Canadian Government & Indian Smokes

Canada Government Advertisement
Canadian Government ad

These two above pictures are from an advertisement from a newspaper.

It advertises that you should not by “Contraband Cigarettes” because it will fuel other activities, like trafficking of drugs. Looking at the advertisement and the cigarettes in the picture, it looks like to me a big, giant bag of Indian Smokes. The issue with that is non-First Nations members are going to the First Nations and buying the smokes. I know, there should be some sort of type of filtering in place. There usually is: show your status card and you can buy the smokes. Doesn’t always happen like that.

Read this Globe and Mail article titled Illegal Smokes Hit All-Time High.

The main source for illegal smokes: Natives.

The suggestion: Outlaw all the materials that it takes to make illegal smokes (well, I am sure with some exception).

However, as an Aboriginal, tobacco is widely used at traditional ceremonies. Sometimes the attendance at these ceremonies is in the 100s. I don’t know the extent of this suggestion or if any bills were put in place to help counter the sales of contraband cigarettes. But suggestions like the one above does not take into account that Aboriginal culture still uses tobacco. No, there is no such thing as a peace pipe (That was purely made up for Hollywood Movies. Check out my post titled Documentary: Reel Injun for other facts about Aboriginals and Hollywood). No we don’t just sit around a fire and smoke tobacco all day. The tobacco in the Aboriginal culture is very sacred and is used in various settings. Yes, it can be smoked, but it is not always smoked. Sometimes it is just passed on from one person to another as a form of gratitude.

Tobacco in the Aboriginal culture is very sacred.

I think when people begin to associate “Indian Smokes” with Aboriginals, it takes away from this sacredness. But don’t let the misconceptions fool you. We still use it for ceremonial purposes. Not every Aboriginal smokes tobacco either. I am Aboriginal, and I use tobacco but do not smoke it.

Anyways back to the advertisements, I am not impressed. I am not impressed because in the advertisement it says:

“Do Not Buy Contraband Cigarettes….it fuels criminal activity, such as the trafficking of drugs…”

Thanks Canadian Government, once again. I thought you were trying to improve your relationships with Aboriginals. This ad is a step backwards because it associates contraband smokes, the abundant of them found on First Nations (as stated in the Globe and Mail article) or it associates the Indian Smokes with “drug trafficking.”

What does that mean for Aboriginals: it makes the assumption that drug trafficking happens in great numbers on First Nations (Because isn’t it after all the contraband smokes that come from First Nations. As a logical person, one might begin to think: Aboriginals must also be fueling the criminal activity, such as that as drug trafficking).

My suggestion to the problem: Why not make all cigarettes illegal, and not just the ones made mostly on Canadian First Nations?

Thank you Canadian Government. You’ve done a lovely job, yet again…

Update: This advertisement was found in the UWO Gazette on page 4. Their Style Issue. Volume 104, Issue 87. Don’t worry Gazette, I get it… You have to cover costs through advertisements. Thanks for making this school newspaper free for all readers at UWO.

My hometown is just like your hometown….

I write the post below after remembering an incident at an old workplace of mine. I remembered this incident after reading a journal article on “relative depravation” & Aboriginal peoples. In this incident, someone asked me at work what it was like to live on a reserve. Before I could answer, a co-worker replied, “Oh, that’s silly… it’s just like any other community.” I wanted to reply, “Except that it’s not…” (but decided just to let it slide–it was only a temporary job).

My hometown
You say, my hometown is just like your hometown… except that it is not.

My hometown is a reserve. It is a First Nation. I was lucky though. My hometown was on the edges of a tiny city. I was able to go to an elementary school and high school, off my reserve yet still close to my home.

My elementary school wasn’t a part of my hometown though. It was your hometown. It was in “town” and it was “off the reserve.” My teachers called my friends “bad,” but she didn’t call your friends anything…but good. My teachers called my friends “stupid,” but she called your friends “smart.”

My high school was the same as yours. It was in the same town, and off the reserve. Except now, my teachers were better than the last. The only difference was your friends called me “stupid” and a “slut,” and your friends made fun of my friends.

My hometown is a reserve. It is not like your hometown. I was lucky though. My hometown had clean running water, not like some of the other reserves my friends were from. My friends were flown in and out of their hometown, so they could earn their education. Your friends were flown down south for family vacation. My friends didn’t try to kill themselves….but I did. My hometown is not like yours. I live on a reserve. You live in a town, a city…My hometown is not like yours.

Thrifty Gene

Here is an article from the Globe and Mail that discusses the Thrifty Gene hypothesis. This article is titled How The Diabetes Linked Thrifty Gene Triumphed with prejudice over proof.

I remember someone telling me about this supposed gene when I was younger. I believed this person. However, hearing this didn’t cause me any pain or stigmatization. What it did do rather was that it instilled fear in me that if I became obese that I could get this type of diabetes. I knew that obesity was high amongst Aboriginal people. I just didn’t know why it was higher when compared to the rest of the population. This worried me.

Hearing this rather led me to believe that I had no way in chance in avoiding diabetes if I were to become obese, overweight, fat, whatever you want to call it. This led to self-esteem issues and body image issues. Already living in a society that places body image and looks as a priority for females in society, I felt that I had to do something to stop obesity from happening to me.

This stress and these worries later led me to struggle with almost ten years of battling with an eating disorder. I hid this from my family and friends. Not only did I have to deal with the fear of getting fat and not being able to escape it, I had to deal with the fear of someone finding out my dark secret.

Today, after much reading and education from doctors and other health professionals, I obviously learned that obesity can be avoided in a much healthier way. Fortunately, I realize today that I can eat anything I want as long as it is in moderation.

I believe that proper education on healthy life styles choices and learning to cook with foods in a healthy manner could help. All I can say is that changes in lifestyles do not just include being more active and eating fresh foods, it means allowing those types of foods to be available to all across Canada and not just those who can afford. Trust me, fresh foods and healthy foods are not cheap.

Have women benefited from globalization & an anonymous poem

For my political science class, I am currently working on my essay and I have to answer the question: Has globalization benefited women?

From my research I am finding that, no Aboriginal women have not benefited from globalization. Maybe there has been a few benefits but I am noticing that the effects of globalization have the same effects as colonization on Aboriginal people/women: oppression, marginalization, exploitation. The only difference between the two is that colonization is where the government restricted the Aboriginal People’s access to their natural resources to a confined area aka reserves and that globalization is where the government is trying to gain access to the Aboriginal people’s natural resources on their reserves.

After reading all my research, I came across this poem I wrote and it sort of sums up what is happening to Aboriginal women in Canada not just because of globalization, but also colonization.

When I was 18,
I moved away from home.
When I was 18,
I had my first relationship.
When I was 18,
I fell in love.
When I was 18,
The man I loved,
Pushed me, hit me, spat on me,
Had his way with me.
When I was 18,
I tried to fight off the man I love.
When I was 18,
I was arrested.
They call it assault.
I call it self-defense.
When I was 18,
I was called a bitch,
By my arresting officer.
When I was 18,
I tried to run.
From the police.
From those that loved me,
Even the man that hurt me.
The same one who had his way with me.
When I was 18,
I tried to kill myself.
When I was 18,
I even failed at suicide.
When I was 18,
I had sex for the first time..for money.
When I was 18,
I trusted all the wrong people.
When I was 18,
I was Aboriginal.
When I was 18,
I was female.
When I was 18,
I was still young.
When I was 18…

Intelligence & Aboriginals

This post is in response to my previous post titled “Intelligence and Cultural Assimilation.”

Maybe the gap between intelligence score tests isn’t with one particular ethnic group being cultural assimilated into any one dominant society, but rather it is the main-stream education system.

One issue that Canadian Aboriginals face is that they still continue to lag in education and employment numbers in comparison to the rest of Canada. I don’t say this to highlight the worse but I say this to make a point. If you measure education success as purely having a certain number of degrees, then yes maybe Aboriginals do lag. However, I beg to differ that there are a great number of Aboriginals that lag in its entirety in comparison to the rest of Canadian society. I have met and know of many bright, intelligent, inquisitive, creative, Aboriginals both young and old who have not gone onto post-secondary education. These people have chosen to not go into main-stream society education yet they still possess the ability to “blend into” any type of topic up for grabs in conversation. I also know of many Aboriginals who were considered “intellectually gifted” but never gone onto post-secondary education. Maybe it was because they were not being challenged enough? Maybe it was because their abilities were not fully appreciated? Maybe they felt that further education had little to no use to them since they were not being fully challenged or their abilities being fully appreciated? I am not sure of the answer, but I do know that these individuals are just as bright as someone in post-secondary education. These people own businesses, participate in their community, and most importantly contribute to main-stream Canadian Society just not in the rigid ways set out for measuring the rest of main-stream society. Most definitely, when we calculate intelligence, we need to look at other factors and not just the number of degrees one has under his/her belt.

Note: This post is to not say that one ethnic group is better than another or that one system is better than another. It is acknowledging the fact that different groups have different needs and those different needs should be acknowledged if all ethnic groups, not just one group, are to be considered successful. I also write this post not to further oppress the actual problems that Canadian Aboriginals face in current Canadian Society, but highlight the fact that there are some current success. The problems that some communities and individuals face should never be displaced because of one community or one individual’s lone success. That is to say, there are problems and successes within Aboriginal groups, but the factors to define the problems and success between various groups should be changed to address the needs/differences amongst these groups.

Criminal Pardons

A recent article in the Globe and Mail, titled Tories to hike price of criminal pardons, made me think of my political science essay I wrote last term.

I wrote about the Gladue Court. I also wrote about the over-representation of Aboriginals in the prison system. If the Tories hike the price of pardons, in my opinion, this is just another way to further stigmatize/marginalize Aboriginals in Canada. I say that and I believe that because there is an over-representation of Aboriginals in the prison system.

Perhaps the Canadian Government can issue another apology to Aboriginals in Canada in about 20 years. Why not? They already have one apology expected for 2011 (see post titled Aboriginals: past insurgents?). And, they already previously issued another apology regarding the residential schools.

The issue is obviously with the administration process if they let people like that mentioned in the Globe and Mail article “slip through the cracks.”

In my opinion…

1/2 The Solution

Reading about Newton, I thought to myself: as Aboriginals, people who have experienced our culture from within and experienced multi-generational problems both directly and indirectly, we are the only ones that can help ourselves; we just need help in developing the right action plans.

I believe that, even though Aboriginals are still severely marginalized and some lack the resources to help themselves, communities across Canada are much better working together and for one another against forces preventing an Aboriginal identity rather than working as one community in comparison to another community.

I am not sure if that makes sense, but I believe in it. If the communities who are better off helped the ones that are worse off than most, the road to recovery would probably be more smoother and the struggle a lot less difficult.

Teamwork is key!

3rd World Canada

Here is an article about a movie called THIRD WORLD CANADA!

Please read the article.

I am both excited and not excited about this movie. Excited to see that the conditions in which Aboriginals live in within Canada are being accurately displayed. Not excited about the circumstances surrounding the movie. Some people say, “that’s life!” Well, we NEED to change it.

Life should not be like this for anyone in a country that forced people to live in these conditions many years ago.

I remember I went to a healing circle here in London ON and heard a relative of my Uncle Max (imu RIP) say, “Natives were supposed to be extinct the year 2000” — among many other eye-opening things he said!

How would you feel to be apart of race that wasn’t supposed to be here for the past ten years?

For me, as an Aboriginal myself, I am not sure how to feel. Angry, sad, confused, lost, hurt. Not sure.