Thursday, September 20, 2012
is unite and conquer
Sit and be divided or stand united
be as one and one no longer
The war against Mother Earth
We fight until the win
Fight for the only thing
From Mother Earth
we all begin
To Mother Earth
we will return
Thursday, September 13, 2012
The reaction is knee-jerk but it shouldn't be that surprising. Like any B-movie, this plot is thin and see-through. If you didn't see this coming following the election of a majority conservative government. You haven't seen enough movies.
Perhaps the chiefs that make up the Assembly of First Nations thought that by re-electing Shawn Atleo as National Chief they could be spared some of the carnage. Atleo had faced re-election under accusations that his conciliatory style had made him far too cozy with the Harper government. His main challenge came from Pam Palmater who made that relationship the deciding factor in the campaign. In the end the chiefs in assembly decided to stay the course. Afterall, when the AFN had last elected a truly adversarial National Chief in Matthew Coon Come, the federal government responded by cutting the organization deeply.
As we have now found out, the choice of Atleo didn't make any difference. If the chiefs had really thought about the plot of the movie, they would have known better. You can't make friends with the guy wearing a goalie mask and carrying a butcher knife.
Now, I'm not really the guy that is going to defend the job that is being done by the ARO's. I've worked at the national level in Ottawa and have participated in those high level meetings. I've slept at the Four Seasons in those delicious King sized beds with 14 pillows of all shapes and sizes. I showed up at the morning meetings and went straight to the back of the room to help myself to those decadent oatmeal muffins that were spread out on a silver platter which were washed down with copious amounts of Starbucks coffee. I listened intently and took notes during the bi-lateral, tri-lateral, multi-lateral discussions that led up to the fruitless Kelowna Accord. I had travelled across the country and saw national leaders and executive sitting in first class as I headed to the back of the plane with the rest of the grunts and the wonks.
It never felt right to me. I couldn't accept the rationalization "why should we stay in cheap hotels if the government isn't?" If I could have wrapped my head around that idea I'm sure I would reaching out to you from a higher soapbox than the one I have today.
The current story doesn't only remind me of a b-movie it also makes me think of another story. Watership Down is the story of a group of rabbits that are looking for a new home after one of their prophets has visions of imminent destruction. In their travels the homeless rabbits come across another warren that appears to be utopia. Each day carrots and other vegetables are found dumped into the warren. The food is plentiful and requires no effort to attain. But something doesn't seem right to the homeless rabbits. The rabbits in their new home seem to be dazed, muted. They say they are happy, but they don't act that way. Just as the homeless rabbits begin to put their intuition aside and accept that this may be the home they've dreamed of, one of their own is caught in a snare. It appears that Man is keeping this warren for his own food supply and the free food is merely a way to fatten up the rabbits for slaughter.
This is what we are seeing manifest today. The food supply may be plentiful but there is a price to be paid at some point. One day the food can be taken away and after years of surrendering your survival skills how can you make it on your own.
What our story requires is that we go back to a grassroots movement, that energizes, inspires and empowers the people. There is no lesson of value that can be passed onto our children in making the claim, "the government took away our ability to speak and organize by cutting our funding and now there is nothing we can do".
This is the equivalent of hiding in the closet and screaming in the b-movie or turning away from your brother rabbit with the snare around his neck and saying, "there is nothing we can do, just turn away and forget it ever happened."
This is the point in which the story can be rewritten, this is the part of the movie where we can still flip the script. It wasn't that long ago when all these movements were created by the efforts of our elders, our parents and grandparents. There was no money back in the 1960's and 1970's. Everyone was working together for a common goal and against a common enemy. It was the creation of government sponsored advocacy groups that weakened that movement. Now, nobody does anything for free and everyone is looking at how the other one is getting paid. The pie is only so big and we can't afford to share it.
Yet, that is not the truth. In fact there are numerous activities, events and actions that take place all the time in all parts of the country that are not funded by the government. People travel to ceremonies and gatherings all the time with their own resources and with the support of family and friends. It is the way it's supposed to be and it is a movement that is growing exponentially. People pull together and make something out of nothing with the sheer force of their will and spirit. This is how its supposed to be. This is how it is. These people don't fear the government axe or the snare. If our leaders wish to lead they would go back to the example of their elders. They would be inspired by the movements taking place amongst their people and they would earn, not by vote, but by action the title of leader.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Those who don't want to change it can make the claim that the name honours Native Peoples. There is truth to that side of the argument. It is one of those examples of stereotyping where other nationalities must think, what are they complaining about; I wish they would name sports teams after us. Afterall, no one wants to name a sports team after something that is weak.
In football, the most physical of all sports not called hockey, you want to have a name that is fierce. Undefeated. In 1981, the Barrhaven Buccaneers decided that that the name would be the Nepean Redskins. The logo makes it obvious, that the choice was done to emulate one of the oldest NFL franchises and one that would be dominant in the 1980's, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins have been around since 1932 and had won two national championships in it's storied history before winning two Super Bowls in the eighties and one in the early nineties.
The Washington Team has also been public enemy number one in a decades long movement in the United States to end the practice of derogatory Native American sports team names. In the 1960's during the height of the civil rights movement, the National Congress of the American Indian began to call for an end to racist and demeaning team names and mascots. Little changed in the beginning but the work commenced. In the decades since the NCAI and tribal advocates worked to remove or change thousands of sports team names in the United States. In 2005, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) the governing body of college athletics, formally condemned the use of disparaging mascots and banned the use of Indian names, logos and mascots during its championship tournaments.
It's hard to believe that the good people of Nepean were completely unaware that the name they had chosen was considered completely offensive and racist. It is not a name like Warriors or Braves where the argument can be made that this is a name based on power and strength, Redskins is literally about the color of one's skin. It also not possible for the people of Nepean to claim some kind of ignorance based on isolation in some backwater hinterland. Nepean is located in the National Capital Region. It is essentially a suburb of Ottawa. The capital of Canada. These people had cushy jobs and access to the best education system in Canada. Yet, they did not know that the name Redskin was unacceptable.
A recent petition to the United States government co-sponsored by respected Lakota publisher Tim Giago calls it our "N-word". The petition submitted to the U.S. Senate and the House of Representives states, "To most American Indians it is absolutely abhorrent for a professional football team to use the color of their skin as their team mascot. As a matter of fact, we oftentimes refer to the mascot of the Washington professional football team as the R word because to us it is as hideous as the N word is to African Americans."
Language creates reality. What is acceptable in language is accepted in reality. In Nepean they have to face up to the reality that they have a racist name and nothing they can say is going to change that.
Monday, March 5, 2012
Which last night led me to discovering this documentary "The Quantum Activist". In the film, Dr. Goswami details how he had reached a certain degree of academic success within his field and he was being invited to speak at various conferences. At one particular conference he couldn't shake the notion that he was overcome with jealousy, "why was this speaker so popular, why are so many attending his presentation," and so on. At the end of the day he was shaken and as he stared up at the sky another thought had come into his mind and it wouldn't leave, the words returned in a loop over and over again. "Why am I the way I am? Why am I the way I am?" He knew that he was experiencing a spiritual crisis. It was from this moment that he realized that his work should be dedicated towards using quantum physics to prove the existence of God.
There are a number of other significant moments where Dr. Goswami is directed by coincidence and dreams to further his work which he conducts within the strict limits of science and quantum mechanics.
Here is what he has to say regarding the existence of God.
"You can call it God if you want, but you don’t have to. Quantum consciousness will do. Nonlocality, tangled hierarchy, and discontinuity: these signatures of quantum consciousness have been independently verified by leading researchers worldwide. This experimental data and its conclusions inform us that it is the mistaken materialist view that is at the center of most of our worlds problems today. To address these problems, we now have a science of spirituality that is fully verifiable and objective."
And from this study he has created the movement of Quantum Activism which is asking more from us than to simply understand that science proves the existence of God.
"So let’s walk our talk, and make brain circuits of positive emotions. We just do it. We practice. Let some of us be good, do good. Be with God some of the time, be in the ego some of the time, and let the dance generate creative acts of transformation. With this resolution, with this objective in mind, I invite you to become Quantum Activists."
I was reminded of a quote from the book "Touch the Earth" which is filled with quotes from Native American Chiefs and Spiritual Leaders. A quote for Okute of the Teton Sioux describes the traditional Native American philosophy of life and the universe that to me describes ideas that are just beginning to be understood by quantum physics. In 1911, Okute stated.
All living creatures and all plants derive their life from the sun. If it were not for the sun there would be darkness and nothing could grow - the earth would be without light. Yet the sun must have the help of the earth if the sun alone were to act upon animals and plants, the heat would be so great that they would die, but there are clouds to bring rain and the action of the sun and earth together supply the moisture that is needed for life.
A relationship between the sun and the earth for the mutual benefit of life upon the earth is a level of understanding of the universe that is still rejected by science and most rational thinkers. What scientists such as Dr. Goswami are beginning to prove is that our people have always known much of what should be known.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
When you are under attack how can you speak out against injustice in your own community. Why would you point out your weaknesses for the enemy to see, why give them more weapons to attack. This is why it is hard for our people to publicly acknowledge that there are huge issues of financial mismanagement and governance in our community. In recent years this has come to forefront of so many attacks against our people in right wing media like The Sun newspapers or organizations such as the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
When the Attawapiskat situation occured that was the first line of attack from the Harper government, where did all the money go? We have given them tens of millions of dollars, where did it go? I'm not suggesting that this was the case in Attawapiskat, I am merely referring to the climate created by the government's attack. As such it becomes difficult, almost impossible to have an open and constructive debate on this issue. We feel morally obligated to challenge the notion that there is financial mismanagement in our communities. Which is such a strange position to be in. It isn't unusual, in fact it is pretty commonplace. Financial mismanagement is happening at such a large scale it has practically bankrupted countries. Huge corporations in the U.S. have disappeared because of financial mismanagement. Yet because we are living in a state of siege we can't have this discussion in public. IN PUBLIC. Because people talk about it all the time.
The same is true when it comes to issues, such as domestic violence, racism, political corruption and more. We have to tear down this wall and speak and live without the fear of being attacked. All this fear does is keep us down, keep us silent. I am not saying that no one will use our own words to attack us, the world is not like that. What I am saying is that no one else is going to save us, no one else is going to make things better. We cannot be afraid of looking honestly at our own communities and speaking out against the injustices that we see regardless of the intentions of those eyes upon us.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
Stephen Harper's Conservative government has already struck hard against foes of the Enbridge pipeline saying that they are being manipulated by outside interests. In an Open Letter to the Canadian Public, Oliver said opponents to the project were fueled by a "radical ideological agenda" and "funded by foreign special interests."The Canadian government is considering measures to fasttrack large projects like the Enbridge pipeline in order to limit opportunities for opposition.
Meanwhile Enbridge is trying to contain a leak in it's current pipeline. In a press release issued January 18, Enbridge stated that it will begin investigative digs to identify where and how much oil has been spilled from it's Norman Wells pipeline. The release states, "as part of our ongoing integrity program, Enbridge has, to date, identified seven locations in the Deh Cho for investigative digs to be completed by mid-March. Discussions have been held with the leadership of the communities who are in proximity to our pipeline about the program."
The leak was first downplayed at a mere 4 barrells when it was discovered in May of last year. It is now estimated at up to 1,500 barrels. A member of the NWT territorial government, Kevin Menicoche issued a press release last spring expressing his concern. “There have been a few big oil leaks in the world recently. The most current is the leak in northern Alberta. This always provokes concern for our water, our animals and for the safety of the public. It is my hope that the leak is addressed as safely and as expeditiously as possible" Mr Menicoche said is his statement.
This week he expressed concern that Enbridge has not acted responsibly. Mr. Menicoche who once worked as a safety inspector for Enbridge told the Montreal Gazzette on Thursday,"a mature company like that should have known more than four barrels were spilled."
The question of maturity is surely going to come to the fore as the process moves forward. The Harper government has stated in no uncertain terms that they expect to win this game and like a spoiled child they don't mind changing the rules in order to do it.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
It is another step in what appears to be the inevitable Americanization of Canada. In the U.S., debate, discussion, negotiation and decision are no longer a part of the public discourse. The lines are drawn one side is right the other side is wrong. This past year it seemed to be one ticking economic time bomb after another threatening to bring down the self proclaimed world's greatest democracy. There is no room for compromise when the two side are diametrically opposed. Each defined as left and right or liberal and conservative or Republican or Democrat and never the twain shall meet.
Unable to make decisions collectively that represent all the voices of their nation, the people are left behind as the corporations maintain the only ones with influence on both sides, which may the point of the whole thing.
In the past federal election we saw very clearly how the debate can be reduced to the lowest common denominator in a series of incessant attack ads. There is no time for a discussion of issues when the political process has been reduced to a state of siege. That was just the beginning, the negative ad campaign style perfected in the U.S. brought Harper his first majority, there is no end to it now.
It is stunning that a government that has taken it's lead from the neo-con movement south of the border has the stones to accuse someone else of foreign influence.
Joe Oliver, Minister of Natural Resources published an Open Letter to Canadians in which voices of dissent were characterized as foreign sponsored radicals. The minister wrote, "These groups threaten to hijack our regulatory system to achieve their radical ideological agenda. They seek to exploit any loophole they can find, stacking public hearings with bodies to ensure that delays kill good projects. They use funding from foreign special interest groups to undermine Canada's national economic interest."
The message was echoed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper who commented that "Growing concern has been expressed to me about the use of foreign money." Coincidentally, in a speech on Tuesday to defend his government's brutal crackdown on dissent, Syrian President Bashar Assad put the blame on the uprising on a "foreign conspiracy." That's one of the oldest moves in the dictator's playbook, blame the actions of your citizens on outsiders.