On Growing Old

At a certain point
the water deepens,
the ground beneath
begins to shift,
the earth becomes invisible
each step becomes an unknown risk.
You can become afraid to move,
You cannot leave a game unwon
important things remain for you.
… just get them done.

 

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Colten

Today I grieve for my country.
I grieve for a family
that has not yet seen justice
from the moment a handgunned farmer
pulled the trigger and killed their son.
(why does a farmer need such a gun?)

I grieve for a mother
who saw the police
arrive at her house as though on a raid
and treat her like a criminal
and not like the victim she really was.

I grieve for those mothers
with empty arms
who think of their loss
at the hands of such others.
and the lack of the answers
that haunt them still.

I grieve for the youth
who now see no hope,
and whose hunger for justice
gives rise to an anger
that more and more turns
from a dangling rope
to a violence directed at them.

I grieve for the children
whose lives have embraced
an unwanted, dangerous, jeopardy.

I grieve for the elders
who’ve seen this before.
And whose wisdom will not be enough
to get all of us through this evenly.

I may grieve for some time to come.

But then to be true…
we have all been in grieving a very long time.
So long, it is part of our DNA

And so, this is why
No matter how hard we might try
we can’t “just get over it and move on”.
We all can easily say:
“My country won’t let me.”

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Love Sucks

A Note
to my angry, broken-hearted Niece,
because she thinks love sucks.

Love sucks?
Why, yes it does,
when it goes wrong
It hurts and makes you cry.
It fills you with despair and hate
and makes you wanna die.
It brings you to your knees
and makes you wonder why
you even try.
And it will drive you mad.

It will cause you to believe
you should stay out of love
forever
and you’re never gonna let
that stupid feeling get into your life again.
Until it does.

It does… because the moment that you catch the eye
of someone special looking sideways
as you’re looking sideways too
the memory of pain will disappear.
As your heart begins to flutter
and your throat begins to tighten
and your palms begin to sweat
and your tongue becomes all knotted
and speaks gibberish despite the fact,
you know just what you wanna say
but there’s this foolish little giggle
that keeps gettin’ in the way.

You try to push those feelings down,
But makes no difference how you frown
‘Cause it won’t matter how you sound
you know inside you’re going down
’cause love will stick you in the ground.
And as your cheeks begin to flush
with warmth from who the hell knows where,
you’ll find that you’re in love again
despite the painful past despair,
You’ll breathe the purest air of airs
and every song you know, you’ll share
You’ll feel so kind and sweet and fair
You’ll smell each smell, you’ll see each hair
As time stands still.

But here’s a tiny secret truth,
escaping adults and the youth:
to keep that happy love alive
you have to feed it, make it thrive
just as it feeds and cares for you,
you have to give it something too.

That means that you must learn each day,
with things you do and words you say
just how to make that other
fall in love with you again.
For if you don’t,
or can’t
or won’t,
each day will be a sinking stone,
and, sure as hell,
for each of you
Love…will…suck.

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Our children do not set out in life to fail

Our children are the ongoing prize in the cultural war that Canada declared against us over 150 years ago. Canada may believe that the war is over, but until the automatic weapons it created as part of that war, have been taken from their hands or altered in fundamental ways, or disabled totally, the war continues of its own momentum.

The Child Welfare System, the Youth Justice System and the Educational System all function from the inherent, fundamental, belief, that we as parents in our own communities do not have the right to birth, raise, educate, discipline and protect our children from Canada’s inherent racism.

Canada believes fervently in the benevolence of its policies and fails to accept its own failings, because we are the faces of those failings. They treat us poorly because we are not like them, and they ignore our wounds and the deaths that result from their actions – past and present -, because we are not like them.

We are asked to help Canada do better – to be better – and we willingly accept that challenge because Canada must change. But the struggle to create the change that Canada must undergo will be resisted and it will be a constant repetition of “two steps forward, one step back”, or sometimes three. It will not be easy.

What our leaders must realize is that we too must change. We must stop playing the victim’s role of looking to our abuser for the help we need. We must accept the challenge of standing up and walking on our own two feet. And we must walk to the beat of our own drum.

We must demand that our leaders show the leadership necessary to strengthen our communities.

We must demand that our leaders show the leadership necessary to strengthen our families.

We must demand that our leaders show the leadership necessary to strengthen our children.

We need leaders to fight that ongoing battle with the enemies on the outside of our walls, and we need leaders who will fight the enemies who are inside the walls. Our traditions have taught us that.

Our children do not set out in life to fail. They want to be someone. We have to be the someones they want to be.

We have to tell them about those of us who have come from the same ground they stand upon, who have the same kinds of community, parents and history that they have, and who look just like them, who are someone.

We have to make them believe in us and we have to train them how to become someone and we have to let them try.

…then we have to create the blankets with which we can wrap them when they stumble and fall, and we have to love them enough to help them get up and walk again.

No one escapes this world unhurt and unharmed. We will all be bruised at some point. But our traditions have sustained the warrior spirit inside us for thousands of years and they hold the key to our future. We will not survive by being better at the whiteman’s game than the white man. We will survive by being the best Anishinaabe we can be.

Tell them I said this.

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Apartheid in Canada

Lessons From Canada’s Apartheid

In this colonizer’s editorial, recently published in the Globe and Mail, (https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/editorials/indigenous-peoples-and-the-need-for-a-way-forward-made-in-canada/article34568640/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com& ) lies the racist fallacy.

On the one hand the editorialist says it is difficult to assess the population of Canada at the time of contact but then goes on to say, without any evidence, that Canada (and, by implication, North America) “was thinly populated”.

That essentially dismisses everyone else’s view but the writer’s, who has absolutely no basis on which to say it was “thinly populated”.

That argument of low numbers is essential to maintain the mythological doctrines of “terra nullius” and “discovery”.

There are several expert reports which say that the population of the Americas was higher than the population of Europe at the time of contact, and there are experts who assert, with considerable evidence, that Columbus and his conquistadors (“conquerors”) were responsible for the genocide of more than 20 million Indigenous people within a very short period of time. Some estimate that number as high as 90 million. There is no doubt that such a genocide did happen, and there can be no doubt that it was done solely for the purpose of wiping out the larger numbers of Indigenous people (“thinning the population”) in order to sustain the fallacy of terra nullius.

That genocide did not stop until the 1520s when the Pope and the Catholic Church, after much debate, ruled that Indigenous people were “humans” although a lower form of humans.
The editorial then goes on to say that eventually the number of Europeans became higher than the Indigenous population and therefore what happened here couldn’t have been apartheid, since European numbers were higher.

Excuse me, but apartheid is exactly what happened here.

Canada’s apartheid era officially started with Confederation, when Canada was created and the population of Indigenous people outside of the original confederating colonies far outnumbered Europeans.

Through chicanery, lies, and duplicity (i.e. the Treaties) the government lulled the Indigenous leaders in the West into a false sense of security, and after asserting the extension of Canada’s legal jurisdiction, enacted apartheid laws over them. Only after such laws were enacted was Canada able to increase the population of Europeans in the West in order to overcome the much higher Indigenous population.

That apartheid system still exists, and it is what we, who are working for reconciliation, are all working to dismantle.

We do have a lot to learn from the South African experience. They include:

1. Never trust the colonizer’s history.
2. Racism is hard to overcome
3. Tribalism after colonization ends can become the new “problem”.
4. Apartheid is economic as well as political and legal.
5. Even with a supportive government, reconciliation will take a long time.
6. Without immediate economic and social reform, the legacies of racism easily live on.

And so, colonizer editorialist, next time do your homework.

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He Found Peace

He heard her song
as he sat lonely on the ground
Her footsteps moving gently
Through the trees

He could not see
But he could feel her
Dancing slow
In ever smaller circles
Around his lodge of twigs and leaves

He heard her thoughts
and felt both pain and sweetness
as she held and rocked him
while he once again became
the child he always was

And as she soothed him in her mother arms
And whispered words of comfort in his ear
He slipped away into that momentary dark
And left behind the sadness
That had burdened him so long
And placed his feet upon the road
That takes you to the place where dreams and spirits dwell.
And he found peace.

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Emergence

The angry, hungry, thirsty being
staggered from the darkness 
of the creature 
which had been his life
for all these many years
He sought to find
those ones who had denied 
his true existence
to see 
if just perhaps 
they now believed 
he could survive.
They did.
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