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Let's say a group of People, are particularly vicious. They, over time, take technologies not their own (like gun powder, paper, fabric, etc.) and over generations misrepresent those technologies as their own. They even take credit for efficient numerals and mathematics, which of course are also not of their own invention but taken and misrepresented as theirs. Let's say these vicious People build a great amount of wealth by enslaving generations of other People not like them. Let's say these People build upon the technologies they have stolen and misrepresented as their own, and branched their worldview out of their home lands.
These People, cannot live sustainably. The nature of their system is hierarchical, a true Pyramid Scheme. Generally, one male at the top of their Pyramid Scheme rules over the others below that male. The ones ruled over are a subjugated bureaucracy that make up the hierarchy, which primarily rests on the base of the poorest individuals. The poorest individuals are abused to no end, and deprived of everything just above basic subsistence. The poorest individuals are the ones sent to the frontlines of war. The poorest individuals do not upset the apple cart, because they have been fed hope by the People at the top. Hope that they can climb out of their poverty if they work harder and attempt to achieve, even though the Pyramid Scheme ensures this will not happen. Generally, the ones on top are born into wealth and privilege. Occasionally, a few will fall into luck, and a few actually do leave their poverty. Those few keep the hope alive for the majority of the poorest individuals, which will die in that poverty. This is the foundation of their system.
Now let's say those vicious People feel that they are the most evolved of all groups of People, even though the entire group of all People worldwide are too biologically similar to be very different. The vicious People spread their arrogant worldview throughout the world via propaganda in a book, belonging to an organization that says there is an invisible man in the sky watching you in case you break rules; who will punish you with fire and pain for all eternity. The People at the top, are the invisible man's enforcers. Better not upset that apple cart!
Now let's say that because of the hierarchical nature of the vicious People's Pyramid Scheme, they run out of resources rather quickly. They must go out and colonize more lands, and subjugate more People, in order to feed this hierarchy. Their Pyramid Scheme necessitates war. Often, to save money, they kill as many People they meet as possible. After they have shocked the population with killing, they simply assimilate who they find into their population by first becoming slaves. The vicious People find out it’s much easier to kill someone from the inside first, and when they are dead inside get them to join you at the bottom of the Pyramid Scheme.
Now the Leaders, or Rulers, of this Pyramid Scheme have been inbreeding for generations. Because of inbreeding depression, (and also because for many of those generations all they could drink was alcohol, as much of their original homeland was over polluted for generations previous due to the Pyramid Scheme) much of their population suffers from F.A.S.D. which may explain their viciousness. Certainly at least, generations of Leadership affected by F.A.S.D. can explain the vicious ways of thinking set down by their rulers and organizations. After all, anyone against the rules is burned at the stake by the organizations and Leadership.
Now, imagine, that these vicious People are running out of resources again because they are too irresponsible to live within their means. So they must colonize more People and land again, as is tradition.
On the other side of the world are People who live symbiotically with their environment. Hunting Animals, gathering foods, and cultivating foods and plants enough for just what they need. The symbiotic People do this with such efficiency and respect that they can sustain their lifestyles anywhere from 8,000 to 11,000 years without ever having to colonize or subjugate anyone. Truly living within their means. These symbiotic People Manage herds of one kind of Animal millions of head large amongst each other, while at the same time cultivating foods such as Corn, Potatoes, Beans, and Tomatoes. These symbiotic People do not own slaves, or subjugate their females, but rather honour their females and each other. These symbiotic People practise true democracy where everyone in their Tribe has a voice and value.
The symbiotic People sometimes engage in war, but they respect Life and Living systems to such an extent that only one person is killed, and then the war is over. Most of their warriors (if you can call them that) don't even use weapons. They use sticks, to hit the enemy and cause humiliation. They will scalp the enemy, intentionally leaving him alive so he'll forever be known to have lost the battle. They keep the scalps as a reminder of the horror of war, and to not engage in it too often. These symbiotic People are for the most part rather kind, very stern, very clean, and resourceful. From the Animals they collectively manage, they have found some 6,000 uses for just one Animal. Again, they are able to sustain themselves as truly free and democratic People for 8,000 to 11,000 years (as far as archaeological sites can ascertain) by living in respectful balance with their environment.
Now, the vicious People need resources, and they force themselves on the symbiotic People. The symbiotic People belong to the land, whereas the vicious People feel the land belongs to them, the vicious ones. The vicious ones kill as many of the symbiotic People as possible, from numbers beginning around 100 Million to a just few million left. The vicious People initially try to take the symbiotic People as slaves, but the symbiotic ones die right away. So, the vicious ones import other People to do their work, as the vicious ones are rather lazy and drunk for much of the time and too busy inbreeding. The hard-core inbreeders stay in the mountains and play banjo, as opposed to the hard-core inbreeders in castles that play polo.
Now that the vicious ones have enslaved and subjugated most other People, literally drunk and inbred, they write their history as triumphantly as possible. They write themselves as morally superior and advanced in every way, even though they stole much of what they lay claim to and have wickedly slaughtered most everyone in sight. The invisible man in the sky gave them the right to do this, because the invisible man is a real psychopathic killer himself. The vicious ones use the invisible man as justification for their evil. Most other Peoples do not wish to kill Life, so they lose the game with the vicious People they didn't even know they were playing.
The vicious ones literally starve, and kill, and hold guns to the heads of the symbiotic People to forcibly and coercively sign away all their property rights. The vicious ones made up property rights with the invisible man, and inbred Leaders to legitimize themselves. The vicious ones figure that the symbiotic People won't live another 5 years, and so the vicious ones make grandiose promises on paper.
This continues on, until maybe around the 1960's (by vicious methods of counting years).
Then, there is an awakening. Vicious children don’t want to be vicious anymore. The vicious children realize that we are too similar to be very different, something the symbiotic People always knew. The vicious children realize their true history. The vicious children realize that vicious drunk inbred men are making decisions on their behalf. The vicious children take up the cause of the symbiotic People, and the enslaved People, and the vicious children try to change the world.
Most of the vicious children give up.
Some don't however. Some continue to fight. Some get locked away. Some of the vicious children go so far as to not even resemble anything vicious anymore. They can almost feel like they are symbiotic. They realize there is a better way.
No more will they be Idle, and let vicious men ruin the planet.
They vote vicious blue assholes out of government in large red numbers. Some vicious assholes write op-eds in national newspapers to hold on to their fading vicious ways.
But the vicious children are no longer vicious. They are Conscious. The symbiotic People are having trouble being symbiotic People, because of the system of vicious men. Together the vicious children and the symbiotic People become the Conscious People.
Conscious People will proliferate, because they took the vicious infrastructure and stolen technology, and used the symbiotic ways of being and thinking. Conscious People will realize that they are of the same. Conscious People will walk together, from now on into the future they build with one another.
...as vicious men fade into history.
Conscious People will fix what the vicious People have done.
They'll do it because they'll start everything with Love. They'll remain Conscious and walk together. They'll do it because it's the right thing to do, as Conscious People know better than to listen to vicious men.
I am writing to you on behalf of every Indigenous Child who was forced to attend Indian Residential Schools in Canada and the United States that were victims of the abuse wielded by Catholic Clergy. I am writing to you on behalf of my Father who was beaten by Sister Thibert for speaking his language. I am writing to you on behalf of my Aunt who was forced to bring a newborn baby to the incinerator by Mother Superior, and who was told by Mother Superior that she was doing God's work. I am writing to you on behalf of my Uncles and Aunts, my Grandfathers and Grandmothers that lost their childhood, their freedom, their happiness, and their way of Life because of the ABUSERS that were sent by the Vatican and Crown to "save us."
MOST of all I am writing on behalf of myself and my own pain, and on behalf of my desire to heal from it. I am writing to forgive the Catholic Church. I am writing to finally Exorcize these Demons from myself and my People, so that we may be bathed in the Love, Light, Joy, Redemption, and Beauty that Jesus so willingly sacrificed himself for.
I am writing to you so that we may move on in the best way possible, and fully, with all unconditional Love, to bring this matter to a close.
I am writing to you in order to reveal this awful wound; and pour on all the Love and all the goodness that is God.
Growing up, I didn't go to Church. I was baptized Catholic but I knew almost nothing of it. We only went into Churches for funerals, and so in my ignorance I thought the Church was the funeral place, and the Priest was the funeral man. Then, as I was exposed to my peers who did go to Church, and as time inevitably revealed the presence of the Vatican and the often beautiful and often brutal history therein...I became bitter. I saw the Catholic Church as nothing but a haven for death worshiping pedophiles. I saw it as nothing but a place of Evil. I saw the Vatican as the Devil incarnate on this Earth. I would have liked nothing more than every Church be rubbed off the face of the Earth, with no memory of it to cause any more pain. I came to a point in my Life where there was nothing about this faith, or this Church that was any good at all. I saw the Church as a mockery of Christ.
I have never been a Christian.
However; as time went on and I read more about it, I saw some glimmers of Beauty. I saw how Jesus Loved us all so much, so very very much. That Love transcends time and space, religion and belief, values and inhibitions. That Love permeates this Universe and all Living things.
I read on the history of my name, Martin. I read that it was first used by St. Martin of Tours who during a cold winter gave half of his cloak to a freezing naked beggar. I read of how St. Martin, though a skillful and powerful warrior, refused to fight again and was placed on the front lines of battle as punishment still refusing to fight, to have his faith rewarded and the war be called off.
I am honoured to say that I have given the shirt off of my back to a freezing beggar, and earned my name Martin.
I have felt such a Holy and Beautiful presence from Father Thomas, a Benedictine Monk from Nebraska who late in the night would speak to me on the phone as I was drinking myself to death and felt attacked by the Devil himself.
I saw these glimmers of Beauty and I knew that yes, there is something good about this Church. I came to know and understand what the goodness and heart of the Church really is, which is the congregation of People in Pain and Suffering who desire to Live a good and Holy existence that follows the way of Life that was exemplified by Jesus, and by his Apostles and Saints thereafter.
My Aunt was called to Mother Superior's office with two other girls, they were not yet in their teenage years. Mother Superior said "Take this brown paper bag to the incinerator, and watch it burn, this is a Holy mission and you are doing Gods work." So proudly they took the bag down the hall, the three of them holding it together, and went to the incinerator. They placed it in.
The paper burned away to reveal a baby that was fathered by the Priest, that was killed to cover his tracks.
WHY GOD!?! WHY!?!! WHAT DID THESE BABIES DO TO DESERVE THIS!?!?! WHAT KIND OF SICKNESS BROUGHT THIS KIND OF UGLY INTO OUR WORLD!?!?!
Yet, as she grew, she Married in and attended Church. She was devout. She wrote to the Pope and waited years for his blessing to divorce her husband who was abusive and adulterous.
To her dying day she Prayed the Rosary.
I could not understand this, that she would continue to be part of something so obviously Evil to me.
Then, my Life happened. My mistakes happened. I walked, wilfully into Darkness. I looked the Devil in the eye and joined right in. I experienced all manner of corruption and ugliness. Then, in that wickedness I began to understand why. I began to understand pain, and mistakes. I began to understand more fully and compassionately what it is to be Human, to understand the effectiveness and cunning of the reverse trinity that is the Devil, and I began to understand the Love that is God.
I see a future where Humanity is always concerned for each other. I see a future where Humanity is concerned not about their own material wealth, but the well being of each other. I see a future where each and every one of us is a living example of Jesus, living the Life that he prescribed, being the best and Beautiful big little Beings that we can be. I see a future where we are all doing the best we can, with the tools we have, where every day we feel and practise the comfort and Love that is God and all Creation.
I see a future where the Catholic Church is not an unholy temple of sex obssessed guilt, lust, hoarding, and abuse that has been my experience of it.
I would like to see what my Aunt saw in her devotion, that no matter what, this place was a pathway to that which is Good, to that which is God.
I see a future where there are happy, healthy, humble, and kind Blackfoot Children being who God made them to be, and who are working on behalf of and for Love.
With that, on behalf of my ancestors, myself, and future generations, I invite you to our Sundance Ceremony. Preferably on my Birthday, July 25th 2015, because the Sundance is usually happening at that time. I invite you to visit with us here in our home, in our church, in our pathway to God. I invite you to come Pray with us and for us and engage in a dialogue of Healing.
I am asking you come here so that I may forgive the Catholic Church, so that my community may forgive the Catholic Church, and so that together we can achieve that Holy and Good future I see for my Children, their Children, and all the generations that follow.
I humbly and respectfully ask that you come and Pray with us and for us.
Father, what we do is for the Living, and what we do is for Life.
Please, please attend.
Martin Heavy Head Jr.
p.s. whether or not you receive this letter, and whether or not you read it. Whether or not it gets thrown away, whether or not my words are heard by anyone, please know that from the deepest part of my Being and from my connection to Creator, I forgive the Catholic Church for what has happened. I forgive the dark history that came about from Colonization and Residential Schools. I forgive your Priests, and I forgive your Nuns. I have nothing for them or the Church, or all of the devout followers therein but Love. I forgive them because that is what Jesus would do. I forgive, and I let that wound inside me and my People begin to heal, to be covered, soaked, and bathed in Love.
Thank you for your time, and if I may ask, please Pray for me. I certainly will Pray for you.
I had never been proud of being "Canadian" and never considered myself to be one. I have never identified with whatever that identity is. When I was a boy, I saw these ankle high black work boots in the basement. I thought they were the prettiest shoes I have ever seen, and wanted to wear them so bad. I didn't know at that time, that those boots were part of the clothes that the kids at the Residential School were given. I just thought they were pretty boots, even though they were worn and beaten.
When I was a boy, I remember seeing on TV a whole school of kids wearing ties and dress pants and matching sweaters in fashionable suits. They were in a boarding school. I told my parents "I want to go to boarding school." They laughed at said at the same time "No you don't." I remember wondering why.
My Dad told me a story about waking up the Priest for mass. He was on his tippy toes trying to open the door to go wake up Father Levalee. On his tippy toes he was trying to open the door, and eventually he got it. As an adult, I was one day walking through the old Residential School on the reserve, St. Mary's. I saw the Priest's office and looked at the doorknob. It was below my waist. I pictured by Dad, how small he must have been to have to reach up on his tippy toes to open the door. He must have been a tiny boy, just barely done being a toddler.
They would tell me stories about that place, and they called it "Boarding School" before what we now refer to it as. I heard awful stories. I was told that one boy had needed to get stitches on his knee, from when he tried to escape his knee was torn while running through barbed wire. He needed seven stitches. He went home and was brought back to the school. They called child tax "baby bonus" in those days, and the RCMP would withhold that payment if any of the People's kids weren't at Residential School. If the kids were missing, the parents also risked going to jail. I was told that was part of the reason why even if the kids did make it home, they were immediately sent back. The boy was stitched, and sent back to school with a swollen leg, so he couldn't kneel. They made the kids pray 23 times a day at the Catholic school. Sister Thibert saw him keeping his leg straight as he got up and down to kneel. She came up behind him and said "I said kneel!" and kicked the back of his leg. He said that to this day, he remembers the sound of his flesh tearing. He hates that Nun. Many People do to this day. She was just doing what she thought was right. Kneel before God, and pray.
St. Mary’s closed as a residence in 1988, when I was 3. The staff that ran the place was still there, and from what I understand Sister Thibert lived out the rest of her life comfortably, or at least, as comfortably as a Nun can. When the Indian Residential School payouts began I was against them. The Federal Government knew that they were on the line for a huge claim, that could have been in the billions of dollars had court cases been allowed to go through. So they did the reasonable thing and settled by having these tribunals to pay out the survivors. I didn't like the idea of People going in to share their stories to a group of uncaring white men who asked old ladies terrible questions. I was told that depending on their abuse, they were given more money. If the Priest ejaculated inside the body then they were given $2500, but if the Priest "pulled out" and ejaculated outside of the body they had no claim on that. So abuse became commodified, under the Harper Government. Old Ladies and Old Men had to go and tell their stories of abuse to tribunals, and go through that trauma again, to get some pocket change from the Feds. That wasn't the TRC that paid out like that, it was a different undertaking. To this day, people are still getting Residential School settlements. I still don't like the idea. Just because, money never solves anything. If anything, money only makes things worse.
For the past ten years or so, Residential School has been talked about. For the past ten years or so, more and more are getting to know what happened to Indigenous Peoples across Canada and the USA. I have been grateful for this to happen, because now I know a little bit more of what happened, of who we are, and how we became this way. With these awful stories I can put the pieces together as to why to reserve is the way that it is. Why so many are in pain, and killing their pain daily. This wasn't "hundreds of years ago" as my own professors have told me in class. This is within my lifetime, this was my parents’ lifetime.
My first memories are of The Sun. The great and bright light that is the means by which our life exists. My first memories are of The Sundance, when we pray. We sleep in tipi, and camp together every year. I go to sleep and hear the Ceremony songs being sung. I wake in the morning and pray with Sweetgrass and hear the camp wake up. My memories begin with knowing Ceremony, and hearing Old Blackfoot People pray in our language. My memories begin with dancing with our Pipes, and beginning every Ceremony with feeding People. My memories begin with Praying to Our Sun, Our Moon, Our Morning Star, and Our Earth. I walk through our territory and know what plants are medicines. I know what we use Willow for, I know where to find Sweetgrass, I know why I pick Sage, I know why I leave offerings. I know how to Pray and how to love. I know all of this because my parents survived. My parents survived the beatings, my parents survived the schools, and my parents loved me into the world. For thousands of years Blackfoot and Cree People were enemies that would kill each other on sight. Somehow, for some reason, in some way, my parents were able to find one another, a Blackfoot Man and a Cree Woman, and they loved their Children into being. They fought for their Lives, in order to give me mine. I didn't have to find out what the Nuns were like. I didn't have to learn what the Priests did first hand. What I knew was that I am connected to this Land, and to these People.
Looking back, I see the courage that it took to walk away from the Church. Many of my relatives didn't have that courage. Many, even with all they had gone through, still only Pray in the Catholic way. It puzzled me for a long time. Though, now that I understand a bit more about them, I don't mind it that much. That's how they know how to Pray, that's how they interact with reality, and that is their connection. I was lucky enough to learn an older way.
I look out onto my reserve and see a lot of abuse. I see violence, I see addiction, I hear of sexual abuse, and death. I see that we are in a crisis as a People. People who were known as the Lords of the Plains, those People that were tall and strong and magic. That history is three generations ago. My great grandfather died in 1988, when he was around 114 years old. When he was a boy they still hunted Buffalo. From his birth to death, he saw the 20th century unfold. He saw me, and I saw him...and sometimes I still do.
Today, MY Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially recognized the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Today I cried and felt so relieved. Under that bully Harper, I was terrified of the Federal Government. I was certain that he was taking Canada into an increasingly uglier reality that was more divisive and hateful than I had ever known. Luckily, Canada saw fit to throw that bully out of office. I'm still upset with that man. He was a mockery of what Canada stood for, what I knew Canada to be.
I look around my reserve and see a lot of pain, I see a lot of tragedy. I see reflections of how this system has failed. I see a challenge. I see People still alive. I see a language still alive. I see Ceremony still being practiced. I see a vibrant and magic People still here. I see their Grandmothers and Grandfathers in their faces. I see those Old People in their eyes. There is hope yet. This planet needs us, and we need this planet. This is our home, this is our connection to the Universe. Today with the final report of the TRC, the Federal Government of Canada dropped its historic antagonism. We are no longer enemies, and we shouldn't treat each other as such.
I look around at my People, and see that there is work to be done. Though, if the Government and Tribe are thoughtful in their approach to one another, we can heal and reclaim what we are. It will take work from the living Elders, from my generation, to know what we need to know, to do what we need to do, to be whom we need to be, for our Children. What I saw the Federal Government do today gave me more hope for the future than I have ever had before. I now have hope because I don't feel like we are going to be exterminated and worked against any longer. I feel hope because those Babies I see growing up will one day have their faces painted, they will be part of our Ceremony. Those Babies growing up now will know who we Pray to, and how we sing, and speak. They'll know what their plants do, they'll know who their People are.
They'll know, because we'll teach them. They'll know because they'll be able to grow up in a place that isn't trying to stamp out who and what they are.
There will be Blackfoot People in the future, there will be Blackfoot Ceremony. We will remain, because my Ancestors fought, my Parents fought, and I no longer have to fight. The TRC Commissioners and that generation, they fought. I won't have to fight to be who I am ever again. I won't have to fight to hold on to who and what I am. Neither will my Nieces and Nephews. If ever I have Children of my own, neither will they fight for that right to be themselves.
I still don't consider myself Canadian. I don't think I ever will. Though for the first time in my Life, I don't feel like Canada is trying to harm me or my People.
I feel like Canada is a better place.
A much better place.
Indeed, from the last election in the fall to this past Municipal Byelection, I had a chance to get to know our City Councillors. Particularly kind to me was Bridget Mearns who won her seat yesterday, and with her experience will bring some positive strength to our City. Some I have met looked at politics as a game to be played where someone wins and someone loses. This way of looking at politics is a formula for failure. This leads to bitterness and anger, quiet gossip and alliances. This is no good! We are Human Beings, and we deserve to be spoken to and about with the utmost honesty and respect.
Often I see someone who is struggling, someone who is hurt perhaps not physically, but emotionally or spiritually in pain. I look at them and encounter them with as much warmth and kindness as I can muster. I think to myself, "How would someone who Loved me wish me to be treated if I were in their situation?" and let me tell you, when I ask myself that question it is a lot easier to feed and clothe a stranger who did nothing to deserve it but just be in need.
In this way, Politics is about relationship building, and we build relationships when there is a foundation of kindness and trust. This is really about building a Community together and giving our trust to a few People who for one thing asked to Lead, and for another we allowed to Lead. We give these People the tools to guide part of our Lives, part of our Destiny. Their work is more than a budget, their work is more than a public appearance. Their work impacts our daily Lives much more than we often realize, and sometimes I think more than they realize themselves.
I think part of the disillusion the Public has with their Politicians and Political System stems from some of the Politicians behaving outright monstrously. Of feeling powerless to be heard, that their words fall on deaf or willfully ignorant ears. Some of our Politicians are more loyal to a party or an ideology, a hierarchy that is lead by some very sick People. Yet some are kind, some are trustworthy. Some have such good hearts and minds I would not feel safe with anyone else in their position they have now.
For those that supported me, Thank You very much. I tried to offer something different, something that would change this World we are in, in the most positive of senses.
I'll try every day to keep doing that.
Every day, we get to try again.
Often the smallest of voices are drowned out in the noise. In this City we have a surprisingly large amount of Poor. The North Side of Lethbridge is home to many People who do not have the luxuries of being able to work just one job but must juggle two or three to make ends meet. In this Municipal Byelection the North Side of Lethbridge was not mentioned once. The popular topics were Downtown and the Budget. As time goes on and prices rise we will see more and more becoming less and less able to afford their Lifestyle.
My political affiliations side with what the Government can do in order to ensure that there is a social floor, a base to which no one is allowed to go beyond. That we as a society would not allow someone to become so destitute and alone that they become impoverished. That is part of what Leadership does; not to "create jobs" but rather encourage prosperity by any means they can with the tools they have. To reinforce what we call Community.
For me, this included setting up the infrastructure for Community Gardens, to amend Bylaw 3383 and allow for People to raise Hens in their backyard if they so choose, to switch our dependency in this City from Natural Gas over to Renewable Energy Resources, to reinforce what we call Community. All of my platform points seek to alleviate symptoms of Poverty and increase the quality of Life for the City of Lethbridge.
The Arts and Artists of this City have added to my quality of Life. Recently, a pal of mine pointed out that just a few years back you would never see the mainstream Community come Downtown, let alone walk into Galt Gardens. Now when there are events like the Electric Eye Music Festival, Love and Records, and Art Walk the People come out and take part. In Galt Gardens there is the new fountain where all members of the Community come out and share. There is more activity Downtown now than there ever was, and that is because of the Arts. Ever since I was a little kid I found Lethbridge to value their Arts and Artists, as they help to beautify our City, to bring People together, and help create Community. Politicians have never changed the world for the better as much as Artists have.
We are not isolated in our own little worlds, we are all part of this World. We are all part of this Community, this Country, and this Planet. Each of us has a voice that deserves to be heard, no matter how marginalized.
At any given time there are 10,000 Native People in the City of Lethbridge. Many are employed, many are professionals, and many are Students. The Street People represent a small portion of the Native population in Lethbridge and Southern Alberta, and yet to the ignorant represent the entirety. To me, the Street People represent our failing as a Community and Society. They represent our own vulnerability as a Community...that we as a society have allowed this to happen. That we allowed some, who for various reasons (mental illness, F.A.S.D, Addiction, Pain, and Poverty) become so destitute and alone many of us look at them as a burden. We have allowed the vulnerable to fall, and that shame is not on them, but on those who choose to not help them stand.
This World is not a Game. This World deserves Leaders who know what the Community needs, and you can't find that in a budget or some political rhetoric. Real Leaders go out into the Community and observe, they read between the lines, and they act when action is needed. Real Leaders lead by example, and find solutions to problems that seem insoluble.
We have a present and future to care for, the decisions we make now will reverberate for generations to come.
Make a good decision on who you vote for today.
Food sustainability is incredibly important for our present and future. Not only in an economic sense of always climbing food prices, but also in regard to our environment. I have used the term "urban agriculture" in reference to community gardens and food forest development, and implicitly as well to the keeping of backyard chickens in the municipality.
In municipalities across the continent more and more People and Governments are realizing the importance of creating the infrastructure for a food sustainable future. Not only will creating the infrastructure alleviate symptoms of poverty, but can also indirectly stimulate local economy. If People spend less of their money on attaining their basic needs such as food, then they can spend their money elsewhere.
City of Lethbridge Bylaw 3383 deals with the keeping of Rabbits and Poultry for food purposes. This bylaw came into effect in 1983 and needs revisiting. As a person running for a position on Lethbridge City Council, I would like to amend this bylaw if elected to allow for a limited number of egg producing hens. This would, of course, be regulated to maintain the high safety standards of the community, for not only the Human population but for the Hens as well. Oak bay Victoria has already had much success with the introduction of their community members legally owning hens, and keep the hens at "five (5) for a parcel of area between 745 m2 and 1,858 m2" as an example. Many people in Lethbridge already are keeping hens discreetly in their backyards with no noise, health, or safety concerns.
There are some harsh realities we must face as a society such as ever increasing food and utility prices, and the ever growing divide between the ultra wealthy and poor. Urban agriculture confronts many of these realities in very direct ways. The establishment of infrastructure to move towards sustainable food sources not only will have positive effects on the financial well being of the community, but the overall health of our community as well. People were meant to work with the Earth, and so we should respect that relationship.
Community Gardens and Backyard Chickens are ways to respect that relationship, a way to move into the future by reclaiming the past.
I really appreciate that No Drilling Lethbridge was able to fend off Goldenkey Oil from drilling Hydraulic Fracture wells on the West side of Lethbridge. This was done through a lot of work by awesome People I know....through them going out and getting signatures on petitions and going out to protest.
It wasn't our Leaders that made the decision though, it was Goldenkey themselves, looking at the situation and, after intense public opposition, they ran away with their tails tucked in.
This was a good thing for the World, and North America definitely, because it shows that the voices of People are listened to, and if a strategic fight is put in motion with good old fashioned petitioning and protesting, decisions can be swayed and lives can be changed. AWESOME.
I remember the first question posed to me in my first Public Forum of the 2013 Municipal Election. It was a question about snow removal and I shared a story from my time in Nebraska.
That experience sharing a story of my Life with the public at a forum, as well as answering a good question with a good answer that reflects my world view, was very valuable to me.
I believe in the community. I believe in social justice. I believe that as a community we can support each other. We can care for each other. We can be kind to one another. I ran for City Council in the 2013 Municipal Election with a platform that revolved around these principles of mine.
Sustainability is no different than responsibility. We have a responsibility to future generations to give them the infrastructure that would help them the most, and in turn we help ourselves now.
Rather than spending our time worrying over an uncertain future; together we can help create a certain future. We can have community gardens that support local food economy. The Municipality can take steps to make it easier for the People of Lethbridge to have high quality child care. We can be the first City in Canada to have completely clean solar and wind energy power; producing so much that we can help out our neighbouring Municipalities and feed into the grid. This IS what we can do as a community. This is possible.
I believed in this future for us then, and I believe in this for us now.
Help me make it happen.
In Canada; we have three levels of Government: Municipal, Provincial, and Federal. Arguably; Municipal Government has much more of an effect on the daily lives of the population than any of the three. Those People who are trusted by a majority of the voters to guide the City by their decisions are not merely elected officials raising their hand in the air a few times a month (if they show up to Council meetings at all) but hold the Lives of their representatives in that vote every single time they cast it.
I knew going into the election that there never has been an Aboriginal candidate; let alone a representative to serve on City Council. Contact between the Blackfoot People and Colonists happened around the early 1800's. 136 years ago in 1877 we were put on Reserve; and in 1967 we gained the rights to Vote; to leave the Reserve without a permit; and obtain a Lawyer. 46 years ago...and I am 28. In all that time from 1877 until this past week; not one has stood for Council. The reasoning behind this is complex. On the one hand Blackfoot People were not even allowed to Vote until 46 years ago...on the other; the City of Lethbridge has a notorious reputation as one of the most racist and exclusive cities in Canada.
With some History in mind; I know exactly who I am and where I decided to throw my name in for election.
I remember the first forum I spoke at. I was late by a few minutes. I was nervous and my heart was pumping wildly because I saw the faces staring back at me. I saw their eyes glaring at me as I stood at the podium...I saw their faces clinch and tighten as I spoke. I explained who I am and my platform. That I am a University student studying for a Bachelors of Science degree...that I was just in a Chemistry Lab and had to run to the forum quickly...and at this point the look on their faces was priceless. One incumbent Councillor noted "The look on their face was great! By the time you were halfway into your talk they had this look on their faces like 'I don't know what to think anymore!'"
I ended that speech with "Vote for me; or I won't get elected" to where the room burst into loud and raucous laughter. A guffaw; as the Lethbridge Herald later reported. After that; I had some People come up to me and say I won their vote.
And so it went; and so it goes. I ended up winning 3.4% of the vote; which meant 25% of the 17,000 People who showed up to Vote cast one for me.
Every forum after that I was able to get a laugh; break the ice in the room...demonstrate my knowledge and understanding of what needs to happen in this City within the sphere of City Council.
I received $500.00 in campaign funds; which boosted my confidence. Some of that I used for buttons; some of that I used for pamphlets; and much of it I used to buy one hundred pounds of meat for the shelter/soup kitchen. The local sign makers had quoted me $2500 for a lot of 300 signs; and who in their right mind would spend that kind of money for a few onetime use signs?
I had decided to run because a friend had suggested it; as we jabbed one another over Facebook one day. I was encouraging her to run; because she knows what she is talking about and knows what the City needs. She stopped the conversation when she told me "you should run"
And so I said "ok."
I knew there had never been Aboriginal representation; and I knew the conservative flavour of past City Councils. I knew that we are indeed in a systemic world crisis and have to address these issues in some way rather than sticking our heads in the sand as the Province and Federal Governments prefer us to do. To name a few problems in point form:
-The German Military has studied Peak Oil; where all Oil production in the world peaks on a bell curve and then falls away. Their conclusions were that we reached Peak Oil in the summer of 2010; and we are currently on the down slope of the curve. Since 2006; the O.P.E.C. countries have been stacking the numbers in their Oil Reserves; so that even though consumption is going up exponentially; their numbers are maintaining.
-Monsanto has a monopoly on seed production and distribution; and their Genetically Modified Organisms (along with Syngenta; to which I am a former low level employee) are creating such a great disturbance in Global Food systems that many countries worldwide have banned them from their borders. Their G.M.O.'s are causing all different kinds of gastrointestinal diseases; and recently; the Monsanto Protection Act was signed by President Obama relieving the Company of any liability for health problems caused by their production of these G.M.O's...because they know just how volatile to Life they are.
-Poor leadership by the Harper Government has brought Canada into $600,000,000,000.00 debt; that is six hundred billion dollars from where we were a prosperous nation prior to his dictatorial leadership. As it seems the Federal leadership cannot think further than a week; and this debt will be passed on to future generations; provided the nation of Canada is maintained under this man. Harper was elected on providing a $1200.00 tax subsidy for childcare within the country; and he immediately broke this promise as soon as he was elected. He continues to Lie to the People of Canada; and we are watching; but even worse we are allowing him to.
To address these root problems I had three platform issues I ran on:
Urban Agriculture: To encourage the establishment of a Municipal Food Policy in order to maintain Food Security for the City of Lethbridge. This would include MANY more Community Gardens; and amending Bylaw 3383 to allow for a small number of backyard chickens to be raised within City limits. Not a hen house of forty; but four to seven chickens under heavy regulation. This can and will address the G.M.O. monsters that Monsanto has created; but will also encourage local food economy provided we end up into a depression the likes of which the world has never seen…which is likely.
Sustainable Development: Removing the barriers in place on local residents to put solar panels and wind capture devices on their property and replace those barriers with incentives. Currently the Province and City take in millions of dollars from utilities because they have the control. Whereas; if the City is able to produce their own electricity than they most likely would end up adding power to the grid. Though at the moment solar panels and wind capture devices are not the most efficient of devices; they would definitely aide the transition from the Non-Renewable economy we currently are hogtied into with our Oil company overlords and their lapdogs; the Provincial Government. This will decrease what Residents pay on their utilities thereby encouraging them to spend their money elsewhere in the Lethbridge economy; like at Drunken Sailor or Progress Clothing. Love those places.
Quality Childcare: Everything begins in the home. When a Child is raised in a safe and warm environment then s/he will see the world as a safe and warm place. Early childhood education is important to establishing a functional society; as children who are given the opportunity to develop with early childhood education succeed to greater achievement later on in Life. Academically; emotionally; mentally; and physically the children who were given early childhood education score well above those who don’t. Our children are those who will grow to run the Government; run the Hospitals; run the Criminal Justice System; they will be the caretakers of the ageing populace; and the LAST thing we need is a generation of People only trained to work on Oil rigs with barely enough education to care for themselves; let alone each other. The Provincial and Federal Governments are attacking Education in general; because those Oil rig workers are exactly what they want…not critical thinkers or People smarter than they are; but obedient workers just fit enough to pull the levers and push the buttons. The City is currently un-involved in Childcare; and leave it to the Provincial and Federal Governments to damage. I would have liked to have changed that to make the City much more involved in the care of our future.
All of these address issues facing the impoverished and the working poor. They address on a local level some of the systemic issues we face as Humans. With less being paid on utilities; single parents being able to find quality childcare enabling them to work and with Food Security measures in place; we are attacking so much of the ills of Society at their roots.
The main reason I ran for City Council was not to be elected…but to call out my peers. Blackfoot Youth are some of the most intelligent; thoughtful; kind; strategic; humble; honourable; wise; and loving People I have ever met in my entire Life. If only they knew their value! If only they understood just how valuable they are! Yet; I knew; that they looked at me running and said to themselves “Oh he doesn’t have a chance; he’s an Indian in Lethbridge” blah blah blah.
I came in 13th out of 29 candidates with a total of only $500.00 dollars to work with. I am 28 years old and yes; this City has a reputation. I broke this ground and made my argument before these People in order to show my peers that indeed: you are smarter than I am! You are kinder than I am! You are wiser than I am! You are more thoughtful than I am! You are so valuable! You are so needed! You are so very good of People! You are so very very worth it!
No; I didn’t win…but seeing how far I got…now you go out…and you do better…and YOU SEE WHAT YOU CAN DO.
Please do better.
Tomorrow I find out whether or not I am elected to work and serve as a City Councillor.
Tomorrow the People of Lethbridge will exercise Democracy; they will choose who guides their future.
I decided a long time ago to Live and work to better myself everyday...in order that I can better the Lives of others...and through my words to the Voters I have spoken to and with...I have tried to show that.
I am first off a Human that is mostly made of Water...I am Educated...I am a Scientist...I am a Person of Prayer.
I am a Leader...whether or not I am Elected.
My political philosophy comes down to lyrics written by J.R. Cash:
Would you walk that second mile, turn a frown with a smile?
Would you give a little more than you would take?
Did you shine your little light upon the children of the night?
What on earth will you do for heaven's sake?
Did you feed the poor in spirit and befriend the persecuted?
Did you show the bound how all the chains can break?
Did you sow the proper seed? Do you walk among the weeds?
What on earth will you do for heaven's sake?
Are you patient with the weak? Are you counted with the meek?
Would you lift the lowly heart or let it break?
Could you give away your shirt, and overlook a beggars dirt?
What on earth will you do for heaven's sake?
I ask myself these questions every now and again. I think many more should...
I'll keep asking these questions to myself...I'll keep going.
After all; that's all we can do.