Saturday, July 22, 2017

Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls - Part 1

This is a new series coming up that I thought was important to talk about. It's not so much about the people who have gone missing as it is about the survivors and their families, and the commission regulating the procedure of dealing with the issue. I don't know how many parts there will be to this, but it will end when I've had my say. Here is part one:

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
            Well, let’s begin with studies and their costs. Forget that! There is so much of that out there it appears to be a whole industry in and of itself. I can remember that from my old real estate days when a fellow got a government grant to do a study on starting up a fish farm in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I think he got a $45,000.00 grant to study the feasibility of the venture that never got anywhere. But he was happy with the grant money and went on his way. Then there were the guys who wanted to turn water into fuel, and so on ad infinitum.
            The same thing more or less applies to Indigenous issues. Marilyn Poitras is exactly right in my opinion regarding these studies and inquiries. We’ve been there, done that, it hasn’t worked. So why are we still doing that? I’m not willing to believe that the Government is so na├»ve as to really think they need another set of studies to address the problem or even to define what the problem is – or if there is one. I rather suspect that these studies and inquiries are a foil to avoid making a decision or even to put it off. I imagine a good grant writer can make a decent living uncovering this stuff.
            Well, so much for the churches, the Government bureaucracy and all the other white colonialists intent on maintaining the status quo for as long as they can. It is they who are intent on maintaining this sustainable industry at the expense of Indigenous people. But sooner or later that must also stop.
            As for the Indigenous People, at least in Canada, they are not without blemish either. They were very quick to pick up on the white man’s ways in terms of hoarding money and keeping it from the communities who needed it, and could cite long winded explanations for it.
            And the Elders will not speak. They have nothing to say. If you look at the teaching of the Seven Fires of the Anishinabec, you will see that it is exactly what is foretold. But there is one thing I don’t quite agree with and that is that the people wait for a young man who will lift them out of their wretchedness and a return to the spiritual world. It’s not that I disagree so much as I don’t understand. Why are the people waiting for someone else to lift them out of their misery? Why are they not doing it themselves?

            Well, you mustn’t take too much stock in what I say. I am after all, speaking from the top shelf where all my knowledge and experience are put away as irrelevant, part of ancient history. But I’ll speak my mind anyway. It looks like this is going to be a multiple piece, so look for the next post after this.

            Just sayin’.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty - Six

Oh God – Part Twenty – Six
                   Schwartz thought about it for a minute. Basically it was not a bad idea, so he said out loud, “I forgive myself for all the crap I did on other people,”
                   Well that didn’t work! God, who was forever in his face, was suddenly absent. Now what?  “Hey God,” said Schwartz, “I forgave myself an’ nothin’ happened. What’s up with that?”
                   “What did you forgive yourself for, Schwartz?
                   “Oh, everything in general, I guess.”
                   “But what specifically did you forgive yourself for?”
                   Schwartz thought for a moment, “I don’t know,” he admitted.  “ I really don’t remember.” That was odd. He really didn’t remember the specific things that had been so prominent on his list of offenses. In fact, he was feeling a little lighter, less burdened as it were for the loss of these memories. “God,” he said in a business-like voice as though he were conducting a meeting. “We have to discuss a few things about my coming here in the first place.” Well he may have lost his memory of earthly things, but at least his organizational skills were still intact.
                   “It was probably a redundant call,” said God reflectively. “The human race never ceases to surprise me. You’d think they’d use the brains I gave them for useful reasoning. But instead they’re in such a rush to do everything faster and shorter, not realizing that it’s contributing to their own demise that much sooner.”
                   “You mean . . . . ,” Schwartz started to say.
                   “I mean they are racing toward their end at top speed. I don’t have to do nothin’. It’s a bit of a shame though about all them other creatures on earth but . . . . . .”
                   “You mean the world itself will come to an end?”
                   “No, the world itself won’t explode or dry up or anything like that. But after all the damage humans have done, it will take a while to heal itself. That’ll give me time to rethink my creations. Fortunately by then I’ll have turned over all the unworthy spirits to Satan to fry into eternity and I’ll be left with the good ones to make the new world into a homogeneous loving and caring place.”
                   “So how long will that take?” wondered Schwartz.
                   “Oh, maybe a million years or so, maybe two, it’s hard to say.
                   “A MILLION OR TWO YEARS! All of life will be forgotten by then,” lamented Schwartz.
                    “Not really, not in the grand scheme of things. It took several billion years before there was any possibility of life surviving on earth, so a million years here or there is no big deal.”
                   “And the souls you sent to hell – what about them?” was Schwartz’ next question.
                   “Ha ha, they’ll be screamin’ an’ yellin’ an’ sizzlin’ on Satan’s barbeque.”
                   Schwartz shuddered at the thought. That could have been him for God’s sake. Well, except for God’s sake. “An’ what about us up here in heaven, what happens to us?”
                   “Well, you good souls who have shown your loyalty and dedication will be sent out again to re-populate the earth with love and goodness and proper respect for the atmosphere around you. It will be a perfect world.  As for Satan’s bunch – to hell with them!” God chuckled at his own joke.

                   There was a huge crash in the kitchen that echoed throughout the dining room. God winked at Schwartz and muttered, “Even here there are some that like to give orders.”

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty - Five

Oh God – Part Twenty – Five
            “Schwartz mulled that over for a bit.”So there’s really no Heaven or Hell?” he pondered.
            “Of course there is. It’s just not where you thought it was,” answered God.
                   “Aw crap!” complained Schwartz, “Where is it then?” He heard dishes rattling in the kitchen.
                   “It’s everywhere, especially within your own spirit. In fact, your spirit is also within us. We are inextricably connected, so heaven and hell are all around you and even within you. You and your spirit are essentially an extension of ourselves and have nothing to do with your dad blamed churches, religions or cults. Basically, we are all one.”
                   “In other words,” Schwartz summed up, “our whole time on earth is nothing more than an exercise in futility, a total waste of time.”
                   “In one sense I suppose you’d be right Schwartz,” replied God, “if it was about you, but it’s not. The only meaning the things you do on earth have are as a test of your character, the strength of your spirit. After that, they are of no value at all. They are merely a means to an end.”
                   “Well that’s kind of depressing, isn’t it?  I mean, you work and toil all your life for something and then when you die, you have to throw it all away as though it never existed in the first place? That doesn’t seem fair.”
                   “You didn’t think you could bring it all with you did you?” asked God.
                   “No, but at least I’d like to have credit for it. After all, I’m the guy who did all these things. At least I was able to toot my own horn when I was living in hell.”
                   “And who was listening to you?”
                   “Nobody I guess.” Schwartz slumped listlessly at the thought.
                   “And did you also crow about the ways in which you cheated people out of what was rightfully theirs?”
                   “Why not?”
                   “Guilt, I imagine.”
                   “Do you see the futility in all that? Is that what you want for all eternity?”
                   “No, of course I don’t. I just can’t deal with it anymore. I suppose that’s why I keep on about my achievements so much, to drown out my guilt.”
                   “Well, you seem to have a grasp of your miserable situation, but you haven’t cottoned on to the solution yet have you?”
                   “That’s what’s holding me down. Until I do, I’ll have no peace.”
                   “It’s complicated, yet it’s so simple. It’s called ‘forgiveness’.”
                   “FORGIVENESS?” shouted Schwartz. “Who in blazes am I gonna forgive – myself?”

                   “Exactly,” said the Lord.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty - Four

Oh God – Part Twenty – Four
            Schwartz thought about that for a minute. All the wealth he had amassed over the years lay back there in the earthly world, likely fought over and split up between the heirs to his estate.  But his name, his name would have been erased the moment the various cheques cleared the banks and his legacy would become someone else’s. That’s just how things worked in that world.           
            Well, and of course the chaos continued in hell too, where things were remembered and still being trumpeted. It was becoming distasteful for Schwartz. He didn’t like it one bit and wanted no part of it anymore.
            “That’s a good start,” God noted.
            Schwartz found it strange that every time he thought or said something, God was right there to answer him or make a comment. “You know the myth of the two sides of your conscience sitting on either shoulder to advise you what to do. That’s not as much of a myth as people might think. It has to do with your conscience; your spirit as it were and is really an extension of the afterlife. It’s basically a communication system that Satan and I provide to help humans make a determination of their actions,” God commented, almost casually. “So you see, we are constantly with you.”
            “Hmph,” grunted Schwartz, “so you’re like that with everybody?”
            “Of course! We are God and Satan. We can split ourselves up in as many parts as there are spirits. We are infinite.
            “In other words,” pondered Schwartz, “no matter what God we choose to worship, we always end up with you?”
            God let out a guffaw that was like a volley of rolling thunder. He was particularly amused. “Do you really think people get to choose who their God is?” he laughed. “You see, there’s the rub. People have the idea that it’s all about them. That’s actually how you got here, working with Satan and setting up systems of acronyms. Your heart was in the right place but your mind was short sighted as is always the case with humanity. So I decided to give you the opportunity to find more. I believe that perhaps you might have got a glimpse of what you’re after.
            “Now you have to imagine me an’ Satan, one on each side tuggin’ at your spirit. That’s what we do – continually. The choices you make are strictly up to you. We don’t interfere, but we are always with you and within you. So you see, you have no choice about other Gods (either good or bad) because we are already there.”
            “That certainly puts a lie to everything we’ve ever been taught!”     

            “That’s humans for you,” announced God.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Canada Day

A few years ago, my alter ego, Nestor Kropatnik wrote a letter to the nation about his experience with Canada Day. I thought I'd dig it out for your amusement on this Canada Day. That'll be my contribution to our 150th anniversary:

Dear Canada
Dear Canada;
It’s me, Nestor! Hoys Boys, I so embarrass early first thing in morning I don’t know should I sit down, stand up, or hide face in corner. Sun is just peeking up from under sleeping blanket when I take my coffee and little bit ham sausage on balcony for think about what to do today. Well I know I not going to do things no more – I retire – but is old habit I pick up and hard to break. Even still is nice to plan for do nothing whole day. Besides, is Canada day today. Whole country having birthday party.
Now I look up from comfy balcony chair – just like pope – and look across courtyard at other buildings. Holy Moley, I bet my big boots I jump a mile high! Lots o’ people got big Canadian flag in windows and draped over balcony – just like huge big birthday card. Hoy Boys! What a good idea! How come I never think of that? I gotta admit, sometimes city slickers not so dumb after all.
All of a sudden I get great idea myself. Maybe I got no flag so I gonna make one for sure! Quiet as a little mouse I sneak in bedroom where missus still sleeping. She so cute, purr like tiny little kitten on pillow. I find brand new pair red wool gotchies and brand new white bed sheet and tippee toe out so wife not wake up. I know I got no business in sewing basket, but I look anyway for safety pins and take whole shebang to balcony. Hoy Boys – is hard job to figure out how to make maple leaf from pair o’ gotchies. Is one part short until I remember trap door. Look at that. Trap door is good for lots o’ things. By time I all finished, tongue is all twisted from concentrating, fingers full o’ holes from safety pins, but whole thing looks pretty good, I figure out. Not so bad for old pig farmer.
Holy Moley, if I not still on hands and knees, I bet you for sure I be fall down right away quick. Right behind me cute little purring kitten turn into ferocious big tiger – roar like lion – in mother tongue! Missus lets out string o’ words, some I never even know what mean. What I think I doing showing underwear to neighbors on balcony? What people going to think of bunyak pig farmer? They gonna laugh us right out of neighborhood! Hoy Boys, I so shocked I don’t know what to say for minute. I never thought o’ that.
Finally I get tongue back and I say, ”Hey listen sweetie, calm down. I make birthday card for Canada.” Hoy Boys, big mistake! She give me ‘nother blast.
Now I got to dig heels in little bit. I tell her, “Listen here sweetie, I CEO of balcony. If I wanna say ‘Happy Birthday Canada’, I gonna do it”.
Missus shoots right back. “Maybe you CEO, but don’t forget who is Chairman of Board. Now shaddap and give me gotchies”.  
Just then our Olga – she now CEO of pig farm since I retire, walks in door and wonders what is all squawking about. Missus tells her I make jackass of self and show her what I make. She says she gonna throw in Dumpster.
Daughter says, “no, no mommy, don’t throw away! Is very important to say ‘Happy Birthday Canada’. Look, I brought present”! She open big Eaton’s shopping bag and haul out huge big flag bought from store. Holy Moley I get such a big surprise! Is beautiful flag.
Missus like it too. She says, “here Mr. CEO, go hang up proper birthday card – and do it straight”.
Daughter tells mommy, “Give me daddy’s flag. I got good place for it. I hang it up in barn. Pigs will be so happy, they gonna squeal like pigs – maybe even sing ‘Oh Canada’. They see daddy’s gotchies, then they know who is Chairman of Board in barn. See, everything is hunky dory”.
Look at that! I don’t know how it happened. Missus comes and gives me little squeeze. She says I cutest little bunyak. Daughter says she gotta go show flag to pigs in barn.
Let me give you little bit friendly advice. Don’t worry, it’s free – no red tape attached. When it comes to ladies, just shaddap and do what they say. Somehow by magic, everything work out – every time.
You should drop by sometime. We could have some sausage and maybe I ask my boy who live close by if he got some extra beer. We could have nice visit. Just don’t ask for lady advice.           
Your pal,

Nestor Kropatnik PF (Retire)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty-Three

Oh God – Part Twenty-Three

            Well, come to think of it, he didn’t really see what his grandmother Sara looked like either. It was strange. He didn’t know what anybody looked like. He just knew who they were. It must be another one of God’s little tricks to confuse him. There must be a relationship between body recognition and life in the real world.
            “The world you talk about is not real,” spoke God. “It is your training ground; your school. That’s where you learn everything you need to know for this world – the real world as it were. There’s an infinite variety of what you can learn there and practice during that lifetime. It’s all your choice within the parameters of that world. When you are finished and have gained all the knowledge and experience, it’s over and done and of no more use to you.
            “You come here, into purgatory and generally sleep until the day I judge your performance at ‘school’ and you are placed either here in heaven with me, or in Satan’s hell.”
            “Purgatory? I was in Purgatory? How’d I get here then?” Schwartz wanted to know.
            “It was a special case with you, Schwartz. While you practiced all the wrong things in your ‘school’, you had certain information I wanted to curb this Acronym business. So I brought you up here to stop that nonsense. It’s actually quite unusual.”
            Hmm, thought Schwartz, He’d been promoted to being God’s helper; not a bad gig for an old Jew. Maybe I was one of the ‘chosen people’ he mused.
            “Don’t flatter yourself, Schwartz.” God sounded a little annoyed. “That old myth don’t hold no water around here. What we got here AND down in hell are SPIRITS! Humans are all down on earth an’ there’s no special kind. All the talk about things like that is nothin’ more than political
rhetoric. It’s just that you’ve got a few left over memories that make you useful to me.”
            “What if in the process o’ bein’ here I lose those memories? Will I still be welcome here?”
            “Of course! You are after all, part of the family. I told you that when you first arrived. Don’t you feel that way?”
            “I do, I do,” beamed Schwartz. He was a bit confused as to how this was all going to roll out for him.  How could he possibly forget his earthly life with all its accomplishments and accumulation?  Funny though, he couldn’t remember the devastation he had wrought upon his family and business associates during the course of his life, as though it wasn’t important.

            “It’ll take a while, but you’ll get used to it.” Said God.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Oh God - Part Twenty - One

I don't know exactly what happened, but somehow my "part Twenty-one" never got published. Perhaps I was being punished, but I'll have another go at it.

Oh God – Part Twenty – One
            It was heaven indeed. And what did they need? Nothing. It made the struggles and maneuvering of the living world appear totally useless; a complete waste of time. If only Schwartz had known. He had wasted his whole earthly life scheming and cheating and out maneuvering to gain his considerable fortune, and for what? It didn’t count for anything here. Not only that, but he didn’t give a rip about it neither. Mind you, when he was down in hell, it was a different story. They was yellin’ an’ screamin’ about their own accomplishments an’ importance all the live long day. When you put it into a collective production it was a screaming mass of ‘me, me, me.’ Disgusting, thought Schwartz. How could you possibly differentiate your own ‘me’ from all the millions of voices in a circus like that?  He was tired. All he wanted now was a little peace and human dignity. And that’s what he experienced here in heaven. ‘To hell with hell’, he thought, hoping that Petronella wouldn’t notice.
            “I heard that!” she demanded from somewhere he couldn’t see.
            “I didn’t say anything out loud,” whimpered Schwartz. “Don’t tell me you can read thoughts too!”
            “Listen, snot nose, I was the mother of six,” she snorted. “I can tell what you’re thinking even before you think it.”
            Sara, who was nearby, chuckled quietly. “My boy, one of the things you’ll have to get used to here in heaven is the fact of equality. Women here are NOT subservient to men (or the other way around). We are not people here as you remember them in the physical world. We are spirits of no particular gender – or species for that matter. We are just spirits. Our purpose on earth was to enrich ourselves and improve the depth of our character for the glorification of our Lord.
            “This world is unlike anything you’ve ever seen since you were sent out into the body of Schwartz. What you learned there and what you did with that knowledge determined the depth of your spirit. That is what you’ll be judged on.
            “So you’ll have to make up your mind where you want to be, either here or in hell. If I can give you one more little suggestion, you will also be judged one day when the time comes, so it bears thinking about and coming to a decision.”
            “But, I’ve done what I’ve done on earth, How can I possibly avoid going to hell, I’m afraid I’m doomed. In the end, he won’t let me in. What can I do?”
            “Ask God – and don’t even think about negotiating,”