Monday, March 28, 2016
Event Posting- University of Toronto Indigenous Research Student Symposium Wednesday March 30, 2016 2-4pm @ OISE 252 Bloor St. W
Posted by Christine at 3:04 PM
Thursday, March 24, 2016
Road Trip With My Sister:
By Christine Smith McFarlane
I’m about to embark on a three-day road trip with my sister Marguerite and her partner Jeff, and the anxiety is bubbling up inside me. I’ve been anxiously waiting for a text message or a call from my sister to tell me that her and her partner have hit the road and will be arriving in Toronto soon. As soon as they hit Toronto, I am hoping we’ll be on the road heading home to Ashern, Manitoba.
My sister and her partner live in Windsor, which is a four-hour drive at the best of times to get to Toronto where I’ve lived for almost twenty years. I’m pacing back and
forth in my apartment, with each passing minute making me more anxious than the next. My phone has rung a couple of times, and each time it has rung, I have jumped because I am expecting it to be my sister. This time, its no different, here it goes again
“Hello?” I say.
It’s my friend Jackie and she asks me
“Are you all packed?”
“Yeah I am, I’m just waiting to hear from my sister now.” I reply back.
Jackie and I talk for a few more minutes. Then she says
“You sound tired, Christine, maybe you should rest for a bit,” Jackie says.
“Yeah I guess I should, I’ve been awake since dawn,” I say.
After a couple more minutes of chatting, I hang up, and head towards my bed. No sooner do I lie down on my bed, my phone makes a shrill whistle, signalling a text message. I pick it up, squinting at my phone screen; I see it’s a text from my sister. It says
“We have to go to Canadian Tire and get a part for our truck, we’ll be delayed….”
Laying on my stomach, with my phone in front of me, I text back as fast as I can
“ok, but how long are you going to be delayed?”
“I don’t know, depends on if we can get the part right away” my sister texts back.
“Alright,” I text and I think to myself, damn I just want this trip to start.
I get up and start pacing back and forth again. I play with my cat Teddy for a little bit in between repeatedly checking my luggage, repacking and reshuffling things around in my bag to make things lighter. I’m not sure what to bring with me because my sister had told me that on the way to Manitoba, we might go camping.
The diva in me was on high alert, and I knew that what I had in my suitcase was probably not suitable for camping-books, sketch book, beading materials etc but I wanted to bring them anyways. My motto has always been ‘bring what you can” and boy do I ever put that motto to good use.
As I’m waiting for Marguerite and Jeff, I realize that I have never really been on a road trip with anyone, so heading back home with my sister and her partner is kind of a big deal. Not only is it the first time that my sister is meeting our birth mom, it’s the first time I am spending more than just a few hours with my sister. Questions swirl around my head “Are we going to get along okay?” or will we drive each other crazy?”
For the next couple of hours I do what I can around my apartment, as I wait for my sister and Jeff. I make sure the dry and wet cat food is out for my friend who is going to come in and take care of Teddy while I am away. I also make a quick trip to the dollar store down the street. I figure what the heck, I might as well get some snack food for the first leg of the car ride. I lug my bag back from the Dollarama and place it beside my other luggage. I want to take a nap, but my nerves are too shot. I sit at my kitchen table, play some music from my computer and play a few games of Criminal Case. Doing this takes up most of my time, and pretty soon my phone throws out another shrill whistle.
I snatch my phone up and it’s another message from my sister. This time the message reads
“We’re on the road, we’ll be there in the late afternoon or early evening…”
“ Yay!” I type back. I can feel my nerves begin to calm a little bit. My stomach isn’t in knots, and I don’t feel the urge to run to the bathroom every five minutes. They’re on their way! I go to lay down for a bit, knowing that some sleep will pass the time. I hit my bed and no sooner do I lay my head down, I fall asleep. My dreams are fitful but at least I’m sleeping.
All of a sudden I hear the muffled sound of my phone ringing
I jump up from my bed and fumble for my phone. Without my glasses on, I can’t locate it right away, but after tossing a couple of pillows out of my way; I find my phone hiding under a book. I grab it, squint at the screen and realize it’s my sister. As I answer it, I shove my glasses on.
“Hello?” I say
“Hey! We’re nearly there so get your stuff ready. We’re parking in McDonald’s we’ll come and meet you,” she says.
“Okay,” I reply
McDonald’s is just a stone’s throw away from my apartment building. Another twenty minutes pass. I am getting my stuff lined up at the door, and my phone whistles again. It’s another text message.
“We’re here, but we have to organize the truck to make room for you lol. Jeff will come and get you and help you with your luggage once we’re done.”
Having had enough delays, I put my light windbreaker on and grab my bags. I don’t bother waiting for them to come and get me. Instead I pull all my bags out into the hallway of my apartment, and start lugging them to the front exit. It doesn’t matter that they weigh a ton or that its raining outside, I pull all my luggage out of my building and down the street to the parking lot of McDonald’s.
When you live in a basement apartment, you don’t always get to see how bad the weather really is. I didn’t realize just how much the rain was pelting down until I stepped out the door, so I stop for a second and pull my windbreaker a little tighter around me. A bag starts to tip over, I swear under my breath…. Damn it! With one hand, I pull up the bag that is falling, and with the other I try to pull up the hood on my windbreaker. It doesn’t do any good, it falls back down the minute it hits my head. I stop again, and this time yank my sweatshirt hood up. I start to walk even faster, as the rain pelts down around me. I’m pulling one suitcase, carrying a backpack on my back, have a purse over one shoulder and another bag that I have somehow fashioned to fit over my suitcase handle. The bag over my suitcase handle holds a pillow and a blanket. “I don’t need any help with my stuff,” I think to myself.
After a five-minute walk, I’ve arrived in the McDonald’s parking lot. Though it is a bit darker than usual because of the cloudy skies and rain, through my rain splattered glasses, I see my sister and Jeff pulling things out here and there from the back seat of their truck, and hear them bicker back and forth.
“No, don’t put that there! That bag belongs here, my sister says
“Why? It makes more sense to put it here then to have it go there,” Jeff replies.
I hear my sister say again “Put the bag right there!”
I hear an oomph…. escape from Jeff’s mouth as he manoeuvres a couple more bags in the back seat of their white Chevy Avalanche truck. Then I yell “Hey!”
Marguerite and Jeff turn around, and say, “Hey, we would have helped you with your bags,”
“Nah,” I say.
“I got tired of waiting, so I thought I would make it easier by bringing my stuff out.”
“Well, it’s raining like crazy, we would have come and got ya,” my sister said, looking at my bags and then
“Oh geez, you have a lot of stuff! My sister says looking at all my bags. She lets out a laugh that can be heard throughout the whole parking lot.
Hmmph….. Jeff grunts as he goes and moves another bag. As he’s moving bags around, he looks back and sees my stuff. “HOLY Chrissy!” He says, “You think you have enough stuff?” He asks as he looks at my suitcase, my backpack, another bag that I have packed to the tilt and my purse. He laughs, and as he’s laughing, he stops long enough to pull out a cigarette. “Oh, whatever!” I say to Jeff as I instinctively pull out my smokes too and have one also. As I pull a drag on my cigarette, the wind from the rain hits me full force and my umbrella flies inside out, soaking my cigarette instantly. If the wind had been any stronger, I would have looked like Mary Poppins flying through the air! So much for that cigarette! I drop it on the ground where it is immediately soaked up by the rain puddle it lands in. I grab my umbrella and fold it back to how it’s supposed to be, being careful not to let the spokes poke at me.
We all stand there for a couple of minutes and as Jeff finishes his cigarette, he starts to grab at my bags to put them in the truck also. He looks at one bag and sees that it has a blanket in it and a pillow. “Oh, you can leave that one here, Chrissy,” he says. Why? I ask. “We have blankets for you,” my sister pipes in. “Well, I say “I’m bringing my pillow with me because I made it especially for the trip.” “oh ok,” my sister replies “but bring that blanket back to your apartment.”
“Fine,” I say. I grab the bag, yank the pillow out and walk towards the truck. I pull the door open and throw my pillow in before I turn around and slam it shut again. I grab the bag with the blanket in it and head back to my apartment. The rain is pissing me off, but I keep my sweatshirt hood up and walk as fast as I can. Five minutes later, after fumbling at the gate of my apartment building, I run to the front door, put my key in, and step inside the door. I take a deep breath, walk down the hallway and open the door to my apartment. I place the bag inside the door, say bye to my cat one more time and then lock up again.
Once again I make my way to the McDonald’s. By the time I reach the truck, my sister and Jeff have organized everything and are ready to put my things in. I hop into the backseat of the truck, while Jeff heads into McDonalds to get us all a meal. He comes out five minutes later and we chow down. Ten minutes later…… radio blaring and making ourselves as comfortable as possible, we are off.
Posted by Christine at 3:51 PM
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Review: Memory Serves
By: Christine Smith (McFarlane)
Stories are an integral part of who we are as a people. For First Nations people before the time of contact, traditional storytelling was mostly based on the spoken word. For generations, children learned about their culture and their history through stories that their Elders told them. It was also used as a tool for entertainment. People of all ages gathered around a storyteller to hear funny stories that also served as important lessons through ancient tales.
To this day, aurality still shapes our lives, gives us meaning and brings us our stories. Memory Serves is an important book because it brings together the oratories of Lee Maracle’s words and speeches that have spanned a twenty- year period. The speeches contain the style of oratory that is important to her people- the Salish people and Sto: lo in particular. She speaks of memory, philosophy, law, spirituality, feminism and the colonial conditions in which her people have endured. Memory Serves speaks eloquently to its audience-the reader because the words spoken within the text are woven like songs being sung,
What is most noticeable in Lee Maracle’s work is how her words are formed and written. They are written almost in a circular nature-there’s no beginning, middle or end, they are ongoing unlike in Eurocentric literature. In Maracle’s work we see her words in an ongoing circular manner When asked about this Maracle said “that’s because I’m speaking and that’s how they speak in the longhouse.”
I love how Maracle recalls re-membering. She says “There is a multiplicity of ways to remember. Each individual brings their own gifts to the banquet of ways to remember. There are no standard ways to remember. No single methodology. Our remembering is connected to our emotionality, our physicality, our spirituality and our mentality that we dare not standardize the process for fear of leaving someone’s excellence out of the mix.”
There are many lessons and stories to be learned in Memory Serves. You learn new ways of looking at things, remembering things and most of all knowing things. Memory Serves is one of Lee Maracle’s greatest books.
Memory Serves is a part of the Writer as Critic Series at WWW.NEWESTPRESS.COM and sells for $24.95
Posted by Christine at 10:00 PM