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 “Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler, grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his superiority upon all the others.”

-EMMA GOLDMAN, Anarchism and Other Essays

Celebrating Canada’s ‘nationhood’ seems a little trite and ephemeral to me.  Woo, ethnic cleansing, woo cultural genocide and the rest of the checkered past gets layered under the cheers drunken yahoos happy to have another excuse to get pissed out of their minds while waving the Canadian flag.

Meh.

I choose this day to bring attention to something that Rachel Notley and the NDP Alberta Government chose to do, not too long ago.

“Premier Rachel Notley delivered an emotional apology for Alberta’s failure to take action against the residential school system on Monday and joined a growing call for a public inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women.

The announcement came nearly three weeks after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission concluded that almost a century of abuses at residential schools funded by the Canadian government amounted to “cultural genocide.”

    Native Canadians have been marginalized and forgotten in Canadian society.  We are aware of the stereotypes and misconceptions, but too often we choose to feed them and not try to reform ideas like “the lazy drunken Indian”.  News-flash here friends – if people like your own ethnicity had been forcibly removed from their homes, put into schools where abuse and torture were the norm and punished for speaking your native language or performing your cultural practices, your generation – let me assure you – would be pretty fucked up.

  residentialschools Canadians approved of the residential school system and thought *somehow* that the 1960’s Scoop was a good thing.

  It wasn’t.

  Alberta Premier Rachel Notley has finally addressed the issue:

“We were shocked and at times rendered speechless as we learned of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit children forcibly removed from their homes,” Ms. Notley said in the Alberta legislature.

“Although the province of Alberta did not establish this system, members of this chamber did not take a stand against it. For this silence, we apologize.”

  A small, but very important first step.  The last residential school closed in 1996, so 19 years is way overdue for the government and people of Alberta to step up and recognize the trauma inflicted on our First Peoples.

   Hope.  For such a long time I have not associated that word with our governance.  The apology would have been enough, but Rachel Notley continued:

“I want the issue of missing and murdered aboriginal women to come out of the shadows and be viewed with compassion and understanding in the clear light of day,” Ms. Notley said. “The silence that once was, has long since passed. We will not fail these women. Not this time. Now is the time for their voices to be heard.”

    I might be persuaded that this government has interests other than the oil/gas industry if this sort of thing keeps up.  Of course, switching levels of governance, one can always find the dark cloud to the silver lining; case in point being Stephen Harper and his merry band of shit-lords that happen to be running the Federal Government:

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper has so far rejected calls for an inquiry, saying that authorities are already taking the proper steps to combat the issue and a further inquiry is not necessary.

In 2008, Mr. Harper issued an apology for residential schools and said at the time that the abuses inflicted by the system helped contribute to lasting social problems in First Nations communities.

According to an RCMP report, 206 of Canada’s 1,017 female aboriginal homicides between 1980 and 2012 were in Alberta. The report also noted that 28 per cent of Alberta’s female homicides between 1980 and 2012 involved indigenous women.”

   Yah, these fine Conservative individuals need to be voted out of office in the upcoming federal election and a government like Alberta’s NDP that cares about people rather than profit, needs to be installed.

   So there ya go.

Happy Canada Day!

ca-native

Remembrance Day is a conflicted day for me, I have had the absolute luxury of never having to fight in an armed conflict and for that I am grateful.

Conversely, the application of military power is always the sign of the failure of the human spirit when we must resort to destroying nations and people for what is purported to be what is “right”.  We must remember all of those who gave their lives and have had their lives taken from them.  John Pilgers quote speaks to the merciless nature of war.

During World War One, 10% of all casualties were civilians.

During World War Two, the number of civilian deaths rose to 50%.

During the Vietnam War, 70% of all casualties were civilians.

In the war in Iraq, civilians account for up to 90% of all deaths.

Sobering figures to say the least.

Speaking of participating in Remembrance Day activities, I had a concert yesterday and my choir, called Soldiers Cry.  It was special as Roland Majeau came to sing his song with us, he brought his guitar and accompanied us while he sang the solo line.   The song is rhythmically very challenging. As you’re sitting there listening, clap your hands softly to find the pulse of the music. Notice that all the lyrics start when your hands are apart. This piece of music has syncopation in spades, making it just a bear to learn.

The second challenge for me is not to think of the damn video while singing, because becoming emotional/getting misty does bad things to your vocal instrument. :/

I’ll apologize now for the disjointed nature of this post.  Days like today do much to stir the emotional pot as they raise many conflicting feelings about how we treat the past, and which parts we choose to focus on.  Our history contains a staggering amount of violence , every day could be like November 11th for all the people who have unjustly lost their lives during conflict.

I hope that on days like today people understand, even for just a short while. the importance of history and how the past makes our future.  Understanding what we have done, and why, is vital in constructing a coherent view of the world.

I’m not sure how many people really get the horror of war and the terrible price we all pay being party to it, but if Remembrance Day awakens a twinge of empathy, a stirring of consideration, even a feeling of “I don’t want that”, then days like this should be considered to valuable and worth continuing.

Joyful Noise

Update: The concert went very well, we played to a full house and managed to get an encore out of the proceedings.  :)

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