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

 

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

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

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…

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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.

Friday Funnies; ‘Cause We Forgot We Still Even Humour!

HOLY, bustling blow-up busy months, Batman! There’s barely been time to find a funny, let alone share. So, can we agree it’s about bloodish meme time, even if it looks like we’re gonna to have to take whatever we can get?

Gotta say, I question the marketing strategy.

On the other hand, maybe it’s not ‘that’ bad…

Every mile is 420 in Canada now!

🎵 Teach your children well,
Their father’s hell did slowly go by…🎵

Who wore it best?

Irony… 🤓

Yeah…. I’m not gonna touch this one.

There are some truly majestic creatures in the world; these aren’t them…

When the Kylie Jenner lip kit goes wrong?

A rare glimpse of a Whatisit

Formal portrait…casual chapeau… little tongue action…it works, yeah?

This lion has seen some stuff…

Maybe I need to get out and see more stuff myself, but I might have to re-think all the get back to nature suggestions…

In the meantime, I hope to have a great weekend. Here’s hoping for you too!

RL

Dejah, The Warrior

This is a re-post for my dear friend, Glo, in tribute to the amazing life and soul of her baby, and their loved ones. It’s hard to believe it’s been 5 years. Already. I can’t say exactly how it feels for Gloria, Robert & Rayne, but I would like them to know we remember with them. We share in their heartrending memories and in support of their amazing capacity to move forward in strength, purpose and love for each other and for life. They couldn’t live a better legacy for their son and brother… 

I hardly know this young boy who impacted my life and so many others so profoundly. What kid is all that interested in their mother’s friends anyway? And so, I came to know him mostly through her, our Glo.

She is that quintessential statement of strength and courage, which can almost sound like a cliché, but it isn’t when it’s applied to a parent facing one of our worst fears.  Which is what happened to her and she, true to character, faced that nightmare fully and head-on.

He was only three years old when they were told he had cancer.  It was horribly bad news.  Most kids who get this kind of cancer have a pretty good outlook, but for some the challenge will push  to the limit.  This was to be the case for him.

I can’t imagine having to look at my baby’s sweet innocent face, and into his trusting eyes, knowing what they knew was to come for their son, and try to prepare for that.  How unbearable could it have felt to know the awful truth of what was in store in some ways, and not have any idea or certainty about anything else?

The only thing that turned out to be absolutely certain is that this kid had something else too – a hell of a fighting spirit. Those innocent eyes masked a strength that could rival a grown man’s, and that was good because he used it fully. It was what carried him beyond the lines of expectation.

As it turned out, his backup arsenal was also beyond outstanding.  His shield of steel was the love and faith of his mother, and his dad and sister were the center of his phalanx.

Phalanx is a perfect word for his story.  I’d stumbled around for a while looking for a way to describe all the people who joined the power of this boy’s circle. My son said, “That sounds like you’re talking about a phalanx, mom”.  I asked what that was exactly. After he explained, I thought yes, that’s exactly what they are.

A phalanx is defined as a compact or close-knit body of people, a formation of infantry carrying overlapping shields and long spears.  Perfect.  That’s what they were – overlapping shields of love and spears of hope. The rest of that foundation was formidably filled out by all the family and friends who rallied around them.

No matter their role as those weapons of love and hope, every one of them, including the calvary of determined medical personnel was there in common spirit.  All were there to throw everything they could at that God-damned tumour.

They did it well for ten amazing years.  It wasn’t a smooth trip for sure, but they fought those ups and downs with purpose. He and his family were also determined to instill something meaningful into what would seem to be a senseless, painful ordeal.

He moved to the center of an organized effort to finally stop cancer in children.  He and his family charged alongside an organization called Kick For A Cure, whose role is to fund the research that will finally “kick cancer where it hurts”.

Part of the fight for a full life was trying to be just a boy who could play and learn like everyone else. Why should any child have to fight to be just a 5 year old or an 8 year old? The balancing act to just be and to be a helper in the bigger picture becomes another unexpected fact of life, a new normal.

The day came when balance was made impossible, and it became an effort to just hold on – to a few more hours spent wrapped in the bond of fighters who’ve survived together for so long.  To a few more minutes of saying I love you, and for that one more heartbreaking second to look into each other’s eyes.

When children get so sick, when they die, we are all devastated.  We cry and feel deeply because for those moments, born to us or not, they all become our babies.

Maybe we ask God or the Universe, why or how?  Maybe one day we’ll have all the answers, but for now, at this moment, I need to believe that the Universe said these things to him:

Thank you, Dejah.

Thank you for enduring the pain of the fight for so long.

Thank you doing for so much work in such a short period of time to inform and teach about childhood cancer.

Thank you for all that you’ve given and taught to your mom, dad, and sister.

Thank you for all that you’ve given and shown to your family and friends.

Thank you for the sacrifice you gave to medicine that will one day make this illness less devastating for another child.

Thank you for the way you brought your community together over and over again, and got them all thinking about love, and for reminding them that, it is the only true purpose.

Your work is done Dejah, and it was done in superhero excellence.

You’re finally pain free; dance wildly in joy.  You’ve earned it, kid.

You will always, always, be a kick ass hero.

Dejah Milne
February 4, 2000 – October 5, 2013

dejah

Photo by Cher Milne Gennaro‎, Memories with Dejah

 

RL

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The story of how Dejah affected his community and the people around the world was captured during his beautiful service tribute and in how his story was shared around the globe.

 

The Mysterious Activist, *insert eyeroll here*

My previous post inspired a few good laughs about what stepping up for a cause is about. “Activists”. Who are these odd people on the news being called some version of ‘Post-Modern Social Marxists” or some such non-existent epithet? Community (not Communist) activism is neither Marxist nor some mysterious hippy, trippy march into an abyss of prison sentences.

Practising compassion over comfort doesn’t require giving up our freedom and worldly goods in solidarity. Thus it really doesn’t need hard thought on whether or not we want to perform an act of decency. It does require us to take a few steps now and then out of our regular ruts – which incidentally, doesn’t hurt. It’s always been a pretty good idea to round out our little worlds for the sake of our own sanity and growth.

2018-07-04 12.39.37

Yeah, nah, the average activist is not required to hang from a bridge, or from anything, actually. (Greenpeace TransMountain protest at the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge, July 4, 2018)

Back to the point – if you’re someone who marched into your school Principal’s office to demand a particular activity or homeroom class for your child, you’ve graduated in Activism 101 right there. Same if you ever requested a pay raise or demanded your rightful discount while shopping.

If you’ve ever organized a play, a school fundraising event, a lunch or dinner, you know how to organize a group to paint up some signs and meet at the corners of wherever to make your case public for an hour. Let’s maybe call this – Activism 201. Still, we can see there’s really nothing untenable about this level either. There’s always the option of just following organizers in a march.

When you see stories or social media posts about an issue that you KNOW is based in inequity that rocks your decency barometer, do something before that evil little voice in the back of our mind starts its insidious claims that we’re too small, poor, uninformed or detached to make a difference anyway. It lies, and that’s what those who would take advantage of people are counting on. It’s not really apathy that they’re depending on, it’s our fear.

They make issues seem too big to be managed, on purpose. They make “the machine” look impenetrable, but just like the phony wizard of Oz, “the machine” is the same mousy wanna-dos hiding behind the drapes. They’re simply just another group of us – the same people we stood up to in schools, at work, or while shopping.

So, why am I telling you this? Because the steps we took in those situations are exactly what is required to move these mythical giant mountains of issue. These mountains are merely the piles of lies that say the inequities right in front of our eyes “take time” to undo or repair. We’re shown time and time again government is not too poor nor too big and that there are alternatives to almost every option leadership attempts to sell us.

The only thing that takes those mountains down is a push from those at the bottom – us. Our most simple efforts can get that hill all shaky and rolling in no time.  A phone call, letters, emails, tweets, whatever form we’d take to demand our kid gets the homeroom we want, or the raise we know we deserve, is what we do.

These are the actions to take when a community or national issue makes us pause because we know it’s not right. We direct our requests to our local leaders (mayors, Chiefs, MP, MLAs) with a c.c. to their boss – especially if that’s the Prime Minister – and the media, to really drive the message home. It’s that simple. It’s that effective. It’s that easy to create a better circumstance for ourselves, a neighbor, a community, or the entire country for that matter.

Yes, we may have to repeat those actions a few times, but when we see those issues, something so unfair, that it makes us stop and our heartbeat catch, don’t waste that call to your soul.  We’re hearing it because we’re more than worthy and capable of doing something about it. We do it because we prefer to live in decency and really, that is the core, the only point, of activism.

See? No mysterious forces at work here, it’s just me and you acting on our right to speak up. Welcome aboard!

 I hope.

RL