Thursday, April 30, 2015

Gangsta in a Sundress

After a series of texts with Joel yesterday in which he called me "a gangsta in a sundress" I was inspired

gangster in a sundress
my heart is with the angry boys
while I'm sitten in a meeting
planning out some futures
thinken bout my buffalos
while nodden with the man
agreeing to their visions
while thinken bout Eminem
is he finding religion?
where does that leave us?

gangster in a sundress
"thinken bout the government"
sitten in the government
wondering where I fit
wondering where we fit
angry with my boys
I wanna be a feminist
but the boys they hold my heart
sellen out my own kind
while grooving on my dissonance
a sorta inner joke

Tried to google gangsta in a sundress and don't get any.  Maybe there is a new trend to be started.  What dissonances tickle your fancy these days?

Buff the decolonizing buffalo

I think we need a metis children's character Buff the decolonizing buffalo to help children work through decolonization in their lives.  I have been drawing versions during meetings.  I have the softer more academic buffalo or the more streetwise buffalo.  What do you think he should look like?  What does the practice of decolonization require from us?  How do we balance the cerebral aspects with the more physical ones?

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Before leaving on our trip, I thought I was going somewhere that would be more authentically native and at the least having the opportunity to spend more time outside would give me something I needed.  But I am having trouble settling back into life here.  While there was superficially more nativeness in Vancouver and more natives day to day my expectations were not met in this area.
Maybe that shows my expectations as unrealistic.  Maybe it shows that nativeness is not something that I can consume passively.  I think that it also showed the role of place in nativeness is a way I had not considered before.  I don't really love Ottawa, but it is my space where I practice my metis identity.  The space matters a lot in how I experience and see myself. 

Being out in nature with the children was really good.  The green soothed my soul, but it was not my life.  We have to connect to our own green spaces, not the perfect ones that might exist somewhere else.  The teaching and learning that need to be done require engagement with a space over seasons, of both the space and our own lives.  A trip to a beautiful spot might feed the soul but it cannot make up for a lack in this other learning.

I need to fill up my tobacco bowl by the front door and plan my days so that our family has time to sink into the rhythms of our lives.  To make sure and leave enough time to stop and watch the world wake up from winter.  To engage with my world and not some better one that I can't access.  What is before me is a plenty if I choose to see it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Feral Cities for the urban metis

I am working through Feral Cities by Tristan Donovan This seems like a perfect book for this question of how to find our niche as urban metis.  The author walks through the stories of different urban animal populations from around the world and how they are thriving or not. It was interesting to hear about boars in Berlin and foxes in London, as these cities that seem unfriendly to most animal life are actually home to moderate sized mammals. 

The author talks about how green spaces and to some extent, historical oddities (left over train tracks, abandoned spaces) interconnect traditional green spaces and allow these populations to flourish.  He also speaks to how the animals themselves are adapting, learning to cross streets and eat new sources of food. 

Of course, while these animals may be seen as pests by some, others welcome these new neighbors.  Furthermore in adapting to the cities, the longer term survival of some species may be compromised as they lose their ability to function well in the wild.

Overall, there was a lot to think about in this book, both in our relationships with the animals around us in the urban spaces but also for ourselves as another urban animal.  How do we build healthy urban lives but not lose our skills to survive in the wild?  Or is it too late for that?  Are their "niches" where urban metis can flourish?  How can we support these communities?

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Canadian Classic the Petite Jean, Nanabush and Roogaroo Ballet

This morning we were imagining the great Canadian ballet with all the metis story characters played by beautiful ballerinas.  Which is your favorite character?  What mashup makes you laugh?

Photo from Squidbus Project

Coming home

We have been travelling the past week.  I most enjoyed the time with my family and getting outdoors.  We went to Vancouver and experienced some wonderful days at the sea shore and the play grounds.  I also saw some wonderful sunsets.  This trip reminded me to keep trying new things and ultimately no matter how far you travel home is family and joy is in the simple things, eating good food, picking sea shells and watching children play.  I can get caught up in all the things that I want and lose the perspective to enjoy what is right there.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


We have been travelling.  Found this voyager by the tim hortens in the ottawa airport.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Respecting the circle

Painting by Bouvette found at the bottom on this web site - artists web site does not appear to be maintained
I try to take the girls to mall infrequently.  It is not a good space - too many people - too loud - only focused on buying things.  But occasionally, when something is needed we will go.  Last week we were in Old Navy and it was Saturday and very busy.  While we stood in line it quadrupled while the number of clerks remained the same.  One of these clerks was helping an older woman.  She had a walker, was fat, obviously poor and asking a lot of questions.  And that clerk kept answering her and being polite.  He could have gotten frustrated with her, told her to come back or go away, but he kept serving her with kindness and respect even as the line got longer.

I was impressed with his individual commitment to service and respect, but even more, I was thankful for the example he gave us.  We got to continue to play out that circle as we talked about how he had acted and what it meant for us and how we acted.  It made me conscious of the many roles we play in the circle of respect. I am used to spending my time ensuring that I get respected, less so making sure I respect others, and even less thinking about my role in giving space and time to other people who are living out respect.  I could be rude in that line and rush the clerk to move on and move the lady aside.  I could take that time to talk to my children about what we were seeing.  I could take that time and remember to give respect.   Even when I am not the center of the circle I have a role to play and there are nuances of respect that I still need to learn and practice.  Hai hai to that young man.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Timely differences

Runa keeps counting time differently than me.  I thought that difference was just her being young and not understanding how the whole thing works, but this morning it hit me, she sees time in a different way.  For me, counting the days of school until our trip I would include today.  I have to live through today.  I anticipate all its challenges.  It is not done until I am back in my bed at night.  Runa sees today as lived already.  She is awake and experiencing it. 
I have been working on decolonizing time for our family, but I had been looking on the larger scale of "our lives" and "our ancestors".  I guess I should have realized that the day and the life are not really that different but I had not got there yet.  It has left me thinking about why I would approach my days that way and how I would change that for myself.  I love the fluidity of having children and moving from teacher to student.  What are you seeing in a new light right now?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Lucious links

I bring you Lavernne Cox a beautiful proud woman putting some realness out there.

This piece on the lack of aboriginal representation at Australian fashion week.

A new show to try "Being Mary Jane" about a black woman being a news anchor that is getting good word of mouth.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Cis-Het-middle class-office dwelling Hip Hip/rap realness

Drag queens use the term "realness" to describe a look that is authentic.  I have been thinking about why I feel hip hop/rap so deeply.  Why do I identify with the boyz?  I am middle class, middle aged, middle management.  I should be content right?  I have enough money.  I have secure housing.  I have white privilege.  I have het, cis privilege.  I have a lot and I am still feeling these boyz.

I wonder if it is a consumption of the other or a perceived shortcut to authentic indigeneaity (there has been some great thinking on this that I will link to in a later post).  Joel raised the fact that a lot of this music is about/by angry men and that maybe I am angry.  I am certainly angry at the church.  I am angry about what happened to my ancestors.  I am angry that privilege didn't bring what it promised.  I am angry that even small deviations from "normal" need to be discussed and dissected in a way that I don't understand - don't have a car? Don't raise your kids in X way? Don't want to look exactly like other people?  What hope is there for larger difference?  What do I tell my children?  Be yourself (as long as it meets social norms)?

I lost my fascinator yesterday and a security guard I don't know came up to me this morning to tell me they had it.  In 40 floors of people she knew it was mine.  That is a lot of normativity (it also came back in a sealed evidence bag which is another whole level of interesting - the dangerous feminine anyone?).  I try to be myself but it can be tiring and then even when I try to be normal I realized I am failing in some way I never even considered and frankly it should not even matter.  I am a good analyst, if I wear something on my head while I do it, why should it matter?  I am a good analyst cause I see things in a different way than other people.  That is part of what they pay me for.  It all confuses me.

But I also like these artists because they are real.  There is a sense of place, of relationships, of shared problems and of creating a joint space to try to figure stuff out and make it better.  We get Eminem talking about mental illness Eminem - The Monster (Explicit) ft. Rihanna, the Winnipeg Boyz "so far" sharing that life ain't fair, (Cosmo Jarvis Train Downtown / Mackelmore"Make the Money" talking about the numbness of everyday and how to survive, and  Shibastik "Hand Drum" on finding a space/a song.

I come from the history where women aren't supposed to be angry and it can be scary for me to acknowledge these feelings.  Maybe this music just opens this space up?  I wish there were more women speaking to me in this space.  I feel this lack.  But just knowing there is a space and letting myself explore it has been important.  So many spaces to open up and decolonize. 

I thought when I was this age I would be listening to things I liked when I was young.  I didn't expect to be learning so much and getting so much joy from a new genre. I find that hopeful too.  Where is your soul's next treasure?  How are you challenging yourself to experience new things?  How are you creating new spaces for conversations?

Causal Fridays