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, February 24, 2013

Poster Contest: Presented by the Skennen'Ko:wa Project

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Event Posting-NIIGAAN

Press Release: When Will You Rage Premiering March 9, 2013


When Will You Rage?
World Premiere
Choreographed by Penny Couchie
Saturday March 9, 2013 at 7:30pm at the Capitol Centre

North Bay, ON, February 4, 2013 – Choreographer and Dancer Penny Couchie, from Nipissing First Nation, will present her latest work, When Will You Rage?, in partnership with Nipissing's unique multi-disciplinary arts organization Aanmitaagzi at the Capitol Centre in North Bay on March 9, 2013 at 7:30pm. This presentation marks Couchie’s first independently created full-length performance and is the first professional contemporary dance/theatre piece to be produced in Nipissing First Nation.

When Will You Rage? is the heroic story of one Indigenous woman recovering her future by exploring the legacy of intergenerational trauma surrounding herself and her foremothers. It follows the triumphs and tragedies of Couchie, her mother, her grandmother and her great-grandmother; women who faced tremendous hardship, suffering, and loss, but found the strength and resilience to survive.

When Will You Rage? is a journey past the pain, the rage, and the grief to recover curiosity, passion, and love…It is about honouring those who have come before, recognizing and celebrating their strength and resilience.” (Excerpt, When Will You Rage?)

The project is the culmination of more than a decade of research, development, and explorative workshops led by Couchie and facilitated through both her former Toronto based dance company, Earth in Motion, and her current Nipissing First Nation based company, Aanmitaagzi. The narrative springs forth from Couchie’s personal experiences, as well as interviews conducted with other family and community members from Nipissing First Nation (North Bay) and Bear Island First Nation (Temagami). The story was explored and developed within the context of years of engagement with indigenous knowledge, ceremony, and history.

The performance is approximately 70 minutes long and was made possible through funding from the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. On Feb 19th & Feb 26th there will be Community-Engaged Workshops followed by Q&A sessions at the Capitol Centre.

Tickets cost $20 / $10 and can be purchased at the Capitol Centre Box Office located at 150 Main St E, North Bay, ON in person or by phone (705-474-4747) during regular business hours (Monday through Friday – 11am to 5pm, Saturdays – 12pm to 4pm). They can also be purchased online by visiting

Credits: Penny Couchie - Choreographer / Creator / Co-Producer, Alejandro Ronceria - Dramaturg / Co-Producer, Muriel Miguel - Script Dramaturg, Ruth Howard - Theatre Designer, Edgardo Moreno - Composer, David Sweeney - Lighting Design and Projections, Deborah Ratelle - Production Manager, Josh Bainbridge - Stage Manager, Dancers: Sarain Carson-Fox, Lilia Leon, Tamara Podemski, and Linnea Wong
Aanmitaagzi: Sid Bobb - Co-Producer, Clayton Windatt - Media Specialist, Sherry Guppy - Lobby Installation, Perry McLeod-Shabogeesic - Visual Art
Vocals: Animikiikwe Couchie, Binaeshee-Quae Couchie-Nabigon, and Tasheena Sarazin
Drumming / Vocals: Chris Couchie, Gerry McComb, and Darren Nakogee
Creative/Cultural/Historical Consultants: Animikiikwe Couchie, Bonnie Couchie, Eva Couchie, Carol Guppy, Christina Lella, Lee Maracle and Community  Members from Nipissing First Nation, North Bay, Temagami First Nation and Temagami

For more information, please visit


Media Contact:
Clayton Windatt, Media Specialist
h: 705-580-2646  |  w: 705-476-2444                           

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Have a Heart Day

(Dr. Cindy Blackstock- Photo By: Christine McFarlane)

Have a Heart Day
By: Christine McFarlane

Dr. Cindy Blackstock, a member of the Gitxaan Nation and Executive Director for the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society reminds us every February 14, to ‘Have a Heart’. A champion for the cause, Blackstock utilizes the day to draw attention to one of the most vulnerable sectors of society; Indigenous children.  

Her vision is to have a generation of First Nations children who are given the same opportunities to succeed, celebrate their culture and be proud of who they are, just like other children in Canada.

Her “Have a Heart Day’ initiative is about supporting First Nations children to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy and be proud of their cultures. She works to bring all Canadians together to ensure First Nations children have proper services.

You can help by sending a Valentine’s Day card or letter supporting Have a Heart Day to the Prime Minister and your Member of Parliament, by hosting a Valentine’s Day party to raise awareness in your school or community, or by spreading the word through social media like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. Explore the Have a Heart Day website to send an e-Valentine, or to order Have a Heart Valentine’s cards, posters, bookmarks, and buttons! (

Most of all, please have a heart so that First Nations children don’t need to fight for services every other Canadian can enjoy.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

An Opinion on the Controversial New Body Trend- Girls Dying to Achieve 'Thigh Gap' Look

Controversial New Body Trend- Girls Dying to Achieve ‘Thigh Gap” Look
By: Christine McFarlane

As a woman in recovery from eating disorders, I find it disturbing to hear of another dangerous trend - it is called ‘thigh gap.’ I read about this via a link to a Globe and Mail article and video.

The objective with this new fad is not to have your thighs touch. I remember when I was in the throes of my eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, my obsession with being as thin as possible had me engaging in many problematic behaviors. Whether that was being extremely restrictive in what I allowed myself to eat, or taking laxatives, purging or exercising, this obsession could have killed me.

As it was, I landed in the hospital countless number of times where I was watched like a hawk and forced to eat. I remember people telling me “oh you’re just doing this for attention, why don’t you just eat,” and I remember the pain those comments brought me because I knew it was a lot more than not wanting to eat. It was like something evil had a grip on me, and wouldn’t let me eat. It pained me to sit at the nurse’s desk while I was in the hospital and eat what was put in front of me. I would cry, when I was told “you have to eat everything on your plate,” and when I was weighed and found out that I had gained a pound, I thought my world was going to end.

Well I got through that part of my life, with a lot of treatment and therapy, and though technically I am no longer considered anorexic, I am considered EDNOS which means (eating disorder not otherwise specified) and it is still a daily struggle to be accepting of where I am now.

Trends like this are disturbing, and it is something that I wish as a consumer society we didn’t have to deal with. As women, we are inclined to judge ourselves and our bodies very harshly, particularly when it comes to comparing ourselves to those in the modeling industry and the celebrities we admire.

I remember the impossible standards I set for myself, and how it could have killed me.  I am lucky, in the sense that it didn’t, and I am lucky in the sense that I now have people in my life who accept me for who I am, and don’t judge me as harshly as those in my past did.

This ‘thigh gap’ trend needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. When I saw the video on the Globe and Mail website and then did another quick search on other links, I was alarmed to see that this trend is happening on websites, tumbler and among young girls.

It reminded me of my own fight, and how miserable I was. My eating disorder clouded my judgment and stopped me from enjoying so many things. It made me focus on something unattainable-being as skinny as possible and perfect, and I wouldn’t wish that battle on anyone-not even my worst enemy.

It is important for all women, young and old to develop good and healthy self-esteem. To know that there are more important things in life than what size you are.

Believe me, I fight the battle every day. Below is a poem that I wrote:

Fighting the ED Voice:

My stomach grumbles
My head hurts

A voice tells me
“don’t eat”

I feel faint
I try to stay steady
But my limbs
Don’t want to

My stomach grumbles
My head hurts

A voice tells me
“don’t eat”

My thoughts
Are not coherent

A voice tells me
You don’t need to eat
You don’t need food
To stay powerful

I want to cry
Because I’ve been through
This before
And could have

My stomach grumbles
My head hurts
I’m not going to let
My ED voice win

I make a plate
Of food
Pick up my fork
And eat

You’re not going
To win
This time

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shameless Magazine Is Hiring! Check it Out!

Shameless is looking for a Publisher, Fundraising. Are you devoted to grassroots publishing? Do you have a commitment to anti-oppression and inclusive feminist politics? Do you have some time to volunteer and a vision to make Shameless financially sustainable? Then we need you!

We are looking for a smart, sassy, shameless person to take on this position. The Publisher, Fundraising will work with the Publisher, Operations, to ensure that the business side of Shameless is running smoothly and strategically.

Job description:

All tasks are done in collaboration with the Publisher, Operations and the Shameless team:
· Collaborates with the Publisher, Operations and the Editorial Director on strategic planning for Shameless
· Develops fundraising plans and works with the team to implement them
· Oversees the implementation of fundraising plans, including: drafting fundraising asks/packages for potential donors; approaching potential donors; researching foundations or other funders to approach; working with our amazing network of supporters to raise our profile; coordinating the Hall of Shameless, our sustainers program; supporting the planning of fundraising events; and researching grants.
· Represents the website and/or the magazine at profile raising and fundraising events

The ideal candidate will:
· Have an understanding of and commitment to Shameless’s mandate
· Have excellent communication skills

· Be super organized
· Be comfortable with talking to people about money and supporting Shameless!
· Be comfortable keeping people motivated and on-track with fundraising
· Be available for monthly business meetings

· Work well with a team
· Previous experience in fundraising is desirable, but not necessary
· Previous experience with grant writing desirable, but not necessary

We are looking for people who work well collaboratively, who have a good sense of Shameless’s editorial vision, who are committed to anti-racist feminist politics, and who are excellent communicators and work well over email. (Shameless has no office.)

All positions at Shameless are part-time, requiring 5-10 hours per week. Most people who work on the magazine do so outside of regular business hours, and meetings will likely be held during evenings and weekends.

Like all roles at this volunteer-run magazine, this position is unpaid. (One role of the Co-Publisher, Fundraising is to generate income for Shameless so that we are able to pay staff and contributors in the future.)

We strongly encourage applications from women and trans people of colour and Indigenous women and trans people, queer and gender-queer folks, and those with experience with anti-racist feminist politics and/or anti-racist feminist organizations. A strong preference will be given to residents of the Greater Toronto Area to facilitate face-to-face meetings with magazine staff.

Please email a resume and a cover letter addressing your suitability for the position, and no more than three writing samples – something relevant to the position, like a newsletter or fundraising letter, would be ideal – to

We will start reviewing applications on Tuesday, February 12, but continue accepting applications until the position is filled.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Position on Decolonization

A Position on Decolonization:
By: Christine McFarlane

Decolonization is a process in which the colonizing society-in this case-(European) and Indigenous peoples of Canada are able to live harmoniously and interact with each other without underlying tension between the two parties. I believe that colonization will take Indigenous people many years to overcome. The colonial process involves many stages and a changed relationship between the colonizing powers and the people under its rule. The stages of decolonization occur in individuals and general society at different times in their lives because not everyone is capable of healing or looking at the issues that put them in their colonized positions in the first place.

In proposing a model of practical decolonization that respectfully incorporates, or is centred in Indigenous knowledge and/or worldviews, there first needs to be a basic understanding of cultural differences between Native and non Native peoples. Without a mutual respect for each other’s differences, a model of decolonization will not work or be possible for people to follow.

Colonialism establishes a framework, a way of life, which has been set in motion by state and government. When a person is under colonial rule, in order for change to happen, they will have to challenge the very authority that defines how they are to live.

Author Roger Spielmann  in “Kitkitchi Adjibonan: Cultural Differences Underlying Tension in Native-White Interaction,” states “there are considerable differences in customs, beliefs, traditions, ideals and aspirations between Natives and non-Natives.” (pg.5). The value differences of non-interference, non-competitiveness, emotional restraint, sharing, the concept of time and Native protocol is what leads to misunderstanding between the non-Native and Native population. These differences also create oppression and discrimination, which is hard to come out from under.

I believe that a decolonization model will have to be inclusive and incorporate training and healing to all members of society. This training will have to involve cross-cultural learning and understanding for each other’s differing worldviews, the ability to interact in both non-Native and Native cultures, learning to address conflict in ways that would heal and restore relationships, instead of in ways where one culture sees themselves as more superior than the other, and allowing each culture to function within their own worldview.

It is when different cultures ignore each other’s philosophies, values and customs that colonialism, oppression and discrimination is able to live on. When under colonial rule, the colonized peoples are denied the very existence of their culture and are not allowed to practice of it without facing denigration, belittlement and insult. Within my own life, I have had to learn to adapt to both the non-native and the native world. I was a part of the 60s Scoop when native children were taken from their biological parents and placed into middle-class white families. Adapting to both worlds has been a long struggle. It was clear from the beginning that I was different than my adoptive family because of my Native ancestry.

According to the reading, “Decolonizing Conflict Resolution: Addressing the Ontological Violence of Westernization,” the author, Polly O. Walker states that “The worldviews that underlie Western and Indigenous cultures are starkly different from one another and worldviews represent the deeper levels of culture, the beliefs and values that shape all behavior.” (pg. 528)

It is within the process of colonization, that as a child I was denied the right to immerse myself into my culture, to know my people and know myself. It was a struggle to live in two worlds. I grew up in the white world, and was expected to act like the perfect little girl. From a young age, I always knew that I had a mother out there, brown skinned like me, who had to give me up, and I always wondered who she was and where she was. I also knew that my adoptive parents never really wanted me. They made that clear, by the abuse they meted out. By leaving my biological family and culture, I entered a more traumatic experience, because my adoptive parents only kept me until I was ten years old, and then gave me back to the care of the Children’s Aid Society. The abuse I experienced, the abandonment I felt is something I am still trying to overcome to this day.

It has only been in the last few years of my adult life that I have been able to divorce myself from the colonial process that my adoptive family put me through. Instead of choosing to continue living within the pain and trauma I experienced from my earlier life, I chose to move myself away from it. That meant relocating geographically and beginning a life that I knew I could be happy with. I looked into my culture by going into the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto and getting to know other Native people in the Toronto community. I returned to school where I could study the history and worldview of my peoples. I built a life of my own that meant learning to understand myself better and allowed myself to become more open to seeing what my people have had to go through to survive, and trying to incorporate those ways into my life. Piimaatsiiwin-The Good Life.

In speaking about decolonization, I have learned that there are five distinct phases of a people’s decolonization. According to author Poka Laenui in the article “Processes of Decolonization,” these include the following:
·      Rediscovery and recovery
·      Mourning
·      Dreaming
·      Commitment, and
·      Action.” (152)

The first phase of decolonization is an important step to go through. It is through rediscovery and recovery that healing begins. In the book, “In the Voices of Elders: Aboriginal Cultures in Transition,” an Odawa Elder, Liza Mosher states that by reaching back into the past and “finding our identity, by going to ceremonies, going to Sweats and going to fasts and sitting with Mother Earth,” we are able to start our healing. I strongly believe that when we know who we are, what our purpose in life is, and what direction we want to take in life, this is the beginning of Indigenous peoples starting to become decolonized. This is evident because we turn away from the harmful behaviors we used to cope with. These harmful behaviours can include alcohol and drug abuse, and in my case self harm, eating disorders and not having enough faith in myself to know that I could live a life that is not filled with debilitating pain.

The second phase, mourning is necessary to continue on in our healing. It is through mourning and looking at your past as the past. “People often immerse themselves totally in the rediscovery of their history, making for an interesting interplay.” (pg. 154) In the mourning stage, things can be difficult for me because I still deal with a lot of inner pain in knowing that unless I make my own family, make my own community, loneliness can make my pain worse. In rebuilding my life though, I have learned to grieve, and that it is up to me to choose happiness and move forward. By letting myself win and continuing to be a survivor, I am telling myself, and generations behind me that it is possible to rise above adversity.

The third and most crucial phase of decolonization is dreaming. This phase can best be explained in the documentary “Onkwa’nistenhsera: Mothers of Our Nations,” and this is where “the full panorama of possibilities are expressed, considered, consulted, where dreams can be built upon other dreams, and can eventually become the flooring for the creation of a new social order.” (pg. 155). This summit encompassed all Indigenous peoples coming together at Six Nations, Ontario, for the “Indigenous Elders Summit of 2004.” The powerful message in this documentary stated “Nationhood is ours to keep, sacred sites and artefacts must be protected, tradition must lead, education is a right and everyone needs access, violence against Indigenous women must cease, and assimilation policies must be stopped.”

 The above statement about nationhood being ours to keep comes from the heart of the youth in the "Onkwa'nistenhsera: Mothers of Our Nations" summit, and  it is our youth who will help make change happen in the years to come. If our youth understand the message of nationhood, than we all need to understand and be open to the possibilities we can create for a better nation. It states in "Processes of Decolonization" that true decolonization is more than simply placing Indigenous or previously colonized people into the positions held by colonizers. Decolonization includes the re-evaluation of the political, social, economic, and judicial structures themselves and the development, if appropriate, of new structures that can hold and house the values and aspirations of the colonized people.” (pg. 155).

Therefore, I believe that when a model of decolonization is going to be implemented, cultural training is an important aspect that needs to be put into action. When people have learnt about themselves, and feel good about themselves, the message of hope is passed on and a feeling of goodwill is present and makes people want to change. The final two stages of decolonization can only happen when the latter three stages are experienced and Indigenous people remove themselves from the role of victimization. By moving forward and looking at wholeness instead of fragmentation, decolonization will start to happen.

In conclusion, I believe that though the colonial process will take many years for Indigenous peoples to overcome, decolonization will not work unless all Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples are willing to work together. We need to have an understanding of each other’s differences, a strong sense of togetherness and the desire to change in order for a model of decolonization to work. Without a desire to change, nothing can happen.

Works Cited:

Battiste. Marie: Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision. Vancouver, Canada. University of British Columbia Press. 2000.

Kulchyski. Peter. McCaskill. Newhouse. David: In the Words of Elders: Aboriginal Cultures in Transition. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 1999.

Martin-Hill. Dawn. Onkwa’nistenhsera: Mothers of Our Nations. Canada. 48min. Film Documentary. 2006

Speilmann. Roger. Kitkitci Adjibonan: Cultural Differences Underlying Tensions in Native-White Interaction. Sudbury, Ontario. University of Sudbury. 1981.

Walker-O. Polly. Decolonizing Conflict Resolution: Addressing the Ontological Violence of Westernization. American Indian Quarterly. Summer and Fall 2004. Nos. 3&4.