TODAY 4 #CANADASCENE: On #Parliament #Metis #artist David Garneau performs “Dear John, Louis David Riel”


Métis artist David Garneau’s performance “Dear John, Louis David Riel” (www.nac-cna.ca)

The National Arts Centre Ottawa offers more programming on Louis Riel.

Métis artist, writer and educator David Garneau is in town for a performance on the history of Louis Riel. The work is part of the programming for the NAC’s Canada Scene and follows the controversial Louis Riel opera that opened this past weekend at the NAC. The performance will take place on Parliament Hill today at the Sir John A. Macdonald statue.

From the NAC:

Join Métis artist David Garneau at the bronze statue of Sir John A. Macdonald on Parliament Hill for a powerful performative dialogue between the Métis leader Louis Riel and Canada’s first prime minister. Dressed as Riel, Garneau imagines an encounter between Riel and Macdonald, who charged Riel with high treason in 1885, leading to Riel’s execution by hanging. The artist’s performance touches on themes of masculinity and power display, Métis identity, and the complexity of reconciliation – which assumes that a harmonious relationship existed between the two parties in the first place. (read more…)

WHEN: Monday, June 19, 2017
WHERE: Parliament Hill, 111 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Canada at the Sir John A. MacDonald statue

FREE EVENT!

OTTAWA DEMAIN: #WMWCanada 4 #WomensMarchOnWashington @ #HumanRights #Monument #Ottawa City Hall @ 11 am

Tweet #WMWCanada #WomensMarch & #WomensMarchOnWashington 2
@CdnWomenMarch @womensmarch

FACEBOOK: 

Manif Solidaire de la Marche des Femmes à Washington DC. La rencontre d’Ottawa est une de plusieurs événements ayant lieu au pays et sert aussi de lieu officiel de regroupement au Canada.

Parcours: Débute au Monument aux Droits de la personne, se poursuivra via Laurier pour se conclure àu Bronson Centre où auront lieu des présentations à l’intérieur.

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Le 21 janvier 2017, nous marcherons.

Nous marcherons en solidarité avec les centaines de milliers de femmes à Washington alors qu’elles investiront la rue de leurs buts communs et de leurs voix distinctes.

Nous exprimerons notre solidarité envers celles et ceux faisant partie de rassemblements semblables partout au Canada et dans le monde pour soutenir les droits des femmes en tant que partie intégrante du respect des droits de la personne. Nous nous unissons contre les paroles, les attitudes et les actions qui causent des clivages telles que nous avons observé au cours des événements de l’année dernière.

Nous affirmerons haut et fort notre soutien envers les droits des femmes de tous horizons.

**ESPRIT DE LA MARCHE & CONSIDÉRATIONS ÉTHIQUES**
Cette marche non-violente, inclusive et intersectionnelle a pour objectif de manifester en faveur des droits des femmes – toutes les femmes – peu importe leur appartenance ethnique, leur croyances religieuses, leur affiliations politiques, leur identité de genre cis/trans ou leur orientation sexuelle. La violence, qu’elle soit pour ou contre la droite, la gauche, le centre ou les indépendants, n’est pas la bienvenue et ne sera pas tolérée. Nous sommes résolument engagées envers le féminisme et l’inclusion sociale.

  • Femmes et filles, Personnes transgenres ou au genre fluide
  • Hommes et garçons
  • Familles
  • Minorité visible
  • Immigrants
  • Communauté LGBTQI+
  • Personnes vivant avec un handicap
  • Personnes oeuvrant au sein d’un métier du sexe
  • Toutes les communautés religieuses
  • Défenseurs du changement climatique
  • Toute autre personne voulant offrir son soutien

Cet événement a été mis sur pied suite à l’élection de Trump à la Maison Blanche en réponse aux attitudes, messages et actions discriminatoires, incitant à la haine, qui ont émergé pendant la campagne et qui continuent d’être véhiculés par les discours politiques partout au monde. Nous reconnaissons que même au Canada, il reste beaucoup de chemin à faire. La violence conjugale, l’harcèlement en milieu de travail, le sexisme à l’école et la dénégation des victimes d’agressions sexuelles représentent tous des réalités d’ici qu’il presse toujours de solutionner. Cette marche servira de plateforme où les femmes les plus marginalisées de notre pays pourront s’exprimer et se faire entendre.

À ce jour, aucun pays au monde n’a encore atteint l’égalité entre les sexes, mais cela ne signifie pas que nous devons y renoncer. Nous ne tolérerons aucune discrimination ni aucune victimisation des femmes, ni aucune violation des droits des femmes, que ce soit par des mots, des actions ou des politiques. Nous ne permettrons pas que nos droits durement gagnés soient floués et nous continuerons notre quête d’une égalité intersectionnelle et substantielle!

“Assez égales”, ça ne suffit pas!
Nous espérons que nos frères, pères, fils, maris et autres alliés masculins marcheront à nos côtés — les droits des femmes font partie intégrante des droits de la personne!

Cet événement n’est que le début. Unissons-nous. Soyez solidaires.

MARCHES LOCALES AU CANADA
Groupe canadien qui voyagera vers Washington D.C.
– Vancouver CB
– Vallée-de-l’Okanagan Valley/Kelowna CB
– Nanaimo CB
– Kamloops CB
– Edmonton AB
– Calgary AB
– Winnipeg MB
– Toronto ON
– Ottawa ON
– Montréal QC
– Halifax NÉ 
– Gabriola CB
– Grand Forks CB
– Kingston ON
– Lethbridge AB 
– Happy Valley/Goose Bay/North West River Beach LAB
– Niagara/St.Catharines ON
– St.John’s TN
– London ON
– Hamilton ON
– Île Bowen CB
– Fredericton NB
– Victoria CB
– Whitehorse YT 
– Saskatoon SK
– Kootenay Bay CB @ Yasodhara Ashram
– Saint John NB
– Sutton QC

Coordination américaine des marches locales avec liens par État :http://www.facebook.com/events/2169332969958991/

OTTAWA TOMORROW: #WMWCanada 4 #WomensMarchOnWashington @ #HumanRights #Monument #Ottawa City Hall @ 11 am

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington DC

Tweet  #WMWCanada #WomensMarch & #WomensMarchOnWashington to @CdnWomenMarch @womensmarch

FROM THE FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE: 

Solidarity/Sister March with Women’s March on Washington #WomensMarch. The Ottawa gathering @wmwottawawomenmarch is one of many local events taking place in Canada and also serves as the official Canadian Sister March #WMWCanada.

Route: Starts at the Human Rights Monument, proceeding via Lisgar to Laurier and then marching to the Bronson Centre at 211 Bronson ave for indoor rally!

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On January 21st, 2017, we will march.

We will march the same day as hundreds of thousands of women in Washington as they take to the streets – all with a common goal but each with a diverse voice.

We will stand in solidarity with people gathering all over Canada and the world that day in support of women’s rights as an integral part of recognizing human rights. We will rally against the divisive words, attitudes and actions sparked by the events of the last year.

We will take a stand and support the rights of ALL women.

**SPIRIT AND ETHOS OF THE MARCH**
The purpose of this *non-violent*, *inclusive* and *intersectional* protest is to take a stand for and support women’s rights — the rights of ALL women — with women from all races, all religious communities, all political affiliations, cis or transgender and all sexual orientations. Violence, whether from or against the right-wing, left-wing, centre or independents, is not welcome and will not be condoned. We are unabashedly committed to intersectional feminism and inclusion:

  • Women & Girls & Femmes & Gender Non-conforming & Gender fluid
  • Men & Boys
  • Families
  • People of Color
  • Immigrants
  • LGBTQI+ Community
  • Individuals with disabilities
  • Sex Workers
  • ALL religious communities
  • Climate Change Advocates
  • Anyone else who wants to come out in support!

This North American event was sparked by Trump’s election to the White House and is a response to the hate-inciting, divisive, discriminatory attitudes, messages and actions that emerged and have been normalized in political discourse around the globe. We also recognize that even in Canada, we still have so much work to do. Domestic violence, workplace harassment, gender bias in education & derogatory attitudes towards sexual assault survivors are all real and pressing issues here at home. This march will serve as a platform for these women in our most marginalized communities to speak and be heard.

To date, there is no country in the world that has yet achieved gender equality, but that does not mean we should give up striving towards it. We will not tolerate any discrimination or victimization of women or any violation of women’s rights, whether through words, actions or policies. We will not allow our hard-won rights to be trampled on and we will not be stopped in our pursuit of intersectional, substantive equality for women rights and human rights that have yet to be recognized!

“Equal enough” is NOT enough!
We hope to see our brothers, fathers, sons, husbands and other male allies marching with us — women’s rights are a crucial part of human rights!

This event is just the beginning. Unite with us. Stand in solidarity.

NATIONAL AND LOCAL MARCHES IN CANADA
Canadian Contingent going to Washington D.C
Vancouver BC
Okanagan Valley/Kelowna BC
Nanaimo BC
Kamloops BC
Edmonton AB
Calgary AB
Winnipeg MB
Toronto ON
Ottawa ON
Montreal QC
Halifax NS
Gabriola BC
Grand Forks BC
Kingston ON
Lethbridge AB
Happy Valley/Goose Bay/North West River Beach LAB
Niagara/St.Catharines ON
St.John’s NL
London ON
Hamilton ON
Bowen Island BC
Fredericton NB
Victoria BC
Whitehorse YT 
Saskatoon SK
Kootenay Bay BC @ Yasodhara Ashram 
Saint John NB
Sutton QC

US Page is here, with links to other States’ pages:https://www.facebook.com/events/2169332969958991/

BLACK LIVES MATTER: For Andrew Loku, Sandra Bland & …

…Jermaine Carpy,  #KindraChapman, #RalkinaJones, #RaynettaTurner, #JoyceCurnell, #EricGarner, #MichaelBrown#TamirRice#TrayvonMartin

I’ve tried to write this post many times. Every time another man or woman is killed by the police and the news comes up on my feed. Another friend, usually a Black friend, sharing, yet again, a sickening story.

I am going to try and write about how it makes me feel as someone who isn’t black but has loved ones who are. I am going to breakdown what happens to my body – the taste of fear that starts to hit the back of my mouth, the hot tingling that runs from my feet up my spine. My mind goes to a place that I can’t explain, it’s primal, and my ability to offer myself some sort of logic ceases. Even inside my own head there here is no passage out. I stop thinking and my body takes over. I panic wondering how the hell I am going to protect my loved ones.

What if they have a moment where they are pushed too far and that tension breaks costing them their life? Will others be around to intervene on their behalf? As we have already seen that often doesn’t even matter.

That’s my body’s reaction. And so what is the reaction of the parents, wives, husbands, and children who find out, that at the hands of someone whose job is to serve and protect, their loved one’s life has been taken? Their bodies must sink into a spot they will never fully recover from. And if they are Black themselves, they have to continue to go out into a world that has proven it’s hostile. There is no way they can reconcile this. Not everything happens for a reason and has a silver lining if you just look hard enough. Things happen because there are systems in place that allow for racism to continue despite the fact that slavery, in North America, has legally ended. Things aren’t in the past because the mechanisms, social structures and economic drivers that positioned slavery as acceptable are still in place.

Andrew Loku. The most heartbreaking thing I read was a friend of Andrew’s who cried out that he survived war in Sudan to be killed by police in Canada.

It’s happening here folks. Close to home.

Do you have someone in your family who is Black? What about your favourite teacher? Or your high school sweetheart? A good friend, your dentist, your therapist, the great neighbours you grew up beside?  If these people matter to you what will you do to protect them?

I brought my body to the Black Lives Matter Toronto Die-in for Eric Garner back in December. And who did I see there? Black people.

For all the talk of how Multicultural our society is and for all the families I see that are multi-racial I wondered where were all the people whose cousins are Black, whose friend or lover or business partner is Black? Where were all the people who don’t have to carry skin colour as a burden? Why aren’t they here to help share lighten that burden for the people they care for?

How does this craziness end? By non-Black bodies saying enough – by standing their embodied with a physical presence in the moment to say I am here committed to this cause. Let those being targeted know that you get it that there is a hatred for Black bodies and that even in saying BLACK BODIES it allows a way for us to distance ourselves. Yes, all lives matter but at this time Black Lives are the ones at risk. So what are you going to do?

Because I want you to help protect my loved ones. I want you to help be the buffer that creates a circle of safety around the people I care about who need to be protected.

I want you to show up to Black LIves Matter events because when everyone shows up, not just those who are targeted, that will be how we change this thing.

This just came through my feed:

“For all you crying about this damn lion while it’s open season on black people but remain silent… I see you.”  ~ Dayna Danger

Don’t be that person.

#BlackLivesMatter Tonight in Ottawa
Friday, July 21 at 8:22 pm
Vigil for Sandra Bland
More info on the Facebook Event Page

Black Lives Matter Ottawa Coalition & Black Lives Matter Toronto Coalition 

And for Eric Garner, Michael Brown Jr, Tanisha Martin, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin,

OTTAWA THIS WEEKEND IN SOLIDARITY: May 30 #BlackLivesMatter & May 31 TRC Walk for Reconciliation

SATURDAY MAY 30th #BlackLivesMatter Ottawa March

WHEN: 5 pm
WHERE: Meet at the U.S.Embassy 490 Sussex Drive & walk to the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street

“BlakCollectiv invites you to join us in our Black Lives Matter March. We will be meeting at 5:00pm in front of the U.S. Embassy, 490 Sussex Dr. on May 30th 2015. We will be marching in remembrance of the Black lives lost to police brutality, including cis and trans black women.

We would like everyone to join us in this march to shed light to the issues that our communities are currently facing, and to let the world know that we will not be silent!

This is a peaceful protest so feel free to bring your own posters, family and friends to support. However , we do ask that any organizations that attend to please refrain from using this march as a promotional opportunity. This march is meant for healing and remembering the lives lost, do not come with intentions to disrespect this message.

Allyship: an active, consistent, and arduous practice of unlearning and re-evaluating, in which a person of privilege seeks to operate in solidarity with a marginalized group of people. Allyship is not an identity—it is a lifelong process of building relationships based on trust, consistency, and accountability with marginalized individuals and/or groups of people.”

More info on ways you can help or donate here.

#BlackLivesMatter

SUNDAY MAY 31th Truth and Reconciliation Commission “Walk for Reconciliation”

WHEN: 11 am program begins & 12 pm starts
WHERE: The Walk will start from École secondaire de l’Île, 255 rue Saint-Rédempteur Street in Gatineau (next to the Robert Guertin Arena, where there will be parking) and the walk will end at The Walk will end at Marion Dewar Plaza (Ottawa CIty Hall), 110 Laurier Ave. West.

SHUTTLE BUSES FROM TORONTO & MONTREAL: Round trip buses for youth depart from downtown Toronto @ 6:00 am & Montreal @ 8:00 am and will depart home for Toronto & Montreal @ 6PM

We invite youth to confirm your space contact:
trcwalk2015@canadianroots.ca or bolduc.jessica@gmail.com

“The Walk for Reconciliation is designed to transform and renew the very essence of relationships among Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians. It sounds so simple, but just the act of gathering and walking and sharing our stories can join us all in a shared commitment to creating a new way forward in our relationships with each other. Our future depends on being able to simply get along, respecting each other for the unique gifts we bring.

On May 31, we will walk together in Ottawa to express our determination in rebuilding the relationships among Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians. Join Us.”

More info on the Facebook Event Page and the Truth & Reconciliation Commission website.

#2Reconcile

OTTAWA LOVE: New Opportunities with The Governor General’s Rideau Hall Foundation, CUAG & Michaëlle Jean’s The Power of the Arts

Diverse group of people standing in half circleRideau Hall Foundation Activators at Rideau Hall, Ottawa. 

In a word this past week has been tremendous! Last fall, on a hunch, I decided to visit Ottawa again after two great visits during the summer for Sakàhan at the National Gallery of Canada. I thought I would stay for just a month. Fast forward a year later and I have decided to make Ottawa my (more) permanent home (with regular visits back to my community in Toronto). The decision to stay has turned out to be a good one!

Now on Board at CUAG, Ottawa!

A week ago it was officially announced that I will be joining the Advisory Board for the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG). When I walked into CUAG for the first time last year to visit Rebecca Belmore’s What is Said and What is Done (literally minutes before it wrapped) I knew I loved what CUAG was up to! Since my arrival in Ottawa they have consistently hosted incredible shows with more amazing ones lined up for the fall season.

Older white man standing in front of podium

Activating Rideau Hall. 

This past weekend I was one of 40 people selected across Canada to be an
“activator” and take part in an incubator for the Governor General His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston’s legacy project Rideau Hall Foundation (Let’s Build Rideau Hall Foundation). As part of the branding team it was our mission to start to envision the key messages and look of the future RHF as well as how to get the word out to potential audiences. It was intense, exhausting and absolutely exhilarating because at the end of it all I realized how truly radical a space I was in. The leaders and co-creators I worked with are committed to building a New Canada that seeks to reconcile historical narratives that have been about exclusion and invisibility in order to grow as a country committed to deep diversity.

Presenting on Culture.

Yesterday I got word that I have been selected to present at the former Governor General Michaëlle Jean’s Power of the Arts Forum. I will be speaking on “THE CURATOR AS A 21ST CENTURY AGENT OF CHANGE: Assessing the role the institutional curator can play in facilitating deep cultural transformation in Canada.”

logo for Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)

Also a big thank you to Ottawa Art Gallery for inviting me this past August to moderate the “Art as Resistance” Panel as part of the People’s Social Forum Ottawa. Another great experience.

And it doesn’t end there! A few more wonderful initiatives are in the works. Canada’s Capital City is full of Change Agents and Cultural Provocateurs. I have been fortunate to join such a wonderful community of talent!

I <3 #Ottawa!

Teepee on grass in front of river and view of Parliament BuildingsImage by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. Taken during Asinabka Film & Media Festival 2014.

 

#IFTHEYGUNNEDMEDOWN: Words by Ottawa’s Poet Just Jamaal

Man speaking into microphone with armed raised up, woman taking a pic of him on cell phone with arm raised up in a salute

In the wake of Michael Brown’s murder the world needs words of grace as an antidote to the hate.

The first time I heard Jamaal Jackson Rogers (Just Jamaal) was while I was busy waiting for a bus. His words made me pause, maybe even let a bus or two go by, because they were too beautiful to ignore. A crowd gathered and stayed in place. More people stopped and stood still. Magic.

Man speaking into microphone outside by tent on sidewalk, crowd gathered around him

Screen capture of tweets by black men showing wish image the media would use if they were gunned down by the police

The poem was BE and it was written by Jamaal along with Nathanael Larochette and Ali Alikhani

People may think they ‘know’ someone based on a quick assessment while sizing up clothing, body language and skin colour.

The #IfTheyGunnedMeDown twitter campaign is about demonstrating that you may not get the full picture of another human being in one quick glance, especially if that glance is informed by racism and media who continue to hype stereotypes and feed the beast.

Below I include Jamaal’s photographic choices for #IfTheyGunnedMeDown along with the first words I heard drop from his lips, mesmerize a crowd and inspire a gathering of souls. I have also included Jamaal’s poem to his young nephew, his own words in response to the slaying of Michael Brown.

Man performing with two other black men, black man on right puts his arm around an older black womanLeft – Jamaal performs. Right – Jamaal puts his arm around his late mother. 

Follow Just Jamaal The Poet on Facebook and twitter @JustJamaalPoet.

BE by Jamaal Jackson Rogers / Ali Alikhani / Nathanael Larochette

You are told in so many subtle and discrete ways that you are not worthy of love, of joy, and after a while, you begin to believe it
And you tell yourself that you are not worthy of being loved, of living each moment on the cusp of joy, and the brink of possibility
Be reminded
That you are worth more than a sea of diamonds or any earthly treasure
Be reminded
That you are worthy of love
Of  joy
Of being loved
Copiously and unapologetically
Be reminded
You are the flowerbed, love is the water, so drink, and dance and sing
For you are the only being in the history of existence to have traveled your uniquely specific journey
No other soul has, or will ever experience what you have
When the universe opened its eyes, it made every effort to save a sacred spiritual voyage it was certain only you could navigate
From birth canal to a canvas you came to be
Like the thickness of earth-green oil pastels on a white blanket
Marking the world with marvelous strokes that hold no mistakes
Because every stroke and every pose that you chose is an act of faith
Like a child colouring their dreams into existence
To create understanding through the precision of persistence
In that first cosmic breath, a microscopic adventure of galactic proportions began
And in this world of consequences and physics, smoke and magic
You are walking, talking mirrors
Majestic reflections that do not need the power of the sun to illuminate perfection
So flow strong, but flow light
And bathe in the beauty of a new day
Tomorrow is a breathe away so inhale each moment
Come home, but come whole
Be the place where mind, matter and spirit become grown
Be reminded
Truth is the only existence. Love, the only power
Because love can only exist in truth
For truth is inarguable
As love is infallible
For you are impeccable
As life is invaluable
So be the drops that make up the crest of ocean waves
Be the blessing of shade in the sun’s hopeful rays
Be the words to the greatest story ever told
On the scale of infinity, be the impossible notes
Be the light immeasurable
Be the endless fields of pre-eternity tasting this one moment of now
Be the breath
The dust
The rock
The star
The earth
The birth
The child
The call
Abandon all limitations of being
For they are of your own weaving
Explore every crevice that is your very own chasm of opportunity
And be in awe when at last you discover
That this life was tailored to suit you alone
And no other
And even if you forget that all of this is true
I will always remember
To say this prayer
For you


NEW POEM ONE DAY ISHMAEL | August 12. 2014 by Jamaal Jackson Rogers

Today.
As the children flooded my home to play.
Right before it began to rain. I had a moment.
It was with my nephew.
He looked at me.
With his busted lip from taking a trip in soccer.
I asked him how it happened.
Just to hear his kind voice speak.
A sound I don’t hear much of in the world anymore.
And he told me.
He fell down trying to trap a ball.
At his other uncles house around the way.
I looked into his gentle eyes.
And he stared right back.
The way only he does.
I didn’t respond.
Cus his eyes trapped me.
With much more success than his failed attempt.
I swear to you he is the sweetest child.
And his parents are just as good.
But in that moment.
The moment I had taken to break from reading news about the murder of #MikeBrown.
The moment I had taken to engage my home full of beautiful brown skinned children.
I realized that.
For all the kindness that is part of my teaching.
In my safe space.
In my home day care.
These children.
My family.
Will still grow up victims.
Targets of rage.
For the colour of their skin.
The simple fact of melanin difference.
And for the first time. In my peaceful home.
I felt as if it had been invaded.
By an evil so frightening that it could destroy my faith in humanity completely.
Prejudice.
Arrogance.
Hate.
I knew that there would be no place for him to run away.
No safe space for him to find peaceful stay.
His eyes told me more than I hoped for.
It told me that one day he may not come to my house with a busted lip from playing soccer.
One day.
He may lie in front of this house with a busted lip from running into coppers.
I looked at him.
And then at the picture of a slain young man on my newsfeed.
I closed the computer doors so that he could not see the image on my screen.
And all I could say was, “Ishmael, you’re going to be okay.”

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown

#JusticeForMichaelBrown

#MikeBrown

#Ferguson

#BlackLivesMatter

Young black man smiling takes a selfie in mirror holding little boy smiling at him. Screen capture of twitter image. At the top a title says This is Michael Brown.

 

WATER: A Human Right AND Responsibility, River Run Walk for Grassy Narrows in Toronto

First Nations Chief with headdress walking in street with CN Tower and crowd of people in background

Our culture around water shows we are entering a spiritual drought.  

We say that clean water is a Human Right. Well, some say. The CEO of Nestlé thinks otherwise and it’s this type of reasoning that has created a situation where I wonder if we have gone past the point of no return.

First Nations Chief with headdress walking in street with CN Tower and crowd of people in background

First Nations Chief with headdress walking in street with CN Tower and crowd of people in background

First Nations Chief with headdress walking in street with CN Tower and crowd of people in backgroundLast week I walked with those in support of Grassy Narrows and the River Run Walk. I had this moment where the absurdity of walking for water hit me. Walking in support of the right to clean water is like walking in support of the children of Gaza to live a peaceful life. It makes no sense. The protection of water, what we need to survive, and the protection of children, the ones who will carry forth our DNA into the future, should be our absolute priority. I remember my pride at one of my first primary school projects. It was about the affects of acid rain on our environment. I was 7 years old at the time and in somewhat sloppy printing writing out the facts (found in my Chickadee Magazine) about how unregulated industries were causing dirty rain to fall from the sky. In my childhood naivety I believed that if I shared this information with my teacher, an adult, people would surely change.

Former Treaty #3 Grand Chief Steve Fobister, who suffers from the effects ALS, ends his hunger strike in order to live to fight on.

Grassy Narrows is a reserve in Northern Ontario. The people have been suffering under the impact of corporate negligence my enter lifetime. Last week in Toronto many people came together for the River Run Walk in support of Grassy Narrow (Asubpeeschoseewagong) First Nation and Chief Steve Fobister’s end of his hunger strike. The evening before, Ryerson University hosted a public forum on Indigenous Rights & Water that included Stephen Lewis as well as Anishinaabe writer Leanne Simpson.

Leanne writes in an article for the CBC:

“…for eight years in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a paper mill in Dryden, Ont., dumped 20,000 pounds of mercury into the English-Wabigoon River, the lifeblood of local Anishinaabe people.

The impacts of this contamination are still being felt in the bodies, hearts and minds of the people of Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows), Wabaseemoong (Whitedog) and Wabauskang First Nations.

Forty years later, the mercury is not out of the ecosystem and it is still causing severe health impacts on the land and in the bodies of the people.

Unfortunately, this is not the only poison these communities are facing. Their territory is regularly sprayed with pesticides for new tree plantations after deforestation. Their rivers are still being polluted with pulp mill effluent, and their trap lines, hunting grounds and ceremonial spots are also being clear-cut.” Read more…

First Nations Chief with headdress walking in street with CN Tower and crowd of people in background

Not even a week after the walk, my facebook feed confronts me with another disaster. In Likely, British Columbia “toxic slurry from the pond – equivalent to 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools” has leached into a river.

The war the Anishinaabeg people of Grassy Narrow are fighting needs to be the fight of all Canadians. It’s the only way.

Find out how you can support Grassy Narrows by visiting Free Grassy Narrow’s website.

#FreeGrassy
#RiverRun

Join Grassy Narrows Facebook Group.

MORE RESOURCES:
Rabble:Steve Fobister Sr. ends his hunger strike to live on to fight for Grassy Narrows

CBC: Grassy Narrows loses Supreme Court logging rights decision: Top court finds province of Ontario, not First Nation or federal government, has jurisdiction over logging
First Nations Chief with headdress walking in street with CN Tower and crowd of people in background
First Nations Chief with headdress walking in street with CN Tower and crowd of people in backgroundAbove images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

CHILDREN WHO ARE SAFE & SOUND: Independent Jewish Voices holds Vigil in Ottawa for the Children Killed in Gaza

Little Palestinian girl holds candle

Little Palestinian boys hold posters, one little boy years sunglasses and Spiderman shorts

My maternal grandmother had 5 children. Then came 12 grandchildren. Now there are 9 great-grandchildren. With the exception of my grandmother, who lived a long and healthy life into her nineties, everyone is alive and well.

On the steps of the Human Rights Monument this Friday night in Ottawa, a Palestinian matriarch, with a cane in one hand and a flag in the other, slowly walked up to position herself in front of the faces of the children that have died in the recent attacks on Gaza. She smiled at the living children who ran up and down the steps around her in preparation for the ceremony. These children – in running shoes, cute sandals, sporty sunglasses and “The Amazing SpiderMan” shorts – are safe and sound in Canada.

Old woman on steps of Human Rights Monument holds waving Palestinian flag, posters of dead children behind her Old woman on steps of Human Rights Monument holds waving Palestinian flag

This woman is probably in her seventies meaning she was born at a time when Israel had already begun its war on Palestine. Her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have only known the story of war and never the story of peace.

I think again of my grandmother. She never had to witness the death of one of her children or grandchildren.

Adolescent Palestinian boy at microphone surrounded by other Palestinian children holding posters with images of the children who have died

One child walked to the microphone. Stumbling on his words with the cracking voice of an adolescent boy transitioning into a young adult, he shared with the crowd that this week 9 of his extended family were killed in Gaza.

9 members wiped out. I struggle as to how to act in this moment. He can’t be more than 13. He has probably known more deaths in his family then years of his life.

I want children to be able to be just children with grandmothers who watch over them with laughter without wondering if today will be the last time they see their little ones play.

#FreeGaza #FreePalestine

For more events by Independent Jewish Voices visit their website.

WHAT ARE THE ACTIONS THAT SAY WE STAND FOR PEACE?: Standing in Solidarity with Palestinians on Eid


Little Palestinian girl rests her arms on poster with images of the children killed. The poster reads Stop the Palestinian Holocaust
Two young woman hold small girls close to them as they listen to the ceremony. Each woman and girl wears a keffiyeh
Young woman a keffiyeh hijab holds a candle and listens
Young woman sits on steps and listens, crowds surround her in the background. Young boy with keffiyeh around his neck and Nike shoes sits on the sidewalk while adults stand around him
Several children hold posters with photographs of the children who have recently died in Gaza.Two young men wearing Palestinian flags like capes walk with candles in their handsA young woman in hijab smiles at the camera while she holds a candle, people of all races surround her also holding candles.Little boy in running shoes and shorts holds a candle, he points up to an adult man above him also holding a candle
Above images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag. 

NATIONAL HOLIDAYS, NATIONAL NARRATIVES: The Tales We Tell Around the Celebration of Nation States

On Canada Day & Independence Day what are we celebrating? 

I spent Canada Day around the landscape of Quebec just a short drive from Ottawa. It was in an effort to escape the masses that descend upon the Nation’s Capitol for the July 1st holiday.

Many Canadians, especially Torontonians, are fresh off the high of the successful celebration of #WorldPride14 in Toronto (complete with a rainbow that hugged the skyline after the parade). A massive crowd came out to show support for diversity around sexual orientation and gender. Businesses, banks, church groups and regular folk take a certain amount of ‘pride’ in Pride because it demonstrates that Toronto is a city that isn’t just about tolerating differences but rather it has created an entire bombastic celebration around those differences!

Ottawa is no different. Canada Day on Parliament Hill draws an exuberant multiculti crowd celebrating the fact that everyone can feel safe and thrive here in Canada no matter the cultural background of their parents and ancestors.

That’s the story Canadians love to share on July 1 and in America on July 4 it’s much the same. The legends of Manifest Destiny and the enterprising people who populated the Wild West occupy a lot of historical real estate. As the story goes, both nations were built by the hard work of immigrants so in the spirit of continuing that history most people would agree there is always room for more!

The trouble and the truth is that each wave of immigrants arrived to racism and discrimination – the Chinese, Vietnamese and even the Portuguese communities in Canada, the Japanese during World War II in both countries; the Irish and Jewish communities. The Ukrainians, Italians, and Mexicans; the Pakistanis, Somalis, and Arabs…the list goes on. Everyone at some time has been the outsider and placed into the unfortunate role of the societal scapegoat.

The cult of Multiculturalism, for all its talk of inclusivity, has created its own scapegoat – the First Peoples. In both America and Canada waves of migrants have washed over the detail that North America was not only built on the backs of slaves but on the bones of its Indigenous populations.

You can see it in the comment section of Facebook, the online sections of national newspapers and blogs – the hate speak when there is an article that calls out the fashion (mis)statements made by headdress hipsters or when there is a blockade on occupied land that inconveniences the occupier.

National stories are powerful but destructive if they are, in essence, tale tells.

On July 1 and July 4 when celebrating the creation of two colonizing nations it is important to think about how those stories exclude. Multiculturalism, with all its focus on providing a safe and welcoming space for newcomers, has created a blind spot obscuring how the focus on rights for immigrants can often be at the expense of the rights of the First Peoples of Turtle Island, the original word for the continent of North America.

The Civil Rights movement was about addressing the shame of White America and calling out how the Jim Crow laws and state supported segregation created a culture of scapegoating, one result being the most ugly of human expressions – public lynching.

Scapegoating is a mechanism that allows an individual or a society to deflect shame. There is shame in making another human being your chattel; there is shame in killing off a population of people to make room for your own kind. We are spiritual beings and on some level, even if it’s buried so deep our waking minds can make peace with our justifications, the soul sees the deception.

So on days of celebrating nationalism it’s also a good time to reflect on those stories mythologies about who we are as citizens.

Anishinaabe writer and Ryerson University professor Hayden King writes:

“…thinking about what Canada could become (or, “what is in us to be?”) I think about understanding. Not the same old discourse of peaceful acquisition, armchair policy expertise, or a Norval Morrisseau on the wall, but substantive understanding among Canadians of Anishinaabeg, Haudenosaunee and Mushkegowuk perspectives (as well as the other 50-odd nations)…Indigenous languages can have official status, but more importantly, be seen and heard on the land and in cities, known by everyone. We can be honest about the birth, life and times of Canada. If all of this is in us to be, we might have something to celebrate.”
Read more in his article for the Toronto Star…

Great reasons for national celebrations!

The year 2014 saw the formation of the Cowboys and Indians Alliance created to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline. The delegates rode onto the Mall in Washington, DC and called on President Obama to “Reject and Protect” – reject the project and protect the earth.

For more information on the Cowboys and Indians Alliance visit www.rejectandproject.org.


“This is the moral challenge of our age”

2014 also saw the formation of the Healing Walks initiative where people came together for the sake of the land, water, and air as well as the people and animals who depend on the area around the tar sands to be returned to health.

“The Healing Walk was organized by Keepers of the Athabasca, a network of First Nation, Métis, and settler communities along the Athabasca River.” Read more…

For more information on the Healing Walks visit www.healingwalk.org



Images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.