Blackbird

As a species we’ve done our best to wipe each other out, wrecked whole continents of people because they weren’t like us. Didn’t look the same, didn’t think the same, didn’t speak our language.

And yet, despite our millennia of ignorance and arrogance and greed, we haven’t managed to destroy everything…not quite everything. Not yet.

Thanks to people like Katani Julian, a Mi’kmaq language teacher from Nova Scotia, indigenous languages live on.

In celebration of the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, Julian took on the task of translating Paul McCartney’s Blackbird into Mi’kmaq feeling that lyrics like Take these broken wings, and learn to fly resonate with the indigenous experience in Canada. “It’s the type of gentle advice we get from our elders when we feel defeated, when we feel down.”

In the hope that we can learn to not break any more wings, here is Emma Stevens of Eskasoni, Nova Scotia singing Blackbird…

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One Kwe

Not up on your Ojibwe? Neither am I 🙂

One Kwe, or One Woman, is the name of Kathryn Corbiere’s metal shop in M’Chigeeng, Manitoulin Island.

One Woman…

It resonates, doesn’t it? One woman against the world, brave, and strong, and … well, you get the idea.

It’s a great name, both aesthetically pleasing and accurate, in that Kathryn is a one woman show. She runs her own business, creating and selling modern furniture and art.

One of Kathryn’s art pieces, created in consultation with Pride Manitoulin’s youth group, now hangs in the Objibwe Cultural Foundation. A modern take on the traditional dream catcher, and incorporating LGBT symbolism in its triangular shape and the pride colours worked into the hanging metal feathers, the piece includes three Objibwe words worked into its base—

Respect Love Courage

Like many of us, Kathryn ended up on this particular path because the one she originally started out on turned into a dead end. Unable to find work as a welder, she took her training, and her artistic talent, and tried something else.

Kathryn’s secret to success, “You have to be willing to try.”

Oh, you mean, get off the couch and turn off Netflix?

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Hearts and Flowers?

Personally, I’m not into the whole Valentine’s Day hoopla. That heart-shaped box was a big deal back in high school, the year I was actually dating someone when February 14th rolled around, but I’m over it now 🙂

I don’t know what the day means to any of you, but I’m betting no one does Valentine’s Day like Paul Lewis. No hackneyed card, or mediocre chocolates for our boy, Paul.

The Victoria, B.C. man, finding a creative use for all the white stuff lying around his backyard, built his girlfriend an igloo.

igloo

The home-made snow house, featuring solar-powered lights, a fire pit, and a bed kept  Paul and Julie warm as they toasted each other over a glass of wine.

And, in case you’re wondering…

Yes, they spent the night outside, inside their bubble of snow 🙂

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First Snow

Remember when piles of white stuff on the ground made you smile, back before snow became a four-letter word?  Before the frozen crystals meant winter tires, and icy streets, and double the commute home.

Remember snow angels, and winter forts, and snowball fights?

Most of us growing up in the Great White North don’t remember our first snowfall because snow just is. A part of life, it arrives every year whether you want it to or not.

Newcomers to Canada though, aren’t so blasé about the white stuff.
first snow

These two children, newly arrived from a refugee camp in Sudan, couldn’t be happier with the fat flakes falling out of the sky.

Watching them, I can almost … almost be happy about winter 🙂

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Hockey, Eh?

You’re thinking the NHL,  or the local arena where you drink coffee early on a Saturday morning while your kids race after the puck.

Uh, yeah, but I’m thinking Kenya.

As in the Kenya Ice Lions. You know the guys from Africa? The ones who taught themselves to skate on the only ice in the whole country. The guys who don’t have a goalie or anyone to play against.

Well, we can’t have that. Can we, Canada?

No, we can’t.

So Tim Hortons did something about it. They flew the twelve member Kenya Ice Lions to Toronto to play a friendly game against the Mississauga Firefighters.

Kenya 1

Two Canadian NHL players, Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, showed up to help out.

And they weren’t the only ones who wanted to help the Ice Lions get a game in. Gary Mercer, the owner of a Toronto trucking company, pulled friends and family together, found a goalie (his son) for the Ice Lions, a rink in Etobicoke, and a referee.

As Gary says, “We take it for granted here, that you can grab a stick, find some ice, and play a game, but that’s not the always the case in other countries.”

True, and enough to make any Canadian weep.

Benard Azegere, Captain of the Ice Lions, is dreaming big. With the help of a Tim Hortons donation to fund a youth hockey league and new equipment from CCM, he’s thinking Olympics. “It may not happen this year, next year, but trust me, one day, … Kenya will play in the Olympics.”

hockey 2

And you thought we just exported wheat 🙂

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Canadian Rhythm

From the National Film Board of Canada, celebrating 79 years this month, one of it’s most requested classics — The Log Driver’s Waltz

Passing on the smiles 🙂

These days, most of us need all our coordination just to cross the street and the logging industry long ago replaced the dancing loggers with machines, but national consciousness originates in the past.

As my neighbours in Quebec say, “Je me souviens.” (I remember.)

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