Saturday, May 30, 2009

Speaking of Poilievre.. Is he a clone?

Tell me if I am imagining this... Am I alone in thinking these men share striking similarities in their physical and behavioural characteristics? Could the conservatives be cloning themselves?
Consider the evidence below...


Who ran against Pierre Poilievre last election? Was it Satan?

So I have a question for folks living in the Nepean Carleton riding. I do not recall who ran against Poilievre last election.. was it Satan? Was he a dark horse candidate in a NDP liberal vote split? Perhaps he has an exceptionally large family living in his constituency?

Regarding his use of the word "tar baby" this week. Poilievre is not the only politician to aggravate the public by using the term, or to claim he did not understand that it was offensive. Whether or not he intended to offend, his refusal to apologize is reprehensible. He has is also proven himself to be a revolting human being.

This is not Poilievre's first racial slur. Poilievre also shot his mouth off, one-year ago, on the eve of the historic apology to Indian Residential School Survivors Poilievreduring an interview with a local radio station saying:

“We could go and argue whether [assimilation] was the right policy or the wrong policy....$4 billion in compensation for those who partook in the residential schools over those years. Now, you know, some of us are starting to ask, ‘Are we really getting value for all of this money, and is more money really going to solve the problem?’ My view is that we need to engender the values of hard work and independence and self reliance. That’s the solution in the long run – more money will not solve it.”

(And of course it would be irresponsible of me to reprint that statement without correcting the factual errors in it. #1 Compensation was $1.9 billion, NOT $4 billion. #2 Children were forced into the residential school system, designed to assimilate them; they did not "partake" in it. #3 Paying the compensation was a cost-saving to the government who was going to spend billions more fighting (and losing) the cases in court, there for was a value-for-money decision. #5 On the issue of value for money there are a number of auditor general reports that show First Nations reporting procedures are adequate, but that First Nations receive inadequate funding for housing, education, health and social services.)

His remarks were hate-mongering lies, his timing was cruelly calculated.
Poilievre also has a history of odd and childish behaviour.

He was forced to apologize in 2006 after he was caught on Commons video making an obscene arm gesture to opposition MPs. A week before that, Poilievre was recorded swearing at his political rivals, and was then accused of doing a mock "pixie dance" while the Commons Speaker was discussing his unparliamentary gestures.

Really, who voted for this guy?
Shame on you.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Say WHAT? Brazeau is working with the AFN

Hell just froze over.

I was reading First Perspective and tripped across an editorial by every one's favourite Senator, Patrick Brazeau. Apparently the Senate plans to do a trip across Canada to collect opinions on the Indian Act.

Non-First Nations folk may not be aware of it, but every 4-5 years some bored politician in Ottawa decides to tinker with the Indian Act. It's cool for the politician and their flunkie bureaucrats, because they get to travel across Canada on the tax payers dime. First Nations however are sick of it. Politicians have spent millions upon millions of dollars on such consultations, which go nowhere. In the end we as First Nations people pay the price for their folly, from the press, from the Minister of Indian Affairs and his critics. Tell me if you've heard this before: "Ottawa just spend 10 billion dollars on First Nations. Where did the money go? Damn these First Nations people are so unaccountable." Plus, really, First Nations people are working hard toward self-government and are tired of being federal make-work projects. All of this was explained politely and academically to the feds in the 4000 or so pages that make up the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Yet they persist.

So I rolled my eyes and scanned down the article, and what did I see?

Brazeau writes:Working in cooperation with the Assembly of First Nations, members of the committee will undertake regional visits in Manitoba, Atlantic Canada and Saskatchewan.

working with the AFN? On Indian Act consultations?
Holy jumping beavers. I never saw that one coming.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hey - we're progressive bloggers

It's official. Progressive bloggers accepted our website.
The vote links will now work.
:)I feel so pleased :)
Aside from that announcement - if folks are reading this and have not ever gone to progressive bloggers you should. A bunch of really good blogs that provoke, amuse and inform to be found there.


How to be a Traditional man

From the Winnipeg Free Press:
The chief of Misipawistik Cree Nation and former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and said systemic poverty for aboriginal people has to be overcome and he challenged aboriginal men to step up and assume the role of provider for women and children."They have to wake up to the reality that they are contributing to the poverty of our people by not taking measures to improve their households," he said following a press conference at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre."They need to improve their education and go out and find jobs so they can earn income for their families." (Read the article)

This reminded me of a great teaching by an elder. The story goes like this.

A young man, in despair, seeks out an elder for advice.

He tells the elder: "I fooled around on my wife, and I left her for another woman. Now I only see my 2 kids on weekends. I started partying too much and lost my job. The woman I fooled around with got pregnant. She didn't like the fact that I wasn't working and had no money, so she left me. I am completely alone, I feel bad and my parents are on my case. No one in the community respects me anymore. I want to learn to be a traditional man so I can regain my self-respect, the respect of my parents and my community."

The elder replies: "You've come to the right place. The first thing you need to do is quit the boozing and partying. Then you must put on nice clothes and get a job. Once you have a job you need to buy a house, and move your two women and your three kids into the house and buy them all food, clothes and diapers. When you have accomplished this, come back and I will give you the second lesson on how to be a traditional man."


Governor General's seal snack sparks controversy

Ok I have read all I can about this and even though I am behind in work and have appointments today however, I cannot remain silent any longer. As a person who loves to cook and hopes to establish a business serving indigenous foods I can tell you I am FED-UP with the attitudes expressed by the narrow minds quoted in this story.

There is a food security issue in many of our Inuit and First Nation communities. Young Inuit children are choosing food produced and regulated by the southern economies rather than local foods and it's impacting their health.

For a parent to ask their child to eat their food they have been informed by the righteous white that they are in fact doing nothing more than satisfying a “bloodlust” as they “slash” meat from a carcass. The French still eat Tartar do they not...raw meat?

Frankly I'd like to see seal meat on the menu at McDonalds. I'd like for our Indigenous food products to be visible and compete in the larger southern markets. I'd like it so I could go into the Great Canadian Super Store and see White Corn for corn soup in cans, dried, and milled for my bannock. I'd like to purchase my Buffalo and Caribou knowing that I was supporting the original peoples and their economies. I want to be able to buy smoked salmon and oilcan grease and be secure in the knowledge that it was a First Nation company that I purchased from. I’d like to see a whole food section dedicated to our producers and food sources. But if laws are created that continue to exclude us from marketing our foods then how will we ever convince our children that our food sources are nutritious, affordable, sustainable, and delicious?

Indigenous foods are plenty in the market place but nobody recognises them as such because the business people have exploited the land and its resources. Without inclusion in the food economy it’s just another form of cultural appropriation.

Governor General's seal snack sparks controversy
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 | 7:52 PM ET Comments561Recommend137
CBC News
Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, in matching jackets, take part in a community feast in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, on Monday. Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean and her husband Jean-Daniel Lafond, in matching jackets, take part in a community feast in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, on Monday. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean snacking on a slain seal's raw heart has sparked criticism from the European Union and animal rights groups.

Barbara Slee, an anti-seal hunt campaigner at the International Fund for Animal Welfare in Brussels, said she was disgusted by Jean's actions.

"The fact that the Governor General in public is slashing and eating a seal, I don't think that really helps the cause, and I'm convinced that this will not change the mind of European citizens and politicians," Slee told The Associated Press.

"It amazes us that a Canadian official would indulge in such bloodlust," Dan Mathews, senior vice-president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, told the Toronto Star.

"It sounds like she's trying to give Canadians an even more Neanderthal image around the world than they already have."

Kicking off a weeklong visit to Nunavut on Monday as part of the territory's 10th anniversary celebrations, Jean gutted and ate some fresh seal at a community festival in the central Nunavut community of Rankin Inlet.

The move, to show support for the beleaguered seal hunters, comes as the European Union voted earlier this month to impose a ban on seal products after years of intense lobbying by animal rights groups.

Asked Tuesday whether her actions were a message to Europe, Jean replied, "Take from that what you will."

A spokeswoman for EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas offered no official reaction.

"No comment — it's too bizarre to acknowledge," Barbara Helfferich said.

The EU's trade ban has limited exemptions to Inuit from Canada and Greenland to continue their traditional seal hunts. However, those exemptions are subject to a number of restrictions.

Canadian Inuit leaders praised Jean's gesture, saying it sends a strong message to the world about the traditional "country food" that Inuit rely on.

"Not everybody would do that, especially when they know that the seal hunt ... is a controversial issue because of the animal rights people," Mary Simon, head of the national Inuit organization Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, told CBC News on Tuesday.

"I just want to thank her for her support of our people and our culture."

Both Simon and Paul Kaludjak, president of the land claims group Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., said the seal hunt is not a controversial issue among Inuit.

"We don't really care about how the outside world thinks about how we eat our country food," Kaludjak said.

"Let them be disgusted, whatever they want to pursue, and that's their choice."

Kaludjak added there are better things to do than to criticize other people's practices.

Simon said people should take note of the message Jean is sending by eating the seal heart.

"It really sends a message out to the public that maybe these animal rights campaigns are off-base and are giving inaccurate information," Simon said.

Federal Defence Minister Peter MacKay weighed in on the controversy, offering Jean his full support.

"I think that was wonderful. I think she's Canada's new Braveheart for eating the seal heart," MacKay told reporters following question period in Ottawa on Tuesday.

When asked if he would eat a piece of seal heart, MacKay, who said he has eaten seal liver and flippers, replied, "Sure! Absolutely. I'd love to try it."


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm

Talk about jealousy - imagine the ability to orgasm whenever you want - you just have to think it into being.....cooooool


WTF Chuck? More Shame on Chuck Strahl

It's wrong. Chuck Strahl knows it. And there's no sign the Minister intends to do a damn thing to fix it.

Only half of First Nations children ever graduate high school - a sad fact that predictably leads to low wages, unemployment, poverty. First Nations advocates argue that the main reason for high drop out rates is that First Nations kids aren't getting a fair and equal chance at education. Advocacy organizations say that 65 First Nations communities have no schools at all, and another 95 have schools in a "terrible state of disrepair."

Well, in case we doubted those numbers, the independent Parliamentary Budget Office has not only confirmed, but heaped new criticism on Indian Affairs in its report released yesterday.

According to the PBO about $308 million is needed to build and refurbish schools on reserves each year for the next five years.

Part of the problem is that although INAC keeps budgeting money for education, it tends to raid the piggy bank and spend those dollars elsewhere.(For example, last April's Auditor General Report noted that INAC has robbed Peter to pay Paul by transferring some dollars from education, as well as housing, to a cash-starved child welfare system)

The report adds that INAC doesn't have a discernible method for budgeting its capital program nor does it have reliable data on the schools that exist on reserves, including when they were built and what shape they are in. In addition it found:

  • Less than half the existing First Nations schools in Canada are listed in "good" condition

  • INAC's data on First Nations schools is inadequate for proper planning and accounting purposes.

  • $122M was reallocated from school projects and spent on other areas from 2003 to 2008

  • INAC built an average of 35 schools per year in the 1990s, but built just eight in 2007 and 2008.

  • $169-189 million per year gap exists for maintaining current education infrastructure

(News story)

The PBO filed the report after New Democrat Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay) asked the PBO to study the issue of government funding for reserve schools. Charlie Angus is perhaps best known these days for supporting the First Nation community, Attawapiskat, which is located in his northern Ontario riding, in their quest for a new school.

For those who don't know the story: The school in Attawapiskat was contaminated by a large diesel spill in 1979 but continued to house 400 students until 2000 when parents pulled their children out because of growing health-related problems. It was closed eight years ago because of health concerns. They have been in shoddy makeshift classrooms ever since. Last year INAC finally got around to demolishing the old school, but uncorked an odour that may be related to the old diesel spill. Children in the portables near the site have complained of breathing problems, headaches and nausea. The band council to shut the portables and a high school March 23, citing health concerns and requested that Indian Affairs evacuate part of the town or at least send the students elsewhere. INAC says it had the air tested, it's fine. Clearly officials do not/have chosen not to believe the residents.By the way, Ottawa had long suggested it would replace the school, but in 2008 Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl said there was no money for the project.

I am not one who normally take potshots at a politician's personal life, but I think this is one of those cases where it needs to be said. A man who has cancer, which he believes in linked to exposure form asbestos should be just a little more sympathetic to kids being exposed to chemicals.

So what's next? Nothing of course. Here's an exchange between Charlie and Chuck yesterday in the house.

Mr. Charlie Angus (Timmins—James Bay, NDP):
Mr. Speaker, 10 years ago, the Government of Canada was building 50 first nations schools a year. Last year, under the present minister, that number dropped to one. No wonder the children of Attawapaskat were told they were no longer a priority.The report of the Parliamentary Budget Officer shows massive underfunding, moneys being siphoned out of school building budgets and that there is no justifiable list from INAC to explain why some projects are going ahead and other projects are being cancelled. Will the minister accept the recommendations of the report and work with us to set up a transparent process so we can see where the adequate resources are going?

Hon. Chuck Strahl (Chuck Strahl Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, there is a process to determine infrastructure investment priorities and it is done in every province across the country. When we announced budget 2009, where we added $200 million in extra dollars for school construction, I just took the list that was done at arm's length for me and we funded the 13 school projects that were covered in that. However, that member voted against that. He did not want that $200 million. What is more, he has never had a plan, as we saw with the Liberal-NDP coalition. As he said to the people of Attawapaskat, “I cannot promise I will ever build the school. We will just give it our best shot”.

So WTF Chuck? a) You just found out your department is playing footsie with the books and you fail to even address the issue? I am sure by now your not much fond of Charlie, but regardless of who poses the question, you owe Canadians and answer and could at least pretend to be concerned b)And .. now.. it's Charlie's fault?
Now maybe your happy with the way your career is going, and you like the way media, and ultimately history will portray you. But if you don't, here's what I think you should do Chuck.

1) Fire Ted Yeomans or whoever wrote that crappy answer for making you look like an idiot.
2) Grow some balls and go pound your fist on the cabinet table.

You're an elected leader and a Minister of Parliament for crying out loud. Start acting like it. Geesh.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

It hurts to think about... but gotta give 'em hope.

Two other human rights issues involving students this week. Both slightly farther away, in the US.

1) A sixth grader who was inspired by the recent Harvey Milk movie, decided to do a presentation on the movie for school. The school censored it.

They refused to allow the child to give the presentation in class, and required her classmates to get parental permission to see the presentation during a lunch recess. Although Harvey Milk was an elected city councillor, and an important historical figure in California and American history, because he was gay and championed gay rights, the school superintendent decided the girl's presentation violated a district board policy on “Family Life/Sex Education.”

I have to admit I still haven't gotten around to seeing the Harvey Milk movie (I want to, just haven't yet). But I know a great deal about Harvey Milk. I did a history presentation on him back in 1988, grade 13 history class... are you ready .. wait for it.. IN CATHOLIC SCHOOL. No one had any problem with it. In fact, because gay rights was a "new" area of history no one knew much about it, and my classmates were as shocked and horrified as I was to find out that gay relationships (not marriage, but simply being in a gay relationship) was illegal in about 20 US states at the time.

It's incredible to me that a California school in 2009 (I mean c'mon California) could be more backwards that a Catholic school 30 years ago in a medium-sized Canadian town.

2) After tripping across that, I was checking out The Galloping Beaver where Dave has a post about a NY times story describing racially segregated proms Montgomery County High School. Modern day racially segregated proms.

Apparently the students have tried to desegregate he proms, and both white and black students would like to see this happen, but white parents are holding out.

The US is a country of contradictions. They produce pot-smokin comedies like Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle but in real life will throw an 18 year old in jail for 25 years for the possession of a small amount of marijuana. They hold their First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech so dearly, yet a young girl studying a prominent California politician is silenced by her school. They've elected a black president, but would have kept him from attending the white kid's prom if he's grown up in Montgomery County.

It makes my head spin. When I feel this way.. I think of two things. An elder who once told me "I may live in a colonized country but I refuse to behave like a colonized woman." and of course I think about Harvey Milk... gotta give 'em hope. (watch the YOUtube video.)


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Let's tell them: This was assault and the perp should be prosecuted

Following up on Wideyes suggestion, that folks should write to the school, the police, the crown attorney's office in Thunder bay about the case of the 7 year old child who was assaulted when a teacher's aide sheared his hair in class. I fully believe that the Crown Attorney should prosecute for assault, and that the police, the school and the school board who are all in the business of protecting children should be pushing the crown attorney's office to do so. I have updated my blog with addresses folks can write to if they are interested in encouraging the institutions involved (crown attorney, school board etc) to do the right thing.

Other folks may have differenct ideas of what actions/remedies need to be taken, and disagree with me about the assault issue. I’ve been following this story on other blogs (Dawg's blog, PP 2.0 - Dispatches by Northwestern Lad, The galloping Beaver, and It's all about potential to name a few. Good discussions BTW) and I've seen a number of people post ideas of what they’d like to see as remedies, the school board apologizing, sensitivty training etc. I think the main point is that we all agree this is unacceptable to happen to any child. Perhaps some letters can encourage them. Clearly encouragement is needed sicne they have done little over the past month since the incident occurred.

Here are some e-mail/snail-mail addresses to encourage these agencies to do the right thing. Update: Check the comments where folks are pitching in to add more contact info.

Lakehead Public School Board comment form:

Gordon Fillmore (Crown Attorney Rep)
Crown Attorney's Office
1805 E. Arthur Street
Thunder Bay, Ontario
P7E 2R6
Fax: 625-1618

Chris Adams
Thunder Bay Police Service
1200 Balmoral Street
Thunder Bay, ON
P7B 5Z5

McKellar Park Central Public School
Principal: Michelle Probizanski
Vice Principal: Melanie Mussellam (Acting)
301 N. Archibald Street
Thunder Bay, Ontario
P7C 3Y3

Fax: 807-623-1586

Mayor Lynn Peterson
2nd Floor, City Hall
500 Donald Street E
P.O. Box 800
Thunder Bay, ON,
P7C 5K4


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is it real? Is it a new relationship? Or just the old game of minority politics?

Bill C-8 a.k.a the Matrimonial Real Property Bill may get killed on Monday.

This post is NOT about merits of the Bill; it is NOT about the issue of Matrimonial Real Property either. Finally, this post is also NOT about whether Bill C-8 should live or die. (For background on the MRP issue and Bill C-8, see CBC, National Post, The Regina Leader Post, )

Instead this post is about last Thursday's House of Commons debate surrounding C-8.

To make a very complex issue as simplistic as possible, the Assembly of First Nations(AFN), the Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC) and other First Nations groups say:

  1. Sure, First Nations were consulted (insofar as they were asked their opinions on how to solve the MRP problem) but their recommendations were promptly ignored.
  2. The government drafted legislation First Nations don't like and, worse, Bill C-8 won't even solve the problem.
  3. Bill C-8 should not go to committee where it can be debated and amended. It can't be fixed. It should be scrapped. First Nations want a do-over.

So on Thursday the Liberals proposed a hoist motion that would effectively kill the Bill. The conservatives want it to go ahead. The NDP and the BQ don't like Bill C-8, but said it should go to committee. A vote is coming up on Monday.

What I found spell-binding were the arguments surrounding the hoist motion. There was an interesting debate that touched on last year's apology to residential school survivors, reconciliation, democracy and self government vs colonialism.

The full debate is online, but I posted a few highlights below.

What do we make of this? If the Liberals win the next election, will they still be the champions of a new relationship and self-government? Or will the roles curiously reverse (as they have in the past) with the Liberals in power forgetting their words and the Conservatives our champions once in opposition?


Mr. Todd Russell (Labrador, Lib.):
The government's approach is one size fits all. It has not worked in the past and it will not work in the present or in the future. Canada learned that lesson the hard way through the residential schools experience.To first nations people, this hearkens back to the days of the Indian agent, when they had an overseer, someone who would say what was right or what was wrong, what was appropriate or inappropriate in first nations communities. It flies in the face of the inherent right to self-government and the nation to nation relationship. It is a colonialist approach, an assimilationist approach, a paternalistic approach, and believe me, I use those words deliberately......

Madam Speaker, we can only look at what the consequences have been of a colonialist, paternalistic, assimilationist approach: poverty and health outcomes. There is not one outcome where aboriginal people are ahead of the rest of the Canadian population. They have substandard housing, high unemployment, high suicide rates and a massive number of children in care. Some estimate it to be 27,000 people in care with first nations and non-first nations agencies......

This is what the imposed approach, the colonialist, assimilationist approach has done. On June 11 of last year, there was an apology. The apology was supposed to mean something: a way of doing business differently and a way of approaching our relationship with aboriginal people differently.

A better approach would be to work productively and transparently with first nations; work with first nations governments to develop their own laws and the administrative support for their operation; work with first nations governments and citizens on the full spectrum of approaches, legislative and non-legislative, to family law. Where federal legislation is required, first nations should be brought to the table to help in the drafting of a bill that can obtain a much broader consensus. The government should engage in that intensive consultation that is required.


Mr. John Duncan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, CPC):

As we know, there are 630 bands in Canada. So we need to be concerned about that. Somebody has to take leadership, and the government is taking that leadership....

We keep hearing that there was no meaningful consultation. There was $1.7 million provided to the Assembly of First Nations regarding consultation on this issue. There was $1.7 million provided to the Native Women's Association of Canada for further consultation on this issue. There were moneys provided to other aboriginal organizations for consultations on this issue. There were consultations in more than 100 jurisdictions across Canada on the need for this type of legislation.

...There is no area where the federal government has a bigger responsibility than to take leadership in these areas. If we do not take that leadership, it would be an abdication of our responsibility. I really do not know who else can provide a nationally organized effort in this regard. It is our constitutional responsibility.....


Hon. Bob Rae (Toronto Centre, Lib.):
...The whole question that is being discussed is not one that can be subject to an easy formula. When he says, for example, that this is as a result of the government's determination to do something on behalf of the most vulnerable, it is the phrase “on behalf of” about which we have to think through its implications....

Everyone in the House has to understand that if we are to take government-to-government relationships seriously, and I feel this very strongly as a member of Parliament, it means that I do not have a right to pass legislation that applies to first nations people and to first nations reserves unless that legislation has the full support of the people on whose behalf it is being proposed.

We have to abandon the kind of paternalism that unfortunately underlies this legislation. It simply is not possible at this time in our history for us to take this kind of approach. I know it is difficult. I know it is frustrating. I know it is costly. The parliamentary secretary has spent some time focusing on how much money was involved in consulting with the first nations people.

....However well meaning the bill may be and however much the government may believe that it has found the answer to a problem, the simple fact of the matter is that this legislation does not meet the fundamental test, that it has the active support and approval of the people who are being affected by this legislation....

Be that as it may, it seems to me that we do have a responsibility as members of the House. We do have a responsibility to take self-government seriously. If we are to apologize for past errors, it is not enough to apologize for the mistakes that have been made in the past and then to say that despite that, we will still go ahead and pass legislation because we know better.

I sincerely believe that if we are to take self-government seriously, that means not simply that we consult and say, “Thanks very much for your point of view, but we will go ahead and do this anyway”, but it means that we have to respond in a different way. We believe on this side of the House, in the Liberal Party, very strongly that measures such as these can only be taken if they have the full support and approval of those who are responsible, in leadership positions, in the first nations and aboriginal communities.



Let them eat Granola

Now I've heard everything. Winnipeg's downtown business association is telling folks not to give any more change to the homeless. Apparently it's wrong for the homeless to ask for spare change, it's much better if volunteers collect the spare change and then make the homeless earn it back through make-work projects such as cleaning up around the city. If that's not condescending enough --- yes it gets worse. You see homeless people will continue to ask for the spare change, so the social agencies collecting the spare change are going to give you a granola bar to give to the homeless instead.

There were quite a few good comments in reference to the article Give panhandler pennies to work programs instead, business group says on the CBC website. People raised issues such as how this smacks of labour exploitation, and asked how those who are addicted or too sick to work are supposed to participate. To this I'd add a host of labour and safety concerns, but most of all... how about showing a little compassion and letting the homeless keep just a little human dignity.

Let's be honest about what this program is REALLY about. People don't like to be bothered for speare change. I'll admit that there's some folk on the streets of Winnipeg who are agressive panhandlers. But I have braved worse, for example: aggressive telemarketers, born-again christians and Jehova Witnesses.

Winnipeg's downtown business association has launched a new program to encourage people to donate to social agencies rather than giving money to panhandlers.
'Show up, and we will help you. All we ask in return is a good, hard day's work to help clean up our downtown.'
— Stefano Grande, Downtown BIZ executive directorKiosks have been set up along Portage Avenue to take donations over the next week. Downtown BIZ executive director Stefano Grande said the donations will be used to set up work-experience programs that will be offered to panhandlers by the Salvation Army, Siloam Mission and Holy Trinity Anglican Church.

"There's no conditions to employment: show up for an hour a week, two hours a week, 40 hours a week. Show up, and we will help you," he said. "All we ask in return is a good, hard day's work to help clean up our downtown."

Grande is aiming to raise around $30,000. People who donate will be given granola bars to pass on to panhandlers.

"So, we're asking the downtown workers to come out of their office towers, engage our summer that's now arrived [and] make a donation, big or small," said Grande. "Grab a granola bar, acknowledge our panhandlers, say 'Hi' to them [and] give them a granola bar."



This story is horrifying to any parent. How dare a school touch a child's hair? It's worse when you consider the child is First Nations and was growing his hair to participate in grass dancing as part of his spiritual/cultural tradition. It's the equivalent of tearing a cross off a Cathlolic child. Worse still the way it inevitably reminds us all of residential school. I think we all want answers on this one.

Mom wants answers after teacher's aide chops off son's hair
Last Updated: Thursday, May 21, 2009 4:02 PM CT
CBC News
A Thunder Bay woman is demanding an explanation after a teacher's aide at her son's school cut his long hair — an action her lawyer says is clearly assault while the Crown insists there are no grounds for charges.
CBC News is not naming the family to protect the child's identity.
The seven-year-old boy had chin-length hair before the incident last month. His mother said staff at McKellar Park Central Public School were aware her son was letting his hair grow so that he could take part in traditional First Nations dancing.
The mother told CBC News she was stunned when her son told her it was a teacher's assistant who lopped off 10 centimetres of his hair.
"I said, 'Why did she do this? Did she say anything?'" said the mother. "And he said, 'No, and after she cut my hair, she took me by the shoulders and forced me to stand in front of the mirror. She made me stand there and said look at you now.'"
Lawyer Julian Falconer is representing the family.
"We have a classic example of the vulnerabilities of a seven-year-old being taken advantage [of] by someone with a pair of scissors who lifted that child on a stool and proceeded to violate the child," Falconer said. "The question becomes how could the police and the Crown attorney's office turn a blind eye to this?"
Thunder Bay police took head shots of the child as part of their investigation of the incident and also interviewed the school principal, the teacher's assistant involved and the mother and boy, said police spokesman Chris Adams.
"The Crown got back to us and indicated that there were no grounds for criminal charges, and it wasn't in the public interest according to the Crown," he said.
A spokesperson for Lakehead Public School Board confirmed the "unfortunate incident" took place but declined to comment further.
The teaching assistant has been suspended, but the mother said that does not go far enough.


Fabulous story full of baloney

I just tripped across this item from the Daily Press and thought it was sweet and fabulous and wanted to share it. It reminded me of one of my friend's stories romanticizing "weiner soup." For me it was grilled cheeses (actually healthier that weiner soup, but still with processed cheese). All these things that were such treats back in the day... and hey I grew up in a middle class family. But as my folks put it, cheese is damn expensive.

Now a few years ago I read my kid that book "Farm Boy" by Laura Ingalls Wilder which details what it was like for her husband to grow up on a farm in the 1800s. For Christmas Farmboy got a sled made by his day, a pair of leather boots (a big deal because 'men' wore boots, boys wore 'shoes') and 2 oranges. At this point in the story my kid stopped me, seriously angry saying "that sucks what kind of Christmas present is an orange?" Times have changed, kids are spoiled these days and me? Well I have turned into my kokum sittting in my chair and shaking my head at it all. And let me just say I don't care much for that rude language in that hippity hop music all these kids seem to listen to nowadays either. Now I have to go yell at those kids stepping on my front lawn, but please enjoy, the recollection below.

Bologna was a rare treat growing up in Attawapiskat

I sat down to have breakfast at a highway restaurant stop in Northern Ontario with a friend of mine this week. I had fried eggs and bologna.

Of course, most of us realize what a poor choice this type of meal is on many levels, but still it is like a treat to me. When I was a boy back home in Attawapiskat, on rare occasions I would be treated to fried eggs and bologna. Eggs and processed meats like sausage, bacon or bologna was available but it was far too expensive for our large family.

During our sinful breakfast at the local restaurant, we reminisced about our days as bologna eaters. My friend recalled lunches of bologna sandwiches with mayo, mustard and lettuce.
This sandwich seemed to be a big hit with non-Native people when they were young.

Bologna was far too precious for us to simply cut up and put into sandwiches.

I first experienced the popular bologna sandwich when I was attending high school in Timmins and I lived with a non-Native family. My regular bagged lunch for school consisted of a bologna sandwich, an apple and a box drink. Most students took this little lunch for granted but it was a luxury in my mind.

I really was amazed at the wealth of a family that could afford to provide such a wonderful lunch for so many in the household.

It was not that my family up North was desperately poor or poverty-stricken to the point we could not buy bologna. As a matter of fact, mom and dad were very efficient with the way they fed our family. Along with our two parents, there were nine children and a grandparent living in our small five bedroom home. Mom and dad never bought merely a few items at the grocery store. They ordered in bulk products so that mom could prepare huge platters of spaghetti, lasagna, stews and soups.

Every morning, rather than the honoured meal of bacon and eggs or cold cereal with fresh milk, mom boiled tea and prepared a pot of porridge which we ate with watered down canned milk and sugar. We also supplemented our diet with wild meats like caribou, fish, moose and goose and mom prepared recipes by baking, frying or cooking these traditional foods.

It was not easy to feed such a large family and grocery products were always very expensive because of the remote location of Attawapiskat. Groceries came to us by barge, the winter road or aircraft.

Once in a blue moon a package of bologna made its way to our house. It did not last long my brothers, sisters and I would compete for every last tasty morsel.

It was confusing for me when I started high school and I was introduced to the non-Native world. My world was turned upside down. Everything was new and it was all I could do to adapt to the speed and competitiveness of my new world. All of a sudden the coveted bologna sandwich became a lunch that I had routinely. After thinking for many years that bologna was a luxury item here, I was downing sandwiches made with this pink packaged meat on a regular basis. It was a real surprise to find out that in the non-Native world bologna was considered a poor man's lunch.

Back home in Attawapiskat we never thought of the origins of bologna.
It simply tasted great and was easy to carry and cook.
That made it valuable.

In Timmins, in the high school lunch room cafeteria, conversations regularly centred around most of the student's disgust at continually eating bologna sandwiches. These were the days of food awareness and everybody joked about the mysterious meat syndrome as related to bologna. Bologna was demoted on my list of favourite foods.

These days I realize the dangers of eating processed foods and I worry about my people up the James Bay Coast who eat too much prepared meats. They are high in sodium and saturated fats and have a risk of contamination.

Still, at times my appetite for this sweet meat gets the best of me.

Maybe it is all just a bunch of baloney.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Canada's opposition to UN declaration on Indigneous Rights ain't all about us

Australia has reversed its position on the UND. New Zealand and the US are showing signs of reconsidering but not Canada. Canada's excuse has been that the UND would supercede laws protecting non-natives - a postion that no legal expert agrees with. Naturally FN Inuit and Metis folks here in Canada tend to take this personally. But according to this article it ain't all about us. Cut throught the government spin and it turns out the Canadian government is tryng to protect multi-nationals who are interested in exploiting Indigenous peoples in other lands.

Momentum slowly builds behind UN Indigenous Declaration
....On Monday, the forum kicked off with a special discussion on the relationship between indigenous peoples and industrial corporations. Extractive industries -- gas, oil, and mineral extraction -- disproportionately impact the world's 400 million indigenous peoples, according to experts who met in The Philippines in March during a conference on extractive industries and indigenous peoples.

As it turns out, many of the indigenous peoples who attended that extractive industry workshop complained that Canadian companies were not respecting their rights, Tauli-Corpuz told Xinhua.

In just one example, Canadian mining company Nautilus Mining Inc. is planning the first deep-sea mining expedition off the coast of Papa New Guinea. A small group of indigenous peoples there, the Bismarck-Solomon Seas Indigenous Peoples Council, has claimed they have not been fairly consulted for a project they saywill endanger their villages and destroy a rare ecosystem.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

The barely visible Leona Aglukkaq

The H1N1 virus was the first time I've seen Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq quoted in the news since her appointment. For the most part she seems content to let her press secretary Josée Bellemare do her public speaking for her. I am not the only one to notice:

Rookie minister praised for quick, open response

Globe and Mail
OTTAWA — It is the first test for the rookie health minister: a flu, with early cases reported in Canada, that could evolve into the pandemic predicted by medical experts for so many years. Leona Aglukkaq has been one of the least visible cabinet ministers since her swearing-in last winter. She rarely gives interviews. She has made few national policy announcements. She has seemed content to let other ministers take the limelight.

So while I agree with the Globe and Mail that Leona Aglukkaq has been invisible, I fail to understand their interpretation that her behaviour is some how a cutesy/endearing/bashful/modest attempt to allow others to take the limelight. It's not cute at all. It's irresponsible, unaccountabile, and inept. She needs to step up and do her job and address the issues.

Allow me to give a few examples.

Ottawa leaves marijuana issue in limbo

The federal government is not saying when it is going to comply with a court ruling nearly 16 months ago that struck down a section of its regulations regarding the medical use of marijuana.The regulations restricted designated producers to growing cannabis for no more than a single approved user of marijuana.Federal Court Justice Barry Strayer ruled in January, 2008, that the restriction is "arbitrary," not "rationally related to legitimate state interests" and violates the principles of fundamental justice. It is estimated that more than 400,000 people in Canada use marijuana for medical reasons, according to evidence presented in a case in British Columbia. Less than 20% of the nearly 3,000 people approved to smoke marijuana for medical reasons access it from the government-approved supplier, because of complaints about the quality."Our government is now looking at a range of legal options and will come forward with a policy response very soon," said Josee Bellemare.

Chief begs Ottawa for better health care
Another infant from Garden Hill is fighting for her life in a Winnipeg hospital under similar circumstances that contributed to the death last month of a six-month-old baby from the northern reserve.The incident occurred less than a month after six-month-old Chace Barkman died of meningitis. His parents were sent home from the nursing station repeatedly with instructions to treat his fever with a cool bath and Tylenol. By the time he was finally medivaced to Winnipeg it was too late and he died eight days later, on March 27. On Tuesday, the parents of the year-old baby tried repeatedly to have their daughter seen by nurses at the nursing station in Garden Hill, but the overworked staff sent her home. Harper said he has repeatedly asked Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq to visit Garden Hill and see for herself the poor state of health care delivery but the invitations have been ignored. He hoped to meet with her in Ottawa but instead met with Health Canada bureaucrats and Aglukkaq's chief of staff. Aglukkaq's spokeswoman, Josee Bellemare, said the government is committed to providing quality health care in Garden Hill.
"We are currently looking into Chief David Harper's concerns," she said.
She said Garden Hill has a new nursing station, built in 2004, which provides primary health care, public health and emergency services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Toronto to host global meeting on fighting TB
...And the Inuit, their TB rate is 90 times higher The most recent numbers from Statistics Canada suggest at least 70 people died across Canada in 2004 of TB-related causes. Newly minted federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who hails from Nunavut, knows the issue all too well. "She does recognize that tuberculosis is a big problem," said her press secretary, Josee Bellemare.

Wakey wakey Ms. Aglukkaq. Do your job or resign and gve your job to Bellemare. And while we're at it let's give the Globe and Mail a shake too. Since when did it become their job to write government press releases instead of news?


To help Explain about the Brazman

In case anyone is still confused about how Patrick Brazeau fits into Native politics and the Harper government, please refer them to this Venn Chart.

Progressive Bloggers


Partick Brazeau

Well, it wasn't me, but someone finally updated the Brazman's wikipedia entry. Hats off to the author. Was it you wideye?

The Brazman was back in the news this week with an update on the harrassment complaint.
Feds must hear senator harassment case: tribunal
The Canadian Press May 7, 2009
Ottawa -- Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal has ruled that a sexual harassment complaint against Senator Patrick Brazeau must be heard at the federal level. The tribunal says it has no jurisdiction to hear the case because the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, once led by Mr. Brazeau, is federally regulated. The case can now proceed before the Canadian Human Rights Commission. Mr. Brazeau says an independent report cleared him of misconduct.


It's rumoured that CP Reporter Sue Bailey had more to write, but being as the allegations against Brazeau are not proven yet, other details didn't get past lawyers at CP.

In related gossip, a number of First Nations leaders appeared before the Senate Committee on Human Rights. Naturally the conversation turned to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.It's still a sore spot for most native leaders that Canada remains one of 3 countries that refuse to endorse the Declaration. (New Zealand is holding out. The US is reconsidering its position, following the example of Australia.)

What the conservatives hate, Brazman hates. So despite the fact that every other First Nation, Metis, and Inuit leader want Canada to sign, Brazeau is against it. There was a cool exchange between Brazeau and Ellen Gabriel of the Quebec Native Women's Association over the issue.

Senator Brazeau: There was the question about what exactly and specifically the declaration would do to better the life of an indigenous person in Canada.

Ms. Gabriel: Maybe we could all drive Porsche 4-by-4s.

More in the Blues from the April 27th session.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Joe the Plumber

When wil this guy crawl back under the rock he crawled out from under?

As quoted in Christianity Today:

"Q:In the last month, same-sex marriage has become legal in Iowa and Vermont. What do you think about same-sex marriage at a state level?

A: At a state level, it's up to them. I don't want it to be a federal thing. I personally still think it's wrong. People don't understand the dictionary—it's called queer. Queer means strange and unusual. It's not like a slur, like you would call a white person a honky or something like that. You know, God is pretty explicit in what we're supposed to do—what man and woman are for. Now, at the same time, we're supposed to love everybody and accept people, and preach against the sins. ..."

But the primo portion of his idiocy... he goes on:

"I've had some friends that are actually homosexual. And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them anywhere near my children. "

Wow, with friends like Joe....


Saturday, May 2, 2009

In Praise of Ants!!!!!

More than birds, rain, or melting snow to me the true signal that of Spring has returned is seeing these marvellous tiny and miraculous creatures back at work. With the warm weather and bright sunshine outside, I feel the need to praise and celebrate the return of ants!

Check out my top ten reasons to love the world's most diverse, wondrous and altruistic organisms - ants. Plus – for people of faith ants are praised in traditional native teachings, the Bible, the Quran. These traditional teachings are posted here too.

10. Ants are cute. Their variety of colours, wiggly little antennae and love of honey and sweets. What’s not to love?

9. We have little to fear from ants. While it is true that a few species of ants become irate when their nests are attacked and bite, sting or spray chemicals in self-defense, very few species are poisonous and these stings are rarely fatal, usually only dangerous to hypersensitive people. We have much more to fear from venomous spiders, who are predatory and use their venom to paralyze or kill prey. 20 species of spiders have venom toxic to humans, in quantities that can kill in a single bite. They live in almost all parts of the world except those that are coldest.

8. Ants are nice Ants live in colonies, can communicate and they work as a team for the collective benfit of their community. Ants behave just plain nice to each other. They share information and teach each other how to be better ants. At the University of Bristol, ants placed along a tabletop foraged for food. Rather than selfishly keeping the hoard for themselves they returned to guide other ants. Time and again, followers trailed behind leaders, darting this way and that along the route, presumably to memorize landmarks. Once a follower got its bearings, it tapped the leader with its antennae, prompting the lesson to literally proceed to the next step. The ants were only looking for food, but the researchers said the careful way the leaders led followers -- thereby turning them into leaders in their own right -- marked the Temnothorax albipennis ant as the very first example of a non-human animal exhibiting teaching behaviour.

7. Ants make good role models Ants are polite, calm and this contributes to a very efficient strategy for dealing with crowd control and avoiding panic. If humans can learn to mimic ant’s behaviour we can vastly improve our ability to cope during mass evacuations. Martin Burd of Melbourne's Monash University, says Argentinian ants are apparently masters at managing stressful 'evacuations' by acting calmly and rationally. He built a series of barriers which he put in the ants' way, then scared them into seeking an exit. The barriers made them escape faster, and instead of panicking, the ants were calm and cooperative. "They were not trying to save their own lives but were behaving for the good of the group," he said.

6. Ants are interesting to observe; they also help us understand ourselves I’m not jut taking about ant farms, or watching a trail of leafcutter ants as they travel along ant-highways to their underground gardens. These are fascinating to watch, but scientific observation of ants is helping us better understand our own lives, behaviour and brain development. Ants are helping researchers discover whether changes in the brain and behaviour occur as a consequence of living in a particular type of environment. "I truly believe that this project will open the door for my next 20 years of science," said Dr. Reinberg, who is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at NYU and lead investigator for the Howard Hughes Institute of Medicine Collaborative Innovation Award.

5. Ants may be responsible for teaching humans to farm Farming is critical to human survival, almost every culture and every pocket of humanity has relied on farming for at least a portion of our food supply. It is doubtful that we would have survived without farming. But how did we learn to do it? Could it be early humans learned this skill by observing ants? Quite possibly. Research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says ants began farming some 50 million years ago, far before the first humans developed agriculture. Agriculture is rare in the animal world, aside form ants and humans only two other species do it: termites and bark beetles.

4. Ants protect humans Ants are scavengers, they clean up by eating dead plants and animals. You'll often see ants swarming around dead insects or even carrying them back to the anthill. This clean up helps remove bacteria from our surroundings and prevents sickness.

3. Ants can prevent human traffic accidents According to Audrey Dussutour, a University of Sydney entomologist who studies leafcutter ants, the ability of ants to organize their traffic activities is more sophisticated and efficient than humans. Studying how ants manage this could provide the basis for a system of driverless cars running on ant traffic algorithms. In recent years, scientists have turned ant traffic flows into algorithms applicable to data transmission and vehicular traffic. If humans agreed to let a computer network take the wheel, the principle learned from ants could alleviate congested traffic and get us to destinations more quickly and more safely according to Marcus Randall, a Bond University software mathematician. Any why are ants travel systems superior to humans? It appears aunts are more patient than humans. Ants slow down, which avoids traffic jams, and take turns which increasing efficiency and safety.

2. Ants are good for our health Trials in a Sydney hospital have already shown that antibiotics produced by ants are effective against a wide range of organisms, especially fungi, that cause diseases in humans. In particular, they kill the fungus Candida albicans, which is common in humans and, causes 'thrush', an infection of the mucous membranes.

1. Ants may save humanity An international team of scientists believe ants can help save humans from the next super-bug. Scientists have found new strains of drug-resistance viruses, like tuberculosis. This has created concern about new waves of pandemics. But ants may help save the day. Some ants harvest gardens of fungus carry on their bodies a secret weapon, an antibiotic-producing bacteria, which works against the parasites that invade their crops. Scientists believe that the fact that the bacteria and ants have coexisted for thousands of years means there may something there which decreases the rate of antibiotic resistance. Further study could help modern medicine solve the problem of antibiotic –resistant bugs. THANK YOU ANTS!


The Quran and Ants:

The story of King Solomon and the ants is mentioned in chapter 27:18-19.
These two verses tell how ants detected the approach of King Solomon and hid underground lest they be trampled. King Solomon over heard the ants and ordered his people to pause so that the ants might escape safely. This teachign tells us ants are rational caring intellegent creatures and we should treat them with mercy.

ThE Bible and ants:

Acording to the bible, ants have an intellegence that rivals mans. We are told to look at ants as role models in wisdon and thrift.

Proverbs 30:24-28 says--
“There are four things which are little upon the earth but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; The locusts have no king, yet go they forth all of them by bands; The spider taketh hold with her hands, and is in kings’ palaces.”

While Proverbs 6:6-8 says--
“Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise; Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.”

First Nations TraditionNative peoples also have many traditional teachings about ants, telling us to be respectful of them, that the creator loves them, as well as keen observations about the role of woman as leaders in a complex society.

A Choctaw Legend

The great Spirit made the very first people at the same time he made the grasshoppers, and both from yellow clay. They were born in an underground cave and then walked to the surface through a large tunnel. People and grasshoppers emerged together and traveled off in all directions. But the people were much bigger than the insects and trampled many of them... Some even killed the great mother grasshopper who lived in the cave!
Fearing they would be wiped out, the grasshoppers called out to Hashtali and asked that no more people be allowed to come forth. Now, the Great Spirit hears the cries of all living things and he took pity on the grasshoppers. He made the tunnel much smaller and turned the remaining people into ants so that they could no longer trample the grasshoppers. The ants you see today are those people. Don't step on them!

Ant Woman and Bear Legend

When the earth and all things upon it were created, there was only darkness. The Ant people were being eaten by Bear and it was feared they will all be eaten. The ants go to the smartest ant (Ant Woman) and seek her help for their very lives.

Ant Woman prays and fasts for 3 days and then says she will go to Creator to ask for light. She meets Bear on way to see Creator. Bear demands to know where she is going and Ant Woman tells him why she will speak to Creator. Bear says, "I will come too. I want to keep the dark as it is."

Creator listens to Ant Woman pleading for her people. Bear then explains why there is no need for Ant Woman's people to have light. Creator says a Dance contest will be held. The best dancer between Ant Woman and Bear will get what they want.

A huge feast is planned -- everyone is invited. (They all gather from the 4 corners -- the winged, and 4-legged, and 2-legged)

Ant Woman continues praying and fasting (tightens belt). Bear feasts. He is so sure he will win the dance contest he does not worry. He then sleeps and when he wakes he eats more.

The contest is held. Ant Woman faces Creator and those watching and says, "I, Ant Woman, dance for light." Bear says, "I, Bear, dance for darkness to remain."

Ant Woman dances very well, but so does Bear. They both spin and twirl in intricate patterns for hours and stop dancing only when the drums stop. The Creator cannot decide a winner and says, "Ant Woman and Bear will dance again tomorrow."

Ant Woman continues praying and fasting (She tightens belt for she is growing weak from hunger). Bear feasts and cheerfully stuffs himself full of the good food laid out.

Contest is held. Ant Woman faces Creator and says, "I, Ant Woman, dance for light." Bear says, "I, Bear, dance for darkness to remain."

Both Ant Woman and Bear dance and dance, spinning and dipping until the drums stop after several hours. But still Creator cannot decide winner and says there will be one more day of dancing to see who is the best.

Ant woman continues praying and fasting (She again tightens belt to stop the hunger pangs) .. Bear gorges himself on the food saying he must keep up his strength to dance. Then throws himself down for a long nap.

Contest held. Ant Woman faces Creator and says, "I, Ant Woman, dance for light." Bear says, "I, Bear, dance for darkness to remain."

Bear begins dancing but soon he staggers around from all the food he has eaten and finally he falls down, groaning. Ant woman, although very weak from fasting, dances the best she has ever danced and wins the contest.

Then the Creator said, "I love all of my children. I cannot give all to one and not the other and divides time into day and night. Creator explains to all that during day, ants can gather food for themselves and their children and can escape if bear approaches. Bear will hunt at night.

Even today you see the effects from Ant Woman saving her people.

Bear still gorges self -- and walks as if too stuffed. Bears hunts mostly at night.

Ants come out in the day light and busy themselves gathering food until it grows dark. And now you know why Ants have very narrow waists.

It appears the Ant People still celebrate what Ant Woman accomplished for them by lifting the best dancer ant high into the air after the dance contest was held!


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