Posts tagged ‘Copenhagen’

My Life in Retrospect, 2009

Well, here it is – my life in retrospect, 2009.  Happy New Year!

THE LOVE OF MY LIFE – It’s been a wonderful year with my partner, the Duchess of Thornhill, Deborah. She’s taken me in and we’ve built a beautiful life together so far. Everyday, I truly feel I’m the luckiest man in the world. I’m thankful to the Creator everyday for her. Her daughters are really great little people. They get along great with Katherine Faith, obviously… and the Boyz as well. We’re having our first mega-family holiday get-together on Friday. Fifteen people in all.

MY CHILDREN – They’re growing up to be wonderful people. My Boyz are so kind and generous. My Griffin is such a good-deed do-er. My Miigwans is as smart as a whip. My daughter is equally an wonderful young woman, whose grades are good. She just Loves spending time with her friends. And they are all so good to their Dad. But it’s hard being away from my kids so much.

CHANGE IN CAREER DIRECTION – 2009 marked quite a change in career direction for me. After 10 years with the Union of Ontario Indians, I’ve moved from the front-line of First Nations politics to the machinery of government. It’s quite a different pace moving from a 24/7 job in the Grand Chief’s office to a singular responsibility within government. But the objective is still the same and I’m working just as hard for our people.

JOHN BEAUCAGE CAMPAIGN – In 2009, I had the career highlight of my life. I had the pleasure of managing John Beaucage’s campaign to become National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Unfortunately, the best man doesn’t always win. Despite running a campaign on the best platform and the best values – the Chiefs chose to elect Shawn Atleo to succeed the great Phil Fontaine. They’ll be looking for something else next time around, I’m sure. John is an amazing man, and a great leader. Who knows what the future will bring him. He will be running the Olympic torch tomorrow in Parry Sound.

LIFE IN THE LODGE – I’ve written this year-end journal over the years, but I rarely include any references to my true life – as a Midewiwin man. This year was the first time I’ve had my Boyz in the Lodge with me as Midewiwins. They are still very young and have lots of time to discover what it means to be Mide. The Three Fires School looks great with the new addition. Lots of new space. It’s also great to see the young people from Shingwauk attending ceremonies each time. They are a great group.

MY BLOG – This year, I had more of a chance to write. It is something that I really enjoy. I’ve been able to write about human rights, First Nations issues even the environment and the economy. I hope I’ll be able to write more and more.

NUMBERS – It seems people are reading my stuff on my website too.

• I had more visitors to my website than any other time in the past 14 years.
• Although I won’t reach 1 million visitors before December 31, I’m pretty darn close: 969,414.
• From 1997 to 2007, I had only 304,351 visitors;
• Web traffic numbers went up substantially when I started marketing my website.
• 93,445 page views in 2007.
• 262,844 page views in 2008.
• This year I’ve had 308,774 page views so far.
• That number will go up by a few thousand once I post this new blog entry.

NEWS STORY OF THE YEAR – To great fanfare, Barrack Obama, the first African-American president of the United States took office in 2009. He inspired many of us. But for the red-neck majority in the US, his message was met with skepticism, boycotts and measures of racism. In his first year, he won the Nobel Peace Prize and dealt with health care reform – head on. Now can he address middle-east peace and terrorism?

CLIMATE-GATE – The biggest non-news story of the year was “climate-gate”. The Copenhagan climate summit that wasn’t. No commitments by the major governments of the world. No carbon reduction targets. Absolutely, no leadership from Canada whatsoever. In fact, it should be an embarrassment for all Canada. Canada – the fossil of the year! Lots of good will in the agreement but nothing binding. I seriously doubt that the agreement that was signed in Denmark will lead to any drastic changes needed to address climate change.

FILM – I Love the movies. In 2009 I seen 48 movies in the theatre. Definitely, the most ever. The best film of the year was Avatar. Another James Cameron epic blockbuster. This year there were a lot of similarities between the film world and indigenous peoples. It began with District 9, a film about an oppressed alien race forced onto “reservations” in South Africa. On the surface, District 9 may seem to have more ties to apartheid than indigenous people. But what most people don’t know is that apartheid was based on the Canadian Indian reserve system. It is another of Canada’s great contributions to world history. The message is clear in Avatar – protect the environment and the world’s indigenous peoples. This movie had the best ending of the year. Sometimes I wish we can turn back the clock and reality, climb aboard our dragons and march the oppressors, at machine gun-point, onto space ships bound for another world.

MY HEALTH – Well I’m apparently in a holding pattern. Spent the first half of the year in the gym and just gave it up. I thought my diabetes was under control, until I had to miss Christmas dinner on a fast to reduce my sugar-induced diabetic episode. I must avoid sugar, especially home-made ice cream, as well as eat in regular intervals. I don’t believe in new years resolutions – but I’ve got to take control of my own health. No one will do it for me.

VACATION 2009 – Went to The Bahamas in May and snorkelled with sharks on the continental shelf. Spent the summer in Saskatchewan and Winnipeg with Deb’s family. Lots of good memories. In October, we spent a long weekend in New York City. Ate at Nobu and seen The Lion King.

LONGEST DRIVE – 1,286 kilometres between Toronto and Cedar, Wisconsin for Fall Ceremonies.

LONGEST DRIVE – Laurentide Golf Course, Hole 6, about 290 yards.

GOLF GAMES – 4. The most in five years. I hope I get to play a lot more in 2010. My game is really, really rusty.

FEWEST NIGHTS IN A HOTEL – In 2009, I spent fewer nights in a hotel than the previous 5 years. I averaged about 100 nights in a hotel in 2007 and 2008. I may not reach Delta Privilege Platinum this year. I miss the Delta Chelsea and their cherry jello with the canned peaches in them.

POW-WOW TIME – This year, because of the campaign, career and family obligations – I wasn’t able to enjoy time on the pow-wow trail. It’s difficult to balance so many things in life and pow-wow has had to fall by the wayside. I want to thank the Taabik Singers for allowing me to sing with them for the past few years. I hope to catch up with them as often as I can, and perhaps MC a few pow-wows from time to time.

I CHEERED IN 2009 – …for Barrack Obama. In 2008, I actually cheered for Hillary Clinton.

I JEERED IN 2009 – … over the goofy paranoia and sensational media coverage of the H1N1 Flu pandemic which was a little stronger than the usual seasonal flu virus.

I LAUGHED WHEN – … we all make fun of Nicole, who seems to move like Eeyore to the bus-stop in the morning.

I CRIED WHEN – … I lost my uncle Henry.

MEMORABLE MEAL – Definitely, the Chef’s Choice at Nobu in New York City. I also really liked the spiducci at Joe and Fiona’s house.

MEMORABLE MOMENT – The Longest Date: March 27-29, 2009. Beginning at Peter Pan’s on Queen West and A Haunting in Connecticut. The long walk from Queen, up Bathurst, across Bloor and down Yonge Street. Late night sweets at Just Desserts. In the morning, up to John Street and into Thornhill to the Duchess’ residence. Another movie (I Love you, Man) then back downtown again.

We all need to be Environmentalists

As world leaders converge in Copenhagen to discuss the world’s climate and how to address climate change, most of the world remains at home.

At least I can’t afford to make the trip to Denmark.

We live our lives being consumers, providing for our family, raising our children and residing in our communities. We are all of diverse cultures and societies, with many things in common. One of the most important commonalities is that we are citizens inhabiting the Earth.

Together, what can we do to address climate change?

First and foremost, we all need to become environmentalists. You don’t need to join Greenpeace or the Council for Canadians, although they certainly help. Simply put, to be an environmentalist means to know that the Earth is our home and we need to stand up for her and speak on her behalf.

As Anishinaabek, it is our responsibility to speak for Mother Earth. It was one of our original instructions given to human-kind at the time of Creation.

It is said that the Creator needed a caretaker species to look after the Earth, to solve problems and ensure a healthy balance in nature. As a result, two of the greatest gifts given to human-kind was the gift of free-will and intellect.

In our history, this meant that the Anishinaabek people were to live in balance with all of Creation, be responsible in our harvesting and respect the world around us.

In a modern context, it means to speak up for the Earth now that she is in trouble. We need to look after all of the flora and fauna as was expected of us at the time of Creation.

This wasn’t a responsibility given only to Anishinaabe. It was given to all races of human-kind.

As environmentalists, we must work to influence our politicians. We also must work to influence pubic opinion. We must take the message of change to our families and communities. No one will do this for us.

Nor can we expect government to solve the world’s climate change crisis.

However, as citizens, we must press our government to meet climate change goals in a meaningful way. After all, Canada is a liberal society. We value the environment, our forests, land and water.

We need to meet “Kyota-like targets” for carbon emissions, for example reductions of six per cent from 1990 levels, within ten years. Perhaps we can do more. Government needs to pass legislation and implement aggressive environmental policies in order to meet these targets.

Canada also needs to tax carbon emissions and use the revenue to develop environmental-friendly technologies. We need to enable a new, green economy.

I also think we need a regulated, carbon credit trading market. This creates a number of things including a climate change revenue stream, a deterrent to carbon producers and implements a regulatory framework for carbon producers.

We need to hold industry and corporations accountable. We need to abate those companies that produce carbon, pollutants and contribute to climate change.

Government regulations are not the only means on addressing companies and industry. As consumers, individuals and families, we can all commit to only deal with companies that have carbon neutral, environmentally-friendly policies.

I know we can’t get around gassing up our car. But we can choose to use public transit more often. We can choose not to oil companies that harm the environment, such as those companies developing the Alberta oil sands. You can choose oil companies that use ethanol.

Sure, there are significant economic issues to address. Such aggressive policies will certainly affect our economy. But the bottom line is: we will surely have a devastated economy if climate change is not addressed. If we continue with the status quo, or work towards ineffective, surface-level environmental policies – we will be passing economic and environmental uncertainty to our children and grandchildren for seven generations and beyond.

Our world needs to change, based on a new frontier of enviro-economic sustainability.

Our culture must change. As a society, we must adapt to do what’s best for the planet. If that means tightening the economic shoe strings, so be it.

If it means become an environmentalist, even in the smallest way, I’m up for the challenge.