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Monday, 26 July 2021

We Didn't Know Said The Canadian People . . .

from Judy Haiven's cutting edge blog another ruined dinner party

21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act by Bob Joseph is a must read.  It’s a short, punchy book that explains the facts about the act which has governed Indigenous people in Canada nearly to this day.  The chapter titles tell all:  The Beginning; Resistance is Futile; Tightening Control; “They rose against us” and finally --And Its Days are Numbered.  This entry in the chapter Resistance is Futile, is about a group of Indian farmers (the Act prohibited Indigenous people from farming) in Saskatchewan who pooled their money to purchase farm machinery:

"At Duck Lake in 1891, six or seven Indians together purchased a self-binder ...The implement dealer had to acquire the consent of the agent, who was ordered by Inspector McGibbon to object to the sale. No sale or delivery took place."

P. 38

We often hear that our parents and previous generations knew nothing of what was going on in Indian reserves – we have been told that earlier generations were never told.  But in the chapter Tightening Control, Joseph notes that as far back as 1907, Canada’s “national magazine Saturday Night reported on residential schools, observing that ‘Indian boys and girls are dying like flies… Even war seldom shows as large a percentage of fatalities as does the education system we have imposed on our Indian wards.’”  P.59

"Indian boys and girls are dying like flies... Even war seldom shows as large a percentage of fatalities as does the education system we have imposed on our Indian wards."

from Saturday Night magazine, 1907.

This was a time before radio, before movies, before television. This was a time when most literate Canadians read magazines for entertainment, and Saturday Night would have been a top seller.  People knew.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Histrionics: A Medley of Haiku and Haibun

See original image


 Review by Patrick Connors

One has to appreciate the wry sense of humor in the title of Hans Jongman's latest poetry collection. Histrionics are exaggerated behavior designed to attract attention. Jongman's work is very concise and reflective, clearly the product of deep contemplation and a positive self-image.

"What I like the most about the poetry is its unpretentiousness," said Chris Faiers. "Hans is an old master of the haiku form, so I should have expected nothing less than the best. But so many haijin have become arrogant and self-promoting these days that it's refreshing to read a collection which isn't trying to impress the reader, but rather presents great poetry without a lot of superficial blather."

Jongman begins "What It Is" with a short, anecdotal essay about a trip to see his doctor. From such an everyday experience, we gain insight into the author's reverie, and empathy for the physician. He follows the essay with this haiku:

a cold front
has cleared my sinuses
and the waiting room

"Haibun combines prose and haiku," Jongman explained. "The two disciplines compliment each other and equally deserve the same meticulous care for detail.

The haibun is the narrative, the story of a writer's personal experience complemented by a haiku, or multiple haiku. The haiku should not be a synopsis or reiteration of the preceding prose but should be reflective of the interrelationship between prose and the haiku. The haiku should stand on its own, on its own merit."

"Amsterdam" begins with a minimalist yet fascinating telling of the history of Holland's capital city. It's very pleasant to read, and very easy to visualize, although I have never been there. But the reader is startled into a further awareness at the end:

a thunderclap reverberates
between the gables

"My role was to make the book more balanced, to make sure it was laid out well," said Anna Yin, publisher of SureWay Press. "I made some recommendations with design which fit in with Hans' family history and personal experiences."

Yin made reference to Jongman's homage to the masters of haiku and haibun, and how much she appreciated it. "I published this book because it is very high quality. As soon as I read the poetry, I immediately loved it."

Jongman's final poem of the book, titled "Covid-19", is a fitting denouement both to this collection and the pandemic. It is a series of inter-woven haiku, done in a manner which only a master of the form could portray. I will not post any of it here, because I want you to get the book and seek it out for yourself. You will thank me later!

To order a copy of the book, please contact the author:

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

What's Really Behind the Cuban Demos

On Mon, Jul 12, 2021 at 1:30 PM Isaac Saney <> wrote:
Hands Off Cuba! No to the U.S. War on Cuba!

-Isaac Saney, Spokesperson, Canadian Network On Cuba, July 12, 2021 -

The Canadian Network On Cuba condemns the manipulation of the July 11 events in Cuba by reactionary politicians and the monopoly media in order to create a climate of disinformation and confusion that will be used to justify so-called humanitarian intervention in the heroic island nation.

Specifically, we denounce the U.S. ongoing economic war and campaign of subversion against Cuba. Washington's hand in orchestrating the protests is undeniable. It is quite revealing that at the exact time the protests were occurring in Cuba, simultaneous demonstrations were organized at Cuban embassies and consulates in cities across the world.

The U.S. government has openly funneled millions upon millions of dollars to so-called opposition figures with the sole aim of destabilising and undermining Cuban society. The leaders of the protests openly fraternize and collaborate with U.S. officials, choosing to cavort and cooperate with a regime that sets as its explicit goal the asphyxiation of the Cuban people, the extinguishing of Cuba’s independence and the overturning of the immense social achievements of the Cuban Revolution.

The criminal, illegal and immoral U.S. economic sanctions against Cuba are designed to strangle and starve the people of Cuba. The goal is to suffocate the Cuban economy for the purpose of generating shortages and hardships that would lead to Washington's longed-for massive social unrest that would then serve as a pretext to intervene in Cuba. This is at the heart of the more than 60-year U.S. economic and subversive war against Cuba, the longest lasting regime of sanctions in history,

Lester D. Mallory, Vice Secretary of State, wrote in a now-declassified U.S. State Department April 6, 1960, memo that "every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba...denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government."

On June 23, for the 29th consecutive time, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly rejected the U.S. economic war against Cuba by a vote of 184 to 2.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the face of international condemnation of its war on Cuba, Washington has not only maintained the cruel and vindictive economic, financial and commercial blockade of Cuba but has also imposed additional punitive measures, severely limiting the island nation’s access to equipment and other necessary items required to preserve the health of Cubans. Despite these daunting challenges, Cuba has one of the lowest COVID-19 fatality rates - 0.65% - in the world.

Poignantly, despite this incessant and unceasing war, Cuba has been if not the global leader in the fight against COVID-19, one of the leaders who has contributed in the most self-sacrificing manner. Almost 4,000 Cuban medical personnel have participated and are participating in at least 39 countries and territories on the front lines of the fight against the coronavirus. They are deployed in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. In recognition of its heroic deeds, Cuba’s internationalist medical contingent – the Henry Reeve International Medical Brigade against Disasters and Serious Epidemics – has received numerous nominations for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize.

Moreover, Cuba has developed its own vaccines for the coronavirus: a direct challenge to the west's monopoly over this vital medical technology. Indeed, as one Cuban resident surmised, the protests may have been timed "to take international attention away from the fact that Cuba now has an official Covid vaccine which is comparatively low cost to make, doesn't require complex technology and comes from a country which, after its own population is vaccinated, wants nothing more than to make it available to the world."

These latest attempts to destabilize Cuba are the continuation of the  war waged against Cuba since the triumph of the Revolution in 1959, which overthrew the U.S.-backed police state of Fulgencio Batista. The aim is to reimpose U.S. domination, hegemony and tutelage over Cuba and control the entire Caribbean, Central and South America.
The Canadian Network On Cuba (CNC) expresses its resolute solidarity with and support for the Cuban people and their Revolution as they defend themselves against the latest act of all-sided aggression launched by the U.S. government against the island.
The CNC further reaffirms the inalienable, inviolable and inextinguishable right of the people of Cuba – and all other peoples – to determine their future and their political, economic and social system on their own terms  without external interference from any source: a right enshrined in the United Nations Charter and numerous other international treaties, covenants and legal instruments.
We call on the Canadian government to live up to its obligations under the UN Charter, the OAS Charter, international law and its responsibilities as a member of the international community by denouncing and condemning the continuing US aggression against Cuba.
The CNC is confident that Canadians, who have travelled to Cuba in their hundreds of thousands and have witnessed Cuban reality for themselves, and supported Cuba since the time of the Revolution, will reject all schemes whose aim is to aid and facilitate Washington’s goal of eliminating Cuba’s example of independence, justice and human dignity.

Please remember to sign the Parliamentary Petition against the Blockade:

The petition initiated by the Canadian Network On Cuba is sponsored by Niki Ashton, member of Canada's parliament for the federal constituency of Churchill—Keewatinook Aski in the province of Manitoba.



Wednesday, 7 July 2021

Memory Lane: fan letter reminiscing about Three Fishes Pub

On 02/07/2021 20:21, Martin wrote:
Hello mate, hope you are well.
I was feeling nostalgic for my youth growing up in Kingston upon Thames and did a search for the Three Fishes pub, a place that holds many dear memories for me. This search turned up chapter 20 of your Eel Pie Dhama series. I read chapter 20, went on to chapter 21 and then started back at chapter one and read through the whole lot without stopping. What can I say? I loved your writing and enjoyed every minute of the read. I just finished chapter 28 and was saddened to realise there wasn't a chapter 29 and onward. I wish it was a whole book man.
Anyway, as you gave me such pleasure with the read I thought the least I could do was to let you know how much I enjoyed it. I hope this message reaches you mate and that life has been good to you since those days.
/ Cheers!/


EEL PIE DHARMA - a memoir / haibun -  © 1990 Chris Faiers

Chapter 20 - The Three Fishes

Pub life in London reflected the British tendency to divide into classes and areas of interest.  There were upper class pubs, right wing pubs, Irish Republican pubs, working class pubs, and one unique pub where all the regulars were very short, young males who only listened to Eddie Cochran on the juke box.  There were skinhead pubs and of course hippie pubs.

The Three Fishes was a hippie pub, located on the corner next to the Kingston-Upon-Thames rail station.  The lights were dim, the music blaring rock'n'roll, and the clientele longhairs of both sexes.  At that time in Britain, kids as young as fifteen could get away with going into pubs, although the legal drinking age was eighteen, so there was the expected quota of schoolgirls and boys.

It was just the sort of atmosphere I loved after a hard day of digging graves.  On one of my first visits, a gorgeous young girl of about sixteen came and knelt before me, as if before a medieval knight.  She clasped her long hippie shawl about herself, and even I found I couldn't take advantage of her, and offer the expected walk home through the park:

Young girl
    in an old shawl

One summer evening I made the long ride into Kingston on my bike after work, and had a pint or two at the Three Fishes.  It stays light very late in Britain in summer, and so dusk was just turning to dark when I left after 9 p.m., and began undoing my bicycle lock.

In the half light I noticed something very strange.  There were several police vans parked outside, and more arriving every second.  In the dark I made out the shapes of several dozen policemen, and I realized that a raid was about to take place.

I wasn't drunk, only stupid, and some sense of hippie brotherhood won out over common sense.  I walked back into the Three Fishes and began yelling "It's a raid! - It's a raid!"

The office in charge followed me through the doors, and I was the first one grabbed.  "You're nicked," he snarled, and passed me to another bobby.  Bustled back out the door, I caught a glimpse of the pandemonium as drugs were dumped under most of the tables.  I was pushed onto a bus, much like a large tour bus, which the bobbies had requisitioned for the occasion, and soon I was joined by thirty or forty other longhairs.  Then the bus and several van loads of miscreants were taken down to Kingston police headquarters and booked.

I didn't get to sleep that night, as it took the police all night to process so many of us.  In the early morning light I found my way back to my locked bicycle, and slowly wound my way back towards Twickenham.

Our case didn't come up for a month, and the courtroom was a mob scene.  When my turn came, I pleaded "Guilty, Your Honour" to the charge of interfering with the raid by warning everyone, but I added, "I don't feel guilty, though."  The courtroom burst out laughing, both at the oddity of my charge, and at my unusual plea.  I was given a fine of thirty pounds, which was then my wages for about three weeks.

Hash aroma
    and stale beer
        under the table


Thursday, 1 July 2021

2021: The Canada Day the wheel finally turned for Indigenous People


Dear Chris, is not celebrating ‘Canada Day,’ and this is why.

Six years ago, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) released its Calls to Action, the culmination of lengthy work collecting accounts and information about Canada’s genocidal residential schools. In recent days and weeks, the horror and scale of these atrocities has been made sharply apparent with the uncovering of mass and unmarked graves in Tk'emlúps (Kamloops, B.C.) and quickly extending across the country.

This is the reality of the country we call “Canada.” It's a reminder that we live in a country that was violently built on stolen land, and continues to perpetuate ongoing genocides against Indigenous peoples.

Our hearts are heavy thinking of all Indigenous Nations and communities, and each of these children and their families. They are more than statistics, and we owe them more than sympathy and words.

As part of confronting Canada's colonial history and ongoing genocide in the present day, we invite you to join us and mark July 1st not in celebration, but in mourning, reflection, and action.

Here are some actions you can take today:

Attend a Cancel Canada Day event near you
 Read the TRC Calls to Action and reports
Donate to the Indian Residential School Survivor Society
Learn more about how to be a better ally
Read and amplify Indigenous writers on the need for reparations and Land Back
Canada’s residential school system is not a thing of the distant past. The last school closed as recently as 1997, during most of our lifetimes. Today, Indigenous children are still vastly overrepresented in the state’s child welfare system, which experts say replaced residential schools.

At the same time, Indigenous peoples are still being forced off their lands to make way for resource extraction. Indigenous Nations and communities in Canada are also disproportionately impacted by environmental pollution, lack of access to basic rights like healthcare and clean drinking water, overrepresented in the criminal justice system – and the list goes on. It is clear that Canada’s genocidal policies persist to this day, and as politicians spin meaningless platitudes in the face of ongoing atrocities, it is our job to stand up and demand change – not sit back and enjoy fireworks.

These issues are not limited to the lands north of the colonial border. Boarding schools that operated in the U.S. are known for these crimes as well, and as more information is brought into the spotlight, we are reminded that the work to confront and tear down colonial systems of oppression extends across this continent.

Those of us who are settlers on these occupied Indigenous lands have an individual and collective responsibility to dismantle systems of white supremacy and colonialism, today and everyday. At we invite our community to join us in this essential and difficult work.

There is no pride in genocide. Today is not a day to celebrate.

With respect,

The team challenges corporations, industries, and governments to prioritize the well-being of people, our environment, and our climate by creating long-term, effective solutions. None of this work is possible without your support.
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