Thursday, April 30, 2009

The pope sucks, his so-called apology sucks and Catholics should be ashamed

Thank you for reminding me Pope, in case I needed reminding, why I am no longer a Catholic. I was never really much of a Catholic after Confirmation. That was the same year we discovered a priest in our church, St. Maurice, had molested a number of alter boys. My parents watched in horror as more and more victims came forward. Our church sermon that week told us we should not speak of, or pay anymore attention to the issue. My parents never returned to church.

Our church refused to take responsibility, much as the Pope has. Whispering regrets to 5 people in a closed door meeting is not an apology. National Chief Phil Fontaine should not have gone to Rome knowing that this is what would take place.

I am also horrified that the Inuit and Metis leaders, Mary Simon and David Chartrand, were shut out of the room. It makes me think that the Pope knows very little about our peoples. It is irritating to see his Metis and Inuit excluded form his non-apology.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009


And let us pray.. for Senator Brazeau

Yes. There is an website dedicated to enourage folks to pray for parlimentarians and Patrick Brazeau was recenlty featured. No. I am Not kidding. Follow the link.

Under his entry it suggested to pray that Patrick : "would know the favour of God on the work that he sets his hands to do especially as he seeks to better the lives of his fellow aborignal peoples. His special interest in youth is an area we ask the Lord to use him in, that he would have the moral strength to be a good role model for young aboriginals all across Canada. Pray also that the Lord will give him good counsellors and strong godly friendships as he has a long career ahead of him in the Senate."

A) I like the last line... I guess after he leaves the Senate those praying stop giving a rats ass about giving him good counsellors and strong godly friendships.
B) They should be praying that he ups his child support from $100 a month - since he now makes more than $130,000. I mean I do undertand how unaffordable the $100 a month was when he was only earning $100,000 (plus expenses) at CAP. Clearly that money is an unbearable hardship for someone earning a meagre $8,333.00 a month.
We can hope that now that he's making the extra $30,000 he can not only make those support payments on time but maybe he can add an extra buck here and there to top it off.

At least.. let us pray....


Monday, April 27, 2009

Calling on Ottawa often a futile exercise

From the Winnipeg Free Press. I have nothing more to add. This editorial says it all.

Calling on Ottawa often a futile exercise
Mia Rabson / Hill Talk
27/04/2009 1:00 AM

OTTAWA -- On Thursday afternoon, Garden Hill Chief David Harper stood in the news conference room on the ground floor of Parliament Hill and issued a plea for Ottawa to help his community get better health care.

In the span of a month, three infants have been airlifted from the reserve to Winnipeg with grave illnesses that were not diagnosed as quickly as they likely would have been had the kids not lived on a reserve. One died; one is recovering; and the third, a year-old girl, is still in the hospital battling tuberculosis.

There are many reasons why the incidents happened -- an understaffed nursing station, an unhealthy community, the inexperience of a young parent being able to challenge health-care professionals who insist Tylenol is all your baby needs.

It's not tough to imagine the kind of outrage that would occur in Winnipeg had a child died of meningitis after being sent home with Tylenol and instructions to the parents to give the child a cool bath.

The parents wouldn't have to board a plane and hold a press conference on Parliament Hill in order to be heard.

Harper is not the first chief to bring his plight to Ottawa -- and he won't be the last.

Native leaders arrive in the nation's capital all the time, hoping their voices will be heard amid the constant din of lobbying and political hot air that swirls in Ottawa like a plague.
They leave most often with little more than a ministerial pat on the head, a promise they are on the list, that Ottawa cares.

But nothing ever seems to change, no matter the issue, the party in power, or the depth of the despair.

Manitoba New Democratic MP Pat Martin, who was once his party's aboriginal affairs critic and met often with native leaders making the trek to Ottawa, said the pilgrimages are frequent but the action is lacking.

"They make the long trip down here with great hope and optimism that if they take their legitimate concerns to the nation's capital they'll finally get some action after getting the brush-off for decades," he said. "I'd say they are almost invariably disappointed."

David Harper returned to Manitoba Friday. He said his piece in Ottawa, but is he any closer to securing the hospital his community has been hoping to get for years? Not likely.

Just ask the kids of Attawapiskat in northern Ontario. They came to Ottawa last spring to meet with Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl and ask for a new school. The kids were being taught in portables because their school had been contaminated by a diesel spill that occurred 30 years ago.

This winter, the school was torn down, releasing toxic fumes and making kids sick -- nosebleeds, open sores, nausea, headaches.

The community wants the kids to leave the First Nation until the mess is cleaned. But Ottawa says tests show there is no danger and the Ontario government says it's the federal government's problem.

One has to wonder if there were kids in Ottawa developing nosebleeds and open sores as the stench of diesel permeated their playgrounds, how quickly governments would act.

The problems on First Nations are so profound, it is occasionally tough to imagine what it might take to solve them.

But something has to give.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kiwi candy ... Eskimo lolly ... or racial slur?

I already know how wideye feels about the "a" word. Here is someone who feels passionate about the "e" word. Hey I agree with her. It IS just candy. Inuit are a PEOPLE. Ergo change the name of the candy. Have some common sense for Pete's sake. Are we really so more loyal to a marshmellow treat than our common man? I seem to remember a similar fuss when African Americans objected to candies called n*gg*r babies. The candy name changes and we are all the better for it.

Canadian Inuit woman at centre of tempest for denouncing name of New Zealand treat
Apr 23, 2009 04:30 AM

VANCOUVER–By her own calculation, Canadian tourist Seeka Lee Veevee Parsons is one unpopular woman in New Zealand right now –just because of what she insists she is not: an Eskimo.

The Inuit woman is garnering headlines – and animosity – for suggesting a favourite New Zealand candy, the Eskimo Lolly, is racist and improper.

Veevee Parsons said yesterday she has been shocked at the hostility she has created in the country she loved from the time she arrived two months ago by simply raising the issue of the candy she saw recently in a New Zealand store.
"Calling someone an Eskimo is no longer responsible," said the 21-year-old Parsons, who is from Nunavut but has been on an extended work holiday in New Zealand.

"When I was a kid, they used to call me a dirty Eskimo girl and it's a term that shouldn't be used anymore especially on a candy. Is it right that people go around eating shapes of people of another culture?"

The Eskimo Lolly, described as "cherished" and a "treasure" to New Zealanders, is a multi-coloured marshmallow candy in the shape of a person wearing a thick hooded jacket in front of an igloo.

Ever since the story about her complaint aired on one television station earlier this week, Veevee Parsons has been interviewed nearly a dozen times and viewers and readers have been responding by the thousands to her concerns. Most of the response has been personal attacks against Veevee Parsons, with a few telling her to go home and others insisting she shut up. "I eat jelly babies. It doesn't mean that I like to bite small children. It's just confectionary," wrote one reader. "If you don't like it, how about you don't buy it!"


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The balance

Life can be super crazy at times and it is for me at the moment. I have no idea how other bloggers do, kids, school, renovations, more work, friends, gym, and more work....where do people find the time. But Ward of the State and I did commit to try.

So after I finish my final exam this evening I will respond to the posts and create another - cause man do I have stuff to say!


Monday, April 20, 2009

The brazman

I happened across Patrick Brazeau's wikipedia entry and I noticed that no one has updated it to reflect the swirl of controversy that followed his apointment to the Senate. Seems to me someone should.

Anyone who missed the web of stories about the appointment, allegations of double-dipping, sexual harrasssment, funding audits, colleagues drinking on the job, poor parenting or his Porshe SUV, here are links to all those stories and more. Go nuts.

Joanna Smith “PM told of allegation, senator says” Toronto Star Feb 11, 2009
Don Martin, “Patrick Brazeau should have stayed a 'senator-in-waiting'” National Post
February 03, 2009h ttp:// See also Bill Curry, “Brazeau affair sparks rift in native group” Globe and Mail January 13, 2009 and Sidhartha Banerjee “Patrick Brazeau's Senate appointment comes as no surprise, observers say” The Canadian Press
Bill Curry, “Brazeau picks Senate over aboriginal advocacy” Globe and Mail January 10, 2009 see also Joanna Smith “Senator resigns from native congress” Toronto Star Jan 10, 2009
“New senator faces allegations over conduct as chief of aboriginal group
Brazeau says independent probe determined allegations false” CBC Radio Wednesday, January 7, 2009 also Bill Curry “Sexual exploitation, drinking at the office supported by Brazeau, former employee claims” Globe and Mail January 7, 2009
Bill Curry “Aboriginal group led by Brazeau must return funding” Globe and Mail January 19, 2009 also Joanna Smith “New senator lagged on $100 child support” Toronto Star Feb 10, 2009
Brazeau facing increased public scrutiny” CTV Feb. 3 2009


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Afghan Rape Law: Should we mind our own beeswax?

Ok, this start of this entry may sound like a joke. It’s not.

An agnostic Half-breed journalism student, a Caucasian catholic biologist and a Coptic Egyptian social worker were sitting in a bar. That was 15 years ago. I was the Half-breed. For reasons I no longer recall - must've have been in the news that day - the conversation spun into a discussion about arranged marriages between teenage girls to older men in the middle east.

Biologist POV: Many women in countries that permit arranged marriages are unhappily trapped in abusive relationships. It is a breach of human rights to force an arranged marriage, whether by law, faith, physical threat or social pressure. Every time we see one of these marriages on TV the young bride is bawling her eyes out, and the groom is sick old man, old enough to be her grandfather. It’s our responsibility to promote equality for women in these countries.

My POV: You can’t interpret crying at a wedding as unhappiness, I see people cry at weddings all the time and it doesn't mean they are not happy about the marriage. We know nothing of the culture beyond what we see in the news. It’s presumptuous to assume that all women share western concepts of feminism and progress. We should mind our own business until women ask for help, then we must only help in the way they have asked. We must support what they believe in, even if it disagrees with our beliefs. That’s what human rights are.

Social Worker POV : Agreed with the Biologist that women with more freedom should be more pro-active than I suggested, and believed women with freedom have a role in education women with less freedom about options. She agreed with me that western feminism is not superior, and self-determination is key. That night we also learned her parents marriage had been arranged. They were well-suited to one another, and mutually supportive. Love came later, but it came.

I included our race, religion and profession in the story because I believe these factors wove differences in the opinions of three other wise similar young women, who shared age, class, country and town.

I think there's a tendency from most Westernized folk to want to rush in when they perceive human rights abuses. But those of us who have attachments to cultures and histories that suffered from uninvited advocates who trampled our values under the mistaken belief that they knew better... well we're still living in a terrible aftermath, broken-heartedly trying to piece together the broken bits and pieces of our lives and communities. The Indian in me definately values self-determination as the most important right I have. Still, in the end, I think my social worker friend had the best answer. People have a right to make informed choices.

So, last week I was following stories on the Afghan Personal Status Law now dubbed the Rape Law in western media, which applies to Shia Muslims (about 10 to 20 per cent of Afghanistan's 30 million people) and requires - among other things - that women submit to sex with their husbands every four days. It also regulates when and why women can leave their homes.
One article I came across on the law reminded me of that long-ago conversation. A reporter interviewing young women at Kabul University arguably the most progressive institution in Afghanistan, were bewildered at the debate raging in Canada and Europe over the law. Almost unanimously women interviewed said it was not a good law but the western governments should not involve itself in their country's cultural and religious affairs.
It’s hard to stand by and watch swarms of angry men shouting epithets and hurling stones at women who are opposing the legalization of marital rape. I’m mad as hell. But I agree that foreign governments and individuals with no understanding of the culture or faith should be wary of interfering. They need the women’s permission and direction. Otherwise it’s just another kind of harm to their human rights.

Rather than doing nothing with my own anger, and rather than using my ignorance as an excuse to not get invoolved I am writing a letter to Sabrina Saqib, the member of the lower house of Afghanistan's National Assembly who helped organize the protest, to express my support. It's not much, but it's a start. ANd who knows, maybe they will find something useful I can do.


A different take on Canadian Auto Workers Union

Wideye, you make me sound like I am pro-union and I am not. Just as there is good and bad leadership in Indian country, there are good and bad unions. I reserve the right to bitch about unions who behave stupidly. And with that disclaimer, I will now defend the CAW.

I disagree that the CAW has “lost their purpose and focus…their reason for being.” The Chief you spoke of (Was it Tom? It sounds like Tom) said “it takes a true leader to take that same group of people and rile them to change their own situation for the better.” I’ll talk about their own situation in a minute. First I want to talk about what the CAW have done to improve the lot of others.

The CAW has:
Donated materials and labour to refurbish Toronto’s Native Canadian Centre and make it wheelchair accessible
Donated labour to repair wells contaminated with E. Coli on the Little Salmon/Carmacks First Nation when federal and territorial governments refused to act.
Held campaigns lobbying for the Kelowna Accord
Sponsored 2 National Days of Action

But enough about how the CAW leadership has rallied support for First Nations issues. CAW members donate 3 cents per week for charitable work, which enabled them to donate $2.1 million for tsunami relief in 2005 and to rebuild communities in New Orleans post-Katrina. (The CAW also negotiated a leave of absence for any skilled trade worker willing to take time off to do relief work in New Orleans.) Locals regularly raise money for women’s shelters and the Salvation Army. The CAW has lobbied governments for universal pensions, better care for seniors and improved Employment Insurance.

But what have they done to rile their people "to change their own situation for the better?" Over the years: medical and dental benefits, improved health and safety conditions, childcare, legal services, a social justice fund, same sex benefits, phased retirement, equity representatives….

Turning to the current economic crisis the CAW has already made concessions. In May 2008 they negotiated a contract sensitive to the faltering auto-industry that saved companies $300-million per year. In March 2009, following government instructions that workers had to be “part of the solution,” they renegotiated (for the second time in 10 months) the contract all over again, reducing active labour costs by several dollars per hour. The CAW sees the industry's salvation in better management and long-term strategies that invest in skills, support new capital and protect the environment, all of which should improve their competitiveness in the global trade market. Makes sense to me.

So if the CAW aren’t the bad guys, who or what is riling workers to protest and anger? Hmmm… Could it be the CEOs of GM Chrysler and Ford - the ones who flew to Washington in luxury jets last January to demand a $25 billion tax-payer funded bail-out?

If that wasn’t crass enough GM CEO Rick Wagoner saw a salary increase late last year $2.2 million, compared with $1.65 million in 2007. In addition to his base pay, Wagoner was awarded 75,000 restricted stock units valued at $1.68 million. In April, Ford CEO Alan Mulally received $2 million in base salary, a $4 million bonus and more than $11 million of stock and options in 2007. Mr. Mulally has earned nearly $50 million in compensation since taking the helm of the auto maker.Less is known about Robert Nardelli's CEO package at Chrysler LLC because the auto maker is privately held. When, I wonder, will we hear what management is giving up as their "part of the solution?"

If the CEOs are riling auto-workers, politicians aren’t helping. When the economic crisis hit, US GOP senators gleefully passed notes speculating that this was a new opportunity to crush the union movement. While some countries proposed serious economic plans, Canadian PM Stephen Harper issued a so-called economic statement that sounded more like a neo-conservative wet dream - suspending the right of civil servants to strike (something which has not been an issue after several years of labour peace) and doing away with employment equity.

If the auto-workers are cynical about these same politicians telling them to roll back workers salaries by $17 an hour while CEOs get to keep their $36 million luxury company jets – well, I can’t blame them.

It’s my opinion that unions are most successful when there is a lack of responsible leadership in companies and politics. I can’t speak for all unions, but it seems to me the CAW is more relevant than ever. To its workers, who for the most part support it, and folks who have benefited from their social activism.

I agree with the teaching, but from my perspective would apply to company management, not the CAW. Of course you knew I was going to say that - didn't you?


Thursday, April 16, 2009

CAW, Obama, and the teachings of a humble N Ont. Chief

I read two stories in the Globe and Mail that reminded me of a couple of lessons or observations told me by an Ojibway Chief from a small community in Northern Ontario. The stories in question covered the CAW hard line position in the Fiat and Chrysler negotiations and Obama's "tempered optimism" on the economy.

The Chief told me that anybody can take a group of people who are poor, who have limited access to ready solutions, and rile them to protest and anger but it takes a true leader to take that same group of people and rile them to change their own situation for the better. He also said in a time of crisis you need to be on the floor with the people every day and sometimes two or three times a day even if to tell them that nothing has changed.

I am not a strong supporter of today's unions (although my blogging partner may feel differently). It is my belief they have lost their focus and purpose... their reason for being. In the Fiat/Chrysler story I see an example of a leader who must take the cheaper short cuts and rile his constituents to anger in defence of his position rather than lead them towards a solution. Obama has been in the news and in the face of his constituents every single day - he encourages, tells his people they will have to go through tough times but they will make it because they are strong and resilient...He has asked his country to change their behavior to better their place......

I wonder though if it is because how why union leaders are elected? To defend of fight for more not to necessarily lead through tough economic times or economic downturns? I really don't know maybe this is the time to realize not all warriors make good leaders all the time? Anyway, I think it is interesting to observe the teaching I received on such a grand stage.


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