Friday, December 6, 2013

A Letter to La Senza Canada

La Senza Canada
To Whom It May Concern,

I would like to make a suggestion regarding your products, specifically bras. I have been shopping at La Senza for approximately 10 years, and up until recently have found your products to be high quality, aesthetically pleasing, and most importantly, functional. In the last 2-3 years there has been some change in the way you make your bras. Push-up/padded bras have become a popular style. While I agree that some people may find these appealing, since it is considered to be beautiful to have a large bust, I naturally have bust size working in my favor when it comes to cultural expectations. What I am saying is, I have a D cup. I don’t need padding. It looks ridiculous to make my bust any larger than it already is, and furthermore, padded bras don’t fit right. If I buy my size at your store in a non-padded style it fits perfectly. However, when I buy a padded bra, I fall out. Why? The cup is too short because the padding takes up most of the space where my breast is supposed to go.

Every time I walk into your store I immediately ask for a non-padded bra in my size. The sales representative shows me about two, plain, boring options that are in stock and then informs me they have a sale on padded bras. There is no sale on the non-padded bras making them at least double the price. The sales representative suggests I try on the padded bras because they are sure I will find, “They are actually very comfortable.” One sales representative, who was a fair bit older than myself actually told me, “Honey, when you get to be my age you’ll appreciate the extra support.” Well, thanks for that evaluation, but right now I could really use a non-padded, well-fitted, and functional bra! 

The last time I was in your store I purchased one non-padded bra for $48 and two padded bras at 2 for $45. News flash. I have worn the padded bras about twice in 6 months because I fall out, and the non-padded bra gets worn so often it almost needs to be replaced. In addition, the padded bras have straps that constantly come loose from their fastening. They have those “flexible straps” that you can move to make an x pattern over your back or leave straight. Now I have had bras with those type of straps before and they have never come undone as many times as these straps do!

So here’s my suggestion. You can continue to make padded bras in the smaller sizes; I know people who buy them. But please, anyone with a C-cup or higher doesn’t need them! Offer more selection of non-padded bras, and would it kill you to put them on sale sometimes? I would appreciate it!


Friday, November 29, 2013

I'm Offended that you are Offended: An Offensive Article

So I was reading posts on Facebook, because it is a Friday evening and I had a long week. I'm a teacher and my students are high energy. In addition my apartment runs out of heat and water about twice a week. This isn't the slums, the whole town is like this. Anyways, I stumbled on a Republican rant. You really must check it out! I am not American. I don't even care if someone is Republican or Democrat. Some people really go off the deep end of the political spectrum (on either side) though! Canadian politics usually pale in comparison to the sheer nuttiness of American politics. (Except lately, because our current PM is the type of buffoon you'd expect to see in the first round of a "Got Talent" show. You know the ones... they always think they're amazing and then the judges send them off the stage in a walk of shame.)

Anyways, this is the most hilarious thing I have ever read. I can only assume Nagikistan was actually supposed to be Tajikistan! I can't even bother to point out the other flaws in this post because I am laughing too hard. The real icing on the cake is the posting policy for comments on this page! Did you read it? "We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse." How many of these rules did Mr. Wurzelbacher break when writing this article which I can only assume to be comedy? If he can't follow proper posting policy how can anyone else be expected to?!

If the link above didn't work try this one:

Monday, October 21, 2013


So earlier today I watched this video:

It was a big coincidence I had been thinking about honesty a lot lately and how it affected my life. You see, I have been having this feeling lately like I need to be more genuine. The trouble is, it doesn't always work well. For example, in job interviews. I am quite sure a few of my job interviews this summer didn't go too well because I was being too honest. That said, if I have to lie to get a job, I'm not sure that I really want it. I don't care if it is what people would call a "white lie," it's still a lie and lying is a curse. If you aren't being honest with your employer from the get-go that surely spells that things aren't going to meet either of your expectations in the long run.

Also, coworkers don't really want to know about you, they just want to make small talk. The truth is I really hate small talk. It is a whole lot of saying nothing. Things are so much simpler without it.

I feel like I need a change. If I could work for myself I could avoid some of these problems, but I feel uninspired as to what I would do to be self-employed. I'm rather bad at self-motivation.

Anyways, if I hurt anyone's feelings... it is because I am trying to be more honest. And honesty is sometimes not what people want to hear.

(And I am honestly tired, so forgive my spelling/grammar.)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Success and Fear

Lately, I have felt out of touch spiritually and have been looking for a solution. Tonight I stumbled on this guided meditation by my friend, Tami Jackson, which I found to be very helpful. It helped me to relax enough that I was able to talk to my inner self and to spirit guides to get the information I needed to move ahead.

There is a lot of fear in today's society and fear can keep you from achieving your dreams, speaking up, standing up for your beliefs, and generally enjoying life. Fear can make you sick. It can ruin your relationships. The bottom line is fear is extremely destructive. How do you overcome or manage fear? Here are some good ideas:

Humour, positivity, and laughter also vanquish fear. Remember to never discount your fears. Acknowledge them but don't let them keep you from doing anything. My guides told me that one thing I need to work on is positive speech. I have long held the view that no word in the English language should be off limits if it accurately expresses a feeling. However, my guides tell me there is some wisdom in making certain words taboo. It is not the words themselves, but the negative connotations that can influence your life in a way best avoided. They also suggested I read more because it will expand my current bank of positive words to use. I have been avoiding reading lately because frankly I find a lot of new books to have disappointing plots. I guess it is time to peruse the library...

My guides also say correct diet is important to a positive, happy, and healthy life. I am not going to suggest any specific diet, because only you will know what is best for you! For me I need to eat less junk food and reduce allergen intake. Oddly enough I feel less inclined to curbing my erratic sleep schedule until I need to for professional reasons. My natural sleep schedule is what is best for my current needs.

The other important thing is to do what you enjoy. I love drinking tea, cooking good food, meeting up and chatting with friends, doing creative activities, taking long walks, listening to chill music, and a myriad of other things I'm too lazy to list off. Do what you love. Never feel guilty about it. Be accepting of other people as they do what they love. Be humble and gracious in the face of praise. Love your life. Be Happy.

It really is that simple, and yet it is so easy to forget. Relax. Do the meditation above. Master your fears. Do what you love, and remember that people who criticize you are just upset because they haven't mastered their own fears yet. Fear makes people mean, and it is hard for fearful people to acknowledge your success. Laugh it off and be patient. They'll get there eventually.

Also, you don't have to believe in the supernatural or in spirit guides or any of that to be successful. Just follow the steps. Believe whatever you want to believe and achieve what you want to achieve! All of this free of charge, but you have to do the work!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

What the World Eats

I cannot help but find this fascinating...

United States: The Revis family of North Carolina

Food expenditure for one week: $341.98
Favorite foods: spaghetti, potatoes, sesame chicken

Links for more pics of world eats:,29307,1626519,00.html,29307,1645016,00.html

I wonder what the Thai one would look like?

Probably this...

The SCA Family in Bangkok

Average weekly expenditures: ???
Favorite foods: Hot Pot, BBQ, Pad Thai

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How Logic Endangers Fact a.k.a. There is No Laundry

Fact isn't real.

Say what?

It isn't real! The definition of fact is "A thing that is indisputably the case." Since nothing can meet this criteria, fact is not real. We therefore cannot use "facts" as supporting evidence to build a case, and that means science has as many holes as religion

But facts are facts, right?

No, that is like saying but "god is god"... how do you know?

Nothing can be indisputable. Things can be true to a very large extent, but if they were indisputable then all scientific theories would be infallible! If scientific theories were infallible, science would be the same as religion! Ack!

I guess there really is no table.

Luckily, this also means there is no laundry for me to do either....
 Come to think of it, this idea is really growing on me!

Related humour:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Roland Barthes: The chicken wanted to expose the myth of the road.

Albert Camus: It doesn't matter; the chicken's actions have no meaning except to him.

Richard M. Nixon: The chicken did not cross the road. I repeat, the chicken did not cross the road.

M.C.Escher: That depends on which plane of reality the chicken was on at the time.

Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.

Pyrrho the Skeptic: What road?

Rene Descartes: It had sufficient reason to believe it was dreaming anyway.

Ralph Waldo Emerson: It didn't cross the road; it transcended it.

Paul de Man: The chicken did not really cross the road because one side and the other are not really opposites in the first place.

Mark Twain: The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.

For more chicken jokes check out:   

Being Confident

A lot of people have trouble being confident. There are so many things that lead to this. How many times have you watched someone walk past you and felt a twinge of jealousy, "I wish I was as confident and him/her!" I think everyone does it.

I want to tell you a secret. In fact, I think a lot of successful people know this secret. You can't either pay $20.95 to read it in their book or you can trust my (free) blog even though I'm not a celebrity. You don't have to believe me of course, but I think it will benefit you if you do.

The secret is that about 95% of being confident is just seeming confident. So you are feeling unconfident, maybe even uncomfortable or a little bit scared. Do you:

A) slump around trying to avoid notice and looking around warily out of fear of the people around you or the unfamiliar location?

B) hold your head high, walk like you do this every day, and approach people with polite assertiveness?

Most people will sheepishly admit to A. That's okay. I am totally guilty of it sometimes too, but one thing I have learned this past year is that B is the better option. Seem confident. I know you are scared. Being scared is okay. Everyone gets scared, even the world's most successful people.

Just remember that people percieve you as they see you. They do judge books by their covers. This doesn't mean go get plastic surgery to get rid of that mole you've always tried to hide. No, instead you need to say to yourself "this mole is a part of me, and people can take it or leave it!"

Now, next time you feel like you want to hide behind the door or pretend you are sick to get out of something instead say to yourself, "If I were a movie star and this was a movie scene, what would that look like?" Walk into that situation just as a movie star would confidently strut into a scene. Use your best movie star voice and speak confidently. Your insides will be churning the first few times, but you will soon see how differently people treat you. Congratulations! You have achieved the 95% which is seeming confident. The other 5% of being confident is just people believing you actually are confident and then treating you like they would treat a confident person. The way they treat confident people will help to boost your self-esteem until you don't actually have to pretend to be confident anymore, you'll actually feel thay way! (At least most of the time. As I said, even the most successful people still get scared sometimes!)

Being True to You

I have spent a lot of my adulthood so far, most of it actually, running away. In running away I thought I'd find myself. I did occasionally have breakthroughs but they were far outweighed by how many times I just got farther away, from friends, family, support networks, and by extension finding myself. I am not suggesting you shouldn't travel, because it was not just a physical distancing, but also a mental one I was taking part in. Travel is a wonderful experience. It opens your eyes to new ideas and ways of life. There is no perfect way to describe it. Some of my friends inform me travel is not for everyone. This may be true. Some people live perfectly happy lives in the comfort of their hometowns, or in a generational home, or just in the seductive comforts of sleepy little towns or suburbia. I would never be happy with so much of the familiar in my life even now. I need adventure and changes of scenery. I want to truly experience so many different things. I have complete respect for people who live smaller (but not lesser) lives and can be happy in that way of living. I also have come to realize more recently that there is a group of people who want to live a lot larger lives than me. These are the ones that when faced with the same challenges as me through living far outside their comfort zones, in another country in fact, have come to the realization they would never be happy to just go home. For them, this has become home... and not just here, but anywhere that they can find startling new adventures. They might not even need a home; I'm not really sure. I have utmost respect for people who live happily this way too.

I have often thought that I found my home inside of myself and this was what allowed me to travel around, and pick a new life somewhere new every few years. I have come to realize that this is not in fact the truth. I have many homes. It is like I have unceremoniously hacked off bits of my own heart and strewn them across provinces, countries, and continents with much less knowledge and purpose than John Chapman and his famous applesseeds. Yet, I don't feel remorse over this decision. I have so many homes. What draws me to each one is the people I love, the scenery I have come to adore, and the simplicity of everyday living in the midst of much greater adventures. I love adventure and I love simple comforts. I love the middle road. My life is not too big and not too small. It's just right! I like to go to the places the wind whispers in my ear. Right now it is whispering I should go home to Canada. Within that I need to clarify I will be going home to Manitoba not going home to British Columbia, although I love my 2 homes in BC dearly! I will miss my home in Thailand, but the truth is I cannot stay anywhere forever! I need space to wander and roam and follow the switchbacks of the middle road. I love my many homes; they are a special part of who I am.

I want to warn you though, despite what people tell you, the middle road isn't for everyone. Some people belong in smaller lives and some belong in much bigger ones. Buddha said it best,

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”


Believe and do only what agrees with your soul. Feeling at home doesn't happen when you run away from the place you call home. It happens when the time and place are right for you, in the moment of realization that you are content with what you have, and you accept yourself exactly as you are.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Things that Keep Me Awake at Night

Right now I am in this beautiful sense of calm. A lot of people lately have been complaining about political issues. Idle No More and Theresa Spence's hunger strike is just one thing people have been making ignorant comments about. It seems people are very divided about what is in the news lately. Luckily, I have also heard some really great insights. I find some comfort at least in knowing that some people just lack the life experience to make realistic judgments on these issues. Some people also just like to argue for the sake of arguing. I did read one particularly inspiring article the other day. The author was Yoni Goldstein. He says,
First thing's first: I don't think Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is going to starve to death. That will not be how this story ends -- the end will be a meeting between Stephen Harper and Spence, just as she has requested. The Prime Minister is certainly stubborn -- that can be the only reason he hasn't responded to her yet -- but he surely knows a dead First Nations chief would not make for good PR. He will accede to her demands [...] How is it possible that native leaders have managed to squander/mismanage/ in some cases maybe steal the tens of millions of dollars federal and provincial governments keep handing over, year after year? Granted, it's not as much money when you factor in the ridiculous cost of living in some of the more remote reserves, but there's no question that money should be helping those poor people much more than it evidently has.
He says a lot of other things too. I don't agree with all of them, but that's okay. At least he knows how to properly engage in rhetoric. You can read the full article here. The reason I am calm has nothing to do with the crazy problems of the Western world. How terrible our lives all must be, and all that. It is my ability to look outside of that which enables the calmness. Most people in the Western world don't understand how lucky they really are. We take so much for granted it is insane. I remember as a teenager my friend said her dad had no work one season. She was terrified she would end up living in a tent. I had to bite my tongue not to laugh at her. I knew if she just cut the cable to her house and didn't rent movies and video games every week and if her mom cut down to one cigarette a day, they'd be perfectly fine. I knew this because I had already experienced having a lot less than that. Even so, I know I have been spoiled a lot of my life. Now at this point someone is thinking, "but people in the Western world do end up on the streets all the time." It's true, but the thing you have to realize is that poverty in the Western world is created, not necessary. It is created because people and corporations are greedy. It's created because the price of living in the Western world is ridiculously high for no good reason.

Why does it cost a bare minimum of $400 to rent a small apartment in Canada?! (My brother was paying nearly $2000/month for a basement suite in Vancouver.) This is completely unnecessary. In Thailand, I pay the equivalent of $200/month Canadian for my apartment. That includes my electricity, water, cable TV, and internet! The bottom line is there is too much greed in the Western world. A large percentage of the people living in shelters or on the street actually work jobs, but can't afford to rent an apartment. We have created real problems in our own communities by expecting too high of standards of living. People fall through the cracks because we are too blind to see it. We focus too hard on our own gain whether it be monetary, social, or otherwise.

We need to take a good look at our communities. Do you even know your neighbours? I know I am guilty of not knowing mine at some of the places I have lived. We are setting ourselves up for failure by not caring for others in our communities.This includes First Nations people.

 I had tons of opportunities in college and university to apply for scholarships and bursaries for Metis and First Nations youth. My mom was always pressuring me to apply. I never could bring myself to do it. I knew I could pay off my small student loan quickly without those bursaries. I knew there were others out there with greater needs than mine. Mom didn't understand this, but it was very important to me.

 Every day in my practicum teaching, and at my weekend job working with at risk youth, I asked myself "how do I reach these First Nations youth?" I felt under-prepared, and unqualified. Despite this, I knew there were so many people less qualified than me doing the same job. It's scary. No one can break the cycle of dependency by themselves, but it only takes one dedicated teacher to change a young person's life. That's what drives me to continue in professional development. I will always be able to learn something new. I can always improve myself, and my ability to meet the needs of my students. Their are possibilities for all of us to affect this sort of change, as long as we can open ourselves to them. The first step in changing the world, is changing ourselves. It is also the hardest step of all.

Friday, January 18, 2013

What is the Solution? First Nations People and the Cycle of Dependency

Please note: I wrote this at 2am because I couldn't sleep. I will come back and edit more spelling/grammar later when I am more awake!

If you haven't already, you should read my post entitled I Hate Being in the Middle, which is about what it is like for me as a Metis person, being in the middle of conflicts in Canada between First Nations people and everyone else. In particular, I talk about the current discussion of the Idle No More Movement and Chief Theresa Spence.

In this post I want to talk about problems and solutions for First Nations people and the cycle of dependency. Now before anyone gets up in arms about that wording, I am referring to the book "Dances with Dependency" by First Nations author Calvin Helin. It is a non-fiction read about the problems in First Nations communities today and how to go about finding solutions to them. Helin presents his information in the style of a First Nations cyclical argument, which may be confusing to someone not properly sensitized to First Nations culture. I read this book in an Education course in University that was called Aboriginal Perspectives. There was maybe 3 people in the the room that appreciated the book for what it was and they were all First Nations or Metis. This is unfortunate, because it is actually a very good book. I won't lie; it is a difficult read. It presents a lot of facts in a relatively small space. Unfortunately, I don't have my copy of the book right in front of me as I write this as I am currently on a year long hiatus in Thailand. Forgive me for this if my memory fails me when it comes to any little details. From what I remember of how the book is set up, it has 3 sections, with many chapters in those sections. Each sections begins with First Nations storytelling/legends that tie all the sections together in the end. After that the chapters begin to discuss facts. The first section is about First Nations pre-history. That means before Europeans came to North America. The second section discusses all the things that happened after contact involving treaties, residential schools, etc. that led to the current cycle of dependency, the third section is about where we are now and how to change things to reach a solution. The trouble is getting through section 2 and into section 3. Section 2 is very long. Because it uses a cyclical argument style it may seem at first glance as though it is repeating things already said. Think of the cyclical argument as a snowball. It starts of small with the key points that are important to its composition. If you roll it more and more is added to these key points each time it goes around. It gets bigger and bigger until at last you reach the final layer where it has reached perfection. This outer layer is the one left exposed to the air, exhibiting the snowball in its perfect entirety. It will grow hard on this outer layer, which will help to keep the rest of the snowball fused together. So we start with the key points already. Each time we come back to them we add a bit more. The final layer in this case will be Section 3. This is where you will reach that "Aha!" moment where the whole book makes sense. Be patient, Section 2 is needed to make sense of Section 3, but it is going to tell you a lot of things in a short space and possibly things you will find hard to hear. It is all worth it in the end. If you don't want to read the book, or if you need more convincing, I will discuss it below. Keep in mind, I am not rewriting the book. You need to read it to get all the statistics and information I cannot fit in a blog post. All of what I write is based on the facts and statistics in Helin's book, except stories of my own experiences and things I learned in history books that I will use as further support for what I am saying.

According to the book "Dances with Dependency" by Calvin Helin these next few years are going to have to be about finding just that solution. There are so many factors involved. The truth is that the Canadian government can't afford to continue paying money to the first peoples as their population steadily grows while the rest of the population is in a steady decline.

The problem is we need the resources now of the extra bodies, just to keep our economy going. We need them out there doing jobs that will be of benefit to all Canadians.

There are many scars of history that will not be erased overnight. Some reserves are still without running water or proper medical centers. Many are isolated. The buildings people live in are often full of asbestos. Even if there is money they often can't get the supplies needed to their location to build new buildings and houses. For this reason large families are cramped into tiny asbestos-ridden houses to the point that they have to sleep or eat in shifts. Children if they go to school might be tired or hungry. That is assuming they can find a teacher who will stay in their community or have the housing/a building for a school available to them.

School is still a sore point too with the last residential school closing in 1996. Students abused at these schools lost their cultural identity and were estranged from their parents. The lack the parenting skills others might have because all that was modeled was abuse. Many also turned to alcohol or drugs to cope. Sending children from reserves to other schools results in culture shock and lower grades in many cases. All that is just the tip of the iceberg. So you should read Dances with Dependency for the full scope of things. What it does suggest though is if there is going to be meaningful change we need First Nations people to make a step towards trying to better themselves and moving beyond this cycle of dependency. However, that by itself won't be enough. Simultaneously, we need the government to do the same thing. Lastly, each and every Canadian needs be be willing to make the necessary changes.

Initially the cost may be higher. We need new houses and schools. Or we need to move First Nations into the community at least part of the year. If that happens it will require initial assisted living, help with job finding and skill building in adults, support for children in schools, cultural sensitivity courses for everyone else, and a lot of community support. In some parts of the country First Nations people are for the most part doing pretty well. They are more accepted by people in the community. Despite this, within these provinces there are still some isolated First Nations communities lacking resources like running water. I say this with the painful memories of moving from just such a province to the province of Manitoba, where things are quite different. I was shocked by the hostility and racism between First Nations and Caucasian people. This hostility and racism goes in both directions. I had never seen anything like it and it frightens and confuses me even now. I understand in part where it comes from, the scars of history are perhaps deepest in Manitoba, where so many conflicts occurred between First Nations, Metis, and Caucasian people (particularly the Canadian government). I understand that the residential schools are a huge problem that has become like an elephant in the room. I understand that the reserves are in many cases extremely isolated and not very pleasant places to live.

When I moved to Manitoba I thought I knew quite a bit about First Nations people. I had grown up on the stories of elders from the Northwest Coast Tribes. I had learned sash weaving, basket making, bannock making, and attended many First Nations and Metis gatherings. When I came to Manitoba I realized all of this was nothing compared to what I still needed to learn. It has been 4 years since then. I feel I am not an expert, and yet I am put in the position yet again of describing to you what it is like to be First Nations. It is the curse of being Metis. That said there are people who could tell you better if you'd sit down and listen to them for once and hold your tongue until they are done. They are the First Nations people themselves. What they can tell you I suspect you'll not like to hear, but you'll be better for it.

I want to tell you about what it is like to be a First Nations person living in a Caucasian community. Many don't graduate high school. They feel isolated and set apart and they are. Have you ever been in a classroom where a teacher suddenly asks a student, "Hey, [insert name here], you are First Nations, what do you think about [insert part of Canadian history here]?" as if one student could speak for all First Nations people even if you hadn't just humiliated them in from of their peers! Assuming they do manage to graduate high school despite this social stigma and any problems at home such as poverty, or any number of symptoms of the cycle of dependency, they might go on to post-secondary. People immediately will jump to drugs, alcohol, and crime. Did you know there is a higher number of First Nations people in penitentiaries than any other group in Canada? Often they are there are very light charges such as shoplifting or drug dealing. Why are we paying to have them locked away with murderers and rapists? Because the system doesn't know what to do with them. Are First Nations people dangerous? No more than any other group of people. Drugs, alcohol, and crime are just symptoms of a much larger and deeper problem. Back to post-secondary. What is it like to go to post-secondary when no one in your family ever has? What is it like when the First Nations community has a stigma towards education imposed on them by years of government abuse? What is it like when you are a minority on a campus dominated by Caucasian students and professors. "Oh nice to meet you. Are you here taking First Nations Studies?" Why would anyone assume they are here taking First Nations studies?! And again they are inevitably sitting in the back of one class or another when a professor comes up and says, "I don't mean to put you on the spot, but what do you think about [insert First Nations related material here]?" Post-secondary is a scary place. Most will drop out. Maybe they will feel guilty at becoming "better" than family members. I have heard that feeling expressed a lot. Maybe they are sick of being put on the spot. Maybe they are feeling isolated. Maybe it is a combination of factors.

If we want First Nations people in our school, post-secondary institutions, communities, and workforce we need to change the system from the bottom up. There need to be cultural sensitivity courses put in place for every Canadian, and mandatory ones. In the schools, in the workplaces, everywhere. What we are doing right now is asking them to change but not moving to change ourselves. That never works, not with anything. There must always be compromise. All parties must work towards a common goal. If we are not all on the same page we are just going to end up back where we started. It is frustrating to Caucasians that First Nations get all sorts of money and freebies and seem to be abusing them and throwing them away. They were set up to fail. The government in the past intentionally tried to destroy First Nations people. First they tried to eradicate them. I mean kill them off using smallpox infected blankets, and starving them. I mean putting them on reserves that were intentionally the worst pieces of land where they could not farm or hunt or live successfully even if they were given the adequate resources.When this tactic proved ineffective the government tried to destroy their culture and identities through residential schools. The cycle of dependency was created carefully and intentionally by the Canadian government to create make First Nations people unable to amalgamate and be "productive members of society" as people like to say these days. This was done because it was yet another attempt to cause the genocide of First Nations people. It would be very convenient if suddenly the government didn't have to pay money to First Nations people because there weren't any left. Unfortunately for the government First Nations people proved surprisingly resilient. This left us in a heck of a mess. The cycle of dependency makes First Nations people intentionally dependent, but that means the government has to keep sending them resources it doesn't have anymore. Whoops.

What is the solution? Patience. It is going to take a lot of patience to sort this out. Commitment. We need to commit to a long-term solution, not just a bandaid. Support. Everyone needs to be on the same page. Everyone in the country needs to work together to provide the resources needed to make a change. This problem is bigger than all of us. We need to have meetings in our communities, in our regions, in our provinces/territories, in Ottawa. Each step of the way must be carefully mapped. I don't know the solution in its entirety. It is bigger than me. It is bigger than Calvin Helin and his book. It is bigger than all of us. I know the first steps though. The first step is the willingness of all of us to change for the better. The second step is putting this change into action by implementing an education system that is better for every single Canadian regardless of social, cultural, and personal backgrounds. We must all take a step together towards a brighter future.

We all need to educate ourselves. It has nothing to do with whether we are Caucasian, First Nations, Metis, or any other group. The problem stems from the lack of understanding each other and our differences and how the affect the way we interact. I agree, a solution is needed, but we need to fully understand the problem to come to the solution. The solution won't be simple. It will involve many steps. All must be concisely laid out so they can be effective. We can't create the solution by ourselves. We must come together as a community to do it. We must have First Nations input. We must have government input. We must have input from Canadian communities across the country. We must leave our differences at the door and sit down together and discuss with just the goal of a long-term solution in mind. The solution must be as big as the problem. I don't have the necessary resources to compose it in its entirety. I know the first steps. 1. Everyone must step up to the plate and say, "Hey we all need to change." That means every single Canadian. Because as uncomfortable as it is, we are living on borrowed land. And no solution will be successful if the Canadian populace is not committed to it as well. 2. We must take immediate action in educating all parties in skills that will encourage positive future interactions and help First Nations students to successfully complete high school, and post secondary. 3. We need to figure out a better system of rehabilitation for petty crimes in Canada so First Nations people aren't unnecessarily sitting in penitentiaries eating up tax dollars and not providing skills to the Canadian economy. Not only would this rehabilitation process be helpful to First Nations people in the system, but to all Canadians... because not all criminals are First Nations people. 4. We need to figure out what to do about reserve lands and treaties. The government can't afford to pay out the monies owed as the result of unfulfilled treaties and broken promises. We need to come to a compromise. We need to also figure out how First Nations people can live more closely linked with other communities in Canada while not sacrificing their cultures and ways of life anymore. (This has happened too much already in our history.) We want them to still have access to their traditional, and treaty lands but be able to live closer to resources needed for clean water, building supplies, education, and medical care. If we achieve all this we will have a long-term solution. I fear it may take at least 7 generations though.

We need your voice too! Please put forth your own ideas. Now is the time for discussion. Now is the time to begin this change. We don't want this to have to fall to our children or their children when things will be further deteriorated. Our population can't sustain itself. We need our First Nations people now more than ever.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I Hate Being in the Middle

This post is about Metis People and Canadian politics and racial discrimination.If you don't know what Metis people are go here first!

I saw this comment on a friend's Facebook wall the other day. "Took a cab home and got into a conversation with him about "Idle No More". Mentioned I was Metis, and was called a racist." There is more to this story too. Apparently, when he got out the driver wished him good luck in completing his university studies so he could become a productive member of society. Ummm excuse me? This friend is gainfully employed and has remained committed to the same job for 3 years (and that is just that I know of!) Sure he could have a better job, but that is the same for nearly any university student!

Now I want to tell a little story of my own. In my 3rd year of post-secondary I changed my post-secondary institution. I moved to a new town and ended up in the residence until I got settled in my new location. In the residence I was in a shared room with another girl and had a bathroom shared with 4 people. When my roommate moved in she hadn't even finished unpacking when she plopped down on her bed and looked at me, "I'm First Nations." I blinked.... okay. I didn't see why this mattered one way or the other in context. I replied with a nod and, "Yeah, I know. I'm Metis." (And it's true... I knew. Being Metis I recognized her facial features as similar to those of  Metis people I had known growing up.) She stared at me and said nothing. In fact she never really spoke to me at all after that. She spent 2 weeks avoiding me entirely before moving out without warning. I was very confused... I started avoiding telling people I was Metis after that. It seems sometimes like it causes a social pandemic.

I am proud of my heritage, but in the grander social scheme, does it really matter what ethnicity anyone has? Especially in Canada and the USA where generations of foreign and aboriginal blood have mixed into one big muddy soup. Yes, I am Metis. You can be Metis up to an 1/8th or maybe a 1/16th in your lineage.I always forget which. The whole thing is confusing but I understand politically, economically, and legally why they have to draw the line. Anyways, I get looked at oddly when pronouncing I am Metis with ivory fair skin.  The only tell tale sign, if you look closely, is the shape of my nose. But if you can be Metis with 1/8th lineage heck I could look East Indian, or Botswanian... or really anything... and still be Metis. Don't judge!

Strangely, that is not what bothers me most about being Metis. What I hate is being in the middle and both sides hating me just for my blood... my genetics! Metis throughout history have been the middlemen in First Nations-Caucasian relations in Canada. Here's the issue....

Situation 1: I walk in on a group of friends/coworkers/etc bashing First Nations people and step in to defend them. The group gets angry and defensive. I say, "Hey look, I'm Metis and in my experience First Nations people do [X] because of [Y]."  I am greeted with "You don't look Metis." ... "Why are you siding with them?" ... "How do I know your Metis?" ... "So what, you get all sorts of freebies like they do?" ...etc. And sometimes ruins my relationship with said people.

Situation 2: I walk in to wherever... it doesn't really matter. For sake of argument we'll say a coffee shop. There is a First Nations person there. I ask them for a favor like "Could you hand me one of those napkins?" They respond with, "You think I'm lazy?! It's just because I'm First Nations isn't it?" I bite my tongue to avoid saying no it is just because you were closer and go for, "Hey sorry, I didn't mean to upset you. I'm Metis." Then I am greeted with "You don't look Metis." ... "Why do you Metis always think you are so great?" ... "I bet you are just saying that. You aren't Metis, are you?" ... "You just wish you were Native." ... "Yeah, whatever...."

Okay.... let me explain something. When I am saying "I am Metis" in these situations, what I actually mean is "Hey, we aren't that different. Can't everyone just get along... please?!" or "Look, I understand you are having a bad day. I have them too. I'd appreciate if you didn't take out your frustration on other people though."

Where is this all going? I want to talk about Chief Spence. It seems to be an unavoidable topic lately. Let me remind you "I am Metis." (Please refer back to the above paragraph if you forget what I mean by that at any time between now and the end of the post.)

I have been seeing a lot of ignorant posts on this topic lately on Facebook. I have also read a lot of ignorant news articles. Let me set it out for you neatly...

"Chief Spence hasn't really been on hunger strike like the media suggests..."
Okay, from what I have read she has been subsisting on liquids, mostly soup broth for sustenance. I read this in an article from January 11th:
"Spence, who has been consuming only water, medicinal teas and fish broth for 35 days, says Johnston"  (Johnston being the Governor General of Canada.) 

Read more:

Now, I don't know about you but I would be pretty darn sick and starving if I lived on only fish broth for 35+ days. I have been on an elimination diet before where you gradually over the course of a month eliminate things from your diet until eventually you are only drinking water for a day... then you gradually reintroduce these foods. I got so weak I had to reintroduce things early. I can't imagine the shock to your system if you suddenly go from full meals to just fish broth, and then sustain that for any length of time!

And yes, I suppose the media can be misleading. It has a bias, like anything else. It is just as well Chief Spence was consuming something or she would've been dead long before Harper ever decided to talk with her.

"Idle No More is a sham. The government shouldn't give Spence any more money!" or "They shouldn't meet with her."

Okay, there are a lot of things wrong with this. I agree they shouldn't give Chief Spence any more money. she obviously is terrible at money management and profiting off of reserve funds. Interestingly enough Stephen Harper seems to have similar money management skills when it comes to Canada. Maybe we shouldn't give him any more money either. The issue is people on Spence's reserve still need money. Some people have said not to give her anything until they can audit all reserves and account for money. The government does not have the time or resources to do that. Should it? Yes, probably, in the long run. Even better, set up on-reserve education in money managing.

The other issue is Idle No More and Spence's hunger strike don't directly have anything to do with money. It is a protest of Omnibus Bill C 45. This is a blanket bill that is the government's way of quickly passing a number of unrelated laws. Now the main ones that Spence is worried about are land and water (ie. environmental) legislature, and then a few laws that have to do with how the government and First Nations people interact. Since it's creation the Idle No More movement has grown to include people interested in changes in a lot of legislature covered in Bill C 45, but the focus has primarily been environmental laws. The concern has a lot to do with the pipeline being put through British Columbia to get petroleum products from the Alberta oil sands to the BC coast for shipping overseas. Citizens are concerned about environmental damage to fragile ecosystems, some of which also are part of reserve land.

So basically, yes... Spence is corrupt when it comes to money. Don't give her money. If her reserve needs money find some way to give it directly to the people who need it. That aside, she is not currently asking for money... she is asking for a meeting regarding Bill C 45. I think you should give it to her. I have concerns with some of that legislature too and I encourage other Canadians to read it carefully if you haven't. You will be shocked what is in there!

"We need to stop giving First Nations people/reserves money."

There are a lot of problems on reserves we don't even realize. Corrupt band leaders/chiefs are common. If you are interested in learning more about this you should read, "Dances with Dependency" by Calvin Helin. Don't let the First Nations style cyclical argument and storytelling method throw you off. It is full of important information and relevant statistics. There is no clear cut answer for this issue.

"Spence needs to go through the proper channels."

A. She has tried.... it wasn't getting her anywhere.
B. This is a time-sensitive issue with the pipeline in BC.

"Idle No More protesters have no right to block highways and other transportation routes."

I am pretty sure this has happened with protests throughout Canadian (and world) history. I know it is inconvenient, but I think that is the point.