Monday, March 12, 2018

Could we have done better?

Richard Wagamese, Anishinaabe (Ojibwa) novelist, journalist, mentor, born October 4, 1955, in northwestern Ontario, died March 10, 2017, in Kamloops, BC.
A well-known Indigenous writer in Canada, Wagamese won several awards including the Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize in 2013 and the Writers' Trust of Canada's Matt Cohen Award in 2015.
His novel, Indian Horse, was the People's Choice Award winner in the national 2013 Canada Reads competition.
His novel, Medicine Walk, is a national bestseller.

Richard Wagamese was born to the Wabaseemoong Independent Nations in Canada. When he was almost three years old, his parents left him and his three siblings alone in a bush camp for days. Cold and hungry, the children managed to cross a frozen bay to seek shelter.
A provincial policeman spotted them and dropped them off at the Children's Aid Society, but this story can have no "happily ever after" ending.

From there, the siblings were taken away in what is now known as "the Sixties Scoop," a government program in Canada that aggressively "scooped" Indigenous children from their homes and placed them in foster care.

Much has been written about the horrors of the Sixties Scoop and the years that followed, but I am no expert on that subject, nor even on Richard Wagamese.
Far from it...

My own reaction to the story of Wagamese's childhood is the story I wish to tell here. Richard Wagamese was born in 1955, a year that drastically changed my life. I was nine years old, with one younger brother and one little sister, and our mom was about to have a new baby.
Photo from Pexels

Having been of little help with my two siblings, I was so excited to have another sister when wee Barbara Diane was born! After all, being nine years old (and almost grown up, or so I thought) meant I could help Mom with the new baby.
However, due to a mysterious something called "the RH factor" my baby sister died after three days.
I didn't even get to see her, because children weren't allowed to visit hospitals in  the 1950s.

But no, again, I'm not here to talk about baby Barbara, her short life, nor even her death, although it proved to be of lasting devastation to me after all my excitement.

No, I want to tell you about two little Indigenous boys who did not come into my life.

Some while after Barbara died and, because the doctor told Mom and Dad to avoid further pregnancies, they decided to look into adoption. Apparently, however, the part of the British Columbia bureaucracy that handled adoption applications also handled fostering. Therefore, when no child was available for adoption in our bureaucracy's jurisdiction, Mom and Dad were told they could foster two small Indigenous boys.

Photo from Pexels
My mother was horrified. "Foster them? Do you mean we might have to give them up?"

Mom could not face losing another child, and especially two children. "I would be happy to adopt both of them, but I cannot give them up."

The subject of their ethnicity didn't factor into the equation. They could have been purple people from Pluto but, if they were little ones in need of love and caring, Mom would have adopted and loved them and cared for them, but wouldn't have given them up any more than she'd have let go of me, my brother or  my sister.
"Horrified" hardly suffices, now that I look back on it. My brother, sister, and I were raised to believe that ethnicity didn't factor into any equation whatsoever. "All men are created equal" could have come from my father if that great American Thomas Jefferson hadn't already said it.

Now, however, I can look back and answer my own question: could we (Canadians and especially British Columbians) have done better than the governments of the 1950s and 60s did in their dealings with our Indigenous peoples?
Yes, we certainly could.
It seems to me, from the distance of many decades, that the federal and provincial governments of Canada could have done far better. Many, many lives, old and young, were ruined by the thoughtless scooping-up of Canada's youngsters in such a cavalier manner.
I can't even excuse them on the basis of their having had good intentions because, clearly, some of them did not. Many, so many children suffered beatings at the hands of their so-called caregivers, and many suffered more than mere beatings: torture, rape, starvation in the name of discipline...

Yes, Canada, we could have done better!
Yes, my beloved British Columbia, you too.

Posting for Our World Tuesday at a time when
I think of the world in which
so many of Canada's First Nations people suffered, and too many died.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Edited somewhat, but here's my rant

Now, keep this in mind: I don't often use my blog as a position from which to protest, and I seldom if ever repeat things over and over in a blog post. I'm usually determined to avoid the over-use of boldface, red ink, underlining italic, just as I try to avoid grammatical errors, and a mixture of different typefaces...but you might now guess I feel very strongly about this subject.
Most of the time I want my blog to be entertaining but every now and then I want it to make you think.
So, for this week, it's a make-you-think blog post. You might think as I do, and of course you might not, but for what it's worth, these are the news:

Ottawa recently announced major changes to the way pipelines and tar sands projects are approved...

Now... NEW projects

will have to follow NEW rules!

This is wonderful for Canada!

But here’s the problem, and it bears repeating, so I'll probably say it again:

The largest open-pit tar-sands mine ever proposed
in the history of Canada is 
still slated to be approved
using archaic fossil-fuel friendly rules!

Yes... "still slated to be approved using
archaic fossil-fuel friendly rules!"

The government of Canada should have the sense, and I hope it does, to retroactively change the conditions under which a new mine can operate, ensuring that such a massive new project will have to avoid the use of methods that would continue to endanger land, lakes, rivers, oceans, and wildlife. New technologies do exist. Just look to Europe for confirmation. Itty-bitty forward-thinking countries with great big ideas: solar power, of course; windpower, for instance—heating entire cities with hot-water underground heating, some of those countries!

I now live in the Canadian province of Alberta, which has thrived on its oil reserves ever since its big oil boom in the 1960s. I spent most of my life in my home province of British Columbia, and I definitely remember the 60s when jobs were scarce in Alberta, when Albertans flocked to BC to find work. Some became lifelong friends.

But then came the Alberta oil boom and all hell broke loose...

I'm guessing environmental issues were not high on the list of considerations during the rush to make Alberta rich. It's likely no one even thought of the environmental impact of a massive oil boom.
Workers from across Canada, especially from eastern provinces, flocked to Alberta, where they made enough money to be able to fly back and forth to Newfoundland or other eastern provinces whenever they wanted to see their families.
(My husband's favourite joke, which he often uses when he's visiting Fort McMurray in northeastern Alberta: How do you recognize a Newfie in Alberta? He's the one who wants to go home!)

So, yes, all hell broke loose and, since then, life was exciting in this province... excitement about the oil boom which was good for Alberta's politicians and rule-makers, most of whom overlooked environmental dangers, because the boom was good for the economy.

The oil industry wasn't so good for the northern landscape, however, and it seems environmental considerations would have been bad for the oil boom and thus for the province's newly booming economy, so any environmentalists who happened to live in Alberta were largely ignored.

Now, just look at this photo, and imagine this is your back yard:


This Tolkeinesque landscape is not my dream for the Canadian province of Alberta, but it could happen.
Birds and animals of all kinds are endangered.


I am taking the position that the government of Canada should reconsider the matter of the huge new open pit tar sands mine being developed under the old rules.

Instead, Canada should take a look at the countries in Europe that are thriving on new technologies such as wind turbines and other sources of power. Then Canada should follow their example. Many new kinds of jobs can be had in the manufacturing and building of new kinds of power sources.

The largest open-pit tar sands mine ever proposed in the history of Canada should not be allowed if it doesn't follow the new regulations!
Due to the huge environmental impact under the old rules...the drastic danger to wildlife will, with the trickle-down effect, eventually impact on the health of the people of Alberta.

More food for thought now, new news from the National Energy Board: to read is to weep.

Posting for Lady Fi's memorable meme, because "our world" is so wonderful:

Our World Tuesday

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I wish Mom could see this

I'm sure I'm not the only blogger writing about this month's Olympic Games, but I really must say I'm very proud of Canada's place in the Games, and proud of all the Canadian athletes, some of whom I have watched over the years, as they started and then excelled in their chosen sports.

I'm also sure all of my fellow bloggers are feeling the same pride in their home countries after the success of Olympic games in Pyeong Chang.

Plus, I'm sure all of my fellow Canadians are thrilled that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir returned to the Games for their farewell skate...

Virtue and Moir — the pride of Canada for a long time!

Two amazing Jamaican athletes — breakthrough Bobsledders.

Nigerian Women's Bobsled Team
I know my mother would have loved the Nigerian Women's Bobsled Team, as well as the Brazilian Men'sBrazil’s underdog men's bobsled team, the Frozen Bananas,  because she loved the movie Cool Runnings which "and The Frozen Bananas were just like a Brazilian version of the 1993 movie" ‘Cool Runnings’ about Jamaican bobsledders in the 1988 Olympics.

After the Jamaican Men's Bobsled Team raced in chilly, snowy Calgary in 1988, Mom was smitten with the sport. 

Nigeria women's bobsleigh team make breakthrough for Africa on iceIn the 1990s, my parents travelled throughout our home province of British Columbia gathering photos for Dad's two Living Rivers of British Columbia books.**

In the 1990s, my parents usually arranged their travels to include a visit with me after health problems sent me from 'The Wet Coast' up to Ashcroft, BC.
Every time my parents showed up at my door, Mom would say, "Let's go rent that movie!" And, every time, the movie she meant was Cool Runnings, about the Jamaican bobsled team's troubles in western Canada. It had become her all-time favourite.

Cool Runnings

The movie starred the late Canadian actor John Candy — As the coach of a motley crew of Jamaicans, Candy was determined to enter the Olympic Games, but there was one problem: Jamaica had no snow!  

I believe Mom loved Cool Runnings even more than the movies from the 1940s when she and Dad were high school sweethearts, then engaged, then separated by WWII and, finally, married after Dad got home to British Columbia after WWII.

I also know Mom would have loved to see the participation of African nations in the Olympics this year. She always loved cheering for the underdog, whatever the occasion, whatever the sport. I know she would have loved the Nigerian women's bobsled team this year for sure, along with her other favourites.

Linking with Fiona's wonderful meme

Our World Tuesday

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A difference of opinion with Google

I have been having some trouble with Google again, or it may be that Google is having trouble with me again. I don't know which, and therefore, just to be safe, I am offering up a sacrificial-lamb kind of photo in hopes of appeasing the Google gods or goddesses, whichever or whoever they may be.

Our little dog Bonnie-Belinda looks so vulnerable in this photo but, believe me, she is actually gloating. She love-love-loves to steal one of the coveted end seats on the couch, rather than settle down between us. My end is especially cozy for her because it's often littered with cushions, pillows, blankets and even, as you can see here, a dish towel.
I'm bad...I will wander into the living room with something in my hand, sit down 'for a minute' and then forget to take the item away. Therefore, that same 'something' becomes part of my couch-decor. Not exactly pretty, but Bonnie thinks this cozy arrangement is meant for her and she loves it.

Recently, I wrote a veritable rant about the oil industry, intending to post it here on Our World Tuesday. As a born and bred British Columbian, I am passionate about the subject of oil spills and the like (I now live in Canada's next province (forgive me, Alberta) I am reluctant to publish my rant in its present form. I must tone down the language somewhat (or that might be 'tone down the tone') but I can't decide where to start editing.

Instead I offer, above, a photo of my favourite model: our little dog Bonnie-Belinda and, below, my artist brother's sketch of my late, great cats (one not so great, except in size, as Rob's cartoon drawing shows.

The other day, I moved things around while helping Bonnie search for her favourite toy, and uncovered a photo album I hadn't opened in years.
I was thrilled. It's a family album I started in the1980s when my cat Herman got "his" kitten. Her name was Ava, and she was a beautiful little handful of white cat hair with, we soon found out, a nasty disposition. My sister bought her for me on a Sunday, and I had to go to work the next day. Because it was summer, my sister sent my pre-teen nieces to my house in the morning to babysit, to be sure Hermie didn't hurt the kitten. However, after a few days, the girls informed me they didn't have to babysit the kitten any more because my big boy, my mucho-macho Herman, had decided he was a mother.

A short few weeks later, my teenage brother Rob took her outside and put her up in a tree. She didn't know how to get down—she had never met a tree before! Her poor "mommy," Herman, sat at the bottom of the tree, looking at her. We could almost see the wheels turning in his head as he tried to figure out how he could climb up the tree and come down with a mouthful of kitten.

Then she fell out of the tree.

Hermie, her self-styled mother, immediately picked her up by the scruff of her neck and carried her into the house. Then, I swear, he gave my brother a real cat-frown, pretty much a glare that said "Now look what you've done."
It was a long time before Herman let anyone take Ava outside again.

The two cats became a team, with Hermie even managing to turn some of his chores over to Ava. For instance, he always sat on the edge of my bathtub, to guard me when I bathed.
Eventually, Herman showed Ava how to guard me, too. For a while, I had a large cat and a kitten sitting on the edge of my tub, guarding me.
However, when Herman decided Ava had learned how to handle this chore on her own, he left her to it. Fortunately, she never fell into the bathtub. That could have been a disaster!
Eventually, because Herm was a busy cat and Ava was sedentary by choice, she far exceeded him in growth and girth, but he still insisted on holding her down in order to wash her face once or twice or more per day, partly because she was a very messy eater, but mostly because he considered her to be his responsibility.
Pets are full of surprises. Herman always thought he was Ava's mom. Now, many years later, our little Bonnie-dog thinks she is my mother. (More on that soon.)

Portrait of Ava, guarded by the Hermanator, by Rob Davies
Posting here for Lady Fi's beautiful, memorable meme

Monday, February 12, 2018

My Olympic opinion on evolution

As a matter of fact, despite the grand title of this blog post, I don't really have an Olympic opinion, but it does sound like a wonderful thing to have, doesn't it?
"Here I am, the Great Goddess Kay, high on Mount Olympus, dispensing wisdom to lesser beings on the slopes..."

Okay, I admit that couldn't be me. I haven't an athletic bone in my body.

However...watching CBC TV coverage of the Olympic Games in Peyongchang this month has me remembering something and you'll never guess what it is. It's nothing anyone would ever associate with me: hot-dog skiing.

Once upon a time, in an earlier life (in the 1970s) I did a short stint as editor of a ski magazine because the publisher was a friend of mine.

I remember that a new twist had just been added to the sport, although not yet formally. It was called hotdogging.
Skiing purists were loudly vocal in their opposition as the new sport grew, evolving thanks to a young generation of adventurers from the post-WWII baby boom.

As I recall, downhill skiers who first insisted upon hotdogging in the 1960s were soundly criticized.
"This isn't skiing, it's acrobatics."
"It will never last," many purists were forecasting.

Despite much opposition, or perhaps because of it, the revolution and evolution had begun. says this about the hot dog revolution:
"A whole new style of baroque skiing has developed. It is known as 'free style,' 'exhibition' or 'hot-dog skiing.
"Free-style skiing features somersaults, midair turns, ballet-like figures, and other feats rather than speed."Copyright (C) HarperCollins Publishers

And free-style skiing did last, eventually reaching the world at large as a demonstration event during the Calgary Olympics in 1988.

Without completely destroying the accepted style of downhill skiing (there will always be old fogeys, right?) hot-dogging had become accepted, and evolved into freestyle, which continued to evolve into the Olympic sport we are seeing this month.

Wikipedia has this to say about the evolution revolution: "Freestyle skiing was a demonstration event in 1988 in Calgary. Mogul skiing was added as an official medal event at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, and the aerials event was added for the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer."

Now, in a spectacle surrounded by politics this year, we are watching the 2018 Winter Olympics: holding our breath, cheering, crying...every emotion as athletes like Mikael Kingsbury, shown here, compete on behalf of Canada, with moves that would have horrified the fogeys of the 1970s.
Be sure to check out this link on the subject from the Olympics themselves.

This move would have terrified the fogeys of the '70s.

Posting for my favourite meme:
Lady Fi's always-wonderful

Our World Tuesday

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

All looking and no leaping

February might bring Leap Year every now and then (not this year) but the idea of an extra day of winter certainly doesn't make me want to leap, nor even jump, for joy.
Here in southeastern Alberta, Canada, it is cold. Sometimes it's colder than cold. I feel guilty letting our short-haired dog go outside, but she often insists it's absolutely necessary, and I believe her.
However, she usually insists I go with her.
Even though I throw a parka over whatever I happen to be wearing, it is usually insufficient.

Can you see our little white dog in the photo above? Or in the one below?

An online dictionary says the word shiver means "shake slightly and uncontrollably as a result of being cold, frightened or excited."
I'm shivering-cold, yes, and afraid that I (or the dog) will turn into a frozen statue...yes, that as well.
But excited about winter? Not even a little bit!
Albertans try to reassure me, "Yes, it's cold, but it's a dry cold."
Right. Like packing my house and yard in dry ice? Thanks, but no thanks.

February at home isn't the worst of it, either.
To welcome the new year, we visited my husband's daughters and our grandsons in Red Deer, Alberta: not all that much north of here, but with even lower temperatures.
You may not believe this, but it's absolutely true: Dick's daughter filled a cup with boiling water, and went out to her back porch where she threw the water out of the cup into the air in front of her. The water froze in mid-air. It did. We all saw it.
Therefore, as an old saying has it: "look before you leap" and next winter we plan to look for a warm alternative to Alberta's icy climes.

Photo, right:
We had to buy Bonnie-Belinda a coat while we were in Red Deer.

First, however, we have a friendly difference of opinion, perhaps one might even call it a mild dispute, which must be settled before we look anywhere...we must decide where to go.

The Big Guy Here is talking about Panama, while I want to go to Costa Rica, which we've already visited and enjoyed, so I now want to return in the hope of seeing more sloths. I love sloths. (nb: sloths can also be found in Panama, but don't tell him)
I just do not love my memories of the country of Panama. Yes, the canal was wonderful, but I was in Panama on a cruise with Old Whatsisname, my first husband, 'way back in 1969, when the country had just been taken over by a military coup, which left me no desire to return.
M1 rifle
Tommy Gun

There were armed soldiers on every street corner in Panama City in 1969. Every street corner.
I've always said "soldiers armed with M1 rifles and Tommy guns" but I could be wrong. I probably am wrong... I wouldn't know an assault weapon from a salt weapon, but those guns definitely looked deadly, and I certainly knew enough to not to try to talk to those soldiers.
However, fast-forward half a century, and the country of Panama has now become the go-to spot for retirees from cold cold climes, and some airlines offer wonderful airfare bargains to coax us down there for a look.
A story in the  International Living magazine recommends bus tours which take visitors to see the various parts of the country where they might consider living, and there are no salespersons involved: just a tour guide with connections. Dick thinks it should be interesting.

But yes, we're just looking, we're not leaping. Our darlin' little dog would definitely not enjoy traveling in a plane's baggage compartment and even though she's small, she's not tiny, and wouldn't fit under the seat in front of me. Driving all the way into another continent might be fun for me but would be exhausting for my driver, plus taking a car into Panama is extremely a whole 'nother can of worms.
Sigh. It's still February here in Alberta until further notice. I'd weep, but my tears would freeze, like the boiling water in that cup.

Sharing with Lady Fi's marvellous meme
because she has really learned how to handle winter!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Music soothes the soul

I had much to say about my trip from Alberta to The Wet Coast this past weekend, so I did a great deal of writing yesterday, preparatory to Our World Tuesday, but I wasn't really satisfied with the my results.
Yes, while I was in BC, I visited family and friends.
It was wonderful to see my family: my young brother, my sister-in-law, my nieces, grandniece, cousins and, in particular, my aunt.
I have described my aunt elsewhere as 'indomitable' and she undoubtedly is.

Now, however, for Our World Tuesday, I think I'd like to share something else from that visit to British as sung by a barbershop chorus.

Wikipedia photo, men's barbershop chorus
At a gathering in memory of my friend Jim, whom I had known from the time he was a toddler and I was his babysitter, I enjoyed hearing some beautiful, beautiful music.
Jim was a dedicated member of a men's barbershop chorus, singing a capella music in the barbershop style.
Several of his friends from the chorus joined his family and many friends at his house to help celebrate his amazing life.
Some of you might never have heard of a barbershop chorus, but most of my generation will remember men's pre-rock'n'roll barbershop quartets such as the Ames Brothers (1948-1963), and women's quartets such as the Chordettes, also 1948-1963.

The Ames Brothers, left...                 The Chordettes, right

Sharing this week with another indomitable woman, Lady Fi, and her memorable meme