Tuesday, November 28, 2006

we say no

I may have written about this book before, or at least referred to it, but I think it's worth another look. As I was looking for a profound quote to end my paper on Latin America-U.S. relations I kept coming back to Galeano's We Say No. I found it not only relevant for my term paper, but also for us Indigneous folks in these parts of the Americas (occupied British Columbia). Specifically, because of the current BC Treaty Process, and the most common criticism levelled at dissenters: "It's not enough to just say 'no.' You have to come with solutions." Well, to a group of under-resourced people this is a tall order, but I and Galeano agree that sometimes it is more than enough to just say no, especially when the consequences are so significant and far-reaching. Here are some excerpts from his talk, We Say No (originally given at a gathering of rebellious intellectuals in Chile in July, 1988) from the book of the same name:

(translated by Cedric Belfrage)

We have come from different countries, and we are here - reunited under the generous shade of Pablo Neruda - to join the people of Chile, who say no.

We also say no.

We say no to the praise of money and of death. We say no to a system that assigns prices to people...We say no to a system that neither feeds its people nor loves them, that condemns many to hunger for food and many more to a hunger for the embrace...

We say no to the lie...

The colonial inheritance obliges the so-called Third World (and Fourth World!) - populated by third-class people - to accept as its own the memory of the victors who conquered it and to take on its lies of others and use them as its own reality. They reward our obedience, punish our intelligence, and discourage our creative energy.

We say no to fear. No to fear of speaking, of doing, of being...

As it happens, we are saying no, and by saying no we are saying yes... By saying no to the devastating empire of greed, whose centre lies in North America, we are saying yes to another possible America, which will be born of the most ancient of American traditions, the communitarian tradition that the Chilean Indians have defended, deperately, defeat after defeat, during the last five centuries.

In saying no to peace without dignity, we are saying yes to the sacred right of rebellion against injustice and its long history as long as the history of popular resitance on the long map of Chile.

By saying no to the freedom of money, we are saying yes to the freedom of people: a mistreated and wounded freedom, a thousand times defeated as in Chile and, as in Chile, a thousand times arisen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

knowing my place

(originally published on my myspace page Nov. 15, 2006)

I'm feeling particularly polemical today. It might be a combination of new tunes (mostly courtesy of Fish), reading about colonial bullshit from here (in Occupied Canada) to South America, co-optation everywhere and the pressure to go along and get along. Ya Basta (Enough) I say! I know I will not get my way 100% but that does not diminish the need for so-called radical or uncompromising positions. I do not pretend to be in a position to have a final say on much of anything, but while the blood of my ancestors continues to flow through my heart I will fight for what I believe to be true and righteous. I know this will attract criticism and allegations of essentialism but I know my place. It has become more and more clear over the years, despite constant pressure and temptation to be diplomatic and "nice."

My mom, bless her heart and love, once lamented my politics primarily because she believed that they would lead me toward a life of depression and frustration. I thought about it for a few moments and replied that if I did not act on what was in my heart, I would truly be depressed and frustrated. The role of the rebel is a calling. It is at times a lonely road, plagued with doubt and fear but it is also paved with hope and dignity, for we know that life is more than mere existence. Life is indeed precious. Specifically, it is precious in how we live it, how we walk with our families, friends and enemies. I do what I do because I believe there is no other way for me. My fate is intertwined with the fate of my people. Viva la rebellion!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I've been thinking about the nature and ethics of escapism, not only in my life but in the lives of my fellow Indigenous revolutionaries. By escapism I mean everything from day dreaming to playing video games, to watching movies to mind-altering substances, to mererly unplugging, to taking off to the other side of the world. My methods of escapism? Well since my cell phone's been cut off, I have to admit it's nice to not be as reachable as I used to be. I have an old fashioned phone line with NO FEATURES whatsoever, so when I'm on the phone and people call, they get a busy signal. When was the last time you heard one of those? And instead of voicemail, I have an answering machine with the bad sound that I bought from the Salvation Army thrift store for $3.50, which I have not figured out how to check remotely yet. Riding my motorcycle at times used to be a form of escapism for me, but since I'm not riding it this winter, about all I have is a bus ride and my iPod. Speaking of iPods, music often does it for me, especially when accompanied by a hot tub and a glass of red wine (did I just type that? ahem...in attempting to recover some sense of machismo, I'm evoking images of Tony Montana, smoking his cigar, watching TV saying, "c'mon pelicans" - when they were really flamingos...lol).

The other reason I was reminded of this issue was recently I've heard from a few rebellious sorts talk of how nice it felt to be away from the "bullshit politics" or enjoying the comforts of a full time job for a change. Now I recognize there are a several emerging issues here and I do not intend to engage them all at this time, however you are more than welcome to. Often, we are frustrated with the current state of affairs, the "bullshit politics" that we decide to disengage or work to find another way. The latter, as many of you will already know, can be a supreme exercise in frustration and seeming futility.

It is not my place to judge for I've been as guilty as the next if we call it that. Perhaps, being human is more accurate.

I believe, especially at times like these, that we need to be able to turn to one other for support. Each of us on our respective paths believe in some common things - freedom, dignity, hope, family. And being on seperate but parallel paths, we are often in a position to help one another. When one is weak the other is strong and so forth. This has been my experience anyway. I don't have the answers. This is more of my own expressions of dispair and hope. What I can tell you is this, if I can be there to help, to give some hope, or merely be a person who can listen with empathy and compassion, I will. I will endeavor to grow stronger so that I can be there for you, my fellow rebels, because I know many of you have been there for me already.

kleco, kleco!


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

on university life and other musings

Well, I have completed most of my mid-term exams (with the exception of my East Asian Politics take-home exam that I am working on at this very moment), and despite my worst fears, I am doing fairly well, although I can't believe I got (only) a B+ on my critique of Thomas King's The Truth About Stories! ):I Perhaps my closing line, "The truth about Thomas King is he has great appeal for non-indigenous people" went too far. :I


Despite some initial anxiety about failure, I am really enjoying school. I feel like this is where I want to be at this very moment, which is rarer than you might think. In spite of many important and pressing issues at home (Ahousaht/Kitselas/Kitsumkalum), I am taking this opportunity to finish what I started 15 years ago as well as taking the time to devote a majority of my time to thinking through many of the issues related to decolonization and regeneration.

For some of you, this will seem counter-intuitive, especially those of you who have been exposed to my revolutionary rhetoric over the years. I've thought about this a great deal, and in no small measure considering my mentor-protege relationship with Old Man Rivers, and have concluded that this is indeed where I am supposed to be right now. When I am done, my priorities may change but when considering my assets, and how I may best contribute to the revitalization of my communities, indeed some thinking time is good.

I realized this morning that I have now been living on my own for the FIRST TIME EVER, for 38 days now. Again, this may be hard to believe but it is true and I think I'm learning some valuable lessons and insights from the experience. On my 101 in 1001 list I (somewhat jokingly) stated that one of my goals was to live on my own for at least 30 days. woo hoo! 3 cheers for baby steps.

I recently returned from a trip to Portland, OR where my cousin Hiish-miik had an art show opening at Quintana Galleries. When I get the chance I will post some pictures from our trip south of the 49th into occupied Chinookian territory. As I gather it did up here, it rained and rained almost the entire time we were there. The art show went well and will continue for another two months I believe...check it out (at least online) if you get the opportunity.

After a Denny's breakfast (:p) we managed to locate what I often refer to as, "a funky, hippyish but not too hippyish (meaning they have to have meat too), restaurant that caters to healthy, left-leaning intellectuals"...haha. Think The Blue Fox in Victoria or Slickety Jim's in Vancouver. Next, we went looking for guy toys (things that go "bang" all day long) much to the understandably finite patience of our female companera. And while we could not manage to locate an authentic Indigenous watering hole (jedi/pirate debate aside) I did manage to spend some time at Powell's Books. If you have any bookish inclinations whatsoever and find yourself within 100 miles of it, I highly recommend you find your way to this city-block-sized bookstore full of new and used books. I could have spent days, perhaps weeks in there. One example that illuminates the broad selection is that I found over 20 books specifically on Fidel Castro when try as I might, looking in every bookstore I can in this land now called Canada, I have never found one. I also found hundreds of books on history, Indigenous issues, Latin America, colonization, political and social issues. Check it out.

And my final thoughts for today. I recognize that I am in a special place of privilege to be in school full time, and for that I am grateful. At the same time I am adjusting to and truly appreciating the perspective that comes with the modest living of the student experience. I am especially grateful to my friends and family who have been so supportive, through encouragement as well as donations of fish and other material support. And...I hope to be picking up some Tliina later this week from a Nisga'a friend of mine. Woo hoo! :d

Oh, and last but not least, congratulations to the most recent IGOV graduate who successfully defended her MA thesis this morning! Great job Vanessa!

Viva la rebellion mi companeras y companeros!