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!



Sunday, December 30, 2012


IDLE NO MORE-Windsor, Ontario event (Photo By: Christine McFarlane)
By: Christine McFarlane

The Idle No More Movement began with four women, Nina Wilson, Sylvia McAdam, Jessica Gordon and Sheelah McLean. It has evolved into a movement that has spread across Canada and the international stage.

Idle No More began in early October when Bill C-45 was being discussed. Its focus is on grassroots voices, treaty rights and sovereignty. Bill C-45 is a 457-page omnibus budget legislation bill (also known as the Jobs and Growth Act) that will make changes to several Canadian laws and enactments that include the Indian Act, the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Navigable Waters Act.

For First Nations people, the passing of Bill C-45 eliminates treaty rights. It will allow First Nations to lease out/surrender reserve lands based on votes taken at a single meeting, rather than a majority vote from an entire first nation (aka. community consent). It also exempts companies behind major pipeline and inter-provincial power line projects from needing to prove that they won’t damage or destroy navigable waterways in Canada. This is dangerous in itself because it will interrupt First Nations peoples and their ability to continue a traditional lifestyle of hunting, trapping and fishing on their lands.

The four women who began this movement held rallies and teach ins to generate discussion and to provide information surrounding Bill C-45 and the affects it could have on everyone if it was approved and signed into legislation. A National Day of Solidarity and Resurgence was called on for December 10, 2012 to oppose all legislation and to build solidarity. First Nations people and allies stood in solidarity across the country in more than 13 locations: Vancouver, Whitehorse, Calgary, Edmonton, Stand-Off, Saskatoon, North Battleford, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Toronto and Goose Bay-Happy Valley.

By passing Bill C-45, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative government of Canada are ignoring First Nations rights and have literally diminished the need to consider the impacts these changes will make on First Nations water resources. Furthermore, Canada has intentionally failed to fulfill its constitutionally obligated responsibility to consult affected First Nations before the Senate passed it.

As opposition to Bill C-45 has continued to grow across Canada, we have all become witnesses to flash mob round dances, and stands in solidarity happening all over Canada. It has also been amazing to see that there has also been support from as far away as the U.K., Egypt, Australia, New Mexico, and Los Angeles.

The Idle No More Movement has grown into a national phenomena and demands everyone to stand up and stand together. It is time, that we all say we are IDLE NO MORE to Stephen Harper and his colonialist ways.

For more information regarding the Idle No More movement, please visit

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Guest Post- Howard Adler

Howard Adler

Guest Post By Howard Adler:

Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Indigenous Studies from Trent University, and a Master Of Arts Degree in Canadian Studies from Carleton University. He is an award winning writer, and an artist that has worked in diverse mediums, including visual art, stained glass, theatre, dance, video editing, and film. In 2009 he won the Canadian Aboriginal Youth Writing Challenge (19-29 age category) with his video script “Johnny Seven Fires”, and his film and video work has been exhibited in both Gallery settings and Film Festivals, such as ImagineNATIVE (Toronto), Weengushk (Sudbury), Biindigaate (Thunder Bay), and Saw Video's annual Resolution screening (Ottawa). Howard is currently the Co-Director of the Asinabka Festival, an Indigenous film and media arts festival in Ottawa. Howard is Jewish and Ojibwa and a member of Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation in North-western Ontario.

A  Bill C-45 Rant:

One of the biggest problems with Bill C-45 (as well as the plethora of other Bills being introduced C-27, S-2, S-6, S-8, C-428, S-207, and S-212), is that the content of these Bills will have a direct impact on Aboriginal and Treaty Rights, and any legislation that has such an impact requires a "Duty to Consult" with First Nations that stems from section 35 (1) of the Constitution Act; yet despite this required "Duty to Consult", that is NOT what is happening with ANY of this new legislation, legislation that is making huge and sweeping changes to everything from the protection of waterways under the Navigable Waters Act, to land surrenders on reserves, transparency of band spending, housing on reserves, band elections, drinking water on reserves, as well as amendments to the Indian Act. It is unprecedented the number of pieces of legislation effecting Aboriginal and Treaty rights that the current government is pushing through parliament! So although there are very real concerns about the changes these new Bills will introduce, at the core is the basic problem that the federal government is unilaterally and paternalistically introducing this legislation without consulting First Nations peoples. Clearly, the #IdleNoMore movement is showing that First Nations were not consulted about this new legislation in any significant or meaningful way. Additionally, much of the legislation being introduced can be interpreted as being in breach of the "Spirit and Intent" of Treaties, as well as a violation of many of the articles of the "United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples", to which Canada is a signatory.

To read more, please visit the following:

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Exercise- Writing down 100 Things You Love

By: Christine McFarlane

Today I was looking for some inspiration to get me to put pen to paper. Sometimes it can be difficult to get into the act of writing, when you are feeling bogged down by things. When that happens I love opening one of the many writing books that I have and randomly choosing a writing exercise from it.

Today I chose the book "The Right to Write: An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life," written by Julia Cameron, and interestingly I chose an exercise that had to do with drama! Cameron explains that "Drama in our lives often keeps us from putting drama on the page. Some drama happens and we lose our sense of scale in our emotional landscape and "when this happens, we need to reconnect to our emotional through line. We need a sense of our "before, during, and after life," and this exercise is a personal antidote for too much drama."

I found myself setting aside a half hour and making a list of almost 55 things that I personally love. I still have 50 more to go because I found that writing the list was quite a task! I listed the usual ones like, loving to walk, listen to music, reading, writing and then I began to struggle with what else there is that I really love, and I know that I repeated myself.

Well here's part of my list:

100 Things I Love:

2. lions
3. eagles
4. my nieces
5. my friends.
6. my freedom
7. my apartment
8. solitude
9. reading
10. writing
11. walking
12. friends
13. television
14. movies
15. games
16. photography
17. painting
18. movies
19. jeans
20. bookstores

I won't bore you with my whole list because it is quite lengthy, but if you ever need to find some inspiration, you should try this exercise. Sit down somewhere comfortable, pull out a piece of paper and a pen, and just start listing everything you love.

The whole point behind this exercise is that it will also help when stress hits you, and you're feeling beside yourself. Keep a copy of your list in your wallet or in your desk drawer and pull it out to read. It will instantly connect you to a sense of well being apart from your current drama.

Till next time, happy writing or whatever it is you like to do!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

FLASH MOB Round Dance December 21, 2012-PLEASE COME OUT AND SUPPORT!!

An organized and mobilized action by-IDLE NO MORE -TORONTO
Calling all - Indigenous people(s) and Canadians, that are in support of both; ensuring the inherent rights of First Nations People(s) and the protection of our environment/waters.

WHEN-Friday- December 21st
Gather at Noon in Dundas Square

Ground plan details will be disclosed early Friday morning with a posting on our FB event page. We encourage people to bring their Native pride and be ready to #idleNOmore. Make sure your cell phones are capable of receiving fb notifications to stay up to date with all the excitement.


We have organized this event -to gather in support/Solidarity and Unity with The First Nation(s) across Canada, and also in Support of ATTAWAPISKAT Chief Theresa Spence, who is currently enduring a HUNGER STRIKE to raise critical awareness, of the dire position of her Peoples. While- the media continues to mythologize the history, which has coerced the Attawapiskat Nation into crisis.

This FLASH MOB-ROUND DANCE- has been created to EDUCATE /RAISE AWARENESS /BUILD SOLIDARITY (WITH ALL PEOPLE(S) ACROSS TURTLE ISLAND) So that they may know, of what is happening to Indigenous People across the Country and HOW BILL C-45 is an act of cultural/environmental genocide-WHICH AFFECTS US ALL

What is FLASH MOB?
A flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place to perform an unusual act for a brief time, and then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression. Flash mobs are organized via telecommunications, social media, or viral emails.!

What is a ROUND DANCE?
Round dance is not ballroom dancing. It is a friendship dance that has long been held as a courting activity. It is performed during a portion of a powwow and during many social occasions. The round dance has an infectious upbeat tempo and creates a simple and fun activity. Round daces are performed during the intertribal social portion of a powwow. During the long winter nights Native people gather for the Round Dance, this traditional dance inspires both young and old alike. It is a time for friendship! A Dance that, builds UNITY and relationships with ALL NATIONS.

:::::::::::: FOLLOWED BY... A TEACH IN.
Details to follow shortly.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review: A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape

Reviewed: A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape”
By: Christine McFarlane

The book “ A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape” written by Candace Savage, takes the reader on an exploratory journey through the lands surrounding the little town of Eastend Saskatchewan. There are road trips into the back hills of Cyprus Hills, animal watching out on the plains and trips to view century old dinosaur skeletons and fossils.

“A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape” is part memoir but also offers a history of the southwestern plains of Saskatchewan. Savage conceptualizes for the reader a portrait of the lands and ecosystems in the prairies, speaks about the deliberate extermination of the buffalo, and the malicious tactics that Sir John A. MacDonald’s government ruthlessly applied to Canada’s aboriginal people. Savage also questions American author William Stegner’s revisionist view of history and asks “Do the lands around us remember?

In answer to do the lands around us remember? I say yes because to First Nations people, land is as integral to our way of living, as it is for us understanding the environment around us, and how it operates within our teachings. The land remembers because as First Nations people, we have always had close ties to the land and everything around us. It has to do with what we call traditional ecological knowledge.

Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is defined as “a body of knowledge built up by a group of people through generations of living in close contact with nature” and that it is “both cumulative and dynamic, building upon the experiences of earlier generations and adapting to the new technological and socioeconomic changes to the present.

According to Indigenous people all over the globe, traditional knowledge is a way of life, the law of the land and no matter where you are; the land is a part of us. The lands remember the abuses wrought upon it. Whether that is through the eco systems ability to adapt to the extreme weather- blazing heat, brutal cold, sudden downpours, the decline of grassland birds to the decline of the buffalo, and/or the unrest surrounding treaty rights, land rights, and most recently the implementation of Bill C-45 which is the most recent omnibudget bill that strips protection from 99% of lakes and rivers leaving only 3 oceans, 97 lakes and 62 rivers under the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

Wherever we are, the lands around us remember. We all need to think about what is happening in our own backyards because the environment is past, present and future, and it is a knowledge that needs to be protected and preserved.

Candace Savage’s book “A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape” does a great job in offering a new viewpoint in how to look at plains history. It makes you look at more than just the surface, the picture before you. It makes you delve deeper, and wanting to read more.

"A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape" is published by D&M Publishing Inc and is 224 pages. It is the recent winner of the 2012 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Take Action Against Cuts to Those On Ontario Works/Ontario Disability Support Program

 On Behalf of Aboriginal Legal Aid Services:

The provincial government announced in its 2012 budget that the Community Start-Up and Maintenance Benefit (CSUMB) and the Home Repairs Benefit for people on Ontario Works (OW) or the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) are being cut.

What is the CSUMB?

The CSUMB is a mandatory benefit that people on either OW or ODSP can
receive. It is intended to pay for expenses that will help people on OW
or ODSP:

*        Establish a new place to live;
*        Prevent their eviction;
*        Prevent them from having their heat, electricity or other
utilities shut off;
*        Maintain their existing residence.

  CSUMB can be used to pay for large lump-sum expenses like:

*        First and last month's rent deposits;
*        Buying or replacing furniture;
*        Deposits on utilities;
*        Paying overdue rent or utility bills.

Single people on OW or ODSP have been able to receive up to $799 and
families up to $1500, once every two years.

How does this cut affect our community?
Many clients of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto have accessed this
funding to avoid becoming homeless. We know that if it is not saved,
many families that we serve will be affected. About 16,000 Ontarians
rely on this benefit every month and it is available to people on
assistance who are among the most vulnerable and excluded in our

What can you do?
Please help us by sending a letter to your MPP and encouraging and
assisting your clients to do the same. We have attached two letters to
this email. One is for people who have received the CSUMB in the past
and one if for people who have not received it but who are against the

If you don't know who your MPP is, you can enter your postal code here
and then see which MPP represents your riding at this website

You can also send an email at

Please share this with as many people in the Aboriginal community as you
can so that we can send as many letters as possible before December 21.

If you work or volunteer with a community agency, please forward
this email to your Board so that they can also send a letter on behalf
of their organization.

If you have questions or want more information, please contact Charlene
Tehkummah at 416-408-4041 x. 223

Thank you for your help on this important issue.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Excerpt of a short story: Living in Two Worlds

(Two Worlds: image courtesy of
Excerpt of a short story I’m working on:
By: Christine McFarlane

“Where the hell have you been?”
Startled, Michelle looks up, almost losing her balance in the process. She sees her mother appear in the doorway between the living room and the front hall entrance. Her mother's eyes are squinting, her hair tousled from sleep and her nightgown stretched to its limit across her ample chest and stomach.
Michelle feels her heart go into her throat, and after a minute of silence manages to stutter
“I was…  I was with Lee.”
“You know it’s a weeknight and that you should have been home two bloody hours ago Michelle,” her mother yells. Glaring at each other, Michelle’s mom, as if waiting to see if Michelle would yell anything back throws her hands in the air and says
“Damn it! I’ve had enough of you and your antics. You never think of anyone but yourself, don’t you know the stress I’m under at work?” She turns around to go back into the living room.
Michelle’s face, already blushed from the drinks she's had, feels her face burn up even more. She bursts into tears, and runs for her room. “I hate you!” she yells.  “I wish you were dead!”
After slamming her door closed, Michelle looks around briefly. Her room is her safe haven. A place she hardly leaves when she’s at home. She looks at the posters that adorn her walls, the picture of her and Nokomis, her collection of stuffed animals and her warm and comfy bed. She walks to her bed, and lets herself drop. She feels the tension in her shoulders, as she pulls off her t-shirt and undoes her jeans to get into her nightgown.
 She grabs a teddy bear, that’s so worn that the fur is coming off in patches here and there, and wraps her arms around it. She pulls back her duvet and after gathering it around her, starts to counts 1…..2…..3… This helps her calm down and she finally she falls asleep.
BEEP….BEEP…BEEP…  Michelle jumps out of a sound sleep. Her hand gropes around to find her alarm clock and hits the wood surface of her night table. Swearing under her breath, Michelle’s fingers scramble to turn off her alarm.  She swings her legs over the edge of her bed and sits up. Her head’s hurting. She looks at the light emanating from her clock and sees that its not quite 9am, she listens carefully for sounds of her mom being up. Her heart beats faster as she recalls last night’s confrontation. Her mom had yelled at her again and had told her she had had enough.
The tension in Margie and Michelle’s apartment is as thick as dark clouds about to rain down in a monsoon. It had been like this for quite awhile. Margie and Michelle being barely able to contain their frustration with each other.
 “I’ll be good today,” Michelle thinks.  “I’ll come home early, and I’ll do my chores.” She hurriedly throws on some clothes. Just as she is opening her bedroom door, and stepping into the hallway she hears the hushed whispers of her mom on the telephone and her saying.
“Mom, I just can’t take it anymore. She doesn’t listen to me, she is very disrespectful and most of all, she doesn’t understand that her behavior just makes things worse for me!”
Michelle’s heart constricts, and she stops in her tracks. Leaning on the wall for a few seconds, she knows her mom is talking to her Nokomis. The two of them are early birds, and probably didn’t think that Michelle would be up. She tries not to make any noise as she walks down the hallway to the bathroom. Her feet shuffle upon the carpet. Just as she reaches for the doorknob, the talking ceases and she hears her mom say
“I think Michelle is up. Did you want to talk to her now?”
Michelle starts breathing so fast that she is almost gulping. “Oh no,” she thinks.  The day hasn’t even started, and I am already in trouble.” She knows she won’t be able to get away from talking with Nokomis. There’s a scribbling kind of sound as though her mom is writing something down and then she hears
“Michelle, come here, your Nokomis wants to speak with you.”
“Just a minute! “I have to go to the washroom!” Michelle yells
“Come here, right now!” her mom yells back.
“Mom! Come on!” clenching her fists in frustration Michelle shuffles down the hallway from the bathroom and into the kitchen. Her mom’s stern face greets her.
“Your Nokomis wants to talk with you,” handing her the phone.
Gulping, she grabs the phone from her mom’s hand and says
“Um.. Hi Nokomis”
After a few pleasantries of how are you, how’s your friends etc, Nokomis gets right to the point.
“Michelle, I hear there’s trouble between you and your mom. Your mom and I have talked. What do you think about coming to live with me on the rez?
“Um… I don’t know Nokomis,” Michelle replies.
“Well, you can come live with me but life on the rez will be different than living in the city and you will definitely feel like you’re living in two worlds.” Nokomis replies.
“Um, can I think about it Nokomis?” Michelle says softly. She twirls the telephone cord around her fingers as she listens to Nokomis tell her
“I think its best if I come and pick you up right away, Mich”
“Um, okay.” Michelle says.
Her heart drops to her stomach. There’s a fluttering in her gut and her hearing grows muted. She is barely able to discern hearing Nokomis tell her that she only needs to pack a suitcase and a few of her favorite things to bring with her. Michelle hangs up the phone and looks over at her mom.
Her mom is refusing to look at her. She is busily straightening things on the kitchen countertop as if all of a sudden, the order of the cookie jar, and other assorted canisters is important. Michelle sighs, “aah” and leaves to go back to her room. Forgetting that two minutes ago, she had wanted to use the washroom, she walks from the kitchen to her room. It seems like the walk down the hallway will never end. She holds back the tears that are threatening to fall. She can’t believe its come to this-leaving her mom and going to live with her Nokomis.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Book Review and Reminder of National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women also known informally as White Ribbon Day is a day commemorated in Canada each December 6,  which is also the anniversary of the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique Massacre, in which fourteen women were singled out for their gender and murdered. The day is often marked by vigils, discussions and other reflections on violence against women. I put my review of "Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide" written by Andrea Smith here on my blog to remind us all that women are important, and we cannot be taken by conquest. It is books like Andrea Smith's that reminds us all, we are all very much fighters and survivors. Please take a moment on December 6, to remember our sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers who have been taken from us through violence, and pray that some day, that violence against our women happens no more.

Book Review: Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide
By Christine McFarlane

“Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide,” written by Andrea Smith and with a brief foreword written by Winona LaDuke is a book that is definitely difficult to read. Smith’s book is something that needs to be read in bits and pieces. If you try to ingest it in one shot, it can be very overwhelming. Taking breaks from it here and there helps you to understand the information you are taking in.

“Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide” is a revolutionary text. It is a book that goes into great length of discussing the different forms of violence that Native women and women of colour are subjected to. She mentions numerous forms of violence such as colonialism, genocide, racism and rape. These forms of violence can be seen as tools of genocide and their impact on Native women and women of colour are devastating. She gives a very thorough analysis of these issues and argues that the connections between these forms of violence are perpetrated by the state and by society at large.

Smith believes that that “the assimilation into white society increased Native women’s vulnerability to violence and states that “when the Cherokee nation was forcibly relocated to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears in the nineteenth century, soldiers targeted for sexual violence Cherokee women who spoke English and had attended mission schools instead of those who had not taken part in these assimilation efforts. She further explains the colonization process in which “part of the colonizing process involves partially assimilating the colonized in order to establish colonial rule, and if the colonized group seems completely different from the colonists, they implicitly challenge the supremacy of colonial rule because they are refusing to adapt to the ways of the colonizers.”

A particular part in this book that really grabbed my attention was the mention of “the ideology of Native women’s bodies as rapable and is evident in the hundreds of missing Indigenous women in Mexico and Canada. In Canada, alone, Smith states, “there are over 500 First Nations women that have gone missing or have been murdered in the past 15 years with little police investigation. These cases are often neglected because many of the women were homeless or sex workers.”

Smith cites many other examples of abuses against Indigenous peoples. These abuses include the following, the abduction of Native children from their homes into the foster care system, the violation of human rights in the implementation of boarding schools which also includes the emotional, physical and sexual abuse of thousands of Native children, rape of the land, which means the dispossession of Indigenous peoples land and territories, environmental destruction, sterilization abuse that was done against the will of Native women in order to control population, and the medical experimentation in Native communities in which Native women had to participate in because they were given no other choice.

Andrea Smith challenges conventional thinking with “Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide.” It is a powerful book that though published in 2005 is still very much relevant and important for all to read to this day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Poem: What is Home?

What is Home?
By: Christine McFarlane

Home is the path
I have taken
To regain my identity

Discovering who I am
The place I take up in this universe
 And my very own body

Is the path
That is a long and winding

And rocky
Because its filled
With many challenges

Is the wind that whispers
Around me, yet screams
If I hesitate or question

Doubting my capabilities
And what I can

Is the path
I have taken
And still undertake
To learn about myself
And those around me

It’s being able
To sit in silence
Or be at home 

Knowing that it is okay
To be alone

Home is the path
I have taken
Knowing that I am where
I am in life
And that it’s up to me
To be the change
I want to see in life

In order to be


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Flashback to a Poem I Wrote in 1998- Lost Identity

Lost Identity
By: Christine McFarlane

Feeling lost
in the society
I've lived in all my life
never feeling
as though
I've truly belonged

Feeling lost
living on the fringes
of what society is

Feeling lost
My forefathers
came before me
I am Indian
I rightfully belong
here on this earth
I am lost
Lost to the western world

I don't know
my people, 
my language
or my heritage

To someone
walking by
I look like just another
person going through
their life
coping as best as they can

But little does
anyone know
I feel like an outsider
lost in the fringes
Questions go unanswered
I have feelings of deep despair
crying on the inside
laughing on the outside
when I can even manage that

Feeling lost
in today's society

Will I
ever find myself
my true identity?


(Personal Note: When I went and visited my mom this past month, she lent me a copy of a 28 page book of poetry that I made in 1998. I brought the book home, and made a few copies. I wanted to share this one, because I believe it is indicative of my healing journey, where I was and how I felt. I can now say I know who I am, its amazing what a few years can do after much hard work)

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Short Story: Visit With My Mom

(My mom-Anna Smith: Photo By: Christine McFarlane)

Visit with Mom
By: Christine McFarlane

I’m staying in a little town an hour out of my reserve-Peguis First Nation, in Ashern Manitoba. The houses are sparse and there is land as far as you can see.

I pull my jacket close. Securely shut the front and back doors, and set out for what my mom and her boyfriend Jim call ‘downtown’. The streets are empty, except for maybe one or two cars that sputter by.

There is no cell phone service, but by habit I bring my iphone and turn my tunes on. Music blares though the little buds into my ears, and I smile as I start my trek.

By memory from the day before, I navigate my way from the back door of my mom’s house, around the long chain link fence surrounding their property, and down a barren path. I’m greeted by the barking of two dogs along the way, no other soul in sight.

It’s so different than the city life I’m used to in Toronto, Ontario, where people seldom walk slowly, and people are always on the go. A big WHOOSH of air escapes from my lips and I see my breath before me. Its cold in Toronto, but being new to this area, I never expected it to be as cold as it is, minus three degrees.

 I feel the chilly wind whip through my thin jacket, and my pace quickens. Small buildings dot this little town’s landscape, and though there are street signs, I find that I don’t have to rush against a crowd of people just to cross the street.

I see a small-dilapidated building on my right, with a sign above the door that says Ashern Support Centre. I know my mom and Jim are there because I see his little tractor with the ski doo trailer behind it angle parked on the empty street corner.

 I pull the door open. Standing in the doorway for a second, my eyes adjust from the outside light to the indoor light. I glance around the room to see if my mom and her boyfriend are there. My eyes meet the glances of people sitting at a long worn out plastic utility table and I see two familiar faces-my mom and Jim.

Jim yells out “Hey you made it!”

I take off my earphones, and smile. I want to be like my mom and say “Ah, be quiet,” but don’t. I walk over and sit down at the end of the table. People wonder who I am, my mom looks over at me and says

“This is my daughter, she came from Toronto to visit.”

“Oh!” says a lady sitting at the other end of the table

“What’s your name?”

“Christine,” I say quietly.

People comment, “You look so much like your mom.”

We all laugh as they say, “We should call you little banana,” because your mom’s nickname is big banana!”

Everyone is sitting and drinking coffee and tea. I take everything in around me and then my mom gets up and says “Come on.”

 I get up and follow my mom out the door. We start to walk this sleepy little town’s streets. Checking out one store after another. There’s not much to check out, after all the main street drag has about as many stores as half a block back in Toronto.

This is the third time I have seen her in all of my thirty-eight years. I have a million different feelings that I can’t quite define because at last my mom is at my side.

(an excerpt of a story I'm working on)

Mark the 10th Anniversary of the Grassy Narrows Blockade-

No Logging! No Mercury! Mark The 10 Year Anniversary of the Grassy Narrows
Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishinabek Blockade!

On December 2, 2002, two young Anishnaabwekwe from Grassy Narrows
Asubpeeschoseewagong went out to the woods in the snow to start what is now
one of the longest running indigenous blockades in the recent memory of
Turtle Island. Please join us to mark a decade of struggle and achievement,
and remember the work still to be done.

10 Years of the Grassy Narrows Blockade: A Sacred Fire at Queen's Park
Sunday, December 2nd, 2pm-6pm
Queen's Park Front Lawn
Sacred Fire, Snacks Served, Children's Games, and Community Gathering

The community continues to maintain a moratorium on clearcutting in their
traditional territories. For many years now, despite the ongoing threat of
logging, grandmothers, mothers, trappers and youth have held off some of
the world's largest paper corporations. The community has also taken the
Ontario government to task for inaction on the ongoing effects of mercury
poisoning on their families and ecosystems.

Many of you, your families, your organizations, your communities, have
supported their efforts in the last decade. The Sacred Fire at Queen's Park
Lawn on December 2nd, 2012, is a great way to show your ongoing support and
to mark an important anniversary in the fight to protect Indigenous rights
and the water, air, land, and creatures that we all depend on.

Email us
any questions, see our Facebook Event at and visit for more info and updates.

Book Review: First Nations 101

Book Review: First Nations 101: tons of stuff you need to know about First Nations people
By: Christine McFarlane

Author: Lynda Gray
Published By: Adaawx Publishing
Pages:  275

“First Nations 101 written by author Lynda Gray is an informative and opinionated guide to First Nations issues. It is written in an accessible style and respectively offers sections on Identity, Social Control, Community Issues, Fairness and Justice, Health and Wellness, Arts and The Road Forward: Forging A New Path.

Author Lynda Gray states in the opening of her book “It is not fair that educating the public about First Nations people, and concerns is left for First Nations people to do,” but sadly it is often left to First Nations people to educate others about First Nations people and the issues that surround them.

First Nation 101 is different from other books written on First Nations issues because a First Nations author writes this book. Gray understands the issues and wants others to envision First Nations people in a more contemporary fashion and does not want the reader to see natives in the usual stereotypical and stoic viewpoint often depicted in books written by non-native authors.

The reader is given an overview of the history of First Nations people. Within the overview, Gray touches upon the many ways in which non-natives and Canada’s ensuing governments have imposed a form of social control over First Nations people through various actions, policies and laws, and the results of these actions.

As an example, Gray brings up community issues about First Nations people’s health, and explains how after being forced to abandon our traditional lifestyles, which were more active prior to contact, our physical health has declined due to a more sedentary life and the introduction of new foods. It is through the introduction of new foods such as white flour, sugar, and cow’s milk, that our bodies have a hard time processing these foods. Due to the inability of being able to process these new foods, various health problems have arisen and are growing throughout First Nations communities. Health issues such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity are just a few that are named.

Gray also raises awareness of the many abuses that we all as First Nations have suffered. She speaks about what circumstances and issues have led to poor mental health, which includes low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. She also speaks about the residential school era, and post-residential school era and the issue of our 500 Missing and Murdered Women, amongst many other issues.

Juxtaposing negative issues, Gray also speaks of the resilience of First Nations people, stating “it is important to remember that our people have such rich and vibrant histories, traditions and beliefs to draw from that can help us to overcome anything." I like that she speaks about First Nations artists and how they play a vital role in First Nations culture, traditions and communities, and it is through their work they can inspire others to find their own voices and/or their own creativity.

A list of other resources is offered at the end of each chapter for readers to draw upon for more information. Educating the non-native population of Canada is needed in order to foster widespread and long lasting positive change.  First Nations 101 does an excellent job of starting the conversation especially since many First Nations issues have been caused by and/or perpetuated by external forces.

First Nations 101 is published by Adaawx Publishing. It is 275 pages. Please visit for more info about the book and where to buy it. 

P.S. I wanted to share this review with my readers because this book is a very vital source of information for those wanting to understand First Nations issues on a deeper level. Please note that a similar review will be published in an upcoming issue of Windspeaker.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Poem: Standing On Barren Land

Standing On Barren Land
By: Christine McFarlane

I stand on a barren expanse of land
The buildings and houses are sparse
Country as far as the eyes can see

The skies are gray
The ground cold to the touch
The wind bites at my cheeks

This place is supposed to be home
Because this is where my mom
Lives and breaths

To me this land is foreign.
Everything unfamiliar
As I navigate my way around
Trying to feel at ease

But feeling the quickening
Of my breath
And my heart pounding

There’s sadness
I can’t quite define

I just know
That right now
I stand on a barren expanse of land
Unfamiliar to me

I will be back in the city

But for now
I’ll pray to the Creator
For my mom and I

That we’ll be fine
And finally free
Of the past that haunts us
And makes us afraid to be


Monday, October 29, 2012

Photo of Louise Erdrich and Book Review of The Roundhouse

Book Signing with Louise Erdrich at IFOA Festival: Photo By Nathan Adler  

 I finally met my favorite author, Louise Erdrich at the International Festival of Authors at the Fleck Dance Theatre Harbourfront Centre (October 28, 2012)

Book Review: The Roundhouse
By: Christine McFarlane

Written By: Louise Erdrich
Published By: Harper Collins Canada
317 Pages

Louise Erdrich, the author of fourteen novels, as well as volumes of poetry, short stories, children’s books, and a memoir of early motherhood has written another great book “The Roundhouse.”

The Roundhouse is a brilliant novel that illuminates the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibway and white live uneasily together. Louise Erdrich writes about tragedy, the comic, a spirit world very much present in the lives of the characters, the Coutts family, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what still happens on reserves across North America.

The story begins in the summer of 1988, when Geraldine Coutts living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. After not coming home right away from a run to the tribal offices on the reserve, Joe and his father go out to find her. As they are driving around looking for her, they see her car tear past them in a cloud of dust. Thinking that there is nothing wrong, they laugh, follow her car back to their house and take their time to park the car and walk up the hill to greet her.

It is when they notice that Geraldine is still sitting in the driver’s seat, and not moving; that they realize something is wrong. Joe’s father opens the car door and sees the blood. Prying his wife’s hands from the steering wheel and lifting her from the car, they jump into the car once again and bring Geraldine to the hospital.

It is heartbreaking to read about the journey to the hospital and how 13-year-old Joe is transformed from a kid to a caregiver in a matter of seconds, as he holds his mom in the car and tries to soothe her. After a stay in the hospital, Geraldine is understandably traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal the details of what happened to anyone.

The Coutts family dynamic shifts after the attack. Where Geraldine was once a very active tribal council member on the reserve, the attack leaves her lying in bed and slipping further into an abyss of solitude and depression, that Joe and his father cannot seem to help her out of. Joe’s father struggles with anger and grief and tries in vain to heal his wife, and increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world in which he is ill prepared to cope with.

It is when Joe’s father, who is a tribal judge invites Joe one night into his study to read old cases with him, in order to try and find clues of who his wife’s attacker is, that more and more questions pile up. Joe, tiring of just reading and not doing anything,  goes to his friends, Cappy, Zack and Angus to see if they can get some answers on their own. This takes Joe and his friends to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibway.

Louise Erdrich’s novel “The RoundHouse” is very deep and thought provoking. It’s a book that pulls you right into the Coutts family and how a young boy deals with a terrible crime that forever transforms his family. 

(Previously Published on

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

App Review: Fairy Tales for Clever Kids

Fairy Tales for Clever Kids

App Review: Fairytales for Clever Kids
By: Christine McFarlane

Do you need a great way to engage your children, especially when it comes to reading? Technology these days is amazing, and there is one app that you can download from ITunes onto your Iphone, Ipod Touch and/or IPad to help your children with their reading that also involves interacting directly with the story before them.

Fairy Tales for Clever Kids is a great collection of world famous fairy tales that are accompanied by questions and the stories themselves involve dragging and dropping different objects within each scene in the story. While your child is reading, he/she is constantly interacting with the characters of the fairy tale. In order for your child to advance to the next page, they need to answer a small educational question, and in turn this helps stimulate your child's overall reading process.

Within Fairy Tales for Clever Kids you will find

·      Professional illustrating to make the reading enjoyable and unforgettable
·      Educational questions for children about the surrounding world
·      Answers to the question involving moving objects
·      Stories that will help your kid feel right in the middle of the magic world of fairy tales.

Fairy Tales for Clever Kids is available in ITunes under the books section. The first book-The Ugly Duckling is free and you are given a catalogue in your download to go through for other books, such as Cinderella. One glitch that I did find was that the catalogue doesn’t open up as quickly as the book, but then again it could have to do with the speed of my own Internet server.

This app was released on September 19, 2012. Version 1.0 and its size is 39.2 MB. It requires i0S 4.0 or later and is available in the following languages: English, French, German and Russian.  Stanislav Ustymenko at designs Fairy Tales for Clever Kids.

To check out more app developments by Stanislav Ustymenko please visit