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.

Miigwech

Steve


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  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. 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.

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 her wishes. In her death letter she talked about her siblings. She said he 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 with 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.

The really sad and messed up thing, its the kids who are targeted. I know plenty in our community that are the outsiders of 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 granpa.

This week the government of Canada is trying to do something about their actions regarding Indigenous kids. The government and their agents stole a thousands of kids from their parents and gave them away or sold them. This 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 being not part of the family? I wonder if blood is the only thing which makes us family? It should not be.

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.

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 called 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 its 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 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. Its 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. 

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 own people don't like a part of you. 

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. 

I am very fortunate that I did grow up knowing my relatives and my community. My skin color doesn't define me. It may have affected some of my attitudes but never my values; love of my people. 

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 subject and thought of them as a thing, an object; Gook, Zipperhead, Sloat. It made so I never killed another man."  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 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. 





Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Rage Against Racism

No doubt, racism deserves to be seen as pure ugly. In Canada we are watching the events going on with Trump's America. Canadians are horrified and basking in their imagined less racist glory.

There are some thoughts on facing racism. Tina Fey says to stay home and eat cake. That is funny. As you know "let them eat cake" is linked to White privilege (although there is some who say it was never said). In any case Tina Fey is a beneficiary of White privilege. Its not her fault. We are born who we are. We should embrace it. The thing about White people is that some are cool with their status in the world, with their privilege. So good for them, they are aware. Yet there are those who are insecure and want more. It is not enough to be way ahead in the starting line of society. They want the others to not even be seen at the starting block. These people are ripe with all sorts of negativity. So negative and so hate filled that they relish in their ignorance and ugliness.

If we could imagine or see them for what they are, I imagine they would be so hideous not even their own Mother's would hold them. That is the racist; ugly and vile. How can they be anything but ugly?
Still people embrace the ugly. They rally around the ugly. They will kill for the ugly.

https://www.facebook.com/katheelizabethmazur/videos/1458901320842094/

Like many people I have been keeping up (to a degree) with the bizarre and ugly things happening right now (2017); the election of a White supremacist president, the increase in public racism, the Nazi rise, the embolden of White Nationalist,, the killing of Black people by police, and just the ugly tone happening in America. It is really upsetting. It is stressful and makes you feel helpless. It also makes people angry.

Anger with no outlet is serious. Anger simmers and it can turn to rage. Rage can be action. Rage can grow from our anger. We are angry because of the injustice going on. The unrelenting racism and the ugly acts. Rage is where we don't want to be. Rage can push us to think and do ugly things.

I remember growing up in the Reserve. The town next to us was filled with White racism and privilege. My Dad felt it growing up from the 1930s and his Dad from the 1800s. The treatment at the hands of White people and officials. So one day my Dad was sighting his rifle. I was  a young teen at the time. He says to me, (this is my Dad mind you, my hero) "If there was a war I would go and shoot everyone of those White fuckers in town". I remember that clearly and its funny as I remember not at all being shocked or anything. (Of course Dad did not go out and shot white fuckers in town.)

Sometimes I feel very much the same way.

Don't we all at one time or another?

Image result for Kill white people




Sunday, August 6, 2017

When We Choose to Die; When to say When?

Its true! You are dying. We all are. So our time is finite. What are we doing with the time?

I met this guy. He is Kurdish. You know what he is doing with his time (besides working)? He is building schools.  He sends money back home so schools can be built. Does he have his name on the schools; like Trump University or The Buhler Building at the University of Winnipeg? No,  the fact is the people in the community don't even know that he is helping build the schools.
One of Four Schools Built so Far.
I see the pride in him when he speaks of the Schools. He hopes to try and build 100 before he is finished. The buildings may seem modest but its not the point. The thing is he is doing something with his life other than existing.

I wonder about legacy and think about many of those I know who have died. What is their legacy. On my parents grave marker its has a saying; Wiinawa Mino Bimadizi - They Lived a Good Life. Now that is a good legacy and a good way to be remembered.  

I watched my Mom and Dad get eaten up by the Cancer.  What a cruel horrible last leg of their life. Mom was diagnosed and went quickly (thankfully). My Dad had started to get Alzheimer's before he got sick. He told me and my brother that he did not want to live if he was going to be a "vegetable". 

The thing about dying is its so finite, the end. I think about death all the time. Not afraid of it. Just thinking about it and when it will come. It will come for us all. I wonder if I will embrace it? Its quite selfish and weird to be contemplating death all the time. There are many fighting with all their heart to live. Its not fair to the sick, the one's living in a hell of a war torn country or those in a country where famine is slowly killing them, or where people are being killed for who they are and where they live. Its selfish to waste life. 

There are babies just trying to live and they are being killed in every community. Still we have those who are living and not caring about life. They abuse the gift of life they have been given. I know many who have cheated death and are slowly killing themselves with abuse. They don't seem to care about the gift of life. When there are those who are struggling to breathe and stay alive. We seem to be so selfish and not grateful for the ability  to live. Is it fair or right?

I am angry at many who are living and wasting life. Abusing their bodies, their own lives. I know this guy who has been through many rough experiences and still has not learned anything about his life. Its his choice of course. I think about the loss of my own Son and feel bad because it should not have happened. Ending his own life. I know its not right to think "why him?" Why us? Why not others? Those who don't give a damn about anything or anyone else? Life is not fair. I for one don't want to live long. I want the ability to leave when I want. But its not up to us is it?

There those who should be embracing death.  Still its all subjective about who should be embracing death. Do you have an age in mind or a situation in mind where you will welcome death?

I think about this. 






Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The Search by a Young Sister to Find her Brother - Adopted Out.

This is a post shared on Facebook. It is the child (Delanie) of my Cousin Norman. This is her story and her words.

We all remember when he was taken.

Taken without permission from Facebook.

Let's talk 60s scoop.
Some of you probably have heard of the 60s scoop. The other some of you probably haven't and have no clue what the 60s scoop is, but that wouldn't surprise me. Because a lot of the stuff that happened to First Nations people isn't acknowledged or talked about. So for those of you that don't know, let me just briefly explain. The 60s scoop was a thing in Canada where First Nations children were taken from their families and placed into group homes, foster homes and where they would wait to hopefully be adopted. Some to never see their family again, never learn their culture or who they are (were). Leaving the parents/family of these kids who were taken from them broken, hurt, and filled with pain. Welcome inter generational trauma. The pain doesn't go away. It doesn't just stop. Neither does the hurt. everyone is effected. the generations after are still effected. How would I know? Because I live it. I see it. I see the hurt. I see the pain. and I feel the broken. Generation after generation of hurt, pain, and being broken. And so I guess someone has to try break the cycle. Here's my story about my brother Lee Ambrose Hall Bruyere.
In 1976 Norman had a son named Lee Ambrose. When Lee was just 3 years old he was taken from his biological family. And moved into the United States where he was placed into a group home, and waited a year till being adopted into a family.
Lee's family members in Manitoba tried to do everything they could to get him back but they never heard from him again after that. Let me remind you that he was only 3 YEARS OLD! imagine having your baby taken from you and never seeing or hearing from them again, awful isn't it. His family would continue to search and fight to try get him back. But everything they would do ended in failure. Leaving them grieving for Lee. As years passed they would still continue doing everything in their power that they could to try reunite with him.
Fast forward into the 2000s. And this is where my contribute in this search begins. I was young when I first learned about my brother. But when I was 9 or 10 I remember listening to a conversation and stories being shared about him and what happened. Then it hit me, I have a brother out there somewhere. I knew his name and later found out the state he was adopted into which was Pennsylvania. So having 3 sisters and always wanting a brother, when I found out about Lee I told myself I don't care what it takes, one day I will find and have my brother in my life. And
hope that finding him would bring some
healing to the family. So I did what a 10 year old with the internet could do. I searched Facebook, Instagram, twitter and google looking for him having no clue what he looked like or if he even still used his birth name. I remember one time when I was searching I typed in "people in Pennsylvania named lee." Haha ya good luck delanie. After being dedicated to searching for usually a week I would give up on myself. I was 10. Then a month or two would pass and I would find myself thinking of him and start looking again. This went on and on till I was in grade 10. I also was doing this by myself, as in I didn't really let anyone know that I was doing all this trying to find him, until March 2016. But when ever I had the chance to talk about him, I talked about him as if I knew him my whole life. I took lots of pride in having a brother.
On March 17 2016 my oldest sister passed away Lee's full biological sister. Me and my sister were really close. And finding Lee meant a lot to her. so I knew that no matter what, I had to find him. During that time I got to see my very first picture of Lee, of him as a baby. I then talked to Norman and told him that I wanna find him, I was sent to talk to Karen the aunty. We talked about him and she told me what she had done throughout the years of searching and having no luck. She told me that she had a letter that was sent to her and that she would give it to me in hopes that it could help me. The letter was sent from Southern Manitoba First Nations Repatriation Program, written on March 19 2004 (Lee age 28) saying his DOB, name and where he was adopted (Pennsylvania) already knew this. And that's what I was left with to try find my brother in a world with billions of people. I'm gonna be honest in the back of my head there was a thought saying that this is impossible you're wasting your time, but good thing I'm a bull head and don't listen. I didn't give up and continued my search. I phoned the number on the letter and emailed but no answer or response, I then looked for the lady's name that was on the letter, I found her on Facebook and personally messaged her. I was informed that the SMFNRP was no longer a thing. At that moment I felt hopeless. I didn't know what I was gonna do next or if there was anything I could do, but I didn't give up. I went online did a ton of research on the 60s scoop to help me understand a bit more. I was only 15-16 at the time, calling adoption reachers and emailing anyone that I thought might be able to help. But it didn't help me. Sometime last year it was announced that the adoption files from 60s scoop kids will be opened in Manitoba. Melissa helped me fill out the forms to apply to get the records. And she also phoned Manitoba adoption agency to help me get info on how everything works. I remember the day we called, I was frustrated angry and ready to give up. We were told that basically if we apply for them but Lee hasn't opened the files on his side then we can't get them. Which meant probably never finding him. I didn't really know what to think besides like what that's fucken crazy! what if he doesn't even know? What if this what if that. All these thoughts going through my head as I was about to give up after all these years. Melissa just says delanie let's just fill out the forms, send them in and see what happens. Ok I'm less heated again so we get the forms done and send them. This was on April 25 2016. Couple months pass don't hear or get anything back. So at this point I'm thinking well that obviously didn't work. Guess it's back to google searching "people in Pennsylvania named Lee" ha not even kidding. I was desperate to find him. I even sent in an application for that tv show long lost family. Messaging random people who I thought could maybe be him. I remember at school I would spend hours in the computer lab trying to get information, names, numbers, emails of people who I could contact to try and help me. Nothing seemed to work or help. It was very frustrating. But yunno I wasn't just gonna give up. I know what it's like to be given up on. Even though at the time Lee had no clue I was looking for him, at least now he knows I never gave up on him.
May 4 2017 over a year later there's a letter in the mail from Manitoba department of families. I never been so anxious to open a letter before, this letter meant everything. So I open the letter, and there it is my brothers name Lee Ambrose Priar. I can't even explain what it felt like, it was just unbelievable. Norman and other members of the family left it up to me to be the one to contact him. Little overwhelming but I got this far wasn't gonna get scared now. I found his Facebook and tried messaging him, didn't get a response but I wasn't sure if he was getting the messages. So I continued to Google him and see if I can get a number to call or email. I think I phoned like 5 different numbers, some not in service anymore, others no answer. Emailed 3 different emails all said the email isn't valid anymore. So I was on white pages or some site like that and I came across a name that was linked to him. It was his mother. And I called the number, it actually rang, and the craziest thing happened she answered! I hung up so fast. I sat in my vehicle listened to a few songs, did some breathing. And called back. She answers I say to her "hello, I'm the person who called and hung up earlier so very sorry. I'm just really nervous and scared and please just don't hang up on me" ironic.
so she just says "ya it's okay no worries what are you calling for?"
"Are you Lee's mom"
" yes I am "
" um my name is delanie bruyere I am from sagkeeng First Nation and I'm Lee's youngest sibling "
The conversation went from there. She was a very nice lady, open to talking to me, and very kind. At the start of the conversation I could barely talk, too having no problem at all talking to her. So I'm very thankful that everything went so well. The next day I woke up to a friend request on Facebook from my brother! Best friend request I've ever gotten, well besides when I was like 9 and thought I got a friend request from the real Justin Bieber. Besides the point, I personally didn't end up talking to Lee until June 5th that was the first time we talked through inbox. Anyway from their things went good more family got added on his Facebook and chatting with him, good stuff like that.
As of June 28th myself, my sister Dakota, my late sister hollies daughter Carrie, and Norman decided we are going on a road trip to Harrisburg Pennsylvania to meet Lee! as of right now we are about 2 hours away. After driving for 33 hours. And to think that I'm only a couple hours away from meeting my brother for the first time, it's fucking insane! Sorry bout the F bomb but it is fucking insane! Like this day is finally here! I don't know how many times I thought about the day I got to meet my brother, and here it is like 2 good albums away, yup I tell time in songs/albums. Who doesn't? Example my average shower takes like 3 songs unless my playlist is bumping then maybe 5 songs. Ok well after I meet him I will type the ending to my story of my search for my brother. And this isn't even really the end, it's just the beginning.
July 1 2017
Just officially met my brother for the first time.
I'm kinda speechless. It's just unreal. I'm sorry it took so long too find you. Glad I never gave up.
38 years later, search complete.
Love you brother❤️



https://www.facebook.com/delanie.bruyere/videos/1342136479133947/












Gas Sniffing Experience: Not Proud

I am not sure when I first tried sniffing gas as a kid. It was something the older kids showed us younger kids.

I remember sitting in the old shed that my Mishoom (Grandfather) built at my Dad's place. I sat there sniffing gas out of the spout of a tin gas can. I remember looking at the nozzle. It had those lines for screwing the cap. In my sniffed up head I saw myself falling down the nozzle into the tank.

The gas sniffing experience is weird. It straight kills brain cells and you see things not there. You also stink. It didn't become a habit the sniffing but I did it enough to remember some of the crazy experiences. There was a song that went along with the sniffing which we talked about. Sometimes we would go sit in the culvert that ran underneath the highway close to our house. The creek used to run through the culvert but the creek has long since dried up. The sounds of the cars passing over of us was a weird sound.

Not sure why I am sharing about these experiences. The notion of sniffing is not pleasant. It is still evident on the streets in Winnipeg. You see people of different ages holding rags to their mouth. The rags are dipped in different solvents. The people walking around in a stupor.

It is funny how your brain works. When we were young in the Reserve we thought the city was where the wild Indians and people were. They would sniff stuff like nail polish remover and we thought that was hard core and you would lose brain cells over that.

Just wanted to share some of the things done when we were kids. We didn't have dope. We had gasoline. We would put it in little cans and sniff it. Sometimes when high we would tip to our faces like we were drinking and the next thing we were wet from gasoline. Dangerous. One of the things I noticed as a result of the sniffing was the spitting. We tended to spit a lot. We didn't sniff it through our nose but rather breathed in the fumes through our mouth.

I saw many different things while all sniffed up. I saw a cartoon mouse dancing away on this big gasoline drum; I saw a big green mosquito on my back about the size of a crow; a battle between clouds in the sky. The headaches that followed were wicked. Not sure why we did what we did.

I remember the last incident I had sniffing. I was with my friend and we were sitting in the bush huffing gasoline. Next thing I know I am in the air looking down at me and my friend. Not sure how long it lasted. I went back into my body and started telling my friend what happened and he said I know I saw you.

It is one of the many regrets I have in my life; along with many mistakes, sniffing is one of them. I didn't do it for very long or that many times. I have and will continue to make mistakes until I die, its what we do. It was long time ago but I still feel bad over it.

We like to revisit our own histories and try and revise them but we can't. We can only affect what we do today and hope to do good tomorrow.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Revenge or Avenge?

Avenge is a verb. To avenge is to punish a wrongdoing with the intent of seeing justice done. Revenge can be used as a noun or a verb. It is more personal, less concerned with justice and more about retaliation by inflicting harm.

"An Ojibwe community was battling with another group of Indians. The battle was not without people getting hurt and sometimes killed. In this one battle the brother of one of the Ojibwe warriors was killed by one man in the other group of Indians. The brother was sad and hurt by what happened to his brother. As it was his intent to avenge the death of his brother, he went into the groups camp and sought to challenge the man who killed his brother. The challenge was accepted. The two warriors started to battle each other. The Ojibwe Warrior had finally got the man down and was getting on top of him. The man then spit in the face of the Ojibwe Warrior. The Ojibwe Warrior stopped, got off of the man and walked out of the community. He did not strike the man who had killed his brother."
_________

There is so much ugly happening all over the world. In the Native world we are hurting and we have anger. A young woman is killed and just a couple days later a young man is killed. We are hurting and we are angry.  There is an Inquiry as to what has and is happening to Indigenous Woman in Canada and why are they going missing and being killed.  The Inquiry in its current state is not looking too promising for getting answers. People are sad hurt and angry.

The Governor General of Canada, the person who is suppose to represent the Crown just called the Indigenous people of Canada immigrants. Then he apologized by calling Indigenous property; "Our Indigenous people are not immigrants."  That is so funny. Because of how clueless this guy is.

The list of things indigenous people have endured and are faced with, is long. Just ask any Indian and they will tell you. There are the deeds done against them individually and there are things done broadly across our larger community.

So what do we do with all this hurt?  With the anger building up? In the US  the anger is played out by violence to those who they don't feel fit with their thinking and lives. The amount of racist attacks has just increased and become more visible by the White population. In Canada attacks of racism by Whites have become more visible as well.

That is not the way our people are going. They still don't get into the act of violence and revenge. Regardless of how much they feel it is their right.

So not sure if we can ever see the difference between avenging our ancestors and getting revenge?

Many of the feelings are very personal to us. We are emotionally invested in our families, friends, community and our heritage. So of course there is strong feelings to what happens to us.

I still carry much resentment and anger towards people who I think hurt my Son when he was alive. I used to think of how to get revenge on them. I would cause them so much pain if I should follow through on my thoughts. It didn't happen of course. Not that I didn't have the anger or the wherewithal to go on with it (after all anyone can be mean and inflict hurt). Its a battle in my heart: I want to be kind but yet know I have the ability to be mean. So its a battle.

There are many of us fighting a battle between revenge with those who wronged, and there are those who are avenging what has been done to us. I like those that are taking the anger out of their actions and doing things because it is the right thing to do.



Do you know what the Ogichidaa (Ojibwe Warrior) story reminds us of and illustrates? 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sundancers Be Happy, Be Proud

Well it's the summer and with that come the Thunderbirds, the Ceremonies. The Sundance Ceremony is one of sacrifice.
Pictures taken after Ceremony competed
Pledging Before Sundance Ceremony




Complete Ceremony 
It is quite a thing making a commitment. You make a pledge to sacrifice for others. We dance for life; the good life - Mino Pimatisiwin.

So for all those who make the commitment to the Creator to try and live a good life, I think you should be happy and you should be proud.

I know from  experience life can be anything but kind. We can feel defeated, angry and hurt. Still it is amazing our people will still try to be good, to think of others.

I am so grateful for those who work at sharing their life of following a good path.
The feelings that come with being surrounded by positive thoughts is fantastic. Once the Dance is complete the amount of smiling faces, the hugging and the appreciative gestures to each other makes you wish it would spread all over.


There are those who wish to share their joy on social media and there are those who berate them for speaking about the experience.

I feel bad for those who try and mute the enthusiasm of the Dancer. You see it at many levels. For some arcane reason we are not allowed to share our activities with the Creator. Strange. There can be every form of notification and sharing of main stream belief systems but when it comes to Indigenous Traditions we are to be quiet or hide it? Doesn't make sense. Even some of our Teachers say not to share it?






Lot of shared happiness.

I think a lot of our misguided thoughts regarding the sharing of Ceremony, Traditional Indigenous Ceremony, and it may come from forced norms. The governments made Ceremony of Indigenous people illegal. What you going to do? You hide it. You pretend it doesn't exist. You can't share it without fear of repercussions. There is also the message made popular by media - film industry. We are so backwards that recording ourselves will steal our soul. The popular image in movies where they say we are afraid to have our pictures taken. The message being we are not sophisticated enough to understand a representation - like a picture. Yet Indigenous people have been recording events for ever with many different forms.

I think our people should be proud of their deeds, their accomplishments and share it with the world.

There is so much ugly happening in the world so why can't we share some good?

Share your pride. Share your dreams. Share who you are. Indigenous and great.

We need to love who we are more.

For too long the message has been not a good one. Now people are more open about the good life. I applaud you the strong proud Indigenous.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Can We Just Say "Ah, That's Okay, No Big Deal"

It seems like Indigenous folk are always angry. If you follow any media story about Indians it would seem to be the case. It seems there is no limit as to what will anger the Indigenous person.

This week a White Woman had her art show cancelled due to a backlash of angry Indians. She was copying the art works of deceased artist Norval Morrisseau.  Lot of anger for her copying his work. The gallery cancelled her show.

There was this other time when the Swine Flu hit Canada a few years ago and the Ministry of Health sent body bags to northern Reserves. People were angry that time. Not only did they send body bag but they considered not sending hand sanitizer to the Reserves because of the alcohol content in the sanitizer.  Now that was pretty funny. Funny as in stupid for even making it an agenda item for a number of days.

There are times in our lives when we have the right to get angry. The sanitizer is one of the times when a whole group of people were stereotyped by our government. I was pissed at the arrogance by the bureaucracy and how they see Indians.  Like we are kids and can't handle getting hand sanitizer. This is one case were we had every right to be upset  The body bags, however grotesque, was a mistake. In that case the powers to be should have said "maanoo, ani-sha, babaamendan." (let it go, its for nothing and don't bother) and laughed it off. The funny thing is that we should have laughed at the absurdity. Did they really believe the body bags were sent in earnest to prepare for the deaths? Now that is ridiculous. Some one made a bad goof, a mistake. Even if it was an ugly mistake, its a mistake. Give them heck and move on. But nope the mistake was used for political crying. The leadership should have used the incident to make fun of and ridicule the bumbling bureaucracy that they deal with day in and day out.

With many things we should speak up and voice our concerns and our outrage or our disappointment. There are times when a mistake is just a mistake. Those are the times when we should conserve our energy for things which are truly wrong. Of course I do understand the fact some things are subtle and many may not know its a point of contention; something which we should be outraged about. I understand and know we should be voicing about those times. Still in some cases we should have restraint when it is a mistake. Like the stupid white woman who copied Morrisseau's art. She just didn't show influence from his style, she just copied it. Some folks said she was engaging  in Genocide. If that is not hyperbole or over the top rhetoric, well then, nothing is. I think she was stupid in how she addressed the criticism. Of course she didn't understand the meaning behind Morrisseau's works. She should have said that. But nope she dismissed the critics. Which of course angered them some more. This is one instance where it got big and should not have been. But hey we have lost the ability to say "Maanoo".

In the news media people are starting an "appropriation fund" for writers. Now that is a direct attack on Indigenous and other non-white groups. This is a fight for white privilege. Here is one of those areas that is clear. The idea came up with a magazine wanted to dedicate and issue and have Indigenous input and views. The editor wrote in the same issue to go ahead and appropriate stories about People of Colour. The group wants to encourage cultural appropriation as it is their Right. The right to continue  with their dominance. That is what it plays out as. So this is one of those cut and dry issues, where we know they are dumb and it should be fought. But is it really cut and dry? In some ways yes. The appropriation fund is clearly an attack but the article to go ahead and appropriate stories or characters is not. That is the problem, the first issue was about difference of opinion and we can disagree with  what Hal Niedzviecki wrote.  He expressed an opinion and he wasn't attacking Indigenous folk. I was conflicted about this but kind of agree in some sense. I think we can write what we don't know. For example, I am a fan of Bernard Cormwell's fiction. He writes in the first person of a fictional historical heroes. So its not a cut and dry about writing. It is cut and dry when someone is openly supremacist.

Fighting for what is right and what is stupid are different animals. The problem is, we can never agree on what is stupid and what is right.

But I am always amazed on how people can explain the issues - cultural appropriation and what it means.