Sincerity and Conciliation

Asinabka, Outaouais/Ottawa,Québec/Ontario, Canada, Turtle Island


One of the questions that was hurled at me somewhere in the early 1990s had to do with the relationship between the Institutions of Canada (government, law, education, health care, trade, commerce, finance, etc.) and the First Peoples of Turtle Island. This was shortly after the Oka crisis, and I got to hear from the Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) as well as from the children of RCMP officers who had been on site. Having heard both sides, I thought hmmmm. And promptly left the country for a few years. Continue reading “Sincerity and Conciliation”


Farther from the Mad Crowd

Exploring Indigenous means to healthier individuals, families, and communities.

I’ve been stumbling across books serendipitously at the library, falling down a rabbit hole of threads. Of late, it’s been neurocognition – neuroplasticity in particular, as well as anthroplogy (although here I’m really getting in on the ground flood). The most recent thread in this quipu appeared suddenly with my reserved books at the library. I don’t recall having requested it, but that’s not uncommon. In Indigenous Healing by Rupert Ross describes the continuing effects of the residential schools on survivors and their children. Ross describes how native healing circles have proved the only successful means of bringing survivors, their families, and communities out of the cycles of addiction, violence, suicide.

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The Tree of Meaning

Looking Anew at the History of Language and Literature in Canada

The Tree of Meaning by Robert Bringhurst

the Polyhistorical Mind


Human beings have been migrating widely over North America at least since the last ice age. Some of these movements – like the migration of the Navajo and Apache south from teh Yukon to New Mexico and Arizona – can be dated fairly closely; others are harder to fix. But it is not hard to distinguish between these earlier Native American migrations and the colonization of North America by Europeans. The difference is cultural, not racial. It is the difference between, on the one hand, families of hunters learning their way through the landscape step by step, and on the other hand boatload after boatload of refugees uprooted from a sedentary life in one land, crossing the great ocean to another they know nothing whatever about.

The first kind of movement encourages learning, alertness, adaptation, and it generally allows the kind of time this adaptation requires. The second kind of movement is abrupt. It involves the imposition of remembered patterns, or idealize versions of remembered patterns, even where they will not fit. Often it involves the building of large-scale artificial realties. In one of Ghandl’s narrative poems, a man marries a goose. She is unhappy living with him on the earth, and he is unhappy with her in the sky, but neither tries to rearrange the other world. Europeans arriving in North America routinely attempted instead to remake the place in the altered image of home. The maps are still replete with names like Nouvelle France, New England, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, New York. That habitual refusal to accept the actual world continues to this day. It is responsible for Disneyworld, the West Edmonton Mall, and for the bridge that will soon reduce Prince Edward Island to one more faceless piece of the mainland.

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