Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Being happy to be cold

I'm glad its cold out there
I haven't felt the cold air sting
this year
but it did this morning

I'm not the only one to be happy
about this cold

there seems to be ice in the fiord
that makes many people happy
not only hunters
but the christmas games on the ice
will be possible this year

and there are people who hope
hope that the winds will not pick up
that a warm spell does not strike
that the ice stays

its good to be cold
its good to have ice

lets hope it gets even colder
that the whole of cumberland sound
freezes solidly

I'm happy that its cold

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Polar Bear Story

In case you haven't heard, its been about a month since i caught my first polar bear.

Take that greenpeace! hahaha.

For many years i have been wanting to catch my first polar bear, been wanting to hunt them all my life. and that opportunity finally came on November 18, 2011, around 10 in the morning. When we first saw the bear, it was in the water and we had to herd it to land. if that makes sense? in inuktitut, i would say "unguujujavut nunamut."

let me tell you, or try to tell you how proud i was. after reading this post, you can call me Mr. Upiqqak

In my family, i am known to be proud after the first catch of an animal, not matter what it is. my father likes to tell the story of when i caught my first caribou and how i was already laughing even before i shot the caribou. so when we were bringing it to land, he told the story quickly.

people say that they start shaking before their first polar bear but i was way too excited that all i could think of was, ok, this is my day, thank god for this.

when i shot it, i just yelled woohoo. actually i yelled woohoo a bunch of time. i hugged my father a biggest hug i could think of and he was the first person i thanked. then my brother. i thanked him too. when we were skinning it, i promise you, i have never seen a more fatter polar bear than that. it was so fat. during the cut up, i was thinking of all the people i will pajuk, which in english, their is no equivalent word to, which broadly means people i will bring meat to.

i smiled that day so much, my cheeks were sore. i felt good that day. my father would say aakkuluk once in a while. he would say that he knows i am happy.

the strange thing is, the night before when my father called me, i told Annie, "I'm going to catch a polar bear tomorrow." and just 12 hours after that, my words became true. i tell you, it was a gift from God. i had been wanting to catch one for so long, that it really did feel like a gift. it was a gift, i know it. i believe it.

half hour after shooting it, i prayed standing up in the boat. even if it was to myself, i prayed and thanked everything that needed to be thanked, especially God for the opportunity.

for the next two weeks, i reminded everyone that i caught a polar bear. i reminded my family everyday. i reminded my girlfriend everyday. i joked about it everyday. the scar i have on my thumb, i would say that the polar bear swiped at me and nicked my thumb and thats how i got my scar. i joked that the hamlet of Pang has discontinued the polar bear season because my polar bear was just too awesome.

and to polar bear conservationist, i say, you don't know the first thing to what you have stopped. i was even thinking that all young people should be allowed at the age of 18, to kill their first catch because their self esteem will sky rocket. i am a new man and its all due to my first catch. i am a new man because its something i have wanted for so long and i have it now.

it feels great.

Friday, December 9, 2011

What's your Inuktitut name?

Its not everyday you have to search for your Inuktitut name. Its not everyday you call your mother to ask her what your Inuktitut name is.

Many years ago now, when i first went to Nunavut Sivuniksavut, i got asked the question what my Inuktitut name was and i didn't have an answer. Maybe it's a Pang thing, but I've never had to deal with the question what my Inuktitut name was, and i suspect no one in Pang really cares what their Inuktitut name is either. My suspicion is that we already consider ourselves Inuk too much to think of our Inuktitut name, if that makes sense.

the story starts from 2002 when i was confronted with the question. I tried my best to say that it's Tommy, but that wasn't Inuk enough, and then it was Jimmy, but that wasn't Inuktitut enough either. I was completely stumped. it was the first time i have ever been asked what my inuktitut name was and i didn't have an answer. my classmates thought that i must've been embarrassed about my name to not say it, that i was ashamed of it. This was our inuktitut class, and everyone had an inuktitut name except me, and after awhile, i really did feel bad that i didn't have one.

That same afternoon, after we had our class, i called up my mother and asked her what my inuktitut name was. She was surprised, to tell you the least. she laughed for a bit and i had to explain why i needed an inuktitut name. so i told her the story and she laughed a little bit again. and she had to think and finally said, say Tommy is your name, its Inuktitut enough. i told her that they thought that wasn't inuktitut enough and she laughed again and said, try Jimmy, and i told her again that that is still not Inuktitut enough. she laughed again. and asked what kind of classmates i have. she was as perplexed as i was about the questions, because everyone in Pang is an Inuk, no matter what their names are.

she said something along the lines of: how much more inuk do they want you to be? and i did agree with her. in Pang, an inuktitut name is whatever name you have because you are an inuk to begin with, born with it. So she said, just call yourself Nuvaqqi, which was the last name of my namesake Tommy. So in 2002, after twenty two year of being inuktitut nameless, i became nuvaqqi, as my inuk name. in a way, it felt childish.

Its not that people from Pang are ashamed to be inuk, actually, i think we are just too inuk to have an inuktitut name. We've never felt we needed them to have one ourselves and we were inuit to begin with and didn't need strengthening with a name. and its not that we are not proud of our namesakes, we just know them by heart and never feel the need to flaunt or be more inuk about it. it just never crosses our minds. if you've met people from Pang. you'll probably notice that we are loud and sometimes obnoxious and probably more proud than anyone.

next time you see me, call me Tommy or Jimmy or i could create my new hillbilly name: Tom Jim or Jim Tom.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 21 - 26, 2011

There were the three of us,
my cousin my father and myself.
well, we left on a friday morning
it wasn't all that cold.
the anchor was stuck in the mud
and we couldn't take it out for a long while
when we finally got going
we realized about twenty kilometers out
that we forgot our ammunition box
had to go back to pang
and used up an extra hour doing so
and we finally left again.
it was a clam day when we left.
the next day was windy, pretty windy,
too much to hunt in
so we used out time to fix up the
cabin that my father has,
put in walls painted them,
tiled some of the floor
and went and fetched some water
sunday is sunday,
we rested and
ate some seal that we had caught
on friday afternoon.
now monday: it was windy as hell
around 3 AM my father woke us up,
told us the boat
might be in trouble
and we better check it out
and we did
it was taking in water
my cousin and i rushed to bale the water out
and were lucky to do so in time
and we moved the boat
to a different location
we went back and slept a little
and we fixed up the cabin again
on tuesday,
the world was different
we hunted,
the weather kept getting better and better
and our luck was getting better and better,
and seals were getting mor plentiful by the hour
and we many of them
we entered fiords
and had one person on land
by the mouth of the fiord
waiting for seals
that flee from the boat
and bang, the seal is shot
at this time of the year,
they're fat enough to float
the next day we hunted again
and went back
to pang on a wednesday

i tell this long story for one reason
i spent a lot of time with my father
we had fun together and
worked hard together we laughed together
and ate really good food together
we joked about shooting and
told funny stories
we woke up early each morning
and listened to the radio
we were silent for long times too
and that was as much conversation
as any
we made plans together
about the next day
we speculated on serious issues
we talked about family
most mornings we got up before the sun
wanted to get up

in many ways it was very special
to watch the sun arrive from the east
on an october morning
while there is snow and
the sea is slowly freezing
tea taste extra better
the air is crispier
at the end of each day,
you appreciate that you have a father
On October 26, 2011,
i sat on a toilet
i read a magazine
i was very comfortable
and in middle of the night,
while sleeping i had a cramp
on my left thigh, it hurt as hell

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Cemetery.

It's right in the middle of town with white crosses some faded some bright right around each grave are rocks, some painted white some just the colour of rocks some faded some bright when i see cemeteries and graves in movies they walk right through the grave which we don't do up here i don't know if it's out of respect but we don't step on graves this small town deals with a lot of pain death is always just around the corner the sun and clouds above airplanes fly right above huge fuel tanks are below the ocean below there's always an audience during funeral processions the mountains all around us watch as we bury another body In these past two months the cemetery has been busy has added a good number of bright new white crosses

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The.

Maybe?
Maybe there is no reason to suggest ideas from my mind,
Maybe there is a time when writing is not very useful,
Maybe writing is just not that worth it when you have something going good,
Maybe when you feel contented?

If i could write songs like Neil Young,
I would do so right now,
Explaining why...
Why writing is as they say,
Best when is comes in bursts,
In whatever ways it comes through,
Negative or positive, it is a way of coping,
Also it can be immensely boring!

This right now, whatever i have is, pretty good.
Living in Ottawa i would think,
"There is so much to write about up there"
Not true.

Actually, I've seen way more noteworthy events and stories
Experiences that i thought i'd really like to write about
But nah! Not true.
I think it has to do with your perceptions and observations
and what your mind is "clouded" with.

What i thought was writing about entrails of animals were
Culturally encouraging and promotions of inuit values
Eating seal livers was too great to not be written about
Hunting with your brothers as blogworthy isn't much true.

What happens is, i think, you actually start realizing
Some stuff are best not being written at all
Just because people say our literacy rate is too low
Does not mean we have to always write about those subjects
Those are best done only through experience
Only by hunting will you actually know what hunting is.

I'm taking the advice of Bukowski on this
And i try to take it seriously
When he says to write only when you feel confident about it
Not that i'm un-confident about my writing
I just want it to be perfect as much as i possibly
Can make it perfect and understandable.

This is it.
this is the
The

One handles truths like dynamite. Literature is one vast hypocrisy, a giant deception, treachery. All writers have concealed more than they revealed.
-Anais Nin

Monday, July 18, 2011

Gangstas of Pang!

Intro:

just to complete this mission
gots to do a redefinition
along with that
create a whole new nation
full of recognition
along with that
you wanna be part of the creations
designed by a bunch of post-asians?

Left Eye:

Fucking nerds, mothafuckas
making thousands, mothafuckas
driving around in snowmobiles
on a bunch of mothafucking snow piles
going hundreds of miles per hour
using whole lot of power

working for the government, mothafuckas
being great bureaucrats, with no gats,
we ain't no mothafucking rats,
our shirts don't even match
mismatching words, doing hip-hop chords
pretty soon we'll be winning all the awards
we are the town nerds,
making thousands - working our way up to millions
pretty soon eradicating the stupids

Gangstas of Pang mothafuckas
playing with words mothafuckas
not only is it the name of our community
it also has a definition in the fucken dictionary
actually we're nice, not even scary
we're not nervous to do community service
and understand if we're being cursive
we're not trying to be abusive
didn't you know,
there are so many ways of being creative

so here we go

Tommy Tsunami:

redesigning, without compromising
a whole new community
with nerdy brutality
taking in the statistics of mortality
applying them into reality
we'll fucken make you aware
of all this totality
we'll take you on a learning spree
while drinking Tetly tea
our mothafuckin' role model is Mr. T

this town of mountains
has a total of 12 water fountains
located around town
divided into three: kuu akia, up and down
ooohhh, we can be so fucken proud
but that doesn't mean life gets easy
we love our food being greasy
our goal is to be cheesy

a sharp sudden spasm of pain, emotional distress
a sudden brief sharp feeling, as loneliness,
physical pain or hunger, loud as thunder
you see that table? you better get under!
you recognize? imagine the prize and the size
but you won't realize its veil of disguise
you hear the cries? all of 'em out of happiness
not craziness.

Gum baLL MaSheen:

from end to end, we are going to tend the land
raise our hand and let us stand in support of this
whatever it is. I think it would be the easiest

if i were to create gangstas, we'd be the nice gangstas
carrying groceries, being nice to old men and ladies
not doing any damages, picking up the garbages
giving out oranges, trying to learn different languages


Good thing i'm not a rapper huh. Look out Tupac, oh shit, he's dead already. Um, look out Jay Z. I just might take the industry by storm, Pang storm to be more specific.

the end.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Home to Somewhere

A while back, i wrote about being home and not feeling like it was home.

Sometimes everyone has to correct their words
and i am doing so right now

I have found home.
i don't know which emotion to express
i'm not just happy
or contented
i am pretty excited.

home is the freedom that you find
not just freedom to do anything
but freedom to live.

by living is to be part of something

as much as i tried to be part of something
i never went as far as to be part of a community
and just as everything else, it takes work to live
and as well being part of the community.

what i've realized
is community doesn't come to you
you come to the community.
(i know, it sounds cheesy)

and to have neighbours, even if its just one family
but to visit and live in the same community as your neighbour
is important

i have a neighbour who visits me and i visit him
almost everyday

And its true: visit your parents
go eat with them, everyday if possible
if you can't visit, call them.

and eat with people
go to gatherings if you can

I like it here
not all the time
but an appreciation
that i've never had for it,
something new
has grown inside
wherever that is.

maybe its just a sign of maturity
if it is
its about time it showed up
if its different, or not,
i still appreciate it.

i went home to somewhere

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Smokes of Pang.

i wouldn't call them majestic
but for the sake of it

imagine the mountains of pangnirtung fiord
climbing into the sky
jagged steep
dark nothing but rock

inviting god himself
for a weekend holiday to pang
just to enjoy the view
lets call them majestic
for the sake of it

carved by ice
say the scientist
some by god
say others

whoever made it
was a pure genius
to carve such beauty
very impressive

and if you weren't impressed enough
you have never felt pang winds
until you experience it
and its unique
a one of kind weather
for the sake of it
they're majestic

lately its been
ugly
deadly
this fiord
killing slowly
blackening
a small child's lungs
to the elder
losing her breath

thank you very much hamlet of
pangnirtung
for contributing to the
continuing early causes of
lung related diseases

and for destroying the natural beautiful view we once used to see

Smokes of Pang keep hovering over us
and FUCK i can smell it inside my house

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

You, Eskimo. You, Qalunaaq.

You, Eskimo, once mighty hunter
wearing your denim jeans
and Oakley sunglasses
shooting that .223 rifle
with your black rubber boots
and that cigarette hanging
from your mouth

You, Qallunaaq, once mighty farmer
wearing your seal skin pants
and snow goggles
tending your 12X15 acres of farmland
with your Guatemalan sandals
and that straw hanging
from your mouth

oh, the both of you - the two of you
Major differences and Small similarities
both a product of this world
indebted to Earth
Children of tomorrow
both so morally corrupt
just as everyone else

You, Eskimo, reading is not a sin
will not erode your sweet culture
will only help you in the long run
and what is wrong with acquiring
so much knowledge in other languages?

You, Qallunaaq, are not the master
of education and literacy
you should not force your supposed
superiority on us, we are more than
capable of fucking up our own lives!

You, Eskimo and Qallunaaq,
I thank you very much
for this opportunity I have
to work both worlds.

Elvis has yet to leave the building
the fat lady has not written lyrics yet to her song

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pangnirtung Youth Council Book Club

Or whatever it has to be called.

Hmmm... I'm not really sure where to start.

Should I rejoice? I think I have to. Woohoo. Books. That's where I'll start, from books. I used to have many books. Not anymore. At best I have at least twenty books.

Since I've been living in Pang, I keep wanting books. Shit, I sound like I'm on a high horse, or a born-again Eskimo. I'm not saying books make you smart or make you understand right away, but to have the comfort of books and to be literate increases the joy of self-education. To learn and be amused at what you've learn is awesome. Anyways, I'm sad to say books are not "everywhere" around here.

So, to change that situation, or to try and change that situation, the Pangnirtung Youth Council will provide space to have a book club in Pang. And as part of the goal, a bookshelf has to be filled from top to bottom, to start off the project.

As the collection progresses, it is hoped that there will be reading nights for people of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest, in any language possible.

I'll provide more details as I know more about the club. What time and location and so on.

Any help from anyone will be greatly appreciated and we will try to assist you in every possible way. If you want to help, email me at pangniqtucker@gmail.com.

The benefits are invaluable. A reading society is a responsive society towards itself.

You know, I bet we will start a local newspaper one of these days. reported and read by the people of Pang.

Let's help each other through small acts. Donate a book.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Harsh Environment?

This morning, I was watching TV, and while drinking coffee, I watched the channel that Isuma has in the community. It is a very good channel with mostly Inuktitut as the language and made mostly by Inuit. And I am not sure what the show was about, but there was a statement made by some Inuk, stating that the Arctic is a "harsh environment."

It is accurate to say that most people consider the Arctic to be a harsh environment, but i have to doubt that the original people first said the words "harsh" and "extreme" and "hard." I want to point out, how we take advantage of and how it deteriorates our sense of home and how words can affect how we view who we are and where we come from.

In a introduction by Soffia Gudmundsdottir, Executive Secretary, Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment, Environmental Programme, she states: "Historically, the harsh environment, difficulty of access to resources, and scattered nature of the population patterns has restricted rapid development and communication in the circumpolar Arctic region."

Even Arctic College, on a publication aptly titled, which made me smile, "Guidelines for Working with Inuit Elders", it states: "How to survive in a harsh environment, the study of the land and sea as well as the movements of animals, effects of the environment and the whole system of seasonal activities have to be taught. It should be a high priority now since very few of our knowledgeable elders remain."

And last but not least, from www.taloyoaknunavut.ca, it states this: "The arctic is one of the harshest environments you can find on the earth. Still, the Inuit and their ancestors have lived here for thousands of years. They built homes and developed perfectly adapted technologies from the limited resources available to feed and clothe themselves."

What these statements reflect is the fact that most people consider the Arctic to be harsh, or is an often used word describing the region.

And while I was watching TV this morning, I was reminded of Malcolm X and what he thought and said, why African Americans have a low self-esteem and what brought that.

He says: "Having complete control over Africa, the colonial powers of Europe had projected the image of Africa negatively... Jungle savages, cannibals, nothing civilized... We didn't want anybody telling us anything about Africa, much less calling us Africans. In hating Africa and in hating the Africans, we ended up hating ourselves...

"We hated our heads, we hated the shape of our nose... we hated the colour of our skin, hated the blood of Africa that was on our veins.

"We didn't have confidence in another black man... We didn't think a black man could do anything except play some horns, but in serious things, where our food, clothing, shelter, and education were concerned, we turned to the man. We never thought in terms of bringing these things into existence for ourselves, because we felt helpless. What made us feel helpless was our hatred for ourselves...

"It made us feel inferior; it made us feel inadequate; made us feel helpless. And when we fell victims to this feeling of inadequacy or inferiority or helplessness, we turned to somebody else to show us the way."

I'm not saying Inuit have a low-self-esteem, but if we do, can it be attributed to how we view not only ourselves but also our homes and our land? Is it due to people and ourselves telling us that we live a harsh life, which in turn, further harshens our lives?

If Malcolm X is true, then what Inuit are going through and been saying has to change our image and attitudes towards out land and lives.

The reason this is so strong of a concern for me is that i get uneasy when we label our environment as harsh. Yes, its colder than most parts, and yes we have a hard time travelling on it, but i would have to contest that it is hard, harsh, and extreme. It is the most beautiful piece of land on Earth, weather we have -50 weather, or that we don't see the sun, in some cases, for three months.

What Malcolm X has to say might be true in out case for our land and how we label ourselves as inhabitants of this land. Do you really want to be housed in a harsh living room? Do you want the people you love to label their land as extreme?

I cannot say if this is true, but in my experience, i have never heard of an older Inuk say that their environment is harsh. they might say it is tough, but harsh in itself, i suspect not. If you listen to an elder pray before a meal, listen to them, and if you understand Inuktitut, listen to the way they frame gratitude, theirs is always a context of animals and land and how they provide.

If we want, as people, to rise up from feeling that we are not doing our own thing in the land we live in, we have to change the way we treat words. Words, as they say, should not be taken lightly. If we are going to have to choose between governments and land claims, i think choosing and saying the right words about ourselves and how we label the land has to change not with the "outside" world, but with Inuit ourselves as well.

I want to know what you think?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

On days like these

Its ten degrees celsius.
we now have a ride,
a green neon chrysler
and its the coolest of cars
in this town.

I got a package
a blue package from iqaluit,
full of books and
plates and there were even
cotton swabs

it is a very good weekend so
far.

these are the kinds of days that
i remember most from
my childhood.

the snow is melting
streams are running
the roads are full of
pot-holes

but its the books that delight
the curiosity
the creativity
and just the smell of books
is great.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Revolution Will... You Know... Not Have... Legs On Dinner Tables

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag
and Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.
- Gil Scott-Heron - first line of the poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised."

- the last line of the poem:

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

I'll give you a scary thought, well, it is scary to me:

Imagine people actually follow this blog and actually look forward to a new post. A person, maybe from Russia, Korea, Iraq, France, Germany or even from Nunavut it self, which this blog have received views from, actually read and save a copy of what I've written.

I know.. I know... its ridiculous to think such a thing.... but if you are that such person, i have news for you. I have a place to call my own. A place i pay money for, which houses my body and soul and consumes all my excretions and supplies H20 for myself. And Heat. Electricity. And End tables.

Since Thursday May 26, 2011, my favourite number has been changed to: Eight Hundred and Thirty Two. Also my new favourite letter is: B. Which combined to mathematical precision create my house number. 832B. There has to be a biblical, or Egyptian or maybe even philosophical importance to the number. I have absolutely nothing to complain about the place. Nothing. Even if it were not furnished and bare. I'd still be thankful. And never in the history of my 29 years on this planet, I have never been this thankful to a government... until now. Thank You. Umm, Nu...Naa...Vut... (sighs) got that over with, now back to the good news.

Because I am not very good at picking out curtains, I have unmatched coloured curtains, which i decided upon after 20 minutes of consideration, which was mostly to being traumatized by the prices of simple and flimsy curtains. I bet its not very hard to use the sewing machine and make curtains, but these were probably made by an honest Ontarian, who works at a friendly factory that pays just above minimum wage instead of a Filipino child in a sweatshop, which i think explains, the cost of the curtains. And that Nutrition North, unfortunately, doesn't cover black and brown curtains.

(I hope you have a great sense of humour)

The cable was installed in record time. If there is a super cable man, this guy was it. almost the very same hour. As if a silhouette of a TV was projected above 832B and the cable man sprang to his uniform and tadaa... I came home to cable TV.

If you are from the south and are reading this from the south, your jaw is going to drop in 1 second, soon after you read this: I pay over a hundred dollars for a 5Gb bandwidth limit per month. But also, I am very thankful for this, and so should you, that I get to write and post on this blog.

I also have a great view. If this community were greatly developed and we had millionnaires and had luxurious hotels, the view I have would be a million dollar view. But currently, it is a thousand dollar view because that is what I pay for this privilege.

Which brings me to the end. The place that I rent has furniture part of the package. I had to assemble a few things and one of them was a dining table, complete with chairs. You can also adjust the size of the table to a round one, which would be great for a poker night, I thought. I opened it and lo and behold, no legs. It is one big leg, right in the middle. It looks beautiful in the picture and I was looking forward to eating on it. But I am not even upset. I'll gladly wait for it.

If Mr Scott-Heron's first line of his poem is true, I hope they hold it off for at least six months, the revolution that is. I want to settle a little bit, get my couch groove on and maybe pay and help reduce the 200 million dollars housing corporations deficit. I'll gladly pay for that right now, in exchange for this place.

I'll be part of the revolution but let me revolutionize this house to my comfort first. And before television goes, let's think of the efficient super hero cable man, who will televise anything except the revolution. He has a job to do.

Let this be written in the annals of history.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NS Alumni Association of Pangnirtung

I've been having this idea since June of last year, during or right after the Nunavut Sivuniksavut's 25th anniversary, held in Iqaluit. There were many messages talked about and ideas passed around. From the start, i never thought of this on my own, i talked to friends who went to NS.

I don't really want to talk about NS too much, the programs speaks for itself but of the students, i want to bring up. Not to glorify the alumni of the program, i would like to point out that, you as a graduate, has resources that not many people have in Nunavut: each other, with the same understanding and knowledge and also passion to learn and teach many aspects of Nunavut's history and future possibilities, however wild and glamorous they might be. It is this kind of passion and enjoyment that will, in the long run, assist Inuit and others, in hopefully creating peaceful lives.

With that stated, lets try to look at the number of alumni in our community. I know that Pang has many alumni, from the first ever class to new graduates, that fit the paragraph above. I think many of us even have great jobs and pretty good careers coming up in the future.

What can we as alumni do to help our communities and NS, the program itself? How much benefit can we bring to each other and others around the community, especially younger children who will need a future to look forward to. How can we maximize our understanding of community building and implement such knowledge?

Well, maybe we can meet sometime? Maybe one day, we can sit down and talk about possibilities and realities? Maybe we can come up with any kind of idea that will make our communities more peaceful and attractive to live and learn from? What can we do, as individuals and as a group, to mobilize ourselves to help our communities? these possibilities can be countless if we think of them up.

Let me know what you think.

you can email me at pangniqtucker@gmail.com to express ideas and possibilities.

i think it is due time we do something, anything.
*radio adresses regarding community issues in conjunction with community organizations or governments
*Hold trade fairs, career fairs, cultural fairs and so on
*Help people with any administrative work that will help them create jobs or gain knowledge

these are small points that i have made up. imagine all of us pooled together. imagine what we can come up with.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Culture of Illiteracy and Fear of Reading

well, i actually hope people of all kinds read this post, especially if you are Inuk and/or a northerner of some many years.

here it goes.

I have been in Pang for the past four months now and i would like to offer an explanation as to why i hardly write on my blog anymore. It is pure and simple. There just isn't a culture for reading in this town and i imagine other Inuit communities as well, where you develop a love for books or magazines that broaden your view on anything.

And then there is the other side of the story. Not all people are like this but one of the comments i have received, when he saw me reading a book was, "do you really think books really make you learn? Don't you think you would rather do something than sitting around and reading? Is it not such a qallunaaq thing to do, to read." There is fear that you, as a reader, are losing your culture if you keep on reading english books and that you are more interested in the qalunaaq world than i am at my own culture. Which is far from the truth.

This fear, that many Inuit have about losing culture and language, is and has paralyzed my zeal and passion for books and writing. You just don't see people here reading and if they are, they are reading Jim Bell's opinionated editorial pieces or the bible. You never see books on bookshelves, except they're filled with porcelain polar bears and angels, or knick knacks.

I'm no longer going to say what is good and acceptable anymore. This is not acceptable is it? Should we be afraid of books and if we are afraid of them, under what grounds? Is it because they're in english and have western ideas? Is the snowmobile not a western idea? are we afraid of it and how practical is it? Don't you think books are like snowmobiles for your mind, useful for something, like hunting for that definition or that idea?

I mean, people here are willing to pay 120.00 for a 26 ounces of alcohol, but not willing to spend 5.00 on "Bambi" or "Cinderella" or "where the wild things are". People here are willing to spend there child tax benefits on a gram of weed for 50.00 but cannot fathom to spend 20.00 on Bill Bryson, Faulkner, National Geographic magazine, or even any sort of novel or non fiction.

And what of the library? I have been there a couple times and in one instance where i opened a book, the last take out of the said book was in 1997. I'm not criticizing the library, i love those places, but if not utilized, what is the use?

I am not trying to lecture anyone about this, i am just merely writing down my observations.

And i think i have to admit this fault: that many of us do not try to get kids to read. we fail at this from the onset of children's love for new knowledge. Also, we have to admit the relatively new notion of knowledge coming from books, rather than our elders or parents. Our history tells us that Inuit never had a writing system and that knowledge has been passed down through oral teachings and lessons. There is also the fear of losing out language to english and most of the books are in english, so i can see the apprehension people have and i don't blame them.

But, honestly, we cannot stop that from making us read and becoming an avid literary culture. We can definitely produce books and that can be easy enough. What we have to overcome is the fear that we are losing our culture. you cannot lose culture, it merely changes, unless we all die, thats is when our culture dies. As of right now, we are in the midst of some changes, they may seem enormous right now, but in the long run, i think, we will realize that we never did lose anything, we merely changed our opinions on various matters and how we react to them.

Just so that you understand why i am hardly writing now, this is a big reason. The other reason is that, I have been going out hunting whenever possible, when the weather allows and if nothing happens. Seals, fish, ptarmigans and geese are available right now. Its spring and the weather is mild enough to be outside for hours on end, where computers don't necessarily work in. We also get a free tan, courtesy of mother nature and mr. sun.

All i am really hoping for is that I'll get over the issues as to why i am not writing as much as i used to. I hope to get over this cultural mishap that we think anything new coming to our part of the world is all bad influence and is breaking down our culture to smithereens. We have to stop fearing literacy and become literacy ourselves.

Soon, in five years I hope, to say that we are the story and the story was made by us. One day we will embrace books on our shelves. One day, i hope that we are the Hemingway of literacy. That we produce not just opinions, but scientific history, not only relating to our world, but to the whole earth and beyond.

there is an article in Nunatsiaq News about Greenlandic scientist, who happen to be Inuit, where they urge inuit to become scientist and that knowledge is knowledge, regardless of who holds it. I think this is very apt to what i was talking about except he is talking about science and not books. But he says:

"Last July, Rosing told delegates at the ICC general assembly in Nuuk that Inuit should change their attitude about there being “two kinds of knowledge” in the world, traditional environmental knowledge and western scientific knowledge — because there is only one kind of knowledge.

“Knowledge is knowledge — whoever has it,” Rosing said.

Rejecting what science has to say can be “an impediment for the Arctic to be heard in the world,” he said.

Inuit should play by “the same rules” as everyone else when it comes to understanding the world, Rosing said.

“it’s putting you in a corner if you go on and say you’re really, really special,” Rosing told Nunatsiaq News during the recent Arctic climate change and pollution conference in Copenhagen."

by rejecting the world, we are rejecting our possibilities.

i hope you understand.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

sorry, this is an apology

As in almost every apology, you have to think it through correctly to make sure you don't have to apologize again for the same thing the next time. So i have tried to think this through and how am i going to apologize appropriately for the lack of written subject in the last two months.

I am sorry for not informing you that i am an employee of the government of nunavut now. i have been under their payroll for a month now. I go to a pretty big blue office, where the majority of the employees are Inuit women with big trucks.

i am sorry for not informing you that i have tried to go out hunting as much as possible for a man that has to ask to borrow a snowmobile. I have borrowed my brothers snowmachine a couple times. so i have caught a seal pup, a fish with a kakivak and a few ptarmigans.

on another note, that does not require an apology, i have not read a new book in over two months. you should really pity for that. books are really not part of the culture up here, which is a shame really. Books are new friends that you can share and keep for a long time. actually, they never talk back and never insult you.

this is tommy, hopefully next time i will not wait for a long time until i write again.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

how one person can

have you heard?
the MLA representing pang?
i mean its pretty embarrassing
going all over the news and whatnot

sure i get it, people get into trouble all the time
but a person who is supposed to be more responsible
than anyone else from pang is not doing his job at all

we should step up and demand of his removal
any elected person should not be doing such shit as he did
it's embarrassing as having all of the people
of pang having their pants pulled down

don cherry

i hope don cherry will read this one day
because i think he would find it funny
and suiting as well.

i was watching hockey last night
started seeing don cherry and his usual rants
and it reminded me of inuit political organizations

you see, mr. cherry likes to talk and talk
opinions are his trademarks and he has a lot of them
and he is always mostly negative
accusing people and thinks he is always right

and that is how inuit org and the government are a lot like
they love to talk and accuse and saying shit that doesn't
always make sense

we have to stop and realize what is going on
look at ron maclean
he is usually calm and usually brings things back to
normal and tries to calm things down
he is levelled and listens

maybe we as inuit should stop and think before
we go on making accusations and mouth off

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Useful Information

Since i have been in Pang for the last month
i have a been reading and watching movies
and playing video games.

i have no such thing as a hurrying
or being rushed to do anything
just cruising by and eating and doing
other bodily functions.

yes, its true, i do get bored and i look
for something to do and sometimes i find it.

The last time i stayed at this house
for so long was when i housesat at the age of 16
and i barely leave sometimes

i sometimes congratulate myself and pat myself in the back
because i used to hate this place, dreaded it
and look at me now, i even go to the co-op and northern
and once i've been to the post office

for the sake of doing something,
i ask my father if there is something to do
and yes, of course, he has something to do
like make a qamutik, from scratch and i help in anyway
and after the last nail i picked out all the wood scraps and wood shavings

or this other time, i made an ulu, or
finished it part ways and gave up on it.

or the times i played video games with my qangia
and killed russians and zombies

or the time i go sliding with my little niece
and she says wee

but most times i just read a book or wikipedia
and today i learned something about the
roman catholic church's bureaucracy

or about this plane that flew right around the earth
in ninety something hours

or how gaddafi is trying ever so hard to cling to power
and how mubarak fell from his power hold

or about nardwuar the human serviette who asks questions to
celebrities and how some don't like him

and i even make lunch sometimes

but what is useful about this you ask?

its useful because i have a dried apple core on my
dresser, its been there since yesterday
or my dirty laundry on the floor collecting dust
or that my father told me to wipe the grime off my kamiks

this is more useful than anything else in the world
it matters more than people fighting for democracy
it matters more because it doesn't do anything
and things that don't do anything don't get enough credit

sometimes in life, no matter what people tell you
you just have to do nothing for a while
and i can give you that advice because i am really good at it
doing nothing and been doing for a while

from pang,
yours sincerely
a guy doing nothing

Sunday, February 13, 2011

there was once

there was once a little girl
who loved to twirl
twirl and swirl she did in snow
she made sure she never froze a toe

there was once a little boy
who loved wooden toys
played with them all day long
he made sure they were never gone

there was once a big man
who always had a great tan
he was outside most of the time
he never tasted a lime

there was once a big woman
who had never heard of the romans
she was always busy
but always took it easy

there was once a medium sized dog
about the size of a medium sized hog
this dog had that shape of a log
and rolled around on a wet bog

there was once a bird
who was always careful not to step on a turd
this bird always played with a broom
sweeping and cleaning the room

there was once a girl who loved to twirl
there was once a boy who loved wooden toys
there was once a big man who always had a great tan
there was once a big woman who never heard of the romans
there was once a medium sized dog about the size of a medium sized hog
there was once a bird who was always careful not to step on a turd

these creatures never had much in common
but i made them and they come from the same place
now they all live under the same roof
and once in awhile they acted like goofs

just to pass the time, they acted in a play
and played with the DVD player so they can replay
their favourite movie
maybe?

Friday, February 11, 2011

the niceness of inuit

i was listening to the radio, or rather my parents were listening to the radio, which is on every single day, when an announcement went on about food. if you are from pang, you'll understand this, but one of the hunters announced that anyone can pick up seal meat from their place, as long as they bring a bag.

this is not amazing to Inuit. i lived in ottawa for a number of years and i lived in iqaluit for the summer and no one ever put out a notice that anyone can pick up any food for free. actually in iqaluit, they sold food, country food. in ottawa they have shelters that offer food but they consider it for poor people. but in pang, and maybe smaller communities as well, they give out food all the time.

this got me thinking. i have heard on the news that inuit have the lowest number of volunteers in canada, or i should say nunavut, which is mostly made up of inuit anyways. and people probably thought nunavummiut were such bad people or were lazy. but what these statisticians forgot that inuit will not, let me point that out, will never brag about volunteering or giving out food. it is degrading to do so. and these information collectors forgot a lot of essential details about the lives of people up here, which is niceness is a given.

people will not point out the number of hours they did, visiting elders, which usually means helping one of them one way or another, will never point out that they gave caribou, seal, fish or any country food to anyone. they will never point out that after someone, anyone in the community has passed away, people visit the grieving family for a number of days afterwards, will never point out that they fund raise for family members to go to the funeral which can go up to thousands of dollars.

volunteering is for people, i think, and especially in the south, that are to me, trying to win compassion points, if you will. and i might be making a generalization, but i'll take the risk, they are usually rich people that feel they need to "help" the community. i am not saying they should stop, but i think they help for the wrong reasons.

as for living up here, they just do it. it amazes me to hear it on the radio for people to say "pick up food from my place" and the do it for anyone because they have been told by their parents or grandparents to do so. people don't consider this volunteering but it is. it is helping people and people don't need organizations to be nice up here.

each family is its own salvation army. each family is a sally annes. each family is a humane society, giving out pets and so on. each family is a philanthropic family. each family is christianity, buddhism or islam, they all want to help in one way or another.

i have wrote in the past that maybe inuit are too nice for their own good, but i am glad we are. in this world where there is greed everywhere and there is war and famine everywhere, inuit are nice to other people, in general. don't let me paint a utopia here, because there is a lot of shit that goes on around here, but inuit don't just let go of these people that do these shit, they try to help them. and that is a whole lot of volunteerism there. in many ways are just so helpful.

next time before the north is put into a light of non-helpful society, they should hear and learn from the generosity of people here, it makes you proud. they should go to a house and ask for food, they'll get it, i guarantee it.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bring a White Guy to Work Day

Inuit organizations in nunavut
have decided on a new policy
and will have to be obeyed as of this year
the employees of the organizations
such as NTI, QIA, KIA, KIA,
and some government departments
will have to live through starting
next week on monday

in their infinite wisdom as
representatives of the original people
of this land, the presidents of said organizations
and ministers of the departments,
along with the premier of the territory
have decided that white people are
excluded in too many policies
and that their rights are not
considered enough in decisions

so to appease their displeasure
and to make cross-roads in
race relations in nunavut
"bring a white guy to work"
has been initiated

on this day, you are encouraged to
wear a tie and a suit and kakis
or kamiks and a parka and if possible
black rubber boots and only on this day
will you be able to carry a rifle
to work and each office is required that they
serve many country foods and that all
have to be both raw and cooked
there will be free tea and crackers and some
palaugaaq and jam and peanut butter

on this day, inuit, especially
have to be extra courteous, more than usual,
and will have to teach any white guy
how to kunik,
the proper way of jigging
how to stir sugar into your mug properly
proper inuktitut words
how to count with your hands starting from the pinky
proper ways of shaking one's hand
how to remove snot without the use of tissue
proper ways of shopping at wal-mart
how to browse the internet at work without getting caught
and so on
and as an employee of these places
you have free will to do any other inuit things

on this day, these offices will have to
play inuktitut music
hang encouraging posters depicting
inuit successes, such as
jordin tootoo without an alcoholic beverage in his hands
zacharias kunuk with his camera d'or
leona agluukkaq with stephen harper
if they can find one: an inuk millionaire
any inuk artist with a white collector will also do

each white person will have to
refrain from expressing his or her views the whole day
also refrain from using inuktitut words unless told
will refrain from taking notes
actually all notebooks and pens will be confiscated
also you are only to speak when spoken to

the federal government will provide all the
necessary funds for this event

for nunavut government employees
this will constitute as your IQ day

for inuit organization employees
this will constitute a way to reflect on your views

and if you are not white or an inuk
it will be your day off

Monday, February 7, 2011

Tommy of the Baby Seal Clan

Being an Inuk is strange.
i think its stranger than fiction
you can't make up the stuff that happens
past or present and the future

either as a group or as individuals
we have been made fun of
we have been desecrated
been portrayed as savage or noble
been given names and given ourselves names

but we should not take this so seriously
and we should not always trust
the governments and organizations
and especially people who say
they have good intentions

i don't come with good intentions
i come as i am and i try to be as i am
but its always hard, especially
being an inuk and being lumped
into other aboriginal groups
and as another minority group

here is a case and has happened
more than once to me and probably
to other inuit as well

i was at a bar in ottawa with friends of mine
and these african sounding people
(i don't know which country they came from,
as inuit we are not as nosey as others)
came up to us and asked us if
we were indians and if we have chiefs

and just to play with them
we said we were and they asked us which
clan we were from
and i had the great vocabulary
of saying we are from the
baby seal clan

and one of my friends pointed to me
and said i am the chief and i inhaled my smoke deeply
to give myself a sense of importance
and they shook my hand
and i told them the two guys with me
are my bodyguards
and we don't get to have fun so much
because we represent our nation

and they bought all of it and they shook
our hands again and and look genuinely impressed
that we were real indians and we looked it too

another case is even by an indian
whom i met when i was at a conference of some sort
where she asked
how we get our sweet grass to burn
and how we get out traditional tobacco
and she was really confused when i said
we don't associate with first nations
and consider ourselves different from them

and she looked offended by this
that i had the guts to say
we are different from her
even as much i tried to explain
that our languages are incomprehensible
to each other and that we call ourselves
inuit and not first nations

this written piece does not have a point or a purpose
i just felt like writing
it is just my rambling

although my only purpose was to make you smile
and if i did not succeed
i am sorry

Friday, February 4, 2011

Growing up Pang

I don't like this community a lot sometimes but it's my hometown and it always brings me back here. the reasons are different each time, either death or to celebrate something or to go out hunting. and even though i don't like it a lot sometimes, it always brings me to my bare bones and usually gets me to think about my childhood and how lucky we are to have grown up here.

now when i was kid, i spent a huge time of it being out on the land with my family. and not just my family but it was my cousins and my parents cousins or just a whole lot of people. we usually were in one camp, maybe up to ten tents and even sometimes more. and we all hunted and helped hunt in one way or another. it used to be a big part of the community when i was growing up to see your peers not show up to school because they were out hunting. and to prepare ourselves to be hunters, which including myself didn't turn out to be, we usually had either slingshots or BB guns to use to hunt small birds.

but before i go there, let me point out that Pang has grown quite a bit since i was kid. new houses are springing up and new jobs have been produced through the years. the fishing industry has grown and and the weather has even changed.

i remember that we used to bring slingshots to schools and even without going home, we used to look for small birds everywhere and usually trekking up to an hour or two to go to the dump where it was flushed with qupanuaqs and lemmings. man were they fun to hunt. usually each day one or two of us would bring home a wounded bird to take care of as a pet. but they always died a couple days later, prompting us to go out again, day after day and practicing our shots.

and we went both in bad or good weather. we played outside so much that our parents would even send us outside during a blizzard. maybe they got so tired of us or they just saw the value of being and experiencing weather of all sorts. there is one memory i have that jumps out very sharply. we were burying ourselves in blizzard conditions in snow and we'd try and find the other people that were buried. we were never careful and we could have been buried so quickly and never been found, but there was never any casualties.

i don't know if kids still do this but we all used to have small skidoos and small boats with strings attached to them, so we'd go out into the pressure ice or tide and also kill anything that moved. the krill were the fish that we caught and the kanajuq's were our seal or whales depending on their size. and of course our parents let us do just that, nine, ten and eleven year olds out there alone. and we were good kids, not this not-listen-to-your parents kids. we did stuff for them and sometimes they even sent us to do dangerous chores. it was such an innocent world.

such as these activities. parents sent us with ice pick as little kids and we had to go pick up ice from the river just because they craved ice water. they all had running water by this time but they craved the old days where they had ice water. so they sent us.

or sent us fishing during the summer because the sun was out all hours. and of course some of us got caught when the tide was coming up and were stranded in a rock until you got brave enough to either swim or go up top your chest in freezing water. and some of us were lucky to catch fish and come home three or four in the morning all smiles. some got snatched in their fishing hooks too and got some pretty good cuts. we also went looking for fishing hooks into popular fishing places and even to raging river waters just so that we can get new hooks. i don't know if any of us got swept away but i know that some of us got really good fishing hooks, just to lose again the next day.

snowmobiles were good back then. and they didn't seem all that heavy. although they weren't as efficient as they are now on gas. and the leather seat was different, not even sure if it was real leather, but it used to get sticky during hot spring days. i remember having black streaks on my butt on spring days because the seat were all black and sticky, unless your father put some sort of protection as a canvas on to it. and i think the qamutiit used to be longer back then because i come from big family and we'd fit six children into them and be gone for a month or even longer.

and when it was school time. we used to visit all the new teachers. and there would be many kids visiting the new teachers. so for at least a month or two, the teachers would get little inuit children visiting them every single day and asking for candy or cookies. we had no sense of shame back then and we all enjoyed it. if they were not necessarily nice teachers, come winter, when they were holed up, we throw rocks at the house and run like hell. it was our version of leaving dog shit in a paper bag and ringing the door bell, except we didn't ring the door bell and just tried to annoy the hell out of the teacher. and teachers back then stayed for more than a year in spite all of that.

and we didn't shower or take a bath for at least a good week. i remember that a few of us didn't want to take our socks off when it was time to do some foot paint on a big piece of paper, because we all had dirty feet. and our heads would be nice and shiny from grease because we hadn't bothered to wash them. and we didn't even have lice outbreaks or anything like that. we moved around too much to have lice.

street hockey was played every hundred feet on the roads. and we didn't have teams, so there'd be kids of up to thirty all chasing one puck. but we all knew who was our teammates and who they pretended to be. mario lemieux, gretzky, jarri kurri, mark messier and so on. and we had real wooden sticks. it got so cold sometimes, that the soft pucks would turn out to be real hard pucks and more than a few of us got lucky enough to get hit in the face and get shiners.

and we played with fire too. so during the summer many of us would collect wood from all over town and used them for firewood. it was as if we were garbage men for the town because i remember having a hard time finding some good wood to burn. and get this, some of us were lucky enough to get some gasoline or naphtha from our fathers and we'd have real shows of fire. and some of us even used to steal bullets from our fathers and also used them to make our own fireworks. sometimes it sure got scary and dangerous. despite all of that, we survived up to this day.

come to think of it, it is kinda scary that we are the ones to run our communities and schools and are teachers now. we own boats and skidoos and rifles and some of us have kids.

i hope kids today are going to think their childhood was as awesome as ours.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the way i see nunavut sometimes

if you get offended by this, you either have no sense of humour or you are way too overly patriotic to have some sense in you.

nunavut is a very sensitive subject for some people and for those people, you have to look at the big picture and see nunavut as a very new idea, a new entity and a new bureaucratic mess. or you can look at it my way and have a laugh with me.

nunavut is going to be 12 this year.

i was talking to a group of students in ottawa and i was telling them not to take everything too seriously, especially the idea of identity and the idea of nunavut. i call nunavut an idea because the current condition it is in, it is just forming into something. it is not even a thing yet, just a something. so i told the students that there are always going to be people that are going to tell them to work for or on behalf of nunavut and to think twice before they do.

i used a metaphor that is kind of rude. i told them the way i see nunavut right now is: it is a twelve year old girl who thinks she is grown up. at this moment, think of those white girls who show up on jerry springer. she is like a prostitute that uses anything and everything to get money or to get her needs met. she will cry, she will trick you, she will undoubtably make you uncomfortable.

nunavut is a twelve year old prostitute that thinks she is all grown up when after all she is just a little girl that need taking care of, that needs to be scolded and she needs to be taught some respect. she needs to be taught basic manners.

and the current news about devolution. she is an twelve year old girl that is asking for an engagement ring from a white man twice her age but the white man does not want to marry her and uses her, nunavut, for her apartment (land) because the apartment (nunavut) is very nice in a prime real estate. she won't get married and because its illegal but the white man will keep her for exploitation.

so, nunavut is a twelve year old prostitute, very a troubled little girl.

we have to take out time with inuit and nunavut. any form of government needs time to form and mature. i don't think we have to hurry and keep out expectations low. if we keep them high we are just going to keep getting disappointed.

i hope you have a sense of humour and smiled and laughed as i did tonight.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

what is cold?

ok, i have never wanted to really write anything about weather
but this weather has prompted me to
because its damned cold

now, i have been in the south where weather is despised
all through the newspapers and television
they treat it as if they can change it

the forecast are very disappointing
always talking its cold and or freezing
and when it is warm, they love it.

i have been up in iqaluit and pang for the past year
and people don't or rarely complain about it
and actually they rarely look forward to the warmness

and its cold up here now and its expected
actually they are appreciative of it
because they know that the cold is good for them

good for the community and good for the land
it will allow the hunters to travel wide and far
and they actually want it to last long because
the ice will thicken up and means the hunting
season is going to be longer

and the cold has made me think
about the past and imagine how it would have felt
in caribou skins and would be complain?

what is cold to you?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hey Yu And Du Marier Regular please

i haven't made fun of myself in a while or laugh at myself. so here it goes:

Hey Yu.

i arrived to Ottawa the month before and started working a project with Nunavut Sivuniksavut and helped out in anyways I can. the students at NS have an annual performance at the Winterlude Festivities and this was that time. Ottawa had a huge amount of snow and it kept snowing that month. Like said, i came from the north just a month before, so I had a nice yarn hat that i still wear and nice leather mitts that i also still wear. i had just gotten my eyeglasses.

the student were performing and i went to the back of the audience because i had seen the shows over and over again by that time, so i didn't need to watch them drumming and throat singing. I went to the back and stood. People walked by me and gave me that interesting look every-time they passed. I tried to stay away from people and smoke my cigarette.

this white man, came up to me and looked at me like he knew me. He smiled and he said, "hey you!"
i said, "hey, not a bad performance huh?!?!" thinking that he is just being nice and thinking he just wants to talk. He smiled at me and said, "yes, very nice performance, i've seen them throat sing twice now, did you hear them?"
i said, "Yes, all day too." He looked kinda surprised when i said that.

a lady went up to him and she was obviously enjoying the cultural show the students were putting on. the white man said to the lady as soon as she walked up to us, "Look its Yu, he's out here too."
The lady looked embarrassed and said, "that is not Yu. He looks like one of the student."

that is when i realized that the man had been calling me Yu, like some Chinese name and I thought he said "Hey you", not "hey Yu" as he had said it. He thought i was some Chinese dude named Yu and he said he was sorry. i said it was alright. And he had the guts to say, "you guys all look the same anyways." I almost got offended but i figured i got a good story out of and smiled them goodbye.


DuMarier Regular please?

It was 5:00PM, i was anxious to get home and eat my shawarma. First, i had a long day and it was wet outside as it had been snowing all day and i had to take the bus. i searched through my pockets for a cigarette, to get my nicotine fix. Nothing!

there is a corner store just a few feet from the bus stop, so i went in. but just before i went in, i saw the bus i was to take, the #95. so i hurried in and i was the only customer and in a hurried voice i said "duMarier Regular please?"

The cashier was an asian man and he looked at me with a confused, small eyes look and said right away, "Sorry I'm not chinese!"
i had to think quick, why did he just say that? then i realized that in my hurried voice and my good looking chinese looks, i had fooled the man to thinking that i was chinese when i asked for "dumarierregularplease?" He thought i was speaking chinese.

i got embarrassed and said in a slow monotone voice: DU MARIER REGULAR PLEASE?
and he gave me the pack and i left the door and stepped on to my bus, the #95.

The Happy Beggar

The story is from 2009

this is just a story, not true, some are from my experience and some are made up:

Have you realized the people who have the greatest sense of humour are usually people whose had it the toughest in life?

I have an easy life. I grew up in a nourishing and supportive family. I was never hungry, i always had something to eat. I never got abused. never seen my parents drinking. they bought me the greatest gifts, year after year. every single day, i was told that i am loved! i finished high school and went on school trips to places like Scotland. I had a snowmobile most of the time. Heck, I've had rifles since i was five years old. I have a life that is devoid of struggles, i have the most loving family this world had to offer. I can talk to my father like he is my best friend. simply put, I am loved and i've never really had it hard.

Remember my story and how easy i've had it! Remember?

I am living in an environment that produces immense amount of prosperity and possess-able materials. I live in an environment that produces building materials and they keep on building. Since i have moved to the city, new buildings have been going up every year. I pass by people who wear expensive clothes and can afford Mercedes' and Land rovers and even Hummers. I walk and talk to people who own million dollar buildings. i know people in the city that will die a nice death on a bed beside their families and loved ones. They will afford a $3000 tombstone with a very self-supporting epitaph:
Here lies John Doe
He never heard of Death Row
He never lifted a hoe
He always wanted more
and he'll keep getting more
even if god never kept a score!

remember the environment? You can throw money in this town and it can support thousands of people. the money can buy thousand of cup-o-noodle soups, thousands of slices of bread, thousands of mmm, mmm, mm, so good Campbell's soups, thousands of shoes and boots, thousands of mitts and canada goose down jackets for all the needy this city has made suffer.

I am not very rich right now, actually, it is hard right now but I have it much better than most people in the city.

Yesterday, i received a cheque for $9.75. I cashed it and it turned out to be cash. i stepped out of the bank and there he was. Sitting and leaning on to a newspaper stand, with a black blanket around his shoulders, he smiled and laughed. He laughed and said, "I've actually taught you when you were in grade three, i have made you lunch when you were hanging out with my son, i have given you pepsi and now look at you, wearing a "Pang hat" with Sony headphones, mitts that your mother made and that jacket probably cost you $200, you even have a MEC backpack."

He laughed some more. I didn't get what was funny.

He proceeded, "I am asking for a cigarette from qallunaat and they give me looks like i soiled myself. some don't even look at me. I ask for pennies and nickels. I take anything, even food that they didn't finish. But its funny because I never thought, 15 years ago when i taught you in grade three, that i would be asking for money from you!"

He gave a small chuckle and coughed out phlegm like a 40 year smoker of Players Light. The wrinkles in his face had gotten more defined since the summer. Begging for pennies and nickels is more stressful than fighting in a war, aging day by day like its been month and months.

i laughed with him, not because i thought it was funny, but because i could tell he needed someone to laugh with him. An Eskimo laugh is worth nothing when it is done alone, so i had to glorify his laugh and laugh with him.

My father told me: "give what you can. You make all that money down south and you see people who ask for money all the time, give some whenever you can, okay?!?!?!"

The $9.75 cheque. I could have bought two lunches, maybe three from Giant Tiger. I could have spent it on my skinny little ass and have a nice shawarma.

i gave him my $9.75 and i told him, "get whatever you want with this money, go get some beer, heck, if you get a quarter, you can buy a gram of weed. go buy yourself some coffee. go buy yourself some candy. go buy what you can with this."

He laughed and i laughed with him and he said: I'll buy coffee for other Inuit that are a block away. I'm not going to spend your money on booze or drugs, i'll do that with qalunaat money, but I am going buy coffee. Thank you. Aakkuluk."

He shook my hand and got up and fixed the black blanket around his shoulders. I could hear him walking down with a smile on his face and he laughed again and said, "I'm poor Inuk"

Taxi Drivers and Cultures

I wrote this back in January 2009.

My father is at
the Larga Baffin
for a check up
for his fucked up
frozen foot.
My mother: The worrier
But she's one hell of a Warrior

"Go see us!" she demanded
"don't make it like the
last time, didn't show up!"
I took
a cab
just before, i had
stubbed my toe on a stone slab


First Driver
as i am really nervous
because it might cost
me more than 20 bucks
first driver
"Hi sir, Where to?"
"1863 Russell Road please,
my parents are there."
I want to
say: Lucky bastard,
too bad the buses are on strike.

I ask
"busy night, you know,
without the buses and all the
snow?"
He says
"pretty busy, good for business."
He lectures me
on the union's demand
and the city's stand!
He is from Ethiopia
in his
40's
Came to canada in the
60's.

My father says
he loves me
tells me
"take care of yourself
and others."
My mother
kuniks me
like a mother should
the sound of,
of her sucking-air-nostrils
are amazingly
soothing and loving

My Second Driver
"Hey buddy, where you goin'?"
take me
home where things
are like the
back of my hands.
44 St. Helene
where i know
the comfortable and the stable
where no sick people are.
He drives and asks
"What's in the box?"
I have food of
seal, char and caribou.

He In An Instant
becomes interested
and he tells me:
"You In-You-It,
so peaceful
never
kills each other.

But I remembered
the first murder in
the city of Politicians
in a place Inuit
Eskimos call: Little Nunavut
on January 1, 2009
4 AM, a roommate
kills his
Other Inuit roommate
and i don't
have the gut to say:

The first in the city
to die a viloent
death: In-You-It

My Second Driver
tells me that
Me with my culture
of my own have been
so peaceful and don't kill

But i know,
In-You-It:
Not so peaceful
violent deaths are
deathly common.

My Second Driver
Ethiopian of 36 years
Came to canada
nation of leaves
for school

He likes our talk
gives me $5.00 discount
but i feel bad
because i didn't
tell him
the truth
Of My Not So
Peaceful and Loving
Culture!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A brown man's burden

take heed if you are brown
or if your ancestors were brown
if you know the word imperialism
colonialism, disenfranchisement
for you have been the marvel of
the white man, especially if
you are a woman, take heed

you have a huge burden for the world
teach thee about global warming
climate change is your weapon
demand devolution because
its easier and less blood than
a revolution and the theory of
evolution is useable in this case

take heed if you are brown
you have a huge burden to teach thee world
of poor housing, of social welfare
of your land claim, your "precious" culture
you are the hunter and gatherer
you know first hand of sustainability
which the rest of the world knows
very little about, it is your burden to
teach the rest, the civilized world

take heed if you are brown
you have a huge burden to teach thee world
of your sewing skills, of your hunting skills
for you are the last of the last
to make your own clothing and please
be aware of globalization, you might be
able to use it to your advantage

you have a burden to teach
that war is not the answer
the democracy might not work all the time
that you are frugal with everything
you sure know how to spend money
you can shop at wal-mart for 6 hours straight
you have mastered the capitalist system

if you are brown, you have burden
to light a qulliq on a opening ceremony
to a cut a ribbon with an ulu
to tell stories of your wretched childhood
to eat country foods raw and cooked

oh well, you might as well go on living your life
it will make a bigger difference to the world
a proper person and a careful person
never makes history
only people that have been desperate
and willing to be different,
will change the world.

go on, i have absolve you of your burden

the staple diets

despite all that news about
the food prices and the freight
costs and all that talk by the government
about nutrition north and
all that news anyways

from what i see and from the people that
need it the most, it hasn't made a dent
the most cheapest food still available
is not really nutritious and you can't really
expect elders and unilingual residents
to order and what are the chances of getting a
VISA or Mastercard and who do they call?

i mean, the more i think about it
when the people that we claim to respect the most
are elders and the most we want to help are
inuit and the majority of this territory are
these people, this program is designed for
rich or richer folks to have an easier life
not for those not so well off, like a lot of inuit

and didn't they say it was to save some money?
for who? harper? leona? eva? me, tommy?
the post office? northern?

these things never work for the people that need
it the most, which are people that live in this community
and the other 25 or so that are scattered up here
and those people are not the teachers, bureaucrats
nurses or administrators or the people that can order and
have Mastercards or VISA's

you know, people still go shopping at northern
or the co-op or whatever grocery store and they still
sell expensive shit and the cheapest are the not so
healthy foods.

for food to be healthy, i think it has to be fresh
unless they are willing to send food from california
the next day or costa rican banana's the day next
but that would be too healthy for inuit, right?
canned food this and canned food that is the cheapest form of
veggies around here, so our meaning for healthy food
has to be redefined and refined

if i were the all powerful leader like leona and eva and harper is,
i would:
lower the gas prices for hunters only with snowmobiles and boats
not to your car or your truck
i would lower the prices of ammunition and not require a license
if you show me a frost bitten cheek or a weather beaten face
i would subsidize hunting implements such as ropes
wood for your qamutik, sleeping bags, and of course tea
would be free it you show me a map of your hunting grounds
i would lower the prices of naphtha only if you can prove you are
going hunting and you got the trust of your community
i would fund community freezers and pay hunters to
bring in their catch to the freezer
i would pay a hunter to be a mentor to a 14 year old boy
i would lower the prices of threads and needles
and fur and provide caribou and seal skins at cheap prices
for seamstresses and i would take 14 year old girls
put them in a room with their female elders and take their make-ups away
and put patterns and ulu's in their hands and they would get paid for it
and don't you think snowmobiles and boats and outboards are
way too expensive? who can afford them?

if i were that all powerful leader, educated people would have
maximum wages because uneducated people already have maximum wages by default
its just equality right?
as an all powerful leader who has all that money to play around with
i would increase the power of HTO's and those women's auxiliary groups
because they are the ones that actually really care for inuit and
the culture that we are so desperate to save, they are living it
when was the last time a government saved a language?
when was the last time a government cared for people?
when was the last time a government hunted for my parents or yours?
when was the last time a government paid for your food with good intentions?
when was the last time a government actually helped people for the better?

now

when was the last time a hunter provided for you? today and even yesterday
when was the last time a seamstress sewed you an amauti? today and even yesterday
when was the last time a hunter died trying to provide food? pretty recent, i bet
when was the last time a mother kept a culture going by drying skins? today and even yesterday
when was the last time a mother saved you money by cooking seal? today and even yesterday
when was the last time a father showed you animal tracks? today and even yesterday

which bring staple diets?
government or a hunter or a seamstress?

Monday, January 24, 2011

hannah montana called

i just can't get enough of her witty remarks
she acts three sometimes but her mouth is old
and the way she uses inuktitut is amazing
uses her qii quu qaa's very well
and can sing and remember songs she heard on the radio

my father is the maker of all this
has instilled in her the love of books and reading
and in the mornings she'll go up to me with
a book in hand and ask:
angakutaa uqalimaarluu?
"uncle-who-is-tall do you want to read with me?"

its hard to say no to her. and when i am reading
she goes up to me and asks me what i am reading
with a genuine interest. and the time i came in
i told her i got books and she literally tried opening my
bags to see what books i brought with excitement

when she is alone, she'll break out into a song
old songs from the past that my father sang to her
songs that my generation hardly knows
and she'll sing songs that she's heard from the radio

sometimes she spontaneously break out dancing
and then she'll be the clown on the floor
making funny body movements and funny faces
entertaining herself and the whole family

when me and father were teaching her a new song
she smiled at us and said:
inngikaqpaaluuvisi ataata angakutaalu
"you really now how to sing, father and uncle"
she even got up on stage during christmas concerts
and sang and read to the whole community

just the other day, she had taken my cell phone
from the room and was pretending to call and be on the phone
and she went up to her aunt, my sister and said
"ilinnu hannah montana uqaalaaju"
its for you, it's hannah montana
and we all laughed and giggled and she appreciated it

she is so generous and willing to share all the time
and just now when i am writing this, she had two
pieces of snack and she asked me if i want some from her
and she does this every single day to all sorts of people
and she says thanks you to every visiter
and she usually starts a statement by saying
"oh" as if she just remembered something

she brings all the unhappiness to its knees
she takes sadness out of people as if by magic
she brings laughter to strangers and family
she takes despair and breaks it to smithereens

i think children have the touch of god
and i am thankful that she is here for all of us

and i don't mind if hannah montana calls once in a while

Friday, January 21, 2011

the black dot in front of me

hahahaha
it starts with a laughter
because i don't know how else
to start this poem

i was walking from my grandfather's
place
11:30 in the evening
after a whole day
of visiting

and as i walked to my parent's
place
on the road, right below the runway
where the road starts climbing
and the light dims

i saw a black dot in front
of me
moving.

at first i thought i was
hallucinating,
or just seeing things
but i had to look harder
and there really was a black dot
moving in front of me

i don't believe in a lot of things
but this thing kind of
freaked,
creeped and
startled me

and then the black dot
moving in front of me
turned sideways:

it was a mutt
the classic inuit community
black dog,
descendant from some
husky and some short legged dog

from a distance,
because it was so short,
it didn't seem to have legs
just a black dog
that seemed to move
without legs

and i felt silly
as i walked to my parent's place
and smiled to myself

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Introducing the new Inuk

you know, you are not very special?
you have no special genes that
make you survive the cold!

your history like anywhere
in the world is connected to
some form of colonialism.

nothing very special about us
just because the ladies can make
an unusual sound with their damn throats
does not make us any different.

because some of us can eat and make
fermented walrus meat or any meat
is not a hallmark of civilization

i think we over romanticize
ourselves: the heroic hunter
the hard working sewing mother

as if we are the lost true people
the pure and noble eskimo
saving the world from
environmental destruction

i read once in a book
by a respectable anthropologist
friends with inuit who are not
going to agree with this poem

where he said, inuit had lot's of free time
out of the hours in a week about 1 day was
spent hunting and the rest was leisure

so much for the hard working eskimo of the past?
but what they meant by being busy
when elders say so, is they occupied their
minds with anything and everything not just hard work

and they probably fucked a lot too
practising infanticide, preferring
boys over girls. it was not always
this picture we learn from school

and we should accept these realities about our past
and not be ashamed of them just because
the white world think its barbaric and crude

sure we have a lot of human incapabilities
i don't even want to call them issues
but we should accept these too and stop trying
to fix everything about our world

i like the little inadequacies such as drunks
on a saturday afternoon and the person
not afraid to smoke that weed on the streets
or the the old man that shoots snot out of his nostrils

or the old woman rudely yelling
at his grandchild and ridiculing the young
saying "when i was young...."

and shit... we survived but we also starved
even though there is a lot of animals up there
we have not always been so successful

even to this day we are shamed
when people asks us if we have a religion
and we say, no we are christians

i am glad we are christians but our beliefs
are different from all the rest, our own views
in a myriad other views of christ

we hunt with high powered rifles
some of us go willy-nilly with our bullets
and get offended because national geographic
wrote a piece about narwhal hunting in a negative light

oh and our language, it doesn't even have swear words
but you have never been scolded so hard
by your mother that it still hurts to this day

and look at us showcasing all that culture
being so serious about on stage,
acting like erika badhu the world performer

but how come i never see a person eccentric enough
to say i am going to write that novel
going to be that crazy person
living in a shack with his type writer

and its always the opposites of the two,
either rich or poor and right and wrong
and religious or non-religious
inuk or non-inuk. we never leave room for the middle

and whats this modernization talk?
what the fuck is modern anyways?
our fathers grew up before people went to the damn moon,
no tv, no internet and look at him now:
living in the modern world and we respect him because
he is an elder, a relic of the past?
would he like that?

and the land claims we all signed huh?
so proud huh? nunavut huh? 1.14 billion?
article 23? NWMB? NIRB? all so good right?

did you know that we sold our rights for $500 million?
not 1.14 billion, the rest was just interests.
does that not shame you, over a 5000 year culture sold for
a price of some ship. the USA has nuclear ships worth more than that
and still we are so proud.

oh i know what you are going to say
"at least we have something, better than nothing"

whatever! we really sold our souls to INAC, NTI, QIA
the two KIA's, corporations are fighting over a mountain
in north baffin and all in the name of owning our 19%
ownership of land in nunavut?

china is probably saying, we can sell better
than the canadians and we'd say no to them
because we are so proud to live in a free country

i am not sure if our view of ourselves
is based on reality anymore
and we've become so accommodating
and accepting that we forget our dignity
in the name of catching up to the rest of the world

so here is the new inuk:
living in a dog house with three other inuit
carving and drawing to make a living
the house beside our dog house is occupied by
a man wearing a tie and suit with a seal skin vest
with carvings and drawings by us on his walls
you can hear music of ayaya's and throat singing
as he writes our history, the noble eskimo
long forgotten and adored by the rest

let's just stop kidding ourselves please!!!

the ᕆ in montreal

walking on saint laurent
a few blocks long
pavement everywhere
quiet and long
one two or three people
passed by

carrying a poster
of a half naked lady

feeling pretty damn good
and have been all day
the beatles, the clash, ratatat,
bob dylan, charles bukowski,
me first and the gimme gimmes,
and mos def
have been my
companions all day

wearing leather mitts
given to me by my mother

all the buildings are more
interesting, older and
hold more tradition
and the churches are everywhere
and a few dog shits
along some of the the
some-dark-streets

with my freshly laundered
jeans and shirt and my
boxing day sale jacket

alone and a guy asks for a light
as if he knew i smoke
"merci monsieur"
"your welcome buddy"
maybe i should have learned french?
and i light one with him and walk again
one block after a line up
for a club

most people don't know i have
nail clippers in my left pocket

as the clash comes on
i can hear people laughing
having fun and enjoying the time
and i think this city is
one of the best
makes me want to write
even play the guitar

is it the fur on the coats
or the high heels of the girls?

whatever it is seems artistic
and the people just know
and the best part is:
it rubs off of them
even if you are not artistic
makes you want to be

and

after all

leaonard cohen, mordechai richler,
arcade fire, the best hockey team,
romeo dallaire, lousie dudek, naomi klein,
ryan larkin, irving layton,
yann martel, sam roberts,

and other

writers and poets and artists and athletes
were born in this city

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

philosophical work through the hands

i have met beautiful and experienced people from all sort of humanity. I think instead of saying we are part of this race and that race too much, we should say i am part of humanity. Because in the end, you are just a human who does human bodily functions: eat, cry, fart, puke, breathe and shit. We are just so simple.

anyways, one of the bodily functioning humans that i met was an elder from rankin inlet. this was a time when i went to a meeting in arviat. the meetings were a week long and i was one of those young people they invited. the whole meetings were all day long, trying to think of ways where we can incorporate inuit values and beliefs into the modern educational system in nunavut. they tried with good intentions. and these meetings were all theory or thought processed meetings and it got to be tiring.

on our last day, i talked to the wise elder from rankin and he invited me to his house when i pass through rankin on my way back to ottawa. so on my way back, i went and visited the elder and i invited a colleague to go along with me so we can talk to the elder. we arrived and went to the place of the elder.

when we entered his place, it wasn't very inuk of him. what i mean by that is that when you visit an elder they offer you tea and introduce you to their household. but the elder didn't do any of that and he very flatly told us to sit and led us to his dining table. we sat down and i could tell my colleague got nervous and it felt like he was going to lecture us and tell us what and what not to do. but that was not the case.

when we sat down, he said he is going to go get something and we waited and he came back. he had this traditional pouch made out of arctic char skin. it was ingenious, just the head cut off and the whole pouch was dried and inside this pouch were all traditional hand tools. hand drills, little saws, and so on, all used by inuit in the past before electric tools.

he started talking that he had made those tools for him and to tell people what their purposes were. and he talked about our meetings in arviat and how we wanted students to learn what it is to have values and beliefs and to use those values in our lives. the arviat meetings, like i said, were all theoretical and this elder realized something was missing and he wanted a message to bring to us.

he said: people think working with hands is a lower form of job and we try to teach students all about thinking and how to process thoughts and how to write about those thoughts. there is something missing in all of them. he pointed to his tools again and said: these, when you are working with them, your brain starts working in a different way. people think to work with tools is a menial job, but i am telling you, these are more theory than work. when you work with these, you think about your family, your reactions to people, your relationships with people, your relationship with the world. you think and think and in the end, without ever thinking you were thinking, you have thought about the world, your place in the world. in arviat we were trying to think of ways to teach students how to do these things, but we missed crucial point, we are thinking beings and it doesn't stop.

i was astounded. here this elder is, never read socrates, plato, rousseau, jung, engels, or that other german philosopher and he was beating them in their own game. and he achieved this by explaining that to work with hands is just as philosophical as thinking and we had missed this point in arviat. he suggested that we work with our hands a little more. as if trying not to think is more creative than trying to be a thinker. he wanted something real and he wanted to apply the real world to a superficial world.

after that, he became more "elderish" and offered us tea and introduced his household. he smiled and became very cordial.

that was more than five years ago and i remember the visit like it happened yesterday.