Tag Archives: Aboriginal

Father’s Day Post

Waiting for my turn

I don’t write too much about Canadian politics because as much as a faux-progressive Justin Trudeau has been, he’s still miles better than Harper. I really can’t complain too much with regards to Canadian politics. But if there’s one thing that’s continued to be ignored regardless of whether it’s Harper, Trudeau, or even Chrétien, it’s Aboriginal issues.

As much as I applaud the CBC for featuring the works of Drag the Red (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/drag-the-red-bones-1.4166029), it’s still the same old effort with no real response from the government. Concerned citizens are still out there, dragging the river looking for bodies or any evidence of people missing. Members of the First Nations, specifically Aboriginal women, have a higher risk of ending up missing compared to other groups, and despite this trend, there hasn’t been any real change to correct this. And what’s tragic is, with all the Aboriginal women missing and being ignored, if there’s ever a white woman missing, her case would dominate the headlines. This is why people are out there trying to find members of their community by themselves. And perhaps it might not be the most effective means of trying to find bodies or evidence; I believe they do it mostly as a means for catharsis at this point, especially with the rather gloomy approach of dragging the river for bodies instead of looking for a living person.

I learned about Drag the Red a few months when the group started first started looking for bodies. I’m afraid the group will continue to exist well into the future, and the government will continue with their same replies. “If they feel like they’re doing something to address what THEY SEE is an issue, then we support that.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8iDzIQW0XE) I could understand the risk versus reward approach, especially if the authorities in Winnipeg in particular are working on a very limited budget. But how often are we as Canadians going to keep on saying to the First Nations every time they have a problem that we just don’t have the resources for them?

And while I already linked a VICE video, here’s another VICE feature on missing Aboriginal women (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xz63Vppw3gE)!

Before I forget, happy Father’s Day!

As much as I love my father, he’s the biggest Duterte supporter. I have two problems with that. One, Duterte is everything Canada and most western democracies are against. He’s a strongman dictator who happens to think casually about rape and thinks anyone involved with drugs should be murdered. Second, why is my dad so involved with Philippine politics? Shouldn’t he be more involved with Canadian or American politics? That’s where his kids and his grandkids are! It’s like he moved to Canada and enveloped himself into this hyper-nationalistic shell.

In any case, I’ve debated people like him regarding the whole Duterte situation and I’ve written about him before, but one argument that annoys me most is the line, “you don’t know how it is as an outsider; people who live here know better,” which basically means that any outside opinion is disqualified since we don’t get the whole breadth of the experience- we don’t see how much the country has improved under the tyrant Duterte.

Well, first off, that is one of the most common defense of battered spouses. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jZqwq7N-ps) “You don’t know him like I do. We’re doing fine.” I would argue that anyone on the inside is far too gaslighted to know what’s good or not, and that anyone who actually thinks that Duterte is good is too deep in the bubble to know any better. It would take a concerned outsider to point out what’s wrong in the situation.

And like many things Duterte, it doesn’t take too much to point out the hypocrisy in the whole situation. If outsiders’ opinions regarding a situation are not qualified, then what qualifies an outsiders’ opinion regarding a drug user’s lifestyle? Perhaps drug users totally fine with their lifestyle and believe it doesn’t affect them negatively. Who is to say, as an outsider, that they are doing society wrong by getting involved in drugs? Maybe the outsider, in this case Duterte and his followers, should try some drugs to get more insight. And what about the Muslim crisis in Mindanao? Why is the rest of Philippines forcing their some of their minority to be part of the bigger country? Maybe those smaller communities are happier are Muslim nations.

Lastly, as prescribed by Godwin’s Law, it is exactly outsiders’ opinions that got Hitler and the Nazis to stop murdering Jews. What’s chilling however is that it was Duterte who initially compared himself to Hitler, and his supporters didn’t even bat an eye.

So what am I saying to the lost Duterte supporter who happened to have stumbled into my page? Look at your neighbors. Perhaps it’s a good idea to listen when they tell you that you’re in a bad situation.

Oh and yeah, happy Father’s Day!

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Canadian Anime

Emily_Murphy

Printed and distressed my Canadian posters to make them look more authentic. I’m hoping I succeeded (http://josephmreyes.com/Blamco.html). People can compare the results from the images I posted in the past couple of months. I’m happy with the resulting images. I’m hoping others are too.

 

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Fear of the Same Thing

Vishnu

Last week was a good week for Canada. It’s been a decade since we had Harper and the conservatives, and it’s been decade of Canada becoming more and more like its southern neighbor. Canada’s become more polluted and more reliant on dirty energy exploration. Many of our protected lakes are no longer protected and Aboriginal communities continue to be marginalized. There were even talks about abolishing our healthcare system to something more similar to the one in the United States.

And while I didn’t vote this election (I was not allowed.) and would’ve been very happy should NDP have taken control of the government, I’m glad that Justin Trudeau won. It’s still very early and he has not done anything yet, but at least Harper is out of office. This is the same elated feeling back when Barrack Obama won in 2008. We didn’t know what Obama was about back then, but at least he was not George Bush. The anti-Bush sentiment was so overwhelming that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize just for not being bush (A senseless gesture in my opinion, since Obama is just as pro-military as his predecessor.). I just hope that our new Prime Minister lives up to his promises and not be as empty and as pro-corporation as Barrack Obama.

Canadians woke up from their conservative slumber and decided to get their voices heard and try to affect some change in the country. It was a good week to feel hopeful, to be optimistic about our future. I’m very optimistic as well. But looking down south, it is a cautious optimism.

I notice Vice has been doing a lot of stories related to Winnipeg lately. I tend to get very suspicious when news aggregators keep on pushing people and stories to their viewers when they really don’t belong in the headlines (I’m looking at you, Huffington Post! Stop trying to get me to like Trevor Noah!). I don’t mind agenda in journalism, but it gets tiring and disheartening when the agenda is marketing. Anyway, the Winnipeg-related stories, while unusually frequent, seem to tell a common theme of the government marginalizing certain segments of the population. In Winnipeg’s case, it’s the Aboriginal population.

At least that’s what I previously thought. It’s the government that didn’t care. It’s the government that continues to ignore these poor communities. Then I send the videos to a few people. These people immediately got bored. These people weren’t that affected. It’s not the government; it’s a lot of Canadians, even the “progressive” ones.

This brings me back to the elections. And while Trudeau promises to make positive changes to conservative policies that have harmed the country, I wonder if that promise for a better future extends to all of Canada. A few weeks ago, Harper claimed that most cases of murdered and missing Aboriginal women are solved. This is typical of many people’s attitudes regarding Aboriginal issues, not just conservatives. “It has already been taken care of.”

Here’s hoping that the government, and most people who claim to be progressive, will be more concerned about Aboriginal issues.

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Winnipeg, I love you.

Forces_aligning

Yes, I do feel it, forces lining against me. Friends are nowhere to be found as well. I sound like a high school kid, I know. And that’s part of my depression. I should be too old to sound like a high school kid right now. In any case, it’s a good thing my wife is here with me. We might have our problems now and then, but she truly is my silver lining lately

Saw this on Vice News the other day. It’s a bit out of nowhere. I’m watching news on Ukraine, then the plight of the abandoned English interpreters in Afghanistan, then boom, something from my old neighborhood… the Aboriginal gangs of Winnipeg.

God bless Vice News actually. They actually do stories which other news outlets choose to ignore since it doesn’t fit their narrative. Anyway, I was a bit surprised with the resurgence of Aboriginal gangs in Winnipeg. The last time I heard of the Indian Posse was back in the mid-90s. Then the Hell’s Angels came to town and the Indian Posse as well as other Aboriginal gangs sort of disappeared. And the last time I had any conversations with locals regarding crime and gang activities in the city, it was mostly Asians involved in gang activity, not Aboriginals.

I’m really glad they did this story. I’m also glad that they also looked at the systematic racism that the First Nations have suffered and continue to suffer through. It’s something that is quite common knowledge with anyone who’s open-minded enough to take even the most superficial look at the subject, but you still get people arguing against the “benefits” Aboriginal people get. Canada can be the most inclusive, most generous country in the world. The country prides itself in its multiculturalism. Around 95% of landed immigrants eventually become citizens and truly believe they belong in Canada. Yet it’s a big shame that many Aboriginal people see themselves as marginalized, or worse, their rights downright ignored. No wonder you see poverty, substance abuse, and gang violence.

I would go into a rant about the Canadian government abusing the environment and harming Aboriginal communities in the name of the almighty dollar, but unfortunately the history and list of grievances would be too long (Alberta oil sands is one of the biggest news at the moment). I leave that to the conscientious reader.

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Oh Canada!

Reyes_Joseph_Prized_Buck

I’ve been making images based on nostalgia, based on the Canada I left behind. It’s the Canada back in the 90s and early 2000, the Canada of my early adulthood. To me, it’s become this sort of mystical place that I can never come back to, a Neverland of sorts. But it’s not just me, wishing I was young again. It’s me wishing I belonged somewhere again.

I left Canada years ago and started working overseas. I fell in-love and got married. Canada on the other hand, moved on as well. My sisters all got their own families. My mom died, my dad moved, our dog was sent to the shelter, and our old house was sold. And now, whenever I can still call the country home, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way.

Here in South Korea, I can say that I have a home. I have a wife who loves me and my in-laws have welcomed me as their own. But still, this is a country that will never let you forget that you are a foreigner. Even my wife and my in-laws are guilty of this.

And this feeling… the feeling of being an outsider, is why Canada just doesn’t feel quite like home sometimes. I’ve spent too many years overseas that it’s going to take sometime to readjust to Canadian life should I ever move back. It’s going to take sometime before my old friends don’t associate me as “the one who moved overseas.”

In order to rekindle my relationship with the country (first world problems if there ever was one), I started reading books on law and even Aboriginal issues. It was my effort to become a “better Canadian.” Doing so, I re-learned some things, learned many I things I should have known, and appreciated the virtue of earning citizenship, whatever form that may take. Still, the whole exercise was torture. It’s me looking back and wishing things were different, that the nation and I grew together.

Don’t get me wrong. I love many of the things that I got in exchange. I’ve experienced a lot of things that Winnipeg would not have shown me. It’s just that there’s a cold, depressing hole in my psyche looking to be filled by a home, and it’s not quite where I am at the moment.

I remember talking to some kid online years ago. He found me when I had a relatively well-trafficked blog… when I was writing more interesting stuff than this. He lived in some small town in Ohio and said he’s stuck living in such a mind-numbingly boring place. He said it must be good to be able to travel and have amusing stories to blog about. I told him to leave the minute he could. Don’t settle for that factory job and instead find work overseas.

I forgot to tell him not to stay overseas too long.

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