Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Guy Covered His License Plate With Cardboard

My husband went into the back alley just now. He was taking the garbage out. You know, to the dumpster. The one that is meant for us, and just a few of our closest neighbours.
As he was approaching the dumpster, there was a guy in some 'piece of shit' half ton dumping wood in our dumpster. Then he went to the next dumpster, and the next.
My husband was good enough to let the fellow know that it was illegal to dump the wood in our dumpsters. Well, the guy didn't care. He did say "at least I am spreading it out", as he filled several dumpsters with his unwanted wood. When my husband approached the truck to get the license number, he found it was covered with cardboard. That's a sign that the fellow knew damned well that it was illegal for him to be dumping in our lane.
Same old story, day after day. People come and dump their unwanted materials in our lanes.
And will these people change their habits and drive to the dump when we get the smaller carts, or will they continue to cover their license plates with cardboard and dump in our lanes. Only time will tell. But either way, the City turns a blind eye to it.
It's just the North End.
Does this guy not realize that he is adding to the many problems facing this area, and the rest of Winnipeg.
Hey guy with cardboard on your license plate, the ripple effect of treating our area like a dumping ground is that people grow up not caring about their surroundings. They become Youth who spray graffiti, rob stores, stab and shoot people. The next time you read the newspaper, and come across an article about one of these Youth crimes, know that you helped the process along.
It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes one idiot with a truck full of garbage to ruin it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The 8th Fire And Me

I tuned in to the 8th Fire last night on CBC TV.
So, what did I think of the first installment of a series? I liked it. There wasn't much I really did not already know. Not that I am a know it all. But I have Aboriginal friends, have for years. I have a degree in Native Studies. I have an Aboriginal name, and have attended many a ceremony. And I live in the North End. So, it was more of a refresher for me. It was also a documentary from the eyes of the Aboriginal Peoples.
As one of the White Folk watching the show, I found a few things disturbing, or off. First, it was mentioned that very few people ever come across Aboriginal people in a positive way. Most interactions are negative. Come on. Have you never gone to the forks to watch the Grass Dancers? Have you not had a good conversation with Kevin Chief? Take a closer look at some of your friends, they may be Aboriginal. Did you not have a teacher or professor who was Aboriginal? Maybe you were introduced to a friend of a friend when out on the town, and they were Aboriginal. I have had positive experiences with Aboriginal people since I was a small child. Aboriginal people are so intertwined in our communities and our lives, I am sure you know someone, and just don't know it.
Another issue I have with the show was when the Police pulled up to talk to three guys, dressed like 'gangstas'. It seemed to be a friendly enough conversation, but Brooklyn took offence because the Police are always stopping them and 'harrassing' them. But, wasn't one of the guys picked up on an outstanding warrant? Maybe the Police were just doing their jobs. Maybe the issue there is not with the Police harrassing people dressed like gangsters, maybe the issue is more with people not assisting the Police in the reporting of crimes. Instead of looking at the Police as the 'bad guys', maybe help them remove dangerous criminals from the street.
The last item I would like to bring up is education. The show mentioned a program in Quebec, where Non-Aboriginal people learned about Aboriginal culture. It was at some sort of community center. I thought back to Thunderbird House. You know the place. That wonderful building at Main and Higgins. It was built when I was still in University studying Anthropology and Native Studies. I was so excited about that building. I hoped it would become a place where the Non-Aboriginal could go to learn about Aboriginal people and culture. I thought it could be a very positive move toward bridging the gap. But alas, that did not happen. Instead the area is strewn with negative images instead of positive.
We need to bridge the gap between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people. We need to do that, especially in Winnipeg, where we have the largest urban population of Aboriginal people. Start by looking around you. Start by finding the positive. I am sure there are far more positive Aboriginal connections than this program mentioned. And on the Aboriginal side, look for the positive in us as well. We are not all that bad either.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Winnipeg From The Outside

Did you watch Saturday Night Live this weekend? I did.
Did you catch Seth Meyer's Weekend Update segment? I did.
Did you hear the one about the woman who requested to finish her beer before being attended to, after being shot in the eye? I did.
Thank goodness they didn't say it happened in Winnipeg.
Normally I like the small references to Winnipeg when watching shows on TV. Every now and then a show will say something about our town, and we gush with pride, knowing we can survive weather and circumstances that others may not want to, or be able to. We are a tough bunch, and are proud of it.
But I was not proud of this last mention of our town. No, not one little bit. Someone died at that party. They were shot to death. And the person with the eye injury was harmed by that same individual.
The person mentioned in this event must have a pretty serious alcohol problem to refuse medical attention until her beer was finished. And that is no laughing matter.
When thinking about Winnipeg from the outside, another story comes to mind. The Winnipeg Sun ran an article in August regarding a fight that broke out between several people attending a party on Garfield Street. The article was written by Mark Bonokoski. I guess this incident happened on his first day in town. He was shocked by what unfolded, saying he had never wittnessed anything like it in his "many years on the police beat" in Toronto. Again, this is nothing that we should be proud of. And again, it is a sign of major alcohol problems.
A third article I would like to mention is a blog post written by one of the Winnipeg Free Press interns I had the pleasure of meeting this last summer, William Burr. He wrote the post back in September, but I did not read it until today, when a fellow independent journalist sent me the link. Thanks Marty. It is a good read, and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the view of Winnipeg from the Outside.
Here are a few paragraphs of his post that I would like to highlight:
People are proud of living here. And most impressive, there’s this dynamism, heart, and sense of belonging despite a brutal crime record, part of deep desperation and poverty.
I’m grimly fascinated by the stories. People stabbed for a beer. Groups of kids in their early teens bludgeoning a lone man or woman to death. A drunken woman smashing a baby’s head on the pavement. Eighty-year-old widows robbed while paying their respects at a cemetery.
And the strangest of all, a brawl that Ian dubbed social Darwinism gone wrong, where people got into two vehicles and started smashing into one another. The 17-year-old girl at the wheel of one of the vehicles is charged with first degree murder in the death of a man who was run over. She also apparently inadvertently ran over her boyfriend’s mother.
Most people in the city just get on with their lives, despite the horrors. What else can you do?
Have we become too jaded to see the violence and alcohol problems in our city for what they are? Are we so used to the endless stories of stabbings, assaults, machette attacks, shootings, and other violent crimes that we cannot see what a violent city Winnipeg is becoming?
I checked my twitter feed today, only to see that there was a machette attack on Selkirk Ave, a stabbing on Spence, and three people arrested for their part in three assaults that took place on Sunday.
This is not how I want people to see my home town. And this is not the City I want to live in. There is too much violence, and far too many incidents tied to alcohol.
Get some help Winnipeg. You need an intervention. And you need it now.