Saturday, July 29, 2017

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls - Part 2

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – Part Two
            I guess one of the reasons Mennonites empathize with Indigenous people to the degree they do is the similarities of their respective situations from the past. Me an’ the Missus visited the Mennonite Heritage Center a while back an’ on the way home she says to me, “Holy crackers, there’s Mennonites everywhere!” She was talkin’ about the Mennonite Central Committee and all its involvements in every corner of society.
            Well, it’s true. Them buggers are everywhere. They’re in government, in industry, in agriculture – you name it an’ you’ll find ‘em. The reason I bring this up is that given their treatment in the old South Russia, they should have pretty well been wiped out – but they weren’t. There are many parallels in the story of the Mennonites and the Indigenous nations, the difference being that it was the men and older boys who were taken away instead of the children. That left the women and younger children to look after the farms and businesses.
            What would happen was that in the evening or at night several armed authorities would show up at a given house and demand entry. Using their authority they would search through the house, looking for letters or papers jewelry or wealth of some sort to incriminate the resident. They would then give the head of the house about five minutes to pack a few clothes, a little food to eat and pack him off to a courthouse in another town, promising the mother and the children that he would return in a day or two. That of course was a lie since many of them never returned. It got to the point where every household had a package prepared to give to the head of the family for his journey to court.
            Well that’s a bit of an over simplification, but generally pretty close to what happened. There is a book with lists of people who were shot, or deported to northern Siberia or imprisoned for long terms, some of my own relatives among them. It’s a gruesome record.
            Now this is the point I’m trying to make. One of the women waiting to tell her story to the commission for Missing and Murdered Women and Girls is extremely frustrated with the commission and its activities. The hoops these people have to jump through to get at the commission overwhelms her and she is afraid she’ll never get to tell her tale. That is what confuses me. I totally agree with her in that every time you get to tell your story, you heal a little bit. So the stories must be told – all of them!
            The question is, must they be told to the commission being run by the government? No, they must be told to someone who will listen. To my way of thinking, the system is entirely backwards. Indigenous peoples have been telling stories for ever. They have good memories and a penchant for the truth. We see that over and over.
            So now we have a group of white people who were and are the enemy setting the terms of when and how the affected people can speak, subordinating the indigenous people once again.
            And who are these people setting the agenda? Oh yeah, they’re government people and bureaucrats who have no experience in being bullied by their own kind. They have no idea of what goes on in the minds of the people affected by these losses.

            Just sayin’.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls - Part 1

This is a new series coming up that I thought was important to talk about. It's not so much about the people who have gone missing as it is about the survivors and their families, and the commission regulating the procedure of dealing with the issue. I don't know how many parts there will be to this, but it will end when I've had my say. Here is part one:

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
            Well, let’s begin with studies and their costs. Forget that! There is so much of that out there it appears to be a whole industry in and of itself. I can remember that from my old real estate days when a fellow got a government grant to do a study on starting up a fish farm in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I think he got a $45,000.00 grant to study the feasibility of the venture that never got anywhere. But he was happy with the grant money and went on his way. Then there were the guys who wanted to turn water into fuel, and so on ad infinitum.
            The same thing more or less applies to Indigenous issues. Marilyn Poitras is exactly right in my opinion regarding these studies and inquiries. We’ve been there, done that, it hasn’t worked. So why are we still doing that? I’m not willing to believe that the Government is so na├»ve as to really think they need another set of studies to address the problem or even to define what the problem is – or if there is one. I rather suspect that these studies and inquiries are a foil to avoid making a decision or even to put it off. I imagine a good grant writer can make a decent living uncovering this stuff.
            Well, so much for the churches, the Government bureaucracy and all the other white colonialists intent on maintaining the status quo for as long as they can. It is they who are intent on maintaining this sustainable industry at the expense of Indigenous people. But sooner or later that must also stop.
            As for the Indigenous People, at least in Canada, they are not without blemish either. They were very quick to pick up on the white man’s ways in terms of hoarding money and keeping it from the communities who needed it, and could cite long winded explanations for it.
            And the Elders will not speak. They have nothing to say. If you look at the teaching of the Seven Fires of the Anishinabec, you will see that it is exactly what is foretold. But there is one thing I don’t quite agree with and that is that the people wait for a young man who will lift them out of their wretchedness and a return to the spiritual world. It’s not that I disagree so much as I don’t understand. Why are the people waiting for someone else to lift them out of their misery? Why are they not doing it themselves?

            Well, you mustn’t take too much stock in what I say. I am after all, speaking from the top shelf where all my knowledge and experience are put away as irrelevant, part of ancient history. But I’ll speak my mind anyway. It looks like this is going to be a multiple piece, so look for the next post after this.

            Just sayin’.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty - Six

Oh God – Part Twenty – Six
                   Schwartz thought about it for a minute. Basically it was not a bad idea, so he said out loud, “I forgive myself for all the crap I did on other people,”
                   Well that didn’t work! God, who was forever in his face, was suddenly absent. Now what?  “Hey God,” said Schwartz, “I forgave myself an’ nothin’ happened. What’s up with that?”
                   “What did you forgive yourself for, Schwartz?
                   “Oh, everything in general, I guess.”
                   “But what specifically did you forgive yourself for?”
                   Schwartz thought for a moment, “I don’t know,” he admitted.  “ I really don’t remember.” That was odd. He really didn’t remember the specific things that had been so prominent on his list of offenses. In fact, he was feeling a little lighter, less burdened as it were for the loss of these memories. “God,” he said in a business-like voice as though he were conducting a meeting. “We have to discuss a few things about my coming here in the first place.” Well he may have lost his memory of earthly things, but at least his organizational skills were still intact.
                   “It was probably a redundant call,” said God reflectively. “The human race never ceases to surprise me. You’d think they’d use the brains I gave them for useful reasoning. But instead they’re in such a rush to do everything faster and shorter, not realizing that it’s contributing to their own demise that much sooner.”
                   “You mean . . . . ,” Schwartz started to say.
                   “I mean they are racing toward their end at top speed. I don’t have to do nothin’. It’s a bit of a shame though about all them other creatures on earth but . . . . . .”
                   “You mean the world itself will come to an end?”
                   “No, the world itself won’t explode or dry up or anything like that. But after all the damage humans have done, it will take a while to heal itself. That’ll give me time to rethink my creations. Fortunately by then I’ll have turned over all the unworthy spirits to Satan to fry into eternity and I’ll be left with the good ones to make the new world into a homogeneous loving and caring place.”
                   “So how long will that take?” wondered Schwartz.
                   “Oh, maybe a million years or so, maybe two, it’s hard to say.
                   “A MILLION OR TWO YEARS! All of life will be forgotten by then,” lamented Schwartz.
                    “Not really, not in the grand scheme of things. It took several billion years before there was any possibility of life surviving on earth, so a million years here or there is no big deal.”
                   “And the souls you sent to hell – what about them?” was Schwartz’ next question.
                   “Ha ha, they’ll be screamin’ an’ yellin’ an’ sizzlin’ on Satan’s barbeque.”
                   Schwartz shuddered at the thought. That could have been him for God’s sake. Well, except for God’s sake. “An’ what about us up here in heaven, what happens to us?”
                   “Well, you good souls who have shown your loyalty and dedication will be sent out again to re-populate the earth with love and goodness and proper respect for the atmosphere around you. It will be a perfect world.  As for Satan’s bunch – to hell with them!” God chuckled at his own joke.

                   There was a huge crash in the kitchen that echoed throughout the dining room. God winked at Schwartz and muttered, “Even here there are some that like to give orders.”

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty - Five

Oh God – Part Twenty – Five
            “Schwartz mulled that over for a bit.”So there’s really no Heaven or Hell?” he pondered.
            “Of course there is. It’s just not where you thought it was,” answered God.
                   “Aw crap!” complained Schwartz, “Where is it then?” He heard dishes rattling in the kitchen.
                   “It’s everywhere, especially within your own spirit. In fact, your spirit is also within us. We are inextricably connected, so heaven and hell are all around you and even within you. You and your spirit are essentially an extension of ourselves and have nothing to do with your dad blamed churches, religions or cults. Basically, we are all one.”
                   “In other words,” Schwartz summed up, “our whole time on earth is nothing more than an exercise in futility, a total waste of time.”
                   “In one sense I suppose you’d be right Schwartz,” replied God, “if it was about you, but it’s not. The only meaning the things you do on earth have are as a test of your character, the strength of your spirit. After that, they are of no value at all. They are merely a means to an end.”
                   “Well that’s kind of depressing, isn’t it?  I mean, you work and toil all your life for something and then when you die, you have to throw it all away as though it never existed in the first place? That doesn’t seem fair.”
                   “You didn’t think you could bring it all with you did you?” asked God.
                   “No, but at least I’d like to have credit for it. After all, I’m the guy who did all these things. At least I was able to toot my own horn when I was living in hell.”
                   “And who was listening to you?”
                   “Nobody I guess.” Schwartz slumped listlessly at the thought.
                   “And did you also crow about the ways in which you cheated people out of what was rightfully theirs?”
                   “Why not?”
                   “Guilt, I imagine.”
                   “Do you see the futility in all that? Is that what you want for all eternity?”
                   “No, of course I don’t. I just can’t deal with it anymore. I suppose that’s why I keep on about my achievements so much, to drown out my guilt.”
                   “Well, you seem to have a grasp of your miserable situation, but you haven’t cottoned on to the solution yet have you?”
                   “That’s what’s holding me down. Until I do, I’ll have no peace.”
                   “It’s complicated, yet it’s so simple. It’s called ‘forgiveness’.”
                   “FORGIVENESS?” shouted Schwartz. “Who in blazes am I gonna forgive – myself?”

                   “Exactly,” said the Lord.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty - Four

Oh God – Part Twenty – Four
            Schwartz thought about that for a minute. All the wealth he had amassed over the years lay back there in the earthly world, likely fought over and split up between the heirs to his estate.  But his name, his name would have been erased the moment the various cheques cleared the banks and his legacy would become someone else’s. That’s just how things worked in that world.           
            Well, and of course the chaos continued in hell too, where things were remembered and still being trumpeted. It was becoming distasteful for Schwartz. He didn’t like it one bit and wanted no part of it anymore.
            “That’s a good start,” God noted.
            Schwartz found it strange that every time he thought or said something, God was right there to answer him or make a comment. “You know the myth of the two sides of your conscience sitting on either shoulder to advise you what to do. That’s not as much of a myth as people might think. It has to do with your conscience; your spirit as it were and is really an extension of the afterlife. It’s basically a communication system that Satan and I provide to help humans make a determination of their actions,” God commented, almost casually. “So you see, we are constantly with you.”
            “Hmph,” grunted Schwartz, “so you’re like that with everybody?”
            “Of course! We are God and Satan. We can split ourselves up in as many parts as there are spirits. We are infinite.
            “In other words,” pondered Schwartz, “no matter what God we choose to worship, we always end up with you?”
            God let out a guffaw that was like a volley of rolling thunder. He was particularly amused. “Do you really think people get to choose who their God is?” he laughed. “You see, there’s the rub. People have the idea that it’s all about them. That’s actually how you got here, working with Satan and setting up systems of acronyms. Your heart was in the right place but your mind was short sighted as is always the case with humanity. So I decided to give you the opportunity to find more. I believe that perhaps you might have got a glimpse of what you’re after.
            “Now you have to imagine me an’ Satan, one on each side tuggin’ at your spirit. That’s what we do – continually. The choices you make are strictly up to you. We don’t interfere, but we are always with you and within you. So you see, you have no choice about other Gods (either good or bad) because we are already there.”
            “That certainly puts a lie to everything we’ve ever been taught!”     

            “That’s humans for you,” announced God.