Sunday, June 18, 2017

Flashback!

24 years and still he is part of our life... A time passed.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

MEMBERS FIGHT BACK!


First Nation peoples in Alberta and Saskatchewan are all talking among themselves about an historic offer to settle their claim.  Earlier in 2017 some twenty Treaty No. 8 first nations received an offer from the Federal Government of Canada on an outstanding 1899 Treaty 8 specific obligation. It is unprecedented, but it took 118 years to get there!!! That is what I call patience.  The offer stems from a clause under the treaty addressing the agricultural benefits or, as it is known by the beneficiaries, “Cows and Ploughs”. 

It has been a long, protracted and expensive process to say the least. Most of the Treaty No. 8 First Nations submitted their specific claims to Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Specific Claims Branch for outstanding agricultural benefits in the early 1990s.  Around 2010, Canada took the position that all Treaty 8 First Nations with an outstanding agricultural benefits claim had to collectively negotiate their claim, which is when things began to move forward.  Albeit slowly.   It would still take an additional 6 years before a settlement offer that was worth taking back to their members was presented to the First Nations.

The Chiefs say they want members to vote to keep the bulk of the settlement in a trust for the use and benefit of future generations.  Members, on the other hand, see that Treaty obligation differently. For one, they believe they are the future generations of a Treaty that was signed 118 years ago. Moreover, they take this position from the Treaty document itself. This specific claim is different from other claims that are tied to land rights. In claims for lost land, the compensation replaces a capital asset, namely reserve land, which is held collectively as a whole for all members.

However, the agricultural benefit Treaty right benefits both the First Nation as whole and individual families. Most of the implements offered in the treaty, like a hoe, shovel, cow, seeds, etc. were to be given to individual families to start a small family farm. Therefore to follow that logic, a reasonable person would naturally accept that the majority of the settlement funds should be distributed to individual members to pursue economic opportunities.

A debate has ensued on whether the agricultural benefits Treaty right is a collective or an individual right.  Although it was not much of a debate at least one Chief and Council flat out refused to hear any other thoughts on the matter.  It is both a collective and individual right.  

While almost all the members believes that Canada’s offer is a fair and equitable offer they are unable to accept the offer because their First Nation is providing only a single ballot question.  Members must accept both the settlement offer and the trust agreement that sets out how the compensation will be distributed, invested and spent.   The ballot could have been set up to permit members to accept separately the settlement and the terms of the trust agreement, but Chief and Council decided not to.

The strong-handed position from Chief and Council is reflected in the voting packages that were mailed out last week, in which the majority of the settlement funds will remain in the hands of Chief and Council.  Members feel their Council never really seriously considered their input and they predetermined what would be in the trust created to accept the settlement.  Indeed, members are furious and upset. That said, at the end of the day, it would be the members who will decide whether to reject or accept the offer by a vote later in June.
 
A ratification process is underway and it is therefore too late to stop this process.  Those members I have talked to said that when they vote no, a negative vote will not represent a rejection of Canada’s offer but a rejection of Chief and Councils’ forcefully putting forth what they want, regardless of what the members want.

This also begs the questions, why would a Chief and Council who are presumably in power to act on their members’ behalf, refuse to consider their views?  The answer is simple.  The Chief and Council believe that their members are incapable of managing a large sum, even in 2017.     They also believe they know better the needs of their members and how to take care of them.  Sound familiar?

Stay tuned...

  •         Will there be enough “No” votes to reject the settlement?
  •      If so, will Canada allow another ratification vote, knowing that this is not a vote against the offer?
  •       Will the Council work through the internal matters to resolve the terms of the trust to the satisfaction of its members?



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Freeing the EGO


Letting go of control does not have to be difficult. I will occasionally, when I am faced with a decision, stop what I am doing, quiet my mind and concentrate on my breath. I want to make decisions based on a clear mind. The question becomes do I continue control or let it go?

Not all the time, but sometimes I will make an assessment of the situation. What can I do about it? What is the worst thing that would happen if I do nothing? Too often it is our emotions that prevent us from seeing clearly what could be the right action to take. I guess some would call it egotistical, and if I were honest with myself, they would be correct in describing me as such. Most of the time the thought I have is if not me, then who? That is exactly EGO.  My critics will complain that I love control and maybe that is true.  But I also accept a helping hand and like to share in the responsibility. I will work with anyone. I enjoy collaborations.

From the outside looking in, I may appear bossy or always in control. That is a perception some people have of me, and that may or not be true of me.  Okay, I admit I have a healthy ego. I make an effort to control things around me, I like to be in action rather than be passive and let life happens around me. I like affecting change and often don't wait for anyone.  The change I am looking for is always positive change, something to better people's life.  I have the type of personality that when I see that something needs to be done, and I don’t see anyone doing it, I will do take it on.   I want to help.  My advocacy is always to do good on others behalf. If I can make a positive difference, I will do something.   Doing nothing is never an option for me. 

That is my personality failing, which is why I meditate. I want to be less controlling, less judgemental, and more compassionate and loving. I enjoy volunteering, not for any recognition or validate but to get things done.  I am not afraid of putting time into something I feel is important and could perhaps make a difference. 

Like for example, I have undertaken a quest to research and maintain my family tree. This is a good example of taking control of a project. It is a work of passion and on-going, which I began in 2008. If I didn’t do it would it have ever been done, I wonder. I had ten brothers and have five sisters.  That is just the immediate family. I was able to document 152 families and 373 people thus far. I was able to put into the database almost 1,000 family pictures. This has been tremendous amount of work and initially took up many hours of my free time.  However, it has been so satisfying as well. To add to that, I also created a facebook family page, to support the genealogy research I was doing.  I posted the birthdays, births, weddings, graduations, and deaths. This is to ensure my database is correct.  If I made a mistake, someone will tell me, and will I correct the database. Almost everyone in my family knows I am doing this, but no one has offered to help me. That said, to the degree that it is done, I feel a great sense of accomplishment.  

On the other hand, the down side of having created the family facebook group, which allows me to post and manage the page, has opened me to accusations of being too controlling. Recently a family member so “eloquently” said in an emailed to me… I love how u control what it posted and not posted in this group too.... power and control...”    So I decided to add four other family members to the facebook group as administrators.  Doing this gave me a huge relief; I don’t know why it didn't occur to me sooner.  Thank you for pushing me to do that.

We always have a choice of letting go of things. Not taking things too personally. Letting go of always being in control or being right. Because when I think about it , the worst that could have happened if I have never started the family tree and family facebook group, would be nothing.  Yes, nothing, it would not have made any difference to anyone. Maybe another family member would have done it, or maybe not. Either way, it does not matter. Letting go.  Knowing when to let go is liberating.  Knowing I don’t always have to be in control is a freeing. At the end of the day, was it all about my ego?  

I am taking the next step, I have let go completely and remove myself as administrator on the facebook family group page.  Who knows it might just go beyond anything I could have achieved on my own. I look forward to seeing it evolve and thrive by the people I added as admin before I removed myself.  It feels great!    

Monday, May 15, 2017

Dene Poem



Drum Dance
2009
Roger Deranger - Denesuline Artist


Hidden within the Dene forest home
spirits dream enthusiastically to roam
they dwell honorably during mystic time
when the heaven and earth vastly rhyme

upon a painted sunset, a silence broke
it was an ancient flame that spoke
and the drums mysteriously, exhilarate
altering each soul into a radiant state

chants and pulse, conjured, impulsively
blessing everyone into a circular flee
round and around they sacredly dance
drowning themselves into a joyous trance

poured with euphoria, the beings paced
leaving each step then majestically traced
within its midst, the fire proudly sing
drawing the ritual into a universal ring

the stars above also harmonized along
ensuring the divine hoop is kept strong
for every life is absorbed into solidarity
a movement of strength and reassuringly

the dance, song and heartbeat, all is real
giving the entire cycle a seed to heal
from dusk to dark, the spirits fly
until our dance has reached the sky

Saturday, May 6, 2017

A Tough Conversation



This is a difficult but necessary conversation.  If a conversation is difficult, then it should be engaged in with as many people as possible. And you know what, it seems like it is never the perfect time the for a difficult conversation.
I am talking about alcoholism, which is not a sexy subject and no one wants to talk about it.
Harold R. Johnson wrote this about it in his book, Firewater - How Alchohol is killing My People (and Yours)
I must speak because so few are speaking.  Our political leaders, our chiefs and councillors, the AFN, the Indian federations, the tribal council – all seem so silent.  
Its impact on lives, particularly in First Nation communities, is well known. I am convinced that there is no other place in Canada that feels the influence of addictions more fully than in a First Nation community.  These communities are tight. Their hearts beat as one.  The saying “all my relations” is not lost here because one quickly realizes how closely related everyone is.  When misfortune befalls one person in the community, everyone feels the pain.   More importantly, they will show up to support one another.  That is one advantage I will always treasure being from one of these communities, my home community.  There really is a true sense of belonging, to being one of the tribe.  Inclusion.
Sadly though, there is no escape from the cruel reality of addictions, it is everywhere.  It breds hopelessness. It permeates the social fabric and, it is unfortunately, intergenerational.
To be sure, it is not for a lack of knowledge that abusive drinking happens. There is already so much information about alcoholism in our communities. For example, that alcohol has both a seductive and destructive nature. It is sneaky like that. The belief is that drinking is started to forget pain and trauma, which works for a short period, but then it quickly becomes the problem. And then health will begin to decline and relationships break down.  Knowing this, why would anyone want to get started?
Instead it is viewed as fun, as “partying.” It enables people to “let off steam” and to “take the edge off.” It is seen as the activitity that brings people together. People even brag about it and post their alcohol-fuelled escapades on social media. Even knowing the harmful nature of alcohol, some think nothing of inviting others to join in this tragic cycle of self-abuse.  The hard truth is that others are taken down too. Like the saying goes “misery loves company.” Especially if they have the means to supply more alcohol, all the while knowing it is wrong but powerless against the allure of booze.
When tragedy strikes due to excess drinking, which it unfortunately and eventually will, its impact reverberates throughout a community like shockwaves.  Mixed emotions stir under the dark blanket of grief.  The shock leaves everyone unable to comprehend the incident.  On some level there is a nagging sense that whatever tragedy happened was preventable. That fact makes any tragedy that much more incomprehensible.  Understandably, the moment right after a tragedy never seems to be time to have a conversation on it, because that would dishonour the victims and bring an inappropriate sense of being judgmental.  Emotions are raw as minds wrestle to comprehend a senseless tragedy. Hearts are broken, dreams  shattered, never to come to pass. 
Because of the overwhelming grief that envelops everyone, there will always be some people who will then turn to drinking to dull the pain, because that is how they deal with pain.  They may even raise a glass or bottle to the victim, not seeing how ironic and empty the gesture is. The vicious cycle continues as people turn to drink to mask their feelings. 
Still, wouldn’t this be an ideal time, the perfect time, to have that very conversation? If only because the incident illustrates so intensely the destructive choices made under the influence of alcohol while it is fresh and before it is swept out of sight, because responding to tragedy must always be sobering, at least at the initial moment of reaction.  Moreover, in small communities, when a tragedy has been caused by alcohol, people know what happened and they know why it happened. To be sure, everyone is thinking about it and talking about it behind closed doors in whispers, in hushed voices barely holding back assigning blame.  Asking the question to themselves and those closest to them, why people are not talking about this together as a community? If there was ever a time to get together as a community, to perhaps reveal some hard truths, could this be the time?
That said, the reasons for all alcohol-related tragedies must be discussed openly and honestly in our communities, not with a sense of judgment or blame, but to ask the simple question: why?  Why does it keep happening, even when we all know the dangers and the illusions that we create for ourselves, like the illusion that drinking to excess is partying, like the illusion that alcohol can help us with pain, like the illusion that the inevitable tragedy will happen to someone else. 
Our people need to talk about these things. To do this is to honour those who lost their battle with addiction, not to blame them; to take something positive and good from their loss, not to condemn them.  It sends a message to everyone in our communities that this issue is serious and it is a problem we all share. 
So, what is stopping our communities from having an honest community dialogue on addictions? Education and awareness can lead to community solutions and healing.  But this alone won’t stop it. What else needs to be done? Who in your community will see this as a call to action?  Who is willing to show up for those who can’t?  Don’t wait for someone else to do it because if not you, who then?  If not now, when?



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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Down the Rabbit Hole we Go!


How many readers administer group pages?  Are you responsible for what your readers do with that information?  I venture to say you are probably not because you have not mastered the art of manipulation and mind control like I apparently have.  More over, what does that say about the people in my group? While I don't mind being given omnipotent and mind controlling powers as a lark, but it mystifies me to think an otherwise rational adult is actually serious when they say I am responsible for the actions of people who subscribe to my facebook group page.  Really, I have that much control over earthlings? 
Let me try to explain how this happened. I was recently added to group chat on messenger, my initial thought was how nice of someone to include me.   Ordinarily, I enjoy participating in group chats, I get to contribute, explore ideas and perhaps really make a difference in the conversation. However, I only had to read a couple of lines to realize that this was not a normal productive group chat.  It was apparent that whoever set up this group chat was not considering constructive participation from the people they added to this chat. But rather he/ she was looking for support for a personal disagreement between two people. I would even  go so far as to say it was a heated argument that was quickly spiraling out of control.  The person who started the chat wanted witnesses not a calming voice. In the five seconds it took me to assess the conversation I decided to leave the chat. 
I immediately received a personal message from the person that started the group who said, "thanks for the support". Good to know you were a supporter of transparency and "open dialogue" I am ashamed to call you two my family.  Then it went even further to say, I obviously want  your input but you don’t care to deal with conflict you indirectly a part of.   While I tried to reason with this person, and did my best to explain that I have no control over people’s actions, related to me or not. People who subscribe to the group I administer are all functioning adults. That person was so upset, any attempt by me being rational was lost.  In fact, my attempt to be reasonable and calm was interpreted as being passive aggressive.  I was verbally insulted and called names. And to further insult me, in case I didn’t understand what the word meant, I was sent the meaning of ‘passive aggressive’. Hmm, does this blog constitute being  passive aggressive?    To top it off I was not the one who started this foolish dispute. A dispute that could have been resolved had either of them bothered to pick up the phone and talked to one another. 
Apparently, that particular group chat was so emotionally charged that participants where slinging mud at each other well into the early hours of the following morning. Mercifully, I didn't participate, even as a witness, to what appeared to be a denigration frenzy.  The fact that I was not involved in the conversation apparently didn't matter because I was accused of being held responsible for their bad behavior and the consequences of the fallout from this chat. Oh, how I digress!  
What is happening to us? Social media platforms, specifically Facebook, have altered the behavior of people so much that normal cordial and intelligent conversation is becoming a distant memory.  The boundary of human decency and respect is replaced with a more cavalier attitude.  Conversations on social media that are embroiled in a highly charged emotional state are like the Wild West. Just shoot from the hip indiscriminately and worry about it later. As people angrily tap, tap, tap, on their computer keyboard slinging insults and innuendos at each other, they simply just lose their mind. More often than not they leave the conversation consumed with so much anger and animosity for each other that it impacts on their real life relationships. Families are now the enemies, Friends are deleted, and people are left disempowered, disillusioned, and bat crazy with anger. 

The person who started this drama ended up saying, "I am so heartbroken".  Come on you started this drama and now you want sympathy! Even before the conversation got heated, you said to me "I am ashamed to call you family." That certainly was not an invitation for me to go back into that chat.   Grow up and get some perspective! Until you've experienced both the loss  of your beloved mom and a very special brother in less than six months, you have no idea about heartbreak.  A argument on social media, no matter how unpleasant, does not compare to the heartbreak I feel everyday missing my late mom and late brother.  It has only been just over 7 months since Rossi passed away.  I am still grieving him.  

Welcome to the human dynamics of the 21st century.   I miss the days of snail mail and lovely hand written letters, don’t you? It boggles my mind how quickly we have gone down this rabbit hole.  




Sunday, March 12, 2017

This is What Love Looks Like

It is simple. I wrote and read this elegy for my mom.  Be the beacon of light in your life.  You know, only you can change how you feel toward others. You can be happy and be at peace in your relationships, all you have to do is ACCEPT IT IS WHAT IT IS.  

Therese Deranger (Adam) 1919-2016 


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

This Burns!


CONSUMER ALERT!
I recently had a bizarre experience.  Let me begin by saying, I am a vegetarian and go to great lengths to purchase wholesome organic foods.  I have a vegetable garden because there is no better way to ensure you are eating 100% clean. I am also thoughtful of my carbon footprint, and I do not buy any toxic cleaning supplies, like bleach and other heavy-duty house cleaners.
 
So, when I was on my computer and began to notice a burning sensation on my fingers I could not imagine what was causing it. I continued working for a few more moments but then the pain became distracting and unbearable.  I looked down at my hands and noticed white marks, which I recognized immediately as some form of chemical burn.  Yikes!!!
Immediately, I washed my hands under cool water for what seemed like a long time before I felt some relief.  I applied coconut oil and a topical antibiotic cream to my hands.  It was several hours before the immediate burning sensation diminished but I could feel the slight sting for a few days still.  Thankfully, I didn’t inadvertently touch my eyes when I had the substance on my hands. It really would have been so much worst.

I felt disbelief when I found the cause.  It was from a Pacific brand prepackaged organic soup.  The package looked pretty innocuous.  It didn’t look like it had been tampered with and the expiry date had not yet passed.   What I am able to ascertain is that when I cut open the top it exposed some type of chemical.  I am not sure but the substance felt like some form of acid. That substance had to be in the package lid because when I touched it before it was open there had been no reaction on my hands, nor has anyone else who handled it had any averse reaction to it.   


I immediately placed it into a zip lock bag. This substance seemed to be extremely toxic that
Notice whiteness where the box is burned  
even sealed in the bag, when moved resulted in another reaction.  I wiped down my entire kitchen, all surfaces and everything I remembered touching. 


I called Health Canada Food Safety, my call was returned immediately. A file was opened and sent to Ottawa. Ingrid, the food inspector from the Ottawa area contacted me and said they would investigate any controls in place at the site where it is packaged. 

I also called the company Pacific foods and informed them about the situation. Jan from Regional sales returned my call immediately.  She requested I email her pictures of my hands.  I have not heard from her since I sent the email.

I have no idea if this is an isolated case or if it is more widespread. I do not know if it was contaminated at the source or somewhere else. I have no idea if it was some nefarious person’s prank and if anyone specifically was the target.



It is a mystery!  What I am able to say however is be cautious of this product and if you have it keep it away from children.  The best before date is May 23,2017.  Batch number is 15143-23 09057. 

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