Posts tagged ‘Healing’

Open Letter to Canada’s Federal Parliamentarians

Chief-Day

Dear Federal Parliamentarians:

Rt. Honourable Stephen Harper, Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
Mr. Justin Trudeau, Liberal Party of Canada
Honourable Thomas Mulcair, New Democratic Party of Canada
Ms. Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada

 

 

Re:      “April 12th – An Annual Day of National Dialogue on Ending Racism in Canada – a Path toward Healing”

(To be carried forward by Carol Hughes MP: NDP / Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing):

“That a Motion and Private Members Bill be brought forward promptly forthwith in the House of Commons to set aside “April 12th as an Annual Day for a National Dialogue on Ending Racism in Canada

Further; that a bill be introduced and put forward, in this 41st Parliament, as a way to institutionalize a Government of Canada commitment toward the eradication of Racism in this country.”

In this Twenty-First Century, Canada is known to many as a very beautiful, safe country in which to thrive and raise families. Another reality experienced by far too many, is the corrosive and complex anomaly: Racism.

Racism is often overlooked and underrated as a major societal ill. It has plagued this country for decades. There is no argument; racism must be eradicatedAs much as racism is evidenced by its destructive impacts, there currently exists no national strategy to deal with this malady. All citizens and visitors to this land deserve a society free from racism.

Background: it is clear that racism takes aim at all ethnic groups in this country. In fact, this being Black History Month in Canada, we are reminded that racism is a reality that is often ignored. In a recent article on February 6th 2015, Huffington Post contributor Adriana Addai describes:

“We like to think that racism is only a problem south of the border; one that “enlightened” Canadian society has moved past. We often fail to address Canada’s bleak history of slavery (which did in fact exist in this country for upwards of 150 years), and the implicit and systemic racism that many Afro-Canadians encounter today.”

Truth be told; many cultures and ethnic groups that seek to affix to the mosaic of Canada’s multi-culturist society, face racism on a daily basis and have faced it for many years.

What complicates racism in this country is that its effects are often compounded by attitudes and values that re-enforce the violence of racism, making worse issues such as gender inequality and discrimination in institutions.

The call for an Inquiry to the Issues of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Womenis just one glaring example that could prove to be one of Canada’s ugliest forms of racism stemming from decades of ‘systemic’ and ‘institutional racism.’ It is commonly known by experts that definitions of racism fall into one of the five categories – biology, ideology, culture, structure and power. It is highly suspected that these categories will have a role in coming to a clearer understanding as to why 1,181 Indigenous women and girls have went missing or have tragically turned up dead in Canada.

First Nations and the History of the Indian Act: written and oral history in Canada tells us of a time after contact when Europeans and the Indigenous Peoples co-existed through the treaty-making process. Prior to the Royal Proclamation of 1763, Peace and Friendship Treaties would historically set an important under-fabric on what is now known as Canada and the British North American Act, 1867 and the Canadian Constitution of 1982. The time period of treaty-making between 1763 and 1923 became very corrupted by the development of the only “race-based” legislation known to Canada; the Indian Act, 1876. Various policies as well as state and church initiatives that were focused on dealing with the “Indian Problem” focused on the Indian Acts primary objective – to assimilate the “Indian” into Canadian society.

This segment of Canada’s history takes place at a time when “nation building” was at the forefront of this country’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A MacDonald. In a Friday January 9, 2015 Toronto Star story by Laura J Murray, she publishes the following:

“That famous railroad? Macdonald engaged in rampant graft to get it through. His government starved aboriginal people on the prairies into submission to get it through. His government treated Chinese immigrants like dirt to get it through, and then came up with a head tax so more people of that “semi-barbaric, inferior race” couldn’t come to Canada.”

This letter is not intended to recount the lengthy history of racism in Canada and the treatment against land’s Indigenous Peoples. We can all agree that racism exists in Canada, and to deny this is the put our heads in the sand. It should be stated that this petition is not only made legitimate by the historical treatment against First Nation people, there also exists a number of systemic policies, programs, imposed legislations and institutional violations that are characteristic of racism.  In an excerpt from the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society of Canada Annual Report 2011/2012;

In February of 2007, the AFN (www.afn.ca) and the Caring Society filed a human rights case against the Government of Canada (Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada or AANDC), alleging that child welfare funding inequities in First Nations child welfare amounted to racial discrimination. The case was filed as a last resort. First Nations had worked with Canada for over a decade to document the inequality and its related harms to First Nations children and families and to develop solutions to fix the problem.

This is just one issue among a long list of grievances that First Nations currently have in the media, in petitions for equitable funding, and before formal tribunals, courts, and international forums mandated for the protection of human rights. Canada, it is time to address racism as the common denominator  in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples., Racism is still alive and well, especially in light of the fact that Canada’s Indian Act 1876, continues its function in Canadian society; to segregate a race of people on lands with administrative and colonial controls over their lives.

A New Narrative is an obvious goal where Canada and Indigenous Peoples could convene a “National Dialogue on Ending Racism in Canada – a Path toward Healing.” This would begin the important work of re-setting the relationship that is consistent with that of “The Peace and Friendship Treaties,” and ultimately bring a stronger nationwide focus on strategies to begin the arduous task of affecting the root causes of racism and its effects. Recognition of the role of Indigenous People in this process would also formally bring into focus other important elements to the broader solutions like Indigenous languages, jurisdictions, and a shared expression in the Nation-to-Nation relationship with Canada as full treaty partners.

There is much work and coordination needed on a number of levels; however the focus is to begin the process. Federal Parliamentarians are being asked to support this call and support it unanimously. Leading up to April 12, 2015, which is the preferred annual day to be set-aside for an “Annual day for a National Dialogue on Ending Racism in Canada,” a team will be established to work directly with those parliamentarians who will be responsible for advancing this Private members Bill and associated Motion.

Sincerely,

Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini
Serpent River First Nation

c.c.
Council of the Federation
Assembly of First Nations
Aboriginal Organizations in Canada

Healing: The Full Spectrum of Traditional, Medical & the Spirit

makayla_sault

The Late Makayla Sault and her family. CP Photo

The ongoing debate concerning traditional healing versus western medicine seems solely to be about one side versus the other. I guess for some people, it’s either red or it’s white.

But when it comes to healing, consideration should be less about making an exclusionary choice and more about making choices across the full spectrum of traditional and medical options that will lead to healing. Above all, reliance on medicine and treatment alone won’t always lead to healing. It also takes a whole lot of strength, faith and Spirit.

First a few definitions. The Self, for all intents and purposes, from an Anishinaabe perspective refers to the body (physical), the mind (mental), the feeling (emotional) and the spirit (spiritual). Treatment usually refers to either a specific or variable program of medical, surgical or pharmacological intervention that will repair the body, occasionally the mind, and rarely the emotional self. Healing refers to care, restoration, balance and well-being of the physical, mental, emotional and the spiritual self.

When considering a course of treatment and healing, the key here is choice. When undertaking any type of medical regime or treatment program, whether it’s traditional or western, it requires considerable (albeit sometimes quick), informative decision-making. For many of us, that decision-making is based on determining what is best for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual healing.

Learn all that you can about the proposed or recommended course of treatment. Ask other healers. Ask other doctors. Read, “Google” and do your research. If one embarks on a course of traditional healing, knowledge and preparation may come in the form of changing one’s lifestyle and a specific diet. Same goes for medical treatment. Even the process of preparation and learning about these treatments is a part of the healing journey.

But beware anyone providing dissuasive advice.

During this whole debate about either The Late Makayla Sault or “J.J.”, the little girl from Six Nations diagnosed with leukemia, we’ve heard both sides of the story. There are some that say: “western medicine and science won’t heal you – it’ll just make you sicker”. Others might say: “don’t listen to that hooga-booga traditional healing rubbish… that’s just make-believe”.

Truth be told that any true and good doctor or healer would never dissuade anyone in need from exploring the full spectrum of treatment options. A good traditional healer or medical doctor will be open to exploring and integrating complementary treatment methodologies. Those confident in their abilities and will not be threatened by considering all options. Those that attempt such dissuasion are really not working in the best interests of the one needing help.

Making informed decisions is ultimately about finding the truth. It’s important not to rely on gossip, hearsay or gut reaction. This subject is an emotional one for many people, indigenous or otherwise. The internet and social media is littered with bad information and unreliable data. There are many who disguise their opinions and ideologies as fact. Sadly, there are far more of the weak-minded that will regurgitate and defend their wasteland. (“These are not the droids you’re looking for.”)

Rely on factual data. There may be data that indicates that a course of treatment, whether it’s traditional or medical, will improve your condition. There may also be data that indicates that if you don’t take a certain course of treatment, your condition may worsen. Based on the facts, they may be making a choice to live or to die.

The reality is that medical science has a whole lot of truth and a whole lot of verifiable data. Western medical treatment may be cold, sterile, uncomfortable and downright painful. If a certain treatment will keep you alive and make you better, it contributes to that individual’s healing. Note the emphasis on treatment, leading to healing.

Here’s where I’m going to go out on a limb. My friends, there is Spirit in western medicine too. The Great Spirit (no matter how you see or know it… Jesus, Allah, YHWH, or G’zhemnidoo) and the Spirit World is working through that hospital, the Doctors, nurses, technicians, and even in the often vilified chemical and synthetic medicines. The Spirit works in strange and fascinating ways. The good people who do this life-saving work, who care for others day-in and day-out, who have developed the medicines and treatment programs – they all do so for the benefit of humankind. Love, caring and kindness is indeed shooting through their veins like a strong dose of chemotherepy.

That being said, that doesn’t mean that traditional medicine doesn’t have it’s own truth. There may not be the same mass of quantifiable studies, but there has been plenty of work on the subject for years. Many of today’s most effective medicines have been borne out of traditional and natural products and formulations. I feel that Indigenous traditional knowledge, and traditional healing is the basis for all modern medical treatment.

Among the most important benefits that come from traditional healing is the ever important role in fostering the necessary strength, hope, faith and Spirit that is needed for healing.

More and more, western medicine and society on the whole is accepting the integration of traditional healing into the broader course of treatment for indigenous patients. Our people draw considerable strength from our healing practices and our own ways. Traditional healing doesn’t just act upon the physical – it works in tandem providing healing energy to the mental, emotional and Spiritual aspects of the self.

Healing energy is indeed the power of Spirit. The power of faith, hope and belief. It comes from the physical medicines (herbs, roots, leaves, fungus, animal parts, teas, compounds, salves, elixirs, vapours), but it also comes from the emotional, mental and Spiritual medicine.

Tobacco, for example, long known as the whipping boy of adverse health, is an important part of prayer and Spiritual medicine for the Anishinaabe. When you offer prayer with tobacco, offer your thoughts and words to the Creator, the greater your faith and belief in healing. With faith and belief comes energy. With healing energy comes strength. Eleazar begat Matthan; and Matthan begat Jacob; And Jacob begat Joseph and so on.

In other words, the greater the production of healing energy, the greater the strength will be in the patient. The greater the healing energy on the individual affected systems, the greater the strength that will be generated in those systems, cells and functions. Thus, you get improved cellular regeneration as well as systemic and metabolic function. Traditional healing is medical healing.

Preventing someone from making their own choices, denies them from obtaining the full spectrum of treatments available to them. It also denies them the impacts that strength, faith and Spirit brings to their healing journey. It may also deny them the ability to make the necessary consideration to choose life.

Ultimately, it’s not our choice. Whatever choice is made by an individual seeking healing, is made for very personal reasons based on their own needs, truth, reasoning and guidance by the Spirit.

For whatever reason, some may choose the wait for a miracle. Sadly, others may make a choice that will lead to an unsatisfactory ending. But whatever the choice, it needs to be based on informative decision-making of their own freewill.

The Four Roots

It occurs to me that very few people have a true frame of reference of what it means to be Anishinaabe.

Certainly, I don’t.  For me, I was born in a small French-Canadian town.  Sure I lived on the reserve, but only a five minute drive from town.  We weren’t taught our ways of life or our language, despite both my parents being able to speak Anishinaabemowin.  I didn’t grow up thinking or living as an Anishinaabe inini.  Being Anishinaabe, for me took work, study and proactive choices.  Today, I’m proud to be Anishinaabe-inini.

Our brothers and sisters who live in the far north are a little closer to their roots.  Many still speak their language and practice their way of life.  However, their cultural and spiritual sense of identity has been obscured by Christianity.  Poverty and isolation also work against them.  As a result, addictions now run rampant in most small communities.

We may know what the problems are.  But why can’t we move beyond these challenges?

The answer is complex, but to me, it can be traced back to what I call the “Four Roots”.

Picture, if you will, a large noxious weed in your backyard.  It’s ugly, thorny and it gives off a bad odor.  You had some success getting rid of it last year but it keeps growing back.  You cut one, two, even three roots from the plant – but it continues to take hold generation-after-generation.

The Four Roots:

  • Multi-generation trauma; from systemic racism and residential schools.
  • Isolation from Canadian society;  Not just physical isolation, but social, cultural and economic as well.
  • Dependancy; mostly on the Crown
  • Most fundamentally, a serious Lack of Identity.  Many of our people struggle with having brown skin and a chronic inferiority complex.

Today, Deborah and I watched a film called The Life You Want.  It featured a young woman from Eebametoong First Nation battling her addition to prescription drugs.  Like many, she knew what the problem was.  She knew what she needed to do to overcome that problem.  She needed to take action.

Along the way she learned how to ask for help.

We have to ask ourselves some tough questions.  How can we move from trauma to healing?  How can I move from dependence to independence?  What does it mean for me to be Anishinaabe?

But we can’t wait for our Chiefs to answer these questions for us.  Nor can we wait for the government to do this for us.  We have to take action as individuals and as families.  Over time, the answers to these questions will enrich our Spirits and make us better people.  The answers may rescue some from additions.  The answers may even provide us with unknown opportunity.  Most of all, it will move us from victims to self-assured Anishinaabeg again.

In short, with a little faith in the Spirit, that’s what it means to be Anishinaabe.

Day 27: Toward a Healthy and Well Nation

I may take a few days for family this weekend and post couples therapy los angeles a few “shorter” thoughts on the election campaign related to First Nations. Hopefully something thought provoking.  Today’s thought was first expressed a couple of days ago by Dot Beaucage-Kennedy on Facebook.  Miigwetch for the wisdom, Dot.

We cannot be successful in education and economic development without addressing healing and wellness in our communities.  Sure, we can do this concurrently and demonstrate as much success as we can in improving education rates and providing a better future for our children.  But investment in schools, business and resource development means little if our people don’t know who they are, and are constantly struggling with multi-generational trauma.  We need to see comprehensive programming to deal with addictions, mental health, youth suicide, gang prevention and violence against women.  Government also needs to support the re-establishment of indigenous culture and language.  We need renewed investment in community wellness programs and fully re-establish the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, not sunset it as the Harper government has.  Only a healthy laser hair removal Toronto, balanced and proud Nation will truly benefit from further education and economic opportunities.

Spiritual healing

By Dave Dale
The Nugget – www.nugget.ca
Sept. 6, 2010

Strong, positive spirits overcame the dreariness of chilly, wind-driven showers as Nipissing First Nation’s 22nd annual cultural gathering celebrated Mno Bemaadziwin — A Good Life on the weekend.

I was surprised how many dancers came up even though it was freezing,” Alysha Allaire, 20, said Sunday morning before heading out to the Jocko Point traditional grounds for the second grand entry.

Everybody came out for the love of dancing … that was really cool to see,” Allaire said, adding Saturday was special because she was dancing in her jingle dress for the first time after spending more than a month making it with her mom and aunts.

It felt really good,” she said, explaining how she dances in the jingle dress to help people heal.

People will offer her tobacco, a sacred medicine among Anishinabe, to dance for them or somebody they know who is sick or troubled.

And sometimes I just dance for the people I think need a bit of help or guidance,” said Allaire, a third-year Nipissing University concurrent education student.

She has been dancing for about 15 years and said she wants to be a teacher of students in grades 4 to 10.

Elder Peter Beaucage said there were strong winds blowing off Lake Nipissing during the sunrise ceremony Saturday and the rains came hard for a while, drenching the grounds and the people preparing for the event.

But the feeling was positive about the powwow bringing healing for the community,” Beaucage said.

The sacred pipe was lit and turned, he said, as prayers were sent to the grandfathers and the creator for the gratitude for the life we have as aboriginal people today.”

Beaucage was working in the community as a native alcohol and drug awareness counsellor when the first powwow was held at Beaucage Park in 1988.

It has come a long way and it really brings pride to our community,” he said, noting many leaders of other communities show their support by participating in the opening ceremonies.

Dignitaries joining Chief Marianna Couchie included West Nipissing Mayor Joanne Savage, North Bay Mayor Vic Fedeli, Nipissing MPP Monique Smith, Nipissing-Temiskaming MP Anthony Rota and Nipissing University president Lesley Lovett-Doust.

Beaucage said the powwow gathering grew out of the Elders Day celebrations after the youth cultural group brought dancing and drumming to the event.

Bob Goulais, who was 14 at the time, remembers being involved with the youth group when the powwow started.

He now works for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in Toronto as manager of policy after working for the Union of Ontario Indians and the Anishinabek Nation for more than a decade.

Goulais was master of ceremonies for the powwow and sat beside Beaucage and arena director Dan Commanda.

He said many people come to the gathering because it helps them become strong and healthy, with the event’s popularity gauged by having 10 drums come from across the province.

Local drums Lightning, White Tail Cree and Ni p i s s i n g ‘s Little Iron Youth Drum shared arbour shade with the likes of Big Train of Six Nations, Eagle Village, Red Spirit of Toronto, Northern Medicine from James Bay and Bear Nation of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan.

A lot of people come here for the healing, it’s a pretty consistent reason why people come out,” Goulais said.

Mickey George, 12, has his own agenda when it comes to dancing in the traditional regalia of his people.

Because it’s fun to do,” George said after finishing a corn dog. He needed the energy for the next two songs that were sung specifically to showcase traditional dancers like himself.

It’s a good way to get in touch with my culture and it’s a great way to stay fit,” he said, with the intense beat of the

sneak up” song testing stamina and ability.

George, who has been dancing for about five years, said he tries to attend powwows whenever it fits into a busy schedule. He’s one of the AAA Peewee Trappers this season, with the team heading to Mississauga for its first tournament next weekend.

Other events during the powwow included an open mic talent night, hand drumming and flute in the evening, a feast and giveaway for the participants as it wrapped up Sunday afternoon.