Welcome! I love to write, and I love sharing what I write with my readers. I vary my style as much as I can-posting events, creative non-fiction, prose and poetry and the occasional video. Enjoy!



Thursday, January 27, 2011

Digging into my pockets
rooting around in my wallet

to find a penny
any coin or a bill

to get myself
a double double coffee
or something to eat
from my nearest corner store

Digging into my pockets
rooting around in my wallet

All I come up with
is an empty hand

hits me
and I wonder

How the poor
And how the homeless

Can do this
On a daily basis

Without their desperation
Killing all hope

Digging into my pockets
Rooting around in my wallet

All I come up with
Is an empty hand

hits me

and I wonder
When will my next pay come

Digging into my pockets
Rooting around in my wallet

to find a penny
any coin or a bill

I may not have money
But at least I have a roof
over my head

I swallow,
raise my head
and tell myself

You will be fine.
There is someone out there
Who is looking out for you

And that's better
Than having nothing at all

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Awakening Within

Awakening Within:
By: Christine McFarlane

My life has been filled with many experiences. One of these experiences has been what I would call my awakening within. It encompasses many things but in awakening within, I have learned through my writing to embrace who I am- a First Nations woman deserving of a voice and a successful life.
As a child of the 60s and 70s scoop of First Nations children being adopted out to non native families by the Canadian government, I grew up immersed in a culture that was not my own. I was a First Nations child who did not know how to live in both worlds- the white world and First Nations world. In not being allowed to draw upon my heritage in any way, I grew up in ignorance of my people, and I grew  to be very judgmental and hateful towards not only myself but to towards the very people who made up my community.  In part this was because it had been instilled in me for so many years that somehow being First Nations meant that there was something wrong with me.
This void that grew within came from being told repeatedly that there was something wrong with me and, that nothing I did would ever amount to anything. I never considered that the people telling me these things were the ones who were sick themselves.  In filling the void that became a part of me, I learned many dysfunctional ways to deal with the hurt and trauma that I experienced at the hands of my adoptive parents.  I learned to be silent, fearful and anxious. I learned that through disordered eating and self harm behaviors that I could numb myself from learning who I really was as an individual.
This all changed when I was accepted into the University of Toronto as a part time student in 2004. In returning to school as a mature student, I immersed myself into my studies. I started to learn about my people, their history, their struggles and their triumphs. I also learned to break away from the very people who were hurting me-my adoptive father and his continuous emotional abuse, and I learned to shape my own identity as an individual, and most importantly as a grown woman.
In shaping my own identity and breaking away from those in the past who had hurt me, I learned that by adopting the very path of re-discovering my culture that had been denied of me, as a child was an immense help.  I learned through ceremony, tradition, being a part of the First Nations community in the Greater Toronto Area and through my writing that I have a voice that matters.
Writing has always fascinated me. It plays a huge part in my healing and recovery and has been instrumental in how I see myself today. I have distant memories as a teen and into my adult years of always having some type of book to write in, and collecting various pens, as though I could never have enough paper or pens to write with. People would tease me about the books and pens that I collected, but they did not know that through my collecting of books and pens, in a way I was collecting the courage to give myself the voice that I wanted so desperately to share with the world.
The art of writing has been an instrumental way for me to stay strong and have the courage to 
keep on going. When I first began to write, I treated the process as though it was my only friend, and meticulously poured out my thoughts in any way that I could. Whether that was through journal writing, poetry, inspirational prose, the process became a way of life for me, a way to express myself in a way that was a safety net for me. I continue to write now, not only for myself but for others too.

In telling my story and sharing my experiences, I am hoping that those who have been in similar experiences do not feel alone, like I did for much of my life growing up. I have found healing in my writing and in my healing I have awakened within.

(this is an older story but one of my very first favorite memoir pieces)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dreams for You - Susan Aglukark - This Child

Always go after your dreams..... This song says it all

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ipperwash Crisis: By Christine McFarlane

Relations between First Nations people and non-native society-specifically the Canadian government was soured in 1995  for the people of Kettle and Stony Point First Nations when the government failed on many levels to listen to the people when they tried to stand up for the land that was rightfully theirs. As a result of this, an Aboriginal protestor, Dudley George was killed, but what ensued after this, is what the focus of my paper will be on.  The people from the Ipperwash crisis have been working towards reconciliation and repairing relations for more than ten years between their communities and the Canadian government as a whole.
 In order to understand why the Ipperwash Crisis happened, it is important to go back into the history of what led up to this occupation, and understand the steps that have had to be taken in order to better relations between the Kettle and Stony Point Reserve peoples and the Canadian government.
Historically, the ancestors of the First Nations people belonging to the Kettle and Stony Point Reserves were established in the vicinity of Lake Huron and Lake St. Clair prior to the British conquest in 1760, and it was according to a paper on the historical background of Ipperwash, written by Joan Holmes and Associates Inc, that “after the conquest the British issued a Royal Proclamation in 1763 that established an ‘Indian country’ where aboriginal land was protected from encroachment. The land had to be voluntarily ceded to the Crown before non-Aboriginals could occupy it, and the  area historically used and occupied by the Kettle and Stony Point ancestors lay within the protected Indian country.” (Holmes& Associates)
 Furthermore it was following the War of 1812 that the British wanted to have European immigrants settle in Upper Canada. They approached the Chippewa asking them to cede their land and as a result a “land cession treaty was negotiated over a nine year period from 1818 to 1827”. (Holmes & Associates Inc)  The land surrendered through this negotiation became known as Treaty #29-the Huron Tract Treaty. The Huron Tract Treaty of 1827 resulted in the creation of the Kettle Point and Stony Point reserves.
The Huron Tract Treaty was similar to other land-surrender treaties that were entered into in the late 1700s and early 1800s by First Nations in the southern and eastern regions of what is now Ontario. Initially these treaties were held out on the promise of a relationship based on mutual respect and common interests. However, “the British saw these treaties as real estate transactions through which land needed for incoming settlers could be cleared of native title at a minimum cost, with the Indians confined to small reserves”. (Holmes & Associates Inc.)
It was in 1928 that the First Nations of Kettle and Stony Point were pressed by the federal and provincial government to sell 377 acres of their land to “private interests.” (Linden) At this time in history Aboriginal people did not have the freedom to either vote or make their voices heard on matters of land and ownership, amongst other issues, and in “1936, without the permission of the Stony Point band, 108 acres of this land were purchased to make Ipperwash Park. (Linden)
In the midst of Ipperwash Park being built, a cemetery was dug into and ancestral remains were disturbed. With their ancestors remains being disturbed and further frustration at the government’s disregard for their territory, according to the book “Full Circle: Canada’s First Nations,” written by John L. Steckley and Bryan D. Cummins, it is stated that in “ 1942, the federal government asked the Natives of the Stony Point to make a sacrifice that was not asked of others”(Steckley & Cummins).
This sacrifice entailed The Department of National Defence building a military camp- Camp Ipperwash, on Kettle and Stony Point land, invoking the War Measures Act and “appropriating the remaining land of the Stony Point band, even though 85% of the members of the band were opposed to the appropriation”. (Linden)
In the years following, the band tried to get the land back. Shortly after the war ended, according to CBC- the Department of National Defense said it was “willing to return most of the land as long as it could lease back what it still needed for the military base. The offer was later withdrawn.” (
By 1972, tensions were rising. According to the federal minister of Indian Affairs of the time – Jean Chr├ętien – the Stony Point band had waited patiently for a resolution but was beginning to run out of patience. Chr├ętien suggested in a memo to then defense minister, James Richardson, that “if the land was not going to be returned, the band should be offered another piece of land as compensation.” (CBC)
Twenty years later, there was still no resolution. In 1993, Stony Point band members began moving back on to the land. The military withdrew in September 1995, when another group of Stony Point natives marched onto the base. It was then that a group of about 30 protesters built barricades at nearby Ipperwash Provincial Park to underline their land claim and to protest the destruction of the burial ground. Dudley George was one of the group’s leaders.
The appropriation of the Stony Point reserve by the Government of Canada in 1942 is something that is unprecedented in Canadian history. In the “Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry: Volume 2,” it is argued that “never before or since has an entire reserve, set aside by treaty for the exclusive use of a First Nation people, been simply taken away from them. The appropriation was contrary to the clearly expressed wishes of the Chippewa’s of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation”. (Linden)
What was most disturbing is the fact that the remaining reserve land of the Kettle and Stony Point people was appropriated when many of the residents of the Kettle and Stony Point reserves were serving overseas in the armed forces. This dislocated the Chippewa from their ancestral land, and took place at a time when they were even more vulnerable because upon their return from service, they came home to find their homes gone.
What became the Ipperwash Crisis began as a protest by the Kettle and Stony Point First Nations to let the government and mainstream public know that they would not allow further desecration to their land and that they wanted their land back The reasoning behind protests for First Nations peoples is varied, but it is often to not only preserve their culture and traditions but to also bring awareness to those in mainstream society who do not understand their historic right to land and what the connection means to them as a nation.
 The Ipperwash Crisis is just one example of a First Nations people fighting to protect what they felt was a blatant disregard for their territory by the Canadian government, and according to the “Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry: Volume 2:” “it is often through protests that the immediate catalyst for most occupations and protests is a dispute over a land claim, a burial site, resource development, or harvesting, hunting and fishing rights.” (Linden)
The experience of the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point illustrates the frustration and anger that can arise when there is failure from the federal and provincial governments to listen and respect treaty obligations. The formation of Camp Ipperwash, the promise by the federal government to return the appropriated land once the war was over and the government’s neglect to follow through on their promise to the Stony Point people was just the tip of what the Chippewa’s dispute was with the government. The Ipperwash occupation included descendants of residents of the Stony Point Reserve, people from Kettle Point, as well as supporters from other areas.
The reasons they decided to occupy Ipperwash Provincial Park, according to the “Report on the Ipperwash Inquiry, Volume 4,” was that “they believed that the provincial parklands were part of Aazhoodena (Stony Point), their traditional territory. There was belief that the Stony Point people had a right to this land,” and that historically the Indian agent had not adequately represented their interests on the original Stony Point Reserve.” Another reason for assuming control of the park was to protect the sacred burial sites in the park. Occupiers had been told by their respective grandparents that graves were in the park.”(Linden)
 The protestors were also agitated because they felt the government had not taken any measures to protect the gravesites, their sacred land and that they showed a blatant disregard for land that should have been returned to them as originally promised.
Dudley George’s involvement, according to the book “One Dead Indian”, written by Peter Edwards, was that George had grown up among the tension that had arisen between the Kettle and Stony Point peoples. A divide had begun to take place when “some Kettle Point residents saw their new, transplanted neighbours as visitors who just wouldn’t go away, while Stony Pointers often complained they were taunted by their Kettle Point neighbours, who nicknamed them DP-short for displaced persons.” (Edwards)
In a document from CBC News in Depth that details the history of Ipperwash, it was September 4, 1995 that “Dudley George and about 30 others move the protest into the adjacent Ipperwash Provincial Park.” ( [1]
Dudley George had been involved in every aspect of the Stony Point resistance and the occupation of Camp Ipperwash. Due to his familiarity to the situation, and a stereotypical statement that “he looked the part of the “militant Indian,” it was alleged that before the police advanced, the O.P.P. said to him, “Dudley, you are going to be first.” (Edwards)
Though the protestors posed no threat to anyone, it is stated in a “CBC News In Depth: the Ipperwash Inquiry” report that “there’s no agreement to what happened next. The Ontario Provincial Police moved in on the protestors to remove them from the park.” (CBC) Shots are fired and native Dudley George is hit. Dudley George did not survive the raid. He died on September 6, 1995, after being shot by acting Sgt. Kenneth Deane of the O.P.P.” (CBC) It further states in the same report that “the police say they had no choice but to draw their guns because the protestors were armed; the protestors say the opposite, that they were unarmed and that police-dressed in riot gear-used unnecessary force.” ([2]
In the book, “One Dead Indian,” the author refutes the report made by the police that “they had no choice but to draw their guns” because in police notes of September 5, 1995, it is made clear that “there was no riot or out of control disturbance of the peace at Ipperwash Provincial Park, and that the police had also “found nothing in the conduct of the Native protestors to suggest a riot was about to occur.” (Edwards)
To justify the shooting of Dudley George, it is further argued by Edwards that “the incident was described in OPP press releases as the attempted murder of OPP officers,” (Edwards) Two years after the Ipperwash Crisis, Sergeant Kenneth Deane was convicted of criminal negligence causing death after a court ruled he did not have a “reasonable belief’ George was armed.
A history of denial ensued after the Ipperwash Crisis on the behalf of the Canadian government. According to the article “A Jade Door: Reconciliatory Justice As A Way Forward Citing New Zealand Experience,” written by Robert Andrew Joseph, “denial is a process by which people block, shut out, repress, and cover up certain forms of disturbing information,” (Joseph) and this was definitely the case with the Canadian government and their role in what happened at the Ipperwash occupation.
 Denial came in many forms, not only from then Premier Mike Harris but also by the Ontario Provincial Police stating that “the killing of Dudley George and the beatings was an isolated incident,” though the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) did not say “isolated from what,” and furthermore the statement that “the OPP has a proven track record of many years of peacefully resolving issues with First Nations people,” and that  they “were committed to a course of action” (Edwards) which would bring the situation to a peaceful conclusion as quickly as possible. (Edwards)
If the Ontario Provincial Police had been committed to a peaceful conclusion-they would not have gone into Ipperwash Park, and confronted the Kettle and Stony Point First Nations people like they did.
The role that the Canadian government played in the Ipperwash Crisis is a strong reminder of how the Canadian government has had a long history of oppressing First Nations people, and according to an article “First Nations Communities at Risk And in Crisis: Justice and Security,” written by Wanda D. McCaslin and Yvonne Boyer “First Nations people in Canada continue to suffer from the onslaught of colonization and imperialism in communities” and “many Canadians who are unfamiliar with this history continue to believe that telling the truth of it is not important in the grand scheme of today’s society.” (McCaslin & Boyer) I bring this point up in relation to the Ipperwash Crisis and the Inquiry that ensued afterwards because it is this very denial that “poses a constant challenge to First Nations communities as they struggle to move forward in positive ways.” (McCaslin & Boyer)
The Kettle and Stony Point people had a lot of healing to do after the Ipperwash Crisis. One key step that they made in their healing was when First Nations groups called for an official Inquiry into Dudley George’s death. At the time that the Inquiry was called, the Progressive Conservative government resisted by saying “it had nothing to do with police actions that day,” (Union of Ontario Indians) but the family of Dudley George, most notably his brother Sam-began a campaign to find the truth and justice for Dudley. A civil case for wrongful death was brought by Sam George against the government and the family had the opportunity to have an inquest held.
Sam George was the most important key player in getting an Inquiry into the Ipperwash Crisis, and finding out how his brother was killed. George led the family’s battle for answers into what happened on September 6, 1995. “He pressed the provincial government to hold a public inquiry into his brother’s death. (
On April 20, 2004-more than eight years after the death of Dudley George-a public inquiry into the events surrounding his death opened. The “evidence gathering part of the inquiry stretched from 2004 through to 2006” (CBC) and heard from more than 100 witnesses.
Within the Inquiry, there were allegations of intolerance and impatience between the material witnesses which included the former general attorney general Charles Harnick in 2005 testifying that former premier Mike Harris used a racial slur about the protestors’ hours before the police moved in.
When the Inquiry came to an end, Justice Sidney Linden delivered his report and recommendations so that there is “avoidance of violence in similar circumstances”. (Linden) Arguably, the conditions and catalysts that spark such protests like the Ipperwash Crisis still continue to happen, even more than a decade after Ipperwash has ended.
 He mentions that “the provincial government and other institutions must redouble their efforts to build successful, peaceful relations with Aboriginal peoples in Ontario so that we all can live together peacefully and productively,” (Linden) and though there have been significant, constructive changes in the law and to key public institutions in the twelve years since Ipperwash, more is needed.”
Linden made many recommendations. Among his recommendations he mentions the importance of building better relationships with Aboriginal peoples that more education is needed to educate Ontario citizens on the treaty relationships that lie at the foundation of such protests. He states that “there are three areas where reform in Aboriginal relations is most needed in order to prevent the kind of incident that occurred at Ipperwash. The first area is disputes over treaty rights with respect to lands and waters. The second area is the regulation and development of natural resources on Aboriginal traditional lands and waters. The third area is the protection of and respect for Aboriginal heritage, burial sites, and other sacred sites.” (Linden)
The consequences of what happened at Ipperwash should not have happened. The people of Kettle and Stony Point have had to deal with a lot of healing and recovery even now, thirteen years after their occupation. In an article, “Understanding the First Nations Legal Framework,” written by Jerry White, the Ipperwash Crisis is an example of how “the rights of Aboriginal people as dictated through the legal framework of Canadian society have profound social implications that garner great attention in a multitude of sectors.” (White)
This is further refuted in the book “Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival,” edited by Kim Anderson and Bonita Lawrence, when writer Shelley Bressette writes a personal story “The Truth About Us: Living In the Aftermath of The Ipperwash Crisis” and how  “the relocation of an entire community, the loss of traditional homelands for families from Stony Point and the loss of land on the part of Kettle Point community members who gave up land for the relocation were, and continue to be , a source of great historical trauma for this community,”(Anderson & Lawrence)  and not to mention the denial that the Canadian government showed their people after the crisis was over.
The historical trauma and the history of denial that visited upon the people of Kettle and Stony people has affected the lives of many community members. Bressette relates how the health and quality of life for her parents and community elders has deteriorated; there is destruction of a once peaceful community that has been replaced with anger, hurt and fear and most importantly she relates how she is filled with an overwhelming sense of responsibility and seeks guidance as to how she “can work with my people to help our families and our community heal from the violence that has resulted from the Ipperwash Crisis.” (Anderson&Lawrence)
Bressette states that “healing is letting go of our pain, whether that be personal pain inflicted upon us or the kind of collective pain or trauma we experienced during the Ipperwash Crisis. Letting go means to resolve it or understand it and see it for what it is, and to move beyond it, so that it no longer takes a hold on our daily lives.”
In the “ Executive Summary of the Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry: Volume 4,” Justice Sidney B. Linden states that “when something goes wrong, as it tragically did at Ipperwash, the public has a right to know who made the key decisions and why. In an ideal world, proceedings such as this Inquiry would not be necessary.”(Linden)
Justice Sidney Linden, also stated that “the government of former Ontario Premier Mike Harris, Ottawa and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) all bear responsibility for events that led to the 1995 death of Dudley George” and “the federal government, the provincial government and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) must all assume responsibility for decisions or failures that increased the risk of violence and make a tragic confrontation more likely.” (
The Ontario Provincial Police acknowledged in the end “that the shooting death of Dudley George left a tragic mark on the relationship between the OPP and the Aboriginal community, and there were still tensions between how the federal and provincial government related to the First Nations communities in Canada, but there has been many changes since the Inquiry happened. This included “100 recommendations that involved calling for establishment of a treaty commission in Ontario and better police training for dealing with First Nations people and issues and the Ipperwash Inquiry Priorities and Action Committee (IIPAC), whose working groups are examining Ipperwash related issues such as treaty rights, policing, burial sites and public education.
Since its establishment in spring 2008, the Ipperwash Inquiry Priorities and Action Committee (IIPAC) has worked to prioritize the recommendations from the Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry in a way that will best meet the needs of First Nations people and communities in Ontario. The committee, co-chaired by Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Brad Duguid, established six working groups on key priorities. Recent government initiatives have stemmed from these priorities, such as the launch of the New Relationship Fund, which helps build capacity in Aboriginal communities. IIPAC is made up of First Nations leadership from across the province and representatives from the provincial and federal governments. The federal government participates at the table as an observer.
Lastly, the process of transferring Ipperwash park ownership to the Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation-discussed in the Ipperwash Inquiry Report-has started and negotiations on the future use of the park are well on the way. A framework agreement signed by the Government of Ontario and the First Nation on May 28, 2009 marked real progress towards this goal, and a joint Ipperwash Park Resolution Table has been formed with the First Nation to develop a plan with the local community for how the land will be used and managed until the transfer of the park is complete.
In conclusion,  healing takes time, and so does reparations. According to one Kettle and Stony Point member, Bob Antone “there have been many struggles across the country over loss of land,” (Anishinabek News) but in the end in order to understand the injustices’ to First Nations people, we need to understand the context in how these injustices came to be, and engage in ‘truth telling’ so that the layers of denials about harm and trauma are peeled away and the healing process can begin for all.

Works Cited:
Anderson, Kim; Lawrence, Bonita. Strong Women Stories: Native Vision and Community Survival. Sumach Press, Toronto, Canada. 2003

Edwards, Peter. One Dead Indian: The Premier, The Police, and the Ipperwash Crisis.McClelland & Stewart Ltd, Toronto, Ontario. 2003

Holmes and Associates, Inc. Ipperwash: General Historical Background.
( Retrieved November 29, 2010

Josepeh, Andrew, Robert. A Jade Door: Reconciliatory Justice As A Way Forward Citing New Zealand Experience. Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series: From Truth to Reconciliation: Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools. 2008. P. 208

Linden, B. Sidney. Report of the Ipperwash Inquiry. Volumes 2-4.-Ministry of the Attorney General. Queen’s Printer for Ontario 2007. Toronto, Canada

McCaslin, D. Wanda and Boyer, Yvonne. First Nations Communities at Risk And in Crisis: Justice and Security. Journal of Aboriginal Health, November 2009

Steckley, L. John; Cummins D. Bryan. Full Circle: Canada’s First Nations, Pearson Education Canada Inc, Toronto, Ontario. 2001

Switzer, Maurice. Anishinabek News. Union of Ontario Indians-Anishinabek Nation. November 2010. Pg.6

White, Jerry. “Understanding the First Nations Legal Framework” in Permission to Develop: Aboriginal Treaties, Case Law and Regulations. Fall 2008 Course Reader,p-1

[1] CBC News In Depth: Ipperwash.
[2] CBC News In Depth: 2008

Queensland Flood Relief Appeal: The Queensland Flood Disaster

Queensland Flood Relief Appeal: The Queensland Flood Disaster: "'Please pray for us. There are many people who are suffering through this'. What has happened? Significant flooding occurred in North Que..."

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Power Within: By Christine McFarlane

Eagle Painting I Did in 2010

The Power Is Within You:

In healing and recovery, it is integral that we learn to reclaim the power that we have inside, so that we can view the world in a better way. It is easy to get stuck in our pasts, and listen to the old tapes that we all have in our heads by giving them more power than they deserve. The trick is to not let that power overtake us and define how we go about our day.

Reclaiming our power is integral if we want to be able to move forward. I know that for me, even though I have been in recovery for a little over five years, I still have to consciously tell myself “I am okay” and that “there are good things in my life” and lastly” I don’t want to go back” to the way that I used to be.

I talk about reclaiming power because I still have a difficult time when I have slip-ups. When I feel off balance whether that is emotionally, physically, mentally or spiritually, I notice that it is harder for me to hold onto the power I know I have inside. I can let the power within me slide at the slightest thing. I am learning as a human, and as someone who is quite literally a perfectionist, that I can and need to change the way insecurity can affect me.

In reclaiming my power, I am recognizing that I am not the hurting person from years ago in the midst of my addictions-eating disorders and self-harm. I have the power to change how I see the world around me and how I live in it.  The power is within; you just have to believe.