Monday, September 20, 2010

How much is your language worth?

“Rock ‘n’ rolling off the mother tongue.
Native musician seeks to entertain with translations of classic pop tunes into Cree, but his work also has a serious side.”

So read the headline in the GLOBE AND MAIL published September 20, 2010 and written by a Tom Hawthorn.

As an Aboriginal person (Inuit) of Canada, I must commend the Aboriginal (First Nations) musician featured in the above noted article. Apparently, an Art Napolean, whose mother tongue is a dialect of a northern woodlands cree has recorded his newest album entitled, “Creeland Covers” and is sung almost entirely in Cree. His songs, apparently, cover well-known songs first recorded by the Beatles, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Hank Williams, and amongst others, Neil Young.

Apparently, not all Aboriginal people have lost their native language as a result of their experience of the former residential school system. A good thing.

However, the recent “Common Experience Payment” afforded to all those Survivors who experienced residential school including myself was heavily weighted based on loss of language and culture. While in residential school, I could not speak my native language as it was lost but, I can remember a lot of the First Nations students had conversed in their own native language on a daily basis. A good thing.

Given the “Common Experience Payment” afforded to all Survivors of residential school, was it fair that someone who could still speak his/her native language received the same amount as I did….one who had a true loss of language.

Lucky for the First Nations musician, Art Napolean, he can still speak his native language and has captitalized on that fact in recording his new album. Unlike him, my native language is lost. Not a good thing.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Pope...Holy?

"His Holiness and her Majesty walk in step on the role of religion in national identity, but beneath the dignity is a battle of rhetoric."

So read the headline in the GLOBE, dated September 17th, 2010 and written by a Claudio Onorati.

The dictionary defines "holiness" as "the quality or state of being holy; sanctity."

So, what is it?...Religion or Relationship?

The Bible says, in the end, God will ask each and everyone of us, "Do you know me?" I guess even the Pope will have to answer "yes" or "no."

Leave it to the Lord where his "Holiness" will end up.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Truth and Reconciliation...Hawaii bound?

“Hawaiian junket gets Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in hot water.
As commission seeks more federal cash for residential-schools panel, bill for members' Honolulu trip is pegged at as much as $6,000.”

So read the headline in the GLOBE AND MAIL published on September 2nd, 2010 and written by a Bill Curry.

During my stint as an appointed Inuit Board member with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) from 1999 to 2004, I had always advocated the need for a “by Survivors for Survivors” attitude. Surviving residential school required that kind of respect. Still, there are non-Survivors riding and benefiting from the financial wave on the backs of those of us who truly deserve more than what has been offered. For example, George Erasmus, President of the AHF and a non-Survivor will be compensated over one million dollars for his tenure up to 2012. And, Mike DeGagne, Executive Director of the AHF and another non-Survivor will likely appreciate his benefits along with his $130k…ish salary with bonuses. The average compensation for a Survivor is a measly $16000! Oh, my God!

Still, as a former Board member of the AHF, I was careful on the “optics” of taking care of business that included staying within the confines of Canada. Therefore, I am baffled by the “junket” two TRC Commissioners have chosen to embark on to Hawaii. The trip is very inviting but “personal development” for the Commissioners is certainly not within the mandate of the TRC.

“It’s on the backs of survivors,” Michael Cachagee fumed. The executive director of the National Residential Schools Survivors Society noted that his organization has largely been silenced after Ottawa cut off all funding last year, citing concern over expenses.”
“They come down here and nitpick the hell out of me and the organization, yet you’ve got these clowns going off to Hawaii,” he said.”
“Officials with the commission have suggested that their budget may not be enough to accomplish the massive task of crossing the country to gather stories from former students, many of whom live in remote communities. Meetings are scheduled to take place when the commissioners return to determine whether they will ask Ottawa for more money.”
More money? Let’s hope the TRC will cross the country, not cross the world...for Survivors sake.