Friday, December 21, 2012

Theresa Spence and The Canadian "Spring"?

I don't know how she is doing it, but Chief Theresa Spence has been on a hunger strike now for I believe 8 days. She vows to stay on this strike until Prime Minister Stephen Harper meets with her. The issues? Well, I'm not one hundred percent sure. As this is going on, the Idle No More movement has also kicked in, and the demands by this group seem to go a lot farther than Spence's demands. Spence seems to be focused mostly on living conditions for natives, which is a very fair issue. We all know, or at least should know, that often living conditions can be rather sub standard on some reserves. I mean, there are any number of reasons for this beyond just failures of the Canadian Government. But, regardless it is an important issue and Spence has a right to do what she is doing. I also believe that as a leader within her community, a Chief representing people under the watch of the Canadian Government, she deserves to be paid attention to by PM Harper.

So, here we are, in Canada, in (almost) 2013, and a leader in a community in Canada feels so desperate that she feels she must go on a hunger strike to be heard? This is insane. This should not be. This is Canada! This is a land of freedom, where we negotiate, talk and come to understandings, where we try to work together and work out our least in theory, at least in my mind. But what gets to me is that Harper doesn't seem to interested in meeting with her. Why?? I don't get it.

After declaring a state of emergency on her Northern Ontario reserve over the fact that several families were living in poor conditions, in sub par housing, she was attacked as being a bad leader who mismanaged finances. Apparently, based on people looking into things...she didn't. All the money she spent on the reserve was used in a way approved by the Canadian Government. That doesn't mean I think that all decisions made on the reserve were perfect, or that a few things didn't fall through the cracks. What it does mean is that she isn't the evil lady that many on the right in Canada and within the Federal Government portrayed her as. So, to say the least, she has a history with the Canadian government.

So, why on earth would Harper not meet with her to iron out some of the issues they have had and help to solve issues so that we can all move forward?? It makes no sense to me. It's especially difficult to understand seeing as the Federal Government is the one who is dealing directly with Native leaders in this country. There is no Premier to go to. There is no other local government. There is the Canadian government.

She also represents a growing movement of people that are sick of what has been going on. This is a country that, for whatever reason, has never fully been able to deal adequately with issues pertaining to First Nations peoples and things just seem to be getting worse. We have an unfortunately large percentage of Natives in Canadian jails, one of the highest suicide rates in the world, a generation raising children that are still haunted by the boarding school nightmare, and nothing appears on the surface to be getting resolved. Land claims court cases get backlogged for years and years, deals that have been made in the past have been broken, new development for extracting resources is causing major environmental damage and affecting the lives of Natives probably more than many other people in Canada because it impacts their lands that they use for hunting and fishing...and living on in general. So, there are issues that need to be addressed. Our Prime Minister however doesn't seem very interested in it.

So, now what? How long is this hunger strike going to have to go on before Harper actually has dialogue with Theresa Spence, and starts addressing issues that affect Natives all over Canada. Not only that, but issues, that in the end, impact everyone in Canada, not just Natives. It's just beyond my belief that this is happening. I'm saddened that this is the way it is in Canada. I seldom hear of hunger strikes outside of places that aren't run by dictators or very corrupt regimes, unless I am missing something. How can this be happening in Canada???

All I can say is that I wish Theresa Spence all the best and hope that Harper visits her before it's too late. I hope he understands the consequences that he will face if, for some reason, she is allowed to die. I can imagine riots, road blocks, and violence. Before it gets to that, let's have dialogue. Meet with her, Mr. Harper! It's the right thing to do. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sandy Hook: The Tip of an Iceberg of Global Pain.

There was no escaping the news today that 27 people, 20 of them young children, were killed today when a gunman entered a school in Newton, Connecticut.

This news has absolutely shocked the US, Canada, and people in many other countries. And it is horrible. It was a disgusting act that has caused needless destruction and pain. It has people talking about gun control again, it has people praying, it has people saddened, it has people shaken.


I do not mean to take away from the seriousness of today's news or undermine the feelings of people. I do not wish to downplay the feelings of anyone. But, I also feel that we should all be aware of something.

Obviously, I'm not the only one who has brought this up. Much focus has been put on these children. However, in many other places in the world that aren't the US, children died today in just as horrific ways. I look at Syria. I look at areas in Africa that are suffering from drought. There was no shortage of children who died today while being abused and mistreated. There was no shortage of children being trafficked, working in jobs they shouldn't be working in, dying of preventable, treatable diseases, being killed in horrific accidents or being caught in a war zone.

How often do we forget these nameless faceless children? Did they not die in a way that attracted a wide enough television audience? Are the lives of these children worth less than the lives of the children in Newton?

Again, this is no way is meant to be an attack on the people suffering greatly in Newton or anywhere where people are affected. This truly was a terrible tragedy. But today I hear words like "innocent children" or that these children have had their innocence taken away. There are children in the world who lost their innocence at a very early age that suffer greatly that we fail to see. Over and over again the question of "How do I tell my children?" came up. Well, how do people in far away places tell children when their parents are killed in war?

The truth is, there is more pain and suffering in this world than we care to imagine. It's sad and unfortunate. It will always be this way. There will always be pain. There will always be death. There will always be a loss of innocence at any age. All children who suffer anywhere are worthy of the same respect, honour, sympathy and empathy as the children in Newton.

Let's remember all those who suffered today, and be grateful if we were not one of them. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rob Ford's Weight

Look people, we all know that the ridiculously ridiculous Mayor of Toronto (or IS he? Well, at the moment he still is), Mr. Rob Ford is a large man. But COME ON, surely there are other things that people can focus on, like, maybe the fact that he puts his football team before, you know, the well being and inner workings of the largest city in Canada. Making fun of his weight? That's just silly, petty playground "bullying" kind of stuff.

In this day and age when we must fight so hard for body image acceptance, the first thing that people want to pick on when it comes to this incompetent buffoon is his weight. Look, he's a big guy, we all know that. We know that for health reasons it's most likely the best idea to lose some weight, but physically he is who he is. Attacking the guy based on his weight is much akin to attacking someone like Barak Obama for the colour of his skin. How does Ford's weight come into play here?

Please, people, the guy has enough ridiculousness surrounding him that there is no need to go after his weight. If there is one way in which we should accept him, it is as who he is physically, even if we don't accept his politics. I feel for kids who turn on the TV or go to "social media" or whatever they are calling it these days, and see people making fun of Ford for his weight. If they happen to be on the larger side, they read this, look at themselves and....well, I wonder what they think?

Anyway, that's it. That's all. I don't like Rob Ford. I don't like his personality, his politics or his politics and his personality....and definitely his personality....and politics. But I accept him for who he is physically and don't believe that it plays any role in his personality....and politics. Leave him be on the weight issue people! Let's love our bodies for what they are!