or just being nice to people. However there are times when I am mean and in one case violent to people. This is the struggle for me. I am considerate and think of others and their well-being but there is a side of me which can be cruel, mean. Does it mean I am a person who is bad? Can I ever say I am a good person?

A friend of mine gave me this book to read: Sacred Contact by Caroline Myss. The jacket of the book says it is a "powerful program for discovering one's purpose in life". Started reading it and thinking this is going to be a chore. Actually finding gems for the mind and heart in this book so far. I understand in many discussions surrounding Spirituality and Enlightenment there is the notion of bringing in various Religious ideologies into the mix. I have to make sure to keep an open mind and not close off  what is being said when Christianity enters the discussion. It is a task to be aware of our bias. In any case this book about becoming aware of the Divine and your own path. It has me thinking about me and my journey so far in life.

There is a past we all have, the hidden secrets, the mistakes, the embarrassment, the kind deeds, the generosity and everything else. If truth be known I should have been locked up for my actions. On the other hand I know I have done very nice things, very generous and thoughtful actions. Its a difficult thing to really look at who we are and what we do. I listened to CBC Radio - Out in the Open show. It was about how people responded to a Crisis (Crisis Reactors). The show examines how people reacted to situations and what they thought they would have done. Some stepped up in Crisis while others froze. "We all want to believe we would be the hero".

I joke and tease quite a bit, some of the teasing is quite mean, and I can do mean things as well, I have been told. I also am very generous and thoughtful, I have been told. Without going to examples of my bad actions and my good actions, lets just say its true, I am very good and also bad. 

So how do I reconcile with the two me's? The ugly mean bad person and the very good nice guy?

I think we are not on a linear plane. I mean things are not like a time line. We don't just go from one thing to another, one day to another day.  I understand as we age we become more experienced and therefore should be more wiser and not make the same mistakes again. Or we know what is good and should continue with those actions we know have good outcomes. It doesn't really work that way. We are a number of things; from the nice person to the ugly and all that in between. Its funny in some ways we are very critical of ourselves; coward, selfish, lazy, rude, mean. We also overvalue our character; super kind, generous, humble, intelligent, attractive, intuitive.

So how would I categorize myself? A good guy? A bad guy? A regular fella?

I like to tease and say I am a "god" (Not thee God of course). 

I think we can get wrapped up in labels. We can be very hard on ourselves for our many mistakes. We down play the good things we have done for others. I want really hard to be able to say, "yeah the Steve is a pretty damn good guy" as opposed to saying "what an arsehole Steve is".

So I will just play it by ear from here on. I am on journey and my journey is about doing things, and the spectrum of those things have yet to be determined. If I have some influence on those things, well maybe most of them will be nice. Funny our vision of who we are and the view of who we are by others are quite different.

At the end of the day if we are keeping score, I think I'm in the pretty damn good column.

As one homicidal manic once said "Its not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes".  So its me counting the score and that is what counts.

So regardless of who scores you (judges you), its your score which counts.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Friday, October 12, 2018

United States the Rogue Nation. Nation of Hate

"The greatest country in the world".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMqcLUqYqrs. The HBO show Newsroom set a scene where a young woman asks a panel why America is the greatest country in the world. The Newsroom anchor answers it is not and lists the reasons it is not the greatest country in the world.

I wish I could explain things as well as these televisions writers did.

The US is a hell for the globe. Right now, States are actively blocking people from voting. Who are they blocking? People of Color, Black people, poor people.

The US is not for freedom, its for the Rich, the White and the polluters. They will kill to show how they are the best country in the world. They are taking children and babies from their parents. The people of the US are actively supporting a leader who is a sociopath.

A lot of comparisons are being made between the US and the German Nazi regime.  The public disregards the notion of the US acting like Nazi Germany. The public and media may say it is hyperbole to say the US is becoming Nazi Germany,  there are historians who say otherwise. People like Christopher Browing say you should be worried.

If you believe the US is the greatest country in the world, I wonder what it says about you.

They are in bed with the Saudi's and don't care. They have no issue with doing business with dictators and countries who don't treat the citizens in a good way. Yet they will tear apart countries who they dislike; see Cuba.

The US has started wars, put dictators in power, robbed countries of their resources, spied on their own people, corrupted their election process, and sold their souls to the devil.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Conundrum Of Being Ex-Gang Member

Everyone gets old. Getting old for some is requirement for changing their lifestyle. Gangsters are no different. So what kind of change can an aging gangster do? Or do they think they can still sell girls, sell drugs, collect money with violence?

The thing about being in the gang, particularly the Indigenous gang, it means belonging to something bigger than themselves, even if it is something disgusting, loathsome and parasitical. Still the gang has a draw for the stupid lazy Indian. Some members are not really given the choice but to join the gang, an ugly reality for the Indigenous youth.

Being in a gang affords the individual a base of power. They won't get respect but will gain audience and have a raised voice because of the fear they bring to the community. Chiefs and Councils fear the gang member. The fear gives the gang member some power over others. Who wants to be beaten up by a bunch of goons, thugs? This is the voice the gang member has. So what happens to their voice when they decide to leave the gang?

The ex-gang member expects to have the same power and the same voice as when they were in the pack of rabid dogs. They expect people will fear them or even respect them. No one respects the gang member. The gang member is a bottom feeder and a user of people. No one respects them. People fear the gang member because there is the threat of harm. With the loss of the gang, the threat disappears. The voice they have gained due to numbers and fear is now mute. The perks of dirty fast money is gone as well. Yet the ex-gang member still thinks they have the power they afforded by being in a  gang.

So the gang member has a problem. They want to shed the skin of rot from being in a gang and join the community. They want to be respected. They want to have a voice. They still want to have the power to influence. The thing is the only reason they had those things, was because they were part of a stink and toxicity of a gang.

How should the community react to the gang member or I should say the ex-gang member? Should all be forgiven? Should they be embraced?

I think its good to have the individual recognize the ugliness of the gang life. The harm it causes to the family, to the community, to society.

However, there is the process of redemption and the act of reconciliation. Reconciliation with what you, the gang member have done to your community, your people. Shouldn't a gang member have to earn their way back into the community?

Thursday, September 27, 2018

"I have my Integrity"

How would you handle the test to your integrity?

Me I don't really know. I like to think I would do the "right thing" (what ever that is). There is this meme on social media where a young guy found money and turned it into the police. The text reads "Boy turns in bag with $12,000 cash  inside.  I pray my kids aren't this fuckin' stupid". 
It is funny but you know it is a commentary of what would I want my child to do? Everyone can use the cash for sure. We can rationalize keeping it for sure. A bag of money? It must be from "ill-gotten gain", right?  It might be okay to keep it. Still you want your kids to be honest and good people.

I have been on the receiving end of good honest people. So I know they are out there.

I tell you what, integrity is a shifting earthquake.

We see integrity or lack of it everyday on television. The public life of the politician and the public personalities, like celebrities. The politician is the master of a contortionist. They can twist and turn better than any garter snake.     

2 Headed Contortionist 
So what does this say about integrity?

At what point do we draw the line? What amount of money will we turn in when found?  We will turn in a wallet with someone's rent money but just how much rent money?

With politician's you can actually see how much money? Canada boasts that it is the "good one", the voice of reason, the country of moral superiority. Still it continues to undermine the lives of the Indigenous people. They continue to sell the notion of "burden of the tax payer" to the public.  They are also the government of Equality for Women. They are also fighting for the future of the Earth with Carbon pricing. Like the two headed snake they are adding to the toxic emissions with the increased production of the dirtiest oil on the planet; the Tar Sands. They twisted and put forth policy in place making a Pipeline  a National Interest. When this failed, they bought the Pipeline to make sure it snakes its way through forest, mountains, waterways towards the Ocean.

The twisting is easy when integrity is absent.

Women are constantly being attacked for speaking up. The lack of integrity on display by men and women.

There was this Women who once said "when they  go low, we go high". Obviously she is talking about acting with integrity. She is naive because being reasonable and having integrity has been a losing way. In boxing you are told "no hitting behind the head, and no low blows".  It is because the low blow is devastating.

Living with no integrity has been leading the world. Remember the whole Occupy Movement, the Me Too movement? They are all movements working towards others having integrity. Hard to teach people integrity when they don't know what it is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Sure Its All About Race. Isn't Everything About Race?

"Why is everything always about race?"
The question


Will come back to post here. For now just enjoy the tune.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Ni' Shaa ga

Sitting late at night thinking about our 25 wedding anniversary. Been some good years and of course many mistakes.  The mistakes were mine of course. Those are the regrets, my mistakes and not realizing how lucky I was.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Indian Reserve the Dependency Incubator

An incubator is great, it helps things grow. "A place or situation that permits the formation and development."  Chickens are grown in incubators. Businesses use it to help grow other businesses. The greatest miracles can happen with an incubator. Babies's lives are saved when an incubator is used. Yes an incubator is a great thing.

Reserves are incubators as well. It is a closed place and situation which permits the formation and development of people. In some Reserves people can grow their language, their cultural ties and continue with an appreciation of their ancestors. The Reserves were meant to keep people enclosed in a confined area so as not to encroach on the lives of the White population. The Indians on the other hand only wanted to ensure a safe place for their children and didn't expect to be confined.

The Reserves can viewed as both a curse and a blessing.  A curse by the restrictions added to them by the Government. These restrictions also had some blessings. In a world where the push is to assimilate into a alien way of life, it helped keep their identity. The confounds of the Reserve kept the traditions alive. The looking after everyone was the part of the Reserve. Sharing with others and a communal outlook. Despite the restrictions placed on the Reserve, the people in the Reserve looked after each, nurtured each other. The Reserve permitted the formation and growth of Indians. While the Residential School system, the legislation of government was attempting to "kill the Indian in the Child", the Reserve incubator system kept growing the Indian.

Time is a constant and with time there is change. The Reserve system has slowly changed the type of incubator it once was. The change is speeding up in today's society. The growth and nurturing of language, beliefs, traditions, and identity has changed. The belief system changed from one of knowing all things are connected and alive, to an alien belief system of punishment, reward and compliance. The change has affected almost all aspects of life in the incubator; the Reserve. Gone are the days of looking after each other. Gone are the days of caring for one another. Now you have an incubator which grows the individual. The individual wants over those of the whole community's needs.

The Reserve system has gone from having people look after each other to looking after only themselves.

The Reserve incubator is growing a large population of individuals with no regard for the community. Individuals have embraced a victim mentality. They have become dependent on the Band office, the Chief and Council for their every want. The Reserve has become a dependency incubator. The whole governance system continues to feed this change. The change from community wellness to individual wants. The Band Office is inundated with people begging for something. On any given day in any Band Office there are countless souls sitting around waiting and wanting something. The wants are endless; a house, a job, a personal loan, a door fixed, clogged water drains and door knobs. How far have we fallen?  The Chief and Council do not have the will to say no to those knocking on the door for hand outs.

The old people would often say to the young ones in a half joking manner, "what you going to do when us working people are gone?"

Those days are here.

But we can work on changing. We need to for the sake of our kids and for the sake of the community.  We know there are many issues and their impact on our lives is complex. The reliance of the Band office is but one of many symptoms from our history with oppression colonialism  and the persistent pressure on our identity.

For many Indigenous folk, lost is the backbone of their identity, their cultural ancestral ties.

“Culture is the backbone of any nation..." Ingrid Goeieman 

"...culture is the backbone for any nation and is also an identity..."  Governor of Sindh, Justice (Retd) Saeed-uz-Zaman Siddiqui

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Good Leaders Need Good Followers

The Assembly of First Nations is holding it election of a new Grand Chief. There is a lot of chatter from regular folk saying who they support and who they would vote for.

For me I think I would vote for the incumbent, Perry Bellegarde. The reason I would cast a vote for him, is just due to his laugh and smile. Only for the reason he is happy. Being happy and being personable is contagious. So being happy is not a bad thing. I have seen the attitude of a few of the candidates and its sour. I am not a fan of sour.  Now whether or not Bellegarde is a good or effective leader is another thing. Despite who gets in at the AFN election they should get the support of their followers.

In the US the president has a solid group of followers. The followers may be a" basket of deplorables" but its where the President draws strength from. The Assembly of First Nations needs to attract good followers. Followers who will support the leaders. If the leader has commitment from supporters, the leaders voice becomes a force you have to listen to. A good leader needs good followers, not sheep. Being a good follower means you are not blind to a leader who is not doing right by their stakeholders. It also means you will be active in the actions of the leader; giving feedback, keeping aware of the happenings of their challenges, wins and obstacles. A good leader of course keeps their group informed and engaged. The sitting on the Throne mentality is a recipe for rebellion. The leader who isolate themselves from their followers is weak. Others recognize the weakness of isolated leaders. The voice of a isolated leader is a determent to all they serve.

So be a good follower and not a deplorable. The deplorable is clueless, misinformed, mindless and a zombie sheep. So the President of the US may not be able to depend on the basket of deplorables for the long term. Still the current President has the sheep support and it doesn't seem to be waning.

Never see People of Color as Zombies? 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Go Ahead, call them Aunty, Uncle

Go to any Indigenous community and you will hear someone call an older person Uncle or Auntie.

Its the way it is.  The kinship of Indigenous people is important and continues to be. The family, and the extended family bonds were almost stopped. For some reason other segments of society discriminate a bit more when it comes to who they acknowledge as their relative. For Indigenous folk there is really none of this limiting who is your relative (unless it comes to dating). So the act of calling someone your cousin or you Auntie was not being used too much when the big heavy stomp of Christianity and the Boarding schools stepped on our people. Weird and not sure why it was not okay to acknowledge relatives?

The practice of calling our older people as Auntie or Uncle has not died. It has been returning in our circles. It is a great thing. It brings us back to how we honored each other. I like that, I encourage it. Sometimes children will ask you, "how are we related" to them. When I speak of my cousin's kids who I refer to as my niece and nephew. We are conditioned in modern society to use the labels; second third forth fifth cousins. There are even tools online called Cousin Calculators.  If I were to guess I would say its the whole White society is into the "individual" thing. They pride themselves on being individuals and independent.

Indians us Aunty and Uncle as Terms of Respect all through the World.

I hope you will continue to call the older ones, Aunty and Uncle.

One of our Relatives from Aotearoa (New Zealand), Carmen Heteraka told us this little story of a young man paying respect to an Older Maori woman.

"This Maori fella was partying around the town. He met this more mature Maori Woman. As things went on in the evening they found attraction in one another. They closed of the evening with going to her place. They engaged in pleasurable entertainment and fulfillment. After copulation they lay together. He looked into her eyes and he thought of the nicest thing he could say to her. Looking in her eyes he said, "I love you... (dramatic pause)... Aunty".

Friday, July 20, 2018

How Long Can We Grieve

I haven't been to visit Compassionate Friends in sometime. Always intend on going but it just doesn't happen. I should make an effort. 

This newsletter lists the children who have died. The list is for parents who have joined Compassionate Friends. Our son is listed in this newsletter.

Seeing your child's name on a list of the dead brings out different thoughts. Sometimes it stirs the emotions and sometimes it brings thoughts. Thoughts which mess you up. Thoughts where you wonder, why? Thoughts where you want to be angry. Thoughts were you want to just give up as well.

So how long should we have our child's name on a list? How long can we grieve? How long before it becomes a drain on others who know you? How long before you are to bury the grief and not show it to anyone anymore? 

Is there a certain amount of time where you are suppose to let "time heal the wound?" 

I can't seem to find the date. I can't seem to bury the hurt. I can't seem to behave like normal people who have lost a child to suicide.

So what do you think? Should we stop  with the misery now?  I mean it will be 13 years and it is a long time. The death should be a distant memory now.

What is the fucking convention for grief?

13 Fucking years and the hurt is still here. So what the heck is up with that shit? 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Silaada: I Miss Your Wisdom

I think I have been blogging for  9 years now. When I first started I just wanted to do something, anything to feel, to feel part of something.

I had been suffering (and still do) from the suicide of my son, (plus other things which happened in my life) and really I don't think I wanted to live anymore.

So I took to writing. I wrote about anything but my love is Indians. Indians with all their self doubts, self hatred, self loathing, their pride, respect, humor, family, community and all they are. So I wrote about Indians and what I think in the Indian world. I know its not Indian, its Indigenous.

Many of my posts  were negative. Of course its where my head was and is. Lately its much more manageable. There were times when I just hated my self and was so tired of pretending. I laughed, I teased, I joked, and teased so much, but it was hard. The thoughts of ending my own life have since eased but never go away. Still there is always a plan, always a revised plan, a time-table, the moving of the time table. Blogging was a distraction.

In my blogging I have come to meet some interesting people. I don't know really who they are or what they look like. Its their link and thoughts which have helped keep me writing. For me there is always the chance I will meet another interesting person. When I get emails from visitors of the blog with questions, it always bumps me up. I look forward to the comments and the emails. I check them daily, sometimes multiple times a day. The comments have slowed and the views have gotten fewer. Still I think maybe one more blogging will spark a new interest or a comment.

Silaada is one of those people who have commented. Her insight is amazing. I imagine her as this strong brown fit Native woman, wise for her age.

Her comments to my blog, especially when I am whining has bumped me up and made me think. It is those who  can make you  think or reflect which we should turn to in times of confusion. They lead the way.

So just want her and all those others I have come to know on here, I appreciate you.

I do appreciate you.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

AFN - Assembly of First Nations: Lobby Group for Canada

This July 25 the AFN will be electing their Grand Chief. AFN is elected by the 634 Chiefs across Canada. British Columbia and Ontario have the most Chiefs. They have a major influence in who is elected. 

I am not really sure of the effectiveness of the AFN and other regional Chief organizations. They are lobby organizations but not sure of really the effectiveness. 

One thing I will say about AFN, they have the greatest declaration out there:

A Declaration of First Nations

We the Original Peoples of this land know the Creator put us here.
The Creator gave us laws that govern all our relationships to live in harmony with nature and mankind.
The Laws of the Creator defined our rights and responsibilities.
The Creator gave us our spiritual beliefs, our languages, our culture, and a place on Mother Earth which provided us with all our needs.
We have maintained our Freedom, our Languages, and our Traditions from time immemorial.
We continue to exercise the rights and fulfill the responsibilities and obligations given to us by the Creator for the land upon which we were placed.
The Creator has given us the right to govern ourselves and the right to self-determination.
The rights and responsibilities given to us by the Creator cannot be altered or taken away by any other Nation.
The problem with AFN and the other Regional lobby groups, is their funding and membership. They are funding by the Canadian Government. Their identity is not as clear as you would think. In  this case it seems the regional national groups are lobby groups for the Canadian Government and not the other way around. The Canadian government has AFN selling their policy ideas to the Chiefs. Same with the Regional Chief organizations. Of course there is always the obligatory table pounding by the angry Grand Chief but at the end of the day, they tow the Government line. If they don't follow Canada's plan, the funding is cut. In some situations the Canadian government just ignores the National group (AFN) and deals directly with Regional Groups.

The whole problem with the Indigenous lobby groups is their real disconnect with the people; all 1.3 million of them. The other issue is their title, Grand Chief. I wonder why they came up with this title? As a lobby group, they are to be champions, fighters, warriors of your cause. The title Grand Chief gives the false notion of leadership over people. This is not the case.

Many First Nation citizen's criticize AFN for them not being able to vote in the election. I totally disagree with voting in the AFN election. For the reason, AFN is a lobby group, so why try and elevate it to a leadership over First Nation's? In theory AFN is suppose to engage with Canada as a liaison for FN's. They don't have government role over the FN citizen. So if the citizen would be voting in AFN, then AFN would be their leadership able to make decisions which could affect the lives of the citizens. So the role of AFN as a lobby group should remain. However they could do a lot of things to be more effective.

So what can AFN do to become a more effective lobby group?

Lots of things.  The title of Grand Chief is misleading and wrong. They are not Chiefs. They are suppose to be fighters, warriors, liaison on behalf of the Chiefs. The Chiefs in turn are suppose to take direction from the community.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Thunderbird House: Winnipeg's Albatross

The Thunderbird House is a beautiful community building located in the North-end of Winnipeg. The building is designed by the famous architect Douglas Cardinal.

The Thunderbird House is in dire need of up keep and operational funding. The City of Winnipeg is home to some of the poorest people in Canada. The services of the House are open to many different people from different walks of life, Indigenous and non-indigenous. The House serves as a hub to Indigenous population in Manitoba. Various activities in the House have ranged from: Wake services for Elders, Adoption Ceremonies for Children and adults, Sundance preparation Ceremony, Sweatlodge Ceremony, Wiping Away the Tears Ceremony, Suicide grief and loss gatherings, different training venues, social events, government events, fund raising activities for many causes, and various community driven events.

The House needs financial and political support. The House has fallen on difficult times, both structurally and financially.

The City of Winnipeg funds a variety of community clubs but will not help the Thunderbird House. It is too bad. The population it serves is poor.

Winnipeg has a very large and growing Indigenous population. It could do well to champion the Thunderbird House.

As it is the Circle of Life Thunderbird House is becoming an eyesore. The beautiful copper roof is in need of repair. The washrooms plumbing has to be fixed. The grounds are keep clean by volunteers. The Thunderbird House provides a lot of services and rents out the space but it is not sustainable. There are only so many renters of events available in the City and there are many venues to choose from. Even if the House was to be rented on a much more frequent basis, the revenue generated is not enough to sustain the operation: mortage, utilities (garbage bins, electricity, internet, phone) taxes, supplies and so on.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

7 Grandfathers.

Wally Chartrand
7 Grandfathers Teaching

7 grandfather rocks are placed to represent grandmother turtle... it is a reminder of acknowledgment and gratitude for all that she gives us so that we may have this life...
the first grandfather at the top represents “that fire of long ago”... and how that fire almost went out for us as Indigenous people of Turtle Island... because when the Europeans first came here to Turtle Island... they brought with them their own ideals and beliefs... they saw the Anishinabe people here and they thought that their ways were better then ours... so a not-so-long-time ago in Canada’s short history... it was against the law for Indigenous people to have ceremony... the old people would be threatened with limiting their rations... or threatened with imprisonment should they continue to practice their heathen ways... so under the cover of the setting sun, the old ones would sneak away from their communities into the forest... and away from prying ears and eyes they continued to ceremony knowing if they were caught that there would be consequences to pay... so the old people tell us that’s how the fire was kept alive...
the middle grandfather represents “the fire of today” and how it is that the fire is becoming stronger once again... how more of our people are coming back to ceremony... how, more of our young people are coming back to ceremony... wanting to know who they are and where it is that they come from... and it’s not only our people, but it’s also our relatives from the other three human tribes... they too are coming to ceremony wanting to regain their place within the sacred hoop... so they say that for these reasons the fire is getting stronger once again...
the third grandfather at the bottom represents “the fire of tomorrow “ and how it is our responsibility to ensure that it never goes out... how it’s our responsibility to make sure that we pass on our teachings, our songs, our knowledge of the medicines , and our ceremonies... to ensure that the fire will never go out...
The four grandfathers that make up grandmother turtles legs represent those four elements we all need to have life... earth, wind, fire and water... they represent also the seasons of life... childhood, adolescence, adulthood and Elderhood... the old people tell us there is something wrong with this circle today ... that is ... children today are not being taught the 7 Sacred Teachings early enough... so our children today are not growing up to respect life as one example ... we just have to open our papers in the morning to learn another life has been taken ... it’s because children are not being taught these teachings early enough... our youth today are too busy living the fast life... they no longer have time to go and sit with the Elders to listen to their stories, their teachings... they say parents today have forgotten their roles and responsibilities... that’s why we see so many children growing up in foster homes, group home and institutions .. because parents have forgotten their roles and responsibilities... they say that some of the Elders have become stingy with their knowledge for some reason... they no longer share or pass on their teachings ... or are afraid to do so for some reason... they tell us that is what is wrong with our sacred circle today...
lastly, together all seven grandfathers represent... the 4 sacred directions because that’s where the grandmother and grandfather spirits sit, they are the ones who guide us everyday... the 5th one represents Mother Earth because she carries us everyday... the 6th one represents Creator... because it’s Creator that watches over us everyday... and the 7th one represents “us”... we are the centre of our being... healing comes from all 7 directions ... if we’re willing to look ❤️

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wally Chartrand: Kindness Teaching.

Wally Chartrand
Sweetgrass - a kindness medicine... has a sweet gentle aroma when we light it... 21 strands to make a braid... 
the first 7 strands represent those 7 generations behind us... our parents, grandparents... 7 generations behind us... our parents, grandparents... 7 generations behind us.. who we are and what we are is because of them.. they’ve brushed and made the trails we have been walking up till now... the old people tell us that it takes longer for us to heal today and the reason is because the old trails our ancestors used to use to find us have been destroyed... they’ve build dams which have destroyed the old trails... they’ve build towns and cities where the old trails used to be... so now our ancestors are having a harder time trying to find us to help us heal...
the next seven represent the 7 sacred teachings... love, respect, honesty, courage, wisdom, truth, and humility... the old people tell us how simple, powerful and beautiful the teachings are... love- a very simple teaching... respect- a powerful teaching... humility- a beautiful teaching... when we truly understand the teaching of humility... that I am not any better then anyone else and you are not any better then me... that at the end of the day we are all simply human beings... this is what makes this teaching powerful and beautiful... the only thing wrong with the teachings is that we don’t walk them everyday... love is only a 4 letter word... it’s when we walk that love, when we show it, when we live it... that’s what makes these teachings powerful and beautiful... one other thing we are reminded is that how can we love someone else if we don’t First love ourself... how can we respect another if we don’t First respect ourself... they tell us that the teachings need to first start from within ourself...
the last 7 strands... those 7 generation in front of us... our children, grandchildren... those children yet to be born... why are they important... everything we do to Mother Earth will one day affect them... right now the earth gives us everything and anything we can possibly want to have the life we have... but if we don’t look after her, what’s going to be left when it’s their turn... the circle that’s around me today, is that the same circle I want to pass on to them... especially if my circle involves alcohol abuse, drug abuse, family violence, lying, stealing or cheating... sometime it’s up to us to break the cycle... and hopefully replace it with something better ...
we put those 3 braids together... they represent yesterday, today and tomorrow... mind, body and spirit.... man, woman and child... man, woman and Creator ....
When my son was born I made him a promise that we wouldn’t cut his hair till he was 7... we cut it 8 years ago, he’s 15 today... but when he was 4 years old he already knew this teaching... because every morning as I’d get him ready for daycare, I’d braid his hair... I’d ask him... Misko what does your braid represent ... sweetgrass he’d say... what does sweetgrass represent my boy I’d ask... kindness he’d say... and what does each of your braids represent my boy... my mind, my body and my spirit was his reply... ok what are you going to do at daycare today my boy I’d ask... dad!!!! I’m going to be kind to my mind, my body and my spirit he’d say... awesome my boy!!! What’s going to happen if you do that today my boy I’d ask... he’d say... dad! I’m going to be STRONG !!!!
You see that’s the second teaching that comes with this medicine... it’s through our kindness that we are most strong... anybody can raise their fist at anyone else... anyone can use their words to hurt or put someone down... but when we have someone in our face trying to hurt us with their actions or words... and to still love, respect and show that person kindness... that takes a lot of strength !!!! ❤️

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Luxury of Identity

We’re not Indians and we’re not Native Americans. We’re older than both concepts. We’re the people, we’re the human beings.

Is it a luxury to think about who you are, about your identity? If you are without food, shelter? Do you consider who you are? I do think identity is the number issue Indigenous people are dealing with today. It is not social ills; like poverty, addictions, housing, education or lack of opportunities. It is their identity that is the biggest issue. You disagree?  I can understand that. After all, in terms of social ills we have them. We have high incarceration rates, infant mortality, suicide, lack of housing, child poverty, high murder rates, high violence rates, sexual abuse cases, family violence, apathy, language loss, homelessness and mental health problems. So which "ill" takes precedent?
It is Identity. You know why? It's because everything, everything about us revolves our identity. We can take a quick look at other identities out there and see how it is everything to them. Take a quick glance at the many different identities out there; race identity, religious identity, sexuality or gender identity and geographical identity.

The identity is the backbone to every culture. Their belief system, their language is fundamental to their identity as well. Guess what is attacked by every colonial structure in history?  Their identity, their belief systems, their language. Of course as time progresses, identity is co-opted. It changes. Just look at the relative new identity of a Canadian and that of an American. These are new identities for people. Some people are still conflicted so they become the hyphenated identity; Italian-American, Japanese-American, Polish-Canadian, etc.  We have seen the struggles of identity when it comes to colonial powers; the Soviet Union is one of many examples of identity battles and how it realized into armed conflicts between neighbours.  The impact of colonialism has changed and created new identities: Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean, Cuba as examples of new identities. 
Okay for Indigenous people, Identity is a battle. The battle was severe and caused much harm. So much harm, it was better for people to hide their identity and pretend to be someone else. The government of Canada made laws impacting Indigenous identity. People were stolen, sent away from their community and cataloged and numbered. Since this time we have internalized the battle (finding our Identity, denying our identity) and have taken the identity battle lateral. We follow the identity labels and laws of the colonialists. We fight against and discriminate against our "own" people in the identity sweepstakes. We attack other Indians who have not adapted to the new colonial belief systems. It is no wonder we are struggling. The act of bullying has been persistent, relentless and prolonged against the "Indian." We know the immediate affects bullying has done to an individual and it can be devastating. Many victim's of bullying have killed themselves. So imagine how prolonged, persistent, relentless state sponsored bullying on specific segments of society has manifested?

One hundred years of social exclusion, racism, and colonialism has manifested as addiction, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and lack of knowledge on how to parent a child." - - Tanya Talaga Seven Fallen Feathers. 

The State is ruthless and knows well to destroy the backbone of a culture, a community, a society is to attack their belief system, their language, their identity.  With the belief system, much of what makes us think we are worthy in the world is taught there. Our belief systems affects how we see the World and how we see ourselves. One example is the view of the world in animate and inanimate ways. Indigenous see life throughout the Earth and it ties us to the World. With those beliefs damaged we question our own identity; we may see ourselves as less or not belonging, among other things. So identity is crucial. If we are to meet the challenges of the social ills, we need to have a solid footing where we can start from.

You don't think identity is key. Look at the groups affected by colonial attacks on their identity. The American Black population is one group devastated by the attack on their identity. They are constantly fighting to claim their identity; Negro, Colored, Black, African-American, Baptist, Nation of Islam for example. The North American Black population have a difficult time flushing out their ancestral nations. The affect on colonialism has been devastating for them. With the Indian, the Aboriginal, First Nations, Indigenous, Anishinaabe, the colonial attacks are still happening. 

If you are hungry.

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 ...