Wednesday, 31 October 2012

choosing a place to give birth

"A caribou skull, cleaved in half, holds a carving that portrays a woman giving birth"
Nunatsiaq News, a story about tupilak (Greenlandic art)

“When you look at our history, as women, regardless of our culture, it’s terrible what’s been taken away from us.” 

Maria Campbell

You Have to Own Yourself”:  

An Interview with Maria Campbell (Doris Hillis)

  "Throwing Away Prized Possessions," completed by Napachie Pootoogook in 1998, described the arrival of Christianity. In this drawing, women are throwing away their beaded embroidery against their wishes. (PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE FEHELEY FINE ARTS GALLERY) Nunatsiaq News

I have given birth six times, in Canada, in the urban south. Each time I had midwives' care, and planned for a homebirth. I have been in airplanes, and a woman's shelter, and in the newspaper, but I haven't given birth in any of those places. 



Qulliq with Abraham Tagalik~ Natural birth rates in Nunavut, Martine Dupont, CBC North

I've never given birth in Nunavut, but the family-centered birthing experience described by Kerstin Gåfvels is basically what I experienced, six different times. 

I have never given birth with a doctor, I have never given birth without the father of my child.  

I have never given birth in a birthing centre, I felt safest at home, surrounded by family members. Five out of six times, the midwives were there for the birth. Six times out of six, the midwives provided support and respectful guidance, to all family members, before and after birth.

I have never given birth in Greenland, but, the need for a safe space, the needs for privacy and support-- the need to bear birth in mind-- are vivid to me. Birth is integral to life.

Returning birth and birthing women to the central rather than the contemptuous peripheral, and the celebrated rather than the hidden and suppressed realms, this is a profoundly important task across communities. 

Ending the control and subjugation of women is a big task"Bringing Birth Back" is important, in our lives, and in our arts and communities. Remembering how to support, in a society set upon control, is a journey of return.

Here's a few more institutional options I haven't myself explored:

birthing in jail

birthing in hospital 


I have never given birth in the skull of a caribou

(but i might)


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

atlantic time

The aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in Santiago de Cuba. Photograph: Desmond Boylan/REUTERS

Floods and fires, seawater surges 
and electrical outages, fierce rains 
and lashing winds continued to pummel 
parts of the Northeast...

From Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean
through major cities including New York, 
Philadelphia and Washington, the impact 
of the storm 
continued to grow. 
                                Transportation systems 
in New York and New Jersey 
were crippled. 
More than 16,000 
airlines flights 
have been canceled.

Sandy continued to generate wind 
gusts up to 80 mph 
and dump up to a foot of rain 
and as much as 2 feet of snow 
in some areas. 
                         Many residents 
in coastal areas woke 
to both nasty winds and flash flooding 
from record surges 
pushed by the winds, high tides 
and a full moon.

October 30, 2012

weather (n.) 

O.E. weder, from P.Gmc. *wedran (cf. O.S. wedar, O.N. veðr, O.Fris., M.Du., Du. weder, O.H.G. wetar, Ger. Wetter "storm, wind, weather"), from PIE *we-dhro-, "weather," from root *we- "to blow" (see wind (n.)). Spelling with -th- first appeared 15c., though pronunciation may be much older.

Verb sense of "come through safely" is from 1650s; that of "wear away by exposure" is from 1757. Weather-beaten is from 1520s. Under the weather "indisposed" is from 1827. Greek had words for "good weather" (aithria, eudia) and words for "storm" and "winter," but no generic word for "weather" until kairos (lit. "time") began to be used as such in Byzantine times. L. tempestas "weather" (see tempest) also originally meant "time;" and words for "time" also came to mean weather in Irish (aimsir), Serbo-Croatian (vrijeme), Polish (czas), etc.
~ Online Etymological Dictionary

Sunday, 28 October 2012

10 more reasons BC rejects pipeline + tankers


 Betty Stewart Port Clements, British Columbia We live in Port Clements... this is my hubby's "play-by-play" from last night's Earthquake as relayed to a friend of his the next morning... "House was shakin', things falling off the walls and displays, wife under the table, me trying to hold things up, trying to reassure the wife that everything would be ok. Shakin' getting stronger now, me not as convincing, trying to reassure wife bouncing around under the table, dog running around, cat left the building, lights flickering, power goes out, house is bouncing, swaying to a drummer I can't hear. Saying to myself "it has to start easing off soon..... I hope" looking around shaking getting stronger, me telling wife "calm down, calm down" thinking to my self OH S**T, HOW MUCH MORE CAN THE HOUSE TAKE, looking around, up at the ceiling, at the walls, at the floor that is dancing to the beat of the earth.... oh yeah... this was the first 60 seconds, power's back on, strangely brighter..." 

Crystal Robinson All I need to say is dagwiigaa, strong, be strong. Be strong for us Haidas. Dagwiigaa, strong, be strong. Haaw'a. And where will we go when we lose all our medicine and our food and our sustenance? Who will we be? It's genocide; it will be complete genocide.

"It wasn't like others before," said one Terrace resident. "Sometimes when a big truck rumbles by the house will shake but this was way more, the house was visibly moving as if you were in a boat."

Jenny Nelson Why would anyone choose to work with a pipeline company with such a lousy track record of.spills? That's not sensible. It's not sensible to create a protected place like Gwaii Haanas with one hand and threaten to destroy it with the other. It's not sensible for government to ignore the in-your-face climate instability that threatens us. And not only ignore but gut policies, research and scientific bodies that help us to make informed decisions.

Along with being a well-known lawyer representing 
the Haida Nation 
in the area of aboriginal-environmental law, 
Terri-Lynn’s life’s work 
and passion 
has been to preserve 
the Haida songs.... 
 Uploaded by  on Sep 28, 2011
"First Nations people acknowledge that we are part of a continuum. At any time we can tap into the knowledge of our ancestors. I hope this song helps others to connect to the strength and wisdom of the ancestors. It is sung in Haida." 

In English it means:
Those Born Before Us, Those Yet to be Born: We Respect You.
Those Born Before Us, Those Yet to be Born: Help Us.
Those Born Before Us, Those Yet to be Born: We Want to do the Respectful Thing.

See for more information about this project.  / full bio here

Event Time

  1. 2012-10-28 05:02:49 UTC
  2. 2012-10-27 20:02:49 UTC-09:00 at epicenter
  3. 2012-10-27 22:02:49 UTC-07:00 system time


52.409°N 132.165°W depth=10.3km (6.4mi)

Nearby Cities

  1. 178km (111mi) S of Masset, Canada
  2. 245km (152mi) SSW of Prince Rupert, Canada
  3. 333km (207mi) SW of Terrace, Canada
  4. 551km (342mi) WNW of Campbell River, Canada
  5. 671km (417mi) SSE of Juneau, Alaska
NWS-WCATWC Tsunami Information Statement

SEUS71 PAAQ 281857

1157 AM PDT SUN OCT 28 2012



 TIME      - 1054 AKDT OCT 28 2012
             1154  PDT OCT 28 2012
             1854  UTC OCT 28 2012
 LOCATION  - 52.8 NORTH 132.5 WEST
             390 MILES/628 KM S OF JUNEAU ALASKA
 DEPTH     - 12 MILES/19 KM



Related Links

everything happens in Toronto:
my favourite tweet of the night:
 This girl jus said tsunami warning in Toronto...u fucken stupid? Do you see any large masses of water unless lake Ontario is gunna turn over 

Tofino is no doubt the westerly coastal place misheard 

a history + geography of earthquakes

Date Lat N Lon W Magnitude Location
1700/01/26 48.5 125 9.0 Cascadia subduction zone, British Columbia.
1949/08/22 53.62 133.27 8.1 Offshore Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia.****
1970/06/24 51.77 130.76 7.4 South of Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia.
1933/11/20 73.00 70.75 7.3 Baffin Bay, Northwest Territories.
1946/06/23 49.76 125.34 7.3 Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
1929/11/18 44.50 56.30 7.2 Grand Banks south of Newfoundland.
1929/05/26 51.51 130.74 7.0 South of Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia.
1663/02/05 47.6 70.1 7.0 Charlevoix, Quebec.
1985/12/23 62.19 124.24 6.9 Nahanni region, Northwest Territories.
1918/12/06 49.62 125.92 6.9 Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

Map of BC First Nations declaring Indigenous Law bans on Enbridge and Kinder Morgan tankers and pipelines: View a map illustrating the combined traditional territories of First Nations who have banned tar sands pipelines and tankers using their traditional laws. [source]

Haida Gwaii was well-represented at the "Defend Our Coast" protest in Victoria. Michaela McGuire, the young woman behind the Anti-Enbridge photo campaign reported in the Observer this summer, attended the rally and said she saw at least eight people she knew from Haida Gwaii. Around five or six thousand people gathered on the steps of the legislature on October 22, she said. The protest against tar sand pipelines and tankers was one of 76 across BC according to the Defend Our Coast website.

Map + soon-to-be-revised**** top ten earthquakes in Canada: 

 Stories drawn from many sites, follow the links

Friday, 26 October 2012

whalers: your good hands

Aicho Island whaling boat


Your good hands; your good feet.
Move them; move them.
You don’t mind being wet; you don’t mind getting soaked!
Kowk! Blubber!
Cold hands! Good feet Ja-gee-ja

Qiirq! Hurry!

Yes, the Inuit enjoyed the whaling; they even speared more whales than the qallunaat. When they were pulling the dead whales, from what I’ve heard, they used to sing. I’ve heard the song, though the first words are not too fresh in my mind. My grandmother used to sing the song when she was working around the house. She used to whistle it.
Isaccie Ikudluak, Kimmirut

song + story source:


Whaling Tales by Shirley Tagalik

Image sources:

Artist: Jeetaloo Akulukjuk / Printmaker: Jacoposie Tiglik

A Maori tale:  
 P¯ atahi  



Patahi tells her story, another considers at length


life goes on  "I come from a fairly typical New Zealand small town family of 5 children, with Scottish, Irish and Maori ancestry. My great-great grandfather on my father's, Edwin Palmer, was a whaler who first came to the southern coasts of the South Island in the 1820's and settled in Waikouaiti with a young Ngai Tahu woman, Patahi, my great-great grandmother."


An ancient legend from Lamalera tells of how the whales originated from the mountain many years ago. The story tells of two sacred cows which lived high on the steep mountain slopes above Lamalera. One night, the two cows began to walk towards the sea. The female cow reached the water first and when she entered the sea she became a whale and swam away. However, the bull did not reach the water before the sun rose and when the first light of the day fell upon him he turned into a large stone in the shape of a whale. 


The fossils found in Pakistan last year [2000] add weight to the second theory: that whales descended from the group of animals known as artiodactyls, whose members include sheep, cows, pigs, camels, deer, and hippos. Artiodactyla (Greek artios, entire or even numbered, and dactylos, finger or toe) are named for the even number of fingers and toes (two or four) found on each hand and foot.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

how the story ends

St. Kateri a longsuffering, self-abusive young woman, an archetypal Burnt Face girl in some respects: but rejecting of sensuality, sexual bonding, and familymaking, for personal reasons none too hard to guess. [Here is the Jesuits of Canada (English) fact sheet on Blessed Kateri, pdf, to supplement previous links].

In the news alongside the celebration of her sainthood is another much-abused and eventually a suicidal young woman, whose more contemporary humiliations were also vast (though very different). The sacred and the secular could not be more dissonant than that: because  death happened this month, we will make facebook pages and political points; because death happened centuries back, and has become "elevated" through the work of many, death becomes redemption, and a helpmeet in the beyond.

Martyrs, saints, angels, whatever stories and prayers we learn we carry with us, life-formative.

As a Catholic girl it was St. Joan d'Arc, the warrior princess mystic, and St. Joseph the carpenter step-dad of Jesus, and St Francis Xavier, whose stories I grew to know best: St. Anne was always represented, standing alone in the church-- who's that?

These representations much more promising, the recurrent pressure on Church to be natural, to be more accomodating of human life: actually, it isn't all suffering, though we do receive great dollops of that.

Jo + Anne:

In discussing many things with a friend across the sea, I have read these chastening words:

The married woman has no future without her husband.  If she does vain vrats leaving aside service to her husband, she is destined to be reborn as a child widow”.
~from Lakshmi Purana, Balaram Das, transl. Dr. Jaganath Prasad Das
 [prose translation pdf]

Yet in the end the Goddess does exactly that.

Having a vast pantheon is instructive: life is more than suffering, and in suffering we need this knowledge most.

Life is more than a series of suicides, losses, wars and begats.


Final image: Lakshmi ritual image for worship (Diwali)
Artist is not named: "Kumaon Folk Painting on Paper"
 Images of St. Anne & St. Joachim, various artists/online sources