Posts tagged ‘family’

Goulais will not seek election as Chief

Bob_Deb_Veahavta2A STATEMENT

 

Recently, I’ve had a chance to really appreciate the gift of asaamaa (tobacco). The other day, I had the privilege of giving a teaching for my family and friends – speaking of the origin of tobacco, the Creation Story and the story of Misko-gaabwid and Waynaboozhoo. During this time, I had a chance to sit with my tobacco, speak personally to Creator and the Spirit World, and ponder my journey in life. It’s been a great way to find clarity, give thanks and talk in a good way with Deborah and my family around me.

It’s been abundantly clear to us that there are two things that are most important in life: health and family.

As a result of these deliberations, I’ve decided that I will not put my name forward to run for Chief of our community.

I want to gchi-miigwetch (thank you) for your kind words and pledges of support. I continue to be overwhelmed by the almost daily messages of encouragement by my fellow community members.

Despite your encouragement, right now, I’m not willing to sacrifice the wonderful life that I have with my family.

I enjoy the time I am having with my boys. Zoon Gaabow and Miigwans, with their football ambitions and our adventures together. I’m enjoying my time with my daughter, Waabgwaniis, who has made my dreams come true again by being my almost daily companion. Of course, I enjoy spending time with my beautiful wife, Deborah and Jasmine and Fiona. If I was to be elected Chief, I would most certainly have to divide my time between being Chief and balancing their companionship. I cherish my family above all and this is not a sacrifice I am willing to make.

I also want to be able to support Deborah, as she continues to serve as Deputy Minister. She does such amazing work and I want to be there to be her strength and be there in her times of need.

Our family’s health is important as well. I am committed to improving my own physical health by maintaining good control of my diabetes, losing a few more pounds and becoming physically fit. I also want to be there to support someone very close to us that is struggling with mental wellness. Finally, to be there for my Mom, as often as I can, in her waning years of her life.

Finally, I am really enjoying being a entrepreneur. My business, Nbisiing Consulting Inc., is starting to take off in a few great, new directions. I want to give it my full effort in helping First Nation, Métis and Inuit communities in improving social conditions and building their economies.

Maybe one day I will run for Chief. When the time comes, hopefully, I will still have your support. Until that time, I will continue to assemble that bundle of overwhelming gifts to help our community of Nipissing First Nation become a strong, thriving, self-governing Anishinaabek community.

Mi iw. Miigwetch.

Bob Goulais

Métis Nation of Ontario appoint Scott Patles-Richardson as CEO of ‘Infinity Investments LP’

NOTE:  It’s been an incredible two weeks for our family.  Last week, my wife Deborah Richardson was appointed Deputy Minister for the Ontario Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs.  This week, her brother Scott Patles-Richardson has been appointed CEO of one of the most exciting, up and coming indigenous economic ventures in the Province.  Between Candice and I, our children, the Richardsons and the Beckers, we are so incredibly proud!  Scott and Deb, you are two incredibly successful Mi’gmaq professionals and inspiring role models.  Anyone that thinks otherwise (or tries to be critical of these two bright stars) – just might not be right in the head, if you know what I mean.  Congratulations.  There’s no looking back.


Scott Patles-Richardson, CEO of Infinity Investments LP

Scott Patles-Richardson, CEO of Infinity Investments LP

OTTAWA, ON–(Marketwired – December 09, 2014) – Today, Métis Nation of Ontario (“MNO”) President Gary Lipinski announced the appointment of Mr. Scott Patles-Richardson as the Chief Executive Officer (“CEO”) of the MNO’s newly created economic development and business arm called Infinity Investments LP.

In August 2013, the MNO Annual General Assembly unanimously passed the MNO Prosperity and Self-Sufficiency Law, which mandated the MNO to create Infinity Investments LP as an independent and arms-length corporate structure to pursue business and economic development opportunities on behalf of Ontario Métis at the provincial, regional and local levels. A copy of this MNO law is available at www.metisnation.org.

Infinity Investments LP (named after the well-known symbol on the Métis Nation’s national flag) will consolidate all of the MNO’s business operations and opportunities under one corporate structure. These MNO business ventures and opportunities already include over 50 rooftop and ground mounted solar projects throughout Ontario through MNO-Brightroof LP, impacts and benefits agreements with the Detour Gold and New Gold mines as well as several strategic joint ventures with industry partners. Please go here for roofing services in Cowbridge.

After an extensive recruitment process, Mr. Patles-Richardson was selected by the MNO because he has the skills and expertise necessary to build out and grow Infinity Investments LP. Scott is a seasoned senior executive with over 20 years experience in finance, corporate development and leadership roles gained from a career in corporate banking and executive positions in private companies such as Ishkonigan Consulting and Mediation and the Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba Ltd. Scott is a citizen of the Pabineau Mi’gmaq Nation who has devoted his career to enhancing Indigenous opportunities through economic development. His passion involves building companies that create opportunities for Indigenous peoples in a manner that balances sustainability and wealth creation.

MNO President Lipinski said, “I am very pleased that Scott will be the CEO in charge of building out Infinity Investments LP consistent with the vision set out by our citizens in theMNO Economic Prosperity and Self-Sufficient Law. He is a tested corporate leader and has impeccable business credentials. I believe his skills, combined with the increasing economic opportunities available to Ontario Métis and our nation’s well-known entrepreneurial drive, will be a recipe for success.”

“I am honoured to take on this exciting opportunity to advance business opportunities for Ontario Métis. I strongly believe in building companies that create opportunities for Indigenous peoples and communities in a manner that balances sustainable economic development and the bottom line. With the MNO’s support and credibility, I believe Infinity Investments LP will be able to do just that,” said Mr. Patles-Richardson.

It is expected that the official launch for Infinity Investment LP will be held in early 2015. Additional information will be provided at that time. Infinity Investments LP will complement the mandate and work of the MNO’s other independent and arms-length corporation called the Métis Voyager Development Fund (“MVDF”), which provides funding and support for resource or related sector Métis businesses. Additional information on MVDF is available at www.mvdf.ca.

“With Infinity Investments LP, the Métis Voyager Development Fund and our positive relationships with both government and industry, I believe the MNO is building a solid foundation that will enable our nation and communities to create wealth and become economically self-sustaining in the future. I look forward to Scott helping Ontario Métis in achieving that goal,” concluded President Lipinski.

More about the MNO
The MNO represents Métis citizens and rights-bearing Métis communities throughout the province of Ontario. It is recognized by both the federal and provincial governments as the democratic representative of the Métis Nation within Ontario and signed a new, five year Framework Agreement with the Ontario Government in April 2014. Additional information on the MNO is available at www.metisnation.org.

More about Scott Patles-Richardson
Mr. Patles-Richardson has over 20 years experience in finance, corporate development and leadership roles gained from a career in corporate banking (Royal Bank and Scotia Bank) and executive positions in private companies (Ishkonigan Consulting and Mediation, Tribal Councils Investment Group of Manitoba Ltd.). Scott has extensive experience in negotiation, mediation and finance, specifically in the areas of corporate finance, land claims and resource agreements in the mining, green energy, and oil and gas sectors. Having led a number of successful corporations from inception to multi-million dollar bottom lines, Scott is a results-oriented CEO who has negotiated with federal and provincial governments and large public and private companies. As a result, Scott has valuable experience in diverse industries from banking, mining, energy and the oil and gas sectors, to name a few. Additional information about Scott is available at https://www.linkedin.com/pub/scott-patles-richardson/18/18/351.

More about Infinity Investments LP
Infinity Investments LP is the arms-length, independent economic development and business arm of the MNO. It was created pursuant to the MNO Economic Prosperity and Self-Sufficiency Law passed in 2013. It has the mandate to pursue business ventures and opportunities on behalf of the MNO at the local, regional and provincial levels. If you would like more information about Infinity Investments LP or would be interested in partnering on initiatives for the benefits of Ontario Métis, please contactinfinityinvestments@metisnation.org.

My Dad & George Jones

If I try hard enough, I can vaguely remember the very first concert I’ve ever went to.  As a musician and avid music fan, I wish I could say it was KISS, the Rolling Stones, Rush or Fleetwood Mac.  This was long before the days of my own music appreciation.

On this occasion, my Dad, the Late Dennis Goulais and I went to see George Jones.

I really don’t remember much.  I must have been pretty young.  I do remember the drive there in our blue and white Chevy Sierra pick-up truck.  I remember the drive because going to North Bay in the evening was a big deal in those days.  I don’t remember who was with us, maybe Junior.  I remember coming from the very busy parking lot, my Dad buying the tickets at the door and strolling over to our mid-level seats.

I can’t tell you the date, what George was wearing or what songs he sang that night.

But what I can tell you is that was one of the only times that I’ve seen my Dad so excited about something.  This wasn’t just a good time for us kids.  This was something for him.

He really Loved country music.  George Jones was one of his favorite artists.  He also liked Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette and Conway Twitty.  He liked to watch the Grand Ole Opry on satellite.

My Dad was also a musician.  He liked to listen to bluegrass and play the guitar.  He taught my brother Dennis Jr. and I our first chords on the guitar.  He Loved to play, especially in our younger years.  He also liked to entertain, sing and strum along with others.  I recall those rare evenings in Paul and Jeanette Goulais’ basement, or around the kitchen table at home.  My Dad had a very music spirit.

Late in life, his favorite thing to do was to listen to country music CDs in his SUV.  If he was still around today, I’d bet he’d really enjoy satellite radio with the 24-hour country music and bluegrass channels.  He also liked his cell phone.  While he was driving around and listening to his tunes, he would regularly make calls to talk to my Mom for no reason whatsoever.  I always thought that was sweet.

I am not be a big country music or George Jones fan.  In fact, with George Jone’s passing this week, I didn’t remember him much.

But I did take some time to remember my Dad and how much he Loved his country music.  I’m sure my Dad is up in the Spirit World with ole’ George sharing a few songs together.

An Exciting, New Opportunity

It is my pleasure to announce that I have moved to a new, exciting employment opportunity with Ishkonigan, Inc., a consulting firm owned and operated by former National Chief Phil Fontaine.  I’ll have the opportunity to support collaboration between First Nations and corporate Canada that will enable economic development that respects the unique culture, perspective and values of indigenous nations.  I am quite excited about this opportunity to work closely with Phil, his managing partner Scott Patles-Richardson and the whole Ishkonigan team.

Further, I have taken a two-year leave of absence from the Ontario Public Service to accommodate this opportunity.  It also allows my family to better look after the personal and health needs of our children by providing the flexibility to work from my home office and reduce my travel burden.

Usually, I’d leave the announcement to my Assistant Deputy Minister’s office to address my departure from MTO.  However, with such a quick move over the winter holidays, a few gossipy-type individuals have taken it upon themselves to fill in the information gaps.

To be clear:

  • I have requested the two-year leave for personal, family health reasons.  Because of this leave, I am required to fill out a mandatory Conflict of Interest form for the Deputy Minister to sign off.
  • This doesn’t mean that I’ve been “let go” because the ministry is doing an investigation into a conflict of interest involving a family situation.
  • The Deputy Minister and my ADMs were all completely supportive and there is nothing untoward about the request or circumstances.  I’ve been deemed to be fully-effective in my role with MTO.
  • I did not leave as a form of protest to coincide with Idle No More.  That’s just silly.

And I thought the Moccasin Telegraph was bad.  Sheesh.

I wish I could have given my appropriate goodbyes to my colleagues at MTO as well as the community leaders and officials I had been working with.  However, the powers-that-be are still figuring out the transition plan and how the news will come out at the MTO.

On that subject, I do want to comment about working for the Government of Ontario.

As an Anishinaabe man, it is indeed kind of strange working for the Crown.  But I thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it.  I feel that more indigenous people should consider working for the government.  There are so many good and diverse opportunities in the public service once you have your foot in the door.  Believe you me, if there were more of us working for the Crown, making policy recommendations and making decisions, the Crown-First Peoples relationship would be a whole lot different.

I recall receiving some criticism from one or two people who thought that I was just a “token Indian” hired as a brown face to deal with all the Indian problems.  In fact, I was hired as a Director, a senior position within the government structure and competed successfully against many qualified non-natives who wanted the job.  I wasn’t hired because I was Anishinaabe, I was hired to take MTO into a different direction:  “A New Way of Doing Business” with indigenous people.

My underlying philosophy in establishing this brand new MTO Aboriginal Relations Branch was to change the culture of the organization.  I wanted to foster a new relationship based on respect, meeting our legal obligations and upholding the Honour of the Crown.  This was to be done by creating a heightened awareness and bringing First Nations perspective to MTO, not the other way around.

We used the medicine wheel as the basis of our strategic framework.  We started our meetings with ceremonies and sought the guidance of our Elders.  This is something that has rarely been done by government.

I was encouraged to use my abilities as a speaker, motivator and traditional teacher.  We created new and innovative ways of providing indigenous awareness training, with messages and curriculum that includes the perspectives of Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Mushkegowuk, Lene Lenape and Métis people.  I was always pleased to receive messages of thanks and personal stories about how I was able to touch people.

Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve seen people change.  I’ve seen the start of a transformation.  We’ve celebrated relationships, culture and people.  We became more than just a ministry that required to consult – we became partners in engagement.

I’d like to truly thank all those who supported my time in the OPS including ADM John Lieou, ADM Gerry Chaput, Deputy Minister Carol Layton, Deputy Minister Scott Thompson, former Deputy Minister Lori Sterling, retired ADM Brian Gaston, and Greg Coleman.

I’d especially like to thank my team at the Aboriginal Relations Branch.  It was an honour to work with you all:  Vera Gevikoglu, Donna Bigelow, Megan Chochla, Jasmina Konopek, Jeff Kerr, Real Bouchard, Dwayne Pamajewon, Joe De Laronde, Meghan MacMillan, Katherine Jin, Matthew Rosenfeld, and Giles Benaway.

Chi-miigwetch.

The Wait Is Over… We’re Mexico Bound.

What more can be said?  We’re leaving tomorrow for the Mayan Riviera with fifty-nine of our closest family and friends.  That’s almost half the capacity of the plane.  Deborah, me, Katherine Faith, Jasmine, Griffin, Miigwans and Fiona.  A whole lot of fun, sunshine and relaxation.

Oh… and we’re getting married on Saturday.

Woo hoo!!  I can’t believe the wait is over.  The time is finally here.

There is nothing more exciting to me than marrying my beloved Deborah.  She’s all the heaven, moon and the stars to me.  Our Spirits have long settled down together and we’re thrilled to share our commitment and this special moment with our friends and family.

Together, our Love swells like the ocean surge, riding an overwhelming spiritual tide that reaches our every shore.  I am so thankful to our Creator, the Spirit World and every force of nature that brought Deborah and I together.  I feel so blessed that she begins this walk with me, and for all that she gives me with her Love, respect, kindness and beauty.  I will endeavour to bring her happiness and joy for the rest of our lives.  I’m so happy and thankful for you, my Love.  Miigwetch G’zhemnidoo mno bimaadiziwin.

Deborah and I will spend our first week with our guests, then another week, just ourselves, on our honeymoon.  We’re going to be doing some scuba-diving, snorkelling, visiting historic Mayan ruins and other romantic endeavours.  We’ve got a plane-load of books to read by the pool and on the beach.  I’m looking forward to tasting the salt-water on my lips, and floating far from the shore which is a bit of a ritual for me.  Ahhh, paradise.

In case you’re interested, here’s the itinerary:

… And What a Great Year It Was

So, it’s the last day of the year.  I woke up with a bit of a cold this morning.  And there were no eggs in the fridge.  But other than that, it was as fine a day as any other in 2011.

There were some very fine days in the past year.  Being the last day of the year, and all, I thought I’d put together a blog entry remembering those occasions that were truly gifts from the Creator.

GETTING ENGAGED – By far, the most significant moment for us.  With my beautiful partner Deborah and her girls, we boarded a horse-drawn carriage for an evening ride through Central Park in New York.  In view of the crisp moonlight and sparkling lights of Park Avenue, I get down on one knee.  Still shocked, and über emotional, Deb said yes.  It was a beautiful night and a beautiful trip.  Man, I Love NY!  It also takes a lot of clandestine planning and investment management to get engaged.  From the large piece of carbon crystal gemstone on her finger, to the interim family vacation to NYC, I wanted to make sure it was unforgettable to my betrothed.  Wedding date:  Cinco be Mayo.  Location:  Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.

THE TRUE MEANING OF WINTER – I have finally found the true meaning of winter.  For years, I would huddle up in my warm little house and wait the wicked season out.  Forget ice fishing, snowmobiling – too cold for me.  But this March, on another memorable family getaway to Mont Tremblant, I discovered skiing.  OMG!!!  Overwhelming fun, exhilaration, breathtaking landscapes, and closeness with Gzhemnidoo.  Skiing is the Creator’s sport.  Physical, spiritual, mental and emotional exercise.  And yes, they have size 15 ski boots.

NEW YEARS IN SOUTH AMERICA — Last year at this time we were in Iquitos, Peru. The heart of the Peruvian Amazon, we ushered in the New Year with my father-in-law James, Rossana, family and friends. We got to see other indigenous cultures and experience the great Amazon River. Amazing experience. Particularly our time in Iquitos, handling the monkey and fishing for piranha.

CAREER DIRECTIONS – On May 30, I began my career as a Director in the Ontario Public Service.  Following an intensive recruitment process, I was appointed the first Director of Aboriginal Relations for the Ministry of Transportation.  The highlight so far was establishing the new Branch from scratch.  Developing the mandate, a strategic framework on , hiring staff and delving into the policy work.  It’s nice to be able to mold without mold removal and create a legacy piece.  It’s also great to be working with First Nation and Métis communities again.

VISITING DEB’S FAMILY – In my blog, I described our summer family vacation as nearly two weeks of visits.  But perhaps the most memorable visit, was being introduced to Deborah’s Grandma.  Her bingo-loving matriarch was spry, kindly and opinionated, especially when it comes to her family.  We paid a visit to Deb’s reserve, Pabineau First Nation.  We spent some time at Uncle Fisher’s, as well as Chief David’s place.  Deb and I took a romantic four-wheeler ride to Pabineau Falls where she shared some of her childhood memories.

WEIGHT WATCHERS – Lost twenty pounds in 2011.  Stepped back on the scale this morning and found out I gained it all back.  I did enjoy working out at the gym.  I need to find some time to do that again.  We’ll see what 2012 brings.

KATHERINE FAITH – got her driver’s (learners) permit in Nova Scotia, celebrated her sweet sixteen and moved into a new home with her newly married mom and her partner Ricky.  She looked so beautiful in the bridesmaid’s dress.  So proud she worked in Toronto this summer and saved her money.

JASMINE – applied to Bill Crother’s Secondary School and is looking forward to superstardom in the sports high school.  She been playing on a competitive volleyball team, the Stingers.

GRIFFIN – has discovered reading in a big way.  Like his big sister, he started with manga but really transformed by enjoying the Hunger Games.  Griffin played offensive lineman during the Bulldogs summer football program.

MIIGWANS – is looking forward to playing summer football again next year.  He wishes football was all year long.  It’s so great to see him pick up a sport and try really hard with it.

FIONA – has become a social animal in the past year, able to be friends with everybody.  The holiday season has been a boon for her, hanging with Rowena, Michelle, Jaicee, Griffin, Miigwans, Alie, Ty, Cayden and Aria.

THE TABLET  – I’ve used every piece of mobile technology:  iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Palm.  In my opinion, nothing beats the Galaxy Tab 10.1.  Apple technology is way to proprietary and static while the interface is stiff.  Android provides us power users the flexibility to get the device to do what we want it to.  I use it for telephony, music, photos, reading books, magazines, news, television, movies, social networking, web browsing, and some web development.  Recently, I’ve been bringing it into the office and using it for work and at meetings.  Damn fine piece of technology.  My honey got it for me for my Birthday.  Miigwetch, my Love.

TV SHOW – I have discovered Fringe, by new favorite TV show.  Great series created by J.J. Abrams.  Wicked storylines and great characters.  Kind of like having the X Files back again.  I’ve watched all episodes so far, but ironically, none of them on television.  I’ve watched them exclusively on the internet.  Looking forward to my first-ever, new episode of Fringe in 2012.

BEST MOVIE – Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  The movie explains a lot from the cult classic film franchise.  I seen it three times at the theatre, a few times on my tablet, and my Boyz gave it to me for Christmas.

Yeah…  [reclines back in his chair.]  Good times.  Good times.

So much to be Thankful for

There is really so much to be thankful for.

One can be thankful for the beautiful October weather we’ve been having.  With the sunshine and warm temperatures, it must be Anishinaabe niibin (Indian summer)!  Some of you might be thankful for the results of a recent election, if that’s your thing.  Others might be thankful for the start of a brand new hockey season.  I know Winnipeg Jets fans are!

No matter what we are thankful for, we must always be mindful of the many people who go without.  Many Anishinaabe people live in everyday poverty, living cheque-to-cheque.  Some are luck to have some food on the table and a roof over their head.  Some aren’t that lucky.  This week I signed up to donate to the United Way and I encourage you all to do the same if you have the means.  It really means a lot.

But despite even our most difficult situations, deep inside each of us, we have a lot to be thankful for everyday.  We are thankful for the world around us, our family and our children.  We are thankful for the kindness of our Creator, G’zhemnidoo in giving us good life – mno bimaadiziwin.

That’s what thanksgiving is all about.

Today, I’m thankful for my partner Deborah and the beautiful feast she put on tonight.  Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, roasted sweet potatoes and carrots, homemade cranberry sauce and her terrific marshmallow turnip casserole.  Mmm. It was good.  Still some pumpkin pie to eat when she gets back from Shoppers.

Deborah, I’m thankful for your beautiful kindness and Love and for walking this road with me.  Miigwetch niwiidigemaagan.

I’m thankful for my healthy and beautiful children, Waabgwaniis, Zoongaabow, Miigwans, Jasmine and Fiona.  They make life worth living seeing them all grow up to be wonderful people.  I had a great day with all of you at Chappell Farms yesterday.  Miss you so much, Katherine Faith.  Wish you could be here with us.  I Love you all.

I’m thankful to all my family, my Mide relatives, my friends and colleagues today.

Most of all, I’m thankful for this life.  Sure, I have struggles sometimes, like living with diabetes.  But it’s all part of life’s challenges.  I also know that if I lay tobacco down, and I ask my Loved ones for help, I know I’ll never alone.

Miigwetch niikaanisidoog.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Day 22: First Nation’s Families and Elders

Today, I’m writing from my home in Nipissing First Nation surrounded by my partner, her girls and my boys.  We spent the morning at Weight Watchers, having breakfast, shopping for books and renting a couple of moviesToday is also the day of the Great Village Scavenger Hunt, as our family scours Garden Village in search of creative clues, Easter eggs and their Easter treats.

As we go through our weekend routine, I’ve been thinking about the importance of family to the Anishinaabe people.

Our Elders are among our most important members of our community.  We go to them for their wisdom, experience and counsel.  They carry our community history and traditional knowledge.  Many carry our traditional teachings and are our Spiritual leaders.  When they fall sick, it’s one of our most important values to look after them.

More than ever, we are having to take care of sick, infirm and elderly Loved ones.  Often, we have to use our vacation time, extended unpaid leaves of absence or quit our jobs in order to do this important work.

As part of their election platform, the Liberal party has committed to creating a new Family Care plan where you would be able to take a paid leave of absence to look after our Elders.  It would be just like taking parental leave, with similar benefits and qualifying provisions.  Just like our parents took care of us when we were babies, a Liberal government would allow us the opportunity to take care of our parents when the time comes.  This is truly in keeping with our First Nation’s values.

There are many of us dealing with family members living with dementia and Alzheimer’s.  My mom is living with early symptoms and requires ongoing care by my brother Junior and his partner Kat.  It’s been a time of great concern for us in the past five years.

The Liberals have committed to developing a Canadian Brain Health Strategy, which includes exploring new income security measures to ensure that families are not pushed into poverty as they deal with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

There’s no better investment than ensuring the health and well-being of families and our Elders.  This far ourweighs the need for billions of dollars for jet fighters and American-style mega-prisons.

Our travels to Lima and Aquitos

It’s been a thoroughly wonderful holiday so far, as we make our way through Peru.  Yesterday, we spent the day with Rosanna and her sister Shilrey and her friend Erica shopping through the market district of beautiful Miraflores and Lima.

The markets had some really unique items usually made by local indigenous people.  Unlike a lot of other tourist destinations, each shop had something unique to offer.  That being said, I also think every other shop either sells alpaca wool products or silver jewellery.  However, among all that wool, I found a great new scarf and Deb found a fabulous sweater wrap with a charming Peruvian design.  I also found a new wooden tobacco bowl that’s got me psyched for some immediate tobacco dancing, which I did right there in the market.

After another few hours in Lima today, we made our way to Iquitos – the world´s largest remote city only accessible by air or boat.  It is also the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon.  We got in safely to Jim and Rosanna´s casa to a nice greeting.  It was nice to meet Rosanna´s mom and dad, get a night-time tour of the backyard animal sanctuary, and have a nice cuddle with the Girlies.  Deb is putting them to bed as I write this.  They´re so happy we´re here finally.  Jasmine and Fiona actually arrived here with their Grandpa Jim last Monday.  So they´ve already had their taste of the Iquitos life.

Tomorrow, Deb and I will get to see Iquitos with an expected high of 34 and about 90 per cent humidity.  A typical summer day here.  We hope to catch up to uncle Fisher and Uncle Terry who are out on the town this evening.  We are all going to venture to a nearby butterfly conservatory in the jungle.

I already have quite a few photos from our adventures in Lima.  I´ll post those as well as a few more from tomorrow´s adventures.  But my bed awaits.

Buenos noches.

My Life in Retrospect, 2010

Really, it’s been a rather uneventful year.  Which is a good thing.  No big changes, other than another contract job in the Government of Ontario.  Had a couple of great vacations and a blissful home life.  However, a little ticked at Black Bloc anarchists and Rob Ford, two entities spurred on by angry mobs.

NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR:  The G8-G20 fiasco here in Toronto.  Our offices were closed for a day or so.  A major portion of downtown was fenced off.  Police in riot gear on every corner.  And thousands upon thousands of protesters.  For kicks, Deb and I drove through it on June 26 after a morning at the St. Lawrence Market.  Although, I can’t condone the instances of bad policing and the conduct of some individuals.  I also can’t condone the massive, systematic arrests and abuse of emergency police powers.  However, what got lost in the story was the violent protests and use of black bloc tactics by anarchists.  Sure, the police may have abused their powers – but could you imagine what would have taken place if they weren’t there?

I CHEERED for World Cup soccer.  It’s not a very big part of culture in northern Ontario.  But everyone in the city goes crazy at World Cup time.  And now wonder.  Everyone has a team to cheer for based on their nationality.  While we Anishinaabeg may never have a team to cheer for.

I JEERED Mayor Rob Ford.  Knowing George Smitherman, he was definitely the best man for the job.  Hands down, the Toronto mayoral race was also the year’s biggest political disappointment.

BEST MOVIE:  The King’s Speech.  We just seen it last night.  It is a fascinating story about King George VI.  The acting is absolutely superb.  Colin Firth is so believable in the role.  As is the Queen Mum, played by Helena Bonham Carter.  Geoffrey Rush plays the likeable speech therapist, Lionel Logue.  One of the most comedic scenes is when Logue’s wife comes home unexpectedly to discover that her husband is being paid a visit by the new King and his wife Elizabeth.  These British royalty films are great.

CAREER:  Presently, I am the manager of culture policy for the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.  I’m responsible for managing the policy direction of the Government of Ontario in the areas of heritage, archaeology, libraries, museums as well as the Ministry’s role in cultural planning, renewable energy and Aboriginal Affairs.  I have a great staff of fourteen people.  What amazes me most is the constant turnover.  Staff are always coming and going so I spend a lot of my time managing human resources, filling vacancies and making sure we’re being responsive to senior management.  It is gratifying to know that many of the things we do go a long way to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the province.

NEW WEBSITE:  I wanted to do it last year but the designer I wanted was so incredibly busy.  However, I’m satisfied with the look and feel of the design.  But what lot of people really don’t know is, I am the developer. The content, function, database operation, and programming is all me. The technology stuff is great.  The best thing about it, for the first time, the website was developed completely with open source programming.

FAMILY:  Deborah and I having the time of our lives together.  We are working on being more healthy – eating right and staying in shape.  Katherine Faith turned 15 years old, with a mind of her own, a boyfriend, pretty good judgement and aspirations of driving the car.  In fact, I took her on a couple of joy rides and she did really well.  Griffin turned 11 and Miigwans turned 8.  Jasmine turned 12 and Fiona turned 8, just like Baby.  Singing:  “When you’re eight, you can do so much more.  When you’re eight, you can walk around outdoors.”

ROAD TRIP:  These seem to be a thing of the past, as most of my road travel is limited to getting to and from Nipissing and to attend ceremonies a few times per year.  The longest road trip, once again, was a family drive to Spring Ceremonies, June-13, 2010 in Wisconsin.  A total of 2524 km.  My car just turned over 150,000 this morning.

VACATION:  Who can forget the trip to Varadero, Cuba!  Lots of great beach and swimming action, some pretty good snorkelling and great family fun with the Girls.  Deb and I also got to spend some time in Montego Bay, Jamaica in a lovely villa with our friends Joe and Fiona.

I CRIED WHEN when I found out that Warren passed away.  He was younger than me… a family man… with a young daughter and newborn twins.  So tragic.  I was glad to know him and happy to know he’s still with us through his young family.  Rest in peace, Warren Monague.

I CRINGE WHEN people on Facebook write “R.I.P.”.  If you are so thoughtful, and want to offer a sincere condolence, can’t you write out Rest in Peace?

MEMORABLE MEAL:  Steak and lobster dinner at Joe and Fionas with her uncles Robert and George.

MEMORABLE MOMENT:  Floating peacefully, about a km out from shore, in the warm, ocean water off Varadero, Cuba.  Nothing around, accept me and the Spirit.