Mother, Nehiyaw, Metis, & Itisahwâkan – career communicator. This is my collection of opinions, stories, and the occasional rise to, or fall from, challenge. In other words, it's my party, I can fun if I want to. Artwork by aaronpaquette.net
It was forever since I looked at where I live. I’ve been mostly in the business of adjusting to new normals – again. Still. Look, can we finally just face that we really have no idea what normal really was? A lot of what was normal badly needed the revision anyway. I guess we’re all still working on it.
In the meantime, home commanded my attention. I forgot what an adventure home is…
8 years. I guess it’s safe to assume I made it past that 7 year itch in this relationship. So, am settling into the idea of longevity, along the lines of other such long-time-honored couplings as pen to paper; the word to a press; ink to squid.
What can I say? I have 8 years of thought, ideas. ideals and I’m sure, a drawer-full of plain old crap in this literary bin. I’ve decided to kick off moving into year 9 on the lighter side with a few easy, breezy pleasurable ha ha.s.
So, let’s begin with one quick, deep thought and then onto what amounts to average life ups and downs, with a little input from m’boy.
The required standard PSA
Boomer (according to m’boy) Musical Interlude:
…and that’s all she wrote, folks.
Many, many thanks to the readers who keep this site active every day despite the long pauses this past year. Anyone who runs any social media page knows this kind of support is beyond golden. My gratitude cup runneth over, but not with the words to convey my full appreciation. Kindness has always left me somewhat speechless and all that I’ve received within this year are no exception. A very soul-level thank you for this.
I hope to be back a little more regularly, but you know, … life… So, until then, keep on keeping safe. See you soon. ❤
She took her last breath at 6:30am on September 6, 2020. She was my little sister. Funny how we do that, no matter how close to seniors’ stage we are – little sisters will always be little sisters to the older.
Reva was beautiful; exceptionally beautiful. She certainly had no problem turning heads and often invoking envy. She was smart, a doer and a dancer and she was funny too. She held our family sense of humor, honed in the history of pain and endurance, in doing whatever it took. She wouldn’t have recognized how that humor and ability to persist was ingrained through many generations reduced to survival.
She didn’t much talk about our Indigeneity; it was not something we consciously talked about. We just were and mostly, we tried to forget about it. Mostly we had associated every awful and humiliating moment of our childhood with it.
We went through the fostering system together, until the day I ran away from it and she aged out of it. Even then, we weren’t really free. We still had the weight of all we’d gone through before, during and even after. In our own ways, we decided the only path out was to pursue the model of success that was firmly impressed on us throughout those years. We only had to just work hard; very hard. We only had to have a nice home and maybe husbands and kids and maybe a car too. We only had to be respectable.
My journey with that empty misconception ended with several years of help to undo those generations of trauma. She sought help where she most felt at home. I don’t know how stable or even healing that was for her. I think it mostly hurt her, really. Yes, she was beautiful and smart and so, so complicated.
It wasn’t always easy to love her. I suppose they would say that about me too. I just like to think all that therapy gave me some measure of genuine peace she didn’t have. It’s in that, as a big sister that I find most painful. It’s not much different really, from all those earnest wishes for happiness and safety we have for our babies.
We achieved those goals to similar degrees. In the end, it was our children and homes that mattered most, but the ugly monster that was our childhood never really left her. She never quite found the combination that would allow her to be, to just be, in ease and in the ability to admit failure. That sometimes made her a pretty tough judge and not everyone was interested in hearing the verdicts. Sometimes other events hardened hearts indefinitely. It’s one of the most miserable of human experiences to simultaneously love someone so deeply while fighting the soulful wish to feel only indifference. Hopeless dreams.
Still, she held out her hands, arms and whatever resources available to help anyone she could. Generosity was hers too. Her heart would melt at the sight of impersonal suffering. She was a force and it was a good feeling if she was on your side.
As a sister, there was plenty of special too; the way we knew what the other was thinking by locking eyes. Breaking into gut-busting laughter over things only we could understand. It was an indescribable comfort to know she was there when I was scared. It was gut-wrenching when her pain became mine.
I hadn’t been talking to her for some time when her boy found her on the floor. She’d been rushed into surgery to remove the discovered brain tumor that they said was going to take her in a matter of months, and that’s when I got the call.
It doesn’t seem real; not then and not now. One moment often replays in my mind. It was when I arrived at her home and saw her sitting in the corner of her couch, so small and quiet and beautiful, even with all those metal staples down one side of her head. She didn’t say anything, but I felt it all. I felt her fatigue and confusion; I felt her fear.
I could only go to her and take her in my arms and tell her that I loved her. In only a moment, all those years of trying to figure out life and our issues were done. One single, damned moment. One single, holy moment.
We had her for eight and a half more months; somewhat short of the 24 they told us was possible. I think we just knew, this time the possible was not an achievable goal. We were back to survival mode, where the practicality of what had to be dealt with in undoing an entire lifetime was paramount.
Her sons and I packed up boxes and tried to plan as best as possible for her youngest son’s eventual move to his father’s and her older son’s grappling with the baggage of the past and the infuriating circumstances of the present. Broken hearts can’t be boxed.
We spent the last few weeks just talking until she lost most of the ability. Then she would mostly just look at us as we’d try to regale her with any stories of normalcy.
Two days before she passed, I obsessed over the thought that I needed a sign when she was on the other side. I asked her to please show me something purple. “I don’t know why I picked purple, but will you”? I pleaded. She nodded, yes. She knew why I picked purple, but she wasn’t able to tell me. I didn’t even remember until she was gone, her birthstone is an amethyst. Anyway, when she nodded, I knew she would.
Eight and a half months to live what matters and even if she couldn’t say it often, I know she loved us hard and no one as much as her sons and grandson. I know this is mainly what she thought about in that time and if she could have made everyone’s wishes come true then, she would have. She had so many dreams…
In the end, she lived up to that final promise to me and I know she will for others. I can promise that. Another thing you could always count on her for was, keeping her word.
A couple weeks after she passed, I went for a walk. It was late September and the leaves were turning color. The wind that rustled fallen leaves was distinctly cooler. I plodded on, lost in thought until I was stopped in my <insert whatever cliché>.
Even if they had noticed, it might not have made much of an impression on anyone else. It was unusual to me though, and it happened to be one of my favorite flowers; a Lupin, a flower that blooms in spring. Of course, it was purple.
I didn’t have a thought. Not that I recall. I do remember the way it felt. It was like my entire being was suddenly filled with warmth that I find hard to describe. I instantly and absolutely knew my little sister was home and she was safe. That was all I really needed to know since I first got that call, and of course, she knew that…
I know I don’t have to talk about 2020; no one has been untouched by the ongoing trials of our newest decade. I’m sure not going to talk about them on my birthday. Na ah, nope.
I’d considered posting the poetry that longs for attention, but I have been unable to tease it out yet from under its Covid mask. So, that leaves the only possible lighter standard that I can muster – desperate humor. Meme humor. So, laugh or fight me. Either way, this ship is sailing…
So, OK, yeah, we can address the elephant in the room…
So, I better quit while I’m partially ahead. Thank you to my loved ones for your kindnesses and generosity this past trip around the sun. Thank you to my pals in this forum, your support is always a hug I will never tire of. Wishing everyone a week of uplift whenever and wherever those moments allow.
Race-shifting to Indigeneity is so prevalent in Canada, that to say it’s rampant wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration. The big question is, who’s going to be responsible for halting these destructive behaviors? The Canadian Government; the Indian Act department, CIRNA; every Indigenous nation encroached upon? Where do employers, educators and media fit in?
Over the last few years, I’ve learned “pretendians” vary in reason for their desire to be Indigenous and that they cut a wide swath in professions, learning institutes, and even within Indigenous communities.
When we point out an uncovered discovery publicly, this is about far more than ‘shaming’. This is more than ‘gate-keeping’. This is protection and an effort to stanch the continuing effort to dilute, diminish and degrade the teachings & traditions and resources of entire cultures.
The sheer numbers today make the fight against race-shifting feel futile at times because Indigenous peoples are striving to re-educate an entire country that has decades of deliberate mis-education and obfuscation about them. While they pursue that, they also have to put out as many of these current fires as possible; it’s a constant, agonizing game of whack-a-mole.
How do the Indigenous fight the enormous numbers of non-Indigenous who have chosen to speak over them and for them because of reasons like this:
They want part of the mythical ‘free money’ they were told repeatedly by Canada that the Indigenous receive.
They want the hard-won restoration of harvesting rights of the Indigenous.
They want the hard-won land titles, such as they are.
They want to act on behalf of Canada as “consent givers” for resources extraction.
They want to make claims on those big money resources.
They want to receive the jobs, grants, scholarships, and awards set up to lend a helping hand to the marginalized.
They want the acclaim of being an ‘Indigenous success’.
They want to write governance policy for the Indigenous.
They want to continue to re-write history to wash over the truths.
They heard they had an Indigenous ancestor somewhere in their background and now they are suddenly fulfilled as a whole being and must dance to the drums of ‘their ancestors’.
They are bereft of culture and need to be fulfilled emotionally, spiritually, and mentally.
These people aren’t readily identifiable as terrible trespassers. They are neighbors, co-workers, friends and sometimes, family. Many are exceptionally friendly, articulate and some are very charismatic, which makes for frustrating, vigorous protection by those around them when questioned.
Some of the roles where we’ve found these people are:
Senatorial assistants & policy writers
Facebook “Educator” pages, some with several thousand followers
Radio show hosts
Students in all levels of education
Prison and medically centred “Indigenous Elders”
Ceremonial Elders / Spiritual guides
Other social media accounts for various “Indigenous products”
The list continues to grow.
What we often hear, when this is brought to the attention of an employer or a position of authority is, “what are we to do about it”? The efforts of the 2015 “Truth and Reconciliation Report” with its 94 calls to action have yet to be realized in a substantial way by the Canadian Government and its citizens.
This isn’t to step over those who are making an effort to follow-through, but how can that follow-through be meaningful and effective if the very people they’re turning to for direction and education are not Indigenous; are not involved in any community in a genuine way; and certainly have no idea of the issues and needs of the many and various Indigenous communities?
How is this not a national concern by this time? How is Indigenous identity still managed by the Canadian Government and its ‘self-identifying’ citizens, those who believe any claim of blood quantum is their entitlement?
Residential schools all finally shut down in 1996, but their teachings are still being readily applied. The point of those schools, to Canada’s great shame, was only about re-imagining and shifting who the Indigenous are. They wanted the Indigenous to be demeaned enough to be easily cleansed away. Canadians do not like the term genocide applied to their country, but hiding it isn’t making any of it go away. It only changes its shape until it’s palatable enough to ignore.
Now there are thousands of Canadians who’ve shifted their identities, insidiously continuing the legacy of removing Indigenous voices for gain. They are indeed very welcomed as a seemingly more palatable “Indians”.
2020 has been a year for critically exposing our societal failings and as a catalyst for revolution and evolution. What a revelation it would be, if we all started to seriously assess and question why it’s normal to assume the Indian Act system, with its +4,500 employees is still a reasonable normal in the 21st century? Surely at a minimum, we could ask why the Indigenous aren’t overseeing Indigenous identity and citizenship themselves on a national level?
Addendum: For a fuller picture of the race-shifting phenomenon, I recommend the book, “Distorted Descent”, by Dr. Darryl Leroux, along with the works of Chris Anderson, “Métis” Race, Recognition, and the Struggle for Indigenous Peoplehood; and “The Northwest Is Our Mother”, by Jean Teillet.
This could be a Spring of retreat; a step or two toward the past. Maybe time on our hands and loads of room for reflection. My own longings lean toward the masses questioning all the holes in all the systems that Covid-19 surged right up to our every sensibility.
My next prayer is that all this new-found realization of what matters, this renewed knowledge of what essential is, will not get tossed and lost for good by most.
Reflection choices can be simple too; in fact, the majority of mine certainly are. I can’t believe how much it means to walk in the woods right now. All the smells of Spring are especially entrancing, and I am so in beyond land when I look at the tender shoots that replaced the tiny seeds I planted weeks ago. I’m so excited to be a back deck farmer this year. Small things. The every things.
It was within these lines of thought on this lazy Thursday, I was reminded of a sweet and lovely moment of 3 years ago, when we were allowed more fearless touch.
Wishing all a gentle and inspiring weekend.
I am the first thought
On his mind as daybreak blinks
Sunday morning bliss…
Five years ago, I went through a set of circumstances similar to what I’ve had to navigate through this year. A year later I had some small moments of reflection that I see are as relevant now as they were then. I can’t help feeling that most of us are at that place now. So, here’s a re-tread of those thoughts. Hiy hiy for this indulgence.
Sooo, did I hear you type the word, cookie?
No matter what kind of curve ball life throws, even those 359 degree ones, there are two things that demand focus in any way they can get it – cookies and bacon.
Okay yes, I’m kidding… it’s whatever requires you to be relevant. In my case, those anchors just happen to be fairly typical – children and animals, not necessarily in that order…and thank you sweet, Geezus for typical anchors.
They see me at my best, and my worst – which they generally run away from – fast, usually to retain the emergency services of a stylist or a good martini mixer, but even so, they will love me again within minutes. If only that were true of the rest of the world…
They do see me cry and rail at times because I don’t often try to shield them from those moments because life is also an awful lot about ‘shite happens’.
My last few posts have reflected some recent hard knocks and I expect I will write in and around those events for a little while too. Writing is a critical component of healing for me, as much as talking things out with my son is needed to help his understandings.
We’ll go over what’s happening to whatever appropriate extent and then, what it’s going to take to cope and keep moving. My Jack seems to understand that, so he pretty much behaves accordingly – he’ll lick my face, then throw a paw at it for priorities – which incidentally are the same as my son’s – cookies and bacon.
My son, on the other hand, seems to have grown some pretty thoughtful insight for his age, which he occasionally jolts me with. He reminds that a laugh is good medicine or that I am forgetting to see my own value, regardless of anyone else’s assessment, and that he’s willing to stand up for me to anyone. It’s those moments that remind me that no matter how hard I’ve been hit by the challenges of life, underneath and overall, I have done some things right.
I’d like to think that I’ve mostly lived for the greater good. I’d like to know that I didn’t live in my own head as much as, or more than, contributing meaningfully to community. I hope that no matter what happens, most will remember me for living, giving, and seeing the worthwhile. I’d like to believe this is true for most of us.
At the end of the day, no matter what kind of day, I hope I will have earned the right to my own share of cookies and bacon. And poutine. God, I really love that stuff, way too much.