What is Metis Again?

There’s unfortunate long-held misunderstanding of what being “Metis” means. That confusion has only grown messier in the last few years by increased numbers of various groups looking for recognized Metis identity, if not as entirely new nations altogether.

The misperceptions have lead to outright strife throughout communities, acted out in mild contentious chats to vicious trolling attacks on social media to threatening job losses and lawsuits.

Canada didn’t help this confusion when it formally recognized the western Metis Nation without clearly spelling out that following the steps to ‘self-identification as Metis’ also requires proving that you’re related to this nation. In other words, your relations must be of the known Metis ancestral names on record from within this western Metis community. Thus, I could not put my Cree or other mixed relations on my Metis application.

Canada’s not clearly stating that serves to inspire some to claim their Indigeneity by choosing to be Metis, likely in the mistaken belief it’s less daunting than having to provide records for their original First Nations families.

People of no Indigenous ancestry have also been re-inventing their heritage in order to apply themselves, unchecked & un-vetted, to positions meant for the Indigenous in work & arts opportunities, education grants, and governance. Several of these interlopers have been uncovered within the last decade.

From there, groups work by literally re-writing history to usurp harvesting rights from First Nations and to demand retailers provide them rights that even the recognized Metis Nation don’t have – tax free gas & merchandise. Copies of meeting minutes from the “Eastern Metis”, detailed concern mainly for those ‘goodies’ and did not address a single issue plaguing the Indigenous in Canada today.

These groups are prolific, overwhelmingly white, many racist-based including three that merged and changed their name from the “Association for White Rights” to the “Eastern Metis”. They claim well over 20,000 members in Nova Scotia, amazingly outnumbering the original First Nation, the Mi’kmaw on their home territory. The Mi’kmaw vehemently and justifiably opposes those claims.

Currently most people, even some indigenous people, believe ‘Metis” simply means a mix of any Indigenous with non-Indigenous ancestry – generally something European. While the word ‘metis’ is French for mixed, this is not what is meant when it comes to defining the formally recognized Metis Nation.

This nation was formed in the 1600s, early 1700s by marriages between a relatively small group of well-documented Indigenous women, generally from the Cree & Anishinaabe nations and their generally French, Scottish, or British men. Their following generations went onto marry other members of this Metis grouping or their original First Nation tribes. It was not the simple work of dividing each generation by another half with white people.

That ancestry is currently known as mixed or “non-status First Nations” people, known as part whichever original nation(s). I understand why many want to identify as Metis because of the western Metis Nation recognition, but wanting it and being it is not the same thing. I do however, strongly believe verifiable non-status First Nations fully deserve the sorely lacking recognition and representation.

I’m not entering into the role of declaring who is or isn’t Indigenous. That’s not my fight. My personal expectation is that any individual or group looking for formal Indigenous  recognition have to meet the standards of nationhood that the western Metis Nation did: a distinct language, unique & established customs and traditions. If there are other Metis groups throughout Canada meeting the standards, by all means pursue it, but without denigrating the western Metis Nation for having achieved it. Your fight is with Canada.

I’m very aware of the difficulties some of us have in finding our roots, however most indigenous families were well-documented by Canada for its own nefarious purposes. It’s not as easy to ‘cheat’ one’s way through Indigenous ancestry as one might think. To those who try, I can only say – shame. Shame on you for stealing the only thing any one person undeniably has a right to – their inherent identity.

If one is only seeking status in the hopes of attaining the mythical understandings of Indigenous rights, I’ve little sympathy for that. If you haven’t lived a day as an average Indigenous person in Canada, you are far removed from rights still being ferociously fought for, even as they are being actively reduced in Canada.

For those genuinely feeling the call of their Indigenous grandmothers in their hearts, do seek the home fires of your true nations. Honest peace and celebration is found within the real teachings of our culture(s). Programs dedicated to these efforts prove that.

We all want to resolve the issue, but despite how some want to define Metis, there is more to it than simply throwing any and every nation into the mix.


Posted in Indigenous Peoples, Life, Metis, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Friday Funnies: ‘Cause 5 Years of Blogging Bliss on Saturday

Hey, my 20 or so readers – can you believe I’ve been at this for 5 years already?! (Still?) Technically, the anniversary is tomorrow, March 17th, but Friday funnies…

I think this is supposed to be one of those milestones that beg for a little reflection with the gratitude for still playing in this sandbox. It’s true that I have come through a long meandering road to narrow the ‘topic tabs’ of my preferences. My original journal notes on life became the need to speak out for decency & fairness. To work in the best of hopes to elevate life for the marginalized & abused. Of course, even that isn’t much of a stretch when, as an Indigenous person, you’re speaking for one’s own relations for the most part.

I’ve also received an incredibly intense education over these years as I delved into the meat of the issues for the Indigenous. I believe many of you have shared those eye-opening lessons and I thank you, so very much, for your support and encouragement in that especially.

I’ve also learned you also don’t mind when I veer off into my other passions of sanity controls – poetry and eye-rolling humour. Without a doubt, I’m grateful to my following for your awesome prop-ups overall. So there, 5 years along, time to head into some lightness of being…

Solid medical opinion

2018… amirite?

Wait’ll they see her sidle up to them wearing a shark fin. Smile!

This completes the PSA obligation

Seems like this would be an end of the week job…like the end of a very long week – fortified with a lotta gin.

Oh, you know more than a few of us own these pants!

Let the birds speak their causes… you can always eat them after.

Ha ha, made you look…


Nostalgia hit… Just let it carry you back to Grade 1….

When you have teddy bear separation anxiety. It’s a thing! Or, it could be…

Much like my dignity after stooping to this level for my 5th Anniversary post…

Have a fab weekend, I predict a lot of green in various futures. Cheers – and thank you, again!


Posted in anniversary, Blogging, Humor, Life, Lighter Side, Uncategorized | Tagged | 23 Comments

Because He Was Brown

Like most Indigenous paying attention to Canada’s recent handling of two murder cases – 22 yr. old Colten Boushie, shot while he was asleep in the front seat of a vehicle and Tina Fontaine, 15 yr. old, 72 lbs, killed and thrown into a river – I held both expectations of hope for justice and resignation that the likelihood was slim.

Canada’s record of injustice for the Indigenous speaks for itself in a long line of documented reports. Then, in this era of “Truth & Reconciliation”, Canada lived up to its ability to crush that hope & affirm our worst expectations. Both murderers were fully acquitted, helped by incredible systemic failures and incredulous inept investigation and court service.

We were further leveled with the announcement on March 7th, that the expected call for an appeal in Colten’s case was flatly rejected. The Saskatchewan Attorney General sat in front of news cameras and gave his clipped announcement that their legal system worked as intended; they could find no wrong with the way their system was employed and then he bolted from the table. This was despite weeks of lawyers across Canada detailing the reasons why there was a miscarriage of justice that merited an appeal.

My heart aches for Colten’s mother, for Tina’s family. There’s no level of sympathy I can offer that will do justice to what they deserve. My head aches for all their loved ones struggling to grasp all the realities those verdicts delivered to them.

I can’t work my way through the pain in my heart when I go over in my mind the last week of Tina’s life and the last senseless moments of Colten’s, and that their families will live with this forever.

I struggle with them & I empathize, but even in that I know I’m two layers insulated from their pain. I’m devastated and ashamed in the knowledge that I can take relief too, even within these hideous, tragic events. My fears of losing my boy are eased from their reality because of one huge fact and that is, he looks white.

It’s horrifying to know that this is an actual life-saving truth in Canada. I won’t have to worry about some racist reflex that’ll see my boy shot in the back of the head; then abandoned while the killer sits in his kitchen having a coffee, just waiting for clean-up on aisle: driveway, as did Colten’s murderer.

I can feel this fury, but I won’t have to absorb the darts shot directly into the heart that only their babies have heard on the inside. I won’t have to feel the cuts of gleeful cretins rejoicing in the system that allows one of their own to get away with murder.

…because the victim lacked regard as a valued human being – because he was brown.

I can cry deeply in empathy, but I won’t have the agony of knowing my son would still be with me if only he wasn’t brown, or brown & drinking, or brown & screwing up in the same way white boys have for centuries…

I’ve always worried about my child’s safety. I’ll always pray for his journey to be in ease and peace, but I get to know, in this insidious, despicable way, that the only reason he’ll be that much safer is because his draw in the DNA colour lottery came out white.

I can’t change a thing for Colten’s mom. But I will stand with her, and with every brown mother that has had to feel the pain of that senseless, useless, unnecessary terror that is real for her babies, and used as an excuse for execution by white people.

I will remind any & all the (former) Prime Minister Paul Martins who phone me to lecture that Canadians are not racist, that they’re being willfully blind. I will never stop letting white people know this is their work to undo. I will never stop fighting for justice & defying inequities. And neither will my son. Neither should you.

Heather is one of the finest people one could ever hope to meet. She doesn’t deserve this fear. None of us do.


Posted in Canada, Indigenous Peoples, Life, Racism, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

I Looked For You


I wondered and waited for you…

I wondered who would show up, I wondered who would stand.

I wondered if my words or calls for help would bring you to us. I worried my anguished voice would just fall flat.

I looked for you; I searched through the faces to see if there was someone, that one unexpected person to stand with me because they see and despise the injustices too.

I looked for someone to say, I heard you.

I looked for you to hold my hand while I cried about our babies being shot or strangled, then tossed away like litter.

I willed you to come to my side while we spoke about the broken promises and horrors that are inflicted on all my relations because we refuse to die off for the convenience of Canadian business moguls.

I silently begged you to show up for every possible reason I could think of, but mostly… mostly because you wanted to stand for and do, what’s right.

I waited for you to come to me to say you are part of our community and we are part of yours.

I watched for you to speak up and say, this isn’t my Canada. We will change a country that would treat anyone this way because we cannot, we will not, call a country that treats people like this, good enough.

I watched, waited and wondered about you.

I looked for you…


Posted in Canada, Education, First Nations, Indigenous, Indigenous Peoples, Life, Pain, Poetry, Prose, Racism, White Allies | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Three To Five Lines Of Love

I’m just a little ahead of the curve on the upcoming odes to Eros, Cupid, and Saint Val, but one might say my small poetic offerings aren’t much of an ode to hearts, arrows, & small flying angels anyway. What can I say, it was a mood – I ran with it…

Morbidity Loves

Swore indifference
then he covered his body
in my poetry


Street art photo, Toronto, ON by Randall Willis

Locks Of  Love

your dark ego
before she ran away
said what she needed for a clean


Street art photo, Toronto, ON by Randall Willis

Imperilled Rescues

Broken promises to hate me
Spent his national holiday
Looking for me, sipping on dreams
to coax me home, to coax me home


Street art photo, Toronto, ON by Randall Willis
Posted in Haiku, Life, love, Micro Poetry, Photos, Poetry, three line poetry, Uncategorized, Valentine's Day | Tagged | 6 Comments

Friday Funnies: ‘Cause … 2018, Sigh

So, 2.5 weeks into 2018.  I don’t even have to say anything about the new year landscape, do I? This is why I figure I’ll just do a nice, little detour to distraction today. You with me?

Yeah, let’s escape like crazy into this mad weaving of 10 mostly stolen memes & wisdom. Yes, I do – I live on the edge like that…


I know Canada peeps know this rite of passage… and it didn’t kill ya either.

Canada is getting all kinds of coooll in 2018

So glad that resolutions thing is out of the way!

See, if you work real hard and just apply yourself…

When you commit to your ‘spirit animal’, but she dinna want you.


………….…Prunes only love you when they’re dryin’…………..(Feetwould Mak)

No one. We met the President today.

We now pause for this quick PSA…

Growth chart

I’m tracking my debt-load in the exact same way

Tipping a feather to the cuzzins…

I’ll go ahead and take that last word, Alex…

My wisdom wins


Thanks for dropping by. Grab yourself a big plate of the most distracted weekend ever.


Posted in Humor, Laughs, Life, Lighter Side, Uncategorized | Tagged | 10 Comments

We Didn’t Become Who We Were Supposed To Be

There’s a call-out right now from the Province of Alberta to Indigenous people who were apprehended by Child Family Services (CFS) during the “60’s Scoop” specified as: “a period of time when an unknown number of Indigenous children were taken from their parents and communities by child intervention services and placed with mostly non-Indigenous families.” The time period is the 1950’s to the early 1990s, but let’s be clear, this counts to even today.

I answered the call and submitted replies to four questions on the online form for those unable to attend six meetings set in Alberta from January 1 to March 1, 2018.

They want to hear, (anonymously if preferred) how you & yours were impacted by your removal; what a meaningful [official] apology looks like; how you feel about apologies; and what you hope will come out of an [official] apology.

Who knows what differences will come from this; there’s been so little change in decades of official government reports on the consequences of colonialism. We’ve yet to see appreciable differences in Child Family Services across Canada, nor in any other Indigenous issue of equity.

I know the opportunity to get on record may not change much, but I fervently hope those of us who get to hear each other’s stories will feel enough understanding to fill a bit of that hole in our hearts. I hope that our combined voices will keep rising until no one can conveniently ignore us again.

I’m sharing part of my replies to Alberta and the Canadian Government as a part of those hopes.  I don’t expect my answers will be much different from others, but this is the point. Our stories began and end in the same ways…

My family lost everything in connection to our relatives. We lost who we were supposed to be. We lost any Cree or Michif language we had, we lost contact with all our relations, we lost our sense of selves & in some cases, permanently.

Because we were six kids in my family, we lost contact with each other when we were split into different homes. In the long run, we irretrievably lost our relationships to each other.

In one round of apprehension, five of us were put together in one home, but it was to be a brief arrangement. One day I was told I would be moving within days and over a 24 hour period, I was made to choose which single sister I could take with me. All four of them stared at me and begged me to choose them. I tell people it was then I knew what it felt like to feel your soul crack. I was twelve yrs old.

Abuses were common in some of those homes. It ranged from the psychological, i.e.  being told our mother was a drunken Indian whore or some variation to physical hitting. We were also warned, without explanation, that it was likely we’d never see our own mother again.

There was not a single time in all those years that anyone thought to ask us how we were feeling. There was no one who would explain what was happening or why. We were picked up and forced into the back of a car and simply driven away with the explanation that it was time to go away for a while. Not even the good homes, where the people were decent and lovely, thought to ask.  No one, it seems was aware of the need, never mind the how, to rout and heal the damages of apprehension & abuses already ingrained.

I ran away from my last foster home when I was 14 yrs. I ran to my mother who was even less prepared for me than before. She’d been broken down to survival level so many times by then, she’d retreated into full-blown alcoholism.

Her life as a single mother escaping from abuse with her babies had been turned into a hell of oppressive orders and judgement by and from the government ostensibly ‘helping’ her. They had a lot of orders for how she was to conduct herself, but not how to protect herself.  She was to blame if her abusive ex-husband found her.  She was to blame if the kitchen sink had dishes in it when a social worker dropped by and claimed neglect. She was to blame for not holding it all together while enduring such enormous psychological threat every minute of her life.  Any infraction would cost her the custody of her children and then did.

My mother managed to turn her life around with a strength of herculean effort and success and decades later she still doesn’t have the family relationships she dreams of, craves and aches for. She doesn’t seem to fully understand that her family brokenness is beyond even her own apologies to fix.

Meaningful apologies? We’ve seen apology after apology for the barbaric practices toward the Indigenous for years, but there is at most a small shuffle in government procedures, mainly re-naming current processes.

Meaningful is the government instituting the recommendations made by Indigenous people. It means replacing “foster care” with more in-home family restoration/counselling services.  Fund those programs directly within communities to restore in-home family & relationship skills, cultural understandings and history. Restore what is being stolen for 150 yrs so far. We see the billions spent on the CFS industry across Canada. We know how much can be replaced back into our communities – where it has always belonged.

I hope all the families who’ve been so torn apart and hurt, so damaged – will find a place to earn some peace.  I hope the reparations of a genuine apology and its processes will provide all the means necessary to get to that place of peace. I hope that we all get something that allows us to pass on good health: mentally, emotionally, and physically to our families for now and all the coming generations.

I hope Canada will finally learn of its every dirty detail of governance hidden under the red and white sleeves of pride and keep teaching about all the wrongs of it.

Never do these things again to Indigenous families, or any families.

That is what a meaningful apology looks like.


Sixties Scoop apology engagement. For survivors of the Sixties Scoop to inform a meaningful apology from the government.  Be forewarned, once you submit your thoughts, you will not be able to enter the site again for any amendments.
ps://www.alberta.ca/sixties-scoop-apology-engagement.aspx  – online submissions
RE: Alberta 60s Scoop class action lawsuit, by Koskie Minsky LLP | Barristers & Solicitors or others. This lawsuit applies only to Status FirstNations  & Inuit .
Non-Status First Nations &  Metis can offer their story for the apology
Posted in Canada, Indigenous, Indigenous Peoples, Life, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

North Pole, South Pole, Same Dream

25488750_10155756117266542_924814548_n (2)
Christmas wish lists filed
Reverse climate changes now
Santa needs a home


Photo: Stanley Park, Christmas Lights Display 2017
Posted in Haiku, Micro-Poetry, micropoetry, photo, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Phoenix Seeks

One was too saintly, the other mystifyingly, overly wanton
but, the muse that had once stood in front of him,
caused him the great distress of having to choose between them.
He couldn’t have loathed her more for that.
She was the appointed trajectory change, The Annointed,
ready to absorb all pain,
swallowing every shot of poison he threw on her.
His game changer.
She’d fulfilled her divine role, took it all, and then she cried & cursed, screamed & writhed until her strength of purpose coiled it all up and she hurled it to the Universe-
trusting its claim to render the collection into harmless stardust.
And then she burned him….
She left him
She left…
The deepest of profane-worthy infractions: the disease of desertion, the unholy crime of abandonment. That’s why he set his world on fire…
She left.
If he’d really wanted the Saint, he’d have got ordained and lived on his knees. He’d have played at prayerful loving until he could run for privacy to vomit out the inevitable gut-full of banal-blended depression.
If he’d really wanted Devil Baby, he’d have dug into the part of ratbag with a heart of gold for much longer than 190 days of tortuous – love to love & hate you, Baby.
He hungers for the one who wasn’t a saint, but had an army of them for back-up…. that one just near enough to demons to be inspired without getting sucked into their seediness.
He’d forgot the bargain to hold muses indefinitely; ignored it entirely.
Unsuitable for the narrative of his design, and yet…
He poured gasoline all over his world to regain that searing desire and relief that only she’d ever drawn from him.
He imagined himself a Phoenix, but he’ll never leave the flames. He will never know the cooling of the ashes as they heal and repair. He will never rise anew.
He burns… forever,
but not nearly so much as for
more of her.



Posted in Life, Poetry, Prose, Uncategorized, Writing Challenges | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Clean Houses & Terror

Last week I had the honour (& brief stomach churning fear) of hosting IndigenousXca on Twitter. As the forum notes: it’s a rotating Twitter account presented by a different Indigenous Host each week. Their hosts have included actors, activists, authors, academics, politicians, teachers, doctors, students, and one Pipisiw – me.

This forum was started in Australia in 2012 and in Canada in 2014 as a platform for Indigenous people to share their knowledge, opinions and experiences with a wide audience which is now a following of several thousand.

As I was getting my feet wet with a few opening tweets, one of the administrators posted a point about clean houses. What about ‘em?  Well, let me share my tweets on how a clean house affected my family. No hyperbole, no “other mitigating circumstances”. …

I saw @apihtawikosisan (Chelsea Vowel) post about fears for Indigenous people around a clean house. What that means, as she pointed out, is a clean enough house. As in clean enough to not have your kids taken away. Her post tightened my belly…

It took me back to those moments when I was a child & the air all around us got thick & tightened, while my mother would fly around the house with sweat falling off her face from a mix of the physical labour of madly cleaning & terror.

Even as little kids, my sisters & I would instinctively jump to help because we knew this kind of cleaning meant a social worker was coming. We didn’t even know what the consequences of not having “a clean house” really meant, but we knew what it felt like. Breathing was hard.

The government had a power over my mother that terrified her, until it broke her & then we learned “or else” meant we were going to be taken away.

My mother had already lived enough in terror, my father was a broken man & he alone put her through enough by then. She got away from him and what she needed was help – not constant judgement, especially for pittances that kept her on another tight leash.

I remember she was often told she was not to drink. She was not to have any contact with my dad, no men at all, they said, & she needed to keep a clean house. Or else.

Today, I wonder what might have been had any of us been offered a place for our fears then. If my mom had been offered support for coping and maybe even a pat on the back for having got her 6 babies away from an abusive situation by herself.

Maybe supportive, restorative measures weren’t well understood back then, but they are now. All this money poured into employment for provinces in the guise of social work. All the training for foster parents and adoption processes…

All the money given to municipalities in support of those foster parents & restoring municipalities, like the re-opening of schools in New Brunswick because the loads of Indigenous foster kids revived their town to that degree.

copy missing family

Why isn’t this money used for family restorative healing in our communities instead? I feel I answered my own question with my question, because Canada uses the Indigenous not only for land & resources, but constant make-work industries that still terrify mothers (& fathers) to this day.

I hadn’t thought about these particular experiences for years and my visceral reaction to reading Chelsea’s words was very unexpected. What’s still infuriating is that these Indigenous truths are still happening to many families even as I type these words. The stories are noted on Twitter, social media and news media daily.

Yes, it’s all real, and most Canadians remain blissfully unaware of such threats. They can’t even begin to fathom that the dishes sitting in their sink and the dirt on their floor could be enough cause to lose their babies, and in some cases, for good.

The effects of life under constant judgement and threat has numerous consequences; the falls into addictions, the escalating abuses in homes, the needs for mental healthcare and on and on and on.

A messy house still terrifies my 75 yr. old aunt. She became OCD about it to this day. My 75 yr. old mom has learned to relax about it – a little, finally.  Me?  Years of counseling to work out those terrors and I’m now a certified horrible housekeeper… and I don’t give a damn. Of course, my child is now 16; we are reasonably safe.


Posted in First Nations, History, Indigenous, Indigenous Peoples, Life, Native Americans, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments