Posts in Tell The Story
Tell the Story: Reading List
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Closing the Gap: https://www.facebook.com/listeningprjct/photos/a.1871197116247853.1073741828.1698813483486218/1877013525666212/?type=3&theater

Canada’s Indigenous Water Crisis: https://bit.ly/2JNZRLl

Indigenous Knowledge to Close Gaps in Indigenous Health: https://bit.ly/2IcfBuo

Listening Project: I am Proud to be an Indian:  https://bit.ly/2FNdtYS

Listening Project: Peace and Meditation https://bit.ly/2IC4zfl

Listening Project: Dear World: https://bit.ly/2G5ophi

Listening Project: Lack of Understanding Indigenous Youth: https://bit.ly/2IPQXgR

Listening Project: Did you learn about Residential School?: https://bit.ly/2Gt2hAX

Listening Project: What Stan Taught Me: https://bit.ly/2GfKMoL

Listening Project: I am a young Aborginal Woman:  https://bit.ly/2In75FA

Listening Project: Dislocation: https://bit.ly/2rigbNy

Listening Project: Can You Live in the World Today:  https://bit.ly/2JihKCB

Can you live in the world today?
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The world today
The world we live today
Peace & love are far away
When hate & greed reign supreme
Equality is but a dream
Tides of justice shift and sway
There had to be another way
For all the people who have died
To the tears in a child’s eye
Let me ask you if I may
Can you live in the world today?
- Anonymous

 

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Dislocation
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Dislocation: I came into the office the other day, as per usual, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the biggest, most beautiful Dream Catcher I do believe I have ever seen. It was grand. Willow entwined with Sage, fringed with horse hair and moose hide leather. The feathers, symbolizing the hope that each had become “friendly, almost affectionate” with. The beads were of wood and bone, a west coast traditional style, and the web of sinue served as the main focal point to a truly exotic expression and impression. I have never met the Creator of this magnificent work of brilliance, but I do know his people.

I am a treaty Aboriginal myself, registered with a Cree band in Northern Alberta, Saddle Lake it’s called and I have never even been there. I’m what they call an “urban Indian” or “Inner City Kiddie,” whatever. I will go there someday, when things are smoothed over real nice and stable. When I think about it, a lot of what people say is true, I would lose it living in the country and to top it off I’m a stranger in my own land. Sure, I know the culture, I spent six years of my adolescence trying to drown it in the name of “fun.”

I believe in many things but what I have a really hard time with is the fact that I see far too many of my people (I mean A LOT of people), that just refuse to drop the blinders and get up off their knees. Oppression, suppression, separation and desperation. All I see is dislocation. And for all I care, it’s pitiful. I for one will not stand by and watch it continue.

The true grace of this heartland, is in its people. The nature of our nature is Nature itself. Therefore why not make the best use of today’s knowledge, skills and training, to do what we know is wise in the way of respecting our mothers and fathers. That is all I can say for now, but you’ll be hearing from me in the future, count on it. Thank you.

- N.L

 

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I am a young Aboriginal woman
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I am a young Aboriginal woman. I am from the Siksika Nation Reserve in Alberta. Two years ago, I went through a life changing experience, which made me move to Calgary, Alberta. When I came up, I had absolutely no where to go. I didn’t know how to pick myself up from getting knocked down. So, I just went with the flow; started hanging out with the wrong crowd, started doing things that I wouldn’t normally do, just to fit in. Little did I know, I had walked myself into an addiction. I really didn’t have support up here to help me out of it. For two years, I was a crystal meth and heroin addict. That was the lowest, saddest time of my life. For our younger generation: we can easily get sucked into an addiction. I don’t regret everything that I have been through because it’s made me who I am today. I am now seven months clean and sober, taking it one day at a time. I am just putting it out there for the younger generation to make sure you have a strong support system when you come to Calgary. Make the right choices. It is not fun hitting rock bottom on the streets. There doesn’t have to be a first for everything. 

- Anonymous
February 2018

 

What Stan taught me
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Stan taught me a lot, he taught me to be patient and let people approach when they are ready. For several months I was just there. He acknowledged me only to others, and only to make it known he wasn’t that fond of me.

But over time he grew to like me and we grew close. And from this relationship I learnt a lot. He was blunt. DUH was one of his favorite words. We laughed a lot.

I don’t know where he is today. We haven’t spoken in years and there was no formal goodbye. I try to live by the rule “no news is good news” so I trust he finally went home and he just doesn’t want to remember the ‘shit ol days’.

I thought I knew Stan through the shittiest years of his life, because he spoke of his foster mom a lot. All the recipes she taught him and life on the farm. I guess I assumed at some point he was taken from his family but had been one of the lucky ones. I might be wiser now, or just more cynical?

Closer to the end of my time knowing Stan he wrote a memoir and I learned otherwise … his life has pretty much been shit forever. But he had finally cleaned his life up and one of his final hurdles was trial. He served his time and there in jail he wrote his life story. I think it gave him strength. To see on paper just how much he had been through. He hoped other young people on the street could read it and find hope in it. I hoped people could read it and learn form it. But unfortunately most couldn’t. It was just too much.

“drunken bitch mother, asshole father”
Abuse, Foster home, abuse, foster home, children’s mental health treatment, abuse, rape, group home, sexual abuse… all by 9.
A social worker driving him half way here, another social worker driving him the rest.  
Finally a good home. “I think they took pity on …”
Then a downturn in adulthood… life on the streets
The part "no one needs to hear”

I learnt just how horrible a person’s life can be.
And just how many small, seemingly unrelated people, places and things could all interconnect into one very hurt and broken person.
And maybe because I know him I can get thru this memoir or maybe its cause I read it right in front of him.
But…. I often wonder how do we stop this?

Stan taught me about exclusion.
He never used that term… I’m not even sure he really even understood it himself.
But when I listened it’s what I learnt.

I often tell people about Stan’s boat analogy
He explained society is this nice little island
And he floats his boat in the water alone.
Sometimes he rows over to society and sets foot on their land.
But only for so long, then he rows back
And he tips his boat over his head to protect and recover.

This is better than before, before he consistently had his boat parked on a different shore.
Living on the outskirts of society
Not giving a fuck… drugs, alcohol, sex and jail

When we last spoke Stan lived in his boat in the middle of the water.
Often with his boat over his head protecting him.

His job once suspended him for fighting with a co-worker who for weeks had called him a “fag” and a “drunken Indian”
Then the job after that accused him of stealing… they felt really bad when the cook was caught the week later.
I think they said sorry.
But his middle finger was already in the air and he and resume were out pursuing other options.

Over the last few weeks, as more young Indigenous people’s stories are being shared.
I’ve thought a lot about Stan and his memoir
The graphic story…

It’s a story much like Tina’s.
A CHILD failed, over and over.


The message needing to be delivered.
Not one family, person, system or historical event failed Stan.
And Tina.
And who knows however many.

Society is failing them.
And it’s time we stop.

Click here to read more…

Lack of Understanding Indigenous Youth
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I believe that Natives from all over the world are different in their own ways, especially the generations of my people. I find that a lot of Natives in Alberta are struggling with addictions, are not straight (bi or gay) and many Aboriginals don’t have a Grade 12 level. I feel like it’s only because the government had something to say back in my Grandparents day. Native kids were getting taken out of their homes and brought to places where some wouldn’t survive to make it out of the residential schools. Getting raped and getting told that they had to speak English or get punished. My ancestors were just kids that didn’t know they would be brought into this world to just live a horrible life. The ones that did make it out of residential schools only passed on what they had learned from being in residential school most of their life. Natives/Aboriginals started to lead into generations of all kinds of abuse. Hurting each other in their families with the drinking and gambling. The drugs became a big factor by the 80’s. The murder rate went up because of gangs. It’s only because the homes on the reserve were all broken down and the poverty; you would be lucky to get raised in a perfect home with the proper love and care that you needed and to get an education. You were lucky if your parents didn’t drink or any of the bad stuff. You were blessed but then most cases even if you were blessed it was easy to talk a Native into partying or taking off from home and getting into trouble.
Now a-days there are a lot Natives are in jail facilities. You see them drunk at every train station and it’s because many Indigenous people are homeless. Having no where to go to is normal for these individuals. There is a lot of cases these days of mental illness in the city and on the reserve. I believe that there are many Indigenous people that have a mental illness who aren’t getting the proper help that they need because they just don’t care about their well-being. They continuously booze and do drugs. This makes them more incapable to strive to move forward. The Natives who are moving forward in life and doing what they need to do to create a healthy life and to break that cycle, have an even bigger battle against them because they deal with the high egos of the public and how the public sees all Native people the same way. This is because of the Natives that sit at every corner panning for drinks or drugs, the Natives that steal from the liquor stores, the Natives that are pulling fraud from banks or the Natives that just gave up trying because they keep ending up back in jail. They are making the other Natives that wont give up look bad. The ones that keep praying for better days and never give up on themselves. The ones that are trying no matter what society says or does. They keep moving forward to better themselves to make a better life for themselves and their families. Which I call breaking the bad cycles of unhealthy lifestyles. In any culture on mother earth, there are same cases different stories. It’s always harder doing the right thing and it’s always easier doing the bad things. But I believe if you stick to doing good in life, you will succeed in having a long healthier life, with 99% breaking the cycle of crimes, suicide, drugs, alcohol, and abuse in the Indigenous world. Striving for the healthier change in my people and for a better future and healthier generations to come means to deal with mental health issues for the Indigenous people in the communities and on the reserves and to seek counselling if you feel like giving up on living a healthier lifestyle.

- Anonymous
February 2018 

 

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Dear World,
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Dear World, OK, look, I am one person. I will not even attempt to say that I have all the answers. But I do believe that actions speak louder than words. Words however are the foundation for action. Therefore, the clearer we are about what is being said, the easier a time we will have taking action and the more effective that action will be. On Saturday, March 28, 1998 the Calgary Herald published a “Statement of Reconciliation: Learning from the Past”. It was written by the Honourable Jane Stewart P.C (Progressive Conservative) M.P (Member of Parliament) and the Honourable Ralph Goodale P.C, M.P on behalf of the Canadian Government. The main focus was to deal with the legacies of the past affecting Aboriginal Peoples of Canada. The letter itself is specific in its text regarding the process of reconciliation and renewal of relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. First of all however, the statement is written in English that most people would need university experience to understand. I was asked once why Native people have an accent. “Well”, I said, “maybe it’s because English is not their first language”. Someone raised on a reservation speaking Sioux or Blackfoot is obviously not likely to have a good command of English. Hence the accent. Just as the same as I have absolutely zero knowledge of any Native languages, including my own. That’s right, I am an Aboriginal myself and I don’t know one syllable of Cree, my own mother tongue. Did you find that interesting? I was adopted by a set of loving parents, white folk, very middle class, and all academic scholars. I grew up in the suburbs, went to public schools, and had a generally average childhood. My parents were always a very open with me in regards to my adoption and biological heritage. I was never actually exposed to my culture, until I was moved into a group home. Nekinan, an aboriginal group home in Calgary was my first experience with my “own kind”. I fell in love with the vibrant culture and even pursued traditional dance as a hobby. I can say with the strongest conviction that the First Nations are beautiful people, truly gifted with the strength and virtues only possible by generations and generations of life and love of oneself, one another, and ones environment. I consider myself uniquely blessed.

As in everything, there are good and bad and I have lived both and so have you. Beat this one: I’m homeless. I meet a lot of Natives. Every day, because I live in a city with a reservation on all four borders. Four different bands. Three treaties. And of course, social turmoil prevalent in all. It’s obviously most disturbing, given my position. My position? What does that mean? Really? It means I stand here, in the rain, head hung, and staring deep into this “Statement of Reconciliation”. Do I dare accept this? This Jane Stewart, of The Overground. For sure dude, why not? Sounds like she might just be my type. Well, except for the politics, of course. For me, objectivity is a personal power tool. Not a weapon. To remain healthy I must remain in constant fluidity, like water. Thus, I am invincible. For her, candidness is the name of the game. And it’s a game. I play it everyday. I play for keeps, I win.

- N
March 1998

 

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Peace and Meditation
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Peace and meditation
Healing of the Nation
Stopping discrimination
And needless retaliation
End of procrastination
Now love and admiration
Respect and toleration
Always being patient
This is defining
Peace and meditation

 

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I am proud to be an Indian
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“I used to be ashamed of my culture. I was ashamed of myself. I was raised in white foster homes and group homes. There were some good and bad families I lived with. I honestly believed I was white. The only Natives I saw were down town, drunk and dirty, asking for money. Funny how I ended up the same way. I remember watching the old cowboy and Indian movies, seeing one cowboy cruise into the village and kill all the braves and snag the best looking squaw. What a joke! Growing up, I learned respect and manners ‘cause I had it beat into me. I also remember my step dad shoving white power down my throat, and I actually started to believe it ‘cause I used to hang out with skin heads and white trash and rednecks, and we would go looking for Indians to beat on. I think I might have been brainwashed ‘cause my culture is not all lazy, alcoholic, smelly, dirty minded savages. I am just at the beginning of my circle of life. I am a baby in the learnings of the old ways. I find it hard to stay on the red road ‘cause there are so many distractions in the city, such as the lies you learn on T.V. and the radio. Everybody acting, trying to be tough and hard. Sometimes, I get caught up in the excitement of it all and get into trouble, but when I actually practice what I have learned from the lessons the Elders and traditional Indians teach me, I have this feeling of innocence that I have not felt since I was a little kid. I also have a lot of courage I have never felt before. I am learning history from our people’s side, which I never learned in school- the truth- and the truth makes me proud to be an Indian. I still have a lot of down town, inner city Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary in me, but I’m learning to live with it as a learning experience. When I follow the red road, I feel beautiful. I don’t feel like that 120 pound sack of bones any more, that felt really gross and all ashamed, thinking I was born to be a dog on the streets. My culture was what I was always looking for and I never even knew it. Everything I was taught about it before was all lies. The Grandfathers and Grandmothers are still alive. The above ones are everywhere, looking out for me and my people. We have survived the worst of it and there are many brothers and sisters still suffering out there. I hope the Creator brings them home, too. All our Nations are rejoining and getting stronger and healthier. All the lost ones like myself are coming home. I am proud to be an Indian. There are a lot of steps I have to do to earn respect and a lot of painful experiences I must face on my path. I think it is worth it to live a simple, honest life with many awesome experiences. I am no gifted writer. One day, the Creator might see fit to make me one. I am just being honest and simple because the Native culture is totally different from the white, anglo-saxon, protestant way I was raised, and it makes sense to me. It gives me courage and strength. I am just trying to say I am proud to be Native.”

- Anonymous
July 1995

 

 

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