Friday, September 30, 2011

Day Twenty-Two: Planning to Attend Vigil

Sisters in Spirit Vigil
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
6:30pm, Victoria Park, Regina 

Every October 4th, Amnesty International partners with the Native Women’s Association of Canada, KAIROS, the National Association of Friendship Centers, the Canadian Federation of Students and family members to call for an end to violence and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
These vigils are held to remember the lives of Indigenous women and to call for justice and action from the Canadian government to ensure the safety and protection of Indigenous women.
Amnesty International encourages everyone to participate in this year’s Sisters in Spirit Vigil in Regina, October 4th at 6:30pm in Victoria Park.   
If you would like to travel together with Fort Qu’Appelle people, you could join us at 4:30 at the Community Outreach for Chili and Bannock.
If you can’t come for Chili, but still want to travel together, we will leave at 5:15 from Community Outreach.
We will try to park together at Regina’s Central Public Library across from Victoria Park. There is free parking after 6:00pm.
If you can drive or you need a ride, please contact Sheena Koops 332.4343 (school) or 332.3023 (home).

Day Twenty-Two: September 30th Pictures

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day Twenty-One: Short Cut

Yesterday, on my way home, I timed my short cut, from one corner of the Treaty Four grounds to the corner past the ski hill. It took nine minutes, dodging gopher holes, stopping to take a picture of a white feather. This morning I remember that I want to time the long way, following the road. I look at my cell phone, 7:22. When I turn the corner by the gas station, I've only used about four minutes. What kind of long path is this? At the post this side of the bridge my time totals seven minutes. My long path is a short cut?

Tonight I'm covering my daughter's babysitting job while she goes to her piano lesson. I see the Regina Leader Post on the ottoman. The front page shows the protest from Cree Land, the gas station, to the Legeslative Building in Regina. There are elders, children, people in regalia, vetrans, and chiefs. One little guy carries a sign, "Our people fought alongside your people." The paper says they are marching to raise awareness that treaties are not being honoured. "A littany" of concerns, the paper says.

I read the introduction to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I read excerpts from Amnesty International's No More Stolen Sisters: The Need for a Comprehensive Response to Discrimination and Viuolence Against Indigenous Women in Canada. I google October 4 Vigil Regina, Saskatchewan, and find "Sisters in Spirit Vigil" in Victoria Park at 6:30pm. I copy the notice and send it to my colleagues at the Elementary and High School. I also facebook my sisters with the information.

My long walks are turning into a short cut to my own awareness and hopefully action.

Day 21: September 29th Pictures

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Day Twenty: Amnesty

official pardon, reprieve,
forgiveness, acquittal, release, discharge, freeing, exoneration,
let go, liberate, let loose, leave go of, absolve, clear, unshackle, unfetter, unchain,
unleash, unbind,
I sit in the fourth or fifth row of chairs with our grade nines and tens on either side of the gym. 300 or so students from as close as Standing Buffalo to as far as Fishing Lake wait with us for guest speaker, Craig Benjamin from Amnesty International. He arrives and begins sorting handouts on the back table.
Two elders sit next to an empty podium on the stage. The man wears jeans and a cowboy hat. The woman wears a flowered skirt with a lacy, white cotton sweater, much like the black shell I’m wearing over my blouse. The man welcomes the audience, introduces Benjamin, and then invites his fellow elder to lead a prayer in her own language. Boys in the audience remove their hats.
Benjamin is tall and thin, an ex-farmer from Nova Scotia. He has a kind smile and his voice is gentle, but enthusiastic. He takes us through a power-point presentation, which might be called Human Rights 101. The students are restless, but Benjamin continues in his easy-going manner. I give my students sitting close to me the eye and some shushing, but I decide I should focus on Benjamin and continue taking notes. He asks if any of us have heard of the United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I raise my hand, but I don’t really know any details. He tells us that only four countries voted against this Declaration, Australia, New Zealand, The United States and... Canada. Canada!
global, worldwide,
intercontinental, universal, comprehensive, total,
inclusive, overall, large-scale, macro, all-inclusive, wide-reaching,
widespread, general, common, collective,
total, entire, complete, unanimous,
communal, group, combined,
cooperative, joint, shared,
He speaks of the Amnesty International project called No More Stolen Sisters: The Need for a Comprehensive Response to Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada. Later as I look through the document, I see the young face of Helen Betty Osborne and remember reading the graphic novel this summer, the story of an intelligent, resilient, hope-filled girl. I see Amber Redman’s unforgettable smile. She’s a Bert Fox graduate. She walked our hallways. Her family still does. She is a stolen sister.
Benjamin tells us that October 4th is Amnesty’s vigil. I wonder if we have time to organize something here. Maybe I should go to one, go to something, get involved. When he asks for questions, my daughter and her friends ask, “How many countries in the United Nations?” and “When was Amnesty founded,” and “How do youth get involved,” and they keep asking. Finally, he won’t let them ask any more until the rest of the audience has a chance. He keeps looking back to Moira and her friends, a big grin on his face.
I don’t wear my jacket for my walk home. There had been spits of rain at noon when I talked to the bus driver from Wadena who said how good it is to bring so many kids together. The sky is clear now, and the sun is doing its thing. Arwen’s on the phone when I walk in the door. Michael comes in from working on his truck. “Where’s Survivor,” he says.
“By the laundry room,” Arwen says, holding her hand over the receiver.
I’m in the kitchen, and Michael has gone to check on our dog. She’s been having trouble breathing, with a cold or something, and since Klee passed away a week ago Monday, she hasn’t been eating. Michael comes around the corner and he is silent.
“Is she…” I say.
“She’s gone,” he says.
Michael heads outside and begins digging up Klee’s grave. He returns half an hour later, wraps Survivor in a blanket and carries her up the hill.

Day Twenty: September 28th Pictures

Day Nineteen: Settling the Land

Settling the Land

I speed along broken highway
no time to walk and snap pictures
my meditation out the window
country music crying within
I pass Abernathy
3 K away the historic
Motherwell homestead
     free quarter sections
     in the late 1890's
     for settlers
the holes and bumps
deepen and multiply
I land in Lemberg and Neudorf
their signs proclaim
1904 and 1905
     and something like a moth
     is in my heart
     fluttering, then still
     with no bright light
     lending focus or flame
my author visit over
I race to Fort Qu'Appelle
     post 1864
     the miles and years blur by
     like an abstract canvas
to Weyburn we go
Tommy Douglas territory
     they say he was the first to
     ensure First Nations' vote
home, home we rush, home
in time to take daughter number three
to fiddle lessons
learn the Red River Jig, she will

     laying in bed
     treaty teaching in my eyes
     like a flame
     the moth alights

And I realize
while my people
were settling
the land
children were being
to residential
     the crying house
their parents
locked down
     had to be
     or how could
     the children be
     treated so
by Indian Agents

as I time travel treaty four
I pass here
I pass there
with no pass necessary
no pass system for me
     I've heard stories
     no pass for a father to attend his daughter's funeral
     no pass for a brother to attend his sister's wake
     so he went anyway
     thrown in jail for his crime
     while the Indian Agent was in charge
     my people were settling the land