Thursday, March 31, 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Urban Métis Fear 34

The Alchemist:
The Alchemist
Urban Métis Fear 34: you can't understand the choices people make in raising their children.


Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo. -Jon Sinclair Quote #quote #quotes #quoteoftheday: Haven't felt much like writing.  Not sure if I am in a rut or if this is a natural pause.  I did a lot of thinking and growing in the past year.  Maybe right now there isn't as much to learn and it is more about integration?  Maybe I am just lazy?

I think that I have come to a place where I just am Métis and I am less afraid to say that out loud or show it.  I have now self declared in two job processes.  I have worn my identifying clothes out.  We lay down our tobacco everyday and circle time is a regular part of our lives.  I am getting to know people in the community.  I am struggling with some stuff, but it is normal stuff.  Sophie doesn't believe in the circle.  I can live with that.  She wouldn't smudge with me this morning before her big test which made me mad, but that seems like regular life as she is growing up and out.

I am still reading about failure and ways to integrate that learning back into life.  It has been an interesting exercise and I really appreciate that opportunity to just obsess about a subject for a while and immerse myself in it. 

I am finishing the last book in the Birthmarked Series by Caragh O'Brein.  This is a young adult series and I think it is getting at some moral issues and our responsibilities to act in times of injustice, but I am mostly enjoying this series as they remind me of how I felt when I was little reading the Laura Ingles stories.  It is another world that is just out of touch.  I could be there.

After a stint of physiotherapy on my hand I have been able to come back to beading.  I feel very unskilled and sloppy, but at least I am doing it again.  It is good to be creating.  Maybe it is all about waking up from the winter.  Trying to be kind to myself and live with the questions. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Urban Métis Fear 30

Random Facts – Une série adorable de faits insolites illustrés par Mike Lowery:
Random Facts – Une série adorable de faits insolites illustrés par Mike Lowery
Urban Métis Fear 30: I am so out of touch with the wild brothers and sisters that I don't know basic facts!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Having successfully stolen the sun, Raven turns his wing to stealing the show with his unrelenting coolness.

Urban Métis Fear 29

Strani Incontri – Les étranges animaux personnifiés d’Alessandro Gallo:
Les étranges animaux personnifiés d’Alessandro Gallo
Urban Métis Fear 29: forget wolves in sheep's clothing.  Maybe everyone is wearing a costume.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Failure (ᑲ ᓵᑯᒋᐦᐃᑯᕁ ka) sâkocihikohk

I am still researching failure this week.  Interesting reading around resilience, risk management and disaster planning.  Trying to capture what is required to respond successfully to failures.  Pulling bits and pieces from a number of disciplines and having lots of fun. 

For circle this week, we read the Brier Rabbit story from "A Book of Tricksters" by Jon Stott.  Joel was not impressed with this telling of the story.  The story itself nicely parallels the Nanabozo story in the same volume, where the trickster himself becomes the tricked.  Didn't get a lot of conversation out of the children, but overall they were pretty squirmy so I was not too surprised.  I had to stop them from smudging each other's bottoms. 

I am reading "100 Million Years of Food" by Stephen Le, exploring the history of food and evolution.  It is more chatty than I prefer but it is well paced and interesting. What are you feeding your mind with today?

Urban Métis Fear 28

TVethnos 2008 161:

Urban Métis Fear 28: wondering if living in the city will kill your creativity.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Urban Métis Fear 27

Google Image Result for
JT Morrow
Urban Métis Fear 27: getting to know people when everyone is busy all the time.

Maskwa goes Métis for spring

I have always drawn in my note books.  I used to use pen and make endless mandalas made out of tiny things.  I did this cause I can't draw. I can make small marks on a page and I can add those together and it can become something that is beautiful, even thought it is not drawing.  I have been playing with the Ojibwa shapes of animals and I notice that I have brought in my little marks to this style which made me think.  Firstly, I think the little marks are a great metaphor for our lives and our relationships with others and a path to progress for lots of things.  Second, the little marks seem very Métis to me with all sorts of different coming together to make something more.

Niski wishes she bought a venti

  We all have those days when the medium coffee is just not going to be enough.  Niski must have those days too.  What does s/he turn towards to keep going?

Teeth and leather

The buffalo tooth I ordered from Beaded Dreams in Ottawa came yesterday along with a treasure box of pretty beads.  If you are looking for beads you should check them out.  The box also came hand painted with a medicine wheel.  Runa and I collaborated on making this necklace with the tooth.  Once we were going with the beads I started playing with leather and came up with the bracelet. I so enjoy working with the natural things when we create.  There is so much beauty inherent in these gifts from the maker.  This morning, I also got a call back for a job I applied for.  I took time to calm down before I called them, smelled my tobacco, conferred with brother rock and listened to some wisdom from the Winnipeg Boyz.  It still amazes me how these small changes in how I react to things helps me to be something more as a person.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Urban Métis Fear 26

Urban Métis Fear 26: I forget that everyone has problems and inadvertently grow mine larger.

Sink stick

This stick appeared in my kitchen sink the other day.  It was put there by my seven year old but we can't figure out why.  Was it a particularly dirty stick?  Is it a magic wand under the dirt?  Will it be used to create a fantastic world full of animated sticks?  Does this stick have motives beyond my imagining?  Life with children seems to be full of these strange little moments.  Why is Barbie always naked in the kitchen?  Why are there rocks in my pockets? Why do they want what you don't have? How do they teach us so much while not trying?

Bear considers annual planning exercise

As a planner.  I spend a lot of time talking, think and writing about planning.  This bear came to me in a recent planning meeting.    Lucky bear won't need to write a year end report about these berries though!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Urban Métis Fear 24

La Pop culture s’invite dans de vieilles peintures:
David Irvine
Urban Métis Fear 24: worrying if we can ever really understand the past that shapes us today.

Nanaskomowin (gratitude) and sitting with the Kookums

Les petits problèmes des monstres célèbres:
Les petits problèmes des monstres célèbres

I am still kind of sad about the cat and life a bit.  Just normal stuff.  Trying to be gentle with myself and not get caught up in chastising myself for all the things I should be doing but I am not right now.  Shame has never brought me rewards.  I will be kind. 
Been trying to sit with the Kookums and my nana specifically listening and being.  I remember that she lost a cat that she loved so much that her husband wouldn't let her get another cat so she didn't have to live thought that loss again.  Lots of lessons from her.  She had huge anxiety issues, if you were late a minute you were dead in a ditch and she would start planning your funeral.  Despite this she went back to get her degree after her children were born and got her teaching certificate.  Her words were always "Take a bath and it will look better in the morning."  How much of her life did she get through with that simple advice?  I find myself saying that to Sophie a lot.  Sleep and light bring wisdom to a lot of situations.  What wisdom have the Kookums shared with you?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Heavy hearts and a philopophy of failure

We had a sad weekend with one of our cats walking on to the spirit world.  For Runa this is quite easy.  She is very sad and then she is done.  She was able to appreciate that our cat was with the ancestors and was still with us as we are all one in the circle.  Sophie did not take same view.  She was pretty inconsolable and we can't say the name of the cat without crying.  It was a hard weekend as it was very unexpected with such a young cat.  We will do a special circle for her, but it was too much to consider this weekend.  Maybe it was too soon, but I gave into Runa and we got another young cat.  Her name is Zippy and she is going to be a good match once the dog stops going insane outside her room.

This loss and Sophie's response brought another loss forward for Joel.  That is the loss of who we thought Sophie would be.  Sometimes we forget or overlook her challenges day to day and sometimes her extra needs come forward very clearly.  The loss of anything makes her extremely anxious, so the loss of someone she loves is so hard for her to process.  As I mentioned before, she says that she does not believe in the circle which makes it hard to comfort her sometimes.  She isn't sure what she believes right now. 

Personally I have been thinking about failure.  I recently finished "The Vault of Dreamers" by Caragh M. O'Brien.  In the book, the students are given an assignment to fail.  They can do anything they want and use any resources they need, but the outcome has to be failure.  This vignette got me thinking about how we usually characterize failure and how you might usefully navigate between the saccharine quotations about "failure is just a step on the path to greatness" and a realistic and useful philosophy of failure.  I pitched the idea to my manger and I am now doing some research in this area for the next few days.  We spend quite a lot of time focused on risk management and mitigation strategies, but less so on what comes after the worst has happened.  What do you think about failure?

Urban Métis Fear 23

Pop Culture Mashup – 24 nouvelles illustrations de M7781:
Pop Culture Mashup – 24 nouvelles illustrations de M7781
Urban Métis Fear 23: your mixed blood will translate into mixed emotions.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

amisk (ᐊᒥᐢᐠ NA) beaver

Finished this drawing of beaver today.  Looking up beaver for his teachings, I came across a few other things that I thought I would share.
beavers will be beavers whimsical watercolour painting cori lee marvin artist ontario:
"beavers will be beavers" cori lee marvin artist Ontario
Just stop it! (Overachiever, LOL). My wife when she tries to beat me at things:
Found here
The far side by Gary Larson:
The far side by Gary Larson

Urban Métis Fear 20

I <3 Monsters! - Nicola L Robinson Illustration Billy Goats Gruff, Troll Bridge, Chilrens book illustration classic fairytales, Pen and Ink monsters:
Urban Métis Fear 20: Commuting can be hard, with all kinds of unimagined dangers.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Moose and grandfather sun

Made an order from the Silver Moccasin a few weeks back and bought the "Anishnabe Art Coloring Book" by Frank Polson.  I worked on a couple of pictures over the weekend.  When I design myself I tend to go quite detailed so it was a challenge to work with the bolder lines in these drawings.  The book has 14 drawings and they have the Algonquin words at the bottom of each page.  I would recommend this book and I think it would work well with a little person with lots of space to add too.

Octopus bag

I haven't been really inspired to read or write the past few weeks and as I thought about it, a lot happened.  All were a little things, but it adds up you know?  I had sick kids, was identified as pre-diabetic, had the toilet, shower and computer break, had sad kids.  Had life really.  I was getting cross on myself for not doing more, but that is lots.  I am going to be gentle with myself. 

Sophie is finishing at her elementary school this year, so I want to do an octopus bag for her graduation outfit.  This is the design we came up with for the one side.  She want an octopus on the other side, but I am not sure I will get two sides beaded in time.  I hadn't beaded in a couple of months as my hand has been bothering me, so I felt very tentative starting out again.  Hopefully I can find that place of balance where the beads just flow out.  What are you working on?  How are you being gentle to yourself?

Urban Métis Fear 19

Steven Paul Judd:
Steven Paul Judd
 Urban Métis Fear 19: finding housing in a safe neighborhood can be hard.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Urban Métis Fear 17

Image from "Hannibal Artblog"
Urban Métis Fear 17: Sometimes the monsters aren't who you expect. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Urban Métis Fear 16

Urban Métis Fear 16: the stress of urban living affects everyone.  Even Bison feels the tension.


Given that it is Niskipisim (goose moon) I tried my hand an drawing a niski.  I started with the a picture from Benjamin Chee Chee "Canada Goose: Good Morning" to get the shape right.  When it was done he looked like a goose who was a little let down.  Thus the title "Niski after disappointing sandwich".  One of those days where life isn't too bad, but still.... not quite what you wanted.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Redeploying Culture

I had been working through the article "Subjects of Empire: Indigenous Peoples and the "Politics of Recognition" in Canada" by Glen S Coulthard for some time.  While I flew through the first pages, I left it for some time.  I returned to it after reading the article about decolonizing sitcoms as they seemed very close in their arguments and use of references.  In this piece Coulthard basically argues that in asking for recognition, indigenous peoples continue in the pre-existing colonial relationship where power is invested in the colonizer-state and the problematic relationship is reproduced.  In this case, recognition is not a path to a transformed relationship as is desired.

This is a theory heavy piece from a political journal and Coulthard draws from Charles Taylor's essay on the politics of recognition.  I found his use of theory to be at a good level, allowing a historical understanding of this concept without having a background in this area.  In the article he speaks as well to the construction of identity and the co-option of these constructions when the surrounding relationships are harmful.  This reminded me of the feminist question, do you change the system from within or break it down from without?  Can you have a healthy recognition of indigenous people by the state, or by it's nature and historical reality, will any recognition necessarily continue harmful identifications of the people being recognized?

To some extent he is fighting a theoretical fight, but I think the questions he raises are very valid in the modern context of indigenous peoples.  In particular, he raises the idea from Taiaiake Alfred, that perhaps this struggle should be better positioned as an opportunity for indigenous culture to query the dominant mode of mainstream existence and the related problems of capitalism, the autonomous individual and coercion of the state.  In short, it is not just about positioning indigenous people within the current reality, but also questioning that reality from an indigenous perspective.

Really he is trying to understand how the colonized (an implicitly the colonizer) can be free from their colonized identities and create a healthy sustainable relationship.  However, given that this reality is likely not in the interest of the colonizer, it may be difficult to propagate.  This may then, by necessity, be a one sided exercise with the colonized self-affirming though a "struggle to critically reclaim and reevaluate the worth of their own histories, traditions, and cultures against the subjectifying gaze and assimilative lure of colonial recognition."  We must recognize ourselves as free and redefine "recognition" on our own terms, not on those of the colonizer.  He quotes Alfred in his closing paragraph with a call to, "...critically revaluating, reconstructing, and redeploying culture and tradition".

I really like the idea of redeploying culture, it brings to mind the mobilization efforts of WWII and working together towards a common good.  Let's send out the indigenous world view, values, humor, art, ideas.  Let's do it on our terms and solve some of the other persistent social issues at the same time.  It is an exciting vision, if hard to operationalize and problematic on all kinds of levels when the legacy of historical harms are still strong for many.  A bit hard to reconcile the headline from today about "maybe drinking water for indigenous peoples should be clean" to a grand vision of recognition, be it on indigenous or colonizers' terms.  Maybe we got some other kinds of mobilization we need to do first or maybe these things go together?  What do you think?

Urban Métis Fear 15

Shaun Tan is an Australian illustrator with a huge talent.   In 2011 he won an Oscar for best animated short film   for The Lost Thing, based on his book of the same title.:
Shaun Tan
Urban Métis Fear 15: It can be hard to get to know your neighbours.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Niskipisim (Goose moon or March)

Niskipisim didn't start they way I planned.  Sophie projectile vomited through the night and Runa refused to go to school as one of the girls there is being mean to another girl.  On one hand I am proud of her.  She knew that this behavior was wrong and wanted to respond to that.  However, school avoidance may not have been the best way.  It was a hard morning with lots of crying and hurt feelings.  I try to think of all the sick children the grandmothers nursed over the years and of all the many days they spend getting children ready for school and it puts it in perspective.  I didn't mean to, but I showed up to school in moccasins, an Inuit necklace, bear earrings and carrying a story of Nanabush that we wrote as a family.  It struck me how much our lives have come towards the good red road in the past few years.

Last night, Sophie asked me if it was ok that she did not believe in the sacred circle.  A part of me wants her to believe what I believe and to get the same comfort from it that I do, but it is her path and she needs to walk it in her own way.  At least she knows about the sacred circle and the teachings of her ancestors on that side and if she chooses a different path it is with that knowledge and not in ignorance.  Growing up is a challenge for all of us as we change. 

We are awaiting a major snow storm and it seems fitting after today.  I feel like our little family needs to hide away for a day and find a balance again.  What are you going to work towards during goose moon?

Eagle files taxes but his refund is too small

Like all of us, brother eagle has to keep up with his paperwork.  At least he doesn't face a reassessment this year.

Urban Métis Fear 14

Image from "Hannibal Artblog"
Urban Métis Fear 14: sometimes you find yourself falling in with a bad crowd.