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Amazing what one mean mother can accomplish.

Dear Buffalo Spirit:

Thank you for your bold stand in speaking out about borrowing cultures that are not of our own backgrounds or upbringing. In particular the use of the medicine wheel in coastal tribes.

I worked for a First Nation organization in British Columbia as an employment counsellor where the medicine wheel was in prominent use and promoted by one who is from a coastal tribe. During the beginning of our staff meetings it was a custom to have the drum and prayer offered. While I myself am Aboriginal (Metis) I was not raised using the sweetgrass or sage smudge, nor did we implement the drum as a form of prayer. However I showed respect and would quietly pray in my own way. A little respect goes a long way and one does not have to embrace the tradition and culture of those around us.

Traditionally Metis are Catholic or Anglican. I personally found it offensive for many Metis to appropriate the traditions of spirituality of other tribes around us as it seemed to me to be outside the parameters of integrity and respect for the belief systems of the ancestors and the current generations.

I have noticed also that some Metis use the signatory of "All my relations" at the end of their letters or other similar communication. This in particular I find offensive as it is hypocritical when considering their lifestyle and way of dealing with people in an abusive manner. I have chastised those who arrogantly appropriate this signatory, particularly when they have not paid the price or earned the right to do so.

I too have been very outspoken in appropriating the concept of "Elders council" in our communities, as again having been raised a traditional Metis in a small Metis settlement in Manitoba we did not have such councils per se. In fact, in many instances it was the Elders that were physically and sexually abusing us children. Eldership is far more than white hair on the head. An Elder's hallmark should be wisdom and that of peacemaker. In the Metis movement as I am sure you are aware, many of the "Elders" are unwise and have squandered their lives in the pursuit of hedonistic living, involving themselves in various addictions and ruining their health and families' lives. Then they get sober and take life skills training and, without creating restitution, feel they should now be regarded as an Elder.

As you may have gathered by now I strongly believe in accountability and taking personal responsibility for one's mistakes and mis-steps in life.

It is common practice in our community for those who are now clean and sober to declare at any public gathering this fact of sobriety. My friend, I have never been an addict of any sort, have always lived my life in sobriety, been a responsible parent and spouse to my husband. I have kept fidelity in my marriage and keep good relationships with all those around me.

So then, would it be deemed appropriate for me to stand up in a meeting and introduce myself declaring all these virtues? Would the response not be 'My goodness, she sure is high on herself.'

Why then is it looked upon with such great regard when a former drunk that has created so much havoc in the lives of those around them to be lauded as some great honorable person? Frankly I find this offensive also.

Yes certainly one should be encouraged to walk a healthy path, but there are meetings for that sort of support and encouragement. Yes I am very familiar with the bio-psycho-social model of addictions and do believe in the DNA factor of addictions, particularly among Aboriginal people, as I've seen it first hand in being raised in an alcoholic family.

DNA notwithstanding, there are those of us who learned to walk a healthy path by being raised by dysfunctional parents. Do not think that I have remained unscathed in this addictions DNA, as all three of my children have struggled with drug and alcohol issues. But as a parent who literally accepted my children as gifts from the Creator, I diligently and passionately watched over their souls and refused to give them over to unhealthy choices.

I phoned police, I lobbied the courts, probation, social workers and the federal government. When any of those failed me I picked up my baseball bat and spoke a language drug dealers understood. They quickly learned that at the end of that kid was one mean mother. They and my children soon learned that I was and am a force to be reckoned with!

Parents must do their jobs and no longer rely on schools or social workers. The main reason my life was made hell on earth is simply because other parents abdicated their roles as mentors and teachers of their children and left their children without a safety net or at the least guidelines on walking a healthy path.

It is amazing what one mean mother can do when the courts are listening as I made it my mission to show up in court each time my children faced a judge on a breach or a new charge. The courts gave me all I asked for on behalf of my children. The bottom line is that parents do not have the luxury of being their kids "friend." We must step up and be the responsible leaders and create in our children pride for their heritage. No more excuses!

It all comes down to this: Respect for the Creator. Respect for self. Respect for others. We are spirits. We have souls and we live in bodies. If we respect the Creator and focus our prayers and commitment to "being" whole people, we change the world around us.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:buffalo spirit
Author:Ieraci, Ila
Publication:Wind Speaker
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Previous Article:Listen to the earth and the music will come.
Next Article:The Aboriginal time conundrum.

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