Zero Tolerance on Racism

An incident occurred recently which left me feeling sick at heart.

I was at an event, there to offer words of encouragement and acknowledgement for people being honoured for their good work and as well to offer words of prayer, a request to Creator for all to go well. Before things got rolling, a man approached me from the audience and said, “Hey chief, how are you doing?” I immediately told him not to call me ‘chief’. I further stated, “I am not a chief, call me ‘chief’ again and you and I are going to have a major problem on our hands.” The man instantly apologized. He approached me again a few moments later and again expressed words of apology. I let him know that ‘chief’ was a derogatory name racist white people give to First Nations men and that I did not tolerate it. The man said he did not know this. I accepted his apology and we shook hands.

The exchange bothered me the rest of the night and I awoke with it on my mind the next morning. I remember a poster in a prominent place in a room where activists meet. It featured a photo of a lunch room where white workers are sitting at tables in groups. Sitting alone at a table is a First Nations man (worker). At the bottom of the poster it read “His co-workers call him ‘Chief’, at home his children call him ‘Dad’. ‘Zero Tolerance on Racism’ the poster stated in large letters. The poster’s message: The co-workers of the man sitting alone, though they called him ‘chief’, were not motivated to do so out of respect but were doing so because of racism. If the First Nations man was indeed respected, he would not be eating his lunch by himself.

Ignorance is sometimes like a lash across the face. The words of the ignorant can be just as hurtful to a member of a minority as those of a bigot. One must inform themselves about title and protocol before approaching individuals of different cultures for conversation. It simply is all about common sense and respect. That a lot of folks are unaware the name ‘chief’ is derogatory (has been for generations) only proves to me that many Canadians never cared enough about First Nations Peoples to know what is offensive to them and what is not. If I were a chief I would accept the title with honour. I am not a chief so do not call me ‘chief’, please.

Wilber

I will never accept that ‘chief’ could be said as a show of ‘respect.’ If you really do respect me, then please call me by my name. My name was given to me by my loving parents. Use it! Anyone who believes it is his ‘right’ to bestow ‘respect’ onto a member of a cultural minority with a name ‘he’ feels is appropriate for ‘them’ has a superiority complex boiling in his subconscious. What offends me is what offends ‘me’. You make a huge mistake when you see it otherwise!

As an activist I have a thick skin. I would not be a very good one if I did not. To insults and slurs from my enemies, I say, bring ’em on! I won’t back down! I can take it! But when people who approach me under the guise of what defines respect and friendship and then offend me by calling me a racist name, look out, my reaction will be the same as it would if the hurtful word had been said by a racist and bigot. True friends know better! Respect is what it is, it does not have several definitions. Check the dictionary if you do not believe me.

All I want is respect for First Nations Peoples, the women, the children and the men on this rich land of ours. Is this expecting too much?

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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Love

If a dark day arrived when we found love was no longer ‘real’, would we then have to accept that we no longer existed as human beings? The world of the human beings must be a loving one, if not, it is only a place where the two-legged live without trust, without peace and without tears of gratitude for the great beauty Creator has placed before us.

I feel so strongly about “love” that I would sacrifice much, my life even, if doing so kept love in its purest definitions, alive and strong in my family circle.

On November 22 I will be speaking on love and what it means to me in Arnprior. The Canadian Peace Initiative of Arnprior & Area is hosting “How to Engage Love as a Political Value” from 8:30am – 4:30pm on Saturday 22 November at 46 Elgin Street East, Arnprior. There will be presentations interwoven with time for meditation and discussion. The other presenters are Dada Dayashiilananda and Maria Le-clerc-McAdam.

Please see the poster, below, for more details. Click here for the schedule.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

Love_As_Political_Value_22Nov2014

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The Chaudière Falls – a Truly Sacred Site

The prophecy, so I am told, speaks of a time yet to come, when human beings will find themselves at a crossroads. A choice will then need to be made. If the wrong path is chosen, destruction, mayhem and death en masse will occur for the Peoples of Turtle Island. Many good people worry that when the prophesied time arrives, the wrong choice will be made.

My dear friends, we the First Nations, were at the crossroads many moons ago. And with the turning of our backs away from our beautiful ancient spirituality, we doomed ourselves and our future generations to destruction, mayhem and death en masse as never before experienced by the Peoples of these rich and beautiful lands at any time since their creation.

Look at what has happened to us since we renounced our spirituality as “the devil’s work”. Diseases, warfare, residential schools, addictions, suicides, gangs, abuse of our women … the list seems never ending. Hundreds of years of suffering. But take heart, the ceremonies are being revived. A chance exists that the wrong choice made at the crossroads long ago, can today be reversed! God knows more and more of us are all for it!

What does this all have to do with the Chaudière Falls? Everything!!!

This is an illustration of Chaudière Falls before it was dammed in the 1800’s.

This is an illustration of Chaudière Falls before it was dammed in the 1800’s.

Too many times I have heard people say, “Victoria Island is sacred ground.” Goodness gracious, is there any “ground” on my ancestral land which is not “sacred”? The whole of Turtle Island IS sacred ground, every circular inch of it! Let us never say that anywhere of our earth is not sacred simply because it has structures atop it where creepy things are occurring (Parliament Hill as an example). Don’t deny the sacredness of the land because of what human dysfunction has done to it. In placing too much focus on Victoria Island, we neglected the Falls and now, our neglect of a truly sacred site is coming back to bite us.

Will we as a community find the power to stop the development of the land around the Falls? It is possible. The churches who were instrumental in driving the Algonquins from the Falls in the first place, need to come forward and demand that the City of Ottawa cease and desist with any and all plans being made now which would allow Windmill Developments to bring machinery to the Falls and thereby disturbing a glowing spirit awaiting our tobacco offerings in its churning waters.

At long last, we need to understand and appreciate the power of our spirituality. The circle is strong, the fasting ceremony and the purification lodge, these things need to be accessed. If we do, which force will win out? The power of corrupt and greedy politicians, or the strength of our prayers and ceremonies? If you have doubt, back off until you feel ready and are confident that prayers do indeed work.

Let’s get together at a place on the land and there through spirituality, we will see to it that the Falls will be freed and that they will once again assist us with bringing health and wellness into our lives as they did before the wrong choice was made at the crossroads many moons ago.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

Along with prayer and ceremony, here are ways you can help:
– Sign the Petitions listed here
– You can read more about the rezoning in Greg Macdougall’s article in Richochet
– If you spoke or submitted to the 2 October City Council planning committee meeting on rezoning Chaudière: there is a meeting on Wednesday 22 October at 7pm at Kitchissipi United Church (630 Island Park Dr.) to discuss appealing the rezoning decision at the OMB (Ontario Municipal Board)

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Migwech To You

little bird editA prayer I wrote years ago has the words “And I am grateful, Good Spirit, for the ability you have given human beings which allows us to express words of support and comfort to one another in times of troubles and in times of anguish.”

To all my friends and acquaintances who took time from their busy day to contact me and offer words of sympathy to me and family while we mourn the death of our sister, I say a heartfelt “Kichi Migwech” (greatest expression of gratitude).

On the day Pauline died, I went to my cabin. Her spirit name “Little Bird” was revealed to me as I reflected on my memories of her. My mind, heart and soul travelled back in time to the earliest memory of Pauline and moved forward from there until at last I reached in my recollections the visit I had with her the week before she passed away. Some of my reflections were of times when my actions were less than noble and for these slights I offered her my sincere and most heartfelt regret for any pain caused to her because of what I had done. I recalled in my memories, too, her acts of kindness and generosity for me when as a teenager, I was lost, having been overcome by the cruelty of a dysfunctional society. And I thanked her for extending her hand to me at such times, pulling me away from thoughts of self-destruction.

Pauline was a woman who insisted on keeping things “simple”. The life of a bird is not complicated. The bird has a routine. Its actions are not directed by “instinct” as science would have you believe. All of a bird’s actions are directed by spirit. For them, it has always been as such and thus it will remain until birds no longer exist.

Pauline came to me at the cabin in the form of a little bird. She was telling me, “Here in the world of spirit I am known by the name “Little Bird”.”

Thank you, all of you, I am truly comforted by your words. See you soon.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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Pauline Daley (Dumont)

dandelionThe Dumont family has lost one of our pillars. My sister Pauline passed away just before 2 a.m. on the morning of Friday, June 6th, 2014. Her health was poor for many years, still her passing was a blow to the collective heart of all her siblings.

Although perfection is impossible for a human being to attain, at least not in the minute definition of the word, a more perfect “sister” could never be found anywhere on God’s green earth. Pauline sacrificed much for her younger siblings, especially after Mom was stricken with tuberculosis and hospitalized for two years. Pauline did more than take up the slack, she was the protector and guardian of all living in the Dumont household.

Pauline passed away at a time of year when wild strawberries are in blossom and the first crop of dandelions have moulted, transforming them from a plant with a bright yellow head to fragile circles of weightless, delicate spikes who wait for a wind to take them to a place on the land which might welcome them.

I took note of the blossoms and of the moulting dandelions before entering my forest sanctuary where I went to spiritually process the great loss I felt at losing a sister from whom I had learned so much. In my circle I feasted the beings of the spirit world whose love and devotion had directed them to re-assure Pauline that she had nothing to fear in the strange new world she had awoken into.

I can easily imagine the world Pauline found herself in after her body lay motionless on her deathbed and with life forever gone from her heart. I have no doubt she was instantly surrounded by spirit beings who had known her embrace while here on earth, her brothers and dear sister for example, who pre-deceased her. They greeted her as they would the greatest hero. And in this new place of wonder and power, the few of her life’s shortcomings were shed from her soul by the breath of Kichi Manido (God) in the same way the wind pulls the seed puffs from a moulting dandelion. And then in the purest state, free of imperfections, Pauline will reap forevermore the spiritual rewards granted only to people who lived an honourable life.

Pauline was a woman of sacrifice who delighted to be in the presence of babies and toddlers born to members of her own and extended family. She loved her siblings with all her heart. She was the keeper of old family memories and of those times when life was simple and the poor had their own wonderful dignity. Rest in peace, my dear sister. When I see you again, we will pick berries together and feast, sing and dance in a circle of everlasting love.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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Free the Falls

ChaudiereI received a call a day ago from Lindsay Lambert. Lindsay is a friend of the community and a lover of the natural world. He called to notify me of a site on the City of Ottawa website (http://www.ottawa2017.ca/ideas/) where citizens are asked to submit their ideas of what they believe would best mark Canada’s Sesquicentennial 2017 as a legacy left by Ottawans of today to the inhabitants of the city living here in the far off future. Lindsay sent in his suggestion immediately after reading about the initiative put forward by Mayor Jim Watson himself. Lindsay’s response to the Mayor’s idea came in the form of three simple words: “Free the Falls” (Chaudière).

Lindsay Lambert is asking that as many people as possible sign on and do the same.

Count me in and count me on! Let’s run with this! This is a rare opportunity to create awareness for a noble cause. A cause which, I might add, was also part of the late Algonquin elder William Commanda’s vision for Chaudière island. Imagine if tens of thousands of people were to shout “Free the Falls” through printed words on the city’s website! It could very well end up being that extra little push the mayor and council need to say “yes” to freeing the Chaudière Falls.

To me, the Falls as they are now, can be likened to a great turtle, old and filled with wisdom whose legs are clasped in irons leaving her a captive of technology, unable to roam freely where God intended her to go.

I long to see the waters of the Chaudière Falls flowing through the eyes of my ancestors. And my ears to hear their song in the same way as did the Algonquins of thousands of years ago. With that I would transcend completely into spirituality, grace and fortitude with the waters of the Falls.

What measure of a man would I be if I did not dream of a time when the pines of my territory aged to know more than 400 winters? Of a time before technology began stabbing the heart of my once pristine homeland. If the Falls were free, we would have at least something original and something real again. “Free the Falls!” Let’s do it together!

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

TAKE ACTION: Just click on http://www.ottawa2017.ca/ideas/ and write “Free the Falls” or use your own words to tell Mayor Watson to free the Chaudière Falls. It only takes a few seconds to submit your idea. Do it now! And please ask your friends, too!

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Big News!!!

I have a new grandchild, a boy. My heart is swollen with joy that he and his mother have begun their sacred journey together with both in good health.

grandsonThe beats of my drum carry the promises I make to my grandson into the spiritual lodges of our ancestors, where they are heard and not forgotten. The centre of the forest circle where I went to pray on the day of my grandson’s birth accepted my tobacco offering along with the placenta I retrieved from the hospital after the birth had occurred. The voice of a bird called out to me there, telling me the name my grandson carries in the spirit world. The spirits of the land which gathered around me bore witness to my sacred vow, that I would do all I could to see to it that my grandson will grow into a man who will always honour and respect women. My grandson will be protective of the women he loves and do all he can to help them regain the powers they had but lost long ago. I promised too, that my grandson’s steps would be gentle on the land. I will see to it.

Hear my prayer, Great Spirit, that little heart now filled with the bounty of your love, carries the blood of my grandfathers and grandmothers. Their memories abound in its freshness. I bring my grandson’s heart into mine and say to him:
“As the day passes into night and as the seasons unfurl their greatness, giving purpose to all life on the land, I will teach you, my grandson, and stand by your side through your joys and sorrows and I will love you into and beyond eternity.”

A grandchild is a heart, a soul, a wind whose presence and songs can uplift the deflated spirits of a grandparent and carry them on high to soar with the eagles.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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“Honour Your Word”

The documentary “Honour Your Word” to me, is a call for Canada’s citizens to go on the march in defence of the sacredness Canadians claim to place on the threads which connect the hearts and souls of all the good people who populate this great land. Watch the film and if, after doing so, you are not motivated to help make things right in La Verendrye Park where justice has been drawn, quartered and burned at the stake, then you are as spiritless as the perpetrators of the human rights violations taking place there today. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are standing alone against tyranny and oppression. They are a brave resourceful people living in Third World poverty whose plight is documented in a film produced and directed by Martha Stiegman.

Where is the mirror that would show Canadians what really is looking back at them when they peer into it? It does exist, but most of us (Canadians) will have to wait until death carries them to a new world to see it. The ugliness of their ways will be revealed and an accounting of some kind will surely come to pass at that time.

We, the First Peoples, live in a world where only the human rights violations directly impacting settlers or injustices being perpetrated against people in far off countries like China or the Middle East are worthy of Canadians’ support and sympathy. When human rights violations are occurring against the Aboriginal People of this land, Canadians turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to it. Canadians need to ask themselves why this is so. To me, the answer begins and ends with ‘greed’.

“Honour”, the real definition of that word does not exist in our Parliaments only because Canadians do not demand it as a trait alive and strong, in the men and women we send to the Red Chamber to represent us before the world and before God. We must ask ourselves how our children and their children will be impacted by our negligence of duty to them when we do such a thing. Surely we doom them (our children) to a world where dog eats dog, where the weak are spat upon and where peaceful protest is laughed at and ignored.

The film is interesting throughout but several powerful scenes stand out to me as highlights. One scene is particularly moving, it shows a young Barriere Lake Algonquin man standing before the camera telling about what is being lost of his beloved land when clear-cutting occurs. His words are strong and heartfelt, he is overcome with emotion and though weeping almost uncontrollably, he finishes his statement. I wept with him while sitting in the darkness of the theatre and cannot banish the scene from my mind. It will be my inspiration and motivation to get involved and help with this cause in whatever way the Algonquins ask of me.

One thing the film makes clear to me at least, is that the peaceful protest of the Algonquins up to this point, is nothing more than an exercise in pointless frustration. They protest peacefully to protect the trees and their way of life. Their leaders are thrown in jail when they do so. “Next time you will not be jailed for short periods of time but for years,” they are warned by the courts. Knowledge of such injustices and oppression makes my heart sick.

What is happening in La Verendrye Park is proof positive of just how racist a country Canada is. Only a people who are capable of raw, unadulterated hatred against a segment of the community not their own would allow what is happening to the Algonquins of Barriere Lake to occur in a country like Canada. God help us.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

 

 

 

 

More on the film and the struggle of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, courtesy IPSMO:

Action items:

HYW-poster-jpg

Resources for Barriere Lake:

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With Spring Comes the Fast

I need spring to arrive! I’m longing for it much in the same way as I would for the sight and company of a dear friend disappeared from my life long ago. I want to feel the warmth of the spring sun on my face and to hear the songs of happy robins once again. My spirit stirs in my heart even as I recall memories of glorious spring days of my past.

The winter was/is long. The snow will not melt away quickly, so high its layers rest now on the valleys and hills of my ancestral land. My bet would be that there will still be traces of snow through to the end of April.

I remember a fasting ceremony I partook of in Northern Ontario a few years back. It was mid-May, yet snow was still in great abundance that year in the traditional territory of the Temagami First Nation. At least 25% of the landscape was covered in snow. It might be hard to believe, but one morning I left my fasting circle and as I made my way to the sacred fire to make a tobacco offering, to my surprise, I encountered a snake. The snake was a messenger who foretold that changes in how I viewed life were soon to arrive for me. And they did.

Fasting at a special site in the forest is big medicine, you gain greatly in both the emotional and spiritual realms when you complete it.

The centre of the fasting circle is a sacred place where the bad become good, if that is their intent, where the addict will find the strength to turn away from the bottle and where the mind of a dysfunctional human being learns a new way to deal with bitterness and rage. At the fasting site every sound coming from nature is spiritually noted by the individual hearing them. The fragrances emitting from plants, those alive in the circle and even those decaying on the forest floor around you, sit on your tongue and you give thanks for it as if it was the most precious and sweetest of candy. And your soul sings gleefully with each breath you take. Such is the power of the fasting circle.

Prayers at a fasting site often come with tears. You see, your physical self is weak and when your spirit speaks in the circle, you are eventually overtaken and tears flow. Prayer is something serious. Your words of prayer must come from the heart. Prayer, the heart, the spirit, the fasting site, spring, a human being, when we are one we conquer all of life’s challenges. I bring the hands of my children and grandchildren with me when I go to the fasting site. I hold them tightly and though my loved ones are not physically with me, they gain spiritually as I do from the fasting ceremony. Of this I have no doubt.

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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Omushkegowuk Walkers

Another group of First Nations heroes are on their way to Ottawa from the far north of Ontario. They are travelling by foot, one step at a time, over pavement and snow-covered landscape on their way here (Ottawa) to deliver a message to government officials. They are the “Omushkegowuk (People) Walkers” who are “Reclaiming our Steps, Past, Present and Future”. Danny Metatawabin, who was Chief Theresa Spence’s spokesperson while she fasted at Victoria Island, is leading the walkers and gives daily updates as to their progress. And to share with all following on Facebook the acts of kindness and generosity of the First Nations communities they come into contact with as the walkers slowly (30 km a day) make their way south. Danny is one of four original walkers, the other three are Brian Okimaw, Paul Mattinas and Remi Nakogee. All are mature men.

The walkers are true heroes. What else can we call them? They selflessly sacrifice of their time, giving up out of their lives the many days which have already passed since beginning the walk and the many more days the walkers will count before they enter the Nation’s Capital. At this point of their journey the walkers endure pain in their feet and legs brought on by the continuous lifting of heavy winter boots with each step they take, leaving that much less space before their destination appears on the horizon. They are weighted down with layers of heavy coats and thick sweaters, necessary to keep out the bitter cold following them all the hours of the day. But these men are focussed and determined to stay the course so they can arrive in Ottawa, standing proud and ready to deliver their important message to government leaders. The walkers are heroes but they need our monetary support and our prayers so they will not worry about accommodations or travel back home. Give them money and prayers if you can but either one or the other will be greatly appreciated by them. I’m sure!

The walkers pray each morning before taking the first steps of their daily 30 km quota. They pray silently, too, as they walk. Their prayers and meditations are heard by the trees along the roadside. The eagle and ravens and owls carry the prayers of the walkers to whomever it is, the walkers have directed their words to. The sound of the heartbeats of the walkers will forevermore be remembered by the hills and ravines the walkers came across on their life-altering journey. Let there be no doubt that the spirit of the land took note of their sacrifices and the walkers will hear an honour song composed special for them by the spirit of the season at a point in the future.

The walkers have no doubt benefitted spiritually since the beginning of their journey. The road cutting through the forests they travel through are trails from which the walkers can see, hear, smell and even taste what is alive in and around the trees of a forest surrounding them and even taste on their tongues the amazing scents emitting from all life therein. The walkers notice that the rabbit of winter reclaims his steps from the night before. The rabbit does not stray from the pathway he designed for himself, to do so would be dangerous and could bring great harm to him. He reclaims his steps and is healthy for doing so! On the waterways the walkers pass the beaver rests in his lodge, secure and confident that he will survive another winter. It is a time for the walkers, if they wish, to reflect on these things and then to offer words of contrition for any harm, we the human beings, have needlessly brought to the forest and to the animals and birds living there. For me, I can say how sorry I am for any tree I have ever cut down without good reason or any animal or bird who ever suffered or died because of my foolishness. If the walkers were to put tobacco onto the land for me I would be most grateful to them for doing so.

I will make a contribution to this cause. If it pleases you do so, the banking info is: RBC account, transit #05112, account #1010669

Migwech to all.

To follow their journey, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Reclaiming-Our-Steps-Past-Present-Future/768816863131863

Keep the Circle Strong,
South Wind.

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