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!



Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Special Series on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series Books

Special Posts on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series:
By: Christine McFarlane

Every once in awhile, I look at my blog and try to figure out what I can do differently on it. In the last while, I have been struggling with certain things, and I found it quite fitting that, after I had a very vivid dream the other day of a fellow Native person asking me

“do you still pray?” and then handing me a bundle of sage, that in the mail today, I received some books from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation-which is an Aboriginal-managed, national, Ottawa-based, not for profit private corporation will soon be closing its doors, due to the cutbacks of Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.

For those who do not know what the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF) is, I will explain. The AHF was established March 31, 1998 and was provided with a one-time grant of $350 million dollars by the Federal government of Canada as a part of “Gathering Strength-Canada’s Action Plan.” The foundation was given an eleven year mandate, ending March 31, 2009, to encourage and support, through research and funding contributions, community based Aboriginal directed healing initiatives which address the legacy of physical and sexual abuse suffered in Canada’s Indian Residential School System, including inter-generational impacts.

According to the AHF,  “As a result of institutional abuses suffered in the past, Aboriginal people today suffer from the many effects of unresolved trauma including but not limited to:
·      Lateral violence (when an oppressed group turns on itself and begins to violate each other
·      Suicide
·      Depression
·      Poverty
·      Alcoholism
·      Lack of parenting skills
·      Lack of capacity to build and sustain healthy families and communities

And their vision is

“of a future when these effects have been meaningfully  resolved and Aboriginal people have restored their wellbeing for themselves and for their descendants seven generations ahead.”[1]

It was during my studies at the University of Toronto in the Aboriginal Studies Program that my professors had me become aware of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and their Research Series books and it was these books, which include “Aboriginal Healing in Canada, “ “Historic Trauma and Healing,” “Resilience and Residential School Legacy,” just to name a few that helped me to understand what happened to my people, and to my own biological family and myself. 

To hear that the funding has been cut to such an integral organization is disheartening. I encountered the AHF table at The Meeting Place: Truth and Reconciliation Conference at the end of May and ordered the other research series books. Though it is a heck of a lot of books, I wanted to invest in them.  I have a few here at home already, but I wanted to invest in the library of books so that once I was done reading and reviewing them for my blog, I could donate them to the First Nations House Library at the University of Toronto because it is these books that will help others in our community understand the importance of the issues covered in these books. I also hope that those who read these books will take what they learn from these books and carry them in their own learning journey, both personally and academically.

Just to temporarily digress, my first review will be a book put out by The Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada “Canada, Aboriginal Peoples, and Residential Schools-They Came for the Children,” and then I will review the resource books I have acquired from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation (AHF).

It is my hope that as I finish each review, my readers will see the importance of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and the resources they have faithfully put together. I just wish that our Prime Minister-Stephen Harper saw this and re funded this organization because on one hand the government apologizes for the Indian Residential Schools System and then takes away the funding that helps the victims, families and communities move on with their lives.

For more information on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and a more detailed background of their corporation, please visit

Chi miigwetch

[1] Aboriginal Healing Foundation. Retrieved June 27, 2012.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Na-Me-Res Annual Pow Wow

(Head Male Dancer-Lee Benson-Photo By: Christine McFarlane)

NA-ME-RES (Native Men's Residence) held their 12th Annual Traditional Pow Wow on June 23, 2012 at Wells Hill Park. This event is arguably Toronto's largest outdoor pow wow, and was very well attended. There was traditional dancing, drumming, a feast, giveaway, a kids area, craft and information booths and a silent auction.

The NA-ME-RES' (Native Men's Residence) has been organizing and putting together this pow wow for 12 years. Their mission is to provide temporary and transitional housing to Aboriginal men experiencing homelessness in Toronto while providing outreach and support services to Toronto's broader Aboriginal homeless population. 

For more information about NA-ME-RES or if you wish to donate, visit NA-ME-RES' website at and download their donation form or contact them by email at

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Hear Your Name

By: Christine McFarlane

I hear your name

and my heart beats 

I can almost feel
my blood boil

You reach out
and say untruths

You say
its all my fault

But I was just
A child

I lower my head
Though I know
I should hold it high

The tears well up

I start to cry

Thursday, June 21, 2012



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canada Writes - Cherie Dimaline, "And a story will show them the way"

Canada Writes - Cherie Dimaline, "And a story will show them the way"

The Meeting:

(just having fun with trying different styles of writing)

By: Christine McFarlane

I sauntered into Gabby’s Bar and Grill and looked around to see if there was anyone around that I knew. I wanted to keep my upcoming meeting a secret, until I was sure I knew how it would turn out.

Gabby’s was a hop, skip and jump away from my apartment building.  I had been there a few times, and the waitress knew me. I got myself ready. Because of the proximity of the bar, I could leave in five minutes. My date would probably arrive a few minutes afterwards.

I pulled together a quick outfit-black jeans, and blouse. I slipped on my shoes, grabbed my purse, and phone and walked out the door. After fumbling with my keys for a second, my front door was locked and I was outside.

I put on my earphones, and cranked up the tunes on my iphone, and started my jaunt over to the bar. I arrived in seconds. Standing in the doorway of Gabby’s, I took a deep breath, and pulled the door open. My eyes had to adjust from the outside light to the dull yellow indoor lights. They took in everything around me. I saw the worn out tables and worn wood chairs. There were a few booths, but nobody seemed to be occupying them that night. It looked like the few people that were there, wanted the tables instead. That worked fine with me.

I was standing there for what seemed like forever, when in actuality I had only been there for five minutes. The waitress came to greet me.

“Hey Christine! Welcome to Gabby’s, where would you like to sit tonight?”

I tell her

“Oh a booth at the back please, a friend is going to be meeting me soon.”

“Okay, follow me,” she says rather cheerfully.

I adjust my purse on my shoulder, and start walking with the waitress. She shows me to a booth, and as I am about to sit down she asks

“Will you be wanting anything from the kitchen tonight?

She launches into the special for the night

“We have a pound of chicken wings with a pint of your choice, or you can have our house salad with another entrée, the beer will cost a little more.”

I tell her, “I need a few minutes”

Nodding her head, she says

“Oh okay, I will be back shortly then,”

I settle into the booth, and put my phone down in front of me. I pull out a pen and a little red notebook from my purse, and think what can I write tonight?

It’s sad I know, writing at a bar, but I think to myself

“I should get some good material tonight. I just have to, my story is due tomorrow.”

I look around at the other customers and their parties knocking back pint after pint. The owner of the bar walks by, and glances my way. He has seen me before and is good about me coming in to do some writing. He knows I’m not a troublemaker, and that I’m just a writer trying to get material for her stories.

 A few minutes later, I feel a presence at my shoulder. I look up, and the waitress says

“I figured you would want the usual.”

And puts down a nice cold glass of beer. My phone rings….


It’s my date on the other end saying

“Hey its me. I can’t make it tonight after all. There has been an emergency.”

“Okay,” I say rather dejectedly. I should have known this would happen, I think to myself.

Not too long afterwards, I met someone. She was tall, with an hourglass figure and was a striking pale blond. She’s a huge contrast to who I am used to hanging out with. At first she was cold, but as I got used to her, I felt warmed by her presence.

Her name? Stella… Stella Artois. The finest beer I ever drank. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Indspire Awards Nomination Deadline Fast Approaching!

The Indspire Awards nomination deadline is approaching quickly!
Honour someone outstanding - Nominate them now for the 20th Annual Indspire Awards.
The nomination deadline for the 20th Annual Indspire Awards is fast approaching. Nominations are being accepted until 5:00 p.m. EST/PST Friday June 29, 2012.
2013 will mark the 20th anniversary of celebrating excellence in the Indigenous community and the limitless potential that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people represent. These Awards recognize the highest level of achievement and provide terrific role models for Indigenous youth.
Past recipients include Waneek Horn-Miller, Norval Morrisseau, Jean La Rose, Audrey Poitras and Adam Beach. With categories for ten career professionals, three outstanding youth, and one lifetime achiever there is opportunity for various Indigenous achievers. Recipients are selected by a national jury for their many accomplishments and honoured at a nationally televised gala ceremony.
“By honouring these achievements we continue to inspire many others waiting to demonstrate their potential” says Roberta Jamieson, President and CEO of Indspire. That potential is in a family member, a friend, a colleague, or a community member. Share their stories for all of Canada to hear. Help us celebrate these extraordinary individuals by submitting a nomination in one of the following categories:
Nomination categories include:
               Special Youth Award – First Nations
               Special Youth Award – Inuit
               Special Youth Award – Métis
               Business & Commerce
               Culture, Heritage & Spirituality
               Environment & Natural Resources
               Law & Justice
               Public Service
               Lifetime Achievement

Visit to apply online or download your nomination form. We’re here to help. If you have questions, we have answers.
Bryanne Drysdale 
Liaison Officer 
Toll free: 1.855.INDSPIRE (463.7747) 
Phone: 416.987.0241

Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) Call out!

Canadian Roots and youth at the Meeting Place-Truth and Reconciliation Conference May 31-June 2, 2012

Dear CRE Participants, Supporters and Future Supporters!

Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) brings Indigenous and non-Indigenous Youth together in Traditional Territories and reserves across Canada to learn about the strengths and struggles of Indigenous communities across this land. We are so excited to open our applications again for our summer trips, there are a few positions open on a number of trips, and we would like to fill them with some awesome participants. Apply today at or email or visit for more information.

Also, we have just added TWO new Canoe Trips in Temagami (July 3-12th) and on the Spanish River (Mid-August). That will compliment our annual Algonquin – Silver Lake Pow-Wow (Aug 21 – 26th) this is an amazing opportunity for you to get out in the wild, enjoy an experience in nature with an introduction to Indigenous culture.

These learning exchanges are going to be amazing, scholarships are available, letters of support are available, apply today for the spots that are remaining!

Land of the Midnight Sun - North West Territories: Yellowknife and surrounding area - PLACES REMAINING
June 15 - 25, 2012 Program Fee $1000.00 - Scholarships Available

Transitions to Success - Georgina Island Field School: Georgina Island First Nation, Ontario -  PLACES REMAINING
July 5th – 20th, 2012 Program Fee $1200.00 - Scholarships Available 

Temagami Wilderness Arts Exchange – NEW TRIP!!!-
July 3rd – 12th, 2012 Program fee $300 - Scholarships Available

Contemporary Mi’kmaq Canada - Nova Scotia Exchange: Eskasoni, Nova Scotia - PLACES REMAINING
July 12 - 21, 2012 Program fee $700 - Scholarships Available 

CRE’s Moosonee - Moose Factory Field School: Moose Factory, Ontario - PLACES REMAINING
July 15 - August 5, 2012 Program Fee $1800.00 - Scholarships Available 

Alberta: University of Calgary Indigenous Studies Field Course (FOR UofC Students)
August 18th-26th, 2012 Program Fee ($210) 

Silver Lake Pow Wow Canoe Trip: Silver Lake/Algonquin Park, Ontario - PLACES REMAINING
August 21 - 26, 2012 Program Fee $600 - Scholarships Available

CRE’s British Columbia Exchange: Vancouver Island, BC - PLACES REMAINING
July 28 - August 5th, 2012 Program Fee $750 - Scholarships Available

Spanish River Wilderness & Canoe Trip (7-10 days) – NEW TRIP!!!
Mid-August (TBD), 2012 Program fee $300 - Scholarships Available

CREs North Shore Exchange: "We're all treaty people" - PLACES REMAINING
August 10-20th, 2012 Program Fee $750 - Scholarships Available

Tso’Tine North West Territories Exchange: Tso’Tine, NWT - PLACES REMAINING
August 14th-24th, 2012 Program Fee $1000.00 - Scholarships Available

Apply today at or email for more information.

Being True to Yourself

(this is a piece that I wrote awhile ago, but I still find it quite relevant and wanted to share this again. I'm currently thinking of new pieces to write and post on my blog... Stay tuned!)

Be True To Yourself
By: Christine McFarlane

Life is not a smooth road, no matter how much we would like it to be. Learning to manage the ups and downs in life is something that we are all continuously trying to learn. Sometimes it is easy to go along with your life pretending that there is nothing bothering you. You smile; you laugh and joke around, yet on the inside you know that there is something that is nagging at you.   You can feel insecurity and you know that there are tears that need to be shed, but you hold back.

Putting up a strong front is something that I think everyone can relate to. As children, we may have been told that being strong is good, and that showing any insecurity or shedding any tears in front of people makes you weak.   I grapple with the message that you are supposed to always be happy. I know that there are some days, where I know I am not feeling happy, and I question why should I show a front that is not reflective of how I am feeling? In no way, am I saying that I will walk around, shedding tears or feeling pity for myself, but there are some days where I think it should be okay for us not to have a smile plastered on our faces, if we are not feeling like it.

Society dictates that we have to be strong, that we have to put up a front, but really when you think about it, would you want to always pretend to be something you’re not? What are people afraid of?

In my healing and recovery, I have been learning the importance of being true to myself and to my feelings. However I find that there are times where I am totally being contradictory to what I am truly feeling.  I go about my tasks pretending that everything is okay. I do not give myself a moment to sit down and reflect why I may be feeling a certain way, and I do not honour the feelings that are within and need to be expressed. In ignoring what is going on, I am letting pressure build and that is not healthy either, because it can come out in a way that I will regret later.

Being true to yourself and what you are feeling is important. No one should go about their day or go along in life pretending there is nothing wrong, and not dealing with whatever it is that is bothering them. After all, when you do that, that is how illness within can begin. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Finding A Way to the Heart [book review] | Windspeaker - AMMSA: Aboriginal news, issues and culture.

Review I did on "Finding A Way to the Heart: Feminist Writings on Aboriginal and Women's History in Canada

Finding A Way to the Heart [book review] | Windspeaker - AMMSA: Aboriginal news, issues and culture.

Transforming Lives Awards 2012

"Shoot for the stars. Nothing is impossible when you set your mind to it!"

By: Christine McFarlane

For some reason, when someone hears that you suffer with mental health issues, the immediate thought is “that person is crazy,” or an individual will only hear the word ‘mental health’ or see a particular symptom and walk away from you. In part, I don’t totally blame individuals who think this; I blame society, and the negative stigma that they have attached to mental health.

Mental health encompasses so much more than just the make up of an individual. Within the Aboriginal worldview, health is seen as encompassing the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. I know and have come to understand that yeah, maybe the way my life started out could have played a huge part in how my mental health faltered in my later years, but I am not going to bemoan the fact that what I have been through, is what has made me who I am today- a fighter!
 I am just one individual who has struggled with chronic depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic anxiety and eating disorders, and I believe that each of us, whether we do it individually or collectively, can help take steps towards eradicating the negative stigma that society has imposed on the issue of mental health.
Tonight as one of five recipients to receive a Transforming Lives Award from CAMH (the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health).  I was struck by the outright resiliency of each recipient and how we all have managed to keep going despite our struggles and difficulties.  I remember when they called my name, and I had to walk up to the stage. I was literally shaking in my shoes, I could say boots, but I wasn’t wearing them (lol) They had me stop and watch the video they had made of my story. It was the first time I had seen the video since it had been taped and when my story replayed out in front of me, I almost started to cry.  The tears were not out of sadness, but out of the sheer pride and joy I feel at finally being able to turn my life around for the better.
There were so many people that I wanted to say thank you to, but when I got in front of the mike, I froze.  In part, I said:
“I want to say chi miigwetch (a big thank you) to my friend and mentor Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, who happens to be here with me tonight and is someone I aspire to be like.
I also want to say a huge thank you to First Nations House at the University of Toronto for being there for me throughout my years of study and for helping me to feel like I finally belong.

Lastly, for my niece,
Obstacles can be overcome!
Thank you!”

I wanted to say so much more, but the fear of being in front of 900 people got the best of me, so I said what I could. But in my heart, I hold a special place for everyone who has been with me through my journey. The journey hasn’t always been smooth, nor should I ever expect it to be, but I have made it. CAMH- the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the great people who have been in my life have helped in more ways than one, and for that, I am forever grateful!

Congratulations to my fellow recipients of the Transforming Lives Awards 2012!