Where is Pallister?

As many Manitobans know, it is currently election time in Manitoba. My friends and I have been attending various public debates. However, I must confess, I am very confused at the moment. I cannot find Brian Pallister anywhere at these public debates.

Either Pallister has a really bad sense of direction and is easily lost…or I am blind and in dire need of a new pair of prescription glasses.

He was set to make a PRIVATE announcement regarding child welfare at a location CLOSED to the public yesterday afternoon. As most folks are aware, the majority of youth in care in Manitoba are Indigenous. As our group, some of whom were Indigenous youth, arrived to listen to their policies and ask Pallister some questions, he suddenly decided that he was feeling too tired. Instead, he quickly went into hiding. He was there, HIDING, in the VAN!

Later yesterday evening, there was a Manitoba Association for Rights and Liberties debate located at Eckhardt-Grammate Hall, University of Winnipeg. There was no Brian Pallister in attendance there either.

Two no-shows on the same day…

A friend of mine, a teacher, went to attend an event put on by the Manitoba Teachers Society. Pallister did not show up, even though he said initially that he would be there. He changed his mind.

Anyone find Pallister yet? Still looking…

Last week, I had a PC candidate for our riding knock on our door and give me a pamphlet. I was told how the PCs,with a great leader such as Pallister, would move Manitoba forward–a Better Plan, a Better Manitoba, Real Change.

I told this PC candidate to wait a moment, took the PC pamphlet that I was given, grabbed a nearby garbage can, and then proceeded to shred it into several pieces.

As I did so, my message was, and still is, simply this:

A Better Plan? A Better Manitoba? Real Change? Actions speak far louder than words.

I cannot respect a leader who refuses to engage with people on policies that affect them. Any time Pallister sees a group of concerned citizens coming to ask him questions, he runs away. IF his views and his ideology have truly evolved, why is he so afraid of respectful, open dialogue with Manitobans? What is HE trying to HIDE?

A premier-in-waiting should be setting a good example.

Where is the openness and transparency?

Where is the accountability to Manitobans?

Where is Brian Pallister?

 

Update: The Story of Greg, an LGBTQIA Youth

During December 2015, (Kicked Out and Homeless Over the Holidays: The Story of Greg, an LGBTQIA Youth), I encountered a very special LGBTQIA youth named Greg who had been kicked out of his parents`house after coming out.

Today`s news made me weep tears of joy 🙂

He sent me this reflection–shared by permission:

Dear *Wpgurbannomad*,

I hope that this letter finds you well. Life for me has vastly improved over these past few months. Healing will take time. There is also the transition that comes with going to a new school, making new friends, etc.

My new home is pretty awesome. I feel love and support here. I have my own room, and we recently went to get a puppy. 🙂 Over Easter weekend, my two foster dads asked me how I would feel about being their son. Imagine that: they want to adopt ME!!!

Anyways, I would like to thank you for the listening, the guidance, the encouragement, and most importantly, for being there. Thanks also to your friends and allies of the LGBTQIA community who helped with winter gear, clothes, footwear, and connections to resources.

Greg

My Take: PCs vow to boost post-secondary scholarship funding

A few things from this article stand out to me:

(a) The PCs would help develop scholarships and bursaries for students in fields “with strong labour market outcomes and employability potential.”

It invites the question:

*What are these fields with strong labour market outcomes and employability potential that the PC government will fund? And what will be their criteria? There is a huge difference between higher education and education for hire. By this, I mean corporatization and the threat to democratic thinking.

(b) Bursary program would be returned to a similar model during Filmon government in the 1990s;

In the article, it states that a PC government would only match private investment up to 6.75 million–1/3 government, 2/3 corporate funds.

This is a horrendous policy! Relying on corporations to commit $20 million towards bursaries and grants for college/university students. How is this going to help to grow our province and our tax base?

Also…

*How will this affect access to education for our most vulnerable folks?

Take, for example, RRC bursary investments with an effective ‘zero’ percent return this year…

When a public institution accepts private money, it does so with strings attached. When an institution becomes dependent on private funds to fund basic functions, adverse markets can hurt the institution, but the province can’t simply step up and back-fill the shortfalls in private endowments every time the market goes south.

As a result of stagnant markets, all sorts of trusts and endowed funds, especially those with appropriately conservative investment rules, have next to nothing to give away. Many charities will dip into their reserves this year to meet minimum disbursement rules. For example, in order to comply with CRA rules, a registered education charity (know the volunteer treasurer) will actually pay out more on its endowed scholarships than it made last year.

To suggest that this is a failing of the province is absurd, but it does underscore one of the basic shortcomings on relying on private philanthropy instead of public funding

In short, I feel that a government which works towards public education for the public good is essential to Manitoba’s future economic success and social equality. Privatization of our education system will not achieve these ends, and will prove more costly in the long term.

 

Source(s):

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/manitoba-progressive-conservatives-vow-to-boost-post-secondary-funding-1.3509489

 

Eco-Friendly Community Laundry Co-op?

Lately, I have been helping a relation with laundry in the North End when a thought occurred to me: why is there not an eco-friendly community laundry co-op? There is an older building nearby with an apartment above the main level. This apartment could be furnished and rented out to bring in some added revenue.

As for the community laundry co-operative itself, it could offer things like:

*Full access to the laundromat facilities at $1 per load (eco-friendly detergent, wash, dry, supplies and free coffee included)

*Access to counselling services and information about community resources–counsellor on-site

*A safe place for children to play

*Opportunities for skills development, on-the-job training, and
mentoring

*Planned social activities, outings, and workshops with other members

*Wash-and-fold services

*An eco-friendly commercial laundry business, offering professional wash-and-fold services for linens and clothing. Potential clients could be doctors’ offices, individual clients, retirement residences, etc.

*Open at least 4 days per week; at least one of those days on weekends

*Giving folks involved a chance to save money and to be involved in running the community laundry co-op’s self-service laundry

*Have a Support Volunteer program, where members earn wages for taking responsibility for extra duties in the self-service program.

*Members can work at the commercial laundry service and gain job experience

Mental Health Advocacy for my Friend, Joe

This week has been emotionally and mentally draining, to say the least.

Though I am pretty familiar with navigating the mental health system (as I used to do mental health advocacy for my two younger brothers when they were both alive), there have still been issues arising that warrant immediate attention.

It was decided that my friend Joe (see post “Friday morning on the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge”) was going to be released this Monday after spending last weekend in the hospital. What I found alarming is that Joe was about to be released with no comprehensive mental health recovery plan. So far, only an initial assessment has been done and he still has no proper worker to advocate for him.

Instead, he was going to be released with nothing but a written prescription for anti-depressants. Most people do not start experiencing the full positive effects of the medication until 6 to 8 weeks after beginning the anti-depressant medication. Over the time that I have known Joe, there are also subtle signs that he may be dealing with bipolar disorder. If this is the case, anti-depressants are definitely not going to be the right approach.

Finally a meeting tomorrow to address concerns…

 

Teaching around Romani Names

Despite the latest crazymaking development in my life, I am super happy for my Romani cousin in Hungary, who has just given birth to a new son. 🙂

Traditionally, a Romani is born with three names:

  • The 1st one given at birth, known only by the mother. Given to confuse evil spirits by keeping real name of the child from them.
  • 2nd name at baptism–commonly used among the tribe and not to be uttered with the Gadje (non-Roma).
  • 3rd name, given when re-baptized into a Christian church so that our marriages are seen as legitimate. This was started to try to assimilate Roma. Thus, this is the name we use when dealing with Gadje (non-Roma).

The family name shows which clan (the mother’s or father’s) is from.

Need to start learning more about my Métis side…

#reclaimingmyheritage

Dreams are Shifting…

wolf

From a very early age, I have had recurring dreams of a lone white wolf. Having both Romani and Métis ancestry, I was taught that dreams are important.

In these recurring dreams, I am always in human form running after this lone white wolf in a forest during the nighttime in winter. There is only this lone white wolf and myself in this forest.

My dreams for the past three evenings have shifted lately to something rather curious, as they have changed…

In the first two dreams, I am running in human form with a pack of white wolves in the late evening through a forest during winter.

Last night, I had a dream that I have never had before:

I became a white wolf running through a forest with the rest of the pack in winter. This wolf pack is my family, and I feel a sense of safety with them. I can feel the snow beneath my padded feet and the force of the wind pushing against me as I am running. The moon is up, and for a moment, I (as the white wolf) stop and howl at the moon before we all continue our hunt.

My Romani grandmother once told me that dreaming of wolves in Romani culture symbolizes both strength and independence.

Wonder what my Cree Kookum would have said…

Friday Morning on the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge

O Creator, my head and my heart both ache today…

Early Friday morning, I am doing my daily walking meditation, focusing on the feel of the ground beneath my feet, my breathing while walking, observing my surroundings and recording every sound and sensation.

Nearing the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge… what do I see?

The silhouette of a man all by himself, standing precariously close to the edge of a rail on the Slaw Rebchuk Bridge…

I am walking closer, and see him preparing to hoist his whole body over the bridge…

I call out to him in a clear, concerned voice, “Dear sir, are you okay? Is there something I can do to help?”

The man stops, though his eyes and body are still facing the rail. “I am worthless. Life just is not worth living anymore,” he says, before he turns to face me…

Talk about a ROYAL KICK to MY GUT.

For a brief second, I can barely breathe.

I recognize this familiar face anywhere…it is none other than my friend Joe. I am one of the few that Joe will trust, let alone near him.

We are now standing face to face. Joe lets out all that he has kept bottled up inside, tears falling down his face as he drops to his knees.

I call a connection of mine who works for a mobile crisis unit, and she is over right away. Joe is taken to a nearby hospital. He said that he would only go if I go with him as support.

Thinking of the following prayer I was once told:

Earth, teach me stillness

as the grasses are stilled with light.

Earth, teach me suffering

as old stones suffer with memory.

Earth, teach me humility

as blossoms are humble with beginning.

Earth, teach me caring

as the mother who secures her young.

Earth, teach me courage

as the tree which stands alone.

Earth, teach me limitation

as the ant which crawls on the ground.

Earth, teach me freedom

as the eagle which soars in the sky.

Earth, teach me resignation

as the leaves which die in the fall.

Earth, teach me regeneration

as the seed which rises in the spring.

Earth, teach me to forget myself

as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth, teach me to remember kindness

as dry fields weep in the rain.

 —Ute, North American

 

 

 

 

Keep Ladies/Young Women/Girls SAFE in Central TONIGHT!

WARNING FOR LADIES AND YOUNG WOMEN/GIRLS in CENTRAL TONIGHT:

There is a group that is supposed to have a meetup tonight somewhere in Central tonight. This group, made up of men, is VERY ANTI-WOMEN and endorses things such as the following:

  • It is okay to RAPE women/young women/girls, either by themselves or as a group
  • Women/young women/girls are their PROPERTY, to do with as they choose. This includes trafficking
  • Women/young women/girls are NOT liked–at all. Should any women/young women/girls come across any man from this group, or the group as a whole, the woman/young woman/girl (or in the case of a group of ladies) are going to be BADLY HURT!

 

 

Branded No More: Tattoos to Scars

OUTOFSUFFERINGQUOTE

Tattoos for me often tell a story–stories about where we have been, who we once were, what we love, and what we want to claim about our very selves. In my youth, I was branded by tattoos, the first at 9, to signify that I was someone’s property and that my life was not my own. I had a few times where I ran away from my trafficker, but got found and was returned back to my ‘owner.’ For the longest time, I struggled with my self-worth because every time I looked at myself in the mirror, I saw those tattoos. For me, those tattoos were a permanent reminder of a painful past.

In the past few years, I have gradually been getting these tattoos erased, little by little. It can be quite a painful process. This week, I finally had the last of the tattoos completely removed. The fellow who was removing my last tattoo warned me about the scarring, but I was not deterred. Scars may be permanent. However, to me, scars are also a symbol of healing restoration.

We all have scars–some visible and some that are invisible to the naked eye. The way that I see it, I have two choices:

(a) Hide my scars

(b) Choose to be thankful for my scars and the story/stories that they symbolize

What an awesome feeling–to be branded no more!