Wednesday, May 12, 2010

"I see you"

I'm a little late, because I only just saw the movie Avatar recently.  I didn't go to theatres to see it (so I didn't see it in 3-D) because I stayed home with Nicolas.  (We rented a movie for him at home instead).

Marc bought the movie in blue ray, so we watched it the other day.

I know a few people didn't think it was that great, other than the special effects.

The story ressembles the story of first nations and the first Europeans who came to conquer (and take the ressources).  But there's a twist, the natives on this world really are connected to their world in a special way.  I thought the story was well-written, I didn't find it the boring repeat of stories already told that some people thought it was.  The story was able to stand alone, even without all the cool special effects.

But let's just say for a moment that the special effects weren't all that great and the story line not all that original.

It wouldn't matter as long as there was still the "I see you." between the two.

It is rare that Hollywood captures a glimpse of Eden and how relationships between a man and a woman were meant to be, but this one did:

I see you.

Everything.  I see your dreams, your failings, your desires, your strengths and your weaknesses.  I see you.  Nothing is hidden.  Your soul is stripped bare to me.  There is no need to hide, no need to cover up.  I see who you really are, and what's more...

I love you.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Culture Shock

I was 18 when I arrived in Québec City, on my own.  Except for a four month stay in Timmins Ontario, I had never lived anywhere in my life (that I could remember) except for Moose Factory.

Had I been going to live in India, or China, I might have expected different customs.  But I was just going to Québec City.  Other than the language barrier, how different could that be?

Very different, as it would turn out.

My sister's ex-boyfriend (a man from Gabon) went with her to visit Moose Factory once.  He was surprised to find that even in Canada, you could find the "third world".

When I went to Paraguay, many mannerisms and customs (but not all) were so similar to those in Moose Factory, that I did not notice them until the people in the group I was with talked about how strange they were;  The way they would say, "Yeah, yeah, I'll be there." and then never show up;  The way meetings always started 1/2 an hour to an hour late;  The way men always wore long pants when out of the house, even in hot weather;  (although this has been changing in MF)  The way they were always so easy going about everything, and so quiet and laid back;  ("Así no más" could be MF's motto as well as Paraguay's);  The way they wouldn't accept money for a service rendered, and were kind of insulted that you would offer it; the way that they stuck together in a crisis (selling tickets to raise money to help people for all kinds of reasons, tickets are really big in MF still, I see people selling tickets all the time on facebook) and helped each other out, and other things that I probably still haven't noticed weren't all that different.

Not long after arriving in Québec City, I was living at Marie-Jeunesse (a Catholic group - now a religious community), the snow had mostly melted, and the people there decided it was time to plant a garden.  I was shown the garden plot.  It was tiny, just a couple of small beds under two windows.  Nothing like the big garden my dad had at home.  But hey, better small than nothing at all right?  So I went out and bought some carrot seeds and planted them under the windows.

When they found out what I had done, they all laughed.  A garden, to me, was a vegetable garden.  Sure you could plant flowers too, but a garden meant vegetables.  The idea that you could have a garden with just flowers had never popped into my head.  Had they said "we're going to plant flowers." I'd have done so.  But they said "we're going to plant a garden."  So I planted carrots.

They planted flower seeds after that, and young plants, and carrot plants grew up alongside them (and were probably weeded out), and I was probably dubbed "the weird anglophone".

The first time I came to Marie-Jeunesse was the summer before this incident, and I was with my sister.  We called the place upon our arrival at the bus station in Québec, and a girl came to pick us up.  We had never met her in our lives.  We came from a very laid back, but also a very reserved place.  This girl greeted us like we were long lost family with two kisses on either cheek.  When we got to Marie-Jeunesse, everyone that was there proceeded to do the same.  I don't know if you know, but when you are used to shying away from too much physical contact, 50 people wanting to kiss you on the cheeks is a little overwhelming to say the least.

Then there was the sense of humour.  It took awhile to get it.  Also, I made the mistake of using MF style humour, which can seem a bit agressive to someone who is not used to it.  (A pretending to want to fight type of humour.  It didn't go over too well on the "white man".)  I had a total stranger come and greet me, patting my shoulder as he did, and I told him him, "I'm not your dog, I'm not your cat either!"

Years later, I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I would have said such a thing to a total stranger.  I mentioned this to my two brothers who were visiting me a few years ago, and one of them told me it was just native humour.  He told me this story:  He was at some native affairs conference somewhere, and I think he was sitting down at a table somewhere, part of the welcoming committee.  A guy came up to get his name tag, and I think my brother asked him "Is such and such your name?"  The guy (a total stranger) huffed up his shoulders, "Yeah, you gotta problem with that?"

My brother instantly jumped up from his chair, leaned over the table and said, "Yeah, what if I do?"  They stared at each other for a couple of seconds, and then burst out laughing, shook hands, and continued talking.

In Moose Factory, people would often offer you a lift.  If you saw someone walking across the ice to Moosonee or back in -30C degree weather, you offered them a ride.  If you saw someone walking home from the store with a bunch of bags in the rain, you offered them a lift.  You didn't ask for, or expect to receive money, nor did you offer it or expect it to be offered.  Money wasn't even considered.  It was just understood that what comes around, goes around, and if you didn't return the service, someone else would.  It all came out equal in the end.

It took me awhile to get that in Québec, you had to offer money, all the time, at least to cover expenses, like gas, or time spent doing stuff for you, or whatever.  You might already know that the person would probably refuse, but you still had to offer, just to let them know you appreciated the effort, even if they did refuse.  That was a hard lesson to learn, and there was noone to tell me outright that this is what I had to do, because noone realized I just didn't know.

That was the hardest part about culture shock in Québec.  I didn't look like an immigrant or a visible minority.  If I had had Cree blood, and looked native, people would have probably brushed off my ignorance (or filled me in quicker) just because they'd have attributed my lack of societal know-how to cultural differences.  Since I am white, Canadian, and to boot, my father is French-Canadian, noone, not even myself, ever realized that there was a cultural confrontation going on.  It would have been so much easier if someone could have clued me in.  But I don't think even my parents could have helped me with that, because I'm not sure that they even realized just how culturally intrenched in MF culture we were.

There are so many other ways in which Québec was a culture shock.  In MF, at the time, if a girl wore clothes that were too sexy, (ie, short tops, very short shorts or low necks) she was considered a slut and easy.  She was also likely considered to think she was "something else".  She'd have been put in her place and likely shunned by many of the other girls.  Only a few dared to go there.

Also, as commonplace as teen pregancy was (and still is), and as much as people drank (and still do) the outward culture in Moose Factory did not revolve around going out to bars and "getting picked up" like so much meat.  There wasn't this very public addiction to sex, drugs and partying, this "I-just-got-laid-and-I'm-already-looking-for-the-next-opportunity-and-I don't-care-who-knows" mentality.  Yes, there were alcoholics (and still are), but I had never met up with people, nor seen movies about people whose lives revolved around looking for a bigger and better fix, orgasm, hangover or all three.  (Uh, I speak for myself about the movies, I had pretty protective parents, so probably my peers had seen movies I hadn't.")

I remember watching a movie in Québec City with a friend, about a homosexual, and his friends (both gay and straight) and their search for (I never understood what exactly) happiness?  The whole scenario went from bar to bar, from seduction to seduction and endless soul-searching.  I found it very dark.  I also thought it highly untrue to life.  I didn't think anyone lived like that for real.  It was so far from anything I'd ever experienced.  I remember commenting to my friend that I thought it unrealistic.  That's how much I knew.  I was fresh out of the bush.  Québec has retained it's ability to shock me with its culture even in recent years as I came back from British Columbia and discovered the existence of exchangist bars.  I guess I still haven't fully come out of the bush yet.

I was white, so that made me the automatic "undesirable".  I don't know if any guy thought me attractive (and I don't blame them if noone did - I have painful memories of acne and bad hair), or thought me interesting, or was in any way attracted to me, but even if any had, I was geek, nerd, and white all rolled into one.  The one person who, if you were seen with her, or if anyone thought you might want to be with her ("ha ha, as if!" to quote the typical adolescent in MF at the time) could really bring your social status waaaaaaaay down.  So I was to be avoided at all costs.

I used to think it was just me, because I was white, but I've recently found out others were put down too for wanting to be "white", for having ambition, for wanting to go someplace in life.  Those were a "white man's" dreams.  I think one of those healing ceremonies, where white and indian get together and talk things over and  mutually forgive each other would do me a lot of good too.  Residential schools, tearing children away from their families (sometimes by force) and teaching them that their culture was inferior and not good was one of those things where the intentions were perhaps good, but the way they went about doing it was so wrong.  As you see, it backfired. It ended up not only hurting future generations of Cree, but also any whites that had to grow up among them.  Talk about ironic.

So anyway, after having lived the life of the undesirable in MF, it took me awhile to undo that mentality once I got to Québec.  I'm sure more than one Québecois guy has thought me strange.

Going back to my first months alone at Marie-Jeunesse, I remember being honestly puzzled about the manners of one guy, until one of the girls finally told me, "You're not the most beautiful girl in the world, but you are kind of pretty..."  ("Umm... thanks?")  Even more embarrassing to me is the day I panicked, because a guy started talking to me, and I could sense how attracted he was, and it scared me.  A couple of years later, another guy asked me out and I almost laughed in his face.  My first reaction was to take it as a big joke.

"Wanna go out with me?  Ha ha, as if..."

"Yeah,.. Ha ha."

Lucky for me, as I turned to look at him, I saw that he was serious.  Poor guy would probably have been traumatised for life.  He asks a girl out and all she can do is laugh hysterically.

So, people of Québec, if I have traumatised you, or rejected you before you could reject me, or seemed unappreciative or ungrateful in anyway, I am sorry.  I didn't mean it.  Go to Moose Factory and have a little culture shock of your own, and you will understand me better.  I fit in nowhere.  I am neither English/Scottish-Canadian nor French-Canadian, neither "white" in mentality nor Québecoise nor Cree.  I guess I am just Canadian?

People of Moose Factory, do you have stories of culture shock to tell too?

Friday, May 07, 2010

Working Replica of Noah's Ark opened In SCHAGEN, Netherlands

This is pretty darn cool...

 Man Builds Noah's Ark to the exact scale given in the Bible.  

The massive central door in the side of Noah's 
Ark was opened and  the first crowd of curious townsfolk beheld the wonder. This replica of the biblical Ark was built by Dutch Creationist Johan Huibers as a testament to his faith in the literal truth of the Bible.  

The ark is 150 cubits long, 30 cubits high and 20 cubits wide. That's two-thirds the length of a football field and as high as a three-story house.   

Life-sized models of giraffes, elephants, lions, crocodiles, zebras, bison and other animals
 greet visitors as they arrive in the main hold.   

A contractor by trade, Huibers built the ark of cedar and pine. Biblical scholars debate exactly what the wood used by Noah would have been.   

Huibers did the work mostly with his own hands, using modern tools and with occasional help from his son Roy. Construction began in May 2005. On the uncovered top
  deck .... not quite ready in time for the opening .... will come a petting zoo, with baby lambs and chickens, and goats, and one camel.   

Visitors on the first day were stunned. 'It's beyond comprehension', said Mary Louise Starosciak, who happened to be bicycling by with her husband while on vacation when they saw the ark looming over the local landscape. 

'I knew the story of Noah, but I had no idea the boat would have been so big! '  There is enough space near the keel for a 50-seat film theater where kids can watch a video that tells the story of Noah and his ark. Huibers, a Christian man, said he hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands, where church going has fallen dramatically in the past 50 years. 

And now that I am old and grey, o God, do not forsake me, Until I declare Thy strength to this generation, Thy power to all that are to come.  Psalm 71:18 

The Feminist Case Against Abortion and More

The Feminist Case Against Abortion
FFL President Serrin M. Foster
Serrin Speaker Ad

Serrin M. Foster has led Feminists for Life of America since 1994. Under her leadership, FFL has advocated the Violence Against Women Act, enhanced child support enforcement and health care for pregnant women. The creator of the Women Deserve Better® campaign has focused on developing resources and practical support for underserved pregnant and parenting students. Her landmark speech, "The Feminist Case Against Abortion," has been recognized as one of the "Great Speeches in History" in an anthology called Women's Rights. She has moderated Pregnancy Resource Forums at top colleges across America, including Harvard, Stanford, Notre Dame and Texas A & M, and internationally at Oxford and Cambridge universities, among others.

What About MY Choice? Where's the Support?

FFL College Outreach Program Coordinator Chaunie Brusie
Chaunie ad
Chaunie Brusie became a student mother her senior year of college. She shared her personal story as a pregnant student who challenged the status quo in FFL's e-series, Chaunie's Journey. Chaunie founded S.U.P.P.O.R.T., a campus organization dedicated to creating resources and support for pregnant and parenting students like herself. She graduated on time with her bachelor's degree one week before delivering her daughter, Ada Marie, and is pursuing her master's degree in non-profit administration. She has spoken on Capitol Hill and delivered lectures and workshops across the country. As a registered nurse, Chaunie has experience in both obstetric and critical care nursing and was awarded the National Association of Pro-Life Nurses Award in 2007. As FFL's College Outreach Program Coordinator, Chaunie helps other campus leaders, including those of the group she founded.

Victory Over Violence
Joyce ad
Joyce Ann McCauley-Benner was raped at 20 while working her way through college and chose not to abort, not knowing if her unborn son was the result of rape or of her relationship. She says, "I know what it's like to want to run as far away as possible from a problem, how it feels to hang on to 'if I wasn't pregnant anymore, it would all be OK again.'" Ms. McCauley-Benner, who graduated from college while raising her son, worked on a racial justice task force and currently works with victims of sex trafficking. Today she presents her speech, "Victory Over Violence" on college campuses and at Capitol Hill briefings. In addition to her lecture, she moderates FFL Pregnancy Resource Forums. A mother of two sons, Ms. McCauley-Benner lives in the Midwest.

I Am That "Exception"Joyce ad
Angelica Talavera founded a pregnancy center shortly after graduating from college and continues to run it in her hometown in the Southwest. Her own mother was advised to abort her but risked her life to continue her pregnancy. Her mother's courage continues to be a motivation for Ms. Talavera. Ms. Talavera presents the perspective of a woman who works daily with pregnant and parenting women, particularly college age women, facing crisis situations and she sees firsthand how lack of support hurts women: "This failure to provide resources is a reflection of how far we still need to go to eliminate the root causes of abortion," Ms. Talavera said.

Adoption: An Empowering Option
FFL Board Member Jessica O'Conner Petts
Jessica ad
Jessica O'Connor-Petts became pregnant shortly after graduating from university in 1996 but continued with her plan to move to Washington, D.C. to work in public policy and row competitively. With the loving support of family, friends, and caregivers, she made an adoption plan for her birthson, including four joyful weeks with him after his birth. Ms. O'Connor-Petts later completed an MBA, and works with a management consulting firm in Washington while continuing to row competitively. She also volunteers for a number of organizations that serve birthmothers. Ms. O'Connor-Petts' birthson, his little sister and parents were part of her wedding in 2003, with her birth son serving as ring-bearer. Ms. O'Connor-Petts is available to speak on a limited basis in the Washington area.

Perception is Reality: Pregnancy and Parenting Resources on Campus"
FFL National Program Director Cayce D. Utley

Where Have All the Pregnant Women Gone ad

Author of FFL's Study, "Perception is Reality: Pregnancy and Parenting Resources on Campus" Cayce D. Utley has focused on the continuing development of FFL's College Outreach Program which helps schools create and promote resources for pregnant and parenting students. Prior to her work with FFL, she served as Deputy Director of Democrats for Life of America. The author of FFL's recent study, Perception is Reality, Cayce has led workshops on women-centered activism for students from schools around the country.

"Abortion is a reflection that we have not met the needs of women. Women deserve better than abortion."
Say NO to the Status QuoTM
Feminists for Life is a nonpartisan, nonsectarian, 501(c)3 organization.
All donationsand membership contributionsare tax deductible to the extent allowed to law.
Refuse to Choose and Women Deserve Better are registered trademarks
of Feminists for Life of America.

Whatsa matter Mom?

Sent to Mr. Harper

(One must encourage them when they do something right, not just criticize them for everything they do wrong)
Bravo Mr Harper and the Conservative government for not including abortion in international maternal health care!  Abortion has never been therapeutic for anyone (including the mothers).  To the contrary, the whole point of abortion is to induce the death of someone.
(From Canada Silent No More:)
The Lancet, the world’s leading general Medical Journal recently (...) declared that, “Our analysis of all available data for maternal mortality from 1980 to 2008 for 181 countries has shown a substantial decline in maternal deaths.”[ii]  They also stated that HIV/AIDS epidemic makes a substantial increase in maternal mortality in eastern and southern Africa-not abortions!
According to the World Health Organaization-2009 Report, the lowest African Maternal Mortality rate is in Mauritius. They also have Africa’s most protective laws for unborn children.  It is also interesting that the country with the lowest Maternal Mortality rate in South America, is Chile, which also outlaws abortion in its constitution.  While the country with the highest maternal mortality is Guyana; having unrestricted abortions on demand since 1995. Guyana has a Maternal Mortality rate 30 TIMES higher than Chile.
In South East Asia, Nepal has no restrictions on abortions; and also has the region’s highest maternal mortality rates.  While Sri Lanka has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world, and has a maternal mortality rate 14 TIMES lower than Nepal!  Worldwide, the nation with the lowest maternal deaths is Ireland, a nation that prohibits abortion and explicitly protects the rights of the unborn. Do you see a pattern here?
Women in developing countries need Education on how to prosper, get sustainable food, clean water and access to sanitary medical health services to preserve life and delivery. They need clean birthing kits to prevent infections; Access to skilled birthing attendants and doctors; Access to basic and emergency obstetric care: Access to clean blood;  Access to Repair Obstetric Fistula, which affects about 2 million women in developing countries and results in chronic incontinence with an estimated 50-100,000 new cases each year.  A devastating condition, which is preventable and treatable!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Reconciling Amerindian and Euroamerican (Mis)Understandings of a Shared Past:

Cross-Cultural Conflict Historiography and the 1832 Hannah Bay “Massacre”

An article by Cecil Chabot
While these sources (Oral tradition from Cree and at least one person in the Orkney Islands descendant of Hudson Bay Company workers, and written accounts from Euroamericans) coincide in more than simply casting doubt over Wilson’s summary phrase, diversity and discord are also present. If they flow in the same direction, their origins appear to be nevertheless of very different colours, and the question remains: ‘can they ever merge?’ Addressing this question will help explain, diminish, and even remove significant obstacles in order to form and communicate a better understanding of what happened, in what context, why, and to what effect, at Hannah Bay in the winter of 1832. Conversely, attempting to answer these four historical questions may shed light on the historiographical problem that extends beyond the context of the Hannah Bay conflict in which it has just been framed. It is a problem faced by all historians attempting to chart understandings of cross-cultural histories that are marked or defined by conflict, especially the one(s) which Euroamericans and Amerindians have shared, to an increasing extent, and narrated for half a millennium since Columbus’ 1492 voyage.
Read the article here: