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

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.