Sunday, April 27, 2008

whew!


Another one bites the dust - that is off of my list. Along with a few companeras y companeros, I ran the Times-Colonist 10km Run this morning. Of course, I didn't train as much as I had intended, but I'm glad I finished it. Johnny was the speediest of the bunch coming in at 48:33, and brother that he is, he ran back to the 9km mark to run with me for my last 1km. Great job Team Indigelicious.

Had a good (hearty) brunch, and now I believe it's nap time.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

made it...


For those of you who stop by here from time to time, you'll have no doubt noticed that I usually try to include an appropriate image with each blog I write. For those of you who are my friends and family members (and yes, maybe even you enemies), you will also know that I've just recently completed all the requirements for my bachelor's degree. I was thinking it would be appropriate to include one of those motivational poster images here, you know the ones that say "Achievement" or "Teamwork" or "Accomplishment" accompanied with a striking image of a mountaintop, or an eagle soaring, or a rowing team on some placid lake at dawn. But then, I came across these "anti-motivational" posters and I couldn't resist. It reminds of that saying about the light at the end of the tunnel, and hoping it's not an oncoming train. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not always this cynical, but I do appreciate a little irony, paradox, and self-deprecating humour from time to time.

So yeah, I'm done. I wrote my last exam on Monday and I feel pretty good about it. At first, I was not sure what to think, and as I exited the building where I had written my last exam, I almost instinctively put in my iPod headphones, in that antisocial way modern students do, but I stopped myself. I thought, is there a song that will do this moment justice? Can I find that right tune that will add to the soundtrack of my life? In truth, my iPod is really the wee-est of the bunch, the iShuffle, and it has no screen or clickwheel to locate the perfect song. Instead, I closed my eyes, soaked in the warm sunrays, and smiled.

What next? Some rest, some time with friends and family, a summer job hopefully, and then back to the grindstone. Grad School begins in September and this adventure continues. Yes, I am a little masochistic. I am grateful to everyone in my life for their encouragement and support. It has truly been a group effort. Kleco, kleco, and a few Gila Kesla's, Meegwetch's and Huy'ch'qa's too.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

almost done...


...stick a fork in me. By Monday at noon, I will have completed all my requirements for a bachelor of arts degree in political science at the University of Victoria. This most recent chapter in my life began here and, 20 months, 82 blogs (including a scant 7 on kumtux), 19 courses, more than 50 text books, a gajillion peer-reviewed journal articles, copious amounts of coffee, jarred fish, Mr. Noodles, much love from friends and family, some new friends, some new memories, some mundane and some not-so-mundane adventures, blood, sweat, and tears, and I am almost done. I have one final exam to go, for ENGL 429A. This final exam is for the only course that I may get less than a B in. :o I know. Apparently, English Literature is another language, and my indigenous revolutionary/social science brain just doesn't get it sometimes. Ah well, aaniikwaa. Humility has its upside. Well, I'm gonna do as Joe says, and finish strong...back to James, Stein, Wharton, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemmingway and Hurston...Damn modernist American expatriate writers (all except Hurston, although I think she did leave the South).

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

time for a change, time to grow up

Family, friends, loved ones, enemies no more. In two weeks I'll have completed my requirements for my bachelor of arts degree in political science. It's been an interesting journey, one that began in 1991 at Capilano College, with stopovers in student union, urban and old school and radical Indian politics, Cornwall, Ottawa, Toronto, Surrey, Port Alberni, Ladysmith and finally here in Victoria. I've learned a lot and met a lot of cool people.

I've met a lot of passionate people in the "movement" and developed a stronger sense of my own indigenous identity. I even had a brief stint as a member of the now-defunct West Coast Warrior Society. I've even taken a few peeps under my wing, dispensing red pills, promising only the truth, never mind the years of frustration, anger and further disillusionment. I've invaded your ears with indigenous revolutionary rhetoric from the radio waves of CHLY in Nanaimo along with the rest of the Goin' Coastal crew. And of course, I've utilized this space to weBLOG my insightful, pretentious ramblings about the indigenous revolution for nearly 3 years now.

Well, all good things come to an end. At the conclusion of this rite of passage, my graduation now assured, I'm reminded of that verse from Corinthians that they often read at weddings about setting aside childish things.

Last term, in the course of some research for a paper on indigenous participation in Canadian electoral and party politics, I came into contact with some really amazing people. They were young, positive, and motivated indigenous people - that also happened to be members of the Liberal Party of Canada. At first, I was a little stand-offish and even maybe a little mean. I insinuated that they had somehow abandoned their indigeneity by participating in the colonial master's game. I was convinced that they had fooled themselves into thinking that they could actually do something from the inside.

Well, to their credit, they were kind and patient and over the course of our discussions I began to see things in a new way, in a way that I had never fully appreciated before. Sure, I had worked for the Tribal Council and been exposed to indigenous-state politics, but I never really believed in it, until now. This one woman in particular floored me with some key revelations: "I would rather be inside making decisions for our people than outside protesting" and the real kicker, "It's easier to change the minds of your friends than your enemies."

I could not believe it. The cat had my tongue. I didn't know what to say. How could I dispute these obvious truths? Needless to say, the idea needed time to marinate in my thoughts and feelings for several months before I could make sense of it. I mean, messing with this idea of progressive and positive thinking was all the stuff I learned from Tai, Vine, and others, but I believe now is the time for me to change directions. It would be a lie to say that I am actually renouncing all those things I wrote and said. I think they had their place - like the Corinthians passage reminds us but what are our options, realistically? I mean really?

So, I take this opportunity to announce to you now, that I have accepted a special appointment as "Indigenous Advisor" to the Minister of Indian Affairs, Chuck Strahl. I've talked to Chuck a few times and he actually likes my ideas and thinks I have a lot to contribute from a slightly different perspective. I'm really encouraged.

Upon graduation in April, I will be travelling to Ottawa to take up my post and see if I can really make a difference from within. I believe I can.




Oh yeah, and one more thing...


APRIL FOOLS' DAY! ;-)

...as if.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

my triumphs, my mistakes



I wash my hands of the phony democratic system; I will never let myself be distracted by the placatory crumbs that the elite led by the administration toss into the barnyard every now and again. Many of the oppressed have realized the truth and are ready to take action, even ready to take arms.

- Gaius Baltar

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tiocfaidh Ar La!


Happy St. Patrick's Day, and while it will remain a dry day for me, I am wearing my Ireland football jersey and saying, "Tiocfaidh Ar La!" to anyone who might seem to care. Perhaps I should be saying "You're day will come!" if they happen to be Irish, and maybe, ours too!

I don't have a lot to say today but I do have some links to share:

Recommended tunes today: Eire Og
Recommended reading: Trinity
Recommended viewing: The Wind that Shakes the Barley and
Michael Collins

And of course have some Irish food and a Guinness for me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What is the problem with Michael Jackson?


Captain Said: What is the problem with Michael Jackson?
Sargeant Barlow: What do you mean?
Captain Said: What...Is...The...Problem...With Michael Jackson? You understand my question?
Sargeant Barlow: No, I'm not sure I do.
Captain Said: The king of pop, ooh-hoo, ee-hee.
Sargeant Barlow: Yeah, Michael Jackson.
Captain Said: He come to Egypt, I see picture in newspaper. "Hello" with the white glove. I'm Michael Jackson in my autoroom, with my chop up face. Your country make him chop up his face.
Sargeant Barlow: I don't think so.
Captain Said: Michael Jackson is pop king of sick fucking country.
Sargeant Barlow: That's bullshit, he did it to himself.
(Captain Said hits Sargeant Barlow on the head with a clipboard)
Captain Said: You are the blind bullshit my main man. It's obvious, a black man make the skin white and the hair straight, and you know why?
Sargeant Barlow: No.
Captain Said: Your sick fucking country make the black man hate hiself just like you hate the Arab and the children you bomb over here.

[Dialogue from the interrogation scene in David O. Russell's Three Kings (1999)]

Saturday, March 15, 2008

huh...

"If we eat like them and live like them, we will die like them and go crazy."

- Khatsalano as told to Lee Maracle

Friday, February 29, 2008

put up your dukes

So, I've been on a bit of break, nearly three months. I've decided to end seclusion, however I'm afraid of two things: 1. No one will even have noticed I was gone or that I am back and; 2. I don't have anything wonderfully profound on this, the occasion of my return to the land of ones and zeros.

But, I do have something to ramble on about. I was at a workshop this afternoon about "Fighting Oppression." During the question and answer period, an indigenous sister raised a concern over the use of the word, "fighting" and the overtones suggestive of conflict. This is not uncommon. There seems to be extensive apprehension of conflict within indigenous communities. By no means, have I adequately worked this issue out but I know it bothers me.

Now, perhaps as a "guy" I cannot fully appreciate her perspective and perhaps as a "man" I'm predisposed to the fight, but I know plenty of pacifist dudes and plenty of rowdy women who would relish nothing more than to get it on and start kicking some ass. While I suspect gender is part of it, I am reluctant to make any broad generalizations.

Now, I'm going to make a generalization. Generally speaking, from my experience lately, we Indians are afraid of the fight and conflict in general. Oddly, we seem to really be into fighting each other. How many times did I hear the term, "lateral violence" when I worked for the Tribal Council? And when we do fight the colonials, it's more often than not in court, which is really like getting good white people (who are good to us, especially when we give them oodles of money) to fight the bad white people. Speaking of white people, I had another "half-white" friend express concern over my use of the term "white people." I wasn't even using it in an overly derogatory manner, unless you consider the whole phrase as somehow offensive to your communist/anarchist sensibilities: I was speaking of "rich white people" writing modernist American literature in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.

How about I use the term "immigrant" or "settler?" Then I might offend my Canadian friends. Sigh, there's no winning the semantic game.

So anyway, back to the fighting issue. Are we afraid of fighting? Have we become soft? Perhaps we have evolved. Perhaps we are more civilized now. Perhaps we have seen the Gandhi-esque light and should know better. I'm not so sure. Perhaps we are afraid. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be flippant about the very real and devastating effects of war. I would hate to naively romanticize fighting, but surely we cannot achieve our goals without at least a little bit of friction. I know deep down we may truly all want to "get along" but surely we must strive for more. Surely, our goals must include justice and freedom, and I mean true justice and freedom, not the mere facades being able to go to court and shop at Wal-Mart.

What's wrong with a little scrappiness? Have we been forever pacified? I'm not equating non-violence with non-fighting either. We can be non-violent and damn confrontational, or at least place ourselves in a position where The Man is gonna be itching to pepper spray us. Fanon suggested a certain cathartic and therapeutic element to the act of the indigenous person standing up and fighting for themselves. I think he was on to something. Again, I AM NOT ADVOCATING VIOLENCE, but I should be able to live my life, to live an indigenous life. Unfortunately, doing so in the current day and age is certain to bring that way of life in conflict with another and the power of the state. So what do we do? What do you do?

jay-r