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A million years ago I wrote about how bothered I was that people tend to always look at external things to judge people’s level of education, social standing, and other things. That it bothered me that I came from a certain ethnic standing because it gave me social standing that I’d rather not have.

Frankly, it’s something that comes up in my mind from time to time. More that I feel this massive need to help out those that aren’t in the same social networks, benefits, or situation that I am. For a while I volunteered a long time with Food Not Bombs in Calgary to try and help out people who just needed something to eat (yes some people don’t really like going to homeless shelters to get food cause they can feel a bit intimidated).

I wonder at times if people forget that a lot of ethnicities (refugees) end up taking on a lot of the jobs that help support the existing culture that we sustain each day. It’s the immigrants in Canada and even in Australia that are working the late shifts at gas stations, packing food on shelves, and cleaning stores when they shut. I appreciate that and at the same time feel a little disheartened because I know that some of these (many taxi drivers I’ve met and chatted with) actually have engineering degrees from foreign countries that they can’t seem to get recognized in Australia or Canada.

I guess for me it just enhances the fact that I realize there is a need for me to really continue to strive to break down those barriers between the class structure I was raised in and others. Try and find ways in which I can integrate myself with more of these people (and frankly I feel more connected with them to begin with because like Ecuador they seem to value things that are more important to me).

What brought all this home for me was watching the Chilean movie Machuca.

“In 1973, in Santiago of Chile of the first socialist president democratically elected in a Latin-American country, President Salvador Allende, the principal of the Saint Patrick School, Father McEnroe (Ernesto Malbran) makes a trial of integration between students of the upper and lower classes. The bourgeois boy Gonzalo Infante (Matías Quer) and the boy from the slum Pedro Machuca (Ariel Mateluna) become great friends, while the conflicts on the streets leads Chile to the bloody and repressive military coup of General Augusto Pinochet on 11 September 1973, changing definitely their lives, their relationship and their country.” – IMB

At about the half way point I was crying and from that point onward the movie really brought you closer to the reality of what can happen in social situations (not only from politics but also because of social class systems). It was a beautiful reminder that breaking down berries, helping out those that aren’t in the same situation as ours, and sharing what you’ve got is the only way that we can help to create a sustainable fair world. And I know I can do that!

I found a recent article from David Suzuki quite interesting and thought I’d share.

He writes a recent Science Matters article on how we can’t really rely on captive breeding like zoos or other scientific systems to actually save the declining populations of animals.

I think that it a lot of ways seeing bigger animals like bears, apes, and cougars in cages makes me a bit sad at times. More because these animals tend to roam massive areas of land as a natural habitat (they are nomadic animals really). And much like the First Nations people we haven’t really understand that it’s not natural to place people into one area and say, “Here you can have this chunk now and you should be okay with that…”. It’s not a natural system that either are accustomed to. I like the fact that David Suzuki has some backing points to prove that indeed scientifically it’s proven that breeding captive actually kinda hinders natural selection and survival of those animals. Pretty amazing genetics I say. Pretty amazing.

Kinda wanted to do an anti-oppression workshop of sorts here at the trust and have been diggin around on the net for stuff…

In the process I came across this (read: Shut the fuck up! or, How to act better in meetings). Funny cause I was the one that had to bring this forward in the B.C. Crew so that we were all aware of the amount of talking space we do in meetings and around other people. It’s pretty amazing when you look at how much you are talking and how little you aren’t asking others how they are doing, what’s new, or trying to tell them what they are thinking.

Now don’t take this as an insult or read into what the post is. I think there are points there that we can all learn from whether we think that we contribute in some ways or not. I think the point is that we are more sensitive to how we contribute.

And yes I’m totally guilty of this too folks…and still found myself reading this and going…”Shit house I’m still doing this…”

Life’s a journey..

Hope this all finds you well,

Shane

I probably should have broken the Lake Cowal episode into two points but I didn’t cause I was trying to deal with it I suppose.

There was still some points that I wanted to get off my mind but that last post turned more into some epic novel of sorts.

What bothers me in this day in age is that we are really focussed as countries (Canada/Australia) on trying to solve other countries problems like Iraq/Iran/[insert country here] and not spending much time dealing with our own internal problems. Why is it acceptable to ignore the rights of indigenous people here in Australia or even in Canada? Why is it that New Zealand seems to show the most respect (as far as I can tell) with regards to the development of relationships between the government and the Maori people. I mean Canada prides itself in being a peacekeeping country and goes around to other countries trying to ensure that there is less bloodshed, things can get resolved, etc. Yet like Australia or own country does very little to properly deal with the First Nations/Indigenous peoples land claims or at the very least demands for respect of sacred burial grounds. It upsets me that we would treat people that way.

I spent some time up in KohuKohu and apparently they were expanding the road up there when a worker cutting down a tree came across some bones that fell out of the tree stump. All the work was haulted, elders were called in to figure out how big the burial grounds were/bless things, and further discussions were done to figure out the next course of action. It means that everyone was equal at the bargaining table and that they figure out a solution together because they wanted to show respect for peoples that have been there long before New Zealanders settled. I don’t think that type of negotiation is that hard! Frankly, you’d have a lot less people protesting or having to occupy sacred grounds to prevent golf course expansions. Seriously folks don’t you think there is some compremise. We should be resolving these issues so that the children (your children) don’t have the carry the weight that we have all been carrying from the mistreatment of these people.

Native Rights Drawing

[I’m warning you this is going to be a loooooooooooooooooong post. Lots of stuff happened this weekend that I am trying hard to deal with]

Save Lake CowalAs some of you might know (or not know) this weekend I headed to Lake Cowal to support a 5 year running protest against Barrick Gold (gold mining company from Canada tragically) who has been exploiting the land at Lake Cowal in several ways.

My time at the camp during the three days was beautiful once we finally got there as it was spent with beautiful people from all over Australia and the world! These included a few different family of fun kids, indigenous people, and others from around Australia and the world. Tragically, Maurice, Andrew, & I received a few (read: 20 I believe was the last count) flat tires on our ride out to the site and finally gave up and had to call in backup vehicle support to come get us.

“Our Aboriginal People are being denied access to our sacred ground. Protestors from around the world are here to support our claim for access to our ancient lands. Australian Aboriginal Peoples have the oldest continuing living culture in the world. We Wiradjuri People are also being denied the right of spiritual and religious freedom under s.116 of the Australian Constitution,” Mr Williams said.

“Barrick is desecrating our sacred site and Dreaming Place and denying us access to our traditional lands. The company has moved or destroyed more than 10 000 artefacts including marked trees, damaging the integrity of the area forever.”

“Despite Barrick’s assertion that we are misleading people, what we are doing is our ancient cultural duty to protect our sacred Country for the generations to come. We are also raising awareness of the dangers of cyanide leach gold mining and the mine’s excessive use of precious water in the middle of the worst drought on record. The fullest dams, in the very parched countryside between Condobolin and the mine, are the toxic tailings ponds west of the open cut pit, which extends into the lakebed.”

I went there to help represent the indigenous people of this country (read: each area that is occupied by a different indigenous country in Australia is called a country here..which I love) .

The actions of the day were quite successful in bringing awareness to the fact that this issue is still taking place. I spent my day performing native dances, doing a sit outside the gates, and supporting other protesters who were entering the mines. Oh and at one point I became the food man bringing food around to people that I had stocked up before we left our camp. It would have been nice to see more people out there but I still think we had an impact (have a look at this rad video of the Tranny Minors that performed). I saw some really fuckin brave people out there getting arrested for what they believe in. It was kinda unfortunate I couldn’t have participated more although I feel my actions were useful too.

But really folks did you realize that cyanide is waste product in the processing of gold. It’s tragic that on such a special lake we would want to introduce a poison that will threaten many different species of birds. Especially, when this lake is recognized as a special place recognized as being one of Australia’s Important Wetlands. Alright so what can I do? Write a letter (pre-made and handcrafted right here!) to these folks here and make sure that your investments are contributing to this destruction. Barricks doesn’t care that they have depleted loads of the water on this lake already even during a massive drought or that indigenous people of this area don’t agree with the settlement made.

[Warning: This bit is quite long and more about the traumatic experience that happened to me while there…I’m still trying to deal with it all actually]

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Jamie & RomanToday I felt that it was appropriate to pay some respects and hi-fi’s to a special friend of mine whom is embarking on an amazing journey.

Jamie Liewaluzny (Liew+Zackaluzny=Liewaluzny – haa haa) has decided to take the degree that she trained so hard to obtain (law degree), jump on a plane, and head to Sierra Leone.

So why is that such an amazing feat you ask? Umm well Jamie (on the right of this picture) is heading to Sierra Leone to work on the defense case of one individual being tried at the Special Court that the United Nations and Sierra Leone have established. The conflicts that have plagued this country are extensive and tragic. This country is still not a really nice place to visit because of all the unrest that is plaguing these people.

As Jamie indicated to me it’s something that she feels strongly about and it doesn’t “matter who I represent because everyone deserves a fair trail.” She’s right everyone does and needless to say I think your great for believing that Jamie. I think that just taking the time out from her regular job in the Ottawa judicial system where she works for a judge to dedicate a few months on this project is really amazing.

If your history about Sierra Leone is rusty you should really have a look at the latest movie about this tragic history called Blood Diamonds (or here for official web addy). Apparently, this movie is a real eye-opener to the conditions in Sierra Leone and give one perspective of the situation that people faced. It’s tragic to know that something that we deem precious and special such as a diamond could really fuel and encourage such violence and despair in people.

To many people, diamonds symbolize love, happiness or wealth. However, for many others, they mean conflict, misery and poverty. In some African countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, profits from the unregulated diamond trade are used to fund armed conflicts. As a result, tens of thousands of civilians have over the past years been killed or tortured and millions have been displaced. ” – Amnesty International report on the situation.

It’s beautiful to be inspired by so many amazing people around me and to you Jamie I say thanks and cheers! May your travels find you beautiful things and lots of learning.

Hugs

Shane

No WAR!

I have talked with each one of you off and on about war, and I think all of you agreed that it’s not the way to move our society along. That people are dying for no reason. And that we don’t agree with Canada’s participation in this American war.

Well…if you want to make a peaceful statement here’s how.

BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW! Demonstration
Pan-Canadian Day of Action!
Where: Saturday October 28, 2006
When: Rally at 12 noon, Harry Hays Federal building (220 4 ave SE)
Who:
Everyone Welcome! Bring Signs and Banners

Followed by:
Afghanistan: 5 Years On
Panel on Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan, from 1-:30 at Parkdale United Church (2919 8th Ave NW)

Last thought. You might think that this is ineffective and that you can’t make change this way. But really don’t you think that Harper will listen when people are getting together all around the country (which is what is planned) to rally against war on this day. To many soldiers are dying tragically, people in countries “accidently being killed”, and to not enough real progress is happening in the countries being attacked. End the occupation. I for one want to show my support against what I don’t believe in.

Hugs, love, and patience,

Shane

PS – Pass this around so we can make waves [even if you can’t go :)]

[This is an original letter I sent to The Whiskey — today, and will keep it updated with their response. I want people to know what happened there so they know what happens there and make their own decisions as to whether to go or not.]

Dear Toby Bird, Management at The Whiskey Nightclub,

On Friday, October 13, 2006 a situation happened at your bar that raises my question about the way that patrons at your bar are being treated on a regular basis. I arrived around 10:30 PM with three of my close friends from work (all women — useful for later). We spent the night dancing and hanging around together, and generally having a great time. At one point he had lost one of our friends so two of my friends left me at the bottom of a flight of stairs to go find their friend. During this time I was leaning against a wall waiting for them to reappear. After 3 minutes I gave up (I checked my watch) and headed up the stairs to find them at the top. We exchanged hugs and upon me stepping back after the hug I was grabbed. My arm was placed behind my back and another arm was placed on my shoulder. I turned slightly and was told by the bouncer in question that I was getting kicked out of the bar. He started to lead me down the stairs towards the back door. I never resisted his movements and along with myself my friends (two girls) were also lead out the back door. At the back door we were told by bouncer that he had reports that I had groped 4 women and he had been looking for me for the last 15 minutes. My friend Erin then asked how he could prove that in-fact I was the individual they were looking for and his response was, “The individual reported was wearing the same shirt, same hairstyle, and …… the same ring (as he pointed at my lip ring).”

I then indicated to the bouncer that we required our jackets to which he agreed to meet us at the other side of the building. After walking around the building we each gave him our tickets and I asked him for his name. Upon hearing me question the security another officer manning the front mumbled something to his friend. I asked him what he said to his friend and he told me that “he should just not bother with our jackets and send us on our ways.” Upon the return of our jackets and getting ready to go the security spoke with the police officers that were waiting nearby. As I was leaving they approached me and asked for my information. Now I was being questioned by them and my information was being taken in case one of the women in question wanted to file a complaint later. I was totally embarrassed and surprised with this method of procedure given it was completely hearsay.

Frankly, now I’m left with wondering as to whether I possibly gave someone a look that made them feel uncomfortable. I’m not the type of guy to go around groping women as I have a lot more respect for them than that. It also makes me wonder if I was being targeted because I don’t fit your “typical” clientele. Regardless I have a few questions and pieces of feedback that I would appreciate your comments on. I think the important part here is that I’m not trying to prove my innocence, because it’s my word against yours but I am questioning the procedures that took place that night.

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