Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category.

NFN Sacred Fire on First Nations Suicides on July 9, 2017 (sunrise-sunset)

“Let us put our minds together to see what life we will make for our children.”

– Sitting Bull

The Sacred Fire has become a source and symbol of strength and divine connection to the Creator. The sacred fires that help us govern our community gatherings, ceremonies and prayerful expressions as Indigenous Peoples, continues to be a way for our struggles to be refocused into clear understanding and clear direction about where we take challenges and painful issues facing our community.

Nipissing First Nation will be hosting a community sacred fire in support and prayers in the wake of rising social tragedy and turmoil of First Nations suicides. Just this week, four young people in remote Northern Ontario First Nations have taken their lives.

WHAT:  NFN Sacred Fire on First Nation Suicides

 

WHEN:  Sunday, July 9, 2017 beginning at 5:15 a.m. to sundown.  Sacred Fire will stay lit from sunrise to sunset

WHERE:  Nipissing First Nation Cultural Centre, 36 Semo Road, Garden Village, ON near the Tipi

WHO:  All community members, Elders, Youth, Traditional People, Chief and Council, supporters and friends

 


TENTATIVE ACTIVITIES (to be confirmed)

MORNING AGENDA

 

5:15 a.m.        Firelighting

5:36 a.m.        Sunrise

5:40 a.m.        Morning Ceremony

Conducted by Perry McLeod-Shabogesic

Water Conducted TBA

Pipe, Tobacco and Water Offering

Ceremonial and Drum Songs

 

AFTERNOON AGENDA

 

12 noon          Mid-Day Ceremony

Pipe, Tobacco and Water Offering

Ceremonial and Drum Songs

Spirit Plate Offering

Mid-Day Potluck Feast

In the spirit of community, we are call on all volunteers, community members and descendants of the Homemakers Club and great cooks, please bring your favourite dish.

3:00 p.m.       Community Sharing Circle

Led by Nipissing First Nation Youth. Everyone is welcome to bring their thoughts, prayers and ideas to share in a safe environment.

Theme/Facilitated Questions:

  • How can our First Nation and our citizens help our northern brothers and sisters struggling with youth suicide?
  • How can we support one another that will help strengthen our own community in dealing with youth suicide? 

EVENING AGENDA

 

6:00 p.m.        Drum and Round Dance Circle (to be confirmed…)

Looking for singers, drums, round dance singers and dancers to take part in a evening Drum and Round Dance Circle to sing and dance in prayer for our brothers and sisters in the north facing this suicide crisis and to honour of those we have lost to suicide.  Dancers bring your regalia.

Singers and Drums, if you are able to attend please contact Corey Goulais on Facebook or call (705) 358-7064.

——————————————-

Calling all Fire Keepers and Volunteers

In order to keep the fire going for a full day, we are seeking young men to help keep fire and volunteers of all ages to assist with the day’s events. If you wish to volunteer, contact Corey Goulais on Facebook or call (705) 358-7064.

 

Why I used to fly the Canada Flag on my a$$

Truth be told, I’ve been protesting Canada Day for a long, long time. In fact, a few of you might remember that I used to wear a Canada Flag on my derriere every July 1. Strangely, I used to look forward to the odd looks and controversy. Yes, the noble maple leaf, the unmistakeable symbol of Canada, pinned firmly to my a$$.

Anyone who asked about or noticed my anti-patriotic statement would be peppered with factoids of Canada’s historical mistreatment of First Nations and the racism that I’ve faced. I was known to quote John Trudell who said that flying a flag upside down is a sign of distress. Long before the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, the apology, or the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, I offered a fiery explanation of the residential school experience, the abuses suffered by our children and the burden of inter-generational trauma.

All the while, sitting on, and blowing wind through, the ole’ red and white.

That was a long time ago. I don’t do that anymore.

Sure it was a juvenile and classless. But as a teenager, I was typically juvenile and classless anyhow. But I later came to the realization that it was a barrier to understanding and sharing such an important message. More importantly, it was an affront to the most basic Anishinaabe teaching of respect.

Many Indigenous people are frustrated and feel they are getting the short end of the stick. Many First Nation families are living in poverty and face unacceptable conditions everyday. (For god’s sake, it’s 2017 and Pikangikum First Nation still doesn’t have running water!)

We’re frustrated by the slow pace of change. Prime Minister Trudeau and his government has said a lot of the right things including a commitment to implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and establishing an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. But the results just aren’t visible to us. The pace of bureaucracy is stifling and isn’t matching our expectations. Just what the heck is going on???

So, for historic and personal reasons, many First Nations, Metis and Inuit people, including myself, are refusing to celebrate Canada 150. For my non-Indigenous brothers and sisters, you truly have to understand the narrative, the perspective as well as the facts. Canada has not been kind to Indigenous people. The past 150 years has been deplorable, and frankly, should be embarrassing to each and every Canadian.

That being said, as Indigenous advocates, we still have to realize that there are many, many Canadians who do not know about Indigenous issues or their true history as a country. Many open-minded Canadians might get their backs up, or noses out-of-joint when we challenge their perception of their country and patriotism.

Just this week, I spoke to a volunteer at a local Indigenous event. She was a young, well-educated, middle-class woman working for one of the largest telecommunications companies in Canada. She had no idea what residential schools were and how they have affected our people. She had no idea what the Indian Act was and how it controlled almost every aspect of our lives. She honestly had no clue.

The reality is that there are thousands more, at public events and kitchen tables across Canada that have yet to meet a First Nations person, much less understand our frustrations, complex issues or grasp the need for reconciliation.

How do we influence understanding? How do we bring Canadians along with us, so that they might take personal action on reconciliation? How do we encourage them to share their new found knowledge with their families sitting down at the dinner table? How do we begin to influence their workplace and the corporate environment?

We certainly can’t do that with anger. I realized that I couldn’t win people over when I desecrated the proud symbol of their freedom. It can only be done with patience, kindness and respect.

Forget the trolls and the racists. You’re not going to win them over anyway. Focus on those who may want to listen for they are going to be our future advocates.

I am going to respect those that want to celebrate Canada Day and their nation’s sesquicentennial. I may not Canadian but I know a lot of them. I’m not going to call anyone down who may want to enjoy themselves under the fireworks, an airshow or want to see a giant rubber duck float by.

In turn, I hope that Canadians will respect why we don’t want to celebrate this day and learn more about the true history of Canada, and why change and reconciliation is necessary.

I’ve taken the flag off my a$$ and hope to fly it one day with pride, as true and equal treaty partners.

Things are looking up for this Matthews and Gretzky fan

I’ve been enjoying a lot of hockey lately.  I’m excited to see the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers in the playoffs, assuming the Leafs can clinch a berth.

One of the most exciting things to see is the turn-around of my hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, mainly due to the historic and unbelievable season performances of rookies Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.  Nazeem Kadri is having a pretty amazing year as well.

Last night, I bought my first NHL jersey in 29 years.  I picked up a Auston Matthews #34 jersey at the Leafs/Lightning game.  It’s a pretty exciting thing to see this young man, in his first year, score so many goals, night after night.  I’m looking forward to cheering him on throughout his career.

I did have a wool, knit Leafs jersey when I was six years-old.

It got me to reminiscing about my favorite hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky.  During my childhood, I watched as many Oilers and Kings games as I could on satellite TV and read the NHL Scoring Leaders section of The Nugget everyday.  A few weekends after he was traded to Los Angeles in 1988, I bought the Gretzky # 99, white home jersey, marked with the captain’s ‘C’.  To this day, my favorite NHL teams are Toronto, Edmonton and LA.

I was Youtube-ing some of Gretzky’s highlights and I came upon the night he broke Gordie Howe’s record.  I remember that night very well, October 15, 1990, because many of us Gretzky fans had been following and awaiting the feat where our hero would surpass Gordie Howe to become the highest scoring NHL player of all time.

Classic Gretzky…  late in the 3rd period, the Kings goalie is pulled…  he comes out from behind the net, parks to the open side of the Oilers net and pounces on a backhand into a wide open net.  It was historic.  The league actually stopped the game in the 3rd period, with a 2-2 tie, to honour Gretzky.  Gretzky addressed the cheering crowd in Edmonton.  He was classy.  The Oilers were classy.  And the fans were classy.  You can see the genuine smiles and congratulations offered by Oilers captain Mark Messier and teammates on both sides.  By the way, a few minutes after the ceremony, Gretzky scored the game winner.  Amazing.

Of course, Gretzky had many a career moments like that.  Dozens of NHL records and milestones.  Plenty of memories for a hockey fan.  I was fortunate enough to see Wayne Gretzky play in Toronto in 1998.  It was the only time I seen him in-person.

The Leafs may never lift the Stanley Cup anytime soon and Austin Matthews isn’t likely score 92 goals in a season.  But things are certainly looking up for Leafs fans in Hogtown.

Griffin signs with the Varsity Blues

Griffin Assance-Goulais signs a letter of intent with Greg Gary, head coach and manager of football operations for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team.
TORONTO – Today, North Bay football prospect, Griffin Assance-Goulais donned an exclusive Blues Football cap and signed a Letter of Intent to play for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Following a number of conversations with the recruiting coordinator, coaching staff and eventually Varisty Blues head coach Greg Gary, Griffin made the decision to couple his academic career by playing varsity football in the fall.
“This has been an amazing experience and a dream come true. This is everything I wanted football to lead up to,” said Assance-Goulais, a Grade 12 student at St. Joseph-Scollard Hall.  Griffin is eager to credit hard work, his local coaches, his parents and his brother for his journey to U of T.
The U of T coaching staff, who have been in discussions with him for a number of weeks, are expecting to develop Assance-Goulais into a tight end or fullback.  He will be attending the training camp at Varsity Stadium in August.  The Varsity Blues are organizing their first exhibition game in Montreal.
In addition to keeping up his academic standing, Griffin will be following the strict U of T training regimen over the next four months.
“I am anticipating more hard work.  Not only am I ready to contribute to the team, I have to make it in one of the most prestigious universities in Canada. I feel like I’m up to the challenge,” said Assance-Goulais.
Also on Saturday, Griffin participated in a Varsity Blues Football Academy, a workout with the strength and conditioning coach and an exclusive tour of the varsity locker room.
An Anishinaabe of Beausoleil First Nation and Nipissing First Nation, Griffin will be playing with the Nipissing Wild during the upcoming summer football season.
– 30 –

Our families are our most important priority

I wanted to send out a little note to let my friends and family know that I’ll be leaving the Assembly of First Nations in order to spend more time with my family at home.  Our families are our most important priority.
 For me, this difficult decision was guided by my values as a Midewiwin Anishinaabe man, a husband and father.

Chi-miigwetch to National Chief Perry Bellegarde, CEO Judy White and the talented and dedicated staff at the AFN. I only wish I could have spent more time with you.

On a personal note, Deborah and I, like many other families, struggle having a child of mental illness. Some days are harder than others.  Support, Love and understanding are an absolute necessity to cope with this lifelong journey. But so are much needed supports and investments in First Nations youth, both on-reserve and in the cities.

We sincerely appreciate all your kind thoughts, prayers and support.

 

The Walking Dead is far to violent for populous consumption

wpid-walking-dead.jpg

The Walking Dead is getting far too violent and disturbing. No question. The Season 7 premiere was cringeworthy, barbaric, grotesque and gutwrenchingly forlorn.

To kill a mindless, fictional zombie character in such a horrible way is horrible enough. But to portray not one, but two terrifying, bludgeoning executions of two beloved characters while their friends are forced to watch in horror is certifiably extreme.  “What, are you still there?,” said Negan. “I just popped your skull so hard your eyeball just popped out!”

The latest antagonist, Negan, is the most sadistic character I can recall in my many years of film, TV and literary experiences. Who gives the name “Lucille” to their barbed-wire covered baseball bat? Between the “eeny-meeny-miny-mo”, “try to reach the axe” and “go out and find my axe”, this is all a messed-up game for this homicidal character.

To top this all off, while fans are still reeling from the miserable events taking place, we are just about to see, potentially, the worse dismemberment scene in television history. Thankfully, our hero doesn’t have to go through with cutting his own son’s left arm off.  (I can’t believe I just wrote that last sentence!)  But as an audience, we can’t turn away no matter how sick it makes us feel. It really was sickening.

I now understand the critics (and my Momma-in-law) who say that TV has gone too far.  Indeed, this is far too violent and disturbing for populous consumption. I truly hope that parents are keeping tabs on what their young children are watching and that they aren’t watching TWD.

Which raises the question: who in their right mind can be entertained by such a gruesome and macabre story and imagery?

I can’t wait until next week!

This is my friend Mario… and this is handmade quilt can be yours.

mario_quilt2

This is my friend Mario Wassaykeesic.  He is an inspiration to me and many other people. He’s a hard working social administrator, University language instructor prof, Ojibwemowin speaker and interpreter, Three Fires Lodge fireman & pipeman, marathon runner and roller coaster aficionado.  Hola!  He is also one of Anishinaabek territory’s hardest working fundraisers, raising money for all matter of great social causes.

This is a beautiful hand-stitched quilt.  You can win this quilt, support a good cause, and feel great by contributing to Oxfam.  All you need to do is buy a ticket.

All funds raised goes toward Oxfam, an important organization dedicated to eliminating poverty and injustice for women and girls in over 90 countries.  Oxfam is also supporting Mario in his goal of running in the 2016 New York City Marathon on November 6, 2016.

The Oxfam Anishinaabe Quilt Fundraiser

1st Prize:  Beautiful, hand-made/hand-stitched Anishinaabe quilt

2nd and 3rd Cash Prizes (based on ticket sales)  Second prize could be as high as $2500 and $1500!!

Ticket Prices:

  • 3 tickets for $5
  • 6 tickets for $10
  • 12 tickets for $20

To purchase tickets, which can be paid for by Interac eTransfer, please contact:

Mario Wassaykeesic
E-mail: alterdnative@hotmail.com

 

mario_quilt3

I’ve finally got it! The TV Train Wreck Factor

donaldtrainFor over a year, I’ve been trying to understand America’s fascination and support of “The Donald”.  Could it simply be mob mentality?  Perhaps.  Can it be a lack of intellect or common-sense?  No comment.  Can it be that the ultra-conservative movement and Republican ideology is finally coming into it’s own and it’s actually that ridiculous?  That’s certainly viable.

This morning, I finally put my finger on it!

What do Sanjaya, William Hung, the Pants-on-the-Ground guy, any “Real Housewife” of anyplace, and pretty much every reality show (including Celebrity Apprentice) have in common?  They’re all train wrecks.  Some ridiculous.  Some loveable.  But train wrecks nonetheless.

trainwreck1

America loves train wrecks.  (Why else would someone watch Fox News?)  Grassroots republicans are in on the goof.  Primary voters were in on the goof.  They just need to watch.

It’s also feeds an addiction.  They have to keep watching, voting and attending rallies in order to get more of what they love.  The more ridiculous it gets, the more viewers they get.  The more they support him, the more antics and ridiculousness they get in return. Bewildering policy ideas, overt bigotry, fear-mongering, the thin-skin rapport, the luscious maliciousness… all perfect fodder for the mindless, live TV audience.

That’s why, I predict that tonight’s Presidential Debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be the most watched political event in television history.  After all, it has potential for the biggest televised train wreck of the week.

The big question is: will Americans continue the goof?  Do they really want to see a train wreck of a President clashing with world-leaders?  Taking the Trump show on the world stage.  Do they really want to see what he’ll do next?

Stay tuned.  Viewer discretion advised.

(Apologies to all survivors of real train wrecks.  No real trains were harmed in the writing of this blog.)

Indigenous Gala supports youth suicide prevention

Akweni_Ki_Gala_Sep2416

I’ve been pleased to support some very worthwhile and important work that is bringing hope for indigenous youth.  Jewel’s Cause was established in response to the passing of Jewel Monture, a Mohawk youth who took her life at the tender age of 12. Known to her community as Gah wediyo, from the Turtle Clan. She was an accomplished dancer in tap, jazz, ballet, hiphop, lyrical and Smokedance.

She was also a victim of abuse and bullying that ultimately left her in a state where she felt there was no way out.

Many of us, and many of our family and friends have been touched by youth suicide. Despite their grief and sadness, families have found the strength to overcome their pain in an effort to raise awareness to this difficult issue. It also raises awareness of some of the associated issues suffered by the youth, including bullying, online-bullying, abuse, depression, anxiety disorders and addictions.

On Saturday, September 24, Jewel’s Cause is hosting the Purple Tie and Glamour Gala, in association with Brampton’s first-ever indigenous festival, Akweni Ki. The Gala will take place at the Brampton Fairgrounds in Caledon, Ontario. Proceeds of this star-studded gala will go towards suicide prevention programs that will inspire, educate and empower youth through education, fashion, creative arts and mentoring.

Please support Jewel’s Cause by buying a ticket and attending the Gala.  For tickets, visit: www.oneidacircle.org.

 

Motivation comes in many forms

fitness1fitness2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early today, I had what you can describe as a “difficult start” to a long morning. I completed about nine kilometres into my daily bike ride when I made a stop along the way. Upon my return, I see my back tire is completely flat.

What to do?

Options: I can call a taxi company to bring a van big enough to fit my bike. I can chain up my bike and send for Über. I can contemplate my options while I have a large Coke Zero at McDonalds. Don’t you just Love dollar drink days of summer?!

I take a look at my Fitbit, which was dead yesterday, to find out that I’ve fallen behind many of my friends this week. How could this be? Then I realize it’s because I’ve been riding my bike a lot and the Fitbit doesn’t count steps when riding.

Back to my dilemma. What do I do?

Well, why don’t I just chain up my bike and walk home. Nine-and-a-half km later, I can start my work day. What started as a difficult start, ended up being an accomplishment and a fantastic start to this hump day. Over 18 kilometres of exercise. Miigwetch, Gzhemnidoo.


Reflection

While I’m walking, I have a lot of time to reflect on… well, walking. Two people who have motivated me come to mind.

darrellbMy good friend, Darrell Boissonneau of Kitigan Zibi (Garden River). He’s always giving me encouragement over the years, in my career, as a traditional man, as well as to stay active. Darrell is a regular fixture along Old Highway 17 walking his many miles. In the years that I’ve known him, he’s traded his cowboy boots for running shoes. He’s traded the double-cheeseburger for a single mooseburger. Small changes for a good life.  Miigwetch, Darrell.

josephine_waterwalkOur number one door woman, Lodge Grandmother and Chief Midewaanikwe, Beedaasige. Josephine Mandamin has been walking the highways and byways of Turtle Island for many years through the Mother Earth Water Walk. It’s been a pleasure to carry the staff alongside of her through many of these journeys. But here’s what I’m always amazed by. I can walk alongside Josephine, but I could not keep up with her! I count ten kilometres as an accomplishment. Beedaasige would regularly double or triple that, day-after-day. Especially during those early water walks. I recall during the Lake Superior walk, and some of the other Great Lakes walks – she would not only carry the copper vessel of water, but also carry the staff. She would go through many pairs of shoes. All the while honouring the water, and walking for the Spirit of the water.  Miigwetch, Josephine for everything that you do.

I remember walking with Josephine one time and someone yelling at us to “get a job”.  We laughed it off, figuring “no, we’re working hard enough”.


To share, or not to share?

Social Media is a strange animal. I seems very self-absorbed, egotistical, narcissistic. Selfies. Status updates about yourself. Et cetera.

I feel kind of funny “sharing” my daily walk statistics. Or my bike statistics. So I don’t do it too often.

But I do realize, from your comments and messages, that it is motivating people. I guess that is a righteous purpose of social media. It’s not just putting up the dishevelled selfie of sweatiness.

If you’re interested check out Healthy, Active Natives on Facebook for many pics, updates and success stories of other skins who are working hard to be healthy, active and happy people. Nishin!