Wednesday, October 26, 2011



Today is my birthday & I am GRATEFUL to be ALIVE!  When we are young and have our birthdays we think about the future and all the things we want to do, places and people we want to see and more futuristic plans.  At my age, in my 40s, I find myself reflecting about the past but still looking to the future.  I woke this morning to many many Facebook Happy Birthday messages.  It was so nice to read & to think when I was a teenager in the 80s I wouldn’t of got so many birthday messages when I woke.  How technology has changed how we interact.  Then I think even farther back, to my Cree & Dene Ancestors before Columbus ~ “Did they celebrate birthdays?”  Maybe back in the day when our people lived in close nit families and communities… or maybe not but I believe they CELEBRATED LIFE EVERYDAY…how times have changed…

There I was reading my birthday wishes on Facebook and getting ready for the day & I had this compelling urge to write a reflection, a recap of whatever you want to call this after it’s all written and done.  I don’t even know where this is going but I’ll go with it because my heart says I must.

Now back to getting ready for the day…as I was getting ready for the day, a thought came to mind of gratitude.  I thought of how grateful I was in NOT succeeding in suicide when I was 15 years old………

Yes, this was my thought!  Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a story about death, it’s a story about LIFE!

Why that thought, I don’t know, every 10 years or so I think about it because I’m still here, I guess maybe because that day was a defining moment for me and a realization.  It’s not a day I want to forget because I learned so much about me too.

You see, our family was a result of all those generations of genocide, assimilation, racism, and more on my Cree and Dene heritage.  My parents where second generation residential school survivors (Google it).  My mom once told me that her and my dad where already very sick by the time they became parents.  Don’t worry, they did their best with the resources they had for the times!  I love them both with all my heart & they have there own stories to tell but I have no place to blame or judge.  I just have a story to tell myself & undoubtably believe I chose my parents and family.  So here is my began with love but soon turned to alcohol, drugs, and exposed to all the abuses you can name as a Cree & Dene female within a troubled people living in a highly racial society.  This was my 1st fifteen years of life.  Don’t worry, there were many times of joy & love, I did have awesome extended family, after all, mixed in with great friends, memorable cousins, loving siblings, really loving aunties and uncles, including my irreplaceable & amazing grandparents trying to pass on the teachings through love & respect…
However, this alcoholic and drug life was all I knew.  I was a survivor after all, I had years to perfect my survival mode, I could tell when my parents were going to drink, when then they were going to fight, I knew the behaviors, the moods, and I could behave accordingly or facilitate the “Play” (the life of alcoholism is like watching a repeated play in action) like a Director ~ I was the “Hero” of the family after all.  This was all I knew, I perfected my survival tools and truly believed all adults drank and/or did drugs, how was I to know any different.  Anyways, you get the idea, if you don’t, I suggest researching Families in Addictions

So here was the kicker, my mom decided to quit drinking, she goes to Poundmaker’s Lodge (a place I would attend too) in Edmonton.  Life totally changed for us that year, I was 14 years old at the time.  She came back and decided she was going to be a mother…hmmm what does that mean???  I panicked!  It was fine and dandy she sobered up, whatever that meant but something I dreamed of for years.  But she wanted to be there for us, this meant she was going to take over my role as HERO.  I did okay, trying to understand but I was not equipped to understand SOBRIETY or life without addictions.  As long as I was the HERO in the family, I knew my role but I was in unfamiliar territory…as a result I couldn’t cope anymore and thought my only way out of unfamiliar territory was to join the crowd and surrender to the life of drugs and alcohol too…which eventually led me to a suicide attempt.  I know, you would think I would be all happy & the world would be all peachy once my mom made a positive change but it doesn’t always work out that way & it isn’t that simple…everyone has a role to play in this mess of a family.  It works like a well oiled machine, it’s not what a healthy family is but that’s not the point…the point is, everyone has a purpose and method to “survive”.  “Living” is unfamiliar territory for people in a life of addictions and sometimes unfamiliar or unimaginable territory, so the process to recover can be very rocky and demands a sense of HOPE into the UNKNOWN.

However, this isn’t the story, this was just to give you an idea of where I was coming from at 15 years old, that day I felt suicide was my answer.

I reflected on this day because I remembered all the things I did because I didn’t succeed that day…now this is one time, I am grateful to not SUCCEED.

I thought about all I’ve accomplished, experienced, challenged, searched, found, loved, and shared!

I saw Russia while it was still a communist country
I walked in underground cities created by survivors of the Nazi occupation
I saw Finland
I saw Niagara Falls
I went to school in Santa Cruz, California

I gave birth to the greatest gift the Creator could ever give me, my son, Germain ~ I was only 16 years old but I raised my son the best I could to give him a choice at life

I finished high school ~ it was upgrading but I did it
I quit my addictions when I was 19 years old
I participated in all types of healing, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Alcoholic Anonymous, Ala-teen, Inner Child, group therapy & many with my mom….
Spoke in front of over 300 people telling my story…
I worked in all types of jobs from a Maid to a Counselor to a Computer Teacher to a Administrative Director…
Worked with Juvenile Youth in Alabama who lived a hard life ~ I will always cherish those boys
I travelled all over North America ~ still have a few states & Eastern provinces to experience
I lived from northern Alberta, to western British Columbia, to the far south of Georgia, USA.
I saw Elvis’s house, now no one can not see Elvis’s house (lol)
I swam in the Chattahoochee River (not recommended)
Swam in the Pacific & the Atlantic oceans
I “pretended” to sing on the stage of the Grand Ol’ Opry
I drove a U-Haul while towing my car across the continental US ~ now that was an experience & FUN
I saw Buffy Saint Marie sing
I chatted with David Suzuki
I skydived with my son & nephew
I witnessed many babies take their first breath
I held a few family while they took their last breath
I went home back to my roots like my late nohkom said we all would, back to the earth we belong
I’ve been learning about my ancestral history…
My son carrying me at my grad
I attended Choices
I learned to honor my feelings…
I lost…
I grieved…
I healed…
I laughed….oh have I LAUGHED…
I spoke from my heart…
I learned to LIVE not SURVIVE…
I learned to take ownership of my actions
I learned that actions speak louder than words
I Let Go…
I have stood up for injustice…

I surrendered…
I shared….
I challenged life…
I never ever let go of my DREAMS…

I completed my 1st undergraduate degree
I learned & lived off the land in my mom’s home traditional territory
I’m learning my Cree & Dene Culture…
I’m working on my 2nd undergraduate degree
I’ve been learning to make my choices based on seven generations behind and seven generations ahead…because my life has impact
The list goes on and are memories in my mind & heart…

BUT today, I can say I was born into the most amazing First Nations family ever with a fighting spirit for LIFE…

Like I said, this story isn’t about death, it’s about LIFE.  Not celebrating it only today but CELEBRATING LIFE EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I guess it’s going back to…what I believe my Ancestors did before the injustices on my people.

There are so many things I did, people I met, people who touched my heart, and many more I plan to do (SEE MY BUCKET LIST)…

But the one thing I remember on that day, when I was 15 years old, was
I have a “CHOICE” ~ HOW “I” WANT & NEED TO LIVE MY LIFE…from death came rebirth…

This is what I celebrate today too…CHOICE!

**I share this with humility & the intent it be heard in a good way free from judgment but filled with hope!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Justice for Aboriginal Peoples

This is Why We Can't Just Get Over It...

 Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) Aboriginal activists explain the issues behind the unions' campaign for justice for Aboriginal people

About PSAC:
Their Official Website:

Here are some more reasons WHY WE CAN"T JUST GET OVER IT... Ottawa failing aboriginal children Ottawa urged to uphold UN aboriginal pledge
Vancouver Sun: Mould, snakes and rates: many First Nations school in wretched condition, UN told

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The uninhabitability of the oil sands forests - Inside Politics

The uninhabitability of the oil sands forests - Inside Politics

Response by a woman whose First Nations family is directly impacted:
Canada's Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, was quoted on CBC saying, "tar sands land is uninhabitable… uh… by human beings. So, you know, no community is being disrupted”. People and Planet (Peopleandplanet - UK) responded in support of First Nations people of Canada, "This is a bold-faced lie and an insult to the thousands of First Nations communities whose lives are being disrupted every ...What is the Canadian Gov't saying, First Nations people are not citizens, we don't fall under the definition of a body of people who inhabit land? I mean realistically if they considered us important then they would obviously know that what Mr. Oliver said on their behalf as the Minister of Natural Resources, was completely disrespectful and showed no cause and/or concern for our people... What about our traditional hunting lands, the traplines that our mosoms and khokoms, and tapans subsisted on? The places that we visited as children and even today we still go too, to pick berries, forage, find our medicines when someone is ill; someone struck by cancer of which they depend on those medicines that are natural to us - what if it were kikawiy ekwa/or kohtawiy that needed this, but the Canadian Minister has agreed to destruction because this land is 'uninhabitable' - useless... what would you do? Lack of concern for our Treaty Rights as First Nations people is not acceptable; we're being pushed aside on a daily basis, Government becoming more and more brave to now deliberate ignorance of us, and this is okay?I want it to be known that I am NOT against the oil and gas industry, what I am against however is the unethical stance these industries have had on the destruction of our land and environment, ecosystems, etc. It is so very important that we ensure in making agreement that they are upheld and abided by so as to protect our rights and our ability in the sustainability of the land and it's resources. Ethical issues are very sensitive and they must be treated in that manner - ensure your people are protected, ensure when you sign that line industry is legally responsible and ensure you fear not holding them accountable for not honoring the agreements set forth. ~ THIS is what I speak on, this is where my opinion lies, and this is where my committment is imbedded indefinitely. 
[UK Tar Sands Network] is a PERFECT example of the SUPPORT we have as First Nations people on a global level - Internationally people standing up in representation of OUR Treaty Rights; unafraid to challenege the Canadian Government in its attempts at deliberate ignorance against the Traditional lands and territories of which we occupy. PLEASE watch this and pass it on. 

Canada poses as “Friendly, Green Oil Giant” to win over UK universities
Original Website:“friendly-green-oil-giant”-to-win-over-uk-universities/

London, October 20th 2011 – Joe Oliver, Natural Resources Minister, met with staunch opposition at the London School of Economics (LSE) whilst promoting Canada as the next ‘Global Energy Superpower’ [1]. Protesters presented an alternative perspective to the one-sided lecture by asking difficult questions throughout. LSE students and activists presented Joe Oliver with the ‘Greenwash [...]

Liam Barrington-Bush is a Canadian working the UK for People and Planet