Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Changing Life Roles…
October 22, 2017

I have just returned home from a wonderful afternoon with a friend who, a lifetime ago was my student. We were experimenting with tweaking the sound system in the church. He agreed to meet me and to put his considerable talents to the test to see how we might improve and make clearer the worship message. We ran wire and set up an amp and tested microphones and speakers and twisted dials and sliders for two to three hours. Overwhelmed by  rich, robust sound pulled from assorted electronic gadgetry spread out on the floor and on the table and desktop, we continued. I stand to learn much from him about the nuances of sound.

He was in my first class, Grade 5, when I began my teaching career in 1965. One of 37 young eager minds awaiting filling by me. A first year, fledgling teacher. I remember him fondly from that time because he reminded me of me at that same age. And, today I wonder about changing life roles. The student becomes the teacher! It is not just about him and me! I’ve thought about this before. At what point in our lives, do our children become our caregivers? Our teachers? It is a whammy! The realization that roles have reversed hits home and I delight in the knowledge that I have become the learner.

Today’s adventure into learning was about sound. It was about sound systems and making sound bend to our will. What I came home with is so much grander than just the mechanics of sound. As part of our finding stuff to use as test material, he introduced tome his favourite poet, Shane Koyczan. And I learned even more about the person he has become over all the intervening years since 1965. He has grown into a man of considerable depth and who finds peace and solace in the language of poetry. I rushed home to share my discovery, my learning with my wife.

Let me share it with you, too.

The Sixties Scoop…
February 15, 2017

My wife and I are the parents of an adopted First Nations Child whose adoption took place within the time-frame of the legal action against the Canadian Government titled The Sixties Scoop. Details of the class action suit can be viewed here:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixties_Scoop. This action, on behalf of indigenous children adopted by non-indigenous families, has been eight years in the process with the Canadian Government taking all legal actions available to avoid having this case heard. The absolute shame was the federal Government wanting to avoid the judgement to enable them to settle out of court-to set aside 8 years of process. I shake my head at our arrogance in attempting to avoid justice in this case.

Government asks judge to postpone ruling in ’60s Scoop case, outraging plaintiffs

This is a case more directly aligned with the concept of cultural genocide than about any other explanation, in my opinion. It is about the assimilation of indigenous children into the society of the day and is an off-shoot of the Residential Schools program in Canada that had it’s roots in “1860[,] Indian Affairs is transferred from the Imperial Government to the Province of Canada. This is after the Imperial Government shifts its policy from fostering the autonomy of native populations through industry to assimilating them through education. (see A timeline of Residential Schools)” In reality it began in the 1600s and the process of assimilation continued well into the late 1900s.

It saddens me that we, my wife and I,  were complicit in the continuation of this abominable program out of our ignorance as non-indigenous adoptive parents and the failure of the Canadian government and its agencies to inform us of their and our responsibilities to our child to maintain her cultural identity. The good news is we live on the doorstep of two First Nations communities, Biigtigong Nishnaabeg and Pic Mobert and many of our children’s classmates and friends were indigenous children. By osmosis, for want of a better term, our child spent considerable time in Biigtigong Nishnaabeg community with her best friends family. She was one of the lucky ones regularly exposed to her indigenous culture more by luck-of-the draw than by intent on our part or that of the Canadian Government.

I am overjoyed that the courts brought this case to fruition and yesterday, Valentine’s Day 2017 the “Federal government [was] found to have breached its “duty of care” by failing to protect cultural identity of indigenous children removed from their homes”. That we decided to add our voices to this cause, for justice for our adoptive child and all of the children of the Sixties Scoop, as witnesses for the plaintiff might have some small influence on this decision, helps to begin the healing process of right relations between us and our indigenous 10687098_10154816122320118_1482540786689546829_nneighbours and to apologize to our child for our ignorance.

Today, our chosen child is a strong beautiful First Nations woman who has chosen a career path to help other First Nations women of Northwestern Ontario reach their potential as healthy, proud indigenous women. As an aside, I was listening to a piece of music yesterday when a text arrived from a contact at the hearing to say the Judge ruled in favour of the Sixties scoop. The song happened to be Shed a Little Light performed by James Taylor. A prophetic moment indeed.

So, You’re Electing a President…
March 14, 2016

It seem months have gone by with Canadian news stories about the upcoming Presidential elections in the USA. The fact is we have almost as much coverage of the American electoral system as we do the Canadian system at election time.

Of course, the biggest story is of the rise of Donald Trump as possible Republican candidate for the Presidency. What a fiasco that has turned out to be! I have been waiting to hear, from Trump and any of the other candidate hopefuls, something about their hopes for the nation. What economic policies do they hope to introduce? What foreign policy will cement relationships between the US and other world nations? How will the “American Dream” be lived out under the watch of any of the candidates leadership? Sadly, if there are any policy statements in all of the rhetoric, they are lost in the fall from grace that has taken place over the last months. All I see are a bunch of boys on the playground shouting one another down and name calling.

So, here I sit in Canada, smug in the knowledge that we are somehow better than that. Thank God the process is not so complicated as in the States. OH! Wait! Canada has just come through a federal election where the Conservative Party led by Stephen Harper was soundly trounced by the Liberal Party. As memory serves, this was a long campaign, longer than ever before in the history of Canadian elections and was replete with rhetoric not dissimilar to that we are now hearing from south of the border. And suddenly I find I need to apologize to the people of the United States for my smugness.

I am sorry that you are having such a time in this election with representatives who, like many of ours in Canada, have forgotten that they are elected to serve the populace; not just the moneyed powerful, but all of us who elected them into power in the first place.

I am reminded that we, too, have our Donald Trump waiting in the wings for the Liberal Party to falter. Rumour has it that Kevin O’Leary is being touted as a possible candidate to lead the Conservatives in Canada. Take a look at the person and compare O’Leary to Trump and see how you assess that against what is currently happening win the Republican party of the US. Listen to Kevin O’Leary on CBCs “Dragon’s Den” and the language he uses when talking to his peers and to those who approach seeking financial assistance to take their dream to the market place. Count the number of times you hear O’Leary tell us the he is most interested in that which will make him wealthy. Wealthier!

To our American friends, I apologize for my smugness and in doing so thank you for reminding me that as the electorate it is our responsibility to be well informed and knowledgeable on the electoral process and about the people we charge to work for us in public office. We need to remember that not all of us are interested in doing the work of elected officials in our societies and that those who do choose to serve as elected and/or elected wannabes, deserve our respect for wanting to attempt to make a difference.  I am reminded of the number of people in the world who are not allowed to choose their leaders and weep for those of us who treat the process with too little respect.

GRB

Back to Swimming…
August 9, 2013

About mid-February I caught a cold. It wasn’t one of those stick around for a week-or-two then get back to your life type colds. This one caught and stuck and never completely let go of me until May. The most significant impact on my daily routines was that I quit swimming lunch lengths at the local swimming pool. It effectively ended my swim around Lake Superior. Sigh! And I was doing so well!

I started in September 2012, swimming between 5 and 15 Kilometres a week, starting in lake_superior_mapMarathon, ON and swimming clockwise round the lake. It is only 4,387 Km around the Lake. I was steadily swimming 3 Km a day by February. Eight hundred forty kilometres were behind me. Only 3547 Km to go!

Yesterday was my first day back at the swim. I’ve decided to start easy and stick to only 500 m a day (2.5 Km/week)  for the first week. The plan is to get back to 15 Km/week. This is really important because I have to get back into shape. Really good shape!

Cloudia Swim

She is a young woman now but has always loved being underwater.

I’ve made two promises. I promised Cloud, my granddaughter that we would finish her scuba diving training this summer. And I’ve promised another granddaughter, Happy Child, that she, too, will become a scuba diver once she turns 11. This summer is quickly flying by and the Cloud and I haven’t been in the water yet.

Practical diving in Lake Superior ends around the beginning of December. The Lake still has its accumulation of summer heat–not that there has been much in the way of heat this summer. Suffice to say, there is still time. We only need two more dives for her certification.

Happy Child

There are adventures just waiting for her.

Equally important is the promise to Happy Child. I need to stay in shape so that next summer Happy Child and I can do some diving together. She is very interested in searching for an octopus. That’s a year away and my wet suit had best be kept from shrinking over the coming winter. The suit is snug now and needs be a perfect fit by July 2014. She is counting on becoming a Junior scuba diver.

After all, A Promise is a Promise!                                 …GRB

Just fiddling around…
May 7, 2009

Foot stomping, toe tapping, hand clapping music filled the air last night. The Scott Woods Band (http://www.scottwoods.ca/) was in town and performed a grand concert that took me back to my years of listening to the raido on Sarurday or Sunday nights to listen to Grand Old Opry and Don Messer and the Islanders. Check out his web site and if you live in central and western Canada, keep an eye on your local newspaper. An eveing of Old-time Country and Fiddle Music live may be what the doctor ordered. This family band is well worth your attention.      Geob

Who said doctors don’t make house-calls?
May 7, 2009

One morning during Advent I came to the realization that doctors do still make house calls! In Sanctuary the rule is that whoever wakens and turns out first in the morning is responsible for putting on coffee. As it happened it was my turn to prepare the elixir to start the rhythm of the day.

The pot was readied, and as I was about to pour the first cup of Kick Ass java for the day, I was distracted by a scraping sound. I opened the back door, stuck my head around the door frame to see Doctor Sarah and her two sons busily scraping the previous night’s snow from my stairs and walkway. I hollered a greeting and a thank you. Doctor Sarah’s response was to pick up a bag hanging on the front door knob and she handed it to me saying, “I was at home making bread and thinking about all that you and Joy do  in our community. I just wanted to say thanks.” I peeked into the bag to find a still warm loaf of fresh bread made by the hands of one of our community’s physicians. A house call in deed!

I was reminded of this story today when meeting a friend who works in the gift shop at the local hospital. She shared with me the following story.

“This morning, the dogs began barking near the front door.” said Becky. “I looked out the window and all I could see was a van in the driveway that I didn’t recognize. I settled the dogs and went out the back door to find Doctor Sarah coming up the walk with a basket of flowers.”

Sarah passed the flowers to me saying she had seen me helping at the concert last night; that she sees me wherever people need help. She just wanted to say thank you. What a wonderful house call.”

Rubbing shoulders with talent
August 23, 2008

I began writing this in July while visiting my sister and brother-in-law. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it at the time but there are some thoughts that are worth being journaled and read over in the future. Mostly I want to have all who are interested experience the talents of two young photographers with whom I am acquainted.

Being with family, even after lengthy absence, is like putting on comfortable clothing; everything fits. It just feels right! It was meant to be! I’ve been at my sister’s home in Sault Ste. Marie and having dinner on the deck. Dave informed me that we were going to have the old Saturday night traditional dinner for Wednesday night’s meal–barbecued hamburgers. And they were good, with all of the required condiments and salads and roasted potato thingys to satisfy the greatest of hungers. We washed it down with some good red wine.

Errup! Burp! Excuse me!

More important was the company. Family and friends and conversation and story and good food. It was a perfect evening. G. an dher son Chris came for dinner as well. Chris is here visiting his mom. He is a young Canadian photographer with considerable talent. He and his partner have spent considerable time in the Canadian north and most recently in the Queen Charlotte Islands and his photographs are truly amazing. One can sample Chris’ talent at http://www.chrissiddall.com/. What a wonder it would be to travel with Chris on one of his adventures and learn to record what one sees with such artistry. He has the potential to be a great photographer.

Some of Chris’ images remind me of another young talent. (I’ve noted that I use the term ‘young’ frequently when I write. I’ve just hit my senior birthday and I see anyone under 65 as young.) Kevin Palmer currently of Winnipeg, MB has been making pictures and music as long as I can remember. Kevin and I have spent considerable time working in darkrooms and toasting successes with a good single malt scotch. He has continued to invest in his photographic skills. Check out Kevin’s talent at http://www.superiorimagephotography.ca/gallery_01.htm. Both of these photographer’s deserve notice.

But back to the warm clothing of family…

Whenever I visit my sister we manage to sit up into the we hours of the night catching up on all of the things we each consider really important in our lives. We talk of our children and the woes and successes of their lives. That includes, too, the frustrations we feel as parents when our grown children display behaviours that are more akin to childhood. Mostly, though, Barb and I rekindle our relationship as brother and sister and friends. There is always a sense of nostalgia to our gathering. We were best of friends while growing up. That’s not to say we didn’t have the usual brother and sister fights and squabbles–mostly attributed to me as the younger doing what little brothers do best to maturing sisters–pester. And I was good at it! I could probably still give lessons to brother-in-training.

In the morning we always moan and groan about how foolish we were to stay up so late and vow not to do that again all the while knowing that the next time we are together our respective spouses will retire long before us and we will continue our ritual dance of renewal of family and friendship.          GRB

For the love of music…
July 30, 2008

Tonight was the fifth in the series of Concerts in the Park(ing Lot) http://www.concertsintheparkinglot.com/ and featured “Outside the Lines” with local singer songwriter Bonnie Couchie warming up the crowd.

We truly are a dedicated crowd with a passion for music regardless of the venue or the climate. Tonight was a classic example of the devotion we have for supporting Canadian musicians.

At 6:30 pm the fog pulled back to the lake and the sun shone. A glorious evening for an outdoor concert. We gathered our chairs, picked up our granddaughter and off we went. Chairs were set close to and centered on the performers. We helped set the barricades to keeep traffic out of the concert area of the parking lot and hunkered down to enjoy a few hours of live music with a hot coffee for company.

At the second warmup song the sun disappeared and the fog rolled in and still Bonnie sang, drowning out the freight train rolling by not more than 30 metres away. The crowd cheered her on. Mid-way throught the third warmup song an occasional raindrop splashed into my coffee cooling it to a more drinkable temperature. Still the bulk of the crowd of 50 or so stayed glued to their seats. A few of the less hardy took shelter under the awnings of the store fronts at the mall.

“Test. Test. More volume on the monitor. OK. OK.”

Outside the Lines took over from Bonnie and began to belt out what I call folk/rock songs with great harmonies from guitar, harmonica, mandolin and voice. They were great! Mother Nature welcomed them too by adding a steady rain that changed to a downpour. And still there were some hardy folk who stayed in their chairs under umbrellas. Most, though, took refuge under the awnings. But we stayed the course. It wasn’t until the rainwater began to pool in our chair seats that we reluctantly broke for the car to wait it out. The musicians never missed a beat.

The reward was a breathtaking rainbow to add visual emphasis to the music.

Picture this being introduced with music.

Picture this being introduced with music.

What a perfect evening. Great music with many friends punctuated with a rainbow. Not one person melted from the rain. All-in-all, a grand evening.                       GRB

Prayers of hope…
July 21, 2008

Today my friend Ken begins his first bout of chemotherapy. He has been in the forefront of my thoughts as we edge closer to today. I am reminded, too, that I haven’t checked in with Katja since her last cancer surgery. Today’s prayer is for them and for all who are troubled with illness. This Prayer for Healing is from our First Nation’s Tradition.

Mother, sing me a song
That will ease my pain,
Mend broken bones,
Bring wholeness again.
Catch my babies
When they are born,
Sing my death song,
Teach me how to mourn.

Show me the Medicine
Of the healing herbs,
The value of spirit,
The way I can serve.

Mother, heal my heart
So that I can see
The gifts of yours
That can live through me.

Source:  http://1stholistic.com/default.htm

Migwetch                               GRB