First Thought

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.

morning bliss I am the first thought
On his mind as daybreak blinks
Sunday morning bliss…

 Gently smudging pain’s traces
Sweetly replacing facades

RL

Haiku / Tanka

Inspired by the artwork of: aaronpaquette.net and prompted by: https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/heal/

The Metis Nation, The MNO, and a Jarring Report On Identity

As a matter of noting impactful history as it’s occurring, a report presented at the March 9/10 Metis National Council’s (MNC), “Métis Identity, Citizenship & Homeland” conference in Saskatchewan, shocked many in attendance. It uncovered a troubling history that has led to serious issues for the Metis, now currently embroiled in what amounts to a ‘hostile takeover’ of their nation.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, let alone shocked about what we learned, because I am already well-aware of the immense issue for the Metis Nation in having to defend its identity and rights again. I’m well-versed in the history of the thousands of Canadians who more recently claim to be Metis, although many are seriously mistaken at best and others are purely fraudulent at worst.

The report presented wasn’t about those thousands of claims outside of the historical Metis communities, i.e.) those from regions in, and east of, Quebec. It concentrated on the claims of the legitimate Metis Nation’s own affiliate, the Metis Nation Ontario (MNO), one of five MNC affiliates.

Many already knew the MNO was fraught with membership filled with illegitimate claims of Metis ancestry and in 2019 they admitted to an overwhelming number; perhaps 90% of their membership, they said.

That’s an astounding statement and regardless of the accuracy of that estimation, what percentage would they consider acceptable? That wasn’t the only issue at hand. The affiliate was also called into question after working unilaterally with the Province of Ontario government to grant ‘historical Metis settlement’ status to 6 regions in Ontario outside of the Metis Nation historical homeland boundaries. The MNC, its other affiliate presidents and the Metis citizens were not included in that process.

Essentially then, the MNO is therefore mainly comprised of Ontarians of various ancestry who self-declared they were Metis and were accepted and seemingly legitimized by the MNO. If there are enough of these individuals in a particular region, this is taken as proof of the existence of a historical Métis “community”.

In November of 2018, the MNC and the other affiliates, with the exception of Alberta – which apparently has serious leadership [and membership] issues according to statements made at the March 10 meeting – voted to put the MNO on probation for one year to allow time to sort and re-register their members to fit the criteria of Metis Nation identity. Incidentally, that criteria aren’t different from any other world nation, which include immediate relation to the ancestry of the known Metis Nation families. The criteria was unanimously ratified by the Metis Nation in 2002. The MNO participated in that ratification.

Back to 20 years later, and the one-year MNO probation term is over. The MNC, for which leadership is voted for & provided by its affiliate presidents, requested to review the new registers. The MNO responded with an incredulous refusal, stating they had their own ‘independent oversight’ and that the MNC were unwelcome ‘outsiders’.

They’d essentially announced they were a nation unto themselves and they went to Canada directly to try to create that into fact. They called it a ‘self-governance agreement’, which the government called ‘a step toward self-governance agreement’. What that will turn out to be is another story, but a main point is a clause in the agreement that states the MNO will get to decide for itself who is “Metis”.

An easy out compared to having to tell thousands of Ontarians they’re not Metis, some of whom hold influential positions in general society. There are also millions of dollars at stake in annual funding to oversee programs meant for the Indigenous, and specifically for, the Metis. If the MNO were to fail at attaining a new, unrelated pan-Indigenous nation recognized by Canada, that would make some of those members, not Metis, but non-status First Nations. Likely a good number would simply be recognized as non-Indigenous Canadians.

That’s the background to the March 9/10 MNC meeting. Here’s part of what’s stunning. The background historical research used by the MNO and the Ontario Government to justify inclusion of Ontario-based regions/people sometimes reads like a middle school copy & pasted book report. The conflations of ancestral claims are so flimsy in places, that at one point they barely bothered to provide evidence before bestowing the Metis flag to one region.

As is commonly practised by ‘self-identifiers’ in the further east, the Metis titles given by the MNO were based on claims of ancestry in nations unrelated to the Metis; on ancestors who were Europeans re-made into Indigenous; on ancestors that were and still are known as First Nations, whose descendants still live on the same reserves; by claiming First Nations villages were Metis; or as one person at the meeting stated, if a picture of their grandparents ‘looked Native’ to the registrar, they would be accepted. These people now outnumber the legitimate Metis in Ontario.

Excluding the MNO, the fight today is from within, from those who would allow anyone of any Indigenous ancestry to claim to be Metis vs. those who denounce the pan-Indigenous idea over their own unique, rich and richly established history, which included the herculean win in 1982 to achieve the recognition and rights to Section 35 of the Constitution for that nation.

To my mind, it should be abundantly clear. I am a Metis Citizen. Like those in the other affiliates, I proved my ancestry according to the legitimate standards. I know my ancestors stand with us.

——————————————————————————-

The MNC invite citizens and the public to read the report provided by Dr. Darryl Leroux, doctorate in Sociology and Anthropology, Assoc. Prof., Department of Social Justice and Community Studies at Saint Mary’s University and Prof. Darren O’Toole, Metis, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa

RL

An Impact Statement on The Kindness of Strangers and the Love Of Friends

It was never a post I’d expected to write and this is hardly what I’d imagined as a post to mark my blog’s 7th anniversary (March 17th), and with apologies to my regular readers, some of this will be a bit of a repetition of circumstances previously written.

I know most of us never dream we’d write or live through the events I’d laid out. We know terrible things happen, but generally we feel safe that they happen to other people – over there. There is simply any place that helps us hold onto the fantasy that any distance from them is a protective cover for the rest of us.

When I got the call in January that my sister in Arizona was found on her bedroom floor unable to stand or speak properly and the concern revolved around possible strokes, in short order, I went into numb mode. That place where we don’t know what to feel, or maybe there’s too much feeling and there’s an *overwhelmed* switch that’s automatically tripped. We’d just been unwinding the numbing shock of the loss of one of our children only 20 days earlier. Maybe it was just continued numbness.

Some hours into news like this, we realize we must act and then thinking revs up again. What’s needed? Who will do what? When do we do whatever it is we figure we need to do? How can we support her kids? How will we do any of it? Then there are the really hidden thoughts, like, nope, I don’t want to be doing anything. This isn’t happening. This can’t even be real.

But, it is real, and very shortly after, we learned the real issue was a brain tumor. A very nasty, aggressive beast of a tumor. The scans showed it nearly covered a quarter of her brain, literally pushing it to one side. She had emergency surgery within 48 hours of being found on her floor and they were able to take out 99% of it. The surgeon said if she hadn’t made in when she did, it was unlikely she’d have lived another day or two. God, real, is a bitch.

Her cancer is never going away though. That’s a hell of a new normal to adjust to. They hope to help us keep her for up to 18 more months with heavy-duty radiation and chemo over several weeks. The days seem to fly by faster than ever. I avoid morbid activities like looking at calendars and counting back. I’m not always successful.

A rising sense of panic pushes me back to the questions about action. The more recent events of her world make sense now. Like, why did she suddenly quit her job and lose her health insurance and benefits? She couldn’t remember. It didn’t make sense to her either while she attempted to retrace her steps before the surgery. She couldn’t remember anything from 3 months prior. They have no idea how long ago that thing invaded her head.

We clearly had some heavy-duty work to do to sort how she will live until the end of this new normal inevitably. There was no way we could manage this on our own; we put out calls for help. That’s another exercise in faith and hope. When catastrophe strikes and you realize how bound you are in immediate helplessness, fear introduces itself in yet another incarnation. Who would even answer that call? Would anyone and if they did, would it be enough?

It turned out I wasn’t as alone as I’d feared. Friends responded with a generosity I couldn’t have imagined; even from a few that I’d never dreamed would be able to help. Yes, your $5 mattered, just as much as the gifts of $100 or more. I was on a plane within 3 days to get to her. They helped me get to her and hold her. They helped me get to look into her eyes and tell her, I love you. … It’s too hard to describe what all that feels like.

Those caring superheroes helped me get to the myriad mounds of paperwork needed to apply for assistance from myriad areas with their myriad requirements. Let me tell you, I don’t know how any of these agencies expect a patient to manage this. There was no way my sister had the ability to read through all the materials, let alone sort, fill-out and acquire the necessary documentation. Getting to that work alone was a huge step. After that, we’d had most medical and home expenses taken care of until at least the end of April.

How do you describe how much that means? I don’t know how to tell people just how much of a difference, how much of an impact their gifts create. I don’t think it’s possible to thank them at par value, I’m just so grateful that they accept my pitiful attempts anyway.

It was so hard to leave her. I wish it could be me that’s driving her to appointments, or shopping for her groceries, or just sitting next to her while we zone out in sister land in front of Netflix. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful for the services that we got to help her with that much, but I think you know what I mean.

I don’t know what the next steps will be, and we do know the calls for help will continue, for as long as it takes, but we’re taking it one day at a time. These are the experiences that crystalize that notion for us. Day by day, minute by minute. I can only pray that we’ll receive what we need and that we see the beauty there is to see and feel the grace we’re meant to, while we can. One day at a time.

Kininiskimotin, all my relations.

RL

My sister’s fund remains open for any help we can get. I moved platforms from GoFundMe because of issues with getting the funds in a timely manner. While they apologized for the undue stress, I’m not comfortable with continuing with them. The new site is here: https://www.plumfund.com/medical-fund/terminal-hope-not-homelessness–u

For those in Canada who prefer fee-less transactions, I am thrilled to accept e-transfers at blogwoman@outlook.com

Sister, Reva, her son, Jacob, and our beloved step-dad and mom.

Terminal Hope; Not Homelessness

On December 31st, I wrote about hopeful expectation for the newest decade. I’d said I felt sizable hope but tempered with the need to tread carefully for a while. That thought was focused on the large-scale issues surrounding us: things like Indigenous treaty, territorial and sovereign rights; climate change; alternative energy fights; the lack of decency in all political governance and so on.

By January 1st, it was clear any trepidation about those big issues was not going to match the colossal wrecking ball coming much closer to home.

Today, I beg you to read my words to the end.

My last previous post was a small tribute to my beautiful, 22 yr. old. nephew who’d become a victim of the opioid crisis on New Year’s Day. Twenty days after that, we got devastating news about my sister.

Tragedies happen every day to families and as a family with solid membership in that pool, there are many days I wonder how we manage to keep going at all. But this takes me back to that sense of hope I’d mentioned. Maybe it’s something not fathomable at all. I don’t know what to make of it, but maybe what emerges from that hope is a greater good. I have no idea what that looks like either, but my heart is saying, hold on and do what you can. Do it with all the love you’ve got and wait. Apparently, that’s all I get to know. I’ll live with that; because we all do. That’s all we’ve got.

The rest of this post is the wording I’ve used for her fundraising campaign. Living in the U.S with little health insurance means this is what we get to do and in the very act itself, it’s clear this is something we have to do. I hope you’ll read this small part of her story, and I hope you will help in sharing it.

Hiy hiy,

RL

She was always fiercely independent and she’s still on her own with her youngest son, 14 yrs. old, but this is a fight no one can do on their own.

She lives in Arizona, where the beauty of its big sky and desert landscapes drew her years ago. She had a great job. She had a great apartment and a great car, but what does that matter when a tumor pushes your brain toward the other side of your skull and you no longer think with a healthy logic?  

She’d inexplicably quit her job, which canceled her health insurance and benefits. She couldn’t remember why, nor when she’d last paid bills or even if. She didn’t know how to feel. As in, how to react to what was happening around her. She still made sure her boy got to school and had food on the table though.  Carrying on was always the order; until he came home from school one day and found her laying on her bedroom floor, dis-ordered. She was unable to stand or speak properly, making only nonsensical short sentences.

Within 48 hours of that shocking discovery, on January 22, my sister received a diagnosis of a glioblastoma tumor, in phase 4. That’s her scan in the opening image; it’s clear where the tumor is. It’s very aggressive, incurable cancer. She couldn’t and still can’t, remember the entire 3 months prior. They removed 99% of the tumor, but it’ll never stop growing. We learned on February 20th that surgery bought her 12-16 more weeks without treatment, of which 4 weeks had already been taken. They said she could have up to 18 months with treatment. She begins those treatments on February 27th.

Terminal cancer patients should have time to prepare with their children for the inevitability. The dying should have peace to make proper, or frankly any, arrangements. They should be able wrap their arms around their family and talk about their love for one another and even, if blessed, have time to close wounds created within the damages of life.

$25,000 is to cover what we can for an estimated period of 6 – 12 months. This is the minimum calculated to supplement the assistance we’ve applied for including insurance premium funding. This is for rent, food, medications and seemingly endless unexpected/unknown incidentals. She will have to move by March 31, 2020 if we don’t have the rent for April 1st. Please help us get that rent, and God-willing for any months she has left after that.

This will give her time; precious, precious minutes, to work out what she can, to make whatever arrangements are necessary, especially for her kids. We just want to give her some peace and a few more months of hugs. We just want to help. We just want to show her our love, before she says goodbye. A lifetime for $25,000.

$5, $10, $20, whatever number, helps. Thank you, for any and every cent that comes her way.  Cancer societies around the world always say every cent counts, and it does. It really, really does.

Click here to go to the fundraising account for Reva. With deep gratitude please help if you can, and share either way.

The Final Gift

Visions upon visions,

dreams and dreams,

lost, stolen, taken; gone.

Poets with their poetry of loss,

compete to buff out the latest cracks;

futile puffery, all of it.

Nothing will compare to that gift,

a small click of connection,

the implausibility; the impossibility – that would turn it into the last…

Hope solidified, flat and stark, into knowledge,

that love now lies in the breath of angels,

until we all finally, maybe even wholly, see again.

A few coins laid across the past,

a final gesture of love,

the only one left that could be made in his name.

RL

Sammy

January 17, 1997 – January 1, 2020

Beloved nephew

2020

The whirlwinds of life have been carrying me across a map of wonder and occasionally, just plain confusion. The decade of 10s has left me wide open; it dumped me into a sense of knowing, but bereft of detail. Oh, how I despise the statement, “I know, but I don’t know”, and yet, here I am…

I have high hopes for 2020, and though I don’t know what the shift is going to be, I sense it. A large one and it’s going to be interesting. You feel this too, right? It’ll maybe even be pretty bumpy, but the ends will justify the Universe’s means – and let’s face it, we asked for it.

Perhaps, that’s why I’d like to usher in this new era lightly, maybe even a tad timidly. Nah, I’ve outgrown timidity; long ago. Damned long ago. Still, it feels right to simply step in softly and a little carefully. Boldness will eventually be called for, of that I feel certain, but in a bit.

For now, I revel in the small pleasures, like the smile that crosses my boy’s face when he’s told meatloaf is for dinner. ( I make a good meatloaf. Just sayin’.) Or, when I get to look at photos for the year and they inspire a small dive into humble poetic pleasures. …

Winter’s moon calls for rest
Centering contemplation
Replenishing growth

A heart’s library
Body of knowledge embraced
Contentment attained

Pushing boundaries
A cast and crew of courage
Therapeutic art


And finally, my boy’s choice for my 2020 profile. Of course, he took the photo, so his bias is likely far more basic than the object of his artistry 😉 .

Holiday bounty
Lovely evening awaits
Surprise packages

As always, I remain grateful to those who follow my meandering thoughts & trials and to those who reply with the most gorgeous dollops of kindness and insight. I look forward to continuing to learn and then, with the best of success that my prayers allow, share that education meaningfully. And when it isn’t education, may all our poetic and humorous days flourish! I also look forward to reading as much as I can within my writing communities. The amount of talent to sort through is the loveliest of problems.

To all, I wish a healthily successful 2020 and a courageous, joy-filled new decade.

Cheers,

RL

Friday Funnies; ‘Cause, Just ‘Cause

So, life. Amirite?

I can’t complain too much. Life’s been a whirlwind of some of the coolest experiences of my life and only mildly tempered by my amazing talent to step in it once in a while.

That’s yesterday’s news. Today, it’s about letting go and living for a ha-ha or two. Apologies in advance for any lame jokey joke efforts; the year’s still been a bit long, eh? 🙄

…Take one if you need one, leave one if you don’t?
It’s that cat thing.
Take your time, they said; it’ll be fun, they said…
G’head, g’head – they’ll just think it’s the turkey anyway. Why didn’t anyone give me this recipe decades ago?

Obligatory PSA

How long it take ya?
Yup. M hmmm.
Marketing. Attention, Marketing, clean up in aisle 9
Me-owwwww…
Geez, it’s Christmas, Karen.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to wish me a broken leg, now’s your chance. I got a couple little acting jobs this year – for a continuation in the life file labeled: Things I never thought I’d do. It’s been loads of fun and this latest one is a Christmas play, natch. It’s an original around the idea of decolonizing Christmas, which may sound bigger than it need.

The simple truth of it is, winter solstice celebrations have occurred all over the world for millennia. Most didn’t look like the current idea of what traditional Christmas looks, not even actual Christmas, and that’s a point worth reviewing. I won’t give away the plot here, but I would wonder what some might guess what a decolonized Christmas would look like?

Have a lovely weekend!

RL