Friday, March 30, 2018

The Strength of Indigenous Women and All Women

Cree-Lyn cutting up Deer.

I was thinking of deceased Mom this morning; "holy heck she was working all the time". I should have appreciated all the strength she had and what she provided us. She was strong in many ways, not just her work ethic or her care for her children. She was a pretty good Mom. Mom was not famous but Women don't have to be for them to have strength.

Its funny how we don't appreciate Women. We take their sacrifice for granted.

My cousin raised her kids to be Traditional. They follow the Traditional Teachings of the Anishinaabe and Cree. They grew up in the city but they keep a constant link with the Land and Traditions. They have a genuine love for the land and the Teachings. It is the Women in this family who are the glue to the strength of their family.

I wish I could have been more aware of the strength of Women as a young man. I was like many, where we take them for granted. There are strong good Women in our circles. There are also Strong Good Women in the public circle and we should appreciate them as well.

Tanya Tagaq: "We went to an elders’ camp near our community and my mother and I went to say hi to them, and one of the hunters there came back with the seal for everybody to eat and enjoy and use the skin, and everyone was really happy about it. My Mother took the picture, and I put my baby next to the seal, and everybody just thought it was the cutest thing in the world. Like it was a really sweet endearment because I honour my children immensely and I would never, ever, do anything to compromise that honour towards them. It was just showing how much I appreciated the seal for giving its life so we could be happy and eat."

Tanya Tagaq is one example of many.  She makes no apologies for her strength. Strength from women can be unsettling for men and women alike. Tanya will speak up and face the consequences her voice may bring. Like supporting the Inuit Seal Hunt.  Tanya Tagaq is an Inuit artist musician from Northern Canada. There is a lot of anger or hostility towards Indigenous Women, Women of Color (and Women in general). We see it everywhere. In public life the Woman is attacked viciously for who they are and what they do and say. Even Women of privilege are not immune to being attacked.

Liberal Minister of Parliament Celina Caesar-Chavannes is being attacked for her voice against racism. "So tired of being attacked as a racist b/c I question racism or speak up against it. The label that does not belong to me. I will not sit & let others say what they wish, because they feel they can get away with it, or others are too cowardice to object. I will speak up  "  Celina is a Black Woman and not afraid to confront systemic racism in office. For her efforts she is being vilified as a racist. 

The strength of women goes beyond gender culture race and profession. Women stood up to the male dominated institution of the police force. They spoke up to the culture of harassment they face with their fellow male officers. Women have been speaking up against the harassment only to met with reprisals. Still they use their voice.

You have to understand when Women stand up, they do it and others benefit. Their strength carries many and not only for Women.

Appreciate the strength of Women. Appreciate their voice. Appreciate their sacrifice. Appreciate their love.


Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pope Francis Shove The Apology.

Pope Francis aka Jorge Mario Bergoglio has declined to apologize to Indigenous people in Canada for what the Roman Catholic Church did to the Indigenous youth in their care. As you may imagine many in the Indigenous community did not take it wellSenator and former judge Murray Sinclair, who co-chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said Wednesday on social media.
“Canadian Catholic leaders who persuaded the Pope to adopt this position should be ashamed of themselves,” Sinclair said. “The shame of those who abused children in their institutions in the past is now theirs to wear.  I can understand the principle of wanting the apology. It's acknowledgement of the wrong they took and what they did. 

You can't really blame those Indians for being upset. Its' not like the Pope's have not apologized before for some of their buggery, sodomy and debauchery.  The Pope (Benedict) has apologized to Ireland for supplying pedophiles with a smorgasbord of kids to rape. Even the conservative Pope (John Paul II) made 100 apologies for various wrong doings, including the Galileo and many other abuses. An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie, for an excuse is a lie guarded.— Pope John Paul II 

One of the reasons for the Pope of the Catholic Church not apologizing is the idea the Church is not centralized. Each of the Churches which had Residential Schools is responsible for their own mess.
You got to admit the old "it's not me" excuse works every time. It's a tried and true method of dodging responsibility.

For me I couldn't care less or give a shit if the Pope apologizes. I think an apology is a good thing but many times it's an empty exercise. I remember about 35 years ago I was at a bar. A guy named Al came in. He was swearing around at this guy named Waldo. Al says "You were fooling around with my wife".  Waldo of course denies it, "No boy".  Al kept on saying "Yes you did, you fooled around with my wife". After a number of accusations and denials back and forth, Waldo finally said "It was long time ago boy". There it was, an admission of fooling around with his wife. The admission was in public so now it came down to Al's reaction. Al got quiet for a second and he said "Well, I want an apology".  Waldo said "I'm sorry Boy". That was it. No other words were exchanged.

You see the whole thing reminds me of the Church debauchery; people are yelling around but when it comes down to it, the Church can say "Sorry boy" but really what does it mean?  It means nothing. If you have to force an apology from someone who doesn't really want to, is it worth it? Al and Waldo are perfect example of how sincere and how empty a forced apology can be. For Waldo it was just getting rid of an annoyance. For Al it was just to vent and trying to get  some satisfaction but in the end it didn't accomplish anything. Al didn't know what to do with the apology.

Pope Francis and his cohorts of pedophiles can shove the apology up their bleached anuses.

* Oh yeah, the use of the word "Boy" is a colloquial saying in our Reserve. Its not disrespectful but used in place of someone's name or title. Commonly used by males in the community.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Wally Chartrand: Circle of Life Teachings.

Wally Chartrand
Circle of Life Teaching
The first 9 grandfathers represent that first nine months in our mothers womb... long ago there were teachings here for men and for women... that father to be would be taken aside by his father, his grandfather or maybe his uncle... and he was told all those things he needed to do, and how to talk to his partner so that the journey would be good for that little one growing inside her tummy... she too was taken aside... her mother, her grandmother or maybe an aunt would take her aside and she too was told all those things she should do during this time of her pregnancy.. she was told where she could still walk and where not to walk during this time... which ceremonies she could still attend and which ones she should avoid during this time... for example, back home where I come from women used to be told not to attend wakes or funerals during this time... the reason being that it was believed that the departed spirit was just leaving into that next level of life, and that it might try and take that little spirit that was just developing inside her belly...
she was told to drink a lot of whitefish broth soup as it would help the little ones brain develop... we knew long ago about the importance of child development ...
or again she would be told to drink raspberry tea as this would make her and the baby stronger when it was time to deliver... on and on there were many teachings during this period both for her and for him... all for the sake that the journey for that little one developing in her tummy would be a good journey.

Circle of Life Teaching (2)
The first 7 red grandfathers represent that first stage of life that we know as childhood... but the old people don’t call it this, instead they know it as the stage of great learning... because everything we learn during this time prepares us for the rest of the journey ahead... I read a book long ago called “Everything you Wanted To Know About Life You Learned In Kindergarten “... made a lot of sense this little book... because this is were we first learn to be in relationship, how to share or how to problem solve... everything we learn here prepares for the rest of the journey ahead... but again long ago... there were teachings here for the little boys and girls and even the two spirits... for example... after we are maybe 2 weeks old our bellybutton cord falls off... well they wouldn’t take that and just throw it away... because there was a ceremony for that... again back home... they would take that cord that had fallen off and they would go into the forest and find a tree that had fallen naturally.. and on that stump they would place that cord along with some tobacco and prayers... all for the sake that, that little one would always know where they are going in life... because the belief was that if we just threw it away that we would wonder this way and that way throughout our journey looking for our bellybutton... so I’ve done that ceremony for my children whereby when their bellybutton cords fell off, I took the cords into the bush along with my tobacco and said those prayers... in case should any of my children ever come to me and tell me that they are feeling lost... you know what I can do?... I can take them by the hand and I can lead them into the forest and show them where I placed their cord ... because as a father I want my children to always know where they are going in life... that’s one of the responsibilities I took when I became their father...
the cradle board (tekanagan)... was useful in that when baby was tied up and secure... it allowed for the mother to look after her other responsibilities of looking after the home and her family knowing that baby was safe... all she had to do was look over once in awhile to see baby safe and sound... the other advantage was with having baby warped and secure... we all know that babies have little or no motor skills... their hands and arms are all over the place... when wrapped and secure in the cradleboard... all baby has his his/her eyes and ears... so it was to help further develop the child’s brain... thus giving the baby a head start ...
Once we learn to walk, they wouldn’t allow for the child to step all over Mother Earth... there would be a ceremony for that ... we called it the walking out ceremony... but this was to begin teaching that child that we need to respect Mother Earth... imagine that!.. when our children were one year old, we already began to teach that child about the first sacred teaching of respect... something unfortunately we don’t do enough today ... we just have to open the paper in the morning to see that our children have not been taught that first sacred teaching of respect... we hear of too many times how someone has killed someone ... we are not teaching our children to respect life! ... again, long ago we had all the teachings that would prepare our children for the journey ahead... something we don’t do enough today

Circle of Life Teaching (3)
The 7 white grandfathers represent adolescents, the teenage years ... but our old people had another name for this stage... this one they called the fast life... because we get to be 12, 13 or 14 and we want to be in the next stage already ... “can’t tell me what to do!” ... because we know it all already ... “don’t worry about it!... I’ll pick my own friends”.... or ... “don’t worry about it, I’ll dress the way I want!”... or... “don’t worry I’ll go to bed when I want, don’t worry I’ll get up in the morning!”... I remember when I was 12-13 years old... the style back then is that we would go into town at Woolworths and buy a brand new pair of jeans... come home and go straight into the kitchen and bring out the scissors, and we’d cut them across the front legs... designer jeans!...we can buy them today for $100-150.00 ... we used to make our own... but then I’d be out walking around with my friends maybe in the middle of January, 12-1 o’clock in the morning in my cut-up jeans (no long-johns), my little white t-shirt and Jean jacket... shivering from the cold!!!! But at least I looked cool !... because no one could tell me, I knew it all already by then...
again, long ago there were teachings here for those boys ready to be men, and those girls ready to be women ... for example ... that boy when he was around 12-13 years old... they would take him away from his community, maybe to a special area... and they would leave him there maybe overnight, maybe 2-4 days without food or water... all for the sake that his spirit helper would come to him in a dream... that spirit helper who would guide him the rest of the way...
by the time that boy was 14-16 years old, he already belonged to one of the society’s within the community in which he lived... whether that was the hunting society, the medicine society or the warrior society... whatever societies that community had, he already belonged to one of them dependent on his skills and gifts... again, something we unfortunately don’t do today... what do we do with our youth? We push them to the side, we don’t create a place for them within our families or our communities... then we wonder why they are so messed up sometime... maybe that’s part of why... because we don’t give them a purpose or responsibilities... they don’t feel valued, but instead are pushed aside... like they are in the way for some reason!...
there were teachings here as well for those young girls ready to be women... but I can’t share those teachings because I’m not a woman ...
Circle of Life Teachings (4)
The yellow grandfathers represent that next stage of life after the fast life... we know it as the adult stage... but again the old people they don’t call it this, instead they call it the stage of great responsibility ... because it’s during this stage of life that we are supposed to come together with that other person.... but with that comes great responsibility...
I remember the very first time that I fell in love many many years ago... I remember not being able to sleep or eat for about a week or two... I just wanted to spend 24/7 with her... but than I noticed something after about a week or two... I started sleeping and eating again... I noticed that love wore off just slightly... and this is where responsibility kicks in... because now I have to nurture that love if I want to maintain it and have it grow... just like a flower, I have to nurture it with water, sunlight and care... love is very much the same... we have to nurture it, protect it and handle it with care... it takes great responsibility to do this... sometimes guys would pop in and say let’s go play hockey... well I can’t just jump up and put on gear and head out the door... I have to ask her first, because what if she has other plans for us tonight?... that’s a part of that responsibility we accept when we go into a relationship... again that’s what they call this stage of great responsibility...
After awhile things will be going really good between the two of us... so what do we do!!!... we now invite new life into the relationship... next thing we know we have this tinny little bundle totally dependent upon us... to feed it, to shelter it, to clothe it, to protect it, to nurture it, to love it... that takes a tremendous responsibility... but again that’s why they call this stage the stage of great responsibility... long ago by the time we arrived at this stage in our lives we knew what our roles and responsibilities were...
Again, unfortunately these teachings have not been taught to all parents... today we see our children growing up in foster care or in group homes, because our parents have forgotten their roles and responsibilities... today we have over 9,000 Anishinabe children in the child welfare system here in Manitoba alone... now we are being told that across Canada that there are more Anishinabe children in care then there were at any given time during the residential school era ... we ask ourselves what are the long term implications of our children growing up in such a system... they eventually forget who they are and where it is that they come from as Anishinabe children... so therefore it is imperative that we support families to try and prevent too many of our children coming into such a system... can we be doing more? ...
One last thought... today I see our Anishinabe men who will have children with this woman, children with that woman, and maybe even children with that other woman... but they don’t take any responsibility for any of those children... they just move onto another woman... where is the honour in that?... just an after thought.
Circle of Life Teachings (5)

the blue grandfathers represents that last stage of life we know as the Elder stage... but again the old people know this stage as the stage of great wisdom... 
because, when we think about it... we’ve traveled all the way from that very first Grandfather and we’ve experienced all those different things that life has to offer us along the way... by the time we get to this stage of life... we have this wealth of knowledge... so now we become the teachers... it’s our role to pass on to those others behind us the knowledge we’ve gained ... by the time we arrived at this stage of our lives, we knew exactly what our responsibilities were... we knew that we had a place within our families and our communities... we were seen as being valuable to the well-being of not only our family, but also to the community...
Today we neglect our Elders... we put them away in senior homes and only go to visit when it’s convenient for us... we don’t take time to go and listen to their stories and their teachings... and then finally one day... we attend their funeral and we state how great they were, how we will miss them... and how we missed the opportunity to learn from them before they were gone forever.. 
Today we neglect our Elders... we put them away in senior homes and only go to visit when it’s convenient for us... we don’t take time to go and listen to their stories and their teachings... and then finally one day... we attend their funeral and we state how great they were, how we will miss them... and how we missed the opportunity to learn from them before they were gone forever.. 

Circle of Life Teaching (6)

The white and black grandfathers in the middle represent those two roads that we all walk at one point in our journey... 
the white ones represent that road we call Mino-pimatizin (the good life)... this is that road they tell us we travel when we practice those seven sacred teachings of respect, love, honesty, courage, wisdom, truth and humility... again... what good are they unless we practice them and walk them in the best way that we can... also... the teachings need to begin from within... how can I love others if I don’t first love myself? How can I respect others if I don’t First respect myself?...
the Black grandfathers represent that other road we walk from time to time as well... that one we call Maji-mekana (the bad road)... this is the road we walk when we abuse alcohol, drugs... when we are abusive to others or ourselves... lying, cheating , stealing....... when we are walking in this way we are told that we are walking upon this road...
but again we are also reminded... just as there are teachings on the other road, there are also teachings on this road as well... for example ... that alcohol is a medicine... cocaine is a medicine... heroine is a medicine... anything and everything that comes from Mother Earth is a medicine... but what happens when we don’t respect that medicine ? ... it can come back to hurt us... and that’s exactly what we see today in our families and in our communities ... is that people have not respected these medicines... and now our families are paying for it... and most importantly... our children are paying for it!
the Black grandfathers represent that other road we walk from time to time as well... that one we call Maji-mekana (the bad road)... this is the road we walk when we abuse alcohol, drugs... when we are abusive to others or ourselves... lying, cheating , stealing....... when we are walking in this way we are told that we are walking upon this road... but again we are also reminded... just as there are teachings on the other road, there are also teachings on this road as well... for example ... that alcohol is a medicine... cocaine is a medicine... heroine is a medicine... anything and everything that comes from Mother Earth is a medicine... but what happens when we don’t respect that medicine ? ... it can come back to hurt us... and that’s exactly what we see today in our families and in our communities ... is that people have not respected these medicines... and now our families are paying for it... and most importantly... our children are paying for it!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Souvenirs... Worth more than Cash

"Memories they can't be boughten
They can't be won at carnivals for free
Well it took me years
To get those souvenirs
And I don't know how they slipped away from me"

Visiting with my daughter this evening. I drove her to an AA meeting. After the meeting we talked about her Grannie and her Granpa. Today is 13 years that the Cancer took my Mom. I miss that old lady. Her sense of humour is lost now. Same  with my Dad. My girl was talking about missing my Dad and spoke of a few memories she has of him; good ones. 
We've been talking about her battle with addiction. The Addiction is a monster that is for sure. I have been encouraging to write about her experience. She is battling with the regrets and the memories of what she has endured and has done. So at a counselling she was advised to start her journal and if its hard to confront her memories to focus on the good ones, no matter how small. 

I keep thinking about my own life and the mistakes, the regrets, the ugly but also the good and the very good in my life. I have some ugly things that have happened. Still afraid to share them. These are souvenirs that I have and carry with me. 

There are souvenirs we get everyday. Like today, I met a very nice vehicle. Yes a vehicle. The vehicle is a Vixen; born in 1986. Vixen is traveling all over the place. He even has nice folks writing about him.  Vixen is the coolest grooviest vehicle I have come across and met.  

I also met a beautiful couple of people today. It was the Feast Cafe on Ellice Avenue in Winnipeg. Feast Cafe is a nice little restaurant owned and operated by Christa Bruneau-Guenther, Ojibwe from Peguis First Nation.  I went to have lemon tea there as I waited for my girl.  Native Reporter Colleen Rajotte was having some Bison there. I believe it was Bison because Bison is one of the specialty dishes served there. I have seen Colleen on television for some time now. Lately she is in the news as one of the 60's Scoop Adopted. The government of Canada is trying to end the legacy of the "getting rid of the Indian" initiative the government actively pursued. Taking Indian kids away from parents and adopting them out to non-Indian parents was one of those attempted methods of getting rid of Indians. Now a lot of those kids adopted out to non-Indian have been finding their way home, to their community to their family. Anyway Colleen Rajotte and the  60 Scoop Indians are not going to stay quiet. So it was a good souvenir I got with meeting her. 

It is quite something isn't it? We are gaining memories every single day. The souvenirs along with those memories will be something we can carry for a while. It takes a while to get those souvenirs just like John Prine sings about. 

Let's make sure those souvenirs are worth something. 

1986 Vixen 
Colleen Rajotte
My Souvenir is my Heart Medicine

Monday, March 12, 2018


"This young boy crept slowly towards the shore line. There was no emotion showing on his brown face. He quickly ducked down. There the Moose raised his head out of the marshy water. His head was shining dark soaked from the water. The Moose looked around, his ears twitched. His head turned towards the water and he lowered his head under the water. The vegetation at the bottom of the marsh was extra tasty. The boy crept forward to get  closer. The Moose raised his head out of the water once again. The ears and his head looked magical as the water ran down and weeds hung onto his great ears and the bell beard. The water cascading heavily from his velvet horns. As the Moose slowly turned his head and perked his ears, he slowly calmed and went back to his early evening meal. He pushed his huge head deeper into the depths of the cool marsh for more of the succulent marsh weed. This time the boy was close to the water's edge. The boy pulled out his sling shot, stood upright, aimed and fired. A direct hit. The hard polished feldspar granite rock hit the Moose on his testicle. The Moose gulped, grunted and fell hard front first into the marsh. He perished because of the shock and the vast amount of water which filled his lungs when he gulped."


"Booshoo Boy, Shake my hand."

This is a story that David Blacksmith told as we sat around the Sweatlodge visiting. His brother Murray had told him.

Yohoo is a phrase. You don't hear it too often anymore. Many of the older men in the Reserve would say that when they were listening to someone telling a story. Yohoo could be said to let a person know he is being heard and you are listening. It is to show the story teller you are in fact engaged in what they are saying. It could also be a phrase to question what you are saying, like the younger generation will say "no way?!" And you of course will say "way" (at least in sitcoms).  It can also be in place of "you're bullshitting." You say "Yohoo" to say you are surprised or doubtful.

The art of story telling is still going on in the Neechie community. We hear stories all the time and almost anywhere. We can be at the Wake service and someone will be telling stories.

When you hear a good story let them know you are listening. Don't be shy to throw in a Yohoo once in a while. So the next time you hear Joseph Boyden telling you a story, you can honour him with a Yohoo, or even better yet, say "shake my hand". After all Boyden is one of the greatest story tellers of all time; he sold the story of him being "Indigenous" and people bought it. I heard he was the great great grandson of Nancy Shanawdithit, the last known Beothuk.

The "hello, shake my hand" is a good way to let someone know they have just told a great whopper of a story. A story so full of shit, that you say "you really told us that???"

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Proud To Be Native?

Yeah Baby! Proud to be Neechie, proud to be Brown, Black Pride, Gay Pride, White Pride.  Oops how in the heck did White pride get in there? That is a different can of fish. Not going to tackle that one.

Native Pride is a real thing. We are proud of being Ojibwe, Anishinaabe, Lakota, Cherokee, Iroquois, Cree, Metis, Blackfoot, Hawiian, Maori  and all those other people of Indigenous Heritage.

The late Comedian George Carlin didn't like or didn't understand "ethnic pride" as he called it. He even quoted the Bible that says "Pride goeth before a fall". I like some of his comedy but have to disagree with him in this debate. He does make some funny and good points about things to be proud for. However, (notice how however is a negative? Why is that? Anyway) when it comes to identity and labels we need to be proud. And why you may ask? Its because of the social factor. Society in general has done a pretty number on Ethnic people, non-conformists, People of Color and the Indigenous folk. Society has sold them a set of goods that spells out how no good they are. How their being different is bad in society. It is the default society in Canada and the US is white. All others are just here. So its essential and its necessary to combat that narrative. We have a world wide story which says we (5000 Indigenous people) are inferior in some way or fashion.  I like the fact that we are in saying we are proud of who we are. It must be said, over and over again and to be said loud.

What does that mean, to be proud of your heritage? Years ago I was speaking to a group of people and of course asked the question, how many of you are Indian? Everyone raised their hands. I then asked how many are proud to be Indian (you have to remember it was at least 30 or more years ago so Indian was a common vernacular to describe us Aboriginal/Indigenous folk)?  Okay, I said, what are some of the things you are proud of being Indian for?  The answers didn't come out as quickly. One guy actually said this "well we don't pay tax". I didn't laugh. The thing is we were at this point in life because of the constant tale of how we are no good and all those good old stereotypes: lazy, drunken, welfare, savage, uncivilized, un-godly. So the tale has been told so many times we have internalized the message. Sort of like advertising, a good pitch will have people buying it. A number of those in the group said they were proud of their heritage. Which is great and what does that entail? Well its our music, our language, our Beliefs, our governance, our color, the way we live. All great things to be proud of that is for sure. The problem is the government along with the Church and justice system have attacked and in many cases, killed those things we once had. Like the Language. No one can say our language has remained intact. Our Clan systems, our Spiritual rites, our way of governance, our freedom of commerce with each other, our whole way of life has been harmed. You see some of the harm displayed in our new consciousness. Many of us have abandoned our Beliefs for a foreign religion. Our parents and grandparents have stopped speaking their original language for a foreign one. We don't have our songs anymore or the dances. We follow foreign governance ways. The abandon of ways was not voluntary. The damage to the collective us was forceful and deliberate. It was and is a constant attack on the Indigenous community.

The measure to change the story about us has to be equally forceful and deliberate. We have to attack those strong held notions that we are inferior. That we were savage and uncivilized. We have to change the sales pitch to one where everyone, not only us Indigenous people, but the whole world recognizes how special we are. We can instruct main stream and foreign audience on how Indigenous people are saving the world. While a foreign system of greed (call it capitalism and expansion) is killing the Earth, the Indigenous way of life can sustain it. How Indigenous knowledge is critical for the betterment of Human existence. While the main stream is planning to colonize distant planets for when the Earth becomes inhabitable, Indigenous people are working on protecting and revitalizing the Earth.

So be proud of being Native. There are many of you who are speaking and learning the language, following the Belief systems of your ancestors, living a strong good life, being strong mentors and partners. You are proud Natives and we appreciate you.

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 ...