Some animal humour to lighten the mood

The world keeps throwing so many serious challenges at us that require our attention, but I thought it might be a good idea to take a break and share some of my favourite cartoons. Enjoy!

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TT-ChickenCartoon

TT-BearCartoon

TT-CatDogCartoon

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🙂

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Map Monday: changes in world populations through the ages and associated factors for today’s world

Welcome back to Map Monday.  This week we’re going to use cartograms to illustrate our story.  Remember, cartograms are these strange looking maps that distort the shape of countries to reflect their relative contribution to the total amount being displayed.

Starting with world population, these cartograms show how populations have shifted as well as grown over time, as new places were discovered or colonized, as disease, war or climate changes decimated populations and/or people migrated elsewhere.  I wish I could have found a more thorough collection of these cartograms for earlier times.

1 AD.  World population was about 230 million people.  Notice how many people were in Mexico and parts of South America compared to north of Mexico.

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1500 AD.  World population was about 460 million (doubled in 1500 years).  Notice that the populations in Mexico and Peru had continued to expand, with sophisticated societies that had yet to encounter the Spanish conquistadors. Continue reading

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A different kind of Canada Day

As I’ve expressed on previous Canada Days, Canada is my country by choice, and I feel privileged and proud to be able to celebrate it every year.  But, as I’ve been posting during this month now past of Indigenous History Month, this is a time of serious reckoning for my country.  Because of the horrific discoveries of remains and unmarked graves of now in excess of 1000 children on the sites of former Residential Schools, celebration does not really seem appropriate.

I believe that virtually all normal Canada Day celebrations across the country have been cancelled in respect and support for the unimaginable grieving of the Indigenous people in Canada.  The horrors and abuse, the intentional destruction of Indigenous pride, language, and culture, has all been brought back in nightmarish proportions for residential school survivors and their communities.  Accordingly and appropriately, governments at all levels have announced that instead of returning to some semblance of Canada Day celebrations after having them cancelled last year due to COVID, we were all encouraged to spend this day in quiet reflection.  Reflection of the full horror and implications of an appalling part of our history.  Reflection on the sufferings endured by Indigenous Peoples in Canada in their own land by our governments and by churches.  And, importantly, reflection on how the rest of us can help Indigenous people heal and move forward.  And how we can form respectful partnerships as they move forward and we all move forward together.

One of the many things I love about this imperfect country called Canada is our commitment to multiculturalism, enshrined in our constitution, which supports and encourages “cultural freedom” for all cultures and ethnic groups that come to our country and add vitality to our society.  Such a lofty aspiration – in my books – but there is no way this works with integrity without the first inhabitants of this land being at the front of the list for support and encouragement of their cultures.  We have fallen gravely – egregiously – short in that regard and it is past time to make amends.

So, this Canada Day, please don’t think of it as having been cancelled.  Think of it as a special day of taking the time to consider what work we have ahead of us to ensure that we become the country we aspire to.  Think about what each of us can do to help Indigenous people feel supported and respected right across Canada.  Think of how much more we’ll all have to celebrate as the Truth and Reconciliation recommendations start making real progress.

This year in my town of Fredericton the First Nations in New Brunswick held a Resilience Day, to which all non-indigenous allies were invited.  It was a full day of activities, and an oldster like me didn’t have the stamina for the full schedule.  But I did attend the healing walk and the ceremony at the Lieutenant Governor’s House, which included the placing of children’s shoes to honour those lost.  It was very moving to see hundreds and hundreds of people come out.  In fact, every aspect of the event was very moving.  My hope is that the First Nations people found the day moving and also empowering.  And I so hope that they felt supported. Continue reading

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June 2021: non-Indigenous Canadians now understand only too well why we need National Indigenous History Month

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This has not been a happy time in Canada.  We have been confronted with the Truth, or maybe one could say we’ve been hit over the head with a sledgehammer called the Truth.  The Truth of the cruel, inhumane, criminal residential school system perpetrated on the Indigenous Peoples by the colonizers of what has become Canada.  Twelve full years after June was first proclaimed as National Indigenous History Month by Parliament in 2009, the recognition and the need for it can be doubted by no-one.

This June has been bookended by the discovery (confirmation) of the remains of hundreds of remains and unmarked graves of Indigenous children at the sites of former Residential Schools in Kamloops, B.C. and Saskatchewan.  Both of these residential schools were run by the Catholic Church, funded by the federal governments at the time.  A Catholic Church that has yet to officially apologize for its unspeakable actions against innocent children or turn over its records of the schools and grave sites.

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It was always clear to those in the know and those who reported on the hearings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that such grave sites existed and would be found.  That they needed to be found.  In fact, that requirement is one of the 94 recommendations of the TRC Report, which was presented to the federal government six years ago.  We have to be prepared for the reality that many more grave sites will be found.

The one positive outcome of these findings is that non-Indigenous people now recognize how real this is.  There is no hiding from facts.  Our telling of history will change to reflect reality.  It is changing.  And because of this vastly raised public awareness, surely government action will be accelerated.  Surely governments at all levels will start walking their talk.  Finally.  We need so much more than tentative baby steps.

Report card of government actions on the TRC Recommendations. Continue reading

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Wordless Wednesday: please don’t let it come to this

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Indigenous Peoples Day, lessons in environmental stewardship and more

NationalIndigenousMonth

Today is not just the third Monday of my postings for National Indigenous History Month, it’s also National Indigenous Peoples Day.  It’s a day for celebrating Indigenous knowledge and culture, and Indigenous contributions to our planet.  [You can find some wonderful pictures of powwows and community celebrations that take place on this day in non-COVID times at my last year’s post: Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.]

In recognition of this special Day, I’d like to focus on lessons non-Indigenous people would be well advised to take from the teachings, traditions, and beliefs of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and indeed Indigenous Peoples around the world since time immemorial.

Lesson 1: Sustainability.

NatalieSappierFish

From the Assembly of First Nations (AFN):

For countless generations, the First Nations and Inuit people have had unique, respectful and sacred ties to the land that sustained them. They do not claim ownership of the Earth, but rather, declare a sense of stewardship towards the land and all of its creatures. …

Indigenous peoples consider themselves to be caretakers of Mother Earth and respect her gifts of water and air.  First Nations peoples feel a special relationship with the earth and all living things, based on a profound spiritual connection to Mother Earth that has guided indigenous peoples to practice reverence, humility and reciprocity through the millennia.  Everything is meant to be taken and used with the understanding of only taking what is needed, and with great care and awareness of how and how much is taken, so that future generations will not be put in peril.

This may sound like just so many words to non-Indigenous people who did not grow up with this view of where humans fit into the world of nature.  It may just sound like just so many words the same way our global leaders’ commitments to addressing climate change over the past several years have been just so many words.  But that’s not the case.  There is a fundamental difference between how Indigenous cultures view the natural world and how non-indigenous cultures have seen it. Continue reading

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Thoughtful Thursday: a different kind of thoughtful

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Indigenous History Month: What do baby steps in Reconciliation look like?

NationalIndigenousMonthLast week’s post in recognition of National Indigenous History Month focused on one of the ugliest truths of the Canadian government’s heinous assaults on the Indigenous Peoples, the residential school system.  There’s a long list of egregious government policies and failings towards Indigenous Peoples that I could continue with, but instead of going to that dark place, let’s talk about a few of the small but hopefully positive changes that have occurred since the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) has shone a nationwide light on these issues.

Perhaps foremost, the telling of – and genuine understanding of – Canadian history is being “revised” to include recognition and appreciation of the long history and continuing presence of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada.  A few steps are helping.  The hope is that this movement keeps gaining momentum.

The introduction of the Land Acknowledgement is one example of a small but meaningful step in raising awareness among non-indigenous folks by acknowledging and honouring the First Peoples, who have lived here for thousands of years.  The Land Acknowledgement is a statement now used to begin most public events across the country.  The precise wording varies from city to city depending on the First Nations in the region and the treaties that were or were not signed there.  But in each case, it brings much food for thought for us non-indigenous people.  For many if not most of us, hearing that we are about to see a concert or watch a graduation ceremony on “unceded and unsurrendered territory” is a powerful reminder of how much we have to learn and help change.

Some examples of Land Acknowledgement from across the country: Continue reading

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