Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category.

Gneg wetagutijig – Grieving for my Relatives-in-Spirit

Trigger warning: This article deals with Residential Schools and anti-Indigenous violence. Support is available for anyone affected by the lingering effects of residential schools.  The National Indian Residential School Crisis Line can be contacted toll-free at 1-866-925-4419.

By Deborah Richardson
Deputy Solicitor General

Today, the flags at all Government of Ontario buildings will fly at half-mast.

I have asked that the flags at all Ontario government buildings and establishments across the province be flown at half-mast in memory of the 215 Indigenous children whose lives were tragically lost at the former Kamloops Residential School.

Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

There are so many people that take pride in their Canadian heritage, and the many proud moments in this nation’s history.  But this is not one of those moments.  For Indigenous people across Canada, along with many like-hearted Canadians, we are grieving yet again.  It’s the latest example of how the Residentials School experience, and their victims, have quite literally, been buried only to be forgotten.

But this episode provides us a stark reminder that these were children.  The loss of life should be incomprehensible for any Canadian.  It something that cannot be forgotten.

It is a sombre and tragic affirmation that the Residential School experience was all too real, and it was horrific.  It is also a realization that there is still so much work to do to on the long journey of Reconciliation in Canada.

As an Indigenous woman, I wept to learn that my relatives lay forgotten in a mass grave on the other side of the country.  They are not my blood relatives – but my relatives in spirit.  I grieve them like I have a lost a sister, a nephew, a cousin or a friend.  In my language, the Mi’gmaq language, we would call them “gneg wetagutijig” (my distant relatives).

It is a great time to reflect on our respective roles in Reconciliation, in allyship, and understanding the truth about Residential Schools.

As public servants, we also need to examine, from both a contemporary and historical lens, how governments and their officials contributed to the many forms of racism experienced by Indigenous peoples in Canada.

We may not like to admit it but it was the public service who created and instituted the Indian Act, the oldest piece of legislation in Canada.  It is a colonial piece of legislation that continues its role in assimilation and inequity today.  It was the education provisions of that same Indian Act that enabled the creation of Residential Schools and required mandatory attendance of children beginning at the age of five.  This led to wide-sweeping forced and systematic removal of children from their parents and their communities.

It should have been the role of governments and the public service to look after the best interests of children.  That is arguably the greatest failure of all.

According to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, at least 4,200 children died in the care of the government-run, church-operated schools.  Of those, we can only identify 2,800 names.  Those names are immortalized by a 50-metre long, red cloth memorial kept by the Centre.

Children died from wide-spread disease, especially tuberculosis.  They died from violence and abuse at the hands of their captors.  Many more died trying to escape from the schools.  

The story of 12-year old Chanie Wenjack came to national prominence when Time Magazine published the story of his tragic death in 1967.  He froze to death at the side of a railway trying to escape the Cecilia Jeffrey Residential School in Kenora the year prior.

Government could have done something about the conditions at the Residential Schools and prevented this loss of life.  In 1907, Dr. Peter Henderson-Bryce, a respected physician and public servant wrote his “Report on the Indian Schools of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories”.  He used a survey to gather statistical information and found that 25 per cent of the 1,537 students that were part of his study had died.  Another school reported that a full 69 per cent of former students had died from tuberculosis.

In his report, Dr. Bryce outlined clear recommendations to improve health and safety conditions and prevent the unnecessary deaths of students.  Despite this damning evidence, government did little to implement his recommendations to protect children and prevent this loss of life.

There are lessons in these stories for all of us.  We owe it to Black, Indigenous, and racialized peoples to begin to explore the truth of racism in the public service.  That racism is not only overt, or historic, like during the Residential School era – but it is also systemic and continues to this day.  Racism can still be found in policies, regulations, and yes, even in legislation. It appears in our biases and our interpretation of policy.

It is my belief, that public servants are the purveyors of the public good.  We serve at the pleasure of government, to bring all Ontarians, all Canadians, policy, programs and services that will improve their lives and enable, safe, healthy and equitable communities.  But truth also requires us to look back on our mistakes and learn from them. We cannot have reconciliation without truth. That will be the toughest lesson of all.

In response, many of my colleagues and even you, the reader, will say: “that was not my fault” or “that happened so long ago.”

But it is our responsibility as Canadians to remember Residential Schools.  We can choose to hear and embrace truth. We can learn much from the perspectives of Indigenous families who have lost their children. We can grieve with them and console them.

Through our personal, sustained actions, we can do so much to remember the lives of those 215 young ones – my relatives – who have passed on and died at the Kamloops Residential School.  



“That’s not right”: Correcting microaggressions in the workplace

By Deputy Ministers Deborah Richardson and Shawn Batise

  • “We have to circle the wagons.”
  • “I really don’t see colour.”
  • “I have a lot of Indigenous friends.”
  • “You don’t look Indigenous.”
  • “We should be treating everyone fairly.”
  • “You’re so lucky to be First Nations.”
  • “The low man on the totem pole.”
  • “Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians.”
  • “Off the reservation.”

These are all phrases that we have heard right here in the Ontario Public Service.

These are known as microaggressions. On the surface, these phrases or “expressions” may not seem overtly offensive. But for many Indigenous people, including ourselves, having to hear these statements over and over again, among friends, acquaintances and co-workers alike, is truly hurtful, demeaning and generally creates a harmful and unsafe working environment.

Microaggressions are indignities, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative inferences towards a group of people. Microaggressions are particularly damaging to Indigenous, Black, racialized and LGBTQ2S+ communities, as well as people with disabilities and women, as they subconsciously add to the racist, discriminatory and stereotypical discourse that we face.

We shouldn’t have to break these down. After all, “we should be treating everyone fairly,” right? But when this phrase is used to challenge policies advancing Indigenous rights or equity programming, it infers that Indigenous people are getting an advantage over others.

When we hear, “you don’t look Indigenous,” it tells us that our complexion isn’t as dark as expected. It suggests that there is an accepted, singular look of an Indigenous person. There is no such thing.

Have you ever been told by a colleague, “But, you aren’t like ‘them,’” in reference to you identifying with a cultural, ethnic or religious group?

This is an example of biases based on stereotypes and being viewed as the token exception.

I hope that we public servants can see how the cumulative impact of these seemingly innocuous comments are hurtful and harmful.

Microaggressions by their very definition are “small” and subtle – they can go unnoticed. The person making the microaggression may be completely unaware of what they did and the impact it had. But for the target, the constant barrage of microaggressions feels like an assault by a thousand little knives.

Another common microaggression is when Black leaders are described as, “so articulate!” While it may seem to be framed as a compliment, it is actually insulting, condescending and demeaning. This is because it implies surprise that a Black leader can engage in intelligent communication. In fact, why do our figures of speech so often rely on “black” to express something negative (black balled, blacklist, black sheep, blackmail, black mark, etc.)?

Microaggressions can also be faced by women and people living with disabilities.

There is one common microaggression that is particularly damaging: “She has sharp elbows.” It diminishes leadership competencies by suggesting that a woman leads in an aggressive way, as opposed to an assertive way. Men would never be described in this manner. It also diminishes a woman’s humanity, especially those who demonstrate being a kind and empathetic leader.

Sadly, far more microaggressions go unaddressed. For example, there were dozens of people on a recent video call when a fellow OPSer was described as being the “iron lady,” a so-called compliment referring to her ability to use “handbag diplomacy.” This is an unflattering reference to former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Silence places an unfair burden on ourselves and other racialized people. Sometimes you can’t ignore the ignorant.

For example: “That’s not right. There is no one look for First Nation, Métis or Inuit people. The Indigenous community is incredibly diverse.”

You know there is a lot of work to do when the term “whipping boy” was used in very a recent conversation. Thankfully, that one was also called out and addressed. 

How to change workplace culture

We are all human beings. We may not always be aware that the things we say, and the way we say them, can constitute a microaggression. But we are all blessed with the ability to learn. We must be willing to listen and strive to be more conscious of how our words impact others.   

We encourage you, when you hear or experience a microaggression, to call it out. It may be uncomfortable and take a whole lot of courage, but those who use microaggressions must be corrected. 

And we can all do it by starting with one simple phrase: “That’s not right.”

The other key to changing our workplace culture and addressing microaggressions is building self-awareness. We must challenge the use and assumptions of some of the colloquialisms and analogies we use. We must create an awareness of microaggressions, especially when they target Indigenous, Black and racialized people, women or people with disabilities.

We all have the right to a safe workplace. We all can play a role by taking personal, sustained action and calling out microaggressions and other forms of racism and discrimination.

Deborah Richardson is the Deputy Solicitor General of Ontario. She is Mi’gmaq from Pabineau First Nation in New Brunswick. Shawn Batise is the Deputy Minister of Indigenous Affairs Ontario. He is Anishinaabe from Matachewan First Nation in Ontario.

Bigfoot at Buttonville

had a learning experience last week that I’d like to share resulting from a simple, yet unexpected, source – a new pair of shoes.

I was in my airplane, a Mooney M20J at Buttonville (CYKZ) the holding bay for runway 21.  I was happy to be using 21-03 as the longer runway was closed for the day.  It’s nice to have a change-up.  Just before I begin my application of full-power, I make it a good habit to planting my heels firmly on the floor and make sure my feet are nimble on the pedals and not on the brakes.  Everything felt good, looked normal and I applied full-power.

As I accelerated down the runway, I felt my feet not working well on the rudder pedals.  My foot placement was awkward and didn’t feel I had great control.  Halfway to the bravo intersection,  I immediately throttled back and applied brakes as gently as I could over a hump in the runway intersection.

Buttonville traffic, GMGR.  Aborting the take-off.

As I made the radio calls and began the long taxi back, I debriefed with myself about those new shoes. Shiny black Nikes, size 15.  As I wiggled my toes, it remind me why I never feel safe flying in my winter boots.  They are just too damn big.  These shoes were stiff and not properly broken in.  My mistake was I didn’t give them a second thought.

Big feet and appropriate footwear were not on my checklist.

I’m sure the takeoff would have been fine.  But it’s better to be safe than otherwise.  Also, I never aborted a take-off before, and really felt it was a pretty good learning experience.  Like the occasional unexpected overshoot

I remember a video posted this spring on Aviation 101 on this very subject:   It’s worth checking out.

A great lesson learned for me and all the XL pilots out there.

Happy flying, COPA members.  Those colours are gorgeous.

 Bob Goulais
Nipissing First Nation

Reconciliation Starts With Truth. Happy Indigenous Peoples Day.

On National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrate being Anishinaabe, Mushkegowuk, Haudenosaunee, Métis, Mi’gmaq… or whatever nation that you belong to.  Live it everyday with outward humility and inward pride.
Remind our partners, allies and fellow Canadians that everyone needs to understand Truth – Debwewin – before we can truly move on to Reconciliation.
Truth means:
  • Appreciating and believing the history, personal stories and perspectives of Residential School survivors, Elders and Traditional Knowledge keepers.
  • Appreciating Indigenous perspectives and worldview and incorporating this in all parts of our society.
  • Learning the history and modern reality of Indigenous peoples as nations.
  • Understanding concepts such as assimilation, colonization and genocide.
  • Appreciating the need to ‘rights-the-wrongs’ from the Residential School experience, the 60s Scoop and intergenerational trauma.
  • Being an advocate for action to improve social conditions and Indigenous health and wellness.
  • Knowing the fundamental importance of restoring culture, language and identity.
  • Protecting and restoring Treaty-protected and Indigenous Rights including the inherent right to self-determination.
Truth is all these things.
Without Truth, Reconciliation will forever be misunderstood as a time-limited and politically-motivated effort in social equity, diversity or a special interest rather than what it should be: holding up Indigenous nations as a founding nation of Canada.
Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, everyone.

Cannabis is not Anishinaabe medicine. In fact, it’s contrary to our way of life.

I’ve got something important to share. It may not be popular but I have to say it. So here goes.

Anishinaabe mno-bimaadiziwin minwaa Anishinaabe mushkiki does not include the use of cannabis.

The use of cannabis, either recreationally or medicinally, is contrary to Anishinaabe teachings and sacred law.

Sacred law tells us that using anything that alters our spirit in any way, is a big no-no. I learned this long ago in in the Midewiwin Lodge and from many true Anishnaabe leaders, teachers and healers over the years. It’s the one reason why I personally chose not to use alcohol or any other mind-altering substance.

I’ve seen several mind-altering herbs, roots, vines and leaves, all natural products, make their way into our communities from outside Indigenous healers. This includes anything from peyote to ayahuasca. Such potent hallucinogens and their purveyors have also left a lot of pain in their wake.  I’ve even heard some Anishinaabeg speak about a “whiskey ceremony” where a shot is passed around while telling stories. Forget what you’ve been told – this is not the case.

Yes, cannabis is natural. It might not lead to issues of hardcore dependence and overdose that we are seeing from opioids in our communities. And sure, it is somebody’s medicine.  But it is definitely not Anishinaabe medicine.

In our Creation Story, Msko-Gaabwid, the red-standing one, was placed on Earth with all the things he needed. Tobacco, the very first medicine, is a medicine that is almost entirely spiritual in nature because that very first human being was very much spirit rather than physical. However, as the world evolved, our eldest ancestor began to become more and more physical. As such, Anishinaabe, as he was to be known, had more physical needs including the need for food and medicine. It is said that medicinal plants gives themselves to us. Food plants give themselves to us too.

Anishinaabe and all his descendants are to keep all Creation in balance including our own physical vessel. More than that, we are to keep our body, mind and spirit pure and unaltered. We are told of these types of substances in our Creation Story. Our medicine people knew of these things. But plainly and clearly, we are told not to ingest anything that disrupts that balance, or may disrupt our interrelationships with all those in Creation.

When we take cannabis, alcohol and narcotics and use it in such a way that it makes us “high”, we disrupt the balance within us and around us. We hurt the balance between the body and the spirit. Our Spirit is disrupted. Dependence on these substances will ultimately affect our emotional and mental balance as well. Eventually, no matter how gentle the effect is, long-term use of these substances will also take a physical toll.

This kind of hurt my heart a bit. Ode’imin, the pure and beautiful strawberry, a chief medicine food, has become a cannabis edible.

Many of our Grandmothers and Grandfathers are concerned over the impacts that cannabis will have on our youth.  Evidence shows that using cannabis increases the risk in the development of schizophrenia or other psychoses. Also, there is evidence of the risk and repercussions associated of chronic and problem cannabis use, increased risk of depressive disorders, social anxiety disorders and suicidal thoughts and actions.

Today, I’m seeing a lot of nonchalance about the use of “medicinal” cannabis for any number of remedies.  Even more disturbing, there is a lot of indifference to the legalization of “recreational” cannabis.  We should be concerned over our already high incidence of addictions, mental illness, chronic disease and inter-generational trauma among Anishinaabe people. Making cannabis more accessible, through community-based dispensaries or even from the LCBO in town is so concerning to those who live by our traditional ways.

The use of cannabis has been discussed in our traditional societies and Lodges over the years. No matter how many time it’s raised, (“Well, it’s going to be legal soon.” “Many people use it for medicinal purposes.” “It’s not really going to hurt anybody.” “My auntie needs it for her eczema.”), the discussion is never a long one.

Again, with emphasis added: Anishinaabe mno-bimaadiziwin minwaa Anishinaabe mushkiki does not include use of cannabis. Period. It just doesn’t get any clearer from an Anishinaabe point of view.

That’s bad news for some Chiefs and leaders, pot-activists, cannabis enthusiasts, clever businesspeople, medical dispensaries and corner drug dealers.

I might be out of touch, unhip or too beholden to our Anishinaabe beliefs – but I thought I’d put it out there. They are our beliefs and there are many of us that stand by them.


One of the greatest gifts given to us by Gzhemnidoo is the gift of freewill. And the first teaching we are given when we hear the Creation Story is that “all Creation stories are true”. Meaning, we are all entitled to our beliefs and we can all choose our own paths that are right for us.
The purpose of the blog was to share our beliefs and perspectives from Anishinaabe teachings. No one is expecting everyone to live by them to the letter, or that they cannot evolve. However, this perspective regarding spirit-altering medicines hadn’t been shared and I felt strongly that it needed to be put on the record.
Taking medicines in a responsible way that honours them, honours our bodies and honours Creation around us is well within our ways. As some wise people point out, there are ways to use cannabis without getting high, disrupting our spirit or abusing the medicine.
As I acknowledged in the blog, this is somebody’s medicine. If they find relief and comfort in that, by all means. But it’s important to hear all aspects of the discussion, including those perspectives given to us in our Creation Story and original instructions as Anishinaabeg. Miigwetch.

So Long Brave, it’s Time for Change

The retirement of the Northern Secondary School Braves logo isn’t about individuals feeling offended.  It’s about a cultural change that is needed in society as a whole.  Agreed, the logo, designed by Terry Dokis and the term Brave is fairly mild on a spectrum of caricatures and indignity. Even the design was meant to instill pride in ourselves and honour our people.  I am thankful for that.  But it is also part of a multigenerational litanny of dehumanizing Anishinaabeg and all Indigenous people.  Chief Wahoo, the Indians, Redskins, Fighting Sioux, Blackhawks face, the Noble Savage, Lakota pain ointment, Wild Bill’s Wild West Show, Tonto, the Indian in the Cupboard, the CHIPPEWA RAIDERS, Seminoles, etc, etc. A hundred years of constant bombardment that Anishinaabeg are not real people, but an image on a t-shirt, a logo on leather jacket, or a styrofoam hatchet at the ball game, war paint on a mascot or a headdress at a music festival. No wonder that governments have felt that residential schools, the Trail of Tears, the Indian Act or the Wounded Knee massacre were acceptable. It’s no wonder that you can find overt, stinging and hurtful racism everyday on the internet.  Just read the comments section at the bottom of any article pertaining to our people.  The very same reason why individuals from the majority feel privledged enough to say they are reverse-offended, “it never bothered anyone before”, or “it doesn’t hurt anyone” or just “get over it”.  Or point to Tim, Keith or Scott and say, “See, they are fine with it.”

That reason or rationale: “Hey, come on, Chief.  It’s okay.”

Well, my friends, it’s not okay.

Although Northern Secondary has always made me/us Anishinaabeg welcome, the school once referred to their students as Ojibway, Cree, and Huron.  This always made me uncomfortable.  How many offended First Nations people does it take to make it legit in the eyes of everyone else? 1? 10? 1500?  How many would it take to make us understand that things need to change?  

Northern took a small step in retiring a logo.  They truly do honour us by voluntarily taking this action. I encourage you all to be a part of that change, to take your own action towards Reconciliation.  Every little bit helps. Aho. Miigwetch.  Thanks for your time, my friends.

Three Fires Summer Ceremonies August 16-20, 2017

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)



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




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? 



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.