Sunday, October 30, 2011

Under the Influence: Gail Asper Rap Battles T-Bhagg

Under the Influence: UTI explores the relationships between various elements, musical, personal, spiritual, implied, literal, sampled, political or any other random influence that is observed.  ‘Nothing about me is original; I am the combined sum of everyone I have ever known’ - MC T-Shirt

So this one maybe isn’t that relevant anymore because the election has already happened and this is a voting related post. But, here we are.  So once upon a time, there were all sorts of people in influential places that were making videos trying to encourage people to vote, and especially young people.  There are man young people in the North End who choose not to vote (we did have an increase in voter turnout this year in Point Douglas, but we are still under 50% of ppl who can vote, that actually do it).

In any event here is Gail’s vid to encourage voter turnout:

WARNING: Young people, the following video (I think) was not intended to offend you, but just goes to show how disconnected some people are from the way we see the world.

Now, my initial reaction was really positive I like any attempt to get young people involved in making change.  I do however have a couple of key issues with this, especially considering Miss Gail Asper is one of the people that is leading the charge and is being quite successful in fundraising or the Canadian Museum of Human Rights that is being built at the forks. However, I think there are some unintentional (hopefully) insensitivities within her poem that are concerning to me as a young Native person.  ‘Even if you have small pox’?! Wow, what I know about small pox is that it was the illness that wiped out well over half of the Neechie population on Turtle Island when Europeans arrived here. So I think that was a bit insensitive.

However, I was not alone

Enter T-Bhagg

Now I was showing people the Gail Video to see if they thought I was crazy or valid, and we found someone who made a response to Gail’s Video.  While I don’t endorse the activities he talks about, I do gotta say HI 5 to him for making a response and explaining a very real perspective that many people have.  If we have addictions, family challenges and feel like we are being spoken down to in a condescending way, us young folks will deliberately NOT VOTE. Now some say that is damaging to democracy…but I say that IS democracy. That IS the people expressing their voice that the current system isn’t good enough; that we demand better.

I guess we’ll have to keep trying, but for now, these vids will have to do.


Friday, October 28, 2011

Parenting our Families

There are a lot of challenges within families, and this last week has really shed some light for me in terms of what parents and families are really dealing with in terms of fighting for their kids.

In my role as a community youth person/advocate, I try to work with young people as much as I can, but it is hard. It’s hard because I can work with the young people just fine, but I have challenges when it comes to dealing with their families, and the larger societal issues that these young people need to face on daily basis. It is no longer enough for me to look at youth work in isolation…we must expand our perspectives to include the families, AND the parents…because only in working together can we truly affect change within the Aboriginal Youth, and the North End communities.

What do I know (really) about parenting? Technically nothing. I don't have any children of my own. But I know that I love the young people I work with and I am frustrated at standing by and watching as they spiral farther and farther into their shit, while society and the people that are supposed to be there acting as support fail. I know that I will continue to try and fight these large societal complicated issues because our young people deserve it. Because i know what it is like to exist within those systems and to feel helpless, and lost, and uncertain of what to do next because of a rift between you, and your parent/family.

On Twitter…

So, my social networks have really made this my problem.  The people that I interact with, and follow on Twitter have been bringing this issue forward. I don’t know why it has been happening so much recently, but it is now my responsibility to respond honestly. One of the parents I spoke with was explaining to me that as a parent she felt left behind by the justice system. She felt like police stopped taking her and other parents of missing teens seriously and they felt like the justice system was trying to affect change without including the parents in the process.
‘I need our justice system to be on our side and to have justice hear us! See us parents as part of the solution’ 
We can work with our parents and families and ensure that these people are supported so that our families can be brought together. Too many times our parents can only get the co$tly help that they need if they give up their children to become wards of the state. It was said very well this week byProvincial MLA and Liberal Party of Manitoba Leader, Dr. Jon Gerard(@DrJonGerard). He called out the premier and sad that the record of youngpeople in  the child welfare system asatrocious and demanded some action on it. I agree! Let’s ALL START PUTTINGPRESSURE on our MLAs and politicians so they know that we will not take it anymore. We will not allow our families to be politicized into submission any longer.         NO!


Many young people just want to get out of the shit (crappy socio-economic-status, poverty, violence, intergenerational effects, involvement in the crappy justice system etc.). and as such, when they turn 18, they want to move out on their own. There is often not support at home for them to do this. I was working with a young person this week trying to go on welfare and get a place to stay because he has been so challenged in getting a job.  He is frustrated and is trying to make it on his own, but now because of lack of ID, and a job, and a solid place to stay, he is stuck. This is bullshit, and short of me taking time from my job to drive him around to get all of the details, the guarantor forms, the reference letters, the additional money to apply and all of that jazz, its gonna be an uphill battle for him. This all must happen BEFORE he is allowed to make his 2nd appointment with welfare.


This is bullshit because why on earth should he have to go on welfare?!! Why aren’t there the supports within our community so our young people can get their Identification, make good decisions and become truly independent. These systems, justice, social services, child welfare, health are doing so badly.  I wish there was some way that the government could listen to us, listen to the front line workers and the youth and families directly!!!!!!

It will come soon. Stand with me. Fight with me.


Keeping Education 'Fresh'


School has been up and running and our youth are about to receive the report card from the 1st Term of school.  Congrats to those students that have been able to do well enough that they have made it to the 2nd term.  But what happened to all the kids that started in September, and are no longer standing (in our classrooms)?!

I can tell you what happened, but this video does a better job

Changing Education Paradigms (by RSA Animation)

The world is a library. And I have learned more working in and for my community, than I ever have sitting behind the desk in a classroom (that goes for high school AND university). I believe that our young people and our youth already have the skills they need to be successful. I believe that we can build off of their gifts, their abilities in such a way that our students are not complacent.  If we move away from medicating our problems and our kids, and we actually look at what it FEELS LIKE to learn...and to LOVE learning...and we can share that with students of today, there is hope.

Stay 'Fresh' peeps.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Future Leaders of Manitoba...COME ON!

So once upon a time, many moons ago, I was able to be nominated for something called the Future Leaders of Manitoba Award.  This was in 2009, and it was the first time EVER that this award thing was happening. Essentially, they have 3 categories, COMMUNITY, BUSINESS and ARTS.  They then scour the province, meaning, ask people to apply, to be nominated for this prestigious honour. You don't win money, but you get quite a bit of recognition, and the bragging rights!

 In the 2nd year of the FLM awards, my friend Kevin Chief was the guy who won the Community Service Seat. I thought that was amazing, and especially relevant considering he just got elected as our Member of the Legislative Assembly for Point Douglas. Way to be awesome Kevin.
Last year, they had the 3rd Annual awards an these fine people were chosen. This was also the year that I notice they raised the AGE! They said you have to be at least 25 to get the award...I am 24 now, and got the award 3 years ago.  I think it is an interesting choice for them to do such a thing...perhaps it is so that the applicants can have more life experience?! Bot sure, but if you are over 25, you can apply...

This year 2012 Awards

You can apply in one of 3 areas ARTS, COMMUNITY SERVICE and BUSINESS/PROFESSIONAL. The deadline for applications is DECEMBER 10TH.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

SAFE Stories: The Excellent Employer

SAFE Stories: I wanna comment on safety stuff, in relation to safety of the mind, body, emotions and spirit.  Also, I work for SAFE Workers of Tomorrow, and they got me trained to look at the world in a more…safe way :P

So I was recently traveling in the Parkland Region of our province. Those of you who don’t know what that is; its around Dauphin, MB.  So I was there for my job at SWOT and it was actually a pretty slick experience.  I got to visit 5 different communities while I was up here and deliver messages of occupational health and safety to the youth here. I spoke to groups in Roblin, Grandview, Ethelbert, Gilbert Plains and of course, Dauphin.

The Beautiful Prairie Sky
Highlight of my trip, I think, was when I wet to a place called CC’s Restaurant and Lounge for food.  It was right across from the place I’m staying in Dauphin, and so I went there a couple times.  The last time I went there, I was fortunate to bump into one of the owners/managers who was responsible for hiring and training new workers. SHE WAS AMAZING AND I HOPE EVERY YOUNG PERSON HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A BOSS LIKE THIS @ THEIR FIRST JOB.

What did she do that was so amazing you ask?! Well, it was all about the attitude. When we went to go pay for our food, she politely asked what we were doing in town.  When we told her we were occupational health an safety presenters for youth…she was so excited.  She told us many things that have caused me to fall in love with the words she said and have led me to dub this particular place of employment, an EXCELLENT EMPLOYER.  Here is a quick look at some of the clues that showed me what an amazing boss this lady is:

  • Workers  must wash the broom AND the dustpan: may seem weird or silly but this attention to detail gave me a lot of faith that this lady understands biological hazards, and how dangerous something small (like dust) can be. Her emphasis on cleanliness, especially cuz it was a restaurant, was awesome
  • Dish Safety: she emphasized when her workers are doing the dished to wash the clear glasses one at a time, and put any utensils into a separate pail so that you can work safely around the potential cutting hazards present. She said ‘I have to tell them 1,000 times but I still keep telling them’. Amazing! She understands that when learning, we must be reminded of things consistently. This comment was playful, not blaming.
  • Open Minded: this lady was very much eager to work with young people.  They even had signs on the tables letting the customers know that if any young people were looking for a great first job to come apply. I couldn’t agree more! She also made a comment about how safety should be ‘common sense’ and we told her, its not common for young and new workers yet, right? She agreed, and said we were right. Wow, what humility! What made it even more amazing was once she learned what we were doing in town, she ASKED FOR HELP!! She asked us if we had any resources we could leave with her so she can drive the message of safety home to her future new workers.

All of these points made me so excited and hopeful for the young people of the Parkland region that there are employers that really care about the youth in their community. There ARE employers out there that want to make you safe, that want YOUth to have a great working experience, that understand that taking care of the whole person is important, more important than the finances of the business. Thank you so much, anonymous lady, for being such an EXCELLENT EMPLOYER!

In other news…

What an amazing opportunity this has been to see the beauty of our province…and in addition I have seen such beauty in the wildlife, specifically the birds including…2 eagles. One eagle today, seemed to fly out of the woods, and flew over top of the vehicle I was driving in, only to fly back into the woods. Eagles are so amazing and every time I get to see one (sort of) close up, I get this amazing feeling inside…must be LOVE :)

Courage friends,


Monday, October 10, 2011


That's right, my Thanksgiving was spent, donating my time to SAFE Workers of Tomorrow, traveling from Winnipeg to the middle of our province.  But it was beautiful.  I am grateful for the many opportunities that continue to present themselves to me in my life that allow me to appreciate what I have. and for that reason, I feel like I am FULL of thanks.

I am thankFULL that we have an earth to walk upon.
I am thankFULL that I get to see our beautiful province
I am thankFULL that I have air to breathe
I am thankFULL that I can find enough food to eat
I am thankFULL that I can share my gifts with the people around me
I am thankFULL that I feel like I can make a difference.

What are you thankFULL for?


PS - and yes I know the Colonial history of Thanksgiving, but I am deliberately NOT focusing on that. We have to move past the anger at some point...and I am mad at every thanksgiving when I think of what happened to our people...but I don't want that to me my every positivity is a deliberate choice. I am thankFULL that I can make it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Take Care of Yourself Too!

Its been a rough couple of weeks.

But now, the Thanksgiving Weekend is here, the election is over, the ceremonies have been had, the spirits have traveled.  It has been really hard on me.  It has been hard because I fight. I always feel like i am fighting...and I am tired.

Tired but Hopeful

Its hard for me to not over extend myself when I look around my community and see the pain and suffering.  I have to be reminded again about how much work there is that needs to be done in our community. I am reminded that in the little detail that we focus on and in the small challenges and obstacles that we overcome...someone is watching and someone is thankful.  I am thankful that very soon I may have the opportunity to share some of my thoughts at a TED event for TedXManitoba (shout out to Kale).  This one was very much inspiring to me and I would like to again shout out my co-worker Curt for sending it.

Music is My Medicine

Part of what can make us feel a little bit better about the stuff happening is simply singing and dancing. Share your gifts, and make sure that if something makes you feel may have that same effect on others.  For example, I have been listening to LMFAO (@LMFAO) for the last couple hours and have been dancing all day at work.

So, I have been fortunate to have been approached by some artists on social media and would like to share some amazing music with you.

Finally, on YouTube, I got this invite from this Hip Hop person or duo called Spoken Thought.  I don't know a lot about them, but this vid caught my attention. These guys are from Miami, Florida! 'Enough Rhymes to make MCs wear diapers'

The point of this blog post is to show you guys that I am taking some steps to take care of my mental health.  When lots of stuff is going on and we feel overwhelmed, we often only focus on the negative, the probelms. We only REact, instead of being PROactive.  I am committing myself to...myself this weekend. I will relax, take care of myself, sing, dance, listen to music, learn music, and read. I am pumped. I am doing all of this...not for the betterment of the world, humankind, or even my community.  I am only doing this for myself.

Love and Courage


North End MC

My photo
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Representin the North End of Winnipeg since 1987. I will share my journey tryna set an example and live a proud Cree life. I'll include my challenges and feelings and progress in terms of AYO! Aboriginal Youth Opportunities. You(th) are the reason.