Dec. 31, 2003 A Personal ‘Year in Review’
By Bob Goulais
The year 2003 was a “great one” in retrospect. We had the chance to see my hero, Wayne Gretzky, lace up the skates one last time, on a cold winter night in Edmonton. Personally, it was also a great year, full of the proverbial ups-and-downs.
Professionally, 2003 was a chance to expand my responsibilities and become more proactive in networking and providing a service to our great Anishinabek Nation. At the same time, it was a downer year for myself politically. I’ve lost more elections than I have won, so losing really isn’t so bad. However, I was confident that I would remain on as a second-term councillor for Nipissing First Nation. On the other hand, I was very pleased with the election of a whole new Chief and Council.
First and foremost, I am a father of three great children. In December 2002, I left my 5 year relationship with my son’s Mommy. So it was a transition year, getting used to joint custody and seeing my boys every second weekend. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to keep those commitments and it is going to be one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2004. Miigwans is growing up to be quite a little gentleman. He is soft-spoken, and almost silent even though he’ll be heading into the “terrible twos”. Griffin never had terrible twos either. Both my boys are extremely well behaved. Griffin attended Jr. Kindergarten at Christian Island Elementary School, while Miigwans started Daycare in Chiminissing. I’m proud of both of them.
Life without my daughter Katherine Faith continues to be hard for me. I wasn’t able to spend Christmas with her, but was once again able to offer her an amazing summer. She really enjoyed the summer program with Rosemary Erb at the Nbisiing Education Centre. Katherine Faith asks me about it every time. Faith desperately wants to see her Dad more and may want to live here. But likely, if she does, she would equally miss her Mom. It’s so good to know she Loves her Daddy so much. Katherine Faith turned eight years old this September. She’s growing up so well.
My work with Maurice Switzer and Priscilla Goulais at the Union of Ontario Indians was full of highlights. I was able to take a lead role in the development of the Niijii Circle Initiative in Public Education. We offered cross-cultural training to the MNR in Dorset, and was able to visit the Leslie M. Frost Natural Resources Centre. We provided training to the Canadian Rangers at CFB Borden near Angus, Ontario. Both training consisted of curriculum that I developed and co-presented with Maurice. I developed a proposal that lead to training provided to the Quikitani Inuit Association in the eastern Arctic. In September, I authored a submission to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism which was presented by our new Grand Council Chief Earl Commanda, who was elected in June.
Maurice and I traveled to Iqaluit, Nunavut in March to provide training to the QIA. It was my second time to the Arctic, a place that I really enjoy. Not for the weather, of course, but for the sense of community and culture. There. I had a chance to enjoy a traditional feast of Arctic Char, shrimp, caribou, and maaktuq (beluga whale blubber). Met Julia there, who made a great impression on me.
As Chairperson of the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation, it was a frustrating year. At the Board level, we spent much of our time discussing the poor financial position of the organization, the debt that we accumulated in constructing the OCF building in M’Chigeeng, and an ongoing lawsuit over the construction. Towards the end of the year, things were looking up. The Chiefs of our First Nations agreed to assist the OCF financially, a lawsuit was settled, and a consolidated loan was taken out to ease the fiscal burden of the organization.
The most memorable experience of 2003 was my trip to Dartmouth-Halifax, September 25-30 to attend the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Centres. It was my first opportunity to represent the OCF at this national forum. Unfortunately, I was very sick for the duration of the conference. Finally, when I was better — I had the once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience a full-fledged Hurricane. Hurricane Juan ravaged Nova Scotia over night, but not before i had the chance to observe it from the peir at Halifax Harbour. The aftermath has terrible. Boats destroyed and washed up onshore, a train was derailed, a boardwalk was destroyed, and entire parks of trees were downed. Not to mention, every second hydro pole.
Faith and I were returning to Sydney, NS on August 15th when the lights went out. We checked into our Toronto hotel in the absolute darkness of the 2003 Blackout. Our plane was on-time and we left no worse for wear.
I was able to raise money, about $7500 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Actually, Team UOI, my coworkers and friends raised the money through a lot of hard work. JDRF has asked me to be a Corporate Chair for 2004.
This year I had the opportunity to travel to Bad River, WI (February) for mid-winter Midewiwin Ceremonies. However, financial constraints limited me to attending only that ceremony. This fall, the Nbisiing Midewiwin held a Memorial Feast (feast of the dead) on November 11. We also agreed in principle to develop more activities to bring our Midewiwin together. I look forward to fulfilling that in the new year.
Top Song: I Hate Everything About You – 3 Days Grace & Adrenaline Rush – Obie Trice
Top Movie: Cold Mountain. 28 Days Later.
Experience of the Year: Hurricane Juan
Low Point: Election Defeat
News Highlight: Ontario Election, Liberal majority.
Winnings at Bingo: About $400 in total. Probably won more than I spent.
Dec. 30, 2003Here’s one for you New Year’s Eve party animals:
One night, a drunk staggers out of a bar. He looks, and walking up the sidewalk is a Nun going about her way. So he staggers across the parking lot and onto the street. He went up to the Nun and just punched her in the head. She fell to the pavement and he kicked her in the side. She rolled over and he kicked her square in the ass. She looked up and said “Oh My God. What are you doing?”.
And he says said……”NOT SO TOUGH TONIGHT ARE YA, BATMAN!!!”
Dec. 28-29, 2003
Drove to Sault Ste. Marie and back yesterday and today. It gave me the chance to reflect on the holidays and life in general. I really do enjoy driving. Some of my best ideas have been conceived while on the road, including this “Daily Blog”. (By the way, I’ve come to appreciate how difficult it really is to keep an electronic journal on a regular basis. Hundreds of miles away from your computer will do that to you).
I find solitude in the hum of a 3.0 litre engine with the wind whipping by, and the soundtrack is a good hip-hip or rock CD. However, dense fog resulting from the above-seasonal temperatures created some havoc on the road. From my rear-view mirror, I did see a tractor-trailer have to jam on the brakes and maneuver into an oncoming lane.
Had a chance to spend some time with Samantha, a very good friend from Wikwemikong.
Dec. 27, 2003 A Letter to the Editor, published Dec. 30/03
North Bay Nugget
In a recent article on Medicalposting.com, I was pleased to see that the average consumption of alcohol by Canadians has been on a steady decrease since the mid-1980s. However, the article also expressed ongoing concern over binge drinking.
Studies have shown that binge drinking (that is consumption of more that 5-8 drinks at any one occasion) may be the greatest contributor to trauma-related death and injury in Canada. Up to 50 per cent of emergency room trauma patients are under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol is a significant contributing factor in the vast majority of criminal code offences, including assaults and sexual offences.
With that being said, I was alarmed to see a certain Nugget-advertised New Year’s Eve party, selling tickets to an “all-inclusive” package that includes 16 drinks per couple, on top of complimentary wine with dinner, and complimentary champagne at midnight. Is this much “fun” really necessary given the aforementioned risks? Is such an all-inclusive party really responsible?
Almost every study suggests that for adults who drink alcohol, moderate consumption of one or two drinks a day is best.
My appreciation goes out to those who organize the “Families First” evening. I’m touched to see that so many people choose to spend their New Year’s Eve with their children in a healthy, alcohol-free environment. It is by far, the biggest party in town!
Please have a safe, responsible, and Happy New Year.
Nipissing First Nation
Dec. 26, 2003
The bitter cold has finally hit me and many others on this crisp, cold Boxing Day. As you step out of the door, the blast of air has a distinct feel, as the chill hits your face. Many people wonder why we can endure such extreme weather conditions. To me, it is part of the wonder of our world. At the same time, I think of our brothers and sisters who live in the Arctic. I had a chance to visit them in Iqaluit, Nunavut last February. I admire their connection to the land and their pride in their culture.
Today, I had breakfast at Dave’s Homestyle Diner in North Bay. On the drive there, at exactly 9:15 a.m., I happened to glance at the Walmart parking lot. It was full, literally, to capacity. Consumerist society, or what?
Dec. 25, 2003
Happy Holidays to all those in Anishinabe country, and all those living in our territory. Special holiday greetings go out to my friends and family. May the Great Kind Spirit guide you and watch over you in the New Year.
Dec. 24, 2003
“You’d better watch out, you’d better not cry.”
Sure it would be beneficial if we all believed in God, the Creator, G’zhemnidoo. But wouldn’t life be so much better if we all believed in Santa Claus. We wouldn’t get what we ask for or what we deserve unless we demonstrate we can all be good socially-conscious citizens of Mother Earth. Am I naughty? Am I nice? Who says Santa doesn’t have a lesson for us?
Dec. 23, 2003
It’s almost Christmas and I have just about completed my preparations. I have bought gifts for my three children, Katherine Faith, Griffin and Miigwans. They are sure to be happy with what Santa brings them. They are very fortunate to have loving families, with the means to provide for them and keep them happy during the holiday season. My heart goes out to those who are unable to provide for their children. Today, I gave some money to charity in the spirit of the holiday. God bless us, one and all.
Dec. 22, 2003Our webserver is down, can you believe it? How am I ever going to keep up with The Daily Blog if I can’t access my pages all the time. With all due respect to our IT guys, Ray St. Louis, and Chuck Serre, who do a fine job — technology is not what it’s cracked up to be. It’s an important lesson to learn that we cannot depend on technology. Technology is an amazing tool, but we can only depend on ourselves as people. I put a backup website on Geocities, just in case.
Dec. 21, 2003
Boozhoo niidawaymaaginadoog. In other words, greetings to all my relatives. It is a great pleasure to provide this first entry in the Anishinawbe Blog. Blogging has been all the rage for the past couple of years and with this latest revision of my personal website, I thought I’d give it a try. I don’t know how many people would actually be interested in some “Insight into the life of Anishinawbe” but I think it will be an excellent exercise for myself to document my activities and thoughts into my existence on Mother Earth.