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I have been an anti-bullying advocate for years. Long before anti-bullying became cool and everyone jumped on the bandwagon. As a victim of bullying, I don’t like to see it happen to others. As an advocate, I’m frustrated.

I hear a lot of talk from agencies and governments about how bullying needs to be stopped. Yet, when it comes to taking any real action towards stopping bullying, all I get is hot air. It’s all talk. No one wants to take action against those who feel they have the right to push others around. I’m not sure why they do it. Power? Amusement? I honestly don’t get it.

Back in my early 20s I took a course through Grant MacEwan. It was called “Public Relations and Advertising”. I learned one thing there; people are cutthroat and I didn’t have the balls for it. After only one semester I dropped out. I realized I was far too nice and wasn’t able to undercut my fellow students. I’m still that way. I’ve often turned down writing jobs only to recommend a friend I know is better suited for it than me. Other writers have looked at me like you would a retarded puppy when they hear that, but it’s the way I am. I know my writing. I know what I can do and I know when I’m not going to produce the best product. Clients appreciate it and trust me with future projects. I’ve always felt it’s a better way to work.

Today, however, I realized that I’m a minority. I already have Non-Verbal Learning disorder, which makes communicating with others difficult. I don’t read non-verbal cues and, so, miss out on much of what’s being said. Imagine being dumped in a small fishing village somewhere in China with nothing but the clothes on your back. That’s a little what it’s like for me.

This became clear when I was out shopping today and looking for a new plug for my kitchen sink. I went into Home Depot and could not get anyone to help me. Frustrated, I went to the customer service and got, what I later learned, some bad advice. Frustrated, I mentioned that I didn’t like waiting for 10 minutes for someone to come and help me. The girl looked me in the face and said in absolute sincerity, “you know, if you’re negative, then negative things happen to you. You should be positive.” I was stunned.

I consider myself a nice person. I try to see something pretty in everyone I look at and try to compliment people when I can. Very often I’ll lend a hand to a stranger when it’s needed and I try not to be cranky too much. I don’t always succeed at that last one, but I do try. When the woman made that comment, she made an assumption; I’m a negative person and it was up to her to show me the error of my ways.

As I was leaving I said, “I am a nice person. I could have been here yelling and making you feel bad, but I recognize my frustration and that you are not the source of it. So I come here politely and tell you the problem. However, all being nice got me was you telling me what a negative person I was. Thank you.”

I felt angry at this woman, this stranger, making such an assumption. It stayed with me like a bad lover and I didn’t nearly enjoy the day as much as I might have wanted to. The lesson I learned was being nice only gives people permission to treat you however they like. Yet I go on being nice.

So it is that I’m often the target of bullying. Like Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory”, I don’t understand much of human interaction but I do try to follow the rules only to find that the rules are arbitrary. So it is that I’m the weird kid who has trouble understanding why the joke that everyone else laughs at is funny. Often the joke is about me. However, I’ve learned that I don’t have to put up with bullying. I don’t have to put up with it, but there’s no one out there who will help me stop it.

I was working for About Staffing when an assignment went bad. It happens and details don’t matter. However, I’d reinjured my knee and was thinking about going to Worker’s Compensation Board for help. About Staffing decided not to use me because of what happened with the job. That happens. I was angry, but I couldn’t dwell on it. As the day wore on, though, my knee got steadily worse and I made the decision to go to WCB. Later that day I got a phone call from the agent from About Staffing screaming at me that he was going to call the other agencies in Edmonton and tell them not to use me. He also claimed that my phone call had been recorded, a crime in Canada (you cannot record calls without informing the party they’re being recorded, first). I was stunned and felt abused.

Here’s where I found out the uselessness of Canada’s bullying laws. First I went to a lawyer. They felt sympathy for me, but nothing more. All he’d done was issue threats. Until he acted on them, they couldn’t do anything. So I contacted ACSESS, the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services, is a governing body that acts as a watchdog for behavior with employment agencies. I put myself on the line and issued a formal complaint. The verdict? I got a letter that stated, “we do not find any breach of the ACSESS Code of Ethics and Standards and this file is now considered closed.” Since the agency didn’t actually DO anything they’re not to blame for anything.

I cried.

According to our country and those we rely on to protect us, it’s not bullying until something is physically done. People can scream, threaten and say all the nasty things they like. They can beat you down verbally and make you feel horrible.

Suck it up.

No one will help you. You can plead with people to help you. You can get angry and feel as helpless as you like.

Shut up.

There is not a law or governing body that will come to your aid.

How do you move forward from that? How do you keep going when it happens again and again? I’m not 8 years old and getting taunted at school. I’m a grown woman who simply doesn’t understand people being bullied by people who are supposed to be colleagues.

I’m a nice person. I don’t want to be bullied any longer. So if you read this and you’ve been bullied at work, please share it on your Facebook or Twitter. Maybe if enough people read this the powers that be will realize that words do hurt. Threats do make a difference. Maybe we can convince someone out there to stand up and stop this.

Today I’m going to be productive.

First, up at 8:00 am. Then a good healthy breakfast.

Okay… up at the crack of 10:00 am or so… let’s see… are chocolate chip cookies healthy? No? Okay, well milk is so that’s healthy.

Now, time to sit at the computer and write. Oh damn. Those cookies are sitting on the counter. They look absolutely delicious. Well, it’s not like I actually had breakfast. A couple more won’t hurt. Besides, I’m drinking milk with them. That’s good, right? Just three. No more than three.

Okay. The computer. Being productive here. Oops. Bathroom break. Look in the mirror. Damn. I need a shower. Well, no time like the present.

It’s noon? How did that happen? Okay. I got some good old mac ‘n cheese here. That’s quick and easy. Gosh I love mac ‘n cheese. Always makes me feel like I’m five years old again.

Back to the computer to open the latest story I’m working on. Wait. I have email I have to check. Oh look, my friend posted this funny thing on Facebook. I have to share that. Now, say something witty about it. Witty… witty… Got it! Ha! What’s this story on Yahoo? Oh my! I have to comment on that. So many people notice me when I make comments on these stories.

The story. Where the hell was I going with this story? Damn. Five pages in and I’ll have to rewrite the last two. Maybe I can salvage them. No… My brain must have been gnawed on by ferrets when I wrote this. Go back and rewrite. Wait. Text coming in. My friends all love me. They know how hard I work. Ha! My friend is having a rough day at work. I’ll text her something funny to make her smile. She needs that.

Television. I need some noise in the background. I’ll turn on one of those daytime talk shows. They always make me feel better about my life. Damn, girl! You’re 14 years old! Why are you having sex with a 26 year old? Stop that.

Story. Right.

How did it get to be 4:00pm? I need to start thinking about supper. Damn. I promised my friend I’d go to that movie tonight. Maybe I can convince them to buy supper. I hate cooking. I still have a couple of hours before they get here.

Spend the next 2 hours furiously writing.

10:00pm and back from movie and the dinner. Gosh my friends treat me well. I should try to pound out a couple of pages before bed. Oh look! More emails! I have to catch up with what’s happening on Lolcats. Oh and look at what’s on Ugliest Tattoos. Jesus. That guy looks like he wound up on the bad side of an argument with a stapler. Oh, more Facebook updates. Yes, I support that, so I’ll give it a like. Story. Right.

Okay, let’s open the story and see where I’m at. What the hell was I thinking when I wrote that? Can I claim aliens abducted me and forced me to write that? No. I’d like the probing too much. Okay. Let’s just go from where we left off. Who’s we? Do I have someone inside my head? No. Just a cast of thousands. I call them characters. Hee hee.

Write until 3:00am.

Damn that felt good. I need food. I’ll grab a quick snack. I’ve really got to get rid of these cookies. Just two… or three…. four sounds good. Milk. Milk is good for me. Helps you sleep, too. Not warm milk, though. Cold. Ice cold milk. Warm milk is just gross unless it’s chocolate milk.

Okay. Off to bed. Oh wait. I want to check that FML app I’ve got. Some of those are hilarious. Oh, and I’ve got to play my game. Got to make sure my vampire kicks some ass. Okay. Now to sleep.

I’ll get up at 8:00am and have a nice healthy breakfast….

Recently I published a blog outlining my experiences in the Grant MacEwan Professional Writing program. The blog was less than glowing and I received many responses I expected. One person claimed I was whining and I was doing the program a disservice. Another person claimed I had my aggression dialed up to 11 on a scale of 10”. I honestly expected those responses and they give me a certain amount of pride.

However, there were some people who read the blog and saw it for what it was; one woman talking about 2 years of abuse and bullying by fellow students. These people, whom I am proud to claim as friends, contacted me and expressed sympathy and shock over my treatment. These were the same people who tried to comfort me during my school year and often tried to help put a stop to this abuse. They are true writers destined for great things.

I know some people were upset with my blog. That doesn’t concern me. I learned long ago that a writer cannot be concerned with what others think about their opinions. A writer tells the truth and damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. It’s what gets us into so much trouble and if you aren’t prepared for that, you’re not prepared to be a writer.

What surprised me about the negative responses I received was not the vitriol, but the fact that they blamed me for my situation. I need to say here that those people who supported me and showed their sympathy for me are not the ones I’m talking about. I’m talking about those people who called me a whiner or complained that I didn’t try hard enough.

If you saw someone push someone down on the ground, you wouldn’t turn to the person on their ass and say, “well, if you hadn’t been standing there, you wouldn’t have gotten pushed. It’s really your own fault, you know.” Well, if you’re an asshole you might.

The people who hated my blog expressed one common opinion; it wasn’t their fault so it had to be mine. They never said or did anything bad to me so why was I blaming them? No, according to them they were innocent so the problem had to be me. I was a whiner. I was aggressive. I was negative. In one response the excuse was my social shyness.

So, let me get this right, I was bullied to the point where I had to receive counseling and I had to bring a complaint against an instructor (which I later retracted after I was put in a new class) but that was all my own fault. I woke up shaking most mornings from anxiety and fear but that was my own fault. I considered going back on anti-anxiety meds (thank you to those friends who talked me out of it) but that was my own fault.

 

I should be clear here; I will not take responsibility for someone being an asshole to me.

These people who responded to my blog claimed I was being unfair. They didn’t say or do anything to me. One said she’d been nice to me, how could I claim she was a bully? I was being horrible to them by making them responsible for what a few people did.

No I’m not.

When you become a writer you have an obligation to make your voice heard. That’s being a writer. That’s in the very nature of every single writer in existence. Being a writer means putting your voice out into the world. What in the world do you think a writer is?

This was a program designed to train writers. Writers don’t have the luxury of hiding their head in the sand. So how can I hold them responsible for the actions of their fellow students? Easy. They did nothing.

To those students I say this;

If you saw bullying happening and did nothing, you’re guilty. If you heard of bullying happening and said nothing, you’re guilty. If you knew your friends were bullying and said nothing, you’re guilty. If you knew it was happening around you and you did nothing, you’re guilty. If you suspected it was happening and didn’t stop it, you’re guilty. If you never tried to help the person being bullied, you’re guilty.

It is no longer acceptable to hide behind “I did nothing.” That’s the point. You did nothing. Therefore, you are just as much a bully as the abuser. If you’re a writer and did or said nothing, then that makes you worse than the abuser. You’re a coward and have no business being a writer.

Every single person has a responsibility to stop abuse. It doesn’t matter if it’s a parent abusing a child, a child abusing a parent, spousal abuse, kids bullying each other, a teacher bullying a student or any other type of bullying or abuse. There is one very effective weapon we have against this kind of behaviour; our voices.

When one person speaks against abuse and bullying, it empowers the victim. If you see it or know of it or hear it happening, say something. If not to the bully, then say something to someone in authority; a teacher, a parent, a priest, anyone. Make it known that it’s happening. Don’t blame the victim and tell them it’s their own fault.

Speak out even if you only whisper.

Perhaps the first voice is a whisper, but enough whispers can be as loud as thunder.

It’s time the truth came out.

I have decided I’ve lived with this long enough and it’s time someone told the truth.

I got shafted.

Let’s start at the beginning. I spent 10 years of my life caring for my parents until the death of my father. At that time I tried to revive my writing career but was failing phenomenally. I’m not the most disciplined writer sometimes and no one’s interested in hiring a writer whose glories are all in the past. So, I screwed up my courage and went back to school. I had two choices; return to the University of Alberta and get a Master’s degree or even obtain a degree in business communications or go to Grant MacEwan’s Professional Writing course. I’d been hearing about the PROW program for years and believed it would do what it said, get me contacts within the writing industry.

As the knight in the Indiana Jones movie said, “she chose poorly.” (Well, he actually says “he”, but then I’m not a he so I’ve happily changed it.)

I have very fond memories of my time at U of A. I made friends there I’m still friends today. I use every single thing I learned there, both in and out of the classroom, in my writing. I was an English Literature major and a Religious Studies minor. I even recommend writers, new and established, read religious texts to help improve their writing. I could have gone here.

Instead I chose the PROW program. What I didn’t know at the time I enrolled was the program was in the process of being shut down. Many of the classes I wanted were phased out by the time I arrived. I didn’t find out about the program shutting down until a full semester into my program. By that time it was far too late to leave the program. Nice.

There are still the contacts, though, right? Wrong. Many of the instructors I had (with an exception or two) had severe ego problems. These were not people I wanted to keep as contacts, professional or otherwise. One instructor had a habit of telling us, in detail, about the problems in their life. This included details about their marriage, family and even hopes and dreams. This may sound cold, but I don’t care if you and your partner (husband, wife, pet toy) aren’t talking. Teach me. Another instructor constantly told the students they weren’t ready for “real” writing experience yet. In the writing world, this means publishing. When asked when we would be ready, the instructor said “we would know.” How’s that for a vague answer. So, this instructor kept a constant barrage of pushing us down so they could feel better about themselves. I received a warning from the school for doing an assessment for class on the magazine, “Playboy” because of the nudity. Oh, just to let you know, there were pictures of naked women all over the halls. That was art, I was told. “Playboy” was smut. Really? Depicting beautiful, naked women in exquisite poses is smut? In depth, forward-thinking articles about current events is smut? Right.

These were the contacts I was supposed to rely on in order to move my career forward.

These people could barely keep their own egos out of the way of their teaching. Instead of encouraging, I heard a lot of double-talk. “Yes, go ahead and send in your article/story/whatever but I don’t think they’ll take it. You’re not ready yet.” Then get me ready! Even when I graduated I was hearing this nonsense. However, that, while annoying, I can ignore. What happened in my second year sent me straight to counselling.

The first incident I’ll talk about is about person X. X had some psychological issues, but having come from that track already in my life I tried to be understanding. This person was very animated, which made me nervous, but I tried to be patient. We were grouped together for a project and things seemed to be going well enough.

I don’t know if X was having a bad day or if X just needed the attention. When we met for a weekly meeting to see the progression of our various parts, I asked to present my stuff first as I had to go and pick up my mother (who has Alzheimer’s) for her weekly night out. There are few things that come before my writing and my mother is one of them. I started to present my stuff and suddenly X was standing up, hitting the projection screen with her hand and screaming at me about Russian dolls. This was a website project on revenants (undead). I had no clue what was going on. Humiliated, I left my stuff on the table and quietly walked out. Once outside, I burst into tears and went into the office. I’d had enough. I was quitting the class. After the program head’s assistant calmed me down a bit, I went to get my mother and talked to my best friend about what happened. Then I truly calmed down.

The instructor of the class allowed me to do my project on my own instead of grouping me with someone else. That was acceptable. Here’s what wasn’t. Every single other person in that group saw what happened. When the instructor asked them about it, not one person stood up for me and said, “yes, it was over the top.” No one. See, X was such a manic personality, that she was doing all the organizing and would spend up to 16 hours a day doing the project. The others just had to sit back and watch the A-grade roll in. They hung me out to dry for a grade.

The next incident involved the same instructor who was teaching a different class. Again, I was grouped with some people and thought things would be fine. They really weren’t. In order to hand in a copy that was coherent and clean, I needed at least a week for editing purposes. My group members had no problem handing things in a half an hour before they were due. One half hour to edit a 100 page document. Not happening. I lost marks because of them. When I told the instructor what was going on, she simply said that I needed to work around it. No help given at all. I was ready to quit school over that one.

The last incident involved an instructor I once had great respect for. Other people complained, but I thought they were wonderful. Until I asked a question. Now, I’ve lectured at the University of Alberta for 10 years as a guest lecturer. People will ask all kinds of questions. There’s no malice, just curiosity. Let me give you some history on this instructor. This married instructor, the prior year, had intimate relations with a student who was in his class at the time. That’s not a problem. Goes on at the U of A all the time. However, this instructor and student then published a paper online justifying their affair.

You can hear the brakes screeching on this one, can’t you.

I won’t link the paper because I have no desire to name this instructor publically. I’m sure my fellow students from Grant MacEwan will know who I mean, but that doesn’t matter. It was a very public event. The paper was poorly written and was so self-serving as to work against the authors. It was a case of “methinks she doth protest too much”. In other words, they knew what they were doing was wrong but they did it anyways. They’re adults. They can take responsiblity for their own actions, thank you very much.

I had no idea about any of this. I had an assignment in which the instructions were poorly given (I was not the only person who suffered a low grade because they misunderstood the assignment). I protested my grade, as was my right, and said I hated the assignment. I did. I’m allowed to say that. Over the next 10 or so emails, I was berated and left to believe I was a horrible person and student. This instructor made it very clear in the first class that if they didn’t like you, you would fail. I wasn’t sure what I’d done to warrant this instructor’s wrath, but I wasn’t going to fail on account of their ego. Back to the office where their solution was to put me in the online course. Fantastic. I felt like I was punished for what my instructor did. It still makes me cry to think about it.

If it hadn’t been for the school counsellor I would have slipped some pills long before. I was that much on edge constantly. My fellow students noticed and avoided me. I don’t blame them. You can’t hang around with someone who’s liable to burst into tears at any moment. At this point in my writing I have to point out I’m crying so much it’s hard to see the screen. Yes, it still hurts that much.

My plan upon graduation was to find a position doing technical writing for a software firm (I really enjoy that stuff). Or maybe work doing tech writing for an oilfield or engineering firm. Instead, I was broken and battered from my time at Grant MacEwan and the firms saw it. I readjusted my vision for myself and am now working temporary in various positions while I sell my writing.

What has been the effect of all of this? Sadly, I want very little to do with my fellow writers. The only thing Grant MacEwan taught me is that writers are people whose own lack of belief in themselves makes them hurt those they should be helping. I know, logically, this is actually the exception, but it is a lesson I learned very well from Grant MacEwan.

I wish I’d gone to the University of Alberta.

Recently I wrote a blog about a woman who was murdered in Afghanistan called, “One Death Too Many“. I was angry and upset that I had so few people actually reading it. I went back and reread it, thinking perhaps the writing was bad or the content was somehow lacking. It wasn’t. It was a good story. I commented on this situation to a writer friend who told me that if my sex stories drew such attention, perhaps I should only write on that, give the audience what they want. I came away from that conversation sad and disillusioned.

I’m a bit of an odd duck when it comes to writing. I don’t do “target writing” which is setting a goal for yourself and reaching it every day such as a certain word or page count. I don’t really have set times when I write so sometimes I will be writing for 10 or 12 hours a day and other days I can barely get myself to concentrate for two. I’m undisciplined and don’t even own a dictionary (there are far too many online for me to justify spending money or wasting the paper so I can own a book). I actually <GASP!> use the spell and grammar checker on word. Grammar’s my weak point so I use it to see if I’m overusing passive sentences again. Yes, I’m in love with the passive. Damn thing is like a stalker and I keep feeding into the obsession. It’s a cycle we’re both trying to break.

The one thing I have refused to compromise on is the story. Early in my career I had the opportunity to work with an editor who was old old school. He was crotchety, as editors often are, but he knew his stuff and he taught me some very valuable things including my current “three-time” style. I will write a raw piece, edit it once, rewrite, edit twice, rewrite and it goes off. This man told me that if you can’t fix the story in that time you had to cross it off as a loss or give it to someone else. I’ve handed many pieces to fellow writers because I had trouble getting a handle on the story. I don’t mind. They’ve done the same for me.

Perhaps the most valuable piece of advice I ever got from this man was never compromise the story. He let me know there’s a lot of play you can do within a story to keep an editor happy, but never, never, never compromise the heart of a story. A good editor will understand that and I’ve worked with some great editors in the past. Those words of wisdom have been my signpost ever since I heard them.

It doesn’t matter what you’re writing. Whether it’s a greeting card, an instructional manual, War and Peace or a journalism piece. You find that heart of the story and help it grow. That’s the writer’s job. That’s it. The writer does not bow to magazine editors, corporate managers, government bodies or even the audience. The writer is the story’s slave. That’s it. The only obligation a writer has is to the story. Sorry, readers, but you come further down on my list of importance.

That’s not to say my audience isn’t taken into consideration. However, that comes during the editing process and even then I won’t sacrifice something in the story in order to placate my audience. If I think the story is better served by a graphic description of something then it goes in. If you’re too delicate a reader to read it, well, there’s a lot on the Internet to read.

Too many times I see magazines and newspapers bowing to the advertiser’s dollar. I have only written one piece I’m ashamed of and it was a piece to sell some shoes that I clearly saw had some very fundamental design flaws. Years later, it came out that others saw those same flaws and those shoes don’t sell so well now but I did write an article singing their praises when I didn’t believe in them. That’s something I’ll never do again. Here’s some advice I will give readers that I didn’t find out until much later in my career; you can walk away from any story you like. The editor may not be happy with you, but you have a choice; write something you’re ashamed of  or don’t.

I’ve been told I shouldn’t write certain articles as they might make someone look bad. For example, I’ve worked for the Government of Alberta and I remain highly critical of them. It’s bad form, old chap, to criticize your former employer. Too bad. Suck it up, princess. The Government of Alberta is a big enough of a grinding machine to be able to field a bit of criticism.

The advice I was given by my fellow writer, to write what the audience wants, seems sound at first. However, I’m doing a disservice to my readers if all I do is placate them. I believe people come and read me not because they agree or disagree but because they want to hear what I have to say. To water that down in order to increase my readership is an insult to my readers and myself.

Being a writer is the most important thing in my life. I know that means I’m a slave to the story and I need to do what’s necessary to help it grow. It’s tempting to write what’s popular. That pays. A writer is often poor and if a magazine says “just tweak this” or “just take this out” it seems a small thing to do. There are times when changing something or taking out things don’t compromise to the story. Then there are times when you need to stand your ground. If you have a reputation for bringing the best story possible, an editor will trust your instincts on it. That’s an editor you want to work with.

It’s said the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I say the road to mediocrity is paved with writers trying to be popular. wherever that editor who taught me so much is, I hope he’s looking on and knows how valuable his knowledge was to me.

I hate job interviews.

Let me be very clear about this; I LOATHE JOB INTERVIEWS.

As some of my readers will remember, I’m looking for a job. I prefer to work contract for reasons that will become clear in a minute, but would work full-time with the right company. I know I’m capable of doing a wide-variety of writing jobs including webwriting, technical writing, business communications, public relations and more. However, the people hiring don’t know it.

I have a sound resume. I get interviews. I also have a CV which also brings interest to my work. My problem is with the damn interview.

A couple of days ago I had what I thought was a wonderful interview. The job was everything I wanted; working with someone well-established in their field that I could learn from and get along with, a company whose values and work principles matched mine and a challenge. I wanted this job and after talking with the person hiring for an hour and half, I didn’t get the job. Why? The interviewer was unaware that I had documentation experience (this was an editing job so I’m unsure why I’d need experience in writing documentation anyways). Okay, so why was he unaware? He didn’t ask. Instead, we talked about art and prior contract experiences we’d both had (good and bad). The interview was comfortable. Like going for coffee with an old friend. I was completely unaware he was even looking for documentation experience. When I found out I didn’t get the job my first instinct was to write an email to the interviewer explaining my confusion. My second was to send a snide email. My third, which I went with, was to do neither and burst into tears. I’d blown it again. I really needed this contract, too. I had to apply for Social Assistance to pay my rent. I’m quickly running out of money to buy food. I need clothes. When this fell through and I began crying, all my fears and anger over the situation came rushing out. Why do I keep blowing the interview?

First, I admit the problem is partially on my side. I have a learning disorder called Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NLD). Until recently, I was undiagnosed and lived in social confusion. The problem is this; while I am an amazing writer and can present material in an engaging manner (both written and spoken), I have problems understanding social cues. NLD people like myself have a host of difficulties. NLD people are great at rote memorization (for me this is phone numbers. I can recite a list of them by memory) and have problems with abstract thinking. Unlike other NLD people, I am great at seeing the big picture and then breaking it down to its components. However, I am unable to think a problem through logically. That is, going to step one first, then step two, etc. I jump around a lot. When I first learned about mind-mapping software I was thrilled that someone finally made a program to do what I already do in my head. NLD people lack coordination so may appear clumsy or oafish. Sports are a nightmare for me, the only one I’m really comfortable with is swimming but water is it’s own element. I have been known to break my toes by stubbing them. My doctor once saw me three times in two months for broken toes. I have diabetes so this is a concern for me.

Let me see if I can paint a picture for you of what all this means. If you’ve ever seen the show “Big Bang Theory”, I’m Dr. Sheldon Cooper. As a matter of fact, I couldn’t understand what the humour of Sheldon was supposed to be for the longest time until someone finally explained it to me. My friends will, indeed, tell me when someone’s being sarcastic (I love that they do that for me) and when someone asks “how are you,” I really think they want to know my state of being. I prefer being solitary as being in a crowd is confusion and sometimes frightening me. Imagine yourself in a pack of wolves. The wolves may not wish you harm and may not even be interested in you, but you don’t know what they’re thinking or trying to communicate to you. The result is you being nervous and making the wolves nervous which leads to all sorts of misunderstandings.

I”ve learned a certain camouflage that gets me by most situations. I have a gift for talking and storytelling. I can keep the listener engaged and focused on the story rather than me and most people are happy with that. It makes me look smooth and eases the listener so they can be comfortable. However, if I have to have any kind of in-depth involvement with the listener, such as in an interview, my camouflage fails me and I look like a babbling buffoon. Worse, I get nervous and clumsy. You can imagine what kind of interview that makes.

What would be wonderful for me is to have the interviewer give me a test. Give me a 500 word piece I can write for them or some editing to be done. Let me show you what I can do. Oh, man, I’d outshine everyone there. That’s not the way things are done, though. For some reason these people want me to talk to them. Talking isn’t doing. I can talk about flying a plane, but I can’t do it. So, I go to the interview and think I’m answering their questions or responding to what they want but then I find out that there was someone better. Big surprise.

I’d like to say that I can learn the social cues and get past this, but not at age 44. You can imagine what working is like for me. Especially in “team” environments where you have to go to the barbecue or participate in the Secret Santa or do the golf tournament. It’s not fun. Three or four months down the road, I’m let go because I’m not “fitting in” or “it’s just not working out.” My work is extraordinary, but there’s something else going on and I leave frustrated and unemployed again.

I’m willing to bet that most offices have someone like me. The person who just seems socially inept or awkward, oafish and clumsy, the person people don’t hang out with or invite for coffee. At best people ignore them. At worst they become the object of office bullying. We’re the ones that don’t understand the office politics or can’t keep a secret or even blurt the wrong thing to the wrong person. Yes, that person is me.

So now you understand the reason I hate interviews. I chose to become a contract writer because of NLD. I know I’m not going to fit in but if I’m the contractor, I’m not expected to. However, there are still interviews. Yes, we could do without them, but it’s the established way things are done so that’s how we do them.

I’d like to give interviewers a few tips, though, to make both our lives easier.

  1. If you can give me a test to establish my abilities, please do. I prefer that. I’ll let you have all rights to whatever I produce and will keep all information confidential. Let me show you what I can do.
  2. Please say exactly what you mean. I cannot read your mind and I am likely to interpret your question in a way you never imagined. If you’d like to know about my skills in an area state clearly you want to know about those skills. Some interviewers even want to know something very specific. For example, if you’d like to know if I’ve ever compiled a media kit for a non-profit organization, ask that. If, further, you want to know if I include a company’s history in a media kit, ask. Don’t ask me about my theatre company and hope I mention media kits.
  3. Write down your questions beforehand. If you don’t know what information you’re looking for, how will I know? It’s unfair to ask me to read your mind and know what you want when you aren’t clear.
  4. If you have a meeting afterwards, please let me know at the start of the interview.  I will happily chat with you about your company, the job and life in general in my attempts to figure out what you want. I literally do not see you looking at your watch and tapping your foot.
  5. Be clear. I cannot stress this enough. If you haven’t defined a task or activity yet, explain that. I may have some ideas based on what you’ve told me already. I like new things. I like it when a company recognizes that they have a need but haven’t quite figured out what it is yet. It’s like a puzzle that I get to help build in order to make the company and the position more effective. There’s a certain amount of pride at looking at a job and saying, “I created that.” It’s what I do. Create things.
  6. Do not chew, drink or gnaw at the interview. I don’t chew gum or gnaw on my fingernails or pick my nose during an interview. I’d appreciate it if you didn’t, either. Yes, I did have one interviewer pick his nose. How on earth do you ignore that? If you have any kind of accent, it’s hard to understand you when you’ve got something in your mouth. Besides, it’s rude. Don’t do it. You can get your coffee fix after. Have lunch when you’re scheduled to. Don’t do lunch interviews, either. You may think it’s fun and relaxing, but for me it’s a nightmare. I’m nervous enough as it is without adding table manners into the mix. Oh, and if you have a nip of scotch in your coffee, offer me some (yes, I’ve had drunk interviewers).

For my part I will try to be clear and friendly. I guarantee you’ll like my work and if you don’t I’ll keep at it until you do. I work very hard and am very diligent. I’m not looking for a buddy or a place where “everybody knows your name.” I want to do the job I’m hired for as best as I’m able. I won’t ever get the chance to do that, though so long as I have to endure the interview.

The Goddess holding a moon

Goddess Moon

I am a Wiccan High Priestess. Few realize it, but there are responsibilities that go along with that whether I have an active circle or am just a solitary practitioner. I take these responsibilities very seriously and try to carry them out to the best of my ability. 

It may seem self-evident, but one of those responsibilities is to listen and actually hear what the Goddess and God are telling me. This doesn’t mean watching for a bunch of omens and portents, but simply being open to what the world around you is showing you. The Goddess and God aren’t always obvious; most of the time they’re rather subtle and it’s hard to hear. Then there are times like this when it’s a blatant slap across the face.

For the past month it’s been raining off and on in Edmonton, Alberta. Not something that overly concerns me, I know the sun will come out sometime. If it doesn’t, I know how to swim and the Bible has great instructions on boat building. So it’s not something I’ve worried a lot about, especially since we had an incredibly dry winter.

However, over the past weekend, I’ve become more aware of the environment and the world around me than usual. I live in one of the most ecologically friendly buildings in Edmonton; built from recycled materials, it has geo-thermal heating/cooling and solar panelling. This building is what housing will feature in the future and I am proud to live here. I am also one of these people who take the bus or walk everywhere I need to go. I don’t own a car but I will use one occasionally whenever someone’s silly enough to hand me their keys. Most of the time, though, walking is enjoyable and good for the heart. I recognize, though, that this green-friendly activity isn’t mine by choice, but is one of the wallet. So, to take a more active role in saving the earth, I have gone paperless in my life. I don’t take receipts and use my debit card so I always know what transactions I’ve done, I have yet to refill the ink in my printer, all my edits and I do all my writing on the computer. I now use about 10% of the paper I once did. I’ve challenged other writers to go paperless, but so far none have accepted the challenge (see “Suckling at the Paper Teat“, January 7, 2012).

Things finally came to a head when I watched a neighbour watering the pavement on Saturday, June 9, 2012. Rain was imminent and I sat, stunned as this man took a hose with a high pressure water attachment and watered newly paved parking lot. Maybe this is an Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder thing. I don’t know. Whatever it was, it made me angry.

When I told my sister about this pavement-watering moron, she stared at me like I’d suddenly started speaking a foreign language. She honestly didn’t understand why it bothered me so much. I then looked around her house and realized she is one of Canada’s resource gluttons. I was ashamed. When I went home that night I was disillusioned and depressed. My sister is a big advocate of the environment. So I thought. She’s always going on about recycling and environmental issues. She sounded like one of the eco-weenies I have so much problem with. Turns out, like so many others, she’s a hypocrite. Somewhere along the line she’s learned to mouth all the environmental platitudes but takes little or no action.

That night I found an earring I’d lost. It was my favourite, in the shape of a dragonfly. I feel very fond of the dragonfly, he’s seen as the messenger of the gods. I don’t look for omens, but sometimes the Goddess and God are rather blunt when they’re speaking to me. Okay. I got the hint. Time for action.

Canada has about 7% of the world’s renewable fresh water supply according to Environment Canada but we are also the biggest consumers of water in the world. It may not seem like much at first glance, that little 7% but let me assure you, that’s a vast quantity. This water supply has made Canadians water gluttons. I’ve seen people run the dishwasher (which is not an ecologically friendly dishwasher, usually) to wash two or three pots because they don’t feel like scrubbing. I know of people who take two or three showers a day because they feel like it or it makes them feel good. I’ve seen people watering their lawns a half hour before it’s about to rain. If these things don’t make you angry, they should. If it still doesn’t make you angry, then stop reading. You won’t give a damn about the rest of what I’m about to say.

I predict that in 20 years the country that it will be water that is the world’s commodity, not oil or gold. When that happens, the country with vast renewable fresh water resources will become a world power and Canada, which is one of those countries, is not ready for that responsibility. We have been idiots in regards to conserving our resources. I do share certain sentiments with David Suzuki in that Canada must act now to take care of its country or we will quickly become impoverished in ways we scarcely imagine.

I’m a science fiction writer. Let me paint a picture of the future if we do not take care of our environment now.

Disease will be rampant. Without access to clean water supply, our bodies will not be able to adequately fight off infection and diseases. Not to mention the increase of insects like mosquitos which often carry such diseases and are quite adaptable to adverse environmental situations. Certain species, like birds who eat insects, will decline drastically without water to supply. Our vast forests which we rely on for wood and paper products will quickly dry up. Vast quantities of prairie farmland will become as useless as a screen door on a submarine. The beloved Oil Sands will also come to a screeching halt. People will begin to work for food and water instead of money as both become scarcer and scarcer. Scared yet?

Unlike many environmentalists (I, by the way, am not an environmentalist. I am merely practical), I don’t just shout out dire warnings and then leave you shaking under the covers. There are some very real things you can do.

  1. A shower once a day is fine. If you happen to work a job that is very dirty by its nature then have that second shower just to clean up. A bath should be reserved for those particularly stressful days. Have a baby? I know of two mothers who would shower with their infants. It was a bonding time for them and the infants loved it. Of course, I don’t have children, so I don’t know how practical that is.
  2. STOP WATERING THE PAVEMENT!! If you’re like my neighbour and wants a clean sidewalk, get a broom. The exercise will do you good. Also, maybe if you feel silly doing it a few times you’ll come to the realization that IT’S PAVEMENT, not your kitchen and doesn’t need to sparkle. Maybe then you’ll stop.
  3. Green appliances are your friend. I don’t know of any company that doesn’t offer low-energy or low-water appliances. Buy them. You don’t need the water-guzzling or energy-sucking appliances of old. Along with that, invest in low-water spigots and shower heads. My building has them and I really don’t notice the difference.
  4. Green isn’t always good. There are unscrupulous companies out there who use the green name for marketing and don’t actually have anything environmentally friendly about it. Bamboo is not a good thing. Leave it to the pandas and stop clear-cutting bamboo forests. Be aware of what you’re buying. Like fish? Stop buying it. Fishermen often catch things other than that wonderful tuna or salmon you like so much. Dolphins in nets are one small part of the problem. Rare crabs, oysters, even coral reefs get caught up in them. Stop buying fish. Besides, our oceans are another problem area we need to work on.
  5. Recycling is everyone’s responsibility.It takes an extra 10 seconds to put something in the recycle. If you don’t do it, you’re an idiot and should stop reading. I don’t waste my time on idiots.
  6. Go paperless. With computers today, there is very little reason to print anything out. You can do almost everything paperless now. Pay bills, buy groceries, even do editing.

There’s a lot more that can be done, these are just the ones I’ve thought of. Oh. One more thing; tell your neighbours. Tell your friends. We’ve come to the point where watering the pavement is no longer an option. Canada is on the brink of something. We can either be a world leader or we can be gluttons.

As a High Priestess, I have a duty to listen when my Goddess and God talk. They spoke and I took action and wrote this blog. I hope everyone who reads it will pass it along or Facebook it or Twitter it. It’s time to stop watering the pavement.

City of Edmonton Skyline

City of Edmonton Skyline

The amazing skyline in that photograph is my home, Edmonton, Alberta. I’ve lived here all my life and experienced many things; some good, some bad, some exciting, some mundane. Edmonton is a blue-collar city with a small town attitude and a big heart. I have seen this city pull together so often to combat some outrage or open their hearts and wallets to help someone in need. We are a caring city and I’m proud this is my home.

Which is why I’m so baffled by the Best Gore website.

I get that people are fascinated by the many ways we humans can destroy things. I’m a huge horror movie buff myself and was singing Alice Cooper lyrics in elementary school, much to the dismay of my teachers. That isn’t the problem. Alice Cooper, horror movies, Marilyn Manson, all of that is fantasy. It’s no more real than the Coyote from Bugs Bunny getting another anvil on his head. Best Gore is real.

The owner of the Best Gore website lives in Edmonton. So let’s look at the sequence of events concerning the Luka Magnotta video that appeared on his website. Magnotta creates the video, uploads it to the website, Mark Marek (the owner of Best Gore) sees it and calls police (according to him), Marek posts said video on his website. Huh?

Okay. Let’s assume Marek was concerned enough to alert the police about this video, which is a fact I am seeing conflicting information about and I have not been able to get in touch with Marek. Should that change, I will post his statements later. Getting back to this issue at hand, though, Marek was concerned enough to get the police involved or to cooperate with the police. He then posts the video that concerned him enough to his website? WTF?

Marek, so far, has said nothing substantial about his actions. He only states that he serves the public and puts the truth out there. I’d love to know what public he’s serving. There are graphic images of car accidents, animal encounters and assorted other depravities that it’s no wonder Magnotta posted there. I’ve got to ask myself, though, who goes to this site? Who on earth needs or wants to see this stuff?

Maybe, just maybe, an emergency personnel is using the site for training purposes. In a stretch I could see that. Who else? Let me say, if you’re visiting this site for yucks and giggles, you’re one sick fucker. What? “Saw” isn’t enough for you anymore? Now we have to create things like this site or the movie “The Human Caterpillar” to amp things up? Do we really need that?

Let’s put this into perspective. Imagine you’re the mother or father or brother or sister of Jin Lun. Let’s imagine Lun added love and laughter to your life. Let’s imagine Jin Lun in your life as a vital and integral part of your life. Now imagine him ripped away from you in a brutal and horrific manner. You’re Jin Lun’s mother and the child you carried in your belly for 9 months, fed, clothed, cleaned, played with, argued with, loved, watched sleep, sang to and watched grow has been brutally tortured and murdered. His last hours being ones of pain and fear. You’re Jin Lun’s father and you know there was nothing you could do to help save your son, the boy you taught to fish or to sing or read to at night or listened to at the dinner table or made pancakes with in the morning. He’s gone and you couldn’t help him. Let that image rip at your soul for a few minutes.

Now imagine it being posted on the Internet for the world to see.

Now tell me, Mr. Marek, how you were serving truth and you make no apologies for posting it. Now justify even owning a site like yours. Go ahead and scoff now. Isn’t it hilarious, Mr. Marek?

I’ve seen the site and it disgusts me. There is absolutely no truth or higher good a site like this serves. If it could be justified. If there was a purpose I’d leave it alone. There isn’t. For my part, I will be boycotting this website. It’s not much, but maybe if one person refuses to give this site any attention, maybe others will, too. Maybe then Marek will see that videos like these aren’t “truth” and aren’t serving any purpose.

Mr. Marek, you owe Jun Lin’s family an apology.

King George

I am a horrible human being.

Yes, you heard me. Horrible. Awful. Evil. Okay, well, the evil part is kind of fun sometimes, but I should be ashamed of myself. I’m not. Not really, but I should be.

See, I’m racist. I’m not. Not really, but I am. Do you understand? No? Neither do I, but I’ll try to explain.

As a writer I’m hyper-aware of racism, political correctness and neutral writing. If I want a job, I’ll Bobbitt my writing until it’s emasculated, wimpy and huddled in a corner. It’s gotten so bad that I can no longer use the term “he” when referring to a generic person. I have to use a clunky “he/she”, which sounds like some odd hermaphrodite or the neutral “they”. Writing for the Government of Alberta is so neutral and without any life or colour that by the time I’m done I want to hang myself. That’s okay. I simply drink heavily and don’t write for the Government of Alberta.

Proofreading, though, is a different beast and I will happily take the Government of Alberta’s money to do this. Proofreading, for me, is monkey work and is horribly simple. It’s like a game. Someone has put a document together and has put errors into the document. They can be anything from the wrong font to the wrong line size to a typo. They can also be anywhere. The result is the proofreader goes by letter by letter to find the errors so that you, the reader, has a document that looks nice. It’s tedious work and encourages heavy drinking but it pays the bills.

So it was that I found myself proofreading for my nemesis, the Government of Alberta. This is a little like Batman darning the Joker’s socks, but money is a big motivator. However, my problem wasn’t with the job itself, but with the office. This is where the racism comes out so I’m going to warn you in advance that the following will not be pretty.

I was born, raised and now live in Alberta. I most likely will die here and contribute who I am as a person to this province. I’m proud of this place I call home. We have every kind of ecological system from swamps to desert to tundra. We have every kind of individual from entrepreneurs to the insane to family people to, well, me. You can yell at stupid drivers cutting you off and have a stranger listen to your woes as you sit in a downtown park. We’re a friendly folk, we try to welcome everyone and welcome all views. I once lived on a street that allowed me to try goat for the first time. Not that I recommend goat, that is.

However, when I worked for the Government of Alberta, I noticed something disturbing. On the floor where I worked, there was perhaps 15 to 20 people. Of those, perhaps 5 were born and raised in Canada, let alone Alberta. The rest were immigrants. This is where things get problematic. Most of those people spoke English as a second language and had come to Alberta in recent years. Now I’m starting to feel horrible.

Don’t get me wrong. If someone’s qualified, they’re qualified. I want the best person doing the job that services me. Don’t care much beyond that. However, if you’re working for the Government of  Alberta, that means you’re running my province. My home. Shouldn’t the people operating the system that governs my home at least have lived here for no less than 10 years? If I want a student loan, I have to live in Alberta for at least 12 years. If I want a government job, though, I don’t even have to speak English or French as my first language. We are a bilingual country, so either is fine.

Forgive me here. Now is the time I tell the naked truth. If someone is working for my government and running my life, I want them to be like me. Yes, I want them to have been born and raised here. I’m even willing to give some leeway on this. At least have that person be an Alberta citizen for the last 10 years. Someone who knows and understands the culture and people.

Here’s the scary part; the people running the government day-to-day life are people who are not native Albertans. Is anyone else nervous? The people executing government policy and interpreting how that policy is implements on a day-to-day basis don’t understand Alberta culture or people. How can someone who doesn’t speak English fluently interpret documents written in English? Our language is rich with colour and words can have a variety of meanings depending on the context. Every writer knows this. Those policies are then applied to the citizens of Alberta by people who have lived here a handful of years. For example, last year I worked with a woman whose job it was to do research. She was Russian and didn’t speak English well enough for me to understand one sentence in three she was saying. Yet, she held the very important job of researching issues and telling her managers and, eventually, the Ministers, what was important and what wasn’t.

There are those who will say that diversity of cultures is what’s needed in our government. Okay. Let’s say I go along with that. I don’t, but I can pretend. In three floors of the building I worked in, I did not see a single First Nations, Metis or Inuit person. Alberta has a rich French and Ukrainian population. Not one that I noticed. All I noticed was a rich representation of immigrants who have not lived here long enough to truly understand the province they are working for.

All I want is for the Government of Alberta to recognize who they are truly representing. If their focus is the immigrants to Alberta, they’re  doing a wonderful job. However, as a citizen of Alberta, I don’t think it’s a lot to ask that the Government start making citizenship a mandatory requirement for employment. Beyond that I don’t give a damn about race, sexual orientation, religion or any of that other nonsense. All I want is the same criteria that is required for obtaining a student loan; must have lived in Alberta for the past 12 years.

So, there it is. My confession. I’m a horrible human being. When I made comments to people on this subject one friend noted that to think that the criteria for employment with the government needed changing was fine. To actually say it was racist. In our horribly correct times we’ve gone overboard. I cannot point out a fundamental wrong without being a horrible human being. Ironically, the people who demand that I be an Albertan citizen for at least 12 years to get a student loan probably haven’t lived here half that long themselves.

That keeps me awake at night.

I often think about what is fair and what isn’t. I’m a libertine which means I don’t feel bound by the moral constraints of society although I do have my own strong moral code. In living this lifestyle I recognize that I do have one set of rules for myself and another for everyone else. I’m okay with that. I don’t push my morality on anyone else and happily ignore what everyone else feels I should do. A kind word for this is independent. Let’s call a duck a duck, shall we? I’m unfair to most of the world. It’s good for me, but not for you. This is not a code everyone can or should live by and I get that. It’s not fair, but it is what it is. In truth, most people are the same way but most pretend to some sham of equality so they can look good to their neighbours. Personally, what others think of me isn’t a big problem for me.

One of life’s early lessons for me was life isn’t fair. The bad guy doesn’t get it in the end nor does the hero always win. That’s okay. Life would be very boring if everything was fair. If the bad guy always got it in the end, we wouldn’t need heroes to try to serve justice. We wouldn’t need to strive to become better people or to live better lives. Let’s face it, if life was fair, you could live your life, be happy and that’s it. Sometimes the unfairness hurts or tragedy stikes and we cry bitter tears. Sometimes the pain that the unfair situation brings can cause us to raise a wall of fear around ourselves. That is life. That wall gives us something to overcome. Those tears cleanse us. Whoever said “don’t cry” is a fool.

There is a difference, though, between unfair and unjust. Unfair is the circumstances of life. When the cancer strikes or when the car goes over a cliff. There’s no malice in the act. Cancer doesn’t strike because it’s evil and wants to hurt people. The accident doesn’t happen because some demon has decided to plague mankind. Unjust is what we do to each other. Terri-Lynn McLintic abducts a young, beautiful Victoria Stafford. Trayvon Martin is shot to death by George Zimmerman. This is unjust.

Racism is unjust. I agree with that statement. I cannot fathom how a human being can look at another and deem them unworthy simply based on beliefs, gender, sexual orientation or colour. Somehow I’m not seeing what these people see and it confuses me. What confuses me more is reverse racism. The idea that all of those of us in the majority (usually whites) are racist. Or that being in the majority is bad. I was once told that I was a racist because I’m white. I’m not. I’m Metis. I was also fired from Indian and Northern Affairs because I “didn’t look native enough.” When I tried to take that one to the union I was told it was okay to fire me for that reason since First Nations were a minority and they could hire whomever they wanted. That one is still bitter to me.

Last year I worked for the Government of Alberta in Education. Anyone who reads my blog regularly will remember what a horrific time that was. So much so that, while I’m currently desperate for a job, I’d rather be homeless than work for the Government of Alberta again. I digress.

During the time I worked for Education we had National Aboriginal Day. Being Metis, I was the token Indian and had to go to a speech given by a First Nations Elder. I sat through an hour to an hour and a half listening to this man and his wife tell me the problems the First Nations people were having because of whites. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

First, let’s look at the treatment of the First Nations people toward the Metis. The First Nations people have refused to acknowledge the bridge between themselves and us. At best we are ignored by the First Nations. At worst, the First Nations accuse us of being wanna-bes. I cannot count the number of times an Elder has told me that only people who can’t get their treaty status get Metis status. For myself, my family has been Metis since the Europeans first came here. Our family heritage is just as rich and varied as any First Nations.

Second, let’s look at the accusations the First Nations level against whites. How is it that the First Nations get to call a Canadian of European descent “white” but I can’t call them “Indian”? The First Nations cite examples of children being taken from homes to go off to boarding schools to be educated. They also cite beatings that occurred and other abuses. Let’s examine this.

While I don’t condone taking children away from a perfectly happy, loving household; the Europeans of the time believed they were doing what was best for the child. European education, the type of education that we know and love today that takes place in the classroom, was believed to be the only kind of learning. In other words, if you didn’t read or write, if you hadn’t gone to school, then you were an ignorant savage. Narrow minded, but it was the belief at the time. We now understand that learning occurs in many different environments and ways and I hope we’re smart enough to embrace them all. How is it I’m being blamed for something that was done a hundred years ago? Does this mean I get to blame Italians for what the Romans did to the early Christians? How about blaming the Spanish for what they did to anyone who lived in South America? Blame is a tricky dish. There’s always enough to go around.

As for beatings, well, that was the standard of the day as well. Again, I don’t condone beatings, but I do remember the strap being still used in school when I was a kid. It was scary and awful, but I don’t blame the principals of my schools for nightmares I have today. It was a part of my life. Shall we shake hands and move on?

Another part of this talk was how the First Nations people were somehow privy to a more ecological way of living. That somehow they had secrets that the white man didn’t know. Really? Okay, then why is it that there are First Nations people using dynamite to fish? BOOM!! Yep. Very ecological. As well, according to the 2009 Fall Report of the Auditor General of Canada, landfill sites, sewage treatment and disposal on First Nations Reserves were not operating according to regulations laid out in the Indian Act. Let’s lay this out; First Nations reserves are dumping their shit wherever they please and, as of the report, were not called to task on it. Yet, there have been health issues on First Nations reserves. However, instead of blaming their own waste disposal system, people (the vast majority who listen to big media) have chosen to blame the Oil Sands.

Yet, the Government of Alberta has an active land reclamation project underway as do many of the oil companies that operate there. For example, Syncrude Canada has an extensive reclamation project that is a major undertaking by this company. Cheryl Robb, Media Relations Advisor for Syncrude Canada, explained that Syncrude has an active relationship with the First Nations people regarding reclamation and suggestions for moving forward with sustainability projects. This relationship is one of the six pillars of the Syncrude corporation. Syncrude will soon be able to boast they’ve planted over 7 million trees. Yet, it’s okay for the First Nations reserves to literally dump their shit wherever they please.

The First Nations also claim they have the right to self-govern. I’m Scots. I’ve decided that the Brits were shitheads for taking us over and I’m going gather other Scots and govern the way we did before the Brits came. Now all I need is a druid. I’m a witch. I don’t qualify.

Let’s take a look at what the First Nation’s self-government has gotten. There are stories of addiction, sub-standard living environments, crime and rampant poverty. In Hobbema, a reserve in Alberta, the chief’s 5 year old grandson was killed in a gang shooting spree. His was not the first death and I’m sure it’s not the last. So if the First Nations can govern themselves so well, shouldn’t they have fewer problems than us whites? Yet do not criticize them. What about the Attawapiskat reserve in Northern Ontario where living conditions were so deplorable that the government was forced to step in and take over the governing of the reserve? By that winter, 2000 people had to be evacuated from the reserve because the housing was so bad the government feared that people would not survive the winter. How on earth did the situation get to that point if the First Nations people are able to govern themselves so well?

Life is unfair and I accept that. I don’t want everything to be fair because it gives me something to work towards. However, it’s unjust when a minority group like the First Nations are able to point the finger of blame towards everyone else and not once do they address the issues on their own doorstep. Jesus said it best in Matthew 7:4, “Or how will you say to your brother, Let me pull the speck out of your eye; and, behold, a beam is in your own eye?”. Worry about your own backyard before you begin laying accusations elsewhere.

June 2017
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