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!



Friday, September 30, 2011


I have decided that once a month I would like to feature one to two guest posts on my blog. To add variety to what I already focus on,  I am looking for a variety of genres-poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction from fellow First Nations, Metis, Inuit writers.

If you are interested, please feel free to email me at

I am hoping that this experiment will take my blog to a different level, and engage more readers. Please pass the word around!

Chi miigwetch


Saturday, September 24, 2011

I'm Going to Miss:

By: Christine McFarlane

I'm going to miss

Crisp clean air

Wind whistling
Sun beaming
Kissing my skin

Down gravelly paths

Standing tall and proud

Good times

Good bye Banff

Hello world!

Be Proud Of Who You Are

By: Christine McFarlane









Monday, September 19, 2011

A Poem:

Blackness rolls in
And rolls out

Thunder beings yell
Lightning flashes
Making their mark
Across the sky

Cascading rain
The sky is weeping
And deep down
So am I

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Step By Step Guide to Annoying Your Teenage Daughter:

A Step By Step Guide To Annoying Your Teenage Daughter:
By: Christine McFarlane

First…. You require a daughter, preferably your own and not someone else’s. After all you could  get murdered by the other girl’s over zealous protective aunt.

She must be going through a case of raging hormones, moments of flightiness and attitude problems. The kind where if she says another “OH WHATEVER” to you when you ask her to clean up after herself, you want to take your hands and wring her bloody neck.

Second.. she must have lots of friends who come over on a regular basis. There’s nothing like annoying your daughter amongst friends. After all, you believe it builds character. 

You will play Stomping Tom Connor music and yodel right along with him in an off key voice, while your daughter tries to yell over the music


Third…. When your daughter least expects it, like when she is on the phone with her latest crush, you decide to yell

You’re out of deodrant and you need a new box of tampons”

I mean why not announce it to the world that your daughter has become a woman. It happened to you!

Fourth…When your daughter is about to leave with her friends, make sure you fawn over her, wipe that stray piece of hair that you see covering her mouth, or take your finger, spit on it, and wipe that dirt mark you see on her cheek., or better yet say

“Dear, do you want me to clean your eyeglasses with my magic cloth, I don’t want you to not be able to see where you are walking, you could trip and hurt yourself.”

Fifth…. This is the fifth and final step. Tell your daughter you’ll bring her shopping and as you’re in the car, roll down all the windows, and blare your daughter’s music. Promise her you won’t sing but then as the rap music comes on yell

M. to the O. to the M. and say “what does that spell?”
And then tell her

“This music is sick”

(this is a stab at writing a comedic piece)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Nokomis Just Doesn't Get It!

Nokomis Just Doesn’t Get It
By: Christine McFarlane

The wind, whispering yet screaming cold makes Nokomis and her great granddaughter pull their jackets closer to their bodies, shivering as they brace themselves against the cold air.

They’re going to dinner. After all, Nokomis had just received a big fat cheque in the mail from the government. It was her payment to compensate her for what happened at the residential school she attended many years earlier. The scars though not visible, lay beneath the strong fa├žade she presented to the world around her. Never letting anyone get too close, flinching if she heard raised voices, or saw conflict in any shape or form. If it wasn’t for her children and their kids, Nokomis was sure that she would have picked up the bottle. She had seen so many of her relatives who had gone through the same thing succumb to the drink because it was easier to drink, than to deal with the feelings of what was lost to them head on.

There is an uncomfortable silence, as Nokomis and her great granddaughter head out. Nokomis breaks the silence between them when she asks Michelle

“Are you ready for the new school year?”

Michelle, who is walking in tandem beside her Nokomis towards the car shakes her head and replies, “Yeah I am sort of, but I gotta get some more clothes. Last year’s clothes, they’re just not cool.”

They arrive at the car, a small-dilapidated K-car. The kind of car that gets you to point A and point B, and that almost everyone on the reserve has.  Michelle often wondered if the K car was an Indian special and if the Chrysler corporation had dibs on everyone who resided on the reserve, because even when your car died, everyone went out and got the same car again. Or maybe, Michelle thinks, “we’re just too cheap to get a car that will let us drive farther.” Let us escape from reserve life and go somewhere more exciting.

Nokomis and Michelle open the car doors. They are immediately assaulted by the smell of the worn out leather, and the staleness of cigarettes previously smoked. They settle into the seats, Nokomis taking the wheel and Michelle riding shotgun.
They’re on their way.

There is silence for a few minutes, but then the gravelly voice of Nokomis breaks the quiet “You know Michelle, back in my day, I only had one uniform for school. I had to wear it whether I liked it or not.”

“I know,” says Michelle as she rolls her eyes. She’s heard this talk before. About how lucky she has it in today’s world. She gets to wear different clothes every day, she has a tv and a computer, her parents are both educated and have well paying jobs.

Oh she knows she’s lucky, but her Nokomis just does not understand that to make it in high school, you gotta have the latest fashions and brand name clothing. I mean, “come on” Michelle is saying in her head, “I would die if I was labeled a nerd. It ain’t cool and it means a certain death.”

(short fiction story written in Banff, Alberta) a work in progress.....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Aboriginal Emerging Writer's Program in Banff, Alberta

Aboriginal Emerging Writer’s Program:
By: Christine McFarlane

Opportunities knock at your door when you least expect them.  I would not be truthful if I was to say that it is not affecting me in some way or another. There is a whole gamut of emotions that I am going through as I sit here in Banff, Alberta taking part in the Aboriginal Emerging Writer’s Residency Program.

The purpose of the program is to encourage the artistic and creative development of emerging Aboriginal writers and storytellers in a supportive, artistic and cultural environment. It is an opportunity for me to develop my writing and storytelling amongst other emerging Aboriginal writers.

The talent I am seeing here is amazing, and its incredible to be sitting amongst other writers honing our craft and sharing an experience that comes once in a lifetime. Age does not factor in here; we share a common love for words and writing. Expressing ourselves on paper is what helps us thrive. In my case, it helps me to keep on going; no matter how many challenges life throws my way.

Today I was tested, when I had to write a 300-word autobiography of myself. It made me delve into a deeper part of myself, go beyond the surface and acknowledge to myself that deep down I am a lonely person, someone who yearns for love because she did not get it from the people she needed to while growing up.

 In our circle today, there was no judgment, as we went around the room and read our autobiographies. Through tears, laughter and sharing I learned that each and every one of us has something we are dealing with, and it is through our writing that we are coming out from the shadows of our inner pain to tell the world “I understand, and you are not alone.”

I never dreamed that the day would come that I would be a recipient of a Canada Council for the Arts grant, or that I would be participating in an emerging writer’s program but then again many people who know me, have often admonished me for not having enough confidence in myself and the writing that I do. Like any artist, my art is something that I am always trying to improve upon. This program is unique in the sense that it offers culturally relevant expertise, guidance and mentorship by providing a unique opportunity to learn from and consult with an Elder throughout the two-week residency, and also features a public reading series in which we will read excerpts of our work alongside award winning Aboriginal faculty writers.

Though enrolment is limited to eight writers, I feel proud to be chosen as one of the participants this year. Here’s to writing!

The Wind

Wind whispering, yet screaming, cold, I shiver, I want to grab a coat, wrap something around me. Cars buzzing by, rubber wheels on pavement break the silence.

Wind tousles my hair, It feels as though something is caressing me. I feel comfort, warmth, as the sun streams down upon me, kissing my skin. I feel loved.

Trees stand tall and proud, their presence surrounds me, I do not feel alone. I stand, I feel the hard unyielding wood beneath my feet, my hands upon the ledge. I smell the clean fresh mountain air. It makes my nose tingle.

A smile spreads across my face. I'm happy, I want to bask in the sun forever, so that the cold that creeps up upon me in moments of loneliness goes away.

( a creative writing exercise written today at the Banff Emerging Writer's Program, still in progress of course)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Walk4Justice Stops in Toronto

By: Christine McFarlane

A small but enthusiastic crowd welcomed the Walk 4 Justice walkers on their stop in Toronto, Ontario during Ryerson University’s Social Equity Day on September 8, 2011 on Church and Gould Street.

The Walk4Justice is a nonprofit organization that was created by donation and volunteers since January 2008. Gladys Radek,a Gitxsan/Wesuwit First Nations woman from Morcetown, British Columbia  and Bernie Williams,, a Skundaal of the Haida Gwai First Nations woman  co-founded this group to raise awareness about the plight of the far too many Missing and Murdered women across Canada. Supporters consist of family members who have lost their loved ones across the nation, grassroots women and men from all walks of life. Supporters have joined Walk4Justice in Radek and Williams’s efforts to demand justice, closure, equality and accountability.

The Walk 4 Justice team is on their second annual walk across Canada to honour and raise awareness of missing or murdered aboriginal women, their next stop is Ottawa where they will go to Parliament Hill. One of their oldest walkers included 77-year-old Velma Todd,

Walk4Justice is not only political but also personal for both founders. Radek’s niece Tamara Lynn Chipman disappeared off Highway 16 out of Prince Rupert, BC, now dubbed the Highway of Tears in northern British Columbia. She vanished without a trace September 21, 2005. Tamara was a young mother of one and her father’s only natural daughter. Radek relayed how the pain of her niece’s disappearance is on the family especially on Chipman’s young son, who will never know his mother.

Bernie Williams is a long time advocate and voice for the women who have been forced to live on the streets of Canada’s poorest postal code, the DTES. She has been a frontline worker in the DTES for 25 years. Her mother and two sisters were also victims of violence who were murdered in the DTES over the years.
Together, Radek and Williams have gathered information from the family members who had lost their loved ones whether it was from the Highway of Tears, the Downtown Eastside, Vancouver Island, throughout BC and eventually right across the nation. Their data surpassed what the RCMP was saying and their numbers increased as more family members came forward. They started out with Tamara, Bernie’s mom and two sisters, and today their database has taken them to over 3,000 missing or murdered women across the country
In 2010 Radek and Williams organized another walk from Kamloops, BC, to Winnipeg, Manitoba to complete the Highway of Tears. Their message is loud and clear in that they want a National Public Inquiry into the deaths of all our women. Walk4Justice also rallies for issues from poverty, homelessness, addiction and government interference from the residential schools, the Ministry of Child and Family Services and the judicial system as a whole. They speak out for all the families, hold rallies, vigils and family gatherings for the victim’s families and continues to gather information on a daily basis.

According to Radek, “The vision of walking across Canada to raise awareness came to us after we attended the memorial walk my cousin, Florence Naziel, and her family had organized from Prince Rupert, BC to Prince George, BC. The Highway of Tears Symposium was held March 28, 29, and 30, 2006. This symposium consisted of family members, top brass Royal Canadian Mounted Police, government officials, politicians and First Nations leadership. After three days of deliberations we came up with the Highway of Tears Initiative with 33 recommendations to provide safety nets for the vulnerable women and children in the north.”

Throughout each and every journey they have gained momentum by getting support from First Nations leaderships, employee unions, politicians and thousands of family members across the nation who fully support their walks and venues by signing resolutions to implement social changes needed to address these issues are all missing and murdered women. They have elders to watch over their groups as they walk and they encourage the youth to be involved so they are aware of the issues also. They also keep in contact with the families who now have a glimmer of hope that one day something will be done to help get justice for their loved ones and to prevent their future generations from disappearing.
In addition to the flash-mob that gathered to meet the Walk4Justice walkers, there was also a brief honoring of the Walkers later on at the Native Canadian Centre drum social. I remember when I first interviewed Gladys Radek when she was nominated for CBC’s Champion for Change in 2010, and how impressed I was with her work, and her determination to fight for a cause that is often ignored or delegated to back page news in mainstream media outlets. I remember her comment “people do not think of how our missing and murdered women” affects us as family members. It is difficult”  

As long as we have issues such as what Walk4Justice fights for, I am a supporter, because I am a First Nations woman myself, and I believe that all of us need to stand together and fight together, and we need more people like Radek and Williams to stand up for the issue of our missing and murdered women, so that we all get the justice that is deserved for our people.

For more information regarding Walk4Justice please visit

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Reading Event Featuring the Works of Waubgeshig Rice and Lee Maracle

Lee Maracle and Waubgeshig Rice @ First Nations House, University of Toronto

Toronto- First Nations House at the University of Toronto held a very successful book reading September 6, 2011 that featured the works of Waubgeshig Rice and Lee Maracle.  

Maracle who read first, read from her books "Bent Box", and "Daughters Are Forever".  Bent Box is a collection of 68 poems and is the first collection of poetry by Maracle. The poems, written over the past two decades, speak volumes of emotion ranging from quiet desperation, to anger and to the depths of love. Maracle's book "Daughters Are Forever" is a powerful novel about a woman's rediscovery of self and incorporates a structure that is based on Salish Nation storytelling to depict the transformation of Marilyn, a modern day First Nations woman who is alienated from her culture, family and self.

Waubgeshig Rice, read from his first published book "Midnight Sweatlodge." A book that Rice says "is a collection of short stories that reflect the experiences of an Aboriginal person growing up in Canada, and the scenes depicted are ones  that hopefully help Aboriginal youth from all over ,  to connect in some way or another."

Rice's book "Midnight Sweatlodge" was written while he was growing up on the rez because he said "I was bored, and it gave me a creative outlet" After stepping away from the initial stories, and going into Broadcast Journalism, he went back to them after he received an Aboriginal Emerging Writer Grant for the Canada Council for the Arts, which helped him to "pull the stories together and make them more cohesive."

Readings by both Lee Maracle and Waubgeshig Rice were very powerful and thought provoking. I feel enriched by one of the many talents First Nations have- the art of storytelling.

Maracle and Rice's books were on sale during the event, along with First Nations House's writer in residence's book- "Red Rooms" by Cherie Dimaline. You can contact Theytus Books at for copies of the following books, "Bent Box" by Lee Maracle, "Midnight Sweatlodge" by Waubgeshig Rice and "Red Rooms" written by Cherie Dimaline.  "Daughters Are Forever" by Lee Maracle is published by Polestar an imprint of Raincoast Books.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Getting Inspiration to Write-Get a Copy of Natalie Goldberg's "Old Friend from Far Away"

By: Christine McFarlane

To get myself writing on days that I just can't seem to lift my pen up or come up with any ideas  I turn to the book "Old Friend From Far Away" which is written by Natalie Goldberg. Natalie Goldberg is a poet, teacher, and the author of eleven books that include Writing Down the Bones, Long Quiet Highway, Living Color, and the Great Failure. She has taught writing seminars for thirty years to people from around the world.

I often find that turning to "Old Friend From Far Away"  is immensely helpful and it sometimes surprises me at what comes out. This book is her first since her classic "Writing Down the Bones" and reaffirms Goldberg's status as a foremost teacher of writing and completely transforms the practice of writing memoir.

Goldberg uses timed, associative and meditative exercises in "Old Friend From Far Away" and this guides you to a more attentive state which is supposed to lead you to discover and open forgotten doors of memory.

"Old Friend" welcomes aspiring writers of all levels and encourages you to find your voice, because after all we all have stories within that are itching to be told.

Below, is an excerpt of a short writing exercise I did, upon flipping through "Old Friend". If you need inspiration to get your writing going- I highly recommend this book. It is published by Free Press a division of Simon and Schuster and can be bought at your nearest bookstore for $19.00

 "A Simple Task"

 By: Christine McFarlane

The task was simple. I had to boil some noodles and stir in the sauce. It was supposed to only take ten minutes but instead it took me twenty. It was early in the morning, I think it was like seven o'clock. An unearthly time for me to be up, but I wanted to help. After all, I was visiting and sleeping on the couch made me privy to every noise within the apartment.

I shuffled over to the kitchen, and though I read the instructions on how to cook these noodles, my head was so foggy, that I promptly forgot. I pulled out a pot, put it under the kitchen faucet and filled it with water. I dumped in the noodles, put the pot on the stove, turned on the heating element and left the kitchen.

A task so simple, yet so difficult at the same time. My medications at the time, had me so out of it, I didn't know whether I was coming or going. I remember five minutes later, the smoke alarm going off and in exasperation my niece's father pulling the pot off the stove, and saying

"This was so simple. Never mind, I will do this but please remember to put this in S's lunch before you walk her to school."

I stood and watched the burnt noodles being scraped out of the pot and put into the garbage. My head was foggy, I wanted to cry, because I did not like the way my meds made me feel, and how I couldn't do simple tasks.

As I stood at the kitchen entrance, I watched as a new pot was taken out, fresh water was once again put in and I heard the crackling of the Mr. Noodles package being ripped open and dumped into the pot. This time I stood by the stove, and watched those noodles get cooked, I couldn't burn them again.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The Urban Aboriginal Diabetes Team is Looking For Participants for the Second Phase Of Their Project:

Transformations in Diabetes in Urban Aboriginal Toronto:
By: Christine McFarlane

Toronto-A 10-month study conducted by Aboriginal post-secondary students found that
the major sources of challenges and successes in diabetes service needs and gaps in research were interagency partnership, knowledge and identification of Aboriginal clients and prevention initiatives. Successes achieved by some agencies indicated that a network of informed agencies and meaningful partnership would best serve the diabetes need of Aboriginal people in Toronto.

“Type 2 diabetes in urban Aboriginal populations is an important yet under-studied area of Indigenous health research,” states renowned researcher Heather Howard-Bobiwash Under the guidance of Howard-Bobiwash, the students conducted interviews with 22 representatives serving Aboriginal people, 15 representatives of 12 non-Aboriginal diabetes programs, 2 forum/focus groups: 16 seniors and 11 youth and 18 Aboriginal people living with diabetes.

 Howard-Bobiwash has a personal and professional investment in this project because her late husband Rodney Bobiwash who was a prominent member in the urban Native community of Toronto, passed away from complications of diabetes in 2002.  She hopes that “the research presented will provide a glimpse of some of the themes, service needs, and gaps in research and form and sustain partnership between academic institutions and Aboriginal communities, provide and support advanced training in Aboriginal health research and increase Aboriginal communities capacity for health research and disseminate research.”

The research project is aimed specifically at identifying tangible, practical tools for both service providers and Aboriginal persons with diabetes and empowering the urban First Nations youth to manage health with confidence and center research on diabetes education and prevention programming with a goal   aimed at restoring a balanced and holistic approach to diet and physical activity by re-learning, teaching and practicing healthy community-based intergenerational relationships around food and eating, and physical activity.

The Urban Aboriginal Diabetes team is in the second phase of the project! They are looking for people who have diabetes who identify as First Nations, Metis or Inuit and are over the age of 18 to participate. If you or someone you think might be interested, give them  a call at 416-920-2605 ext. 293 to register and get more details! Please share with your networks thanks!!!  www. aboriginal

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Wrong Day ( A Short Story)

The Wrong Day:
By: Christine McFarlane

BEEP.... BEEP.... the sound awakens me abruptly. My head is foggy, my hand snakes out from under my pillow clumsily feeling for my eyeglasses I keep on my nightstand. I don't want to get up, but through squinted eyes, the time glares out at me, and it makes me throw my sheets off and jump out of my bed.

My glasses hit my face, and it takes a second for my vision to adjust. My feet hit the floor, and I stand up and stretch. "Damn," I whisper to myself, "I'm going to be late."

 Covering my mouth, I yawn and move across the floor to the washroom, tearing my clothes off as I go. For once I don’t care where they drop as long as I can shower and get out the door.

I turn on the water and hop in, forgetting that I haven’t tested the water, and almost falling as I yell “Holy shit! I scramble to get the water to cool down. ‘Burning myself is not on my agenda today’, I think to myself and I laugh. HA HA HA.

As I am in the shower, I think of my day ahead and what I have to do. The ‘have to’s” are endless. “I have to do some writing, I have to go to the bank, I have to, I have to….” Its enough to make me dizzy and want to crawl back under my covers, but I know I can’t.

I am preparing to go away, and I have to get some last minute stuff done, before I hit the subway and head out to the airport. A few more seconds pass, and then I grab my towel and hop out of the shower.

Wrapping the towel around me, I step out of my bathroom and move across the floor to my bedroom. I dry myself off, throw on some talcum powder and apply my deodorant. I open my closet door and rummage around for my underclothes, my favorite pair of jeans, and a t-shirt.

I scramble to get dressed, and comb my hair. Combing my hair takes mere seconds, and I spread some gel on it, spiking it just the way I want to. To reassure myself that I look okay, I smile at myself in the mirror and go to briefly sit down at my computer.

My luggage is sitting right beside me, my ID sitting on top of my desk, ready for me to grab. I glance quickly at the time that is on my computer screen, and see the date.... September 23. How can that be?

And that is when I realize, my days have been mixed up, and I am not going away until tomorrow. I throw my hands in the air, cross my floor and throw myself back onto my bed.

Those errands I had to do, they can be done in a little bit, I tell myself. I am going back to sleep. After my heart slows down, I close my eyes and not long afterwards, I am back in dreamland.

(work in progress)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Check this Out:

(published by the Ministry of the Attorney General- my story is in here)

The Silence is Broken: Now What?

By Christine McFarlane Birchbark Contributor TORONTO
On July 20, more than 80 people came out to the event “The Silence is Broken, But the Violence Continues: Now What?” held at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

Four panelists spoke about where the efforts should go to end the murders and disappearances of Indigenous women, two-spirited and transgendered people. Panelists were Lee Maracle, Darlene Ritchie, Krysta Williams, and Erin Konsmo of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network
There was also a screening of the film “Survival, Strength, Sisterhood: Power of Women in the Downtown Eastside.”
“Survival, Strength, Sisterhood” is a short film that documents the 20-year history of the annual women’s memorial march for missing and murdered women in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories.
By focusing on the voices of the women who live, love, and work in the Downtown Eastside, this film is designed to debunk the sensationalism that surrounds a neighborhood that is deeply misunderstood, and celebrates the complex and diverse realities of women organizing for justice.
Harsha Walia, one of the producers of the film, is a South Asian activist, writer, and researcher based in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. She has been involved in the migrant justice movement, along with working with the women of the Downtown Eastside.
Walia said “the issue of the missing and murdered women is critical and it is a crisis that deserves much more attention than what it is getting.”
Walia believes that by chronicling the 40 women that were in the film “it gives a more humanized sense to the issues the women of the Downtown Eastside face” and she hopes that “it will open the eyes of many people to the nature of the systemic realities of poverty, racism, colonization, violence against women, addictions, disability, child apprehension, and policing that has impacted and given rise to the issues surrounding missing and murdered Indigenous women.
No More Silence and the Toronto Missing and Murdered Women Committee at the Native Canadian Centre hosted the event. No More Silence intends to have a follow-up event and encourages everyone to come out and continue the dialogue that has begun because every year the list of women that goes missing increases.

(published in September 2011 issue of Windspeaker)

For Immediate Release:

Wed., Aug. 31, 2011


Event date: Thurs., Sept. 8, 2011

On Sept. 8 at 3:30pm in Toronto there will be a flashmob demonstration in honour of the nearly 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. This day marks the arrival of the Walk 4 Justice, a grassroots collective of volunteers walking across the country to raise awareness about this atrocity of human rights. The group left Vancouver on June 21st and will continue on across the nation after their stop in Toronto.

This demonstration will include First Nations hand drumming and singing as well as speakers from the Walk 4 Justice and the Aboriginal community in Toronto. The flashmob will stage a brief spectacle to symbolize the loss of these sisters, mothers, daughters and friends
This event is part of the Ryerson University’s social justice festival hosted by Ryerson Students’ Union, and is in collaboration with the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto, Power Projects Inc., Ryerson Aboriginal Student Services, Canadian Union of Public Employees, No More Silence, and The Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

When:   Thursday, September 8th, 2011 at 3:30pm
Where:  Church Street & Gould Street, Toronto (Ryerson University)
Walk 4 Justice information:
Demonstration organizer: Darlene Varaleau

Flash-mob Demonstration in Honour of Walk 4 Justice!!

Flash mob demonstration in honour of Walk 4 Justice and the missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Taking place during Ryerson disOrientation social justice event. Thursday Sept.8 3:30 pm Church Street and Gould Street, Toronto, ON. Free. Materials Provided. For more information, please contact Sarena @ 416 964-9087, or see for more information.