Indigenous Funds Are Not ‘Federal Funds’ – A Quick Educational Reality Check

There are a host of historical reasons the Indigenous remain at arm’s length in relationship to Canada. The stories shared daily about the inequities are solidly documented. One of the most offensive statements the Indigenous hear repeatedly is, “the Indigenous are financed with ‘federal funds'”.

Those funds have always belonged to the Indigenous; they are not Canadian largesse. Treaties were begun in the 1700s & the 1763 Royal Proclamation acknowledged the land and resources meant for the Indigenous, along with the order to leave us ‘unmolested’.

It’s not a conspiracy theory when we say it’s critical that an audit needs to be done on the federal ministry, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs (CIRNA/INAC). There are decades of explanation owed to the Indigenous nations. No one seems to know a full and detailed account of the funding set aside for the Indigenous since the original trust funds were set up in the east. CIRNA/INAC – which is so closely tied to the resources extraction industry that from 1936-1950 the Ministry of Mines and Resources ran the lives of the Indigenous. Even, and perhaps more oddly, the Department of Citizenship and Immigration had a crack at that, (1950-1965)

It explains a lot in many respects, but especially in the current sense of ownership and entitlement of the resource extractions industries. They’ve had the inside track on everything regarding the Indigenous since the beginning of Canada & we should all be very suspicious about how that dept. has been run – particularly against the Indigenous.

We also know Canada has used the Indigenous funds for its own economic stimulus efforts and infrastructure such as ‘loans’ – never repaid to Six Nations to build Upper Canada College, McMaster University, Osgoode Law School, and McGill University.

These details have been coming to light more and more and it’s important not only for Canadians to understand what their foundation is built upon, but to reverse the decades of harm caused by the caustic denigration built into the Canadian education on the history of the Indigenous. These views remain taught today, particularly by various right-wing policy influences like the insidious Fraser Institute and its asinine teachings and public announcements, still readily accepted by much of the Canadian public.

There are reasons why over 50% of First Nations children remain living in poverty; why a basic right like clean water is denied in several Indigenous communities; why nations refuse to grant permission to resource extraction corporations intent on building through them, and rounds of further issues too numerous to cite in one essay. These issues were begun and have been maintained only by Canadian policy.

These details continue to come to light and they must. We will not stop turning these rocks over. We simply can’t; there is no healing without truth. There is no reconciliation without acknowledgement of all, followed by the necessary reparations. Ignorance has cost far too much, on both sides of the treaties.

RL

https://www.aadnc-aandc.gc.ca/…/1370355181092/1370355203645…

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/…/disc…/aboriginal-heritage/first-nations/indian-affairs-annual-reports/Pages/introduction.aspx#b

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

Educate, Not Dominate

(Warning:  usage of full racial epithets in this opinion piece, because I don’t believe one is more important or blatant than the rest in this point of view).
 

Our truths are largely based on what side of a fence we grew up on. One side, one truth is largely equal to merely indoctrination as education, and this is not restricted to religion.  It’s about everything we grew up to believe about the world.

Education is not about only learning more about our side of the fence, it’s supposed to be learning about all the other fences too, or as many as we’re able.  This should be a lifelong effort, and if not, why not?

Education has always been key in resolving conflict and ignorance of intents.  The process gets all muddled up with the yeah buts, if you knew what he/she did, we need this or we need that.

So what’s really needed?  What is really needed to live ably and in relative comfort?  The big questions are, what is worth killing children for?  What is worth demeaning their value as people?

What’s worth a walk up to a child and looking her in the eyes to  call her dirty, a camel jacker, a nigger, a redskin, a chink, a honky, or any other of the demeaning terms we need to make up to dehumanize another person?   Nothing?  Thank the Universe you have not descended into madness.  Yet.

Childrens eyes 2I say ‘yet’ because I wonder how many people wouldn’t be able to do that, but do remark loudly and viciously about the lowness of those children’s parents when in disagreement. These are most noticeable in the comment sections of news stories like those about children dying in the Middle East, resources on someones land, or for the change of an American football team name.

Would these same people kneel down to this child and look her in the eyes and tell her that the purpose of their gain is worth her loss of worth or life?  We know there are some who will, and have.  They have become madness embodied.

This is what’s meant to be feared.  They say they do this on behalf of all the people, their people, and unbelievably, they are believed.   What fear is the madness based in?  Loss?   What fear of loss is so great that it’s worth dehumanizing or killing a child over?

That madness spreads like dust, but dust can be cleaned away.  How do we stop the advent of madmen?  We educate all of our children now.  We all have to stop, whenever it’s made possible, to ask if we’ve truly made an effort to look over the top of our fences.  Have we really searched for the reasons behind our fears and anger about something, or most importantly, someone?

If not, why not? It’s never been easier.

RL

 

 

Class, The ‘80s are Dead, & Now We’re All in the Service Industry

What if your job was used as an example for what not to be when you grow up?  Imagine that – your job served up as a warning for what you will end up if you don’t do well in school.  This recently happened to a friend of mine. He didn’t hear this warning firsthand. The class that did was attended by his daughter.  Now, imagine that.

It’s probable her teacher had best of intentions to motivate the students, and even my friend acknowledged that. He also said, good thing his daughter has thick skin, but even so, she felt compelled to apologize for the ignorance of others.   As a parent, you would think about your child in that class at that moment, then you’d be taking measurement of your own skin depth.

People in – generally accepted as respectable- careers, might breathe a little sigh of relief at not having to deal with a situation like that.  I don’t even have to mention his job because many will have already assessed whether or not they have one of ‘those’ jobs. Probably something menial, or in the service industry, right?  I think on some level though, most would feel there is something not quite right about it all.  Do unto others, etc.

server 1 diffusedIt doesn’t matter what road we go down, ultimately whatever we work at is in service to someone else, and whether we are aware or not, we are also teaching. We will share our combined life experiences in some form or another, for better or worse.

One of the things I’ve been thinking about, after reflecting on my friend’s experience, is the idea of a simple shift in how we perceive and pursue success and the related esteems.  Success definitions aside, there’s nothing wrong with shooting for the top or making top dollar, just that there could be more emphasis placed on important pursuits leading to that.

For performing our services, most want to earn respect, appreciation, and even admiration with our money. It’s hard to honestly earn good money without applying these qualities anyway.  What if we started reaching for the stars from a place that sets aside aspects slavishly pursued in the 1980s like image, titles and the bottom line? What if we started our pursuit of work or career by thinking about those aspects that we care about as people regardless of role in our careers. Corporations spend billions on ways to humanize their images, to be relatable to people.   What irony.

Could we make more of an effort to shift, and teach to shift, the perspective from what can we get out of life to what can we give?  Could we consciously ask ourselves before we start our day, school, work or career directions by asking in what way(s) are we best suited to serve? What can I, what do I, give to the big picture? I wonder what kind of success levels as a society we would have then.  It might sound lofty, but it really isn’t.

This isn’t simple idealism; it’s still about earning a buck and a decent living. The Real Housewives TV franchises will live, just wouldn’t it be nice if we could make them even less real than they already aren’t?  We can still aspire to C.E.O lifestyles, but doing it with that simple shift in perspective changes the complexion of how we view status and value through titles and job types. It’s not what do we do, but how do we serve?

I think on some level we already know this as mostly true.  No matter what title we achieve, what everyone really wants to know is how well, and what, were we able to contribute. We really care about the type of person we are, and who we’re working with. It’s how we want to be described when we die.  If you need a touch of proof, watch an episode of Undercover Boss sometime.

Knowing even the little that I do about this, I’d still wager that the rewards for turning this table in society would be huge, including financially. It all begins with just a small change in thought. Imagine that.

At a minimum we could leave the examples of what not to be at drug dealers and crooks.  And tofu hot dog makers.  (Just kidding tofu people, some of my best friends are tofu hot dogs).

Click on picture to read note

Click on picture to read note

Oh, about that example of what not to be?  To start, he is an outstanding parent.  For pay he works with staff and children, in a host of ways, every day of the school year.  After that, his resume’ includes being an amazing photographer,  a writer of beautiful poetry and witticisms, and an extensive world traveler.

He must also be a pretty successful service provider because one day he received this note on his work cart. Seems like outstanding achievement to me.

RL

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give”                Sir Winston Churchill

Seriously, about Group Work: Magic or Political Train to Hell?

group meeting
Group dynamics are always an interesting endeavor.  I’ve had the pleasure of working with a variety of groups in quite a few arenas both professionally and voluntary.  When I say ‘pleasure,’ I know that most have applied the word very kindly to an event or two.

Group size can affect outcomes, but usually it only takes a meeting of two or more people working together to have a ticket on the political train to heaven or hell.

There was one group that especially stands out in my mind.  It was comprised of 23-27 people at any given time over a 4 year period.  We were a volunteer school committee. This group type is often known as a hot-bed for problems with loads of hot-button issues, and frankly, a good number of hot-heads.  When the point of issue is your own child, there can be particularly intense attention paid to personal need.  It is often very difficult to get parents involved in these committees.

Thank goodness our group was not one of those!  I often remember that group with a great deal of fondness for what it achieved and how we interacted.  What made a group of this size and background variety work so well and effectively for several years? What was different about it from the ones that I’d seen crumble from ineffectiveness and at times, even deeply, regretted joining?

I don’t think it was rocket science and there were no magic rituals performed.  Although, there may have been some magic on some unknown level because the simplicity of what was done seems to be utterly impossible for a good number of people to perform in general.

For starters, it was the way it was managed by the various leaders and members.  The number one rule was keeping our eyes on the purpose of the group.  We were there to serve the greater good for the greatest number of students.   All decisions had to meet this first litmus test.  It was understood that sometimes this meant having to go against something that we personally desired.

Next, we had our general goal:  to provide the best educational experience possible to all students.  It’s the step after this that things can get tricky for any group – the how level.  This is where the group actions are determined to achieve those goals.  This is where there is lots of room for diverse opinion – and there was.

This level started with a boatload of questions. What are the student needs?  What are the priorities?  Why? How much money is needed, from where, from what kind of events, what should they look like, are they fun?  When do we need to do what, who’s going to run what, what resources are needed? Who’s going to get them?  All of these questions, and more, had to be agreed upon by the group – which they were.

We also allowed for newcomers to have fairly free rein to try out new projects or have a run at some of our established needs.  You don’t get new members if you lock the doors to opportunities for them to show what they can offer.  Let’s also acknowledge that that also gave the rest of us a much needed breather now and then.

There were certainly discussions based in disagreement, but all reasoning had to be put on the table upfront where it was examined by all, then a side chosen by all.  There was disappointment sometimes, but this group employed basic decency & respect.  The disappointed got a pat on the back and reminded that decisions made were not personal; it was always about the overall purpose and goal. In return, they backed up the decision with nearly full to full-blown participation.

The sub-committees performed in the same manner, just applying that method to the goals of their specific task, whether it was a book fair, Halloween bingo, fun fair, or the annual finance/budget projections.

There were times when someone might come into the group with a clear personal agenda, or vanity project.  Depending on the size or importance of the issue, the group might have said sure, go ahead; fill your boots – as long as it served the majority.  If it was somewhat more personally grandiose, they might have stirred up some group emotion, but in the end, those agendas didn’t last long on the table.  Without support or any willingness to continue in pointless argument, they (person & idea) would somehow just fade away.

All events succeeded or failed as a group.  Recognition was applied generously to all. Sure, we had our private conversations about what was really great or not, or what needed to get tweaked next time, but publicly everyone gave all the credit and if something didn’t work out, all swallowed the responsibility.

This group was an amazing story of supportive strength that achieved success after success, strong membership year after year, and easily attracted extra volunteer support whenever it was needed.  What was the secret?  Was this just a fluke for so many years; were these people just exceptionally well-rounded?

I don’t think so really.  As mentioned, it was a group of varying background, inclinations & personality: funny, serious, go-getter, care-giver, analyzer, organizer.  What we all had in common was that we started with the desire to make a difference for the better.  At the core, we simply wanted to do what was best, which included the willingness to do all we could to make that work.

What was in place to guide those wishes along was that simple requirement of asking what is this for and who does it serve?  It was really an easy fall-back position for everyone.  It was asked and applied so regularly that it became second nature; people were able to check their own ego needs. The point that everyone had an equal voice, and was free to use it, was critical to this cooperation and enhanced desire to pitch in. There were very few times that one had to dig deep to bring their respectfulness or support to the table. It made the overall experience fulfilling, and a lot of work a whole lot of fun.

Keep your on eye on the purpose, work in consensus, and exercise your abilities to respect and support both.   Why is that so hard for so many groups?  I don’t know. It seems to me that if you can’t work that way, then don’t work in any groups.  I really don’t think it takes all that much magic.

RL

Shout-out to the Hazel Trembath PAC of 2006 – 2010: the team of do-ers!

c/r 712, April 6, 2013