Tuesday, 26 July 2016

It's the Final Countdown

Two months today, I'll be landing in Kilimanjaro, Tanzania.

During our monthly departmental lunch, my coworkers started asking questions today about what it's like to live in Tanzania. Where will I live? What will I eat? It was fun to relive stories of my last time there and when we returned to the office, I sorted through a few photos of my house in Tanzania.

That's the driveway, front yard, and edge of the house. Behind the house is another small yard and then Arusha National Park. In the mornings, I will watch the sunrise over Kilimanjaro as I drink my coffee. In the evenings, I will watch the sunset behind Mt. Meru as I enjoy a glass of wine.

Two months until I'm back there again.

I can hardly wait.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Friends, Music, BBQs and Summer

This was supposed to be the summer of no plans. Between a work project and a pretty big fall trip planned, my plan for the summer was to prep for my departure.

But then friends were all "let's go here" and "let's have a BBQ" or "I'm coming to visit."

In other words, it has been a summer full of that utmost first-world problem: I need a weekend from my weekends!

I know, totally doesn't suck and I should really just get over myself.

I haven't even had a chance to talk about a friend coming to visit, visiting the bug zoo, hiking out to Mystic Beach (in the rain, with a hangover), attending the Phillip's Backyard Weekender to see A Tribe Called Red, reciting poetry in a pub bathroom, or drinking too much.

Our picnic view
A wee bit wet but no worse for wear!
I completely missed telling you that "Noah" had his kidney transplant earlier this month and his recovery has been going so well, he was out of the hospital almost a full week before doctors projected. Also, I've been sending him awesome photos like this:

EDIT: Noah's recent tests are showing markers for possibly rejecting the kidney so he's back in the hospital. So some parts of this summer aren't as awesome as they could be. Guess I'll have to keep making crappy motivational jokes with my desk toys.

I attended multiple birthday BBQs because that's what you do when you're birthday falls in a summer month, apparently. I'm not complaining, I just didn't know it was an unwritten rule.

Speaking of BBQ, I got a lovely Texas care package in the mail from Cely.


I also saw Ghostbusters. Loved it like Chris Hemsworth's Kevin loved himself.

How saxy! Be still my treble clef!
I spent a day walking around Victoria Snapchatting my version of our local history.

And I wrapped up this weekend by attending a Michael Kaeshammer performance. If you are unfamiliar with Kaeshammer, he's a German-born Canadian pianist known for his jazz and boogie-woogie style. His live shows are very interactive; if the music thing hadn't worked out for him, he could have made it as a comedian.

Have a wonderful week, everyone.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Follow Up to Native Pride Post

When I posted about Native Pride, I expected that the usual suspects would read it and that would be the end of it. But then my mom sent me an email praising the post and asking me "how do you get more people to read it?" Buoyed by her encouragement and perhaps a few drinks with a visiting friend, I shared the entry on my personal Facebook page with the text "I wrote something. My mom wants more people to read it so... yeah... here it is." I then promptly fell asleep.

The next morning, the post had a fairly high number of views and a few friends had left positive comments on my post. I was feeling pretty pleased with the number of people who read it as I headed out for a hike on the Saturday morning. I returned from the hike to find the number had tripled since that morning and friends and friends of friends were sharing it.

This is honestly as "viral" as any post of mine is going to get. More people saw that post than I have friends on FB. (Don't get too excited. I "cull" my FB on a semi-regular basis so it's not like I have a thousand people on there or something.)

If you found your way here because of that post, I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.

The point of this blog is mainly a place for me to natter on about whatever I feel like. I'm rarely that clear and concise (or political) with my message (except during the last election), I hardly ever have an actual point to my post, and I'm usually writing about the mundane day-to-day going-ons in my life.

In other words, this blog is sure to disappoint you in about two posts.

But before I lose you forever, I wanted to first say 'thank you' to everyone who did read that post, took time to respond to me on Facebook, and/or felt the writing worthy of sharing. I appreciate it.

For more information on what's being done to promote and share First Nations language and culture in BC, check out First Peoples' Cultural Council and First Peoples' Cultural Foundation. On the First Peoples' Cultural Council site, you can read the Report on the Status of BC First Nations Languages 2014 which gives a great overview of the steps being taken to preserve, record, and share these languages. (In this report, SXIMEȽEȽ is included in the Lekwungen/SENĆOŦEN language family.)

Thursday, 14 July 2016

A Pick-Me-Up

My planned post for tonight will be delayed as the news both at home and abroad hasn't been very jovial today. 

One of my preferred distraction methods is to watch "Whose Line Is It Anyway" and "Mock the Week" videos on YouTube. So, without further ado...

May tomorrow bring a better day.

Love and respect to you all.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

I Support Native Pride

From my parents' house, you can hear the Esquimalt Nation pow wows. For days, the pounding of the drums and droning chants would echo across the water and through our backyard. These summer festivities (we couldn't hear the winter ones because they were inside) were my first introduction to living native culture, and not just something I read about in books or saw in the museum. While pow wows are not my culture and I have never attended one, the sound of a pow wow is comforting to me. It reminds me of summer evenings on the back patio.

I assume that the vast four of you reading this are white, so I will begin by saying we have not done right by the First Nations of Canada.

Yes, even us who were born and raised in a more enlightened, politically-correct time. (I'm being a bit facetious here, just so we're clear.)

But that all happened so long ago!

1. The last federally-run residential school in Canada closed in 1996. That was only 20 years ago. At best (and I use that term very loosely), the schools provided free education in exchange for removing (often forcibly) children from their families, their culture, and their language. At worst, these schools were hives of physical, mental, and sexual abuse.

2. Actions and events have repercussions that ripple down through generations. The Indian Act of 1876 can be boiled down to this: the only good Indian is a white Indian. To allow natives to participate in our society, we wanted them to go to a white church, speak English or French, and dress like Europeans. If they didn't want to do these things, we "gave" them land (reservations), usually on the fringes of their traditional lands, and pretty much hoped that we'd eventually shame them into wanting to change. 

What are the repercussions of this? The Esquimalt Nation has one fluent speaker of SXIMEȽEȽ. Let me repeat that for the people in the back.


The Esquimalt Nation has one fluent speaker of SXIMEȽEȽ.

I'll be honest, that the statement might seem misleading to some people when you learn there are about 80 additional people who speak some SXIMEȽEȽ or are actively learning it; but linguistically, I can also be classified as speaking some Irish. I can say hello, introduce myself, ask how you are doing, tell you to kiss my ass, and say goodbye. While that would be an entire conversation in an Irish pub, it's still a long way from fluent.

3. We are systematically setting them up to fail. A Native offender is 6 times more likely to be incarcerated than his or her white counterpart. Six times! In the past 10 years, Native incarceration has risen by over 50% to where they now make up 23% of the of the inmate population.

And this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. 

All of this is to explain to you why on the weekend of FernFest Car Free YYJ, and Father's Day, it was much more important to me that I attend the Aboriginal Cultural Festival. It's why for National Aboriginal Day, I encouraged my friends to visit Our Living Languages at the Royal BC Museum. It's why I will gladly support First Nations artists in anyway I can, whether it be loading A Tribe Called Red on my music list, buying a print, sharing their pages on social media, or even just simply attending a cultural event.

The least, and I mean least, we can do for First Nations is support them in reclaiming their culture. Allow them the respect and freedom to be proud of who they are. It is their choice if and when we are apart of it.

But they don't pay taxes. But they get federal handouts. But they get [insert special thing here].

There are conditions around everything the governments, Federal and Provincial, do/give/etc for Aboriginal, Metis, and Inuit populations. Yes, some of them don't pay taxes, but neither do churches. I'd argue that religion has done a good deal more to muck up our country than any Native. Yes, Federal money is given to various First Nations tribes, but Federal money is also given to provinces. Yes, they may be exempt from paying for university, but two thirds of reservations don't have continuous clean running water so I'm okay with that. You should be too.

In the words of Chief Dan George:
Let no one forget it. We are a people with special rights guaranteed to us by promises and treaties. We do not beg for these rights, nor do we thank you. We do not thank you for them because we paid for them, and the price we paid was exorbitant. We paid for them with our culture, our dignity and self-respect. We paid until we became a beaten race, poverty-stricken and conquered.

 Just so I don't end on a downer, A Tribe Called Red's newest song, Stadium Pow Wow.