Northern Metis Matters

A forum for the respectful discussion of all things Northern Metis.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meti Watch

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy Day for Internet Journalists like your old Tante

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009 12:00AM EST Last updated on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009 2:28AM EST

The Supreme Court of Canada transformed the country's libel laws yesterday with a pair of decisions that proponents say will expand the boundaries of free speech.
The court ruled that libel lawsuits will rarely succeed against journalists who act responsibly in reporting their stories when those stories are in the public interest.
It also updated the laws for the Internet age, extending the same defence to bloggers and other new-media practitioners.
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin said that Canada needs to keep in step with several other Western democracies that have provided greater protection to the media.
"Freewheeling debate on matters of public interest is to be encouraged and the vital role of the communications media in providing a vehicle for such debate is explicitly recognized," Chief Justice McLachlin said in a pair of 9-0 decisions.
Although the court acknowledged that free expression does not "confer a licence to ruin reputation," it argued society is best served by fearless commentary and investigative journalism.
The court ordered new trials for a Toronto newspaper that exposed a questionable land deal and an Ottawa newspaper that raised questions about the conduct of a police officer who helped search for survivors after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York.
The media were exultant about the rulings. "This is a historic turn for Canadian media, who have long suffered an undue burden of proof," said Globe and Mail editor-in-chief John Stackhouse. "We should not take our responsibility any more lightly, but we should celebrate the fact that the heavier blinds of Canadian libel law have been pulled back. The acceptance of this new defence by the Supreme Court of Canada will greatly advance the cause of freedom of expression, transparency and responsible journalism in Canada."
Chief Justice McLachlin said that context is critical. She urged trial judges not to parse controversial statements in isolation, but to consider the entire subject matter.
Other critical factors listed by the court were: the seriousness of a published allegation; the public importance and urgency of the issue; the status and reliability of a source; and whether the plaintiff's side of the story was sought and accurately reported.
In the first case - Peter Grant v. Torstar Corp. - the court said that a Toronto Star reporter worked hard to get to the bottom of allegations that Mr. Grant and his company might have used political influence in securing the location of a private golf course development.
Paul Schabas, a lawyer for the Star, said yesterday that the ruling "is hugely important; the most important libel decision ever released by the Supreme Court. It is a victory for the right to speak responsibly about public matters - to put issues to the public and let the public debate and decide."
The second ruling involved a former Ontario Provincial Police officer - Danno Cusson - who presented himself as a trained dog handler at ground zero after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Reports in the Ottawa Citizen characterized Mr. Cusson as a wannabe who got in the way of legitimate searchers while he was attempting to free trapped survivors.
The ruling cancels a $125,000 award a jury made to Mr. Cusson at trial.
Dean Jobb, a journalism professor at University of King's College in Halifax, said that a revamping of the libel laws was long overdue.
"The court has recognized that the definition of 'journalist' is expanding in our online world," Prof. Jobb said. "Bloggers and anyone else publishing information on matters of public interest can claim the defence, provided the way they gather and present the news conforms with the ethical standards of journalists."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Time To Laugh and Move On

Well, this took a bit to write. First I want to thank all you northern folk that take the time to comment on the blog, email or write me letters. I enjoy all your thoughts and appreciate the time you give them. I guess I just want to reply to and thank those of you northern Metis that took the time to write or email me sharing your feelings or comments on the recent election. I appreciate your concerns and empathise with your frustration; however I encourage each and every one of you to continue to express your feelings clearly and respectfully, ask pointed informed questions of the new board and demand direct and timely responses. Above all do not fall into despair and step away from the Metis peoples that need your strong voices and clear thinking. It is easy for us to throw our hands up and walk away, that is not the northern way and we all know it. All northern peoples whether Metis, Inuit, First Nation, early families or recent immigrates would not be in the north if we were weak or quitters. I implore you all to keep fighting the good fight, advocate against northern disparity, remain centered to the earth, and keep focused and clear. I think what we all need right about now is a good chuckle. I have started the ball rolling and challenge every one of you to come up with at least one way we may know you are a Northern Metis!

Are You a Northern Metis?
(one point for every statement you can say yes to) the winner gets to help me split a couple cords of firewood. Who could say no to that treat??..hmmm?

You may be a northern Metis if……….
--you have ever used the trunk of your car or the back of your pick-up as a spare deep freeze for more than 30 days.

--you have not only eaten moose stew but have at least 5 favorite recipes for it.

--you have chipped a tooth on buck shot whilst eating grouse, duck or goose

--you have used a power saw to cut the Sunday roast off the frozen carcass hanging in the smoke house/barn/shop/back porch/spare bedroom (yes I mean you Bannock Burner) etc.

--you actually prefer the taste of canned or powdered milk on your cereal

--you have said at least once in your life in shock…“What do you mean horrible and cruel? There is some good eating on a ……beaver/muskrat/bunny/cute little deer/bear!!

--you get a glint in your eye when you see your life partner in his/her grey wool long-johns ‘ cause that means one of two things…YAY I’m getting lucky…or shit I have to melt more snow it’s bath night

--you own two pairs of gum boots; the ones with holes just above the heel and folded over frayed tops, and your "getting gussied up and going to town pair"

You are Super Northern Metis Person and get 2 extra points if……..

--you can drive down a road and tell what kind of wood every house/cabin you pass is burning by the smell of the smoke (a 2 extra points if you know they haven’t cleaned the chimney yet that month)

Your turn

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Unofficial Poll Results

Well that was an interesting little exercise. I doubt that the results of the unofficial poll will be a very accurate predictor of the upcoming election as I did not get a large enough response. I have posted the results below just for a lark....we can see how accurate they are on Sunday! The results of the Tante Poll indicate that the following candidates will be successful in the north.
Earl Belcourt
Dave Hodgson
Rose Bortolon
Rene Therrien
Tony Goulet
Dan Pope
Melissa Swears Phung
Susie Hooper
I wish to take a moment to nag nag nag all eligible Metis voters to "get off yer duff "and get out and vote tomorrow. Remember we have the leaders we deserve. Good luck to all the candidates.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Summer is Done and Elections are Upon Us---Be Afraid...Very Afraid!

Goodness gracious flying day old bannock! What a summer it has been for this old Tanté; I spent it out in Yekooche Territory. Having survived another northern break-up (never doubt us old Metis we are as tough as nails) I spent the spring smoking and half drying beaver meat and tanned a couple of moose hides I had left in the ice over winter. Thanks to Kim Hodgson for this tip, the hair comes off slicker than pond scum if you lay the hide fur side down on the first fall ice and pull it out as soon as you can in th spring thaw! The first hide was a little stiff but it will make great mocasson soles. The second hide hung in the smoke house a wee bit longer than it should have...nuff said. The summer days in the interior were a treat, dry, sunny with cold clear nights. It reminded me a lot of the summers in the NWT along the Salt River. So I spent the spring and summer in good company, celebrated my wedding anniversary with my wonderful husband and got to spend time with family and friends (there never seems enough time). I am just now really giving some thought to the upcoming MNBC election and even more thought to an email I received from Mr. Henry in response to a request I had made of him. The last issue ties in quite strongly to his comments on my journalistic and blog attempt so I think I will address that in my next musings.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Metis Leaders or Metis Polititians?

"My (leader), you have made promises to me and to my children. If the promises had been made by a person of no standing, I should not be surprised to see his promises fail. But you, who are so great in riches and power; I am astonished that I do not see your promises fulfilled! I would have been better pleased if you had never made such promises than that you should have made them and not performed them…Shinguaconse ~ Little Pine

I have received comments that mention politicians versus leaders, or have said that the Metis Nation is too important to be left in the hands of politicians. These comments puzzled me somewhat until I started to research these issues. Well…lo’ and behold! It appears there is a vast difference between a politician and a leader. The dictionary defines
A politician as;
1) a person active in party politics 2) a schemer who tries to gain advantage in an organization in sly or underhanded ways 3) a person who influences the way a society is governed through an understanding of political power and group dynamics 4) a person who holds a political office. They may or may not have been elected.
A leader is defined as;
1) a person that leads 2) a person who rules or guides or inspires others 3) a person that is the most successful or advanced in a particular area.

Well the dictionaries definitely show us there is a difference between a politician and a leader! This might explain why so many elections boiled down to us Metis making the choice between the lesser of evils, or as is often the case regionally, no choice. It may contribute to why Metis Governance approvals are so low both inside the Metis community and with non-Metis folk. It factors into why too many Metis politicians either “vanish without another peep” or receive a golden handshake and a gentle push to “go off and spread the Metis cause to peoples that do not know who we Metis are”. This difference between leaders and politicians definitely contributes to why there are seldom clear leading candidates in provincial and federal Metis politics. The result of this difference, sadly, leaves us Metis people more cynical than optimistic about the world in which we live. Put simply, the Metis are desperately lacking truly inspiring leaders.

Those who seek power and influence in politics are “plump and shiny” with ambition but, “toothpick scrawny” with leadership qualities. This has nothing to do with their desires to “do-good” and forward the Metis cause. I do not question their intentions to want to help, but as Dad always says “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. All political candidates intend to fight a clean fight; “no mud slinging” they all declare as they announce their candidacies. That is until the first buffalo-chip smacks them clean in the face or they are challenged by a little old Elder from the back of a room. Then it is every candidate for them self as the muck slinging and back room deals start to be struck. Every candidate says how their campaign will be different and how they intend to reform the system. That is until they realize that the system is what pays for their good intentions. Our public offices and our provincial board rooms are rich with ambitious do-gooders but poor with leaders with the strength to ignore the interference that distracts from achieving their vision. I suggest there are a number of ways for us Metis voters to sort the wheat from the chaff; if we realize that political ambition is the pursuit of power with the hope that once you get there, you can do something with it. Okay that attitude has not been working for the Metis on any level; maybe it is time to look for LEADERS not politicians! I invite the reader to consider the following points when we wonder if we are voting for a leader or a politician:
1) Leadership is having a vision of a better world and doing whatever it takes to achieve that vision, even if sometimes it means pursuing a position of power to help advance your vision more efficiently and effectively.

2) Leaders have the courage to be unpopular with those that disagree with them. The politician wants to befriend as many people as possible.

3) Leaders say what they think. The politician will say what they think others want to hear.

4) Leaders have a vision of the future that inspires the grass roots Metis. Politicians have goals that motivate a few (though more can be "motivated" if the politician can afford it).

I know we have true leaders among the Metis. I issue two challenges that only the true leaders will succeed in or pass.

The first challenge is for a leader who runs for a Metis governance position. I dare you not to look at a single poll or listen to popularity thoughts expressed while you are running. Don't worry what some poll tells you to say, just tell us what you believe and we'll decide if we want to share your vision of a Metis Nation. I dare you to ignore your competitions jabs and his/her stances and posturing. I dare you to surround yourself with Metis committed to your vision, and not just the Metis that carry a “brand-spanking-new” citizenship card and can vote for you. But please listen to, and speak for all the Metis; the Metis Veteran that chooses not to apply for citizenship in, and align with a governing body. The Metis Woman that was denied her citizenship card because she had been adopted out to a non-Aboriginal family by the government when her Mom died. Remember and surround yourself with the Metis children that have no vote but in whose hands our future is held. Our Metis heroes mythical, past and present; Nenabush, Louis Riel, Marie Campbell, Steve Powley, Cuthbert Grant, Captain William Kennedy, Gabriel Dumont, Madeleine Welkey Dumont, and Pauline Johnson (to list just a few) didn't take the public temperature before stating what they thought, nor was what they said always popular. They spoke the truth as they saw it and they stated their convictions with courage. I challenge future leaders to do the same.

The second challenge is for the current leaders. I dare you not to always nod and agree with whatever nonsensical political stance, platitude or petty argument the majority of your governing board or CEO is taking. I dare you to challenge and expose gag-orders, veiled threats and offers of personal gain when they are offered. This bully posturing is not about leading the Metis Peoples but quite simply about fear, ambition and the grab for a cut off the top of the resources to be delivered to the people. I dare you to stand on record, report your position and your vote and alliances back to the people that elected you. There is no legal obligation to vote as all the other director’s vote, nor is there an ethical requirement to always chant the resource driven “sound bite” of the day, so why do you do it? At every opportunity, restate your vision and tell your community the steps you are taking, the partnerships you are forging and the changes you are making to realize that vision. We Metis People may not all have a lot of book learning, but we are an incredibly savvy and intelligent people and we will support your vision and your leadership if it is genuine and not driven by personal ambition. Only you know what kind of leader you are, strive to better yourself for your people. Remove your personal need and look to the need of your people. Courage is all it takes.

Inspired by an article by S. Sinek “Ambition versus Leadership” 2008 and by comments and emails I have received from Northern Metis Matters Blog readers stating the need for Metis leaders not more Metis politicians.

Break-up Reflections #2

Break up (noun)The act or an instance of breaking up, as a division, dispersal, or disintegration. The discontinuance of a relationship, as a marriage or a friendship. The cracking and shifting of ice in rivers or harbors during the spring. A loss of control or composure. In the north it is also the time when logging grinds to a halt because transportation becomes difficult or impossible due to the roads turning to a quagmire of muck that surrounds pot holes large enough to hide your obnoxious fat Auntie in.

hmmmm....yup that sounds about right, well all except the discontuance of a relationship. For those of us that live in the "bush" it also means being stuck in the "bush" as roads wash out or the bottom falls out of them completely making them impassable for motor vehicles. Being cabin bound with even the dearest of companions 24/7, well 22/7 can put a real strain on a relationship. After about 2 weeks you get that crampy feeling in your jaws from trying to force your gritted teeth into the semblance of a loving smile. This is usually not successful and does not fool your loved one as you end up looking like a somewhat mad, protein deprived social worker (the kind that make you sit in circles clutching a feather and sharing your inner feelings). This look is NOT conducive to long romantic struggles through the slop your front yard has become.

However, the slop the front yard has become does force closer companionship on you as a loving couple. Hand holding, hand tugging and indeed full body heaving is often needed during these strolls when you become stuck in the slop to the very top of your gumboots. Ahhhh...I hear snickers from the gentle southern readers!!! Snicker not oh uninformed and breakup virgin types. I can assure you that gum boot stickage is no laughing matter. Imagine if you will the gentle blankets of snow that Mother Nature has tucked the north under all winter long. This seamless deep expanse of pristine beauty has retreated shyly with the coming spring. The merry sunbeams of March have gently tickled out buried treasure. Now allow your mind to summon up what treasure this may be in the middle of a remote Rez. For Mother Natures creatures share this wondrous space with us; pack dogs, sled dogs, dog dogs, the rare and incredibly tough feral cat and of course there is the left over bounty of the winter buffet. Moose bones, carcasses from pelt animals the dogs did not get to, oil cans, old chains from saws, burnt rice pots, the list is long and I am hesitant to continue this recitation of treasure as I do not want to arouse that most ugly of emotion, envy, in the southern readers soul.

This is not a landscape you want to navigate in one gum boot and one wool sock! Well, not unless your tetanus shots are up-to-date and you are blessed with incredibly weak or none existent squeam genetics. So I must stand on record (or any other handy object that will allow me to get to the woodshed without actually touching the ground) and declare that a northern break-up does not meet the definition the handy dictionary gives us. It cements relationships, sometimes to the point of a intervention with a bucket of water to wash the muck off. It allows us to trust and reachout for our partners and friends. Finally it allows us to become "bushed" and so explore our "mad-as-a-sack-of-badgers" inner northern soul. I am going to brave the muck and head for a cuppa at the nice white lady teacher's house. The Elders say she is getting a bit odd and has been muttering to herself and won't open the door to anyone. On that note "bushed" will be the topic for my Breakup Reflections later in the week.