Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Youth Revolution Starts Here

Youth Revolution Starts Here

Alison is now back home, back into Village life, back into her own reference point of family, community, culture, religion. I frequently wonder what sort of reflection she is moving through in relation to her Canadian journey. I dream about being a mosquito resting buzzlessly on her shoulder while she tells her friends and family about her time in Nova Scotia, Canada. I imagine Alison saying “Whaaaat if you see Shopping Malls. Whole place full of things to buy oui!, and cheap as what! They joking when it comes to cheap things in Canada!”

I reflect on my own memories of Alison’s journey, the ones highlighted in my mind that speak of change through stepping out of comfort zones and expanding our minds to include a colorful spectrum of perspectives; ways of seeing the world that may or may not be our own; stretching into possibilities of new light by questioning old world views, old points of reference, widening, changing perspective becoming more inclusive, multi dimensional, forgiving, accepting, loving ….

Our week in Halifax surfaces to the forefront as I write about stepping out and into new perspectives. On our first evening in the big city Maya, Alison and I walked to the wharf. I felt Ali’s heart pumping fast as we moved into her first big city scene. We watched the madness of people everywhere on the docks taking in the last day of the Buskers Festival on a warm breezy Sunday eve. We bumped up with a group of black Nova Scotian youth doing what Grenadian youth do; hang out, make noise, move into their own collective rhythms. We watched while this same group found themselves in trouble with a white security guard for taking up space in the ferry terminal. We watched the security guard stumble in his conditioned fears of youths; most likely of black youths. He comes on too strong and stumbles in his power role to get them out of the terminal. I couldn’t help wonder how he would react if the group were a group of white kids, would they too be asked to leave? Words were exchanged, defiancy displayed before the youths sauntered out. Alison blurts out “I bet you would never see white kids getting on like that, that only happens with my colour skin!” I took a deep breathe. I responded by saying perhaps it wasn’t about race at all but about youths in general, perhaps it was about respect and how we as a society respect our youths, or perhaps it was about race and learning about our own selves and our own reactions to people who are different from us. Perhaps the security guard was afraid of his own fear of black youths and wanted them out of the terminal before they turned into the gangster images pop culture feeds him night after night as he sits to escape life through hours of tv watching. Alison and I then reflected on how race and class are intimately related and I couldn’t help think of the comment recently heard on a phone-in program on CBC radio where Nova Scotia was described as a Northern Mississipi.

Alison, Maya and I talked a bit more about youths in general and the differences not only of skin colour but of opportunity. How some youths may not grow up with the opportunities that others grow up with and therefore life is much harder for them. They may act out through being rebellious to authority or by stealing something they see so easily accessible to everyone else or they may lash out and get into fights out of years of frustration at home. I then wondered out loud why we were only seeing white youths smoking cigarettes, dressed in worn out clothes, hands outstretched for change. Why weren’t the black kids begging for money? Why weren’t the black kids walking solitary around in a haze looking for change? Perhaps it was simply that day. I guess I wanted Alison to see that it wasn’t only youths that look like her who get in trouble, that the layers are complicated and that through traveling I hoped she would be able to open her heart and mind to those layers.

Memories start to tumble out one after the other and I am left with an assortment of moments to share and sort out. I go slow so I can capture and do justice to my own memories soon to compare them with Alison’s once we return. I will continue to unfold memories of potential change in the preceding blogs for now here is the first.
One Love
One Youths!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First Relations Right Relations: Know Your History

We must challenge our Selves because it is each of us who must struggle with our consciousness. We are ultimately responsible for our actions and inactions; and, we are, each, accountable to the Earth, our Ancestors, Creator, our Children and the Unborn.


The world will be balanced when we are balanced.

thrthang tulku

May compassion arise within your heart and may you see all beings as your relatives in this dream of life.

Dhyani ywahoo

Last week our family (Alison Maya Theo and I) found ourselves at the Tatamagouche Centre taking part in the 7th Annual Peace and Friendship Gathering; a gathering of Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people committed to truth and reconciliation; a building of right relations with First Relations, Mother Earth and her First People.

An invite was extended to us after sharing with Canadian friends the violence and suffering experienced over the years within our own community in Grenada and the deep wounds violence, poverty, and oppression continue to cause in our family, friends and community.

We came to the gathering recognizing not only our need to understand and recognize more fully the historical context to the violence and oppressive structures that prevail today in the Caribbean and in particular our community; but also our need to witness and experience how other historically and present day oppressed people move through violent pasts into the present and still continue to embrace, respect, and honor the sacredness of life and ceremony. How these same people continue to pledge alliance to Mother Earth; commit to social, environmental, personal and political activism; and recognize the crucial need to build relationships with one another. We heard and felt painful stories from First Nations who gathered to generously teach us and other non native people the way back to sacred ceremony, the way back to relationships with one another and the earth, and the way back to speaking and listening from our hearts. The past four days taught me how little I know of Canada’s Aboriginal people, my own Canadian history, and how much there is to learn from my Grenadian husband, family, friends and community.

I can’t help reflect upon the invisibility of Aboriginal people and culture in my own life while growing up; the racist stereotypes learned and woven into my own limited worldview. How, so many of us were swallowed whole by the dominant imperialist Eurocentric worldview; how I and many like myself were born seeped in ignorance drowning others in our own false sense of entitlement. How, many of us when we do begin to shed the ignorance from our eyes and begin to see the unjust system; and how we have benefited from this system, feel the need to leave our materially rich and privileged lives to seek understanding and repentance by traveling across the seas. Many of us jump into other countries and cultures without first understanding our own history; a Canadian history of colonialism, oppression, and violence that continues to affect our Aboriginal brothers and sisters today as well as other marginalized people of Canada.

Bob Marley wrote, “If you know your history, then you would know where you are coming from, then you wouldn’t have to ask me, who the hell do you think I am.”
These lines speak loudly to me of the responsibility we all hold in understanding our histories, our stories, which I believe inevitably lead us to understanding more fully who we are in this world, why we believe what we believe and how do these believes affect our actions or non actions in the world. As one of the wise and compassionate Elders, gkisedtanamoogk shares, “We must challenge our Selves because it is each of us who must struggle with our consciousness. We are ultimately responsible for our actions and inactions; and, we are, each, accountable to the Earth, our Ancestors, Creator, our Children and the Unborn.” I believe once we tackle the decolonization of our own minds then the decolonization of the systems that perpetuate the killing of our Mother Earth and the division of her people will soon follow.

For four days we sat together wrapped around the sacred fire; watched over by a cathedral of elder oak trees. We moved into life giving forces through sacred ceremonies and spirited council; all of us moving bravely to the beat of our own fears while embraced by love and compassion in reconciling our pasts and recommitting our commitment to healthier relations with the Earth and with One Another. The four days renewed my commitment to the sacred, to ceremony, to new friendships, to understanding my own history and how this history is intimately connected to other’s history, to becoming more balanced in an unbalanced world, and to strengthening my place in the world not through a sense of entitlement but through a sense of responsibility and love.