Posts Tagged ‘First Nations’

21 September 2015

Reah was squatting against a building, her upturned cap in front of her. She’s a petite, pretty woman with parallel scars on her forearm from self cutting.

“Hi, Rhea, how are you doing? Have you found a good place to stay?”

“I’m at one of the shelters, but I’m not sleeping too good. My roommate is sexually harassing me. I’ve told staff about it and they just laugh, think it’s a big joke. They even tease me about it. When I wake up to a naked seventy year old woman dancing around it’s not funny, it’s disgusting. I also think that she’s schizophrenic. She says that she’s psychic but I think that it’s voices in her head. She talks constantly in her sleep, nothing that makes any sense, just noise.

“Some of the staff are okay, but I’m sure that some of them deliberately put people together who won’t get along.

“I was sexually abused as a kid, so a lot of things can be triggers for me.”

I asked, “Is there any chance that you could see a psychologist to help you with what happened?”

“I’ve talked to psychologists before. They didn’t help. Some of them didn’t even believe me, said I was lying. There’s no way I would have made up stuff like that. I’ve also got problems with OCD and depression. I’m just trying to hold onto my sanity here.”

I asked, “Do you take any medication for that? Are you able to get medication?”

“Yeah, the doctor gave me a prescription. It’s waiting for me at the pharmacy. I haven’t picked it up yet. I don’t like to take pills.

“I’m going to call the Mental Health Crisis Team. They’ve helped me before.

I asked, “Do you know Mariah?”

“Yeah, I look on her as a predator. My friend and I are both scared of her.”

“She can be a scary woman. I’d hate to get on the wrong side of her.”

“My friend is moving. I asked if there was anything vacant nearby. She said, ‘You wouldn’t want to live there. It’s a very bad section of town.’ So, I’ll just keep looking.”

I said, “Take care, Rhea. Perhaps I’ll see you tomorrow.”


Read about my friends here


18 September 2015

I nearly ran into Jake; I was walking along the sidewalk on my way to work, he was exiting a building. He was wearing his usual green cap, an orange and black tee shirt, beige shorts and sun glasses.


“Dennis! Sorry I nearly ran you over. I just stepped in here to use the bathroom.”

“How’ve you been?” he asked.

“I’ve been fine. I haven’t seen many of the regulars around. I have seen Magdalene and Adam, Chuck, Joe, Mary, a few others. I stopped and talked with them a while. Do you still meet near the bridge?”

“Yeah, I go there, Mariah’s there nearly every day, Jacques, Wolf and Shaggy. Wolf slept out last night. He was wasted on something. He could barely walk. I was partying and stayed out as well. this morning I’ve been panning in front of the coffee shop, trying to get enough change for breakfast.

“You’ll have to come by.”

“I will, Jake. I can’t make it today, but next week, for sure. The weather’s been so unpredictable lately. One day is too hot, the next day it rains.

“Are you still living in the same place?” I asked.

“Yeah, everything is still the same.”

Read about my friends here





8 July 2014

 Our Native elders have taught us that before a person can be healed or heal another, one must be cleansed of any bad feelings, negative thoughts, bad spirits or negative energy – cleansed both physically and spiritually. This helps the healing to come through in a clear way, without being distorted or sidetracked by negative “stuff” in either the healer or the client. The elders say that all ceremonies, tribal or private, must be entered into with a good heart so that we can pray, sing, and walk in a sacred manner, and be helped by the spirits to enter the sacred realm.

Native people throughout the world use herbs to accomplish this. One common ceremony is to burn certain herbs, take the smoke in one’s hands and rub or brush it over the body. Today this is commonly called “smudging.” In Western North America the three plants most frequently used in smudging are sage, cedar, and sweet grass.

(By Adrienne Borden and Steve Coyote:


At noon, as I was passing the entrance to the park, I heard my name being called. I turned and saw Sammy sitting at the gate, on his rolled sleeping bag. Hi Sammy, “Do you know when the memorial service is being held for Shakes?”

“It was yesterday at St. Paul’s church.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t hear any information about it. I would have attended, had I known.”

“A lot of people hadn’t heard about it. I’m holding my own Smudging Ceremony here. I’ve been here since midnight and will be staying until midnight tonight. I mix sweet grass and sage, light it, then waft the smoke with an eagle feather.

“When we were staying together Shakes told me his last wishes. I blame myself for not being there for him. I even showed him my ticket indicating that I would be back in a few days, but our tribal chief, of the Fort William First Nation, asked me to stay to submit a proposal to the government.  It kept being delayed, then on the day it was to be presented, the federal Minister of  Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development wasn’t in attendance, so they just submitted my notes.

“The Fort William Reserve, on the western end of Lake Superior near Thunder Bay, was set aside under the provisions of the Robinson-Superior Treaty of 1850, also known as the Crown Treaty Number 60. The agreements arrived at have never been met. We now have the support of the Supreme Court of Canada and the United Nations.

“I came back to Toronto and on my way to Osgoode Hall, where the Law Society of Upper Canada meets, I met a lawyer friend of mine. He said he would accompany me. Near the end of their session, the judge asks if there is anybody has anything to add. I asked my friend to open and close the door when he said that. Then I went in and said that I wished to address the Society concerning our proposal. The judge said that they had our proposal on file, but I told him that was only in point form, that I would like to elaborate. He gave me the floor.

“As soon as I heard about the death of Shakes, I came straight home. Unfortunately, when he was evicted from our apartment, he had no way of storing my belongings and art supplies. He tried for three days to contact his worker, but when she didn’t return his calls he just said, ‘To hell with it.’ You know how Shakes is. Someone was able to save my talking stick. I’m very grateful for that. As for the other things, they can be replaced.

“Dennis, would you do me a favor and go to the native store up the street and get me some sage?”

“Of course, Sammy, I’ll go now.” I went to the store, but unfortunately, they were out of sage.  It was suggested that I try another store about six blocks away. I gave Sammy the news, then I had to return to work.

Before I left I wanted to pay my respects to Shakes. Sammy instructed me to take some tobacco in my left hand, sprinkle a bit in the smoking bowl, say a prayer, then put the rest in a container off to the side. This would be taken to Sacred Mountain, where there would be an Ojibwa tribal ceremony held in his honor. I said my prayer and my goodbye to a great friend.