Cecil, it’s not personal

On July 1, 2015, a tragedy struck the world – the internet forgot that human beings are worth more than animals. Cecil, a famous lion, was killed in Africa and outrage ensued, leading to the online and real-life lynching of the man who killed him. Literally, the hunter became the huntee. And while the fallout of those actions lead to ‘justice’, the tragedy wasn’t in the death of a protected lion. The tragedy lies in the lack of reaction to other more horrific human deaths that were overlooked without a thought or care.

I appreciate animals. I understand that they have the power to heal, to help, to create meaning in people’s lives. I get it. But their lives should not be the only ones we think about, defend, and fight for. They are not the only ones we should be angry about when they’re cut short. They are not the only ones we should weep over and grieve. We should be angry and grieving over other human lives more than we grieve animals we hear about on the news.

At the beginning of June, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report on the cultural genocide wrought by the Canadian government, people, and churches against our indigenous people. From 1883 to 1996 (yes, as recently as 19 years ago), over 150,000 aboriginal children were ripped from their families and placed in residential schools, resulting in the documented deaths of 6,000, with the understanding that there is a high probability of more children who died at the hands of officials. This means that the children in the schools had around the same chance of dying as a soldier in World War II.

the-legacy-of-canada-s-residential-schools

Languages were wiped out by the schools, forcing the children to learn English and leave behind their cultures, their history, and their homes. People were destroyed by the abuse and ‘teachings’ administered by school officials. Families were ripped apart when children were taken from their homes, away from their parents and everything that they had known. And these actions were taking place in force until the 1980s. THE 1980s. Think about that. Only 30 years ago, the Canadian government was involved in a genocide of our most vulnerable people.

The horrific implications of these actions will last generations and will take generations to repair. For the families that were affected by this, for the children who survived this, for the cultures that were destroyed by this, this horror will be felt for all time.

It’s unconscionable. It’s disgusting. It’s unbelievable. And it’s true. It happened. The active residential school program has been officially over for 20 years, but the effect is still here and will be here forever.

Did you know about this? Did you tweet about this? Did you make your outrage known? Did you track down the politicians, the teachers, the church officials who did these horrific things or allowed this horrific things or put these horrific things in motion and set up protests outside of their offices or their homes? Did you lynch them online and demand justice? Did you talk about it endlessly, worried over it and felt grief over it? Did you feel guilt? Did you feel enraged? Did you feel anything?

Did you even know?

This is my problem with Cecil. I personally believe that trophy hunting is disgusting and harmful – that it’s simply a power trip whereby humans get to murder and then gloat about it. It’s gross. If you hunt to eat, fine. If you hunt to adorn your wall, you’re scum. But to freak out about one lion, then go after all the trophy hunters who boast online, and spend energy and emotion on an animal on the other side of the world and have no idea what is happening here is disgusting and makes you scum.

I am a privileged white woman. I may not have been party or integral to the residential school system, but my people were. My people killed other people because they didn’t agree with their culture. Their centuries old, were here before we were, rooted in all the good things like respecting and honouring our natural earth, culture. My people did that. They are scum. I am scum by proxy.

I am tired of hearing about Cecil. I’m sick of hearing about all the animals in the world that are being abused at the hands of horrible humans.

I want to hear about the human beings that my government killed. I want to know about the children that survived and who they are now. I want to know how to help the people whose lives were destroyed by my people. I want to help with the reconciliation piece. I want to be part of the path to healing.

Don’t you?

To learn more, visit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission website. For a summary of the findings, take a look at this article by the CBC.

~ Julia

A Call for Change

Before I get too far into this post, I would like to preface it with this:

I have the utmost respect for the police, the people behind the badge, the sacrifices they make that I simply could not and for keeping us safe. Seriously. I mean no disrespect to the honour they stand for, the lives they give up to serve and the horrors that I can only imagine they have seen as first responders and the mental health weight they carry from their role serving our communities. I especially mean no slight to those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives in the line of duty.

I am not a cop, I have never been in a situation that required my response rate and ability to make life altering decisions within seconds and I have no idea what it is like to be faced with situations like this.

I would also like to preface this with not being or claiming to be God and therefore unable to truly know all of the events leading up to and during the horrific incident that occurred in LA on Skid Row this past Sunday. This is not a post about race. This is not a post against our brave men in blue. This is not a post taking a stand or a side with or against anyone.

That being said, it is a post about this:

What I have a problem with are the four, fair-sized men, armed with multiple weapons and professional training – some of the worlds best and finest as we are told – losing control of one man. One man that while/shortly after being tazed to the ground was apparently able to manage the energy and strength to wrestle an officer’s weapon from them – in some accounts he only reached for it and did not actually have hold of the weapon. What I have a problem with is the man who was fatally shot was known to officers as was his history and struggle with mental illness. What I have a problem with is the way it seems lives are ranked in order of importance in a situation such as this – determining that the homeless man deserved to die for resisting and struggling with FIVE shots being fired at him, into him. That the officers chose to shoot FIVE bullets into an unarmed man. I have a problem with this being the solution. FIVE shots. Over what one witness claims was the repeated request for the removal of his tent. Here’s where I had to ask myself; How do unarmed nurses, orderlies and doctors deal with mentally ill patients that are clearly out of control or physically threatening them or another patient? And how do they stay safe without killing them? They tactically take them down by each grabbing a limb – in ignorance of never being through it, is this not part of basic training for the police?

I do not understand where our society went wrong. When this type of response became acceptable. When this level of violence, of force was a reasonable reaction to this kind of situation. When did this story become more and more familiar as we become numb to it. And while I do understand that the media tailors the main stream news to whatever cause or conflict they would like us to be fearful over at the moment, I also understand that the role of an officer is to ‘serve and protect’ the people of a community – it seems the many kinds and characters it takes to make up said communities is sometimes forgotten, specifically the mentally ill. When a man pleads for his life stating he can’t breathe, or a child raises their hands in surrender, or a homeless man struggles with police in broad daylight, yet their lives are still swiftly taken, I cringe that this is a world where I live. That this is the reality of our society today. That we agree this is how a ‘crime’ should or even can be punished.  The extremeness of our society scares me, as it should you.

Our jobs, regardless of earthly occupation should we ever be so humbly reminded, are to take care of each other. To look after and watch over one another. For the lions to protect the lambs – may they be children, mentally ill, senior, challenged in any way, your sibling who is overwhelmed, a friend that struggles with addiction, the hungry that need to be fed. Our roles as souls, as human beings, are to love one another and help each other thrive, heal and LIVE.

Our roles are to find peace and harmony, not perpetuate and accept fear, life-ending violence and judgement.

What made this life worth less than any other?

What made this life worth less than any other?

My heart hurts because it seems there has been very little conversation about what happened on Sunday. It hurts because on the third anniversary of Trayvon Martin’s senseless death, this society seemed more interested in starting actual arguments over the colours of a dumb dress then having any real conversation about our obligation to fix what we have accepted and therefore, have broke. My heart hurts that I am even a little worried at how this post is going to be received, because I know the majority of people don’t want to hear the truth or talk about the hard shit, or deal with the reality of where we are headed as a society. We would all rather talk about the colours of a dress and pretend that what is happening is just what they show us on TV and not what is occurring in our own backyards and in the streets of our own communities as it hits closer and closer to home.

As I said earlier, I am not God, nor do I claim to be – all we have is a bit of unclear video. I was not a direct witness to the details of this past Sunday, nor do I think we will ever have all of the information, as we see in cases such as this. I do not claim to have the answers, but I do have the feeling in my soul that this level of violence and response is unacceptable and that if is not addressed, curbed and improved upon, it will only continue to evolve beyond any solution, if it hasn’t already.

~ Toni

Dr. Maya Angelou: April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

Dr. Maya Angelou, an incredible human being, activist, teacher, woman, and poet died Wednesday May 28, 2014 at the age of 86.

We’d like to honour her here by offering a collection of some of her quotes. And we hope that we can do her justice by living her wise, wise words: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”

Maya - Accomplished

 

Maya - Best

 

Maya - Enough

 

Maya - Handle

 

Maya - Normal

 

Maya - Success

 

Maya - Teach