If theology does not side with the poor, then it cannot speak for Yahweh who is the God of the poor.

February 26, 2014

Every time a white mob lynched a black person, they lynched Jesus. The lynching tree is the cross in America. When American Christians realize that they can meet Jesus only in the crucified bodies in our midst, they will encounter the real scandal of the cross.

The cross

The Christian community, therefore, is that community that freely becomes oppressed, because they know that Jesus himself has defined humanity’s liberation in the context of what happens to the little ones. Christians join the cause of the oppressed in the fight for justice not because of some philosophical principle of “the Good” or because of a religious feeling of sympathy for people in prison. Sympathy does not change the structures of injustice. The authentic identity of Christians with the poor is found in the claim which the Jesus-encounter lays upon their own life-style, a claim that connects the word “Christian” with the liberation of the poor. Christians fight not for humanity in general but for themselves and out of their love for concrete human beings. Dr. James H. Cone 1938 –

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April 30, 1849: The mob that burned down Parliament. rages through the streets of Montreal.

December 26, 2013

Democracy is fragile.

When it twisted to serve power instead of justice, history shows hate and violence rise up.

“Five Thousand (5,000) anti-democratic, Family CompactChâteau CliqueOrange Order have taken over the streets of Montreal.”

 Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine and Robert BaldwinJohn Ralston Saul

Cross-posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.


Has the Ministry of Natural Resources treated the ladies in Springwater Park in a Christian manner?

December 20, 2013

Speaking from my imperfect knowledge of  Catholic social justice principles, no.

SSMarie Precious Blood Cathedral1

Notwithstanding an overall cordial relationship between the perfectly legal First Nations occupation and the local/regional MNR staff and the Premier’s office, any decision above the “mid-level grunt” level is clearly in bad faith (mala fidesand unfair dealings.

Examples:

  • refusing to meet with the occupation, Beausoleil First Nation, and community leaders at the same time, even once after 8.5 months opportunity to do so, (unreasonably force a winter occupation to cynically take credit for re-opening on Apr 1, 2014 which may coincide with a provincial election),
  • breeding distrust between indigenous and settler leaders (divide-and-conquer),
  • using the 230 cm of our expected snowfall and -20 C temperatures to drive first nations’ grandmothers out of the park or into the hospital,
  • cynically playing “bad cop” to Premier Wynne’s “good cop” (here, here, here, now here),
  • threatening to knock the building down,
  • cutting off all electricity for lights, heat and security in a 193 ha., unsecure wilderness more than 3 months ago,
  • refusing to meet with community groups from the Assistant Deputy Minister level and above,
  • (so far) refusing the community permission to do volunteer snow removal to keep the 14 km. of ski and snowshoe trails open. This also forces low income families to pay over $1,000 at private ski resorts for a season pass instead of using our already-paid-for trails.,
  • showing up late as guests for a spiritual ceremony,
  • refusing to allow fallen trees to be harvested for firewood by chainsaw,
  • failing to investigate damage done to vehicles (twice), and
  • approving the sandblasting/desecration of the Vespra Boys cairn (eg. the Anishinaabe and Medewinin Lodge call field stones “Grandfather”; people, animals, air, land, water, trees and even stones have a type of “soul”, made by the Creator and it is my great honour to have been taught should be valued and protected from harm).

I wish Minister David Orazietti and his family all the best for this Christmas season. He and I will be enjoying the warmth, generosity, support and company of our family, parish and community over this very special time in the liturgical calendar. I imagine that the Precious Blood Cathedral in Sault Ste. Marie will be as comfortable as St. Mary’s parish in Barrie will be for Midnight Mass next Tuesday night. St Marys bulletinWe have a terrific new pastor at St. Mary’s who was born in Kenya.

I’ve never had occasion to talk to him specifically about intolerance but this is the first such collection I can remember.

Cross-posted on iLoveMidhurst.ca.

NOTE: A very similar article appeared in the Springwater News on January 2, 2014. pdf


Top 10 viewed posts on SpringwaterParkcc.org so far.

October 23, 2013

What are the most popular articles on this weblog?
top-10

Top 10 Posts viewed and when they were written

    1. Friends of Springwater Provincial Park: their financial record, Nov 28, 2012.
    2. Cat’s-paw: a pawn or dupe, Dec 2, 2012.
    3. Any community groups that are sucking up to the MNR when Springwater Park ownership is under question, are helping provoke a confrontation., May 12, 2013.
    4. Who is responsible for the sand blasting, damage and repair of the circa 1929 Vespra Boys cenotaph at Springwater Park – Camp Nibi?, Oct 15, 2013.
    5. Idle No More in Barrie: Flash Mob Round Dance, Georgian Mall Barrie, ON, Boxing Day, 2 pm., Dec 23, 2012.
    6. The Fraud Triangle by Dr. David Cressey, Dec 12, 2012.
    7. How deep is Ian Taylor’s understanding of First Nations nation-to-nation Treaty Rights and Springwater Park – Camp Nibi?, May 12, 2013.
    8. Simcoe County politicians could finance the Springwater Park “losses” for almost 150 years, if they wanted to, Dec 31, 2012.
    9. Are the 31,000 acres of Simcoe County Forest really The Lungs of Barrie?, Oct 24, 2012.
    10. Sunnidale Park in Barrie should be a model for protecting Springwater Provincial Park from being sold, Mar 14, 2013.

October 23, 2012 to October 23, 2013.


Is it possible for people to empathize, to say something new to themselves about First Nations?

September 14, 2013

Can Idle No More help heal and unify by having even the “mutts” wonder: Wow, maybe this kind of trauma doesn’t really go away. Maybe this trauma on such a mass scale does resonate through generations?

The Orenda

An interesting article about a new book in this morning’s Globe and Mail, Joseph Boyden tackles native torture, colonial amnesia and ongoing racism:

History class has rarely been so fun. But rarely has the teacher been anyone like Joseph Boyden, the Ontario-born, Jesuit-educated, New Orleans-based self-described “mutt” of Scottish, Irish and Anishinaabek heritage whose new novel, The Orenda, is destined to be one of the biggest books of the season. A brilliant and bloody dissection of Canada’s early days, it follows on the heels of two other acclaimed historical novels by the author: His first book, Three Day Road, set just after the First World War, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize; his second, Through Black Spruce, nabbed the Giller.

Q&A:

People have remarked that this is the perfect book to follow the Idle No More movement. And sure, in a sense – this is a novel about First Nations. But beyond that connection, is The Orenda especially resonant in this moment?
I’m happy that people have made that connection. Idle No More didn’t come out of nowhere. It comes out of people who’ve been truly disenfranchised in their own homes. Any good historical novel is going to feel contemporary, thematically. You look at this novel, and think about immigration, who you allow in, who you don’t. The Huron allow in the ones who ultimately end up destroying them, because the Huron aren’t perfect either: They needed the trade, and how much greed was involved in that? Look environmentally – you wipe out all the furs and your economy is gone. It’s like the oil sands.

I understand the Idle No More connection is one you’re happy to see made, but it still feels a bit hazy.
I would never try to make that connection. I could, if I had the time and the energy, trace the route between where my novel ends and Idle No More begins – because it’s not over, it’s just quiet right now. First Nations youth are the fastest-growing population in our country, and they’re not going anywhere. If I could make one reader look at a contemporary First Nations person a little bit differently, that would thrill me. Once a reader said she gave her dad a copy of one of my books, and he was kind of a racist dude toward native people. And after he read that book, he was much less so – he began to see them as three-dimensional.

There’s a point in the book where the sort of omniscient narrator, who introduces the novels’s sections, asks how one keeps going when one has lost everything. Then that narrator says, “Or perhaps the question is this: What role did I play in the troubles that surround me?” That felt almost like a moral imperative: You now must examine what role you played. Is that a central concern for you?
I carefully put that there, because I don’t want to present First Nations as always being victimized. No one’s purely the victim. Actually, I shouldn’t say that. My wife was purely a victim when she was horribly raped and left for dead. But when it comes to big cultural movements, the Huron played a role in their demise, and they know that. The English and the French and Dutch all did, too. Just the acceptance of responsibility is really important. Certainly we got the short end of the stick. Disease, for instance: There were 30,000 Huron when the Jesuits arrived; within 10 years, there were 10,000. There is that, which is just brutal and unfair. But this idea of accepting responsibility for something not going the way it should have is something I think everyone should do.

The book is a kind of democratization of trauma and loss, a long sequence of trading things back and forth – you do this to me and my family, so I’ll do this to you and yours. Can a story like this, told this way, spread that sense of sadness, of loss, further, so that readers can share that pain, too?
Well, maybe not share it, but understand it a little bit better. How do you go on when you’ve lost everything? If we as contemporary readers look back and say, “We really screwed some of these people, didn’t we, when we first arrived?” That’s a lesson I didn’t want to bang people over the head with, but I want the reader to be able to empathize with the characters.

Can that also become a moment of optimism for us as a broader society now? If we look at what we’ve lost, through our own fault, can we find a way to move on from that?
That would be amazing. But when I read the newspaper comments sections online, I realize that the racism is far heavier in Canada than I ever wanted to imagine. I think the average thinking, caring, emotive person can learn a bit of a lesson from reliving our history even if it is in fiction, which can sometimes have a greater truth. Maybe somebody will read this and say, “Wow, maybe this kind of trauma doesn’t really go away. Maybe this trauma on such a mass scale does resonate through generations.”

Do you think that a movement like Idle No More, despite all its successes, can actually propagate more racism?
I don’t think people are made racist because of a political movement. I think people are forced to examine their beliefs and their motivations. Like my friend DJ NDN from A Tribe Called Red, he is fighting a good fight in Ottawa to get a football team called the Nepean Redskins to change their name because he is an Anishinabe man and he finds it horribly racist. You should see the racists that crawl out of the woodwork. These people are coming out just to scream at him. I think Idle No More forces us to examine our motivations, our belief systems, our systems of commentary. I don’t think it’s going to make racists – but it will draw them out. And maybe it’s time to draw out that kind of poison, so we can excise it.

You’ve talked much about how your First Nations heritage is but one part of who you are.
I’m a mutt and very proud of it. I’m proud to have Irish blood and Ojibwa blood and Scottish blood.

Christophe is the first Western character in a novel of mine who’s been a protagonist. I think that they’re coming. I think there will be some really good mutt characters in the next novel. I hope and think I’m continuing to grow as a writer. I’ve got room to grow still, and lots of stories.

…when I read the newspaper comments sections online, I realize that the racism is far heavier in Canada than I ever wanted to imagine. 

Joseph Boyden

Joseph Boyden will be at The Avening Hall near Creemore this Monday pm.


Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

August 29, 2013

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Quote:

Canada is not merely a neighbour to Negroes. Deep in our history of struggle for freedom Canada was the North Star. The Negro slave, denied education, de-humanized, imprisoned on cruel plantations, knew that far to the north a land existed where a fugitive slave, if he survived the horrors of the journey, could find freedom. The legendary underground railroad started in the south and ended in Canada. The freedom road links us together. Our spirituals, now so widely admired around the world, were often codes. We sang of ‘heaven’ that awaited us, and the slave masters listened in innocence, not realizing that we were not speaking of the hereafter. Heaven was the word for Canada and the Negro sang of the hope that his escape on the underground railroad would carry him there. One of our spirituals, ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd’, in its disguised lyrics contained directions for escape. The gourd was the big dipper, and the North Star to which its handle pointed gave the celestial map that directed the flight to the Canadian border. 1967 Massey Lectures

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Canadians are mostly blind to our racial underclass.

August 26, 2013

There are several articles about the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s march on Washington, D.C.

mlk

An interesting article by John Ibbitson in the Globe and Mail, ‘Heaven was the word for Canada:’ race in Martin Luther King’s ‘North Star’.

Ibbitson asks how First Nations (Canada’s major racial minority) are doing in relation to the United States’s black community.

And we were still mostly blind to our own racial underclass, which lived, separate and utterly unequal, among us. “Our own people couldn’t get hotel rooms,” recalls Shawn Atleo, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Native children were warehoused in residential schools, native rights and claims little understood and less respected.

Social activist Judy Rebick adds:

“Racism is most felt by people who are most marginalized,” Ms. Rebick observes. “While we have a lot to be proud of, we’re not there yet.”

And despite commissions and inquiries and policies and apologies, native Canadians still struggle to achieve equality while preserving identity.

“Dr. King spoke of ‘the fierce urgency of now.’ Our people feel the same way about this moment,” Mr. Atleo says. The residential schools are gone; the education gap persists. Treaties are recognized, but not always honoured. Aboriginal people and non-natives remain segregated and unequal.

The dream remains elusive.

Lots of work to make Canada’s founding nations equal in law and fact.


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