Monday, December 21, 2009

Why I hate the Child Welfare Policy

My niece died yesterday morning. She was my connection home. She wrote me and kept me in her heart, she called me Aunty. Last month she sent me an e-mail to say that she had been in hospital and was saddened because nobody except her mom and dad visited her. All I could do was send a pathetic e-mail...I never heard from her again.

I am an adoptee - it's hard to stay in touch with biological family. We're like strangers but Kelly would not let me forget that I am family - her family. We live thousands of miles from each other separated by geography, age, and policy but she wouldn’t give up. Family is family she said.

Kelly’s mom Kim is my sister but we’ve hardly ever spoken and I don’t know what her phone number is. I wonder if our mother will go to the funeral, I wonder how Kim is holding up. Our family is like fragments of glass. A walk through our family history can’t fail to open wounds and deepen scars than never seem to heal.

I don’t know who to turn to or how to express the sorrow and loss I feel. It’s more than the loss of a family member it’s like the loss of hope too. A realization that some wrongs can never be made right and that I am angry. Very angry.

I’m angry that we continue to advocate for a policy that is so destructive to our families. Angry that we honour, praise, and heap awards on individuals who advocate and implement these same policies. Angry that despite years of advocacy work and recommendations from former researchers, writers, artists, judges, and leaders most with first-hand experience of the child welfare system, that those voices can be ignored and the work of “experts” can plunder on. Angry because I am powerless. I’m angry because when someone in my family dies nobody thinks of me because ...I was raised in another family. I’m angry because I wasn’t there and because I’m not there. I’m angry because I don’t know how to fix how I feel. And I’m angry because I am just so friggen sad. And I’m sad because I am alone with my sorrow – a policy stole me from my family at birth. And now, forty-odd years later we are still separated – the geographical miles don’t matter anymore. I’m angry because I never developed a relationship with my niece or cousins or brothers or sisters. I’m angry because everyone will expect time to heal the sorrow. And I will smile and I will get on with my life but inside I’ll know that some wounds don’t heal and some distances can’t be crossed.

This is just one of the outcomes of our illustrious Child Welfare policy – and why I will never support or advocate for a policy that rips and tears so violently at the souls of the people who it touches.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

News Maker 09

Looks like Brazeau and his mastering of Sudoku qualified him to be named in MacLeans list: "Newmakers 09". But rest easy - it's as the "party animal"


Thursday, December 17, 2009

AFN Special Chiefs Assembly Part I

I waited to post about the Special Chiefs Assembly (and btw – I have no idea what made this one ‘special’) that was held last week because I wanted to digest all that I heard. (That’s my excuse anyway). In truth I had a lot to think about but in the end I wonder about the cost vs results and if we don’t bother then what do we do instead? I wasn’t alone – I heard a lot of Chiefs ask the same question over the course of the three-day event.

Ten-years after attending my last full December confederacy meeting (at least that’s what they used to be called but I guess times have changed) I decided to attend and just listen. I wasn’t without the want of direction and guidance myself and so really wanted to listen, share, learn and just maybe strengthen my own personal journey.

My first obstacle was the inability to really participate as anything other than an observer – And that’s all that my $150.00 allowed me to do. If the AFN truly want to engage the voices of their urban citizens, as they stated many times in their assembly, then they must try harder. Policy forums were offered (topics decided on by the AFN) but only Chiefs and community/regional organizations were allowed to speak.

I’m going to focus this blog entry on those policy forums that occurred the day before the actual assembly and was actually free for participants.

I chose to participate in the forum on Citizenship and looked forward to a discussion about nation building – constitutional discussions and law making authorities that would provide our nations with the tools to create citizenship laws but it was a discussion on the recent McIvor decision - which is more about band membership rules under the INAC registry. A Chief from 6 nations stood up and gave his wife’s 24 year-old paper on what section 6 1 (a) and 6 2 (b) meant. And that was a shame because the previous three presenters had more updated, and brought a great deal more clarity to the issue – Chiefs get the floor whenever and for however long they want. Further had the Chief been present from the beginning (instead of walking in and taking over) he might have known that. Most disappointing was that his arrogance interrupted what WAS an interesting discussion on the issue of Citizenship laws and collective rights vs individual rights. I wished the moderator or facilitator had brought the discussion back but it appeared they really wanted to hear support for their McIvor court case and therefore appreciated the interruption.

It was a Chief from Manitoba who brought forward the argument that historically Indigenous Nations of Turtle Island developed citizenship laws and values to protect and improve the interests of the nation of the collective good. He questioned the value however, if an individual like McIvor under Canadian law can challenge through the Canadian court system and win under the rights of the individual. Under the Charter of Human Rights – individual rights trump collective. I’m not a lawyer and wish I knew more but on the surface I would say he is correct. I wanted to discuss this more but.....the big puffy winded Chief from Six Nations wanted to talk about his and his wife’s 24 year-old dedication to the plight of the Indian Woman and her identity....(yes I am rolling my eyes)

I totally ignored a forum of great interest to me Children – because the discussion was only about the Human Rights challenge the AFN and the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society launched (without consultation). I simply want to know why we want to give more effort, resources, and authority to policies that are based on provincial laws and that have done nothing but irreparable harm to our children and families? The AFN has a one-tract mind and despite asking for clarity on the issue “will the number of Aboriginal children being apprehended by Child Welfare Agencies decrease with the additional 22% funding they are requesting?” They push forward because they don’t want to try anything else. It’s easier to make people angry and fight for something right? It’s a lot tougher to actually fix social issues. The answer to the question btw is no – the numbers will not stabilize or decrease but nobody wants to talk about it or admit to it.

So why are we not talking about a better system – a system that would reflect the needs, capacities and values from our Nations? Imagine a system that wrapped a family in care...a system that understood that removing a child will not fix outcomes in our communities.

My friends in Alberta did it.....The Alberta Chiefs had the balls to challenge the Federal and Provincial governments AND their child welfare agencies. The Alberta Chiefs tore up the “delegated authorities” and forced the Province to take on the delivery – and full responsibility to deliver the child welfare program on reserve. The province FREAKED! They don’t want the authority, responsibility, and liabilities that go with delivering a program “on a reserve”. So they negotiated and what do they have now? A Band designate model. The band (as close as they can get to the “nation” status) is the designate authority. This is important because it recognises that the authority over their children’s welfare is not delegated to them through a policy anymore. It is recognized that the band (as a collective) IS the authority. It’s the first step towards an autonomous system – lots still to be done but how freaking exciting is that. But again no forum to discuss potential models just the forum to fight for more money for old programs.

I think I know why the government plays the games it does with us – and maybe why nothing changes year after year - because we allow individuals with their own agendas to speak for the collective. (UPDATED)I'll bet the strongest motivation not to change anything is money. Who stands to make money off children placed in care? And please don't try to tell me money is not the issue - it's always the issue. We just get played everytime and follow the red herring rather than set our own trails. (end updated section)

The AFN (they say because of its funding structure) can only implement work that is approved by the federal government – They parallel government programs even though they are not a program delivery organization. We listen and agree we are underfunded and we get angry because our frustrations are close to the surface. It’s very easy to prey on what people don’t have and make them angry to fight for the injustice. Government knows that it’s cheaper in the long wrong to pay the 22% than it is to provide real tangible results in nation controlled programs. They’ll let us get good and angry for a few years – settle with us and then walk away knowing they got off lucky – and us...we were again suckered into tinkering with a bad policy rather than a concentrated effort to improve conditions for our families.

Innovation and great ideas are out there – the AFN must find away to tap into them.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Peru suspends cop behind gang of 'human fat sellers'

So.....I can't sell my belly fat after-all. Looks like I am back to lottery tickets or I better ensure my kids work hard enough that they can support me in the style I would like to become accustomed to.

Peru suspends cop behind gang of 'human fat sellers'

By Terry Wade, ReutersDecember 1, 2009

LIMA - Peru suspended its top organized crime investigator on Tuesday after he misled the country by saying he had caught a gang of serial killers who acted out an ancient Andean legend and sold their victims' fat.

Eusebio Felix was put on leave from his job for telling Peruvians last month that four suspected murderers apprehended by police were "Pishtacos" — the legendary killers who roam the Andes mountains extracting fat from travelers.

In the legend, the Pishtacos strung-up the torsos of their victims above candles and heated them to collect fat.

Police initially said the gang murdered up to 60 victims and exported their fat for thousands of dollars a liter to Italian cosmetics makers. In the end, there may have been only one victim.

When they announced their big find, police held a news conference and displayed what they said was human fat stored in an empty bottle of Inca Kola, the electric-yellow soft drink popular in the Andes.

They also showed a video of police pulling body parts from a shallow grave at a house in the mountainous region of Huanuco.
But on Tuesday, after weeks of doubts about the case, police in Lima, the capital, said the investigation had been botched.

General Miguel Hidalgo, the head of Peru's police, said he was embarrassed.
"This affects the image and respectability of the police," he said.
Police in Huanuco, who complain they were excluded from the inquiry, said there was only one murder victim and that he was linked to the cocaine trade.
They believe the four alleged killers, who are still in custody, may have bottled his fat to intimidate their rivals in an area rife with drug trafficking and violence.

Police have been harshly criticized.Anthropologists said investigators foolishly believed the Pishtacos legend when searching for a motive for the murder, and then played on people's fears by turning the legend into reality.

"It seems a myth that has been in Peruvian culture for a long time was used to explain a very strange crime," said Juan Rivera of the Catholic University in Lima.
Politicians blamed the police for scaring away tourists.

"This has been a ruse of bad taste," said Jorge Espinoza, president of the region of Huanuco.

Doctors said it would be pointless to kill people to harvest their fat when it could be easily collected from plastic surgery clinics that perform tummy tucks.
"We wouldn't throw out hundreds of liters of human fat if it were worth $15,000 a liter," said Julio Castro of Peru's board of medicine. Others said fat spoils too quickly to be useful.
© Copyright (c) Reuters


Monday, December 7, 2009

AFN in bed with Brazeau – A/Comm Director looking for Senate Appointment!

Like Ward said I was looking for something to blog about but thought I would blog live from the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly that is on for the next few days. For those of you who don’t know – the gathering will host Chiefs from across Canada to discuss key political issues and pass resolutions – giving the National Chief , Shawn Atleo a mandate to move forward with. It’s also a major opportunity to network, learn of new initiatives, set up meetings, move new ideas forward – it’s a huge meeting for policy wonks and politico’s of Indian Country.

This evening there was an opportunity to network with members of parliament and delegates attending the Chiefs Assembly. .....unless you spoke to the AFN’s A/Director of communications who would tell you that this was for “leaders only”. That elitist attitude from the AFN really peeves me.

I thought this would be a fabulous event to blog about for our readers who want to know what goes on at these things anyway. No seriously – it can be a fun way to talk about issues you care about in an informal setting and it can be a great way to connect with other ideas. It can also be a colossal waste of time and money where everyone eats drinks and says stupid things they don’t mean – like “Hi lovely to see you” or the “Oh yes we must meet on that”, and the ever awful “Oh fabulous presentation!” Smiles plastered on their faces and pasty, limp hand-shakes. Anyway none of it matters because I was told I would not be allowed in.

Yes, even though it clearly states on the agenda that it is open to all registered delegates, the A/Director made it clear that this was only for the “leaders” the “Chiefs” so they could have time – alone with the MP’s. – Oh yeah right, like anything meaningful and real is ever gunna happen over stale crackers and cheese. And it wasn’t just me that was informed that they could not go – a journalist I know and I went out to gossip and I was informed that he wanted to go too but was also told NO. – Even set up with a fake number when he asked to speak with the National Chief about the issue.

Just as the party started I got phone-call from another registered delegate who said – ______, the reception in open and nobody is being turned away. I called my journalist friend and said – they must be trying to hide something – go get em – and find out what’s up with the new barricades around what’s going on at the AFN?.
Honestly one must wonder about communications when the Director tries to keep people away. Or was it really us (Crazy Bitches R Us) – they didn’t want there?

Do you think the A/Director of Communications for the AFN didn’t want me at the event (or media) because they suspect I write for Crazy Bitches and Patrick Brazeau was going to be there! (Yes it was announced at a forum that Patrick Brazeau had accepted an invitation to the event. – Frig that’s galling) Maybe Patrick made it a condition....I can see the conversation unfolding - "look I think this crazy bitch is gunna crash the party and write mean things about how I stared at women’s boobs all night and grabbed a few bums. If she shows up – I’m outta here and you’ll never see a Conservative dollar in your organizations. You will go broke unless you do what I say. Kick her out – and don’t let media belong to me now bitches!"

I think that’s my story – AFN in bed with Brazeau – A/Comm Director looking for Senate Appointment!


Thursday, December 3, 2009

You do NOT want to miss this !

Not a big George Strom, fan however I am DEFINATELY tuning in to see this one. Rumour has it that the newly elected National Chief Shawn Atleo will not only appear on the show, but it seems the producer found out th new NC knows how to break dance. Hilarity ensues. It is set to air Monday on CBC's The Hour. Now, Phil Fontaine never did that!

Too early to tell how Atleo will do as a National Chief, but no one can deny the man is cool.

He'll also be on One By One with Peter Mansbridge on Saturday/repeats on Sunday. Exciting but kinda pales next Stroumboulopoulos.

Hey Wideye - you were looking for something to blog about I believe?


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