Monday, November 29, 2010

To End a Perfect Sunday, or My Turn to Organic

Yesterday my day ended with some - how shall I put this? - trauma.

Let me preface this by saying I had a wonderful Sunday. One of those Sundays that is so relaxing you wish you could have another on Monday. My Sunday included waking up to my boyfriend, R.J.'s, omellete with green peppers, mushrooms, onions, ham and mozzarella cheese; doing my nails in sparkly hot pink while catching bits of Micheal Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story' and flipping through People magazine; a run on my treadmill; and dinner at my parents'.

When I returned home to my apartment after a rez-style dinner (hamburger la sauce padakan), I read the first 15 pages of a new book (Love in the Time of Cholera) and chatted with my friend, Katie, whose wedding reception I'll be attending in the Dominican Republic next week (eeek!!!). As it neared 10 o'clock, I wondered, should I go to bed and continue to read or see if anything is on T.V.? Not surprisingly, the television won. (Sidenote: one of the resolves I made this weekend was to temper my horrible T.V. habit - and I mean horrible as I count myself among those addicted to reality garbage - with more reading, music and doing things with my hands.)

Just check the usual stations and go to bed if nothing's on, I told myself. I flipped through the first few channels and found that 'Food, Inc.', a documentary I knew to be abuzz, was on CBC's 'The Passionate Eye.'

Perfect, I thought, pleased that my T.V. time this Sunday evening promised to be educational.

Then came the trauma.

For anyone who hasn't heard of 'Food, Inc.', it's an Academy Award-nominated documentary about the fast food and supermarket industries and what they have done to farming in the U.S. It combines things like state conspiracy, a tragic story of a two-year-old who died from e-coli and stomach-turning slaughterhouse scenes.

Not necessarily the kind of way you want to end a perfect Sunday.

Nonetheless, I am so glad I watched it. It was truly an eye opener for me. Sure, I knew the statement "grass-fed beef is good for you" to be true, but I never really understood the meaning behind it. (In other words, I had no clue whether cows were supposed to be eating grass, corn or hay!) I had heard others reference how sickly and poorly kept KFC chickens are, but I'd never seen any video or read any article for myself.

Now I am concerned about the food I eat and, simply enough, I want to know what goes into it. I am concerned for my heath and R.J.'s, the health of the family we will someday have and the state of the western world's reliance on corporate meat. A viel has been lifted and I can't go on eating whatever food is quick, easy and time-saving (as I learned when I found myself picking pieces of chicken out of my microwavable BBQ chicken and rice "meal").

I am going to start (and this is a huge leap for me) by not eating beef unless it's grass-fed or chicken unless it's grain-fed. I am also going to buy more organic and check out Ottawa's Organic Farmer's Market, open year-round on Saturdays. And, possibly most importantly, I am going to have to stop being lazy and get cooking!

As Anishinabekwe, I am hoping that our ancestors' connection to the food we ate will have a stronger pull than the inevitable supermarket/fast food attempts to win back my loyalty.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"As Algonquin people, it's our time"

There is a traffic slow down today in my community, Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, to raise awareness about First Nations education, particularly our right to post-secondary student support.

Did anyone know that? My guess is no.

My community is doing such amazing things these days, including being behind the First Nations Education Week & Rally in September, but I didn't see or hear much about the slow down in national or local news outlets. The closest I came to seeing exposure for K.Z.'s slow down was in an article about the slow down on the highway 17 near Garden River First Nation (the other kitchi sibi, funnily enough)/Sault Ste. Marie. I was happy to see that there was an article in the Toronto Sun, but slightly depressed to read the last line: "The Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec is also planning a slowdown Tuesday on the same issues."

My Dad is attending this slow down. When I went to my parents' house (in the city) for Sunday dinner and he mentioned it, I asked, "Did they issue a media advisory for it? What's the point in doing something to raise awareness if you don't get the word out?" (Obviously, I made an assumption between the first and second questions.)

"I don't know," my Dad replied, each word its own sentence. "Last year they contracted a white guy to do that stuff."

I do my best to stay out of rez politics. Of course, like anyone else, I enjoy hearing the latest goss, particularly around election time. But I don't find the need to scrutinize every decision that comes out of the band office.

As I returned home to my apartment after dinner, I found myself drifting off into a fantasy about doing freelance communications work for my band. It wouldn't be that difficult to put together a contact list of local media persons who have interest in these things and throw together a media advisory for distribution. Hell, my friend Howard is doing archival research for his band for free.

I have to do more. Something is compelling me to. I may not be good at a lot of things, but with a B.A. in communications, certainly I can help in this little way? I want the world to know about my cousin Bee's thoughts and what it means for it to be our time as Algonquin people. I want them to know that in our community it is a big deal that we unveiled this awesome billboard shaming the government. I want them to know what it means when we say we have a right to education.

I WANT TO SHOUT IT OFF ROOFTOPS! And, unfortunately, my blog just isn't quite loud enough.