Why I’m Idle No More

First in a series of posts.

idlenomore

What is THE most important issue of our times? For me, there is no doubt. The treaty obligations of settler Canadians just have to come first and they have to come first now. Those of us who are not indigenous to this country have ignored those obligations since we entered into them. This has resulted in First Nations and Inuit people becoming the most harshly treated people in this country, across the board, on all indicators. Their access to adequate housing on reserves is appallingly inadequate and movement into urban areas often leads to urban poverty – mental illness, addiction, prostitution and subjection to state violence and street violence of all kinds. Both on reserves and in urban areas, far too many are without access to decent medical care, standard education options and community supports. The state is more likely to “help” First Nations people by stealing their children, as it did in the past. First Nations land is robbed and stripped of resources and polluted while communities are poisoned. Yes, we should worry that the poisons and pollutants run downstream. Why wouldn’t we worry first that they attack the land and people to whom we have legal and ethical obligations?

My life’s work outside my family has been a commitment to the liberation of women. In that regard, First Nations women are the most legally subjugated people in Canada, subject to the most violence, the fastest growing rates of incarceration in the country and systematic, historical and ongoing action to relieve them of those most precious to them … their children.

I’ve always believed in grassroots action, even though I was an academic. I’ve always believed in working from the bottom up because if we resolve the problems of those who suffer the worst exploitation, oppression and repression, we cannot but resolve those problems for all. Trickle UP actually works. It only makes sense. That, I suppose, is the more selfish reason for supporting Idle No More, Sisters In Spirit, the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, Chief Theresa Spence, the National Aboriginal Women’s Association and many other FN organizational and community actions. For my own children and grandchildren, and yours. I think that’s ok. Doing the right thing has those kinds of benefits.

We must also listen to those many Indigenous people who live on unceded land in Canada – those with whom the state has never negotiated treaties and whose attempts to claim their land through legal processes are backed up in the courts and dealt with unjustly.
As a white settler woman, I still have a lot to learn. I’ve made mistakes in the ways I’ve tried to be an ally and a supporter and I’m sure to make them again. But as a friend said last night, “Better to risk a flawed activism than to maintain a perfect inactivism.” I’m doing my best and that’s what we all have to do. If we want a future in this country, in relationship with those nations who lived here first, on Turtle Island, we have to do it now. That’s what I think.

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Give Yourself a Slap Upside the Head Canada

UPDATED Below

In these days of action for democracy in Egypt, Canada once again finds itself on the wrong side of humanity’s hope for freedom, thanks to His Harperness’ failure to condemn the brutal totalitarian regime of Hosni Mubarak. In that context, I hope everyone watches this:

UPDATE:

And just to clarify that the bone I’m picking is with the state of Israel and not all of Israel’s people, watch this too:

Canadian F-Word Blog Awards

This just received from A Creative Revolution:

Just in case you didn’t know, you’ve been nominated for Best Feminist Blog – Oh! Canada! English in the 2009 Canadian F-word Awards! First round voting is April 11 – 14 (extended!).  One vote per IP addy, please.   

What does being nominated for an F-word Award mean, besides glamour, prestige, and a pretty badge to display on your blog?  In the big scheme of things, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! More acutely though, it means that someone who is aware of the awards likes your blog enough to nominate it in our anti-sexist snark festival.  It means someone thinks you kick ass! AND YOU DO! W00t! 

Come on over and celebrate blogging women – we’re having a party and you’re the guest of honour!

Good luck, and thanks for participating.

- Dr. Prole and Pale @ A Creative Revolution

My friend mattt @bastardlogic nominated me for this – thanks mattt.  I’m not voting for myself but if you want to, go on over to Creative Revolution by April 14th and do it.  Or vote for someone else.  Just vote.

Braidwood

Kelly McParland does an admirable job of summing up the testimony of RCMP officers at the Braidwood Inquiry:

Whatever conclusion is ultimately reached at the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, one conclusion now seems inevitable: the original tale peddled by the RCMP about that day at Vancouver airport was overwhelmingly bogus.

The 40-year-old Mr. Dziekanski did not grab a killer stapler and wave it threateningly over his head, as the police claimed. He did not advance on four officers with threatening gestures. He did not stay on his feet after the first jolt of the Taser they fired at him. He did not have to be wrestled to the ground. He did not, it appears from the testimony of the officers who were there that day, represent any kind of threat at all. Continue reading

Poetry for Dziekansky

The Dziekansky Inquiry

If you’re a skier in distress,

We’ll overlook your SOS,

For Mounties just don’t want to know

When dying words are left in snow.

But when a man steps off a plane

And cries for help, our Mountie brain

Knows right away the proper course

Is swift and painful use of force.

Get lost in our arrival hall?

We’ll be there in no time at all

To help you see, when you’re upset,

That you’ve become a deadly threat.

Pick up a stapler in your hands,

Refuse to meet our firm demands,

Act strange in ways that raise our fear,

And Mounties answer loud and clear.

Sometimes we fail to get our man,

And things don’t work out quite to plan,

But next time, when you need our aid,

Stand still and show us you’re afraid.

Please understand, the Mounties strive

To help our suspects stay alive,

But if you won’t or can’t comply,

Don’t blame our tasers when you die.

John Allemang

Mr. Cohen

The clear sense that you know you’re in the homeward stretch is a very compelling component in writing,” he says. “A lot of other things fall away that you hope would satisfy you like human life, and your work becomes a kind of haven, and you want to go there, and you’re grateful when the time opens in such a way that you can actually sit down and work at your own work, because everything else somehow has failed.

“I’m speaking not just for myself,” he continues. “Somehow, just in the nature of things, you know, the disappointments accumulate, and the obstacles multiply and you sense the destruction of your body, and your mind, and you feel here is the last arena — ‘arena’ is too big, the last boxing ring, or the last Ouija board, where you can examine some of the ideas that have intrigued you. That have seized you, really.

From an interview with Leonard Cohen by Simon Houpt at the Globe & Mail

CUPE & the JDL, Sigh

From Andrew Brett at rabble:

This past weekend, an unusual amount of media coverage surrounded a meeting of the Ontario University Workers’ Coordinating Committee in Windsor.

As a subgroup of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), these provincial meetings are usually an opportunity to coordinate the bargaining efforts of CUPE locals in the university sector across Ontario. At this meeting, however, delegates also voted on a resolution in response to the latest Israeli military attack on Gaza.

The motion, calling for research and education into ties between Ontario universities and the Israeli military, passed with a strong majority after a forum and debate were held on the topic.

CUPE Ontario President Sid Ryan explained that the motion was simply an adjunct to Resolution 50, which had already been approved by the union’s membership at a convention in 2006. That resolution called for research and education on a boycott, divestment and sanctions strategy to counter the Israeli government’s apartheid-like policies, similar to the strategy adopted by the Canadian trade union movement that helped bring an end to South African apartheid. University workers at this meeting were implementing that policy by applying it to their own workplaces: universities.

A small but committed group of protesters gathered outside the hotel, bussed in from Toronto by an organization known as the Jewish Defence League. They waved Israeli flags and carried signs ranging from “Defeat Islamo-Fascism” to “Israel belongs to the Jews.” One sign depicted the president of CUPE Ontario as a Nazi and placed the union’s logo next to a star and crescent. On Saturday, a member of the group burst into the union meeting holding placard signs, and yelled at stunned delegates.

Read the rest please

Somehow, Someday, Somewhere

… a reporter or editor will realize that they aren’t explaining anything with this:

In Piedmont, Quebec a rich and reputable cardiac physician appears to have murdered his children on Sunday.  He was pretty well off – he had shared a $275,000 home with his wife.  So we know he didn’t kill his children because he was “frustrated” by unemployment or underemployment.  We also know his new house in Piedmont is “just minutes from the Saint-Saveur ski hill”.  Hmm.  I don’t think that was the problem.  What else do we know?

Well, he’d just broken up with his wife, also a successful doctor, and she’d gone off on a ski trip leaving him with his five-year old son and three-year old daughter.  Dr. Turcotte was “apparently distraught”.  So he killed his children?  Hmm.  What else do we know?

Some people are concerned that doctors are “too reluctant to seek help for psychological distress”.  Now if Dr. Turcotte had only sought psychological help.  I’m sure he’d have told a counsellor that he was contemplating killing his children and then he could have been helped and then … Hmm.  What else do we know?

Dr. Turcotte and his children were supposed to meet family members for breakfast with his children but he never showed up.  Relatives immediately called police via 911 (emergency!) who broke into the doctor’s home and found him unconscious and his children dead.  His relatives were instantly freaked out when the doc didn’t show before breakfast because they knew he was suicidal?  Oh for fricking Christ-on-a-cracker sakes!  They were so worried about his suicidality that they panicked when he didn’t show up and they left a five-year old and a three-year old in his care?  Don’t they read the newspapers?  Don’t they have any imaginations?  Haven’t they heard this pathetic story before?  Hasn’t somebody?  The doctor’s family must feel just terrible and finding fault will likely do no good.  Still, if we don’t realize that this was a critical missed cue, we will continue to see this kind of result.  We will continue to see this kind of result.

Before this dreadful occurence, Dr. Turcotte was “a much-appreciated cardiologist” who  “was extremely dedicated and had a very good reputation”.  Because only under-appreciated men with bad reputations kill their children so what a surprise?

You know, people like Dr. Turcotte,  “like other figures in position[s] of authority, can develop a sense of omnipotence. ‘They almost feel they have divine power, as if you are not allowed to question them. They do anything to hold onto that power…’

Throngs and throngs of men in positions of power kill their children.  So that explains it.  No?  Not yet?

Try this.  Psychologist Pierre Faubert says:

Some fathers in breakups target children to seek revenge on the mother… ‘The children become an extension of the mother. The father attacks her through them. The children become missiles aimed at the mother, who will be stricken by pain, guilt and shame.’

Now that sounds closer to an explanation that makes some sense, even though it’s virtually a throw-away line at the end of the article.  It’s not the father’s power at work and in society that precedes these terrible events, it’s the father’s power within his family.  Try this:

‘The profile of a family annihilator is a middle-aged man, a good provider who would appear to neighbours to be a dedicated husband and a devoted father,’  [Professor Jack] Levin said. ‘He quite often tends to be quite isolated. He is often profoundly dedicated to his family, but has few friends of his own or a support system out with [sic] the family. He will have suffered some prolonged frustration and feelings of inadequacy, but then suffers some catastrophic loss. It is usually financial or the loss of a relationship. He doesn’t hate his children, but he often hates his wife and blames her for his miserable life. He feels an overwhelming sense of his own powerlessness. He wants to execute revenge and the motive is almost always to “get even”.’  [emphasis mine]

Research from the States shows that family annihilators rarely have a prior criminal record. However, many experts believe there is often a prior pattern of domestic abuse. A report published two years ago in Britain by Women’s Aid, called Twenty-nine child homicides, found that, out of 13 families studied, domestic violence was a feature in 11. In one of the other two cases, the mother spoke of her ex-partner’s obsessively controlling behaviour.  [emphasis mine]

Control, you see.  Power.  Wife-hating [or woman-hating] abusive and obsessively controlling behaviour – it doesn’t need to be physical abuse.  When a woman leaves, she asserts a power that some men feel they have to take back by any means possible.  He feels emasculated, de-manned, he’s a loser, as M. Gary Neuman pointed out in his book about why men cheat.  Men have to feel like heroes, they have to feel like winners and if not, look out for the destruction they will cause.  And yes, it is men and not women who are by far more likely to perpetrate these crimes – 95% of the time.

Why must men feel in control of their women and children?  Why must they hold power over them?  The answer is simple and complex.  The answer is patriarchy.  Read about it on the web.  Google “feminism fathers who kill children” and you’ll find a kit-load of shit from the men’s rights and father’s rights “side” of this issue and you may wish you hadn’t.  Here’s a taste from Angry Harry.  His website came up first in my search.

Research from the States shows that family annihilators rarely have a prior criminal record. However, many experts believe there is often a prior pattern of domestic abuse.

Hardly surprising, eh? After all, these killings usually occur when relationships are breaking down. And so they do not come out of the blue. As such, one might well expect the amount of interpersonal abuse to escalate during such insecure times.

In fact, only a fool or a feminist would suggest otherwise.

I certainly cannot really imagine how I would feel if it looked as if my wife was going to leave me; taking away the home and the children – especially if these were my ‘everything’.

But I reckon that ‘murderous’ would very likely be a good description of how I would feel.

Notice, however, how Ms Lorna Martin tries to fob off the very idea that men have any justification for becoming enraged over the prospect of losing their homes and their children.

I suppose she reckons that they should just shrug it off! …

‘To the outside world, these crimes seem to come out of nowhere,’ continued Levin. ‘The perpetrators have not previously been involved in criminal behaviour. Nor do they tend to be on drugs or drinking heavily when they commit the crime. However, if psychologists had seen them in advance, they would have spotted the warning signs. They would have noticed how the person reacted to things not going his way – the irrational rage and the blaming of others. These people often also regard their partner and children as their own possessions.’

These men are ‘irrational’!

These men treat their partners and children and, presumably, their homes as their ‘possessions’!

How outrageous, eh? How strange! What kind of insanity possesses these men?

And women, of course, would never do or feel such things, eh? 

No Sir. When women fight tooth and nail to keep hold of their homes and their children – through fair means or foul – they are not treating them as ‘possessions’. No Sirree. They are victims

But here we have Ms Lorna Martin and the Guardian newspaper trying to demonise men for reacting badly when they are undergoing almost unbelievable torment.

Men “reacting badly”?  Be still my heart.  These stories are unbearable.  The Guardian article cited here tells stories so very similar that you could change the names and not know the difference.  The stories are all the more unbearable when they are reported as though there is no critical work that leads to an understanding of what’s happening in this patriarchal frickin’ world.  It’s fucktaballooned.

I’m as mad as Angry Harry but I wouldn’t dream of trying to rationalize murder just because I’m pissed!  And you know what?  If I did, I wouldn’t feel free to hang my rationalizations up on the web.