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Growing Pains

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Categories: Children, Family, The Captain, The Nipper, Tags: ,

We talk a lot about milestones, when we have kids. Milestones and rites of passage. By 18 months, your baby should be able to… Baby’s first tooth, baby’s first step, first day of school, first girlfriend, driver’s permit…the list goes on and on and on. But those aren’t the real rites of passage. Those aren’t the real milestones.

When you look at your child, your baby, who you’ve held in your arms so many times, and you can see the man or woman they are becoming; that is the true milestone. That is the true measure of your child’s progress.

What we are charged with when we become parents isn’t simply to protect a helpless infant. It isn’t to stop bad things from happening to our children. From the moment a child comes in to our lives, our jobs are to be teachers, not wardens. We’re not here to keep our children from harm. We are here to give them the tools and the skills they will need to see them through…”it all”.

There is such a push for all of the firsts that the change – the growth and the learning themselves are forgotten. I watch my boys and I see joyful, thoughtful, intelligent souls. I see their bodies, able, capable, bendy and strong, running and leaping toward each new day. I see their tears of pain and frustration and it’s awesome.

I’m not saying the firsts aren’t important. Of course we should be excited for all the things our children can do that they couldn’t do before. But what makes the decision to break things off with a girlfriend – for the first time – any less poignant than the first time a baby rolls over?

Time.

We lose ourselves in our schedules – of trying to get the kids to their lessons and games and fitting our schedules into one another’s and making sure the linens are fresh and there’s food in the fridge and somewhere along the line we forget to just…sit back and watch. And be proud. It’s okay to be proud of yourself. It’s okay to be proud of your children. This isn’t the sort of pride that belittles others. This is the sort of pride that comes with an exhalation and a smile.

I want you to do this – and if you don’t have children of your own, borrow someone else’s for a little while – watch them and listen to them and let yourself be awed and amazed at all of the things that have brought them to the place they are. Think about the ways in which every person in their lives have added shape to the constantly-changing mind. How every interaction makes a little change in brain chemistry.

Sharing your life with another human is always challenging, whether that human is a lover, a parent, a friend, or a child. Relationships are elastic, dynamic. We ourselves are in constant flux. How the hell any of us survive is a bit of a mystery; add in trying to figure out how to relate to one another and honest to God every day is a work of fiction.

Between it all, though, in the quiet, still places, in the hushed moments you can steal, try and watch where each child is going. Try to see some different milestones. Think about *how* your kids are thinking instead of *what* they’re thinking about. It’s beautiful.

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Be Careful What You Don’t Ask For

11 comments

Categories: Canadian Politics, Just Wrong, piss in your eye, Rants, Women, Tags: , , , , , , ,

PremierTweetNot even three full years after enacting moderately sexist “Frat House Legislation“, Premier Brad Wall announced that his government had “reversed our mistake to allow strip clubs in SK.” With a rather smug nod to the reason being related to human trafficking, without any …whattayacallit… proof or supporting documentation whatsoever, without any public consultation other than the irate moral majority who have nothing better to do than call in to radio talk shows to rant about how watching someone get nekkit on stage at a bar is going to cause their children irreparable damage, and without any, it would seem, common sense.

Leaving for a moment, our senses behind, as is the wont of the government currently in power over us, let us contemplate all of the *actual* dangers of people getting nekkit while alcohol is being served:

  1. Boners
  2. Uncomfortable boners
  3. Spilling drinks (although it can be argued that people in any stage of dress or undress could cause drink spillage; we put this here simply to acknowledge potential dampness)
  4. Labial dampness unrelated to drink spillage
  5. Did I mention boners? Oh. I did. Right.
  6. Having God revoke your get-in-to-heaven-free card because it states quite plainly in 2 Abyssinians how “The Lord Shall Smiteth anyone whososever shall gaze upon the nekkit flesh of dancing dancers while consuming the wine of the grape or the beer of the barley plant”. Oh wait. That’s not in the bible? Really? Well who WROTE that thing? It should be. You know what? I’m just going to pencil that right in there. What do you MEAN Abyssinians isn’t a book in the bible? I’m penciling that in there too. THERE. Now there’s BIBLICAL PROOF that strippers are, like, evil and shit when there’s alcohol being served. TAKE THAT, ALBERTA. You’re all going to hell. Except Taber.
  7. HUMAN TRAFFICKING REASONS
  8. Boners

Women and men who choose to dance, I can’t believe we have to go over this again, nekkit or mostly nekkit, choose to do so for many reasons. In some cases, women (primarily) and men are being forced in to the ILLEGAL SEX TRADE (of which, I’m sure, a side-line is perfectly legal, regulated, and inspected nightclubs) for a multitude of reasons, including *but not limited to* poverty, substance abuse, mental health challenges, abusive histories, and a shameful and general lack of support for any of those things.

This may be a naive and simple view of the issue, because I don’t have any of the details the provincial government used to base their wishy-washy reversal of their own legislation on. They haven’t chosen to make that information public yet. I would like to see the statistical numbers from police across the country that will show me a positive causative relationship between dancing with your clothes off while alcohol is served and a rise in human trafficking.

The assumption that this legislation ONLY affects “young women” shows a fairly common (but maddening) dismissal of what’s actually happening in the sex trade.

This legislation isn’t going to protect young people at risk (regardless of their gender). It will serve to drive those activities further underground and will put the people working in these trades at further risk. You want to talk exploitation? Let’s talk about whether someone who chooses to dance partially nude (remember, the previous legislation prevented women (and only women) from displaying the “ends of their breasts” (nipples) and all dancers from displaying their genitals) is being exploited, or whether someone who’s had to, for a multitude of reasons, turn to the streets to earn their living and who is forced in to dancing partially nude (or fully nude, since the reversed new legislation doesn’t care about nipples OR junk) is being exploited. I know some folks will say both people are being exploited. I think that choice is, at its core, fundamentally empowering. And if you freely and without coercion, understanding all the risks and benefits, choose to shake your booty at a bunch of people who are simultaneously consuming liquor, THAT SHOULD BE YOUR RIGHT.

Making sex illegal does not stop the sex trade. It never has. What it DOES do is put sex workers at risk. There IS empirical evidence to support this.

Now. We’ve left our sense behind long enough. Let’s look at what else this asinine decision does.

  1. Removes any sort of credibility the governing party might once have had. The initial legislation was introduced in the fall of 2012, and it wasn’t until two years later that licensed establishments were beginning to pop up. There were discussions about where strip clubs could and couldn’t be located (not within 50 feet of a bowling alley, that’s for sure), and local business owners were just starting to really take advantage of this new and somewhat progressive (if sexist) legislation. But then, in March 2015, the Premier announced that nope, sorry. No titties. Specifically, no titties while you enjoy a brew.
  2. Proves to the people of Canada that Saskatchewan is pretty much a laughing-stock of a province. Because no matter how much you trumpet that this decision was “not motivated by the morality police”, NOBODY IS GOING TO BELIEVE YOU. We’re already considered the bible belt of Canada, for God’s sake. Hell, just try being brown. Or even off-white. WE ARE THE OZARKS OF CANADA.
  3. If you don’t care about what the rest of the country thinks about us (and if you’re willing to stop comparing us to Alberta), then maybe you care about what kind of precedent this move sets. The government brings in progressive legislation, and then, a week after it releases a somewhat shady budget (in which it borrows rather a lot of money in order to “balance the books”), it reverses the progressive legislation. That kind of move screams “SHELL GAME! SHELL GAME!”. Where SHOULD you be looking?
  4. By re-criminalizing (partially) nude performances in licensed establishments while alcohol is being served, the Saskatchewan government has re-linked burlesque performances, strip teases, and exotic dancing with the illegal sex trade. Philosophically and realistically.
  5. We’ve just called every woman and man who chooses to do burlesque, strip tease, and exotic dancing a prostitute. How? We’ve just said, by repealing this legislation, that nude performances in licensed establishments when liquor is being served is pretty much the same thing as people being sold against their will for sex acts. We haven’t said that overtly, but that is absolutely one of the connotations. Classy.

This could turn in to a much longer rant about how the only real way to combat the illegal sex trade is to legalize (or at the VERY least decriminalize) all aspects of the sex trade, but I’m not going to go there. That’s for another day.

I would like to hear from the parents of children in places where strip teases, exotic dancing, and burlesque are legal and regulated at licensed establishments. I want to know how, exactly your children have been IRREPARABLY DAMAGED. I would like to know how much the crime stats have risen in regard to human trafficking, and how much of that can be directly related to topless (but with pasties) dancing women, and not to OTHER organized crime activities like, oh, I dunno, drugs and weapons.

I will admit I don’t know a whole lot about organized crime, so I don’t know if it’s a common practice for, like, the Russian mob to make under-the-table deals with legitimate, law-abiding business owners to provide underage or coerced/unwilling strippers for their shows. The guy who ran that strip club in small town Saskatchewan seemed pretty okay with what sounded like a fairly dodgy practice, and I’d like to see business owners have an incentive to hire Saskatchewan performers over imported talent in general – not just in the thong-and-pasties categories. I think that’d go a long way to combating human trafficking in strip clubs.

Ultimately, I have to trust that the Premier of Saskatchewan is operating on some very compelling, very provable, very reliable statistics that without a shadow of a doubt prove that women (particularly) and men shaking their mostly nude booties in establishments where patrons consume liquor are at risk of human trafficking. Sadly, I don’t trust that the Premier of Saskatchewan has any such information, because if he did, he’d release it for public scrutiny. And if the Premier of Saskatchewan will backpedal so fast and so completely on this issue, what else is he going to backpedal on?

I’m disappointed in my province once again.

 

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Three Stories

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Categories: Da, Family, Friends, Just for You, Remembery, Stories, True Stories, Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Image "Winter Crows" by Tim Hill (http://www.t-hill.com/) used with royalty-free use license from freeimage.com

Image “Winter Crows” by Tim Hill (http://www.t-hill.com/) used with royalty-free use license from freeimage.com

A Story About Crows for @lizzers_

Once Upon a Time, I lived far north of here in a “ranch-style bungalow” on a hill in a city bound by a river. The city itself still had many Wild Places. Not the kind of wild places where one might go after a night in one’s cups, but the kind of Wild Places one might go and get lost and not be able to find one’s way home unless one knew how to gauge the sun’s position in the sky and the placement of shadows cast by trees. There was a “little forest” in the hills behind my best friend’s house and we used to explore. Really, it was a stand of enthusiastic poplars pushing each other about on an empty lot between two houses, but to us it was a forest.

In fact, I’d be willing to say it *was* a forest and anyone who said it wasn’t can be damned.

In front of my house, the trees grew with their heads bent together, nodding against one another across the street. This formed a canopy of leaves in the summer through which dappled light played and two skeletal fists clasped together in winter. Across the street were six enormous douglas fir trees and lining our side, maples and elms.

Our neighbour’s home was a dainty wartime hut with one bedroom off the front room and one bedroom off the kitchen and our neighbour Elsie had a concrete basement lined with jars and jars of preserves. “Her husband”, my Da said, was “a drunk and a mean old bugger and when he showed up he caused all kinds of trouble and when he was gone nobody missed him much.” Our house was on a hill; theirs was on a flat, so their roofline came even with our bathroom window.

Summers were hot and humid in my hometown, and the sun and the birds up at 4am and the mosquitoes and blackflies swarming by noon. My parents were teachers, and from May until the end of June, my father cursed the birds for waking him too early, particularly after the nights when there had been Much Revelry at our house. The songbirds, he didn’t mind. He would yell obscenities at the corvids.

So my father bought a pellet gun.

And he climbed up on top of the house just before dawn, and he sat there with his pellet gun. And he saw the crows flocking out of the fir trees to roost on my neighbour’s house. And he started shooting at them. He wanted to scare them all away.

He shot out my neighbour’s windows. And the crows were back the next morning. Laughing. Cackling. Mocking.

"Old Cutlery" image by constantin (http://www.constantin.me.uk/) image used royalty-free from freeimages.com

“Old Cutlery” image by constantin (http://www.constantin.me.uk/) image used royalty-free from freeimages.com

A Story About @ElBne for @jamesmagnus

Once Upon a Time, I had something Very Important to tell my friend Bne*. Or maybe it wasn’t Very Important. Maybe it was more like one of those times when you really haven’t anything to do so you bum around looking for pals to bum around with. Or maybe it was something Moderately Important but only in terms of a LARP in which we were both playing. To be fair, I don’t remember what the deal, as it were, io was. But I wanted to talk to him. So, this being in the days of text messaging being something that Blade Runner and Blade Runner alone could do, I went to his house.

Phoning, you see, was not an option, because Bne lived in a house with some other gents, and sometimes they just didn’t feel like answering the phone. Or didn’t pay the phone bill. Or answered the phone and then went off in search of the requested party, only to discover an *actual* party happening somewhere else in the house and then forgot that somewhere in the house a phone was off the hook. (This being back in the days where if the phone was off the hook, you couldn’t leave a message – you got the most annoying buzzing booping sounds and you just had to hang up or go mad.)

Also, I wasn’t near a phone. These were the days, of course, when “portable telephones” were things you carried in a baby carrier or a rolling suitcase. The smallest ones were the size of encyclopaedias (which were, of course, hefty tomes of printed reference material organised alphabetically, usually one tome per letter, depending on the edition. These were, of course, the days before Wikipedia, when “looking something up” meant going to an actual library that contained actual books and which had an actual reference section that contained actual reference material. Stop looking at me like that. This is most decidedly not fiction. THAT IS WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE OKAY. People who were really good at trivia were really good at trivia because they read encyclopaedias, not because they downloaded cheats for the trivia app on their phones) or perhaps stale loaves of bread. Unsliced bread, of course. If you wanted to phone someone, you had to either spend thousands of thousands of dollars on a “portable” phone or you had to spend a quarter at a pay telephone (which is a little bit like a prostitute, only you pay to talk, not fornicate) or find somewhere with a public-access telephone or just go home and call. And since I was already nearer to Bne’s house than I was to my own, and since I hadn’t a quarter, and since I was a student and couldn’t afford Ramen noodles much less a “portable” telephone (yes, we did have Ramen noodles back then, and thank #Glob for that), I went ’round Bne’s house to just, as they say, “knock him up”.

Now. I mentioned Bne lived with some other gents. This meant that any given day, if you showed up at Flamingo Manor (their abode), you could ring the bell or knock on the door and you would be soundly and effectively ignored or not heard unless The White Mass was at home because The White Mass, if I remember correctly, had a fondness for lounging on the chesterfield in the altogether, reading gaming books and waiting for some poor schmo to knock on the door or ring the bell. I did not, therefore, do either of those things. I entered the house, hollered (which was proper manners for Flamingo Manor), and, receiving no reply, I began to search the premesis for Bne. He was not in the living room (thankfully, neither was The White Mass). He was not in the “dining room” (some milk crates with a “table” made of pizza boxes). He was not in the kitchen; I didn’t enter the basement because frankly, there were things that happened in that basement that no one who wished to remain whole should ever witness. Also, Duane.

I went upstairs and knocked on Bne’s bedroom door. There was no answer. I opened the door a crack to see if Bne was abed. He might have been but it was impossible to tell because Young Bachelor Living On His Own. I decided to Write a Note.

I penned a note, and began searching for a thumbtack. Some tape. A piece of chewing gum. (That is where the search for A Sticky Substance ended, because House of Bachelors. Iew.) There was nothing. So I grabbed a knife from the kitchen counter and pinned the note to Bne’s door; the note that indicated I had been by and was looking for him and because he had not been there, clearly he sucked. Not having found him, I left.

Bne came home later. He went about his business, went upstairs, changed from his work clothes, went back down to the kitchen, made himself some Ramen noodles (or, knowing Bne, ketchup chips). His room-mate saw him. Said, “hey, cenobyte was here.”

“Oh yeah? What’d she want?” Bne asked.

The roommate blanched. “You mean…you didn’t see the note?”

“What note?” Bne asked.

“The. Um. The note stuck to your door with a knife?”

“The fuck you say?”

“There is a giant butcher knife sticking out of your door. She came here looking for you and didn’t find you and stuck that note to your door with a giant, eight-inch blade, and you didn’t see it?”

“I think,” Bne said, “I would have noticed something like that.”

Bne, incredulous, went upstairs and looked at the door to his bedroom. The door he had opened not moments before. The door where, stuck at roughly eye level, there was a large kitchen knife holding a note.

“Oh hey,” Bne said. “There’s a note here! Huh.”

And that is how Bne found the note I left him the day he was not home.

"Cat Under a Towel" image by Aline Dassel, royalty-free image from freeimages.com

“Cat Under a Towel” image by Aline Dassel, royalty-free image from freeimages.com

A Story About That Time I Wore A Towel On My Head An Pretended It Was My Hair, or Mother’s Cuts are the Deepest, for @melistress

Before I started elementary school, I had long, long hair. It was blond like spun gold and I wore it in pigtails high on my head with fuzzy green ties and bobbles. My mother would brush my hair every morning like a well-trained torture specialist. It’s a surprise I had any hair at all. She might as well have fed it through a combine.

So she decided that when I started school, I should get a hair cut. *A* hair cut. Not ALL of my hair cut. I went from having lovely, curling mermaid tresses to having a mushroom cut. A MUSHROOM CUT (they called it a “page boy”, but it was not a page boy. It was a mushroom cut). My mother said, “if you’re going to fight with me every morning, I’m going to cut your hair”. I had pointed out that all animals fight when they’re being attacked and that it was a question of survival, the way she wielded that hairbrush (it may have come out as “BUT IT HURTS WHEN YOU DO THAT!”). Hence? Mushroom cut.

The third day of school, after having fielded all of the “why did you cut your hair? You look like a boy” comments, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I wrapped my favourite blue bath towel around my head and secured it with a headband. I once again had flowing, beautiful mermaid locks. I went to school. My teacher made me take the towel off my head and called my mother because I was “being disruptive”. I hardly think launching a legitimate human rights violation complaint citing freedom of expression is “being disruptive” (although at the time it might have come out as “BUT THIS IS MY REAL HAIR I CAN’T TAKE IT OFF MY HEAD!”), but that’s what elementary school is all about, isn’t it? Tramping all over our human rights and trying to teach us not to question authority.

The next day, I chose a *brown* towel, figuring that the reason my teacher had caught on to my ruse was because most people under the age of 80 did not have blue hair.

That was not what had clued my teacher in, as I discovered with the brown towel, the subsequent yellow towel, and the red towel. One week of multicoloured towel turbans, and not one – NOT ONE – slipped past that vicious gorgon who smelled faintly of chalk dust and stale coffee. She was on to me. Neither could I fool her with the wig I ferreted out of my mother’s costume bag. The jig, as it were, was up. I had to accept that my butchered boy hair was simply something I had to live with.

So I got tough and I got mean and I figured that if I looked like a boy, I might as well fight like a boy.

…okay, I didn’t actually get mean. But that was the year I started playing tackle football and stopped wearing skirts and girly blouses.

*Bne is not his real name. His name has been changed to protect his  innocence identity.

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It was like this when I got here

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Categories: Cats, Family, Four-legged Family, True Stories, Tags: , , ,

This is Smog. Before I tell you too much about Smog, I should tell you that I have never been able to successfully pick out a proper cat. I’m okay with the factory rejects, though. THEY NEED LOVE TOO. 

We rented Smog from the Cat Shop several weeks earlier than we ought to have been able to. She was seperated from her kin far too young (four weeks, they say), and nursed on everything she could. Which was, of course, adorable. However, I’m fairly certain it has also caused brain damage.

Smog is most famous for walking in to a room and announcing “I’m a —“, where “—” is anything from “tibby tubbler” (we don’t know either) to “speed bump”. For several weeks after the #doges arrived at Chez Relaxo, Smog announced she was a dog. She is the sort of cat who learns (read: makes up) a new word and uses it extensively for the next six weeks. She thinks “the outside” is anything on the side of the door on which she is not. 

This cat likes digging up every house plant I have ever tried to grow, sleeping on the third stair from the top, and  getting “skeert” and running away. She is, however, one of the only cats I’ve ever had who actually knows how to play with cat toys. 

Seen here laughing at a joke that really wasn’t very funny at all, Smog can often be found running away, eating dog food, and judging you for being in the bath.

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Two Princes

4 comments

Categories: Just for You, Something or other but True, Stories, True Stories, When There's Weather, Tags: , , ,

IMG_9346I leave the doctor’s office, where I have just been shirtless in front of two men I have never met. I’m feeling a little scared, because in meeting with this doctor, I have basically consented to surgery. Elective surgery, but elective surgery that may change my life and make it possible for me to run, wear seatbelts, do yoga poses properly, and lay on my stomach. So I’m a little fazed, a little overwhelmed. I decide to hit the mall, maybe buy some lunch.

I walk through the mall. It’s empty. The downtown business crowd are back in their offices. I decide I’m going to go to a shop to get some leggings because I have none without holes in. I smile at a fellow at the bottom of the escalator and head up to the shop what sells leggings.

There is a rack of leggings at the front of the shop. I’m touching every pair because texture is important. I bought a pair of leggings once that ended up feeling like elasticy burlap. I’ll never do that again. I feel someone touch my elbow. I look up.

The man from the bottom of the escalator is standing beside me. He’s touching my elbow. “I saw you,” he says. “Down stairs.”

I don’t know this man. He’s touching my elbow and standing very close to me. He’s followed me from the bottom of the escalator, where he was leaving, back up the escalator to a shop.

“You are so beautiful,” he says. “I wonder are you married?”

I touch the ring on my finger. I back  toward the rack of leggings.

“Do you have friends like you, because, mmmm,” he closes his eyes and licks his lips, “I would love to have a woman like you.”

“Pardon?”

He leers at me. Leans forward. “I would love to have a woman like you,” he says. “So much, so lovely. Like you.”

I thank him for saying so, and look pointedly away from him. I look inside the shop. There are women in there. I can just go in the shop if I need to.

“Okay, goodbye,” he says, but he continues to stare at me.

 

IMG_5754I leave the doctor’s office. I have just been shirtless in front of two men, nonchalantly shirtless, I might add, because, and this may shock you, I have no problem being topless anytime, anywhere, for any reason. We have been discussing my having breast reduction surgery. Talking about nipple necrosis. Did you know there was such a thing as nipple necrosis? “They turn black,” the doctor says, “and then they fall off. So you could lose your nipples.” I try to picture myself with no nipples. I figure, if it means I can lay on my stomach, do yoga poses properly, and find shirts that fit, I’ll cut the fuckers off myself.

It’s cold outside. The wind is unforgiving. I decide to head back through the mall, maybe grab some lunch. Inside it’s pretty empty. All the suits are back at their desks, monotonously clicking ‘refresh’ on their effbook pages, clicking ‘like’ on upworthy vids, wondering if anyone would notice if they looked for some light porn. Nothing hardcore. Maybe just lesbians.

It was cold like this when I was in Ottawa, when I realised I’ve blown apart the thighs of all of my leggings, and considered buying some new ones in the world’s biggest Hudson’s Bay shop. I decide to look at some leggings at the Hoopty Mama shop upstairs. It’s weird for the mall to be this empty. I ‘m used to being here at noon. Dodging crowds. Hearing snippets of conversations about who pissed off whose HR person by using the wrong pencil to fill out form HS/Q1-22. But it’s early afternoon and the only people in the mall are people who don’t have to be back at their desks.

A man leaves the down escalator. He looks me in the eye. I smile at him. I hear him say, “hello!” in a kind of surprised voice, but it’s too late. He’s behind me. It would look weird if I turned around and said hello. It’s damnably uncomfortable being Canadian sometimes. Plus, I’m focused on leggings.

I’m standing at the table of leggings at the Hoopty Mama shop. I feel someone grasp my elbow. “Hello,” the man says.

It’s the man from the bottom of the escalator. “Hello!” I say. “You said hello to me downstairs, and I completely ignored you and walked away! It’s only because I’m so damnably Canadian and realised Too Late I had walked away from you. I’m very sorry. That was rude.”

He smiles. “You are so amazing,” he says. He indicates my hair. “Your hair,” he says. “Are you from Canada?”

“Yes, damnably so, I’m afraid.”

“Always from Canada?”

“Always.”

“Are you Aboriginal?”

“I’m not,” I say. “Although there are rumours about something my great-grandmother might have done when great-grandfather was away, and why my own grandfather had such high cheekbones and such dark skin.”

He doesn’t understand. He squints at me. It occurs to me that English is not his first language. I smile. He smiles. “Are you married?” He asks.

I show him my rings. “I am!” I say.

“Oh.” He sounds disappointed. “It’s just that you’re so beautiful.”

“Sir, I would hire someone to follow me around every day to say that to me.”

“What!? NO!”

“I’m just being silly. Thank you very much. You’re very kind to say it.”

“Do you have friends like you? More women like you?”

I laugh. “Oh, good God no. There ain’t no more of me, baby. I’m it. And let me tell you, that’s probably a good thing because this world couldn’t take any more of me than there already is.”

“Wow,” he says. He shakes his head. “Wow.”

I offer him my hand and ask his name. I offer him mine. I thank  him again. He leaves. I leave.

I end up buying a really shitty juice and some mediocre noodles.

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Swine Cat

1 comment

Categories: Cats, Everything Else Drawer, Four-legged Family, Tags: ,

IMG_9449.JPG

This is Poe the Cat. He is a dick. His nickname is Mungbrain the Cat. He believes he was in a movie once (he was not) and that he played the captain of the guards (he did not; it was Jason Bateman) and that it was a, and I’m quoting the cat here, “seminal role” (it was not. It was ancillary at best). 

Poe likes long sleeps in whatever piece of furniture or fabric you least want cat hair on, such as your pillow or clean laundry. His favourite movie is the one he was in (he doesn’t even remember what movie it was), and he hates rap music and “anything twangy because it sounds like cat torture” (I said he was a dick, not an idiot). 

Poe’s greatest turn ons are tricking people into thinking he enjoys them petting him and then biting them. His greatest turn offs are the dogs. He also likes cheese and tuna. 

When asked what he would do if he had the chance to change the world, Poe said “nothing, asshole; that’s your problem.”  

Cats are GREAT. 

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Storytelling Month – The Basement

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Categories: Remembery, Something or other but True, Stories, True Stories, Tags: ,

To celebrate Storytelling Month, I’m going to tell you at least one story per week in  February. These are all true stories.

I don’t think I’ve ever told this story before. Maybe I have and I’ve just reached that stage of perpetual awesomeness where my memory of stories is like that thing that things get out of. A prison or a sieve or a colander or politics or whatever.

Part of the reason for that is that I can’t actually be certain whether it’s fiction or fact. When I look back at the whole thing with my remembery, things are hazy. Flash-bulb, like when you dangle too far into your cups at a hootenanny and your only memories of the evening come in postcard-like flashes because probably your blinks took several seconds each. Like dancers in a strobe. Like headlights on the highway.

IMG_5201I would have been in grade four or five. Maybe grade six. I was around ten or eleven years old and my neighbourhood school had rapidly declining registrations. It was …it *is* a gorgeous old school, built in 1924, I think. It’s a Band School now, but at the time it was a public school. I remember the dust-and-chalk scent of the classrooms, the sound of runners squeaking in the halls, and the way the sun burst through the walls of windows in each class.

The kids I went to school with had been attending this school with me since Kindgergarten, for the most part. Maybe one new kid here and there, but not many. My neighbourhood was in an older part of the city, where there were three elementary schools (two public and one Catholic) in a ten-block area, all on the same street. The point here is that I knew everyone in my school.

When you only have twenty kids in your age range (and split-grade classrooms), you often go to every birthday party that rolls around. It’s a bit like living in residence at University really, or in a small town; when there’s a party, everyone goes. There was a birthday party – a slumber party – and I’d been invited, and my mother didn’t want me to go. She couldn’t really articulate why, but in retrospect, I think I understand. All she could tell me was that she didn’t know the family very well. Didn’t know the parents at all. She was nervous. She said I could go to the party but had to come home before the sleepover started.

I didn’t listen.

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“Corners” image from freeimages.com

I went for the party and after hotdogs and cake I phoned home and asked if I could stay over. Mum said she wanted me home, but I begged and pleaded and wore her down in the way that only eleven year olds can do. She knew where the house was, she knew the phone number, she knew some of the other kids who were there. I didn’t tell her that some of the girls who’d been to the party had gone home. She brought over some pyjamas and a change of clothes, a sleeping bag and a pillow. She told me to be home first thing in the morning. Before noon.

All of us were down in the basement, flopped all over the floor like a litter of puppies. Some girls had sleeping bags, but most had been given some blankets and pillows to sleep on air mattresses at the foot of the stairs. I was curled up on a foam mattress a little way away, listening to whispers and giggles and staring into the darkness watching shapes form and reform as my retinas did whatever magic thing retinas do when the lights are out.

I wish I could remember more details. What the house looked like. Who was there. What time of year it was. But I can’t.

At some point when the whispers and giggles had turned into deep breathing and light snores, I heard something. Someone was coming downstairs. I don’t remember exactly, but I think my birthday friends had older brothers and sisters or uncles or family friends…someone was coming down the stairs. I remember a sliver of light as the door to the upstairs opened. I remember the sound of unsteady footfalls on the stairs. I remember the vague outline of someone walking past the foot of the mass of sleeping girls.

I remember the weight of someone on top of me. I remember pain. I remember, vaguely, at least I think I remember, being told to stay quiet. I remember being completely disoriented, having trouble walking the next day. I remember going home the next day wearing panties that weren’t my own. I remember Mum asking me where I’d got them, and I didn’t have an answer. I don’t know what else I knew then, when I was eleven years old.

That was the last time I ever went to that house, though. I didn’t even talk to the girls who’d invited me to their party very much after that.

Although I still don’t know what exactly happened in that basement, I think I was raped.

It’s neither here nor there now. I don’t remember it, so ultimately it might have all been something that never happened. The only thing I know is that I came home the next day in someone else’s panties and it hurt to walk. It doesn’t affect me. I don’t have PTSD. I’m not a victim. I don’t even really ever think about it. I only tell this story now because not all stories are good ones. But all stories are important.

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Why we can’t be friends when you’re in Hawaii

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Categories: Children, Dogs, Family, Four-legged Family, His Nibs, Just for You, The Captain, The Nipper, Tags: , , ,

My cousin is in Hawaii right now, and I have vowed that she and I can NOT be friends until she is home. Now. She’s a professional photographer, so all of her pictures of her little “vacation” are fucking gorgeous, and because I am not at all petty or jealous, I’ve decided that I’m going to post photographs of MY awesome time STAYING HOME IN THE SNOW.

Now, I’m not a professional photographer or anything, but I think these turned out pret-ty well:

YardSnow The view from our bedroom window. I should point out that this image may be a little under-exposed. It was really difficult to get the light just right, and the snow and sleet kept just firing sideways the whole time which knocked the crap out of my auto-focus. 

I took this with a 500-SLDR MMX BMW 14 gauge 2DR 99% option-free sliding reflux mounted on a tripod made of stale oreos. The lens I used was “Screw You, Winter”, which cost me more than I’d like to admit in mental health. The light’s really nice, coming in from behind the…um. Well there are trees out there somewhere.

SassypantsBumblebuttSnowHere you see ‪#‎PrincessSassypants‬ and ‪#‎Bumblebutt‬ in the yard. They’re adorable when they get out there, all running around and sniffing the air to see if there’s anything still alive after a week and a half of zero degrees kelvin. #Bumblebutt claims she heard a squirrel, but she’s an older dog and might have been hearing #PrincessSassypants’ farts, which, I can assure you, are terrifying. I used the camera on my phone to capture these two mutts. Just look at the looks on their little faces. AREN’T THEY ADORABLE?

…that’s not a dead squirrel in #Bumblebutt’s mouth, is it?

DogpoopSnowOh. This is one of my favourites. After the #Doges romped about for a while (you have to keep moving or else you’ll die of exposure!) , I took this shot of our yard. I’ve always really admired how photographers can capture the SOUL of someone’s yard in a single shot. You know the ones I mean – lush and verdant green gardens, full of blooms and climbing vines, with a little babbling brook or birdbath in the corner, and an arbour under which a small patio set sits, just waiting for a bottle of wine and a much-loved book. Now, I’m not a professional photographer, but I think this shot really does capture the soul of my yard right now, after the dogs have been playing in it.

Well. Okay. Not “playing” per se.

FamilyPortraitSnowOf course, what pictoral essay would be complete without the ubiquitous family portrait in the back yard. We’re all wearing our Hawaiian shirts, as a kind of HOMAGE to my cousins who are staying with my aunt and uncle on the Big Island (the Hawaiian Big Island, not the Lac La Ronge big island). I’m ..I’m not sure what ‪#‎TheNipper‬ is doing in this photo, but it might have something to do with fire walking or coconuts or…I dunno…um…flying crabs? And don’t be turned off by ‪#‎TheTeen‬‘s scowl. He always looks like that. You can tell he’s actually enjoying himself because he’s wearing his earbuds and watching a YouTube video WHILE WE TOOK THE PICTURE. Oh. And apparently one of the mice from our kitchen got in the picture too. Swine cats, not doing their job.

So there. I AM TOTALLY HAVING FUN NOT IN HAWAII.

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Storytelling Month – A Bigger Man

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Categories: Stories, Style, True Stories, Tags: , ,

Why International White Trash Week only lasts one night.

To celebrate Storytelling Month, I’m going to tell you at least one story per week in  February. These are all true stories. Okay and I forgot last week’s story but I gave you two stories the week before so it all evens out.

*ahem*

And I was going to find you a picture for this story, but when I really started thinking about it I realised you really don’t want pictures for this story so I found a royalty-free image that kind of has something to do with part of the story and by the time we get to the end of the story, you’ll understand why I chose that and you will thank me.

You. Will. Thank. Me.

When Drang and I lived together in the little boxcar house (which has since burned down, no fault of ours) with no doorknobs, a busted pool table in the basement and a full-wall mural of Homer Simpson smoking the world’s biggest doob, we were never very far from one a’ them…whattayacallems…thinly veiled excuses for having some shindiggery. Drang worked X weeks away at the mine and X weeks back home, and that led to rather a lot of intense ballyhoo action when he was home, and several weeks of recuperation when he was Away. And since most of our friends were mutual friends it was never very difficult to get a Troupe together for a hootenanny.

Cue birthday celebrations.

#HisNibs shares a birthday (or thereabouts at least) with Our Fair Canada, and with my grandmother, who is now dead but at the time this story took place she was very much alive. For the record, my mother (who was  a heavy drinker) was also very much alive. Neither of these latter two facts really plays a large role in this story; one plays more of a role than the other, but we might not get to it so I really just put that out there because this is how I tell stories. Everyone strapped in? Hands and feet inside the car at all times. Ready? Okay, here we go.

Wait. You’re going to want to take that…whatever that is…out of your mouth because I will not have anyone choking. Snorting beer, coffee, milk, or carbohydrates through one’s nose is acceptable; choking is not.

First, you need to understand the boxcar house. Which I think you do if you’ve been reading along. It was a slum house we rented from slumlords who were famous for offering to trade rent for sexual favours, and who didn’t think there was anything *wrong* with renting out a house that had no doorknobs. The walls were made of buffalo board, which is one step down from gyprock and two steps to the left of cardboard. It was a two-bedroom house that was smaller than my garage. AND WE LOVED IT. Because we were 20-something punk/goth gamers whose primary goal in life was to save enough empties to buy a carton of cigarettes. These are not lofty goals, my friend. However, if you set your goals low enough, you can prove success quite effectively.

ForbiddenWe declared the weekend of #HisNibs’ birthday to be International White Trash Week. Because…um…well, because…uh…kay here’s the thing. You have to look at GOALS first. OUTCOMES. What is the END RESULT you’re looking for? We wanted to spend some time drunk on a beach, but we didn’t have a beach handy (we did, but we’d roont ourselves on it the previous month celebrating the Best Day of the Year). We did, however, have a bunch of shitty lawnchairs we’d picked up at the beach the month prior.

Now let’s just talk for a minute about the Aristotelean ideal of “lawn chair”. No, no. Let’s back up from there even. Let’s talk about the Aristotelean ideal of “chair”. If we sort of…deconstruct the concept of a “chair”, we’re left with “something upon which one may sit”. This could, then, arguably, be an actual chair, a log, a chesterfield, a bunk bed, a rock, a tuffet, or any number of things. Drang and I had “sourced” some “lawn chairs” (by which I mean ‘relatively portable items upon which one might plant their bottom out in the yard’) from the “rubbish bin” at the “beach”.

So. Here we have two to four shitty, busted “lawn chairs”, the dregs of several bottles of liquor, a basement full of empties, half a carton of cigarettes, and a fridge devoid of everything but a quart of milk, half a pound of butter, and two half-eaten Big Crunch chicken sandwich burgers from KFC. Oh, and some mustard and BBQ sauce.

Now, we posited that combining those items and a Saturnalia in honour of #HisNibs impending natals would be a Good Thing, and the theme that presented itself, quite organically, I might add, was “International White Trash Week”. Because, you see, we planned to spend that entire week, a week which Drang had free from work, which I had free from work, and which #HisNibs had free from work, slurring our words face-down in a gutter. Lofty goals, gentle reader. Lofty goals.

So we invited our peeps and informed them there would be a strict dress code. Nothing that wasn’t torn, cut off far too short for modesty, or clean would be permitted. Tooth black, while not required, was highly recommended. Bathing beforehand was strictly optional, and there was to be a bonfire so anyone with aerosol hairspray, jerry cans of gasoline, or incriminating evidence was invited to bring it on over. Those few of our friends who had successfully bred at that point were told their children could attend, provided they were solidly attached to a hunk of twine, the other end of which we would wrap around the neighbour’s fence for safety.

Drang and I realised our laundry (A-frame tee shirts quite politically incorrectly nicknamed “wife beaters” and army surplus dungarees) was Far Too Clean, so we spent the afternoon squirting one another with mustard and bbq sauce and spilling coffee down our fronts followed immediately by rolling about in the dirt in the back alley. I shit you not, dear reader, this is a TRUE STORY. Eventually the sun fell low in the sky and Drang built our bonfire high enough that I thought it would warp our neighbour’s siding. We tossed in the “Vote Conservative!” sign our landlord had lovingly staked in our yard, after we stabbed it with knives as a political statement. Drang may have also urinated on it. [Note: my political leanings have not changed.]

Image from http://www.peopleofwalmart.com

Friends showed up in various attires of the redneck trailer trash cracker variety. I have never in my life (and never will again, I surmise) seen TUO in ‘hotpants’ (cutoff jeans) that short. Our friend D showed up – a fellow a few years older than us, who we all just kind of …assumed… had been a biker. Or still was. Or knew some. Or, you know, was hiding from some. We…didn’t ask a lot of questions.

He tied in to the whiskey pretty hard, halfway through the bottle announcing he’d been on the wagon for a number of years, but this…THIS he had to celebrate. By that point, nobody much cared, and in fact that was the moment that Drang ran up to me to announce he had just vomited! Over there! In the yard! By the end of the night, the cat had escaped and been caught (by #HisNibs), Drang had vomited! In the yard! Over there!, TUO had burnt her knees at the fireside, Suzi had scared the ever-loving Christ out of me by pretending to be my mother, and D was looking a little green around the gills.

Here’s the thing about fêtes. If you CHOOSE to go to bed/to sleep, it doesn’t count as having imbibed so much that you passed out. I *chose* to retire to my own bed at an entirely unreasonable hour, with an entirely excellent choice in partners. In fact, I had stayed up, sobering up, most of the evening, waiting for Drang’s Conflagration to die down enough so that I could put it out with the neighbour’s garden hose. So I missed the Excitement happening in my salle du bain.

The next morning (I’m an early riser much of the time and especially after I’ve been in my cups), I found D snoring loudly on the couch, and although I did my best to creep past him on my way out with #HisNibs to fetch some delectable morning-after fare, D woke with a grunt reminiscent of bears rumbling out of hibernation. “Where you off to?” He mumbled.

“Breakfast. Want to join us?”

He cocked an eyebrow, then rolled himself off the couch and rose unsteadily to his feet. “I could use some coffee.”

What he did not know, what he *could not* know, is that my favourite thing to do after a night of imbibery is to eat greasy fast food. So we drove to the greasiest, fastest-foodiest, arch-related restaurant in the vicinity, where I ordered two greasy mcwiches, several far greasier hash brown patties, and a large cup of coffee drowned in cream and loaded with sugar. I ordered for everyone, as D was still a little unsteady and had opted to have a sit-down in the sit-downery (see: Aristotelean ideal of “chair”) to wait.

I returneth, bearing a tray of sweet, greasy ambrosia.

D’s face turned several shades of…actually I don’t even know what I’d call that colour. Orc? Sun-dried dog  poo? Anyway, the man did not look well. He gulped a few times and said “what the hell is that for?”

I said “Breakfast!” and began to chow down. Now, truth be told, I ate far too fast for the state my stomach was in. But watching that man change colour was far more interesting than any minor protestations coming from my pyloric valve. I didn’t know human beings *turned* those colours. What I did not know was that D had spent much of the previous evening in the loo, retching horrifically…actually, I don’t believe “retching” is an appropriate descriptive verb here. According to #HisNibs, who is a consummate raconteur, the noises coming from the WC were somewhere between “a jet engine revving up” and “an entire pride of lions roaring into a very deep cave”, which lasted “for longer than [he] thought humans could survive without breathing” for the better part of an hour.

“Holy shit,” D said, watching me eat, wiping his brow as he watched. I noticed he was shaking a little. “You’re a bigger man that I am.”

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Same same?

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Categories: History, Just Wrong, Rants, Something or other but True, Tags: , , , , , , ,

TL:DR version - learn your history before you shoot off at the mouth.

In the years surrounding the war, Japanese Canadians, German Canadians, Ukrainian Canadians were all taken from their homes and put into internment camps. This is one of those…whattayacallems…parts of Canadian history that gets sorta shoved under the carpet because when faced with something that makes us feel bad, Canadians are a lot like puppies. I have a friend who told me that when his dog pooped on the floor, she would pick up the poop and go and hide it in the chesterfield. And that’s pretty much what Canadians do with our own history that we find kind of nasty.

When Louis Riel was elected to Parliament, he couldn’t take his seat because most of Upper Canada wanted him killed, and I think there were warrants out for his arrest. What was he in trouble for? Telling Upper Canada that the people who’d broken the land and homesteading in Manitoba kind of owned their own land regardless of their heritage. I could be fuzzy on the details because the only thing that was taught in my elementary school about Louis Riel is that he was a criminal who betrayed the government of Canada and was exiled to the US and was hanged for treason. And that because of Louis Riel, the Canadian government was able to pretty much wipe out the Red River Rebellion, which was a good thing because what would we do if a bunch of Métis people were able to declare themselves a distinct society and want to govern people of non-Indigenous descent? CLEARLY we would devolve into some kind of savage oligarchy, ruled by a controlling despot who muzzles the press and underfunds education, science and research, and…oh wait. Shit.

al_historictreaties_treaty-text_main_1361286085685_eng“The Treaties were enacted so that the Indians could have a place to live in Canada and could learn how to sustain themselves with agriculture.” I mean. It’s no goddamned wonder most students don’t like learning “history”. Because it makes no bloody sense. A “treaty” is a formal and ratified agreement signed between countries. So at some level, the Canadian government recognised that the Indigenous peoples of Canada represented distinct nations. Why in the world would a foreign government (Canada) have to draft treaties for Indigenous peoples to live where they’d always lived? And why on earth would Indigenous peoples need to learn how to survive when clearly they’d been surviving quite handily for thousands of years before foreign boots landed on this country’s soil? But of course, when you’re in grade three and you don’t understand a lot about these weird concepts like private ownership and international trade agreements, you just kind of believe whatever is in your text book, or whatever your teacher teaches you.

History must be told in terms of story. There’s fiction, and there’s non-fiction. And usually, history is non-fiction. Usually. Unless you’re Canadian and you’re learning the kind of history that doesn’t even actually mention internment camps for Immigrant Canadians during (and after) the war. Unless you’re Canadian and you’re learning that the British (Canadian) government wanted to “help” Indigenous peoples by basically putting them in internment camps and then reneging on most of the terms of the treaties they’d signed.

Imagine my confusion when I learned about the Treaty of Versailles and how Europe was *surprised* when Hitler violated the terms of the treaty and began amassing military troops and reinstating military conscription in Germany. Why was anyone surprised about this? Clearly the purpose of treaties is to write down a bunch of stuff you don’t really mean, which you have no real intention of doing, for a bunch of people you don’t really much like anyway. This is what the word “treaty” meant to me, because in Canada, it was pretty clear that the only reason the British government offered to entreat with the Indigenous peoples was because it was easier to control a population of people who’d been starved nearly to extinction, decimated by disease, and ethnically cleansed from their traditional lands in the American midwest. And just outright killing them was so…American. The Prime Minister (Sir John A.) had a dream to unite Canada under one government, but in order to do that, the peoples who had “title” to the lands in the west would have to agree to surrender them. Most of the Indigenous peoples were in a desperate enough state that some help looked pretty damned good.

We learned in grade three about the destruction of the bison herds. We learned about the Trail of Tears. We learned about the disease and the starvation that turned entire nations of peoples into groups of nomads, trying to find a place to live in a country overrun with foreign settlers who were looking for the same thing. We learned that the Government swept in and saved the people. But we didn’t learn what our government signed on behalf of all Canadians with the Indigenous peoples, *forever*. Most of us never read the numbered treaties under which our own homes were governed. (Some of us went and looked them up in the municipal library because we had Questions.)  I am not a scholar of Aboriginal law nor of Treaty law. Nor of law at all, really. The point I want to make here is that the Government of Canada signed these treaties *in perpetuity*. There’s no end date on them. More on that in a minute. Keep that in your head though, okay?

Look, I know you didn’t much like my rant yesterday. Nobody likes it when we point out each others’ weaknesses. There are an awful lot of people who don’t seem to understand that Indigenous peoples were never given any “free stuff”. Indigenous peoples in Canada had their traditional homelands *annexed* by a foreign government. A foreign government came in to their native homeland, annexed it, and set aside certain portions on which the indigenous peoples could continue to live.  This was pretty weird, if you think about it. Invading forces usually stormed a country, killed off all the leaders and warriors they could, took the land away from every other landowner, installed their own leaders in positions of authority, and then enslaved the indigenous people. Anyway, that’s really neither here nor there. The point is that reserve land is not “free land”; it’s a concession of property granted or traded for other lands or services.

Let’s put this in perspective. If the Americans decided they didn’t want to sign any more international trade agreements with Canada for natural resources like oil, lumber, potash, and water, and they kind of wanted to just, you know, take over Canada and make it part of the US of A, and they came up here with their military prowess and their redneck militias, we’d be screwed. Canada wouldn’t be a nation anymore. Your land titles might not be valid anymore, since they were registered in a country that no longer exists. Sure, you say, that would never happen. Times have changed. (Well, but not really.) Or what if China did it? What if China decided to annex Canada and you had to learn Chinese in order to get anything official done? And you couldn’t go to church anymore because the official religion in China is no religion at all or Taoism so your little church on the corner would become a temple or a laundromat or a government office.

So this racism, this intolerance and distrust and judgment towards Indigenous peoples in Canada and recent immigrants to Canada, it’s awful. Everyone everywhere hates each other; that’s why countries have borders at all. Very few of them are geographically-based; national borders are imaginary lines drawn in the sand that basically say “you keep your people over there and I’ll keep my people over here” in a sad but powerful game of Auntie-I-Over. But the way to move out of our xenophobic and sorry monocultural rut is to talk to each other. We need to learn about each others’ history and culture. We need to park our indignation at the door.

Read the Treaties that govern what are essentially international relations for the area in which you live. You’ll see that, f’rinstance, the terms of Treaty 4 (which covers the place I live) cedes approximately 50,000 square miles (that’s a lot of miles, square or otherwise) in exchange for, among other things, an annual payment, *in perpetuity* of $5 for every man, woman, and child in the Band. FIVE BUCKS. Five bucks A YEAR. Why, for an average, healthy woman, that amounts to nearly $450 over a whole lifetime! That’s, like, a lot of bucks! Man. If the federal government gave *me* FIVE FREE DOLLARS A YEAR, and if I invested it wisely at birth, I could possibly TRIPLE the investment and make almost FIFTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS over my 90-year lifespan! My band could receive ammunition and twine! TWINE! Amounting to not more than $750/year. That’s a LOT of twine. I could be given a school! FREE! And I wouldn’t have the option of whether or not to send my kids to that school! The government would just come and take them from me! And then rape them and beat them! And force them to speak a foreign language! That would be SO AWESOME! And let’s not forget that as long as I stay on my reserve, I am not allowed to have any alcohol or spirits. Sorry about the Grey Cup party, lads. But if we pool our $5 for a few years, we could maybe set up a big-screen teevee on the edge of the reserve and sit on a couch on the other side of the border and drink beer!

Now, if you live a bit further north and are living under Treaty Six, you’re super lucky because the terms of this treaty originally allowed the government to take away whatever land they wanted from your reserve (which was establised when about 121,000 square miles were ceded) for “public works or buildings” provided proper compensation was provided. You also got to share one plough and one harrow for every three families if you decided to engage in agriculture. And each Band got one whole whetstone! Oh, and every family has *access to* a medicine chest kept at the Indian Agent’s home. So that’s pretty nice. I’m sure the Indian Agents are *more than happy* to run clinics out of their homes!

So if you think that five bucks a year, access to education, shared farming tools, and a shitload of twine, along with some land set aside out of between 50,000 and 121,000 square miles of land is a good deal, then you and I should have a talk about what you’re willing to sell your beachfront cottage for. I *happen* to have rather a lot of twine I grabbed from Grandmother Smaug’s hoard. And let’s just make sure you understand that in order to receive your five bucks a year, access to education, shared farming tools, and a shitload of twine, you have to live where the Government tells you to live, and you’re *not allowed to leave your neighbourhood without permission*, and you *aren’t allowed to have a beer on your own land*. Because if you leave your neighbourhood, for many years, you could be arrested. For a long time, if you married someone who wasn’t from your neighbourhood, you had to leave your neighbourhood and forfeit your five bucks a year.

I hear people say “why should I be held responsible for what happened 150 years ago?” I can answer that. It’s a pretty easy answer, actually. It’s because *our government* signed internationally binding treaties that last *forever*. Our government essentially agreed to these terms on your behalf, three generations before you were born. If you are Canadian, you are covered by, and are therefore governed by, and are therefore held responsible to uphold the tenets of, every treaty signed with every nation in Canada, by the Canadian government. Just like you’re covered by, and are held responsible to uphold the tenets of international agreements signed with the United States or Germany or China. You personally might not have signed those treaties, but your government did. And that’s why it’s your (and my, and every Indigenous person’s in this country) responsibility to know what you’ve been signed up for, what your rights are, what our rights are, and how we can enact those rights *together*.

That’s the thing, see. We’re all in this together. So get over your ridiculous sense of entitlement if you think that you deserve MORE than you’ve received (which is essentially a taxpayer-paid education, taxpayer-funded health care, a pretty good standard of living, political empowerment) and should be getting five extra bucks a year and a shitload of twine. No, you didn’t vote for Sir John A. Macdonald, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he signed international treaties on your behalf. I didn’t vote for Stephen Harper, and he’s ruining the country without my consent too. (This is one of many reasons why it’s *kind of important* to vote, and to cast an informed vote.)

Education, health care, land claims – these are all treaty rights (among other things). They are rights that were given in exchange for Indignenous peoples ceding a LOT of land (like, all of Canada between Ontario and the BC Coast). Land that you couldn’t afford to buy if you tried. Even if you were the Koch brothers. If you need to think of treaty rights as Canada’s “sale price”, then go ahead. What is your homeland worth to you?

More reading:
Canada’s Numbered Treaties 

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