Thursday, December 14, 2006
The topic of the documentary was love. At this time of the year more than ever we become more in love with the idea of love and yearn for someone to love or for someone to love us in return.
The kind of love we generally seek is romantic in nature and when that does not satisfy us we wonder, what is wrong with us?
The program explored various kinds of love and a few stories stuck with me. There is the story of an opera singer Camilla who is black and a pianist Boris, who is white from a European background. According to the producer of the show, “like long-time married couples or close siblings, the two of them speak a private language with subtle physical movements and tones of voice. Their love takes the form of friendship based on shared history, easy companionship, and most of all, a deep artistic collaboration.
These two people have worked together for more than 50 years. Their families came to know each other and developed deep friendships. During the days when a Black person could not mingle with a White person publicly or share public spaces, Boris would rather give up his privilege and sit with his friend Camilla, behind the curtain. Camilla said she would overhear people saying why a white man would degrade himself to be with a black person. She said she used to cry. And Boris would tell her not to let those people get to her. When her husband passed away at the young age of 49, Boris and his wife stood beside her and mourned his loss. Years later, his wife of more than 50 years died and he was alone. When his sons didn’t know how to take care of their aging dad and thought of putting him in a senior’s home somewhere near to friends and a piano, they asked Camilla for advice and she would not hear of Boris going into some old folks home. She made up her spare bedroom and he moved in with her. He is now 95 years old and their friendship and platonic love for each other has survived still. She said he is a blessing in her life and well for him this woman, this friend is a savior.
This story touched me so much. Love can overcome any barrier. Love does not have to involve sex and romance, love is the gift of the Creator to us that connects us to that higher
Can we love without conditions? Can we love a person for who he or she is without regard for what they believe in, whether they are rich or poor, black or white? Can we see past the physicality of the individual and peer through their eyes deep into their soul and see the oneness of mankind? This is the love that binds. This is the love that can change hearts and souls. This is the love we at Zaadz must try and cultivate. It is difficult but it is with fire that a piece of iron can bend.
Tomorrow I will bring you the other inspiring story that touched me. In the meantime keep a look out at PBS for this story, I am sure they will re-broadcast it again over the holiday season
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
This year the Theme of Kwanzaa is Bringing good into the World.
How appropriate is this theme. Let us meditate on what it means to bring good into the world. at the present time the world is crying out to us on many levels. Crass materialism has mercilessly raped its mercilessly to make a few extra dollars for those whom money making is just another hobby. They have so much already that making another dollar is like pouring water into a glass that is already full. It just pours down the side.
One of the primary resources of our earth, human beings, are lost the darkness of wars, slavery, violence in the family, exploitation and corruption by leaders. Keeping people poor in this world has become an economic strategy for others to become rich and to have power over the less fortunate.
We need to bring good into the world that will cause light to shine in every corner of the landscape. We have work so that there is no more wars, no more hunger, no more slavery and lessened pollution of the environment. We have to change the way we work and live.
While Kwanzaa is an African American tradition developed by Dr, Mualana Karenga, it is not only for African Americans but can be adopted by all peoples.
Kwanzaa is ancient and living cultural tradition which reflects the best of African thought and practice in its reaffirmation of the dignity of the human person in community and culture, the well-being of family and community, the integrity of the environment and our kinship with it, and the rich resource and meaning of a people's culture.
Kwanzaa is celebrated between December 26 and January 1.
Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. The Principles are:
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.
Each day of Kwanzaa one of the principles is celebrated with lighting of a candle pouring of libation, calling to ancestors and remembering those great ones who have passed on followed by a feast and giving of gifts to children.
There are seven candles on the table which is decorated with fruits and vegetables as a symbol of harvest. There are three red, three green and a black candle in the centre. Red represents the struggle the black stands for the people, green for home. There are special readings and incantations for each night.
Last Week the Congress of Black Women of Winnipeg, held its annual Kwanzaa celebrations and it was beautiful.
Friday, December 08, 2006
December 10th is international human rights day. Each year the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, Canadian Human Rights Commission and Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties jointly sponsor a Human Rights Awards Luncheon to recognize community members who had worked hard to promote human rights in the community. Two awards are presented at this time – the Adult Human Rights Award and the Dr. Sybil Shack (a human rights promoter who died and left some of her fortune towards this award) Human Rights Award to a young under 30 years old. In addition to a plaque, the award comes with, a presentation of $500 to the winner. This year there were two awards handed out, one to an Aboriginal Youth and the other to a high school English Teacher. His name is Chuck Duboff.
For the past 12 years Chuck has been Coordinating the Maples Collegiate Unity Group. They organize marches against racism, unity dinners and last year for the first time, the group organized a “Rock Against Racism“ concert to raise funds for immigrant serving agencies concert at which more than 2000 participants attended. It was only $2.00 entrance fee.
In accepting the award Chuck said that the Unity Group started in response to angry reaction by some immigrant youths to one of our Reform Politician statement in 1989 when he said that we should put immigrants on a carpet and send them back where they came from. Some students were angry and went to Chuck, their teacher and asked what they could do. He said he told them they could write letters. They did that and got back a generic response. They were not satisfied; they asked what else we could do. He said he told them that back in the 60’s if something like that had happened they would have marched with pickets. They said that what they were going to do. Those kids marched 12 kilometers from their school to the legislative building with placards with words like, “stop racism”, “Promote human rights” “unity in diversity”. Then they decided that this should become an annual event. He volunteered to be part of the group and to keep it going. This group has won several awards in the City of Winnipeg. Today there were two exchange students from Germany who was part of the ceremony. They said when they returned to Germany, they’d like to form a group like this to welcome everyone and promote unity.
Isn’t that wonderful? The work in this group is done voluntarily through extra curricular activities by the teacher. He gives his time and today he was rewarded for that. He could hardly get his words out in the beginning so touched he was.
The young woman who received the other award, Tasha Carriere Spillett, is only 17, and is a role model in the Aboriginal community. She has given more than 600 hours of volunteer work to get the ground United Against Racism started. She facilitates anti-racism work, and says she plans to do much more work in the future because it is important. She said all we need to do is to respect one another and work together for change.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
All across Canada today vigils and memorial ceremonies are held to remember women who have been killed for no other reason except that they are women. Primarily it is to remember the 14 girls who were killed on this day in 1989 at Polytechnic Ecole in Montreal. Marc Lepine was the man who pulled the trigger on these young, promising engineering students and then finally on himself.
For most of these young girls their day had started out with hopes and promise, they had kissed their loved ones good bye promising to “see you later”. They never knew that there would be no later. That was it.
This morning in Winnipeg Manitoba, I attended such a ceremony at the Legislative Building (by the way, I think our Legislative Building in Winnipeg is the best). The morning started off with a beautiful song in French by Dominique Reynolds singer/Songwriter. This was followed by some speeches and the reading of the names of the 14 women killed in Montreal along with a few other names of women killed in Manitoba by their male partners. As their names were called young women walked up and place a rose for each in a vase set in the middle of the staircase.
Surrounded the audience were some 15 silhouettes in the shape of women. They represented the women who had been killed plus one which represented “every woman” who was killed in family violence, who was murdered in sex trade and whose murderer had not been found who had committed suicide because she could not see a way out of her abusive situation.
This event always moves me to tear. It could have been me and so we must remember all the women some of who may be our mothers, our sisters, our daughters and those women who still remain nameless.
Monday, December 04, 2006
Victor Malarek was among the first reporters who blew open this topic through his brilliant undercover work in European countries. He wrote a book “The Natashas” a heartwrenching story of this modern day slave like condition in which women and girls are the main targets.
The top major countries for this illicit trade is the new republics of Europe, Thailand, Nigeria and many South American countries. Girls from poor countries are sought by this highly organized trade supported by big businessen. They are lured with the promise of lucrative modelling jobs for younger girls and the older women are lured with work in the domestic field for high pay. Their expenses are covered by the business and when they arrive at their destination countries their passports are immediately taken under the guise of “protection”.
According to one woman, a former model, a popular destination for young girls trafficked is Greece. Once they get their their scout might send them out on a fake job. They will then tell the girls that the prospects did not like them, they didn't have what the buyers were looking for. The girls will then get anxious as to how they will survive or return home. They will then be offered waitressing in a bar. Within a week they'd be exotic dancer and the next they'll be having sex for money. The downward spiral is fast and furious. The girls are never paid enough to find their way back home and because they come from poor circumstances, no one pays much attention to them. Voices of their parents and/or family members go unheard.
Friday, December 01, 2006
The Immigrant Women's Association of Manitoba, Inc. held its annual forum for immigrant and refugee youths entitled Challenges and Choices. The event took place at the University of Winnipeg. More than 100 students and teachers from several schools across the city attended the event.
The forum is part of a new program of immigrant women which involves recruiting role model youths from the immigrant/refugee first and second generation to speak to newcomer youths in school and share their stories of adjustment and settlement.
Four youths spoke. They shared the challenges they faced and the choices they had to make in their early years. A lot of the challenges came from overprotective, achievement oriented parents who pressured them to keep the customs of the old country alive.
They spoke of the shame and alienation they felt, not being able to speak or understand the language, the shame in eating their ethnic foods in front of their peers for fear of being ridiculed.
One student who is a first generation Filipina said she never befriend youths from her own ethnic background because she was ashamed of them and did not want to be associated with them. She alienated herself from her ethnic ties and had nothing to do with it.
Looking back, she said she feels a deep sense of sadness for rejecting them and wish she could go back and change things. She said that she knew there was racism but ignored it because she did not want to offend her peers.
Many of the problems immigrant youths face stem for their ambivalence of adhering to their parents wishes or those of their peers. It is a difficult challenge for most and the choice at that
Check out this great listening music
Monday, November 27, 2006
Maiko Watson - A old new Buzz in the Winnipeg Scene
Maiko Watson made her solo debut at the recent Western Canada Music Award held in Winnipeg. She was generously backed up by Dr. Rage and the Uppercuts - a fairly new band on the cutting edge in the music scene. They are slowly making a name for themselves.
Maiko did a 20 minute set singing five of her own songs that she wrote and produced.
From the response from the crowd I knew she had hit the spot. Her set was professionally executed and Maiko was great. Her voice has matured to wonderful sweetness that tints that maturity with a fresh girlish sweetness. She is easy to listen to and her lyrics carries a good punch.
Maiko rang has improved from her Sugar Jones days when the teeny bopper, part of a girl group, belted out "Days like that" and others. She is a force to be rekoned with. Maiko said she is taking it a step at a time and is in no rush to get to the top. "It's not the destination that matters to me, it is all about the journey".
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Over the past few weeks the crimes in ordinarily safe places have caused us to pause and take a look at what is happening? Is this a trend, copycat or people have just gone mad. Several schools have become crime scenes with serious casualties and death of innocent children.
We ask ourselves what is happening. How can someone be so cruel to a child, who has done nothing to aggravate that person? This is just random acts of violence. But what triggers this violence? What role does our society play in these schizophrenic behaviors where one day someone seems okay and the next he is a killer.
The young man who walked into a school in Montreal and shot anyone in sight killing one female and injuring others, was not recognized as unstable by his family and friends.
The two others in the United States including the most recent man on an Amish reserve who killed those girls are all alarming to our sensibilities.
Are people this heartlessly violent or are we ingesting too many foreign chemicals that our bodies cannot cope with efficiently.
I know that in North America many people on medication for mental illness do not remember to take their medications as prescribed and sometimes can hallucinate and cause problems for others. Many of these higher functioning people with mental disabilities live on their own and therefore have responsibility to take their medication.
My personal belief is that when people commit these heinous crimes, they are not well. I believe in the goodness of people, and these extreme criminal behaviors are aberrations of our nature. These are the things society cannot protect us from.
We may be looking at the school and thinking what could have been done to save those children. I would say nothing. It is just the luck of the draw, like when your numbers come up in lottery and you win a big prize.
For the religious among us, it is being always prepared to account for your life on earth; being always ready for this day to be your last. Life can be random.
Killing Innocent School Children?
Friday, September 29, 2006
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Ms Reynold for having the courage to retract her hasty judgments with respect to the Pasternak vs. Manitoba High School Athletic Association human rights decision. Ms Reynolds admitted she was wrong to call the girls “spoiled brat” and the disparaging remarks she made about their parents. Retractions and apologies are never easy to do but Ms Reynolds did it.
The thing I admire the most is to have done that, Ms Reynolds would have had to have kept an open mind and having done so, she had the opportunity to re-evaluate her position on the matter and having done that she developed a greater awareness and appreciation of the implications of the Pasternak twin’s action, which she now sees as “noble”. She concluded that the Pasternak’s fought for the right to try out for the best team, regardless of gender and in so doing may have made thing s easier for another little girl who simple wants to be the best she can be.Thanks Linda, for keeping an open mind.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
I watched the interview between one of CBC's reporters and Canada's Governor General, Michaela Jean. I was impressed with the GG's poise, clarity of thought and general decorum. I was touched when she talked about her mother's Alzheimer's disease and the way she praised her mother for being the person she is. She asked that her mother be moved from her current location to Ottawa where she could be closer to the GG. It is nice to see that a child is so caring of a mother who does not even recognie her at this time. The interviewer, her name escaped me also shared the same pain as the GG. Her mother also had this dreaded Alzheimer's disease. They both agreed it is like watching a living dead.
I wonder which is worse, the death of a parent or a parent with alzhmeir's disease. We must do more about this disease that kills people without killing them.
Anyway, Canada should be proud of their GG She is one classy, brilliant and articulate woman.
Friday, September 22, 2006
The world seems to be oblivious of the abuse models endure because of the stringent demands of designers and the money that fuels the fashion industry. Every now and then we are shocked out of our comfort zone but as quickly as we discard yesterday’s news, that passes too. This debacle is allowed to be continued because society supports this kind of public suicide mission of these girls. We are quick to condemn Muslim women for the way they dress, we are quick to condemn third world women who practice female genital mutilation, or men who abuse women but this blatant and the worst kind of abuse is aired in public view to the delight of millions. Has the world gone mad?
Who benefits from this sick delight and who stands to lose the most? Are people so crazy as to sell their bodies and soul to the devil for the fantasy that money can buy?
The girl who died on the runway practically went unnoticed and unceremoniously in the fashion world. The fashion industry continued on its quest of abuse of young girls while the parents remain to bury their dead child.
As a society we need to bring more attention to the demise of perfectly healthy and beautiful girls into this macabre spectre all for the sake of some misogynistic pleasure and fancy.
Theory - Killing young girls through deception
Thursday, September 21, 2006
The problem may lie in the fact that our children have too much free time on their hands. Parents have to stop babying children and allow them too be responsible and involved. I remember when I was growing up there was no time for boredom. I had chores to do before I can play with my friends. I was surrounded by family and familiar faces. People looked out for each other’s children. I felt safe. I felt that I was a contributing member of family that I was not just taking but giving something back. That made me feel good about myself. I often wonder how children feel when they are handed everything and not expecting much from them. Do they feel useless? a sense of helplessness? If you want to help your child, give him or her something useful to do. Instead of helping with the dishes, there is the dishwasher and even than parents have to pack the dishes into the dishwasher themselves. Many children do not lift a finger to help out in the house. If they are forced to do so, they go out to the fast food restaurants and eat and they feel no responsibility to help out if they did not eat the food at home, or if they are not around long enough to make a mess in the home. This is not how families behave. This is like having a room mate. There is a disconnect somewhere here and we as parents needs to get a grip on this laissez faire attitude towards our children. It is not doing them any good at all.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Schools should have a policy to ensure no child is left on his her own. Students can be cruel and can be made to bow down to peer pressure.
What made this man feel his life was worthless? Why did he have such a hatred of Jocks? It is because he wanted to be noticed too, he wanted to be included and he wanted to feel that knowing him was worthwhile.
Let us hope that we learn a valuable lesson from this tragedy. Kindness does not cost anything. Just a little hello, how are you today might have changed the path this man was walking on. Let’s show some kindness to the one who needs it the most today.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
However since 9/11 I am more fearful and unless I have to fly, I take the train or plane or car. This Ottawa trip had to be by plane because it was only for a weekend. I got on the plane, making sure I looked at everyone’s face to see if I see any hint of terrorism in the eyes (how foolish!). Unfortunately, I look for the stereotype of the common picture of a terrorist which I am ashamed to say. I can’t help it. Would I walk off the plane if I saw a stereotype of a terrorist on the same plane as I am, I don’t know. Fear does strange things to people. The flight to Ottawa was uneventful. It was smooth sailing all the way and back. I praised the good Lord when my feet landed.
On Monday morning as I was preparing for work, I heard the radio announcer pitched a story that would be coming up after the break. It was the impact of 9/11 on two people re flying in an aero plane. This caught my attention. I wanted to hear. I stuck around until it came up. One little girl said she was scared of flying afraid that it might be her last trip, afraid that a terrorist may blow up the plane. She had the same thoughts and feelings as I expressed above. The second person, an older woman who had lost loved ones in the 9/11 fiasco said that she has become fearless. She is prepared to take as many chances as possible, since 9/11 she has volunteered with the Red Cross and traveled to countries outside Canada. She said that she was afraid of not living life to the fullest because we never know when it will end. I thought about this and thought it was a much better way to approach life. She said she tells her loved ones how much they mean to her, she goes places and does things she would have never done before. Her view has inspired me and I don’t think I will look at things the same way I did. I don’t know who this woman is but I thank her for sharing. Her words touch me. I am grateful to her.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Yesterday in Winnipeg it was sunny and hot and today it’s almost zero. The Winnipeg Delta Hotel pool is cleaned out and now the staff are taking away the artificial greenery and flowers and cleaning up for the winter. A depressing sight considering that most people are not ready for winter. Are we ever? Unless you are an avid skier, I suppose one is never ready for such thing. Anyway, here are again observing the natural rhythm of life. Everything that goes around, comes around. That is so true.
Last night I looked at the movie Flight 93. It was riveting, a lot of nail biting anxious moments. The part that got me is the goodbyes to loved ones. It was sad and yet one has to appreciate the cell phone as a new technology that helped people make those important calls.
Having seen the movie and got my fill of fear of flying and thrills, I had to ask myself what was the purpose of the movie? Is it to scare us to remind us of the constant danger that lurks everywhere? Or was it to make money. I imagine if I had a loved one who suffered in the film, I might not have been ready to confront what might have happened on that plane.
I guess we all have choice to make on what to watch on television.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
War with Islamic Countries
The West cannot hope to win any war with Islamic dominated countries unless they first try and learn everything they can about the psyche of the people. It is difficult to quell the fire of cultural passion or the passion religious ideology, both of which embody the person of Islamic beliefs. One also has to be realistic in expectations of democracy rule in many under developed countries. Becoming a democracy is a process, a slow process that underlies the progress of the evolution of its people. When people are evolved and they see through the masks of power, the illusion of a leader who pretends to care but does not give a hoot, someone within the ranks will stand up and be counted. The efforts must start internally, firstly through dialogue and then by other means necessary. Outsiders are rarely tolerated by the masses for too long. Yes, there will be euphoria at first when people come in to help and the expectation of success and positive changes are high. When expectations dwindles into despair and the feeling that things are getting worse than better, people see the intruder as the enemy, which I think many Iraqis might be beginning to feel at the moment.
My personal belief is that this will be a war that will be talked about long after the foreigners leave without gains. Perhaps it might change the way we decide on the risks we want to bear for any kind of mission. It will also be helpful
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
We North Americans tend to be reactive people. We react to situations, events, and circumstances in a knee-jerk manner without giving much thought to the consequences.
I think the media helps to fuel this nonsensical reaction with their stupid questions.
As soon as a soldier dies the media comes in your face and asks a passer by “Do you think Canada should stay in Iraq or should we pack up and go?” Asking such direct questions when emotions are raw will most likely generate negative answers.
Thanks to some of our politicians, they cannot afford to be wishy washy in these matters. I guess that’s why we elect politicians, to think for the general masses.
I feel saddened whenever a soldier dies. I wonder why we as enlightened human specie can’t find a better way to solve problems than resorting to our hunter-gatherer mode, to kill or be killed. One must remember than when a person joins the army, the risks are clear. There is a good chance that during combat you will be killed or badly hurt. We cannot react every time a soldier dies. It is his/her choice to be in that field and we have to respect that and honour that person’s courage and dedication to his/her country.
Canada cannot pull out of Iraq on the spur of the moment. We have stirred up the hornet’s nest and we have to ensure that the bees are subdued before leaving. Leaving Iraq anytime soon will be unfair to the Iraqi people who have come to depend on us. It would be like running and leaving people burning in the fire. We have to stay the course until some resolution comes about or we have to develop a sensible exit strategy. It is not right to leave helpless people in more jeopardy than we found them, and that would be the case if we leave now. This war is not a game, it is serious business. We are dealing with vulnerable people.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
It's September already. It's sunny, crisp and fresh today. It hardly seems like September but there is the writing on the wall. The Delta swimming pool outside my window has closed for the season. All the chairs are gone and the blue water twinkle lonely by itself. It is emply. Soon, they are going to empty the pool and the grey concrete will be exposed for a while. Later on in the month they may cover it with the green tarp they had over it last winter.
It's beautiful to observe life from my window and the confirmation that whatever goes around comes around. Isn't this what life is all about? Cycles, circles, death and rebirth. It's all there, we see it all the time.
It was a bloody weekend for our troops in Iraq. So many lives lost. Those soldiers are brave and deserve our support. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to be a soldier and going to war, knowing full well that they might not return. Is there a comparison here between a soldier and a person who straps himself with a bomb and blows up himself hoping to take a few enemies with him for the greater good? Is there a difference?
It was a great Labour Day Weekend in Winnipeg. The Forks Market teamed with people. I have not seen so many people at the Forks in a long time. It seemed like the entire city was there. The sun unleashed a heat I had not felt in a long time. One woman told me that when she was a child, she could not remember the sun that hot and that there was a softness to it. She blamed the global warming for the change.
The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra had a free half hour performance under the Canopy at the Forks. People appeared to have enjoyed that a lot. It was great. The conductor was a woman.
Isn't it a shame what happened to Steve Irwin, the TV Host who was accidentally killed while on the job? I understand it was a stingray that pierced through his heart. As a child I was terrified of stingray. They can be found in Guyana's rainforest area in streams and rivers. As a child I heard a lot of stories about stinray knocking up pork knockers. Steve gave us a lot of thrills sitting in our armchairs while he exposed himself to mortal danger. Too bad he had to leave us so soon. I will miss him on Jay Leno's show. He had a regular spot there.
That's all for now. Gotto go home now.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
I am thinking about my two daughters too who have gone on a little adventure via the Grey- hound Bus from Winnipeg to Vancouver to San Francisco, LA and then to Vancouver where they are going to attend the wedding party of Sahara McDonald to a Dominic. I do not know his last name. Sahara was a part of the Sugar Jones Band, the one my daugther Maiko Watson was a member of. She sounds very happy with her partner and I wish them well. It's a journey alright and that's all I will say about that.
I do admire my daughters. They are carefree, happy children who delight in going off by themselves exploring the world. More power to them I say. There is so much to see, it'd be a shame to be confined to one little corner of the universe. Having youth on their side does not hurt either.
That's the kind of day it has been in Winnipeg.