Reblog: closing doors & opening windows

Award winning  poet, Vera Wabegijig, published her first book, Wild Rice Dreams, after 20 years of writing poetry. She shares poems, and her life, with readers through her blog of the  same title.

This week she posted about her ongoing journey of art making, service and healing. I am grateful to her for allowing me to share it with you. She began:

For four and a half years I had the pleasure to work at a local Indigenous women’s centre here in Ottawa as a cultural programmer. Over the years I put my energy in service of Indigenous women and children who came through the doors. The mandate is to serve Indigenous women and their families who are escaping domestic abuse, healing from intergenerational trauma, survivors of residential school, and who want a place to feel safe in an urban world. I learned so much about myself, my path, and my passion. The work itself was rewarding and it helped me to clarify where I really want to go with my love for language and my passion for writing. It challenged my worldview, ideologies, and beliefs. It was really life changing.


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A Letter from Ruth Hill

Ruth Hill sends along these thoughts. Ruth is a poet living in Canada. Hi, Michael. Thoughtful interactive conversation can heal great divisions. It is important to air out concerns. Anyone who studies zen knows there is seldom only one right … Continue reading

IPTN: Disability and Artistry

PlaybackOur workshop at the International Playback Theatre Network conference in Montreal provided an opportunity for directors, and individual performers, to think with us about disability, inclusion, and aesthetics. The time allotted to the workshop passed much too quickly as we engaged in a deep conversation about these difficult topics.

One  of the most challenging aspects of any conversation about theater and disability is making the distinction between theater for, theater by, theater to, and theater with. Still other categories have been suggested, perhaps in an effort to thicken our understanding of this thorny topic.

These distinctions have evolved to address the difference between theater practices that nominally include persons with disabilities, those provide programing to persons labeled as disabled, and those that seek to be truly inclusive. The latter may originate in group or individual work by disabled persons, or by ensembles of “mixed abilities,” in which the presence of disability is acknowledged, but normalized, resulting in an aesthetic that explores the differently abled body-mind as a vehicle for storytelling in myriad ways. Continue reading

Emergent Universe Oratorio Blues

Coach Barn, Shelburne FarmsLast Sunday we traveled down to Shelburne Farms for the world premiere of the Emergent Universe Oratorio, composed by Sam Guarnaccia.  The Oratorio is a work that re-imagines the dominant culture’s physics-based creation narrative, and seeks to universalize the story. Before the Oratorio we were treated to the playing of Eugene Friesen, of Paul Winter Consort fame. New Paintings, created for the event, by our friend, the marvelous artist, Cameron Davis, graced the walls in the remarkable, “cathedral-like” Breeding Barn. Continue reading

Eagle Feathers and Hollow Ceremonial Practise: Rape in Pow-Wow Country A Repost from opthunderbird

Family Values

Family Values

Here is an important post from opthunderbirdinfo. Rape and intimidation is a problem for women all around the world, not just in Pow Wow Country. If we had any doubts about this, they were erased on our recent trip. The flip side of this is men, seemingly everywhere, are confused and, often, angry, caught up in confusing and emasculating social conditions and expectations. The combination seems to lead, inevitably, to great suffering.

Dawn Marie Marchand writes:

When I was 18, I was a virgin. I was quite proud of it. Somehow, despite some of the things that had happened to me, I had managed to retain that. I was very close to my grandmothers. They both believed so strongly in not having sex before marriage. It was hard to keep myself in this condition. I didn’t date much. I didn’t judge or blame others because I knew how hard it was for me to not indulge. I never wanted to be a single mom, and I knew single motherhood was likely if I became a teen mom. I didn’t want to become a statistic. I wanted to meet the right guy – the one who would stick around – and wanted to marry me.  just. My parents have been married over 40 years now. My story turned out much different than my Mom’s.

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A Thoughtful Post

From Dancing With Decolonization comes this insightful post. It applies to Disability as much as to Tribal life. Colonizing influences are ubiquitous and difficult to root out; Sometimes it is a challenge simply to identify them.

Undoing my Unknowing

The following is an excerpt of a recent paper I wrote for an Aboriginal Social Work Theory that focused on my personal decolonization. I wanted to share it because, my introduction to “decolonization” left me with a lot of grey areas,  the untangible, and sometimes down right confused me on what this process may look like. Every journey is different and unique but here is a short snippet of my journey.

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More Grief for Tribal People In India

Banyan ForestOne of the most disturbing trends I have noticed while in India this trip is the rise of violence against woman and Indigenous people. Here is an example of institutionalized violence against Native people. Conditions for Native people in India were difficult and deteriorating two years ago. They appear much worse now. Of course, this is in line with events over much of the world. Please voice your concerns to the Indian government.

From Intercontinental Cry:

India opens the floodgates for extinguishment of Indigenous Rights

By • Feb 22, 2013

India’s central government has walked away from its position on the need to obtain consent from Indigenous peoples and forest dwellers before handing their lands over to industry.

On February 15, the central government announced that major “linear projects” such as roads, railways, transmission lines, canal systems and pipelines do not need to obtain consent from affected forest populations before clearing their lands. The announcement, which stands in sharp contrast to provisions in the Forest Rights Act, could now make way for hundreds of new industrial projects that would have never otherwise seen the light of day.

“This is serious breach of trust and a huge step back in ensuring the dignity and survival of traditional forest-dwelling people across the country”, said Dr. Swati Shresth, from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment. “Forests are going to be cleared to make way for a particular kind of economic development; it will adversely impact communities and the environment.”

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Despair and Climate Change

Crow Addresses the DcksToday is a warm, humid day in Chennai. Back home in Vermont, the last couple of weeks, very much like the winter to date, have been on the warm side. It seems clear from recent climate data that global climate change is proceeding much more rapidly than scientists predicted or we imagined. Continue reading

Scathing Human Rights Watch Report On RCMP

From Indian Country Today

Human Rights Watch Details Alleged Abuse, Rape, of Aboriginal Women by RCMP Officers in British Columbia

David P. Ball
February 14, 2013

Explosive allegations of gang rape, widespread abuse and anti-Native racism have rocked Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), which vowed on February 13 to investigate the claims by one of the world’s leading rights groups.

According to a shocking report released on Wednesday by the respected U.S.-based Human Rights Watch (HRW)—which interviewed 50 aboriginal women and girls in numerous communities for its research—police officers gang raped one woman, stripped, sexually abused or raped several detainees in custody, and created a “constant state of fear” in victims.

The report, “Those Who Take Us Away,” details accounts of alleged widespread abuse by the RCMP.

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Another View of Idle No More

Autumn SunsetHere is a reblog of a post from Renee Holt at 4theloveofthe people. Idle No More looks very different in the heart of Indian Country than it does here in Vermont. As one might expect, the issues facing Native people are somewhat different here. Yet the underling questions of personhood and sovereignty are unifying, as is our concern for Our Mother the Earth. In a post titled To Be Or Not To Be Idle No More Renee writes:

From its inception, I’m certain there were Indigenous people in our community who were skeptical of the Idle No More grassroots Peoples movement. It almost seems natural that we have those in our community who will stand by and watched with skepticism while others join in a movement for the People.

I thought I would state in this long over due 2013 blog, today is Day 41 of Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike. Not only is she protesting peacefully, she is strong with our creator. Within the Indigenous community we are taught, when one is fasting, one is also strong with the creator. Chief Spence is in a prayerful place conducting interviews, reading current affairs, and has awakened a sleeping giant. Since the first day she declared her hunger strike, Idle No More has become something more for First Nations people in the Canadian provinces, but also Natives across reservations in the US.

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