Friday, 30 November 2012

from the frontline to the sanctuary: a benefit

Journalist Hadani Ditmars discusses the humanitarian crisis in Syria, Published on Nov 29, 2012 by
The civil war in Syria has created a humanitarian crisis. Writer and journalist Hadani Ditmar discusses the crisis, as well as a new book she reviewed for the Globe & Mail called 'Women in the Crossfire" - a compelling account for what it's like to be a woman right now in Syria.

diplomatic minnows

Congratulations to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority, and all Palestinians, on the profoundly affirmative vote at the UN.

Despite John Baird's efforts to champion the cause of Israel, in apparent support of Israeli unilateralism and in passionate opposition to Palestinians thinking and acting for themselves, the world (in the form of the UN) voted in support of Palestine, on the anniversary of the date that Israel was affirmed in the same body.

Even the BBC has failed to notice our minister's efforts, so if this is what Baird hoped to be remembered for, it is just too bad that he has placed himself on the wrong side of history.
The United States naturally remained in Israel's corner but, alongside it, was to be found largely a small collection of diplomatic minnows including the Western Pacific Territories of Palau and Micronesia. 
 ~Kevin Connelly, UN Vote gives Palestinians new diplomatic powers
So much for his well-polished speechmaking.*  Canada's fall from grace as an international player continues apace. In an earlier story about LGBT rights in Uganda, and John Baird's Dilemma, another journalist notes,
Uganda's Parliamentary Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, was received with a welcome rally upon her return to Uganda, following a conflict with Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister at the Inter-Parliamentary Union conference in Quebec City on October 25. Kadaga is reportedly vowing to do entirely the opposite of what Baird had urged, by pushing to resurrect the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill...
The problem detected is plainly stated:
Part of this arises because of an increased sensitivity to other nations imposing their will on Africa, something that has taken place overtly and covertly throughout Africa's entire remembered history.  (source)
This is, I suggest, the reality gap between Baird, his US parallels and fellow minnows, and much of the rest of the world, including constituents in the countries voting against the order yesterday.

Self-regency is important. It is a fundamental aspect of democracy. We do not believe that Canadian nor US leadership has a more accurate view of what is good for Palestine than Palestinians do.

It is neither the US nor Canada's job to control the path to peaceful resolutions in the Middle East: at the end of the day, it is none of their business. To support the process, yes, but not to dictate it.

If we found the saturation-levels of coverage of the recent American elections tiring, here in Canada, imagine what it would be like to live in Gaza:

HOW does it end in Gaza?
This has been the issue with all the self-defeating Israeli military offensives of the past 16 years — Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and now Operation Pillar of Defense, all of them, not coincidentally, initiated on the eve of national elections in Israel.

Roger Cohen, NY Times Op Ed & International Herald Tribune for full article

How it ended was, a ceasefire, and all hope that the ceasefire will hold.

As the days of violence unfolded, however, Baird and Harper did not loudly condemn Israel's "unilateral action." They said, Every state has a right to defend itself. 

What is true for Israel is true for Palestinians, and it is a real shame that Canada chose not to support diplomatic and "symbolic" actions that would both encourage and empower Palestinians, and strengthen the possibility of meaningful negotiations for peace. The facts of the occupation and blockade seem to have remained invisible to them, but happily and luckily, not to the rest of the world.

OTTAWA — With hope of an Israel-Gaza ceasefire beckoning Tuesday, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird hailed the “miracle” of a Zionist Israel while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began the hard diplomatic work of brokering an end to the violence.

Speaking to a glittering Jewish community fundraising gala, Baird called the birth of Israel a “miracle to behold,” describing it as “a phoenix-like rising … from a barren desert to the dynamic country we see today.” source, National Post

It is appropriate that ministers visit constituents, however, Mr. Baird seems to be unaware that the "barren desert" is a myth created to obscure the active and forceful dispossession of the Palestinian people, and to be unwilling to look at the truth of the region-- generations of displaced people living in camp conditions-- much less speak and act to ensure just resolutions for all.

As with Uganada, the paternalistic shine through which our leadership views the world will continue to bring unexpected, undesirable results, until the maturity and humility point is reached, and outdated and unattractive partialism is cast aside.

Roger Cohen continued:
Gilad Sharon, the son of Ariel Sharon who orchestrated Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, has an idea for an ending. He expressed it this way in The Jerusalem Post:

“We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima — the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too. There should be no electricity in Gaza, no gasoline or moving vehicles, nothing. Then they’d really call for a cease-fire.”

Atomic bombs, blackness, stillness, nothingness — Sharon allows himself to indulge the old Israeli dream that the Palestinian people should just disappear. But of course they do not. They regroup. They find new leaders. They endure with hatred of Israel reignited by loss.

This is an old story. As early as 1907, Yitzhak Epstein, a Zionist, wrote an article called “A Hidden Question” in which he observed: “We have forgotten one small matter: There is in our beloved land an entire nation, which has occupied it for hundreds of years and has never thought to leave it.”  (source)
Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip. This, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit and has since then maintained a relationship with Hamas leaders.
~Israeli Peace Activist (Haaretz)

 Gaza Ark

"Moral shelter" should be provided to those who do right, when they do right, and withheld from those who use violence for political ends ("cutting the grass").

As long as the Canadian government gives it's unconditional support to a government bombing a people "back to the Middle Ages," we must continue to protest and to speak out. 

*2011: Pro-Palestinian Remark Cut From Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's United Nations Address, Documents Show [moving Canada away from balance and into an emotionalized, one-sided realm]


Mr. Baird announced Friday morning that he is temporarily recalling Canadian ambassadors to the UN and the Middle East to consult them on their next steps, and reviewing Canada’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority. But in an interview with CBC News, Mr. Baird said the Canadian reaction “will be responsible and will be deliberate.”

Before the vote, Canada had warned of potential retaliatory steps against the Palestinians – including private warnings to Palestinian representatives that it might close their delegation in Ottawa.

On Friday, however, Mr. Baird ruled out that step: “We’re not, obviously, looking at breaking off relations with the Palestinian Authority,” he said. ...

However, Mr. Baird’s warning of retaliation has already provoked a stark response from the Palestinian Authority, whose chief negotiator said Canada has “disqualified” itself from any future role in the Middle East peace process with its vitriolic opposition to upgraded UN status for Palestinians.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Canadian threats of reprisals and Mr. Baird’s decision to personally campaign against the Palestinian resolution at the UN have ruled Ottawa out of a future role.

“I believe this government is more Israeli than the Israelis, more settler than the settlers,” he said in an interview with The Globe and Mail. “I think they have disqualified themselves from playing any role in the Middle East peace process.”
~The Globe & Mail

for more background from legal and economic perspectives, see, 
International law, the Gaza war, and Palestine's state of exception (Levine & Hajjar, Al Jazeera op ed)
Diplomacy with Palestinians Key (Schwartz, Calcalist (Israel) transl. Al Monitor) 

The Justice of the Occupation January 24, 2012
The filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz explores the impact of Israel’s High Court of Justice on Palestinian rights.  
source: NY Times Op-Docs

Monday, 26 November 2012

Daniel David Moses, Largeness of Light

Published on 23 Sep 2012 by
Author Daniel David Moses recites three poems from his new collection A Small Essay on the The Largeness of Light and Other Poems

Published on 23 Sep 2012 by
This imaginative, illuminating and delightful feast of poems explores nature, mythology, perception, desire, youth, aging and the self -- often aboriginal -- through thoughtful, passionate and meticulously crafted portraits, lyrics, satires, and meditations.

Exile Editions 2012
cd with David DeLeary 2011
Dedicated to the memory of his father, the eleven poems explore memories of his growing up with the Grand River, which flows through the Six Nations Territory, always in the background or foreground. Moses reads this selection of lyrical poems backed by the original contemporary classical compositions of David DeLeary, better known for his work with Seventh Fire and Jacques and the Shakey Boys.
The CD features stunning cover art based on paintings by Shelley Niro. The collection insert includes the texts of the recorded poems plus a bonus poem not included on the recording, Questions From A Canoe. The CD is distributed by Exile Editions.

“The only poet I knew about growing up,” Moses admits, “was Emily Pauline Johnson. We could almost see her house from our porch. … Her most famous poem, still, is The Song My Paddles Sings, so maybe this project is also a nod in her direction.”

Exile Editions 2000

Fifth House 1990

blewointmentpress 1980, Nightwood Editions 1992




Visit his website for more (as editor, as nonfiction writer, biography, etc)

Saturday, 24 November 2012

well-spoken: Tomson Highway

 Uploaded by on Aug 24, 2009
Tomson Highway ideaCity05 Part 1

 Taansi, nimiss, (Welcome, sister)
Taansi, nistees (Welcome, brother)
Taansi! Kwayus (Welcome, how much...)
Nimithweetheeteen (I like the fact that...)
Eepeetootee-eek (You've come)

The words are in Cree, sung in a throaty alto that resonates with knowing warmth.

Anooch kaatipskaak (Tonight)
Tanagaamooyaak (We're gonna sing)
Taachimoostaatooyaak igwa meena (We're gonna tell each other stories and, as well...)
Tapaapiyaak, taneemee-itooyaak (We're gonna laugh, we're gonna dance)
Aastumik nitooteemuk, aastumik, hey! (So come, my friends, come, hey!)

The song title translates to "Hey Big Sister!" and is part of playwright and novelist Tomson Highway's newest creation, Kisageetin: A Cabaret.
Xtra ~ source

Kisaageetin Means I Love You + More
Patricia Cano, Tomson Highway
explore tomson's official website

"He was born the 11th of 12 children on the 6th of December, 1951 in a snow bank. That is to say, he was born in a tent pitched in a snow bank (in one awful hurry!) on an island in a lake in the remotest reaches of northwestern Manitoba where it meets the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan and what, since 1999, has been called Nunavut. His caribou-hunting family traversing the tundra, as always in those days, by dogsled, this lake – called Maria (pronounced "Ma-rye-ah") – is situated some 200 kilometres north of the Indian reserve (Barren Lands) to which he belongs, the village for which is called Brochet ("Bro-shay"). He grew up NOT on the reserve, however, but rather in the spectacularly beautiful natural landscape that is Canada's sub-Arctic, an un-peopled region of hundreds of lakes, endless forests of spruce and pine, and great herds of caribou. Today (as for the past eleven years), he divides his year equally between, in summer, a cottage on a lake in the heart of Ojibway (and French) Ontario just south of Sudbury (from whence hails his partner of 25 years) and, in winter, a seaside apartment i/n the south of France. At both of these locales -- i.e. Canada and France -- he is currently hard at work on his second and, as yet, untitled novel."
~Tomson Highway

Uploaded by on Aug 4, 2009
Tomson Highway, renowned aboriginal playwright, composer and pianist... Kisageetin: A Cabaret.


Rockburn Presents

Tomson Highway  

cpac interview  28:31 min  follow link to listen


Three Spirited
Published on Aug 24, 2012 by

Playwright Tomson Highway explains the meaning of love to "Adrian" (Daniel MacIvor).

Written and Performed by Tomson Highway
with Daniel MacIvor and Billy Merasty
Produced and Directed by Nik Sheehan
Camera: Harald Bachmann
Editing: Caroline Christie
Music: Tomson Highway


Uploaded by on Aug 24, 2009
Tomson Highway ideaCity05 Part 2

One of the founding members of The Committee to Re-Establish Trickster, alongside Daniel David Moses and Lenore Keeshig-Tobias, Tomson has had a profound effect on contemporary Canadian literature.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Cooking it up Métis (do's & don'ts)

Published on Nov 15, 2012 by
This is a small view of the Show Cooking it up Métis presented by Compaigni V'ni Dansi [last Wednesday in Vancouver].

In checking up on what Yvonne Chartrand (Compaigni V'ni Dansi founder) & Métis celebrants across the regions are up to this month, I found a very interesting discussion on racialized language, and food.


original source: Twitter

“I’ve Never Heard of the Métis People”: The Politics of Naming, Racialization, and the Disregard for Aboriginal Canadians

by Crystal Fraser and Mike Commito

The controversial selection of a hamburger name by a Toronto restaurant had customers and critics raising their eyebrows this past August. Holy Chuck Burgers, located on Yonge Street, specializes in gourmet hamburgers, some of which sport clever titles like “Go Chuck Yourself” and “You Fat Pig.” Recently, the restaurant has come under criticism, not for its indulgent offerings, but because of the names of two of its items: “The Half Breed” and “The Dirty Drunken Half Breed.” It was not long before Twitterverse exploded, slamming Holy Chuck Burgers for its use of racially-charged, insensitive discourse that has had a longstanding history against Canada’s Indigenous peoples. While the criticism was well deserved, the apparent disconnect to Aboriginal issues is unfortunately part of a much larger and longer colonial mentality of indifference.

Like many racial designations in Canada, the term ‘half-breed’ is both complex and problematic. Historically, the designation was used to describe people of ‘mixed’ descent whose lineage originated from intimate relationships between non-Aboriginal newcomers and Aboriginal people. The racial designation of ‘half-breed’ was applied not only to Métis people, but also to other Aboriginals as a way to essentialize and deauthenticate all forms of indigenity. Today, by way of colonial discourse, the Métis are sometimes linked to the historic understanding of ‘half-breed.’ This was demonstrated when Holy Chuck Burgers’ racist food names were viewed as a direct attack on Métis people. But the equation of ‘half breed’ to Métis is intrinsically problematic, since many Indigenous peoples are of ‘mixed’ ancestry but not labelled as such. Nevertheless, Holy Chuck Burgers’ owner explained that the poor selection in burger names originated from the fact that the burger patties consist of a mixture of ground pork and beef. In “The Dirty Drunken Half Breed,” “dirty” refers to the chili that was poured all over the burger and “drunken” denotes the wine that was used in the cooking preparation. When considering Holy Chuck Burgers’ choice of language, it is difficult not to think about racial stereotypes about Aboriginal people that have been historically imposed and, to some extent, continue to be used.

Broadly, the Holy Chuck Burgers debacle is part of the larger context of ignorance and systemic racism towards Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. This was poignantly demonstrated when the restaurateur took to Twitter to plead ignorance of any negative connotations and showed a lack of knowledge of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. After learning about Holy Chuck’s latest menu items, Ryerson University Law Professor Dr. Pamela Palmater told the Toronto Star that she doubted the sincerity of the restaurant’s claim that it was clueless of the derogatory nature of the term. She also suggested it had failed to adequately investigate the term or include Aboriginal peoples in consumer focus groups. Palmater rightly contends that “racism against Indigenous people in Canada is so ingrained that some in society can’t even identify it when they see it.” Despite the widespread public outcry to remove the racist language from their menu, Holy Chuck Burgers continues to use term the “half-breed.” You can find that here.

read the full article here:  do!

I guess all the publicity worked, as the online menu no longer features the offensive item names: note that the initial complaints arose in August, and the above article was published (with live links as above) October 18, 2012. (View owner's apology here)

Lessons learned:

minimize racism:

try to pretend racism away: 

ignore or deny racism when it is pointed out to you:

don't = do not 

For indigenous people, "don't" means "do not." 

It also means, 
"cease and desist."


Four Operations of Language:

-Conceals Violence
-Blames & Pathologizes Victims
-Conceals Resistance
-Mitigates Offender's Responsibility

~quoted from/to read more:
Metis Responses: Violence & Oppression, big print, 32 pages [pdf]

Public shaming is often the next step, when someone doing the wrong thing does not respond to being made aware that their "joke" is in fact contemptuous harm.  Check out all the legion humour stories this year, if you need further examples.

In Vancouver, an animal grooming salon calls itself "Mestiso's Pet Spa," the caste designation used by the Spanish empire for people of mixed race, and common across the Americas. The company owners write,
Breeders Know Best
A family of dog breeders runs Mestisos, so it’s fitting that the spa takes it names from the Spanish word “mestizos,” meaning a person of mixed ancestry. Mestisos hosts breeder rescue weekends, during which they help neglected and abandoned dogs find good homes. A series of educational seminars on a wide variety of dog topics is also offered.  [source]

 When I came across the sign, I understood that I was being called a dog, a Mutt, within a very specific class-race understanding of the world. Reading the company info online, a sensitive understanding of the class/race issues becomes vivid.

  Personally, collectively, publically, with impunity: a shared joke between me and my world.

The Mestizo are a people of mixed Spanish and Mayan descent representing roughly 48% of the Belizean population. They originally arrived in Belize in 1847 to escape La Guerra de Castas (the Caste War), when over 70,000 Maya revolted against the 20,000 Spanish throughout Yucatan, annihilating over one-third of the population. The survivors, mostly Mestizo, fled over the border into British territory. Additionally, many refugees of the Caste War eventually reached western Belize by way of Peten, Guatemala, establishing communities in Benque Viejo del Carmen, San Ignacio, and San Jose Succotz.

The Mestizo are found everywhere in Belize but most make their homes in the northern districts of Corozal and Orange Walk. Having merged with the Maya in the north, this has resulted in the Yucatec Maya giving way to the Mestizo, allowing them to lose their language and several other cultural forms.

Since the 1980s, many thousands of refugee Mestizo from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have established communities near the capital city of Belmopan; while those living in the Stann Creek District have found employment in the citrus and banana industries. Descendants of the earlier settlers also inhabit the more northerly islands on Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye.

read more

+ google for more & more

more things to do: 

Uploaded by on Nov 15, 2011
Fiddlers perform at a talent show at the Bold Center on Nov. 12 [2011]. This is just one of the many events held as part of the first annual Métis Week.

Downloadable books:
Métis Cookbook and Guide to Healthy Living, Second Edition, 2008, 112 pgs [pdf]

What it is to be a Métis: The Stories and Recollections of the Elders of the Prince George Métis Elders Society, 2007, 294 pgs [pdf]

Further resources:

Learn about the Métis National Council Historical Online Database This page has been put together to give our audience historical and background information about the records and information contained in this database. You can download all the information contained on this page in a convenient PDF guide to print and read offline by clicking here (40MB download - be patient!). 

Virtual Museum:


More operations of language:
~give tongue to injury
~codify losses
~interrupt violations and abuse
~change the world

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

translations (part three)

An ABC of Translating Poetry
continued, part three
features excerpts of the essay only: follow the link to read in full
illustrations are from the international exhibition ofcalligraphy


A translation aspires to the kabbalah, wherein the universe is a system of permanent though fiery words; yet it wakes down on earth in the knowledge of its instability and impermanence.
Nazip Ismaigilov, "Be Kind"

Given the inconstancy of words and texts, can we demand miracles from human translators who work today to grace us with a poem?

In the Zohar (the Book of Radiance), the infinite (the eyn sof) lies not in a stationary mass but in two forms of undulatory movement: darkness and light.  


Foremost among fidelities is fidelity to beauty in the original poem. Should the new poem not have beauty, the translator has traduced our faith in sense, word, and letter.


Mastery lies in the manipulation of the clay. She pours content into a form of her own creation in her own language. 


The translator plays with nothingness, with la nada, and from nothing comes everything. 

Untranslatable lines are natural meadows of translation and yield the best wild herbs. 

What has never been done in the adopted language will expand its thematic and formal boundaries and its literature. 

Traditions of theme and form are altered by the infusion of poems from other languages, especially the impossible ones.

Massimo Polello,

Non ti ricordar de’ peccati della mia giovinezza (Forgotten of the sins of my youth ...) Psalms 25:7


Translation is voyage and the poet takes a translation across the ocean. Any ship of any description may be qualified to reach port, sailing across the sea of fidelity or the sea of license.
The ocean offers all things, including these mixed metaphors about the translation of poems.

 see also:

translations (part one): A ~ F

translations (part two): G ~ J


also see:

Translating poetry, an unsung art 

Asmaa Abdallah  

... The two main questions [Randa] Abou-Bakr tackled during her talk were, “Is translating poetry at all possible?” and, “Why does translating poetry matter?” Although American poet Robert Frost once said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation,” Abou-Bakr tells us that theoreticians have suggested several strategies to deal with the multi-layered nature of poetry in ways that are both meaningful and beautiful. One way is to prioritize and centralize one of its elements over the others; for example, the sounds, the meaning, or the meter. Others believe in approximating: adopting an approach of dealing with a large variety of elements all at once. Abou-Bakr however, subscribes to another school of translation, namely focusing on the emotional resonance of the poem.

“I like to keep my translations as close as possible to the originals in the sense that I do not try to be a poet on my own, but rather claim to myself that I am the prophet who has received a certain revelation — not a message — and I am now being trusted with the sacred task of transmitting it to others.”   read full article