What is the “Indigenous Rights Framework” and Why Do All Indigenous People Need To Know It?

This is an issue so big, I’d consider it criminal if we didn’t do our best to make sure all our relations are aware of it. I don’t know how many people truly understand what Trudeau’s “Indigenous Rights Framework” is. I know we’ve all heard the name and a lot of big words about it, but what does it look like in its bottom line?

This issue is what previous Indigenous leadership had been fighting against for decades. There are so many Chiefs signing onto this for their people now and I don’t understand how they can do this if they honestly understand what that paper means for all of their generations to follow.

The “Framework” created by Canada without Indigenous input, offers a lot of money today while throwing out those big words about ‘self-determination’ and ‘self-generating revenue’ for tomorrow. They intend to do this by privatizing reserves. Reserves are community property, as was once all of Canada, including what’s now called “Crown lands”. That new revenue is called ‘taxes’.

That means the people who live on reserves would now have to pay taxes to their bands to keep their houses. If they can’t pay the taxes, the band can then sell the houses to anyone who has the money to buy it. Anyone. This is how Canadian developers will get the last of Indigenous lands.

This is how Canada finally gets rid of its “Indian problem” and breaks the original treaties for good. This is the ‘final solution by paper’. We will no longer have our world-recognized nation to nation rights for good. Every reserve would then be less than a provincial municipality. Something many Canadians advocate for, despite the facts of history and it being against the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

That’s a good enough reason every Chief and Council should question why they’re signing onto this, because they are throwing away every tie we have to these lands. Our own teachings tell us we are inextricably tied to our lands. This is why the ceding terminology Canada claimed was in the treaties makes no sense whatsoever. Our ancestors would never untie who we are from our lands. The Supreme Court of Canada has upheld this knowledge.

Some people are saying this is part of the reason Jody Wilson-Raybould, a We Wai Kai Nation citizen, was moved from her role as Attorney General for Canada, because she was fighting this Framework’s details. I don’t know if this is true, but a lot of our Indigenous lawyers & scholars are speaking against this Framework because of what it does.

Canada is trying to get away with not paying the huge debt it owes us. Remember the original treaties – they are about sharing not ceding. They are to be honoured, not stripped. Canadians and the Canadian political landscape have to learn what honour is, and we sure don’t need to be begging for Canada’s scraps.

Here’s an example of how that Framework plan works. The people on this reserve get no more funding transfers from the “Indigenous Trust Funds” to suffice home ownership, (as per the treaties & supplied by a portion of resources extraction from Indigenous lands), so now taxes are expected from the residents of reserves. When taxes couldn’t be paid and the band couldn’t ‘generate funding from people who couldn’t pay taxes’, they were all left in a Canadian lurch.

I’m more than aware of how much of a corner First Nations leadership has been backed into by the chronic underfunding that the Canadian Government employs in their carrot & stick approach to bring the Indigenous to heel, but this is the point Canada has been waiting for to take all our legacies. We must stop this. The end of the Indian Act is not a one-sided deal that Canada gets to decide and sort on its own.

A further side note: the great fight currently underway in Canadian election politics will leave this issue mostly ignored, but when people damn the Indigenous for not stumping for their guy in the Liberals or Conservatives, know that both parties implemented this despicable policy. They only dressed its title & taglines differently.

RL

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Posted in Education, Indigenous Peoples | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

If Hell Holds a Promise…

Healing is not for the faint of heart. It’s a contract built on a vow to harness and clutch only at ironclad strengths.

It’s quiet now; calmed are all those bouncing cells of thought and feeling that ricocheted through my panic borne in another round of ‘growth’.
I have been brought to this hushed place only by the grace of my Relations.
They, who took the suffocating lifetime of pain and lifted it to the skies – where our Ancestors tenderly pulled it into their own hearts.
Toward the centre of the Ancients where such things are cleansed; healed and rendered harmless.
To the place where all things are made sound again and holds a promise that surely
we’d all choose, if we knew.

This painlessness was not instant, oh God, not hardly. I wailed all through their processes.
They let me feel every piercing facet of what we’d endured, and then they mercifully
returned with understanding.
Every sting was an exposed hurt that hadn’t been acknowledged, sometimes for centuries.
Every prickle that scratched through my soul was a reminder to honor it and to turn toward where to offer it.
With every step in every ceremony they led me to, they walked me out of the darkness.
They didn’t need me to believe in them; they already knew I was too lost to know what to believe.

I only needed to follow what was offered, including the smallest fragments of feeling
that said – maybe.
I am a blank slate, as clean as the newborn, my future standing right in front of me, unseen.
I don’t know what to wish for anymore; I don’t know what my dreams are.
I only know I’ve been brought to this place, where every moment is a choice that I can feel only in my heart; a knowing that prompts me to accept it without even a clue as to why.

My canvas is a wide open space and I observe in wonder at what and at who is being placed onto it.
I don’t feel the immediate inserted images are the story, I only know that the reality, which traces to every soul that follows, is so much bigger than my pitiful imaginings.
They’ve taught me the reasons behind the hurt and soothing are far bigger in purpose; every healing moment is for every generation before me and all to follow.
It’s the only teaching I’ve ever been given that I know some day, will permanently alter everything.
It’s quiet now, and I know this is a gift – a treasure granted for maybe only
5 more minutes…

RL

Posted in healing, Life, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged | 11 Comments

Friday Funnies; ‘Cause It’s My Anniversary & I Can Fun If I Want To

It’s getting close to that green time of year again, and by green, I mean green beer, green rivers, green paraphernalia of assorted insanity, and oh yeah, Spring.

It’s also my 6th year of using this platform to assuage my compulsions to opine and write, which for some reason I decided to launch on March 17th. Maybe it was after a couple green beers; I don’t know, but here I still am.  I remain absolutely grateful to those who follow and especially so for those who have stuck around all this time. I couldn’t be more thankful for your support, wisdom and kindnesses through every bump and grind I’ve written about, and in sharing a laugh or two. I hope today’s merry mirth wins a smile from you too…

What? You’ve never seen a coyotree before? (If you want to see a canine pick apples, video here )

Ooooh, if only I had known to ask for specifics….

That lamp looks pissed

I honestly don’t know what to say about this life-size crocheted replica of a woman and her dog… Do you hang it over your fireplace mantle?

Every woman I’ve ever known…

I need this guy.

Beat this, Jenny Craig!

Ah, to hell with it; cut wherever you want

Musical  interlude:

Yup, we could say, Baby got back.

 

Happy weekend, all. May the road not meet your face too quickly on Sunday.

RL

 

Posted in Humor, Memes, Uncategorized | 14 Comments

Phoetic February: Missing You

February 14th was changed forever for Indigenous communities 28 years ago. While we still share in acknowledging and celebrating love, we also use the day to recognize and memorialize our  mothers, daughters, sisters, cousins, aunties and grandmothers lost to us inexplicably and/or violently.

We memorialize them in a march through town and city streets to remind all of those still missing and that despite calls for justice and formal inquiries, we have yet to receive any for those murdered. It’s a national disgrace that, as Indigenous women, we remain the most vulnerable demographic in all colonized countries.

A million smiles
Crossed our hearts before goodbyes
Home longingly waits

My cousin, Roberta Marie Ferguson, age 19 yrs, missing since August 24, 1988

RL

Posted in Grief, Haiku, Indigenous Peoples, Life, photo, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Phoetic February: Wooden Larceny

Remember that time
You trimmed the thickened branches
A hostage was claimed

Little game of tit for tat
Forgotten loss; willow’s gain

RL

#haiku #tanka

Posted in Haiku, Micro Poetry, photo, Poetry, Tanka, Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments

Phoetic February: Sunday Moody Sundays

It’s been about a month’s worth of thoughtful weekly beginnings. Something in the air… change, newness, the call of Spring? I don’t know. I do know each one gave me something personal; something not quite typical…

Heralding Hues

Waning assurance?
Maybe merely fine-tuning
Imminent promise

#haiku #rainbows

RL

Moonstruck

Reverent howling
Eerie, the Blood Wolf Moon Eve 
Neighbourhood braced

#haiku #lunareclipse

RL

Sunday SoftlySunday night refuge
Musical libations soothe
Under homemade stars

#haiku #pubdreams

RL

Singing Our Lives With His WordsSong flows like whiskey
Tenderly trickling around 
Fading memories

#haiku #musicalpoets

RL

Posted in Haiku, Life, Micro Poetry, photo, Photos, Poetry, three line poetry, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

The Point

Life is never easy, not really, and not for anyone, and especially if you’re a person of color living within a colonized country. It honestly feels like we’re always living in an ongoing classic movie. The underdogs fighting the Borg, the Establishment, “The Man”. Man, this fight never ends…

I’ll take heart in a recent Jeffrey A Sachs Twitter thread that announced: “The SJWs Are Winning and You’re All Just Going to Have to Deal With It!”  …Wakanda forever!

I don’t know what it’s going to take for the equities we crave to come to pass, but I can hope and I can pray and I can take to the streets when it all becomes too much. In between the battles, respite is precious. This is when we take stock and take in what means the most to us at our deepest levels. At least, I hope we do.

So, this is one of my moments, when I breathe in gratitude for what lifts my heart and grounds my soul…

Through It All
Through all contention
Through any and all dramas
Through every joy

Friends for life, literally
Touchstones, sound boards, life rafts, all

RL
#haiku #tanka

Treasure Islandchristmas 2018 J&me

My finest treasure
The gift that holds my heart firm
Love guarded fiercely

Most dear; smiles that create bliss
Reminding always, the point

RL
#haiku #tanka

May the best of peace, genuine joy and healthy successes meet you all in 2019.

Cheers!

RL

 

Posted in Angels, Haiku, Life, Micro-Poetry, New Year's Eve, photo, Poetry, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Monday Mirth; ‘Cause Friday Was 3 Days Ago

Τhe days are shorter and darker now, but we’re past the point where the light is back on its way so, yea, feeling a little on the lighter side. There comes that time in the year when you realize you’ve done what you’ve can in all the months prior. It’s all that it is and all that it can be until the new year opens up other opportunities.

I like the teachings of my culture and its relation to nature that tells us winter is a season of rest and replenishment.  Let it all go for a bit, breathe and grab a smile wherever and whenever…

I swear, this was what my neighborhood looked like November 1st. No damned joke.

When the tree has to match the size of the ego…

Just a little somethin’ for my Neechie friends. It’s an oldie, but I just love these little fellas

The obligatory PSA

It was only then Rudolph’s mom realized her error…

Damn those milky trenches

They say Christmas is really for the children, right?

Do it. Much happiness guaranteed. May not apply to real trees.

Ha! Jokes on you dude, that’s a summer shirt he’s got on.

The bonus meme: 10 extra points for getting the joke

 

Wishing all a fab Christmas, a wonderful holiday season, a terrific however you want to celebrate any extra days off with all the people that are dearest to you or in any solitude you may crave.

See you again closer to New Year’s Eve. Feeling up for a little light poetry by then, I think.

RL

Posted in Christmas, Humor, Life, Lighter Side, Memes | 7 Comments

Mythical Drops of Blood; Pan-Indigenous Nations Don’t Exist

Calling oneself Indigenous or First Nations is equal to calling oneself European or African. Neither of these regions are a single culture. They are a multitude of nations, customs & traditions. So it is for the Indigenous in North America.

It’s often asked in Canada, “what makes someone Metis”? Asked & answered by the Metis Nation who received recognition for it. The real question should be, “what makes one Indigenous”? Who believes an ancestor from 100 yrs ago or more now qualifies anyone to be recognized as Indigenous? You might be surprised by the number in Canada who think they are – in the hundreds of thousands.

When one says they want to connect with their Indigenous culture, but can’t name the nation they’re from, what then? This is where the Metis Nation is often chosen because of the misinformation it’s a culture that accepts any mixed ancestry. That is not the case, as is being spoken about frequently now by design to educate the public.

The Metis Nation has specific unique languages and customs & traditions of its own. There is a verification process in place for this nation. It is being enforced now because of widespread fraud (intended or not) that takes from the Metis Nation reputation and all opportunities meant for them as an Indigenous people.

So, what about those who got lost in the diaspora caused by Canadian policies? I’m well aware of the separation from Indigenous culture by events like residential schools and the 60’s Scoop. I was one of those kids. I’m also aware that I was lucky to know exactly what my nations are and the names of my grandparents, but I had to search for everything from there to know where I came from, including the customs & traditions of my nations.

Re-connection to one’s culture can only be attained by connecting with cultural centres or relations who can help guide anyone who knows at least their nation. Otherwise we’re really only learning about someone else’s nation and customs, aren’t we?

Although the Cree Nation is well known, I knew I came specifically from the Plains Cree. That was important because there are different Cree nations: Plains, Swampy, Woods, Moose, etc. They all have differences in their languages and customs in the same way any European grouping like the Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian do.

So calling oneself First Nations or Indigenous is not an automatic entry into a grand, pan-Indigenous experience. It certainly looks like that from many people’s promoted experiences of doing just that, but there is dishonesty in that; it does nothing in honouring one’s ancestors or culture.

These efforts only sustain and cement stereotypical ideas as often taught by ‘self-identified/proclaimed Indigenous people’ and onto those Canadian promotional materials using the Plains nations tipis and headdresses to depict an entire culture of cultures. This is rather insulting considering these items were never used in most Indigenous nations.

There are millions of people on this continent from Africa. They have no idea where their families originated from there; a continent of nations. They do not and cannot assume to know which nation is theirs. Some have been very lucky to learn their own historical truths, but most will never know. Unfortunately, this is the case for some people of Indigenous ancestry.

It’s criminal that this sad history persists, but no Indigenous nation is responsible for this horrific stain on Canada’s history. Neither are they obligated to let in just anyone who comes knocking on their door. This includes the Metis Nation. This seems to seriously antagonize a lot of people who want to claim themselves Metis regardless of their history. It may be infuriating and heartbreaking, but that is not the responsibility of the Metis Nation and its people.

So, where do people who don’t know their nations go? I don’t have an answer for that any more than I’d be able to tell African Americans what to do for representation. The only thing that can be done is an ancestral hunt to the best of one’s ability with a heap of good luck thrown in. This unfortunate diaspora is Canada’s doing and what they will do to make it right is the greatest unknown. In all honestly, I doubt it will be much.

RL

Posted in First Nations, History, Indigenous Peoples, Life | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Second Chances

25 years ago on this day, the impact two special friends had on my life was solidified. I send my love to all who knew them and felt the same. This is a reprise of something I published a few years ago…

————————————————————————————

There was an article in 1998 that warned young reporters were getting their careers turned around by getting too involved with their stories, sometimes even making up details.  I know it seems like a simple case of common sense to just not do either, but if you’re in touch with emotions and recording certain events, that’s not always do-able.

When I wrote as a correspondent in the wilds of northwestern Ontario 25 yrs ago, I experienced something similar. Despite the seemingly tranquil setting of an aurora borealis framed mini mecca of 600, called Pickle Lake, I actually wrote quite a variety of stories around events that would rival any city. To be fair, there were another 600 or so around the town.

My ‘beat’ covered a collection of assaults, robberies, and murder, and my community profiles provided just as much color.  All of this belies the fact that despite that record, most people in the area couldn’t be a stronger, kinder, and more generous humankind sample.

I want to recount one story that I wrote then, that I wish I could re-write now.

One of my favorite “P.L.” adventures, which took even me by surprise, was joining the town’s volunteer ambulance service.  I studied the necessary courses until I qualified, completed by also getting the license to drive the ambulance aka the ‘bus, which incidentally also qualifies you to drive an actual bus.

One of the senior attendants was a fellow by the name of Dave Halteman.  Dave was one of those friendly folksy type that make a name for themselves by being ready to help anyone, any time. He owned the local auto repair and service station, which also served as the base for all kind of local rescue.  I think one of his favorites was pulling my car out of a few snowbanks and ditches on those bitter winter roads, and for the record, local jeer-ers, I was not the only one.

Dave was up for anything, which he was called to do often, but most of his town volunteering was devoted to the fire and ambulance departments. He did a fantastic job assisting the oversight of those critical services.  Of course, it goes without saying those jobs take some bravery, and it turned out his personal bar was set at -quite high-.

He willingly took on the job to train a skinny, completely citified, 115 lb. greenhorn. Think about what it would take to teach that winning combo how to hoist a 95 lb. stretcher holding a 200 lb. patient into the back of an ambulance and then drive back to the clinic without skidding off the icy roads, and without breaking a nail.  Yeah, he was cool with priorities like that.

Dave’s easygoing nature didn’t mean easy; he made for darn sure I knew we were working for lives, for real.  Luckily, his patience level was set at -infinite-, because I definitely tested that bar too.  When I bungled, I got a stare that I would answer with my own mortified gape. Then this laugh would ring out.  Anyone who ever heard it, would agree – one of a kind.  Infectious. Unforgettable.

Whoever was treated to that laugh was also served by his decency.  He made a friend out of pretty much everyone who crossed his path because of his honest belief in ‘do unto others’.  Despite all the heroics of his emergency work, this was probably what earned him the most and deepest regard overall.  To say he was beloved to many is not an overstatement, his personality filled a town.

So on that December day, when the news came that his plane went down on the way home from a hunting trip, shock reverberated throughout the region.  No one could believe it and no one wanted to. Many of us held hope that there’d been a mistake. We would learn that the crash took not only Dave, but also his endearing and respected son-in-law, Everett Moore.  Ev was soft-spoken, tall, handsome, filled with kindness, and so young.

The town became still in the days that lead up to the funeral service. As everyone struggled to comprehend that what happened was real, the two caskets at the front of the community hall laid down all hope for good.

Those of us who served with Dave were privileged to stand in observance as his Honour Guard. The hall seats filled quickly, and everyone else stood outside on a bright, but frigid day listening through speakers.  There were several hundred who stood in that biting cold for the entire service and the interment.  I’m sure desire for relief from that cold was strong, but it couldn’t overcome the desire to pay those deeply felt respects.

The town took a while to rev back to some kind of normal. We learned there was a lot of navigating to figure out how to carry on without the steady assurances and answers of Dave.  We did though, because in many ways, the footprints he laid down were clear enough for us to follow, and so he still shaped worthwhile aspects of our own capabilities.

I wish I could have written all this in that memoriam story years ago, but I was too involved in my own grief. I couldn’t get myself to the place that does justice to the role of reporting, and in service to people who knew he deserved so much more.

I hope what I can put down now, this little bit more, will add to the legacy of how well Dave and Ev impacted people.

One last thing still bears saying too.  For a long time, many of us would often say how we’d give anything to hear that Dave laugh again.  The truth is, when I think of him I still do, and I believe that whenever we think of him, most of us still do.

RL

PostScript: I also owe a debt of gratitude to former Managing Editor, Thunder Bay Chronicle, Nick Hirst, for helping me cobble together the part of the story I did then.

Hello to my old friends in Pickle Lake and Mishkeegogamang First Nation who stood out in the cold with us that day.

Posted in All-Time Top Ten, Inspiration, Life, Life & Death, Reporting, Storytelling, Tribute, Writing | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments