Wednesday, March 24, 2010

To Booze or not to Booze, To Drink or not to Drink?

Those are the questions but what is the answer? The headline in Wednesday’s, March 24, 2010 edition of the GLOBE AND MAIL did read, “ Meeting on booze ban marked by arrests as hundreds turn out. Residents of Natuashish to vote Friday on whether to overturn alcohol restriction in divided Innu community” written by Oliver Moore.

As noted in the article, the members of the community are to vote on the current resolution to ban alcohol from the community that was voted on and imposed on in 2002 subsequent to a number of social problems. Now, the current Chief, Simeon Tshakapesh, wants to revise the ban.

Perhaps a more appropriate question could read, “To be or not to be?” Like the questions above, these phrases imply an element of choice; after all, humans have a volitional mind. The social problems of the Natuashish are not atypical of Aboriginal communities across Canada where, I believe, the abuse of alcohol does and always will play a part in social problems: ban or no ban. In my experience living in a number of Aboriginal communities, the challenge with alcohol consumption always comes down to a choice of just one or two drinks only or getting drunk. Unfortunately, the latter is usually practiced and leads to “social problems” as alluded to in the article. Again, not atypical. According to community members, the ban has had measured success in less crime and increased attendance at school. Still, bootlegging exists. Again, not atypical. As much as Aboriginal communities are considered remote such as Natuashish, people will find a way to indulge in alcohol.

Revising the ban as proposed by the new Chief has divided the community as witnessed in their public meeting. The community members will always have a choice “to be or not to be” including Agathe Rich who tragically lost her children in a fire after drinking with her husband. Unfortunately then, she had chosen to be drunk and suffered the consequences. She has sinced become sober and has chosen not to be.

Let’s see how the community votes on Friday, March 26th.  You can bet that some members will attend the meeting after consuming a few drinks.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Brian McKeever and Cross Country Canada

The headline for Allan Maki’s story dated, March 06, 2010 of the GLOBE AND MAIL read, “McKeever’s exclusion triggers hostility against Cross Country Canada (CCC).”

Anyone can question the hostility and, I think, it is warranted. Leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics and especially the 50km men’s race, the public, including me, was led to believe Brian was to compete and make history in being the first athlete to compete at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. After all, Brian did win the 50km Olympic Trial race held in Canmore, AB in December, 2009. The other Canadian athletes who did win the Olympic Trial races were Dasha Gaiazova, Gordon Jewett, Madeleine Williams, Drew Goldsack, and Stefan Kuhn. These athletes expected to race and did so and realized their respective dream. Kudos to Devon Kershaw who had given up his spot to allow Gordon Jewett to race the freestyle 15km race earlier in the week.

The marketing of Brian’s achievement and impending participation included his profile and the TV commercial sponsored by VISA narrated by the well-known actor Morgan Freeman. That was a moving story that led us to believe Brian was about to make history. Included in the VISA ads was the story of Sara Renner, another story about an accomplished athlete about to retire and give it one last chance to stand upon the podium. While Sara’s commercial still can be viewed on YouTube, Brian’s ad has mysteriously disappeared. In fact, CCC still has the link on their website ( pointing to Brian’s ad but it will get you nowhere.

In terms of what transpired towards CCC’s decision to omit Brian, Jim McCarthy, President of CCC, had said, “We’re definitely looking at what’s happened inside. I’ve been reviewing it with Davin [McIntosh, CCC’s new executive director]. At times, I’ve questioned myself.” Dave Wood, CCC Team Leader conveyed on TV that the exclusion of Brian for the 50km was a “no brainer.” That “no brainer” to regard Brian as a spare fifth man should have been conveyed to the public and also to VISA at the very beginning when Brian qualified for the Olympics.

Regarding a review, skeptics will question why is CCC conducting a review within themselves; much like the RCMP conducting a review within themselves with no repercussions. Nevertheless, hopefully the review will have some one or persons accountable to the decision to omit Brian. Seems someone or persons in the High Performance level of CCC made up some rule very convenient to try and make him or themselves look good.  Instead, as said in the article, “The hate mail has spared no one.”  I guess, for a lot of people across the country, the dismal image of CCC continues.