Do by your own right.

18 Jan

All along your lifelong steps have brought you to this point in life. There are so many steps you must take to mature and grow. You would think that walking would be the most important but I believe it’s actually being able to hold your own bottle, and then hold up your head. Two monumental events turn out to be the deepest etches of your abilities. It’s a long road to be able to be on your own, a very long road.

Do you know who taught you how to hold your head up? You did. Usually it takes a baby about 6 months to fully be able to hold his head up. This is all only physical though for the first few years of his life. I am sure you understand that physically holding your head up is not anywhere near as tough as mentally holding your head up. The minute you hit groups of people and are new or different, everyone else seems to hold you there. You feel alone. Just as a newborn learns to control neck muscle and motor skill, you must learn how to keep it up while alone. You must remember going through this. It’s a process known to everyone I’m sure. You would think you’re done in childhood how to hold your head up but you would be wrong. Even into your teen and adult years, your ability to hold your head up seems to be much harder. Not only is it physically and mentally demanding, it is now spiritual and emotional. You wonder why things are so hard sometimes and look to a higher being for answers. When you are feeling down and ask yourself how you will ever be happy again. All these push your head down but your ability to relearn how to hold your own head up seems to be natural. It might take 6 months again or even longer in some cases. It’s a daily struggle that you seem to do each day without realizing it sometimes. Yet you lay your head down to sleep, the very next day, you raise your head when you wake. I don’t know if you realize you do this too.

Walking is an essential part of life for most people. This doesn’t have to do with walking literally though. There are some that are unable to walk. Their resolve is even stronger though in this case. From the moment you start walking, you learn to run, then sprint, then ride a bike, then ride a motorcycle, then a car. Things tend to speed up as life goes on. The more you try to rush things the more likely you are to crash. No matter what happens, you must walk first. Even when things take a turn for the worst, you must slow right down to figure out where things went wrong. You can’t rush through fatigue and pain. We all wish time would sometimes just speed up but being as constant as it goes, you can’t change it. So there is no use trying to rush through things that take time. Putting one foot in front of the other, taking things one day at a time, is how you must get through such times. You’re going to wish tomorrow was here today. Or even next week, month, year, and decade. It’s okay. Everyone wishes this at some point in their lives. The habit is to complain rather than just take another step or get through your day first. Everyone does this too. You will notice that complaining comes before thinking in all people from time to time. The point is to change the habit of complaining first. When you complain less, you’ll find more reasons to be happy than frustrated. Things seem to speed up naturally when you’re having more fun. When you’re stuck, figure out what your next step is, then go from there. When a day has taken a turn, just make it through that day to start.

We are each raised by many people. Some are left to fend for each their own. Some are raised to look out for others. It does not matter how we are raised. No parent, grandparent, uncle, or auntie, will tell you how it will feel exactly how it feels to be in struggle. They will only empathize with you because they know exactly how it feels. You will have your first bully. You will be disappointed. Your heart will be broken. You will be alone. You will lose and have losses. No one can prepare you for these events in your life. No one can put into words how it feels. So all your parents can do is just be there for you when they happen.

It is a common thing to be amused at how subtle it is to take a step or get through a day. Yet those subtleties are needed sometimes. Put one more foot forward. Get through the day. Keep your head up. If all you want to do is keep your head down and push forward, you might not see those that are watching you. Be a beacon for others that may need some light to keep going. The path is trodden with footsteps from people before you. Keep the path fresh for others to follow. Our minds are trained to assess all situations. Our bodies are wired to follow the brain. If you think you can’t do anything else, your body will begin to listen. Just a thought of okay, one more step or okay get through the day, and your body will follow thought. Lay your head down and go to sleep. Tomorrow will be here soon to get through it. 

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Why am I the person I am today. Let me tell you where I came from, who my family is.

22 Nov

I been thinking the last few days on the good values I have that I feel I can pass down onto the next generation. What have people taught me? What was the main drive pushing me to be better? I have asked these questions to myself and wondered what I took away from each person who raised me. I don’t pull myself out of their light of what they have created in me. There is no possible way I could ever declare myself apart from them for that is all I have in them in me. I love them and love myself to not drift from their teachings.

Let me start with my aunts and uncles. I’ll start with my mom’s side. My mom has a number of sisters and brothers. I would first like to mention my uncle Dave and Richard. Both of whom, have always supported and shown their love from day 1. I remember as a kid my uncle Dave making us believe we were super cool. He instilled confidence in me for telling us that we were cool. He didn’t just say it, he made us believe that we were cool and the moment he put his sunglasses on us, we were super duper cool. I remember the pictures of us in his glasses. If you could see my eyes, they would be glittering with a big grin. My uncle Rich was a guy who taught us to work hard and you’ll have fun regardless. Always time for fun with him. He is a tough son of a gun. Our mission was to try tackle him down or be tougher. This is where working hard came in I think…be strong. My aunties Denise, Angela, Louise, and Lorie. The twins Louise and Lori are two of the most hilarious people I know. When they’re both with my mom, you can count on non-stop laughs. I love being around them for being who they are. They have both always cared for me as I have cared for them. It was so much fun scaring them as young’ns. I learned from them that nothing comes easy with no effort. My auntie Denise is a kind caring woman. She isn’t one to shy away from being there for you. She has a welcoming warmth and elegance that is hard to find. Auntie Ange is a great energy to have around. She loves to have fun and laugh. You can try to be down around her, but it won’t last long. She can bring a lot of good positive energy to you when needed. Auntie Juanita used to babysit me when I was a grasshopper. Her smiles and hugs were what was needed when you were feeling down. I have a ton of admiration in her abilities to make you feel at ease. My uncle Chuck was a great guy. He always made sure you were taken care of and had everything you needed when he stopped by. If you said you needed something, he would say, “let’s go then, there has to be some on sale somewhere”. I have that belief of taking care of your family at all times if you can. Gary used to babysit me too as a kid. He sure tells stories about that. For as long as I can remember he always made me laugh. He was always there for me and I don’t believe that will change. He does his best for himself and what he can do for others. He isn’t afraid to be himself. I enjoy the I spend with Gary because no matter what its always for a good time.

Now, on my dad’s side. My aunties Joyce and Charlotte. I lived with both for a time as a child. On weekends I’d live at my auntie Joyce’s house to hang out with her boys, my bros. Always made sure we ate, showered, and had what we needed. She had a passion for us to be all we can be. She cheered you on so loud and proud in anything you did. She is a quiet strength in me. You want to make her proud just so you can hear her cheer. There is nothing as delightful as being cheered for by auntie Joyce. There are people I want to make proud and she is definitely one of them. My godmother, auntie Charlotte. I usually called her auntie though but the recognition of godmother stands to a tee. She was another mother to me. She treated me as her own. I was always grateful for what she did for me and my brothers and sisters. Being a leader, she inspired me to be more than I think I can be. She was a driving force into me believing I can change things when needed. She was so gentle and kind. She was so loving and caring. There is nothing like being woken up at 11am on a day you try to sleep in and be told, “you can’t waste the day away”. I watched her work hard at everything she did. She made sure everything that needed to be done, was done. You couldn’t be let down by her no matter what. She was nothing but absolute love. Strict as she was, there is no life without structure, cleanliness, and order.

My godfather, uncle Roy too has a big influence in my life. He has a natural ability to be there his loved ones. I can find no fault in him for his ability to do what is right. He does everything he can for his loved ones. Even when he can’t, he will try to find a way. He makes sure that things are taken care of. I look to be like him as I grow older.

There is a special place in my heart for others who were not related to me by blood but have had a profound impact in my life. Sister Danaher, Sister Pierette, and Sister Mary. I cherish my time spent with them. I hadn’t realized that until recently. I sure miss there kindness, generosity, and love. Sister Mary’s voice and presence was all you needed to smile. I love going to church just to hear her sing. Sister Pierette was my teacher for a time. She was always proud of me. I look to her for smile and love. Pierette was a passionate person, there were times you want to learn as much as she wanted to teach. Sister Danaher is one woman you can look to for more inspiration. I loved Sister D for her passion and drive to better our people. She had so much energy. Everyday you could count on her. She would do everything in her power to keep pushing people to do better and to be better people. Her education goals and dreams were being pushed constantly. She wanted nothing but the best from you and she let you know that. No time for B’s, get A’s! Only 72%? Get 100%!  I remember being her assistant for adult education in our community. If no one showed up for class, she threw me her keys and told me to go wake everyone up and get them here! So, I did, and behold, they all accepted the ride and went to learn. She wasn’t pushy in a negative way either. She pushed you with positivity, passion, and energy. She was MAD! Her initials prove it in the sense that she was all energy and all passion. All her accolades and achievements never swayed her from her humility. If you told her, that she has achieved so much, she would tell you that you can achieve this as well. Always humble. This is something I will carry forever from her, no matter how much greatness you can get, you spread it and share it with everyone so that they may be great too. Don’t make yourself great, make everyone great!

My grandparents from both sides are some amazing people. I have spent so much time with them as a child and even now. My grandparents from my mom’s side took care of me as a baby. My granny Shirley and grandpa George. I can’t think of a more quiet strength that I see in my gran. Her ability to cope in stress and chaos is beyond me. I haven’t seen grace such as hers. She can still crack jokes at everyone else’s expense. She can still box your ears in yet too. Nothing like a hug from granny Shirley. She still holds you like the day she first held you. My grandpa G always doing all he can to be sure to make sure everyone has what they need. When there is no hope, he will pull through for you. He is a warhorse that old man. He will always try to do more than he can. There is no stopping for him. An awesome man that’s for sure. His smug smile can ensure you that he is all about being tough but kind. My dad’s mom, Dora, is a determination of knowledge and loyalty. When I look at pictures of her I see knowledge and loyalty personified. She had so much knowledge and information about a lot of things. I wish I had gotten to talk to her about what she know of. She listened to so many stories, its hard to imagine what she didn’t know of. I remember once talking to her about a story I thought I knew everything of, she told me more on it. I was amazed! If I had tapped into her knowledge earlier, I’m sure I would have learned so much  more. I am sure that all who knew her, was amazed at her determination to be living as much as possible. All her hardships and struggles and still able to get up greet you with a smile, a hug, and a kiss. My dad’s dad, Joe is a legacy in our community as much as his mom Eliza is. The epitome of working hard and doing everything for your family. He started working at the age of 12! He skipped school to bring money for food for his brothers and sisters. It’s not a sacrifice to take care of your family. It’s a sacrifice only if you lose something. In his later years you can tell he never lost his desire to learn. He didn’t know how to read and write til he was a grandparent. When he was able to learn, he went to school everyday. If he didn’t have a car, he would walk to school, in the snow, uphill, both ways! This is a guy who was always calm and never angry. You could burn his house and all his cars, and wouldn’t have anger in his heart. No matter what he lost, he would never hold it against anyone. “That’s the way it goes”. He did everything, and I mean everything, for his family. He was a great husband, father, grandfather. If you want to know how to be a husband, ask the stories what he did for his wife, and you will know. If you want to know how to be a great father, ask his children what he has taught them and what they miss most about him. If you want to know how to be a great grandfather, remember who he opened his house to and what he gave to all his grandchildren. I know what he gave me, he gave me inspiration and love. The greatest love you can teach someone…unconditionally.

All that is left to look to, my parents. My mom is everything you can ask for in a mother. She loves you like no other no matter what. She has proven this to me in many ways. She always wants to know her children are alright. You cannot mistake it for anything other than having ease of mind. If ever there was a time you needed something and no one else to look to, she tries and does whatever she can. My mom is old fashioned with her ways. I look at her and see my gran in her in a lot of ways. In her own light though, my mom is one of the strongest people I know. It is by her actions that she shows how much she loves her children. By this, I shall always know that it isn’t good enough to just say the words, but by showing.

My dad is gentle man. He has all the knowledge of being whatever you can be. He has done everything he has done for his children. He worked hard to put all the food on the table and give them a good life. I never felt lacking in my life. The reason I never felt this way is because all I needed was my family. I always had the basics and this was enough for me. You can always depend on him to do something for you when you ask it. He has given almost everything of his to his children. His being is shown in all that his children have achieved thus far. Quiet, kind, and a skilled worker. It never is enough to achieve any education without having something to live for. Don’t worry so much for what you could achieve when all you need to do is just take care of your family and do what’s best for them.

Growing Up Poor

16 May

Personally, I grew up poor in the manner of not having much in material things. My parents didn’t make a lot of income and at times made no income. I have six brothers and one sister. I have a big family on both of my parents sides. My parents separated when I was ten years old. Before their seperation, the family did okay. We had food, clothes, shoes, and entertainment. Not spoiled by any means but what we got made me and my siblings happy. I don’t remember getting anything extravagant.

I remember eating corn flakes, corn meal, puffed wheat, rice crispies, etc. for breakfast a lot. I remember getting the sweet cereals only if they were on a big sale. There were times when we had no milk and used warm water as a substitute. There are a few other breakfast meals that I will talk about later. As for school lunches, mainly bologna sandwiches with cheese and mayo. An apple, an orange, and sometimes a banana. There were no juice boxes for us. Didn’t care for juice boxes because I remember only one kid having them everyday. So its not as if I was the only one left out. I don’t remember dinner stuff as I was always outside playing. I’m sure I ate…just no memory of dinner stuff.

Not all of the food we ate came from the store though. When summer starts it is the start of trout runs up small creeks from the lakes. Then during summer its the salmon runs. This is a time to go hunting for deer and moose as well.  Then after summer is when deer and moose are hunted more due to them fattening up for winter. One summer, I remember going fishing all the time and that’s all we ate…was salmon and trout. This is the reason I despise fish now. I also don’t have the taste to eat deer or moose meat anymore.

There were times that I was only getting hand-me-downs for new clothes. I didn’t mind since my older brother had good taste in clothing. Well, when you look up to your bro anything he wears is cool. I didn’t mind at all. I wasn’t the only one in my peers who went through this. After all, when you’re part of a big family, new clothes are something that happens a few times a year only.

One time, I had a bunch of used clothes. I asked my dad if I could get some new jeans. We went to the men’s store in town and got myself some jeans. I was in high school at the time. I hadn’t realized that I wore them for 5 days straight. On the 5th day one of my friends commented that I must really like those jeans I been wearing them all week. It wasn’t that I liked them or thought I looked good in them, it was just that they were the best piece of clothing I had in my wardrobe. I wasn’t shamed by this fact. I just made sure to start changing my clothes again. haha. After this point though, I was starting to work and bought myself more nice clothes.

When you have a big family its expected that when everyone reaches the same size, that all clothes will be shared. I didn’t mind this after not having much growing up. No one really wore each others new stuff. Only borrowed them after they were used for a while.

What I viewed as treats as a child were in fact because we had nothing else to eat at the time. We had this breakfast “Indian mush”, which is made by browning white flour in a pan then mixing water into it to make a paste. We add sugar into it…a lot of it into the mush and eat. I loved it as a kid. Now that I’m older, we had this because we were out of other things to eat for breakfast. Oatmeal is another thing we had when there was nothing else. I don’t hate oatmeal as much as my parents or grandparents. I hear them even now about how they still can’t eat oatmeal because of their time at residential school and how that is all they ate sometimes. Oatmeal sits for months sometimes. Bread is homemade usually; yeast bread or bannock(fried bread). Everyone loves their bread and when it was homemade it was a real treat for us…IS a treat.

My dad talks now of not being able to get lunch stuff sometimes. I remember going to school with no lunch sometimes. I didn’t care though. Sure I was hungry sometimes but I was having too much fun learning (nerd I know) and hanging out with friends. Now that I think about it, I ate only once a day during these times because I didn’t really eat breakfast.

Despite being poor, I never felt like I was lacking because my family and extended family went through the same thing. If you ask any Native who grew up on a rez, you’ll hear this same story from my generation, my parents generation, and my grandparents generation. I’m sure we could come up with “we were so poor…” jokes for hours. We were so poor I lived on bannock for a month! We were so poor I had to take a shower after taking a crap! so on and so forth.

You can’t complain when you’re poor. You enjoy everything you get and don’t take much for granted. I don’t know if everyone can understand being poor like that. I just hope the stories help a bit.

Deaths on a reserve(reservation)

3 May

I grew up on the reserve which in itself seems more tragic than privileged. It takes a lot of courage, strength, determination, will, pride, and spirituality to be happy to be in such a place. If you visit a rez, you will find that it is a very tight knit community. People don’t seem to understand that when you’re dealing with issues such as alcoholism, drug abuse, substance abuse, depression, etc., you also deal with the deaths of these diseases.

When someone dies in our community, the whole community comes together to support the family of the deceased.  Its never a family for themselves or to leave the family to grieve by themselves. Its the support that keeps the family strong.

In any case, I wanted to point out that dealing with death comes at an early age on the rez. Going to funerals sure is a tough time on anyone at any point in time in their lives. Yet people living on reserves deal with death every few months. I remember as a child losing my own cousins, aunts, uncles, and great grandma. I had to say goodbye in my own way. I didn’t cry much but was rather taken on a path to say goodbye. There is never getting over a death of a loved one. Your soul remains full of great memories of your time with them. Your heart weighs with the love that remains with the person no longer there to receive it. So the love stays in your heart.

There is a ritual for funerals on reserves. Before the body returns for the wake, you make a fire outside of the home of the wake. This fire serves as a guidance for the spirit…a connection between worlds of sort. You have the wake for 4 days and 4 nights…then on the 5th day, you bury the deceased. Every morning and night you say prayers. You say one last session of prayers before the funeral. Traditionally, people had their last viewing before the body was transported to the church. Now the last viewing is done at the church. After the funeral session, the body is transported to the graveyard. The grave is blessed and then body put into the ground. The dirt that was dug up is now put over the body manually. The men present take turns burying by shovels. When the person is buried, the people say their goodbyes and then go to the reception afterwards which is a celebration of the person’s life they lived. Then after the potluck dinner, its gambling and stick games which go all night and sometimes into the early next morning.

I have been keen to see that this is not the way for many cultures. I mean “this way” meaning dealing with death on a regular basis. I have observed that when people of other cultures go through losing loved ones they take it quite hard. Don’t get my wrong, my aunt has lost 4 children. She has taken each death as hard as anyone in the world. Yet she has strength that I have seen in only one other person, my grandma. To lose as much as they did and still have the courage and strength to not only wake up but to get through the day, is something I strive for. Its not good enough to just wake up, its in your best interest to get through the day as best as you can.

I look at my people who have gone through similar losses to my aunt and grandma. Where did they find the courage and strength to not only live but smile? I can only surmount that it was all ingrained onto them by their parents and grandparents. Its nothing you can talk someone into deal with such a tragedy. To get courage and strength is to live it…over and over. Not so that you become numb to it but you build more courage and strength.

I don’t want to question or doubt that others go through as much deaths. My point I’m making is that to go through so much pain and loss is hard…very hard.

I myself have seen close loved ones pass. I remember my first funeral as a young child. I had to be younger than five. Children are keen to others feelings that surround them. I remember feeling for the older people. I didn’t understand what death was at the time but the feeling of sadness around those people made me pray for them in a way. Losing my great grandma at the age of 7. She was an amazing granny. We called her “Granny Eliza”. She was so kind, always had food and candy ready for us. I remember shaking her hand all the time as a kid. I guess it was our hug. I loved her energy…so kind and gentle. She was the oldest on the reserve at the time and respected by all in our community. So when she passed away, the whole community was in sorrow. It was a big turnout of people who came out in support. In terms of relevance in our community, its as if the pope died. Being a child, the grieving process goes through quickly. Then a few years later, a dear cousin of mine passed away. She was so much fun. She used to babysit me while my parents went out. She treated us like her younger sibling so in a way she was our big sister. I remember seeing her body for the wake. I held her hand and looked at her wondering if she has gone to heaven like in the books I read. I didn’t cry but I understood that it would be the last time I see her again. The pain was there this time. This is the first time I had to feel hatred that I wouldn’t see her again. I missed her laugh and smile already.

Hospital visits and such are a norm it seems. Terminally ill. There is nothing you can do but be by the bedside or in the hall. Only one person allowed by the bed didn’t apply to such a big family. When the doctors say nothing can be done and its time to turn off the life support system. So they turn them off and you sit there watching him/her or look out into the window listening to the breathing slow. This is something that happens every year. You go to the hospital holding the hand of your loved one hoping they know that you will be there til the end and beyond.

It shouldn’t be okay that this is happens. Its good in a way though that the person ill is never alone and has all the love in the world.

What no one understands is after those first few times of losing someone so close, it happens yearly, sometimes quarterly, sometimes monthly. If I try to think of a timeline of who I have lost, someone related to me passed almost yearly. great grandma, big sister, best friend, godmother/aunt, grandma, grandpa, best friend, cousin/bestfriend/brother, cousin/brother, uncle, uncle, great friend, best friend/ brother/cousin, the list goes on. These people I list now I have spent a significant amount of time with. I have lived with these people. I would give names but it doesn’t do them justice of what they meant in my life. The slashes are meant to show the name and blood relationship. But the love I had for each of them went beyond than a name. Its as if they were mother, father, brother, and sister. I have missed each of them tons and tons. Each death hit me hard. I have cried for each of them. You can’t imagine burying two brothers one month apart. You can’t imagine burying someone close to you every year.

Yet this is the way it is for many Native communities around the world. This happens because each family is so tight knit. Every grandparent is so loved. Every aunt and uncle is like another mom and dad. Every cousin is like a brother or sister. Ever child is like your nephew or niece or you treat them as your own child for that matter. You only get like that by spending a lot of time with each other. So when you say your cousin, he was more like a brother.

I was partially raised by my grandparents on my dad’s side. I spent a lot of time with them as a kid. My grandma was blind but she made some of the best homemade bread I have ever tasted. My grandpa was a great man. His heart was bold, big, and gentle as I’ve ever felt. Their own stories apart and together is worth 2 novels and will be told at another time.

You don’t go through that much pain without knowledge from your ancestors. From a young age, as you go through such things, you learn by going through them. Each person older than you goes through the ceremony of burying a loved one. As a child you watch and observe. You are taught what to do in each ceremony. You learn to go through it with an open heart. You approach everything with respect and honour. We are taught that no matter what happens, we have the means to get through them. We ask for strength when we need it. We ask for help when we need it. By no means should you not be without help or beyond prayer if you ask for it.

To be clear, it is a very sad thing to have such experiences. If it were any other community anywhere, it would be subject to a lot of scrutiny and press. It is not news that people die. It is sad to have the ability and strength to deal with losing close loved ones. Yet we have it. Its nothing something to be proud of. Its not shameful. It should be encouraging though. This is only part of the struggle that Natives live through.

More stories of the struggles to come…

Being positive about change

10 Feb

Change is difficult sometimes. People, Native and non-Native, tend to look at our(Native) issues with a double-edge sword. On one side you have understanding people who realize it is a struggle to be in the position we are in.  Then on the other we don’t deserve anything and all of our struggles were caused by our own hand and choices. You can’t change those that refuse to try to understand. Understanding takes time or the right story or the right situation. No one can force you to change.

The best thing is to look past all the criticism and hatred. I choose to move forward simply because I choose not to let anyone deter my path of rights and freedom. A nation doesn’t simply get over that we went through a failed attempt at genocide. We become at peace with it. In the struggle of being colonized, we have lost many people, much of our culture, much of our language, much of our pride. There is no way to get those people back. There is no way you can ever replace what we have missed out on by living our own culture and the pleasure of speaking our own language. You cannot apologize and give me money and expect me to have pride in being a Native.

There is no setting the bar even. There is no righting the wrongs. Now that all of the land has been stripped of its resources, I must find my own water…my own food…my own piece of home. Now that my home has been stripped of its people, I must build it myself to the country’s standards so I can live in it again. Now that I have a new found knowledge of how the world works, I must find how to care for my own people. I have to tell them that knowledge is power and to get an education. For the ones who have diseases such as alcohol and drug addiction, I must tell them that everything will be okay. You do not have to drink anymore, things will be better. I cannot, however, tell him to stop and try to deal with his issues of being abused, being sad, being lonely. The tears of shame, ridicule, and sorrow may run for eternity and they may still not feel capable of dealing with it. My people tell me that no one has prepared them for such hardships. So, I tell them to be the people your grandparents, parents, children, cousins, aunts, uncles can look up to for strength and courage.  Show them that no matter the obstacles you face, you can still be proud of what little you have left. Tell them that being able to only say hello and goodbye in our language is enough for now because I teach them to say more. My grandparents say that they are sorry for not being able to give a better life. I tell them that its okay, your love was what I need in my journey. I tell them that I will work for what they want for their children and grandchildren. My parents apologize for not being there. I tell them that I understand why it was that way.

They were part of the growth that was needed. I explain to others that it was not the time to change because we have not learned to deal with such loss. How can I explain to others that losing half my nation, my family that it was hard to lose so many people? How can I explain to others that not being able to live our culture has forced me to be someone I am not? How can I explain to others that not speaking my language made me shamed? How can I explain to others that I was taken from my home and forced to live with strangers to teach me different language and culture? How I can tell them that these strangers sometimes abused me? How can I tell them that I do not know how to deal with these things?

I can only hope that people try to understand that no one has went through this before. No one was able to share how they dealt with this. As time went on, the hatred that was projected onto us has forced us to look down upon our ownselves. We are left in pieces. Our hearts weigh heavy due to the state. Our minds are filled with shame, due to no identity. Our souls are empty, due to shame. Our spirit is low, due to no belief.

As we grow as a nation, we have learned to deal with all the hardships. No one will help us move forward. So we have learned to voice the problems. We have asked the elders for their memories of our culture. So we have learned to live like before. We have looked our state as a nation and realized that change comes with growth. We saw the pieces that we were in. Slowly we have the dreams we once had…the beliefs we once had…the spirit we once had…the spirit we once had. Quickly things changed. Our hope is renewed. Our culture is thriving. Our identity is claimed.

-written by Qwesqi7 (Gabriel Archie)

Landlords or prisoners?

9 Dec

You could essentially say that First Nations people are both.  First Nations are landlords in an original context.  In our own way that we were here first and took ownership of the lands the many nations lived upon.  First Nations are also on permanent in-land reserve arrest.  You can bet that many First Nations believe they should be landlords of the land but it is not regarded as so to Canada.

There are a lot of questions regarding seperatism among First Nations.  It is not the case.  We are our own sovereign nation.  We do not want to be apart from Canada.  We want to be equal.  A simple statement that garners more questions.  There are a number of beliefs among non-First Nations that First Nations receive more from the government of Canada than them.  It is simply not the case.  Not only do non-First Nations believe that First Nations receive more but also First Nations do not pay taxes for the benefits that First Nations receive.  So the view is that First Nations do not deserve the little benefits that they receive from the government.  How are First Nations not equal to non-First Nations in Canada?  Well, there are a number of studies done by Canada and other organizations that state that by capita, First Nations do not receive the benefits that most Canadians do by a large margin.  If you would like to see information about rights, equality, and stats. look at these sites.

 

THE HEALTH STATUS OF CANADA’S
FIRST NATIONS, MÉTIS AND INUIT PEOPLES http://healthcouncilcanada.ca.c9.previewyoursite.com/docs/papers/2005/BkgrdHealthyCdnsENG.pdf

First Nations, Inuit, and Aboriginal Health
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fniah-spnia/index-eng.php

 
FIRST NATION CONSULTATION FRAMEWORK
http://fngovernance.org/resources_docs/First_Nation_ConsultationFramework.pdf

Canada does not follow its own constituation.  Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution states:

35. (1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.

(2) In this Act, “Aboriginal Peoples of Canada” includes the Indian, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada.

(3) For greater certainty, in subsection (1) “treaty rights” includes rights that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

(4) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, the aboriginal and treaty rights referred to in subsection (1) are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

There is just information all over regarding the inquality that First Nations face from the majority of the population in Canada.  The information is out there.  You just have to find the answers you’re looking for.  If you don’t have the answers, perhaps you should rethink the questions you have.  Here is a link regarding the fight for equality according to the Assembly of First Nations.
http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/about-afn/our-story

The misinformation that many have when it comes to First Nations living off the government and receive so much from the goverment.  As previous landlords we should be receiving more, yet First Nations are not recognized as having the right to self-determination.  This basically means that Canada believes that First Nations do not have the right to be free.  Canada has recently changed its vote against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples but was only for show as Canada has done nothing but declare that they have that right to self-determination.  It basically states, “so they have that right, so what?”

If you are worried about being renters, First Nations are not worried about being landlords.  First Nations are worried about having freedom, rights, and equality among Canadian citizens.  This does not mean we want to be fully colonized.  The statements regarding just make them pay taxes and work and get an education simply does not work.  Sure it puts us in the same state (Canadian) but it means we lose our inherent right as a First Nations person.  As a Canadian citizen who holds your own identity as a Canadian should believe that the world is equal.  We were treated as prisoners and still  are.  Prisoners are placed as a ward of state then put into an institution where they will reside while repaying their debt to society.  A prisoner is anyone who is deprived of liberty against their will. This can be by confinement, captivity, or by forcible restraint.

We have no will over the state of health, water, lands, housing, education, and freedom in our own lands.  If we did have the freedom to control all these, would the situation be the same as it is now?  No way.  As the warden(government) of our prison (reserves), he alone governs what prisoners shall have and should not have.  First Nations are not looking to kick anyone off the land but looking to those residents of the land to have the freedom, rights, and entitlement that Non-First Nations have.  If you believe everyone to be equal, look at the statistics and tell me that they prove everyone has equal benefits in Canada.  If you believe that First Nations do not pay for any benefits received, tell me that I do not pay taxes, I will show receipts that I do.

Words of wisdom and eloquence

6 Dec

“We are statistics that everyone has heard about, the unemployed, uneducated, alcoholics, welfare recipients. We have been the study of many Congressional studies and investigations, all types of studies, but we as statistics still remain – our situation has remained the same for a century. So we have grouped together behind our religious beliefs, our respect for human rights, our beliefs that we are entitled to human rights as well as everybody else. Our functions have been to educate our own people and to try and educate the White American as to the fact that we exist yet today. I mean when you look at A.I.M, [this is] who we are. We are the descendants of Geronimo, Crazy Horse. We are the indigenous people. We are concerned about what is happening to our people now, because, you know, we don’t like to be a statistic…To respect the Creator we must show respect, we must respect ourselves. Too many times we have seen our people in a condition where we don’t see…even self-respect.”
John Trudell