Monthly Archives: August 2009

Why Jordan’s Principle Deserves Your Support

Back in the summer of 2007, I had a brief job as a special assistant for a member of Parliament.  The majority of my job consisted of looking for stories and setting up interviews for the MP’s Internet broadcast.  It was,thankfully, a very short gig and I moved on to better things.

Most of the stories I researched and set up interviews for were either politically motivated or kind of banal; however,  one story that we covered during this summer  touched me.

While searching for a story, I discovered that Jean Crowder (a MP from B.C. ) was putting forward a motion for a private members bill and made a statement that I felt was important and deserved to get as much as press as it could.   This was unusual.  Often these statements are used as nothing more than a vehicle for self promotion: “Minister X would like to extend her congratulations to the local hockey team  Y for winning championship Z.” That kind of thing.

Jean Crowder was doing something different with hers and was lending her voice in Parliament to advocate on behalf of aboriginal children to support Jordan’s Principle.

It’s a sad story.  Jordan was a little aboriginal boy with very severe medical problems. Jordan’s family was forced to give the child up so that Jordan could access the best possible care that was not available on the reserve.   After two years, Jordan was approved by his medical care givers to go to a special foster home where he would receive the extensive care he needed and also benefit from a home atmosphere.  Jordan never got to go to this facility because the federal and provincial governments couldn’t decide who would pay for it.  While they were argueing over the bill, Jordan died in the hospital.

This would not happen to any other Canadian child because they would be covered under their provincial plans.  This only occurred because Jordan was an aboriginal child born on a reservation and thus fell under a  grey area between federal and provincial jurisdictions.

Tragically,  had they moved Jordan to the foster home facility for his final days, not only would his quality of life have been better but his care would have actually been cheaper for the taxpayer as well.

If Jordan’s principle is adopted. The Federal Government will pay up front any costs (to be retrieved later from the province if applicable) to allow native children to have access to services when they need them. 

This issue has resurfaced for me recently when I received this e-mail, which I have decided to post here in full:

Dear Jordan’s Principle Supporter – we need your help

 As you may know, the federal government is attempting to narrow Jordan’s Principle to apply only to children with complex medical needs with multiple service providers instead of to all government services.  We currently have a complaint before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal alleging that the Canadian government is discriminating against First Nations children by failing to implement Jordan’s Principle across all Government services and by providing a lesser level of child welfare funding on reserves.

I am writing to invite you all to spend two minutes supporting our “I am a witness” campaign.  This campaign calls on caring Canadians and people from around the world to sign up to say they will witness the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal which is reviewing a complaint that the federal government discriminates against First Nations children by providing them with less child welfare funding and benefit than other children receive.  Being a witness means  you agree to follow the case by  either attending at the tribunal in person or following it through the media, visiting our website -www.fncaringsociety.com.  After you have heard all the facts presented at the tribunal you will be in a good position to make up your own mind about whether or not you feel the federal government is treating First Nations children fairly.

Be amongst the first to sign up as a witness – it is free and open to all organizations and individuals and please encourage everyone in your circle to do so as well. A year after the apology for residential schools we want the Canadian government to know that caring Canadians are keeping watch over this generation of First Nations children.

Here is the website – please do spend 2 minutes to sign up!  Here is the website http://www.fnwitness.ca

I have signed up. If you feel so inclined to do so as well, I know it will be appreciated.

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When Added Value Is Just Added Time

This year, on behalf of (Cult)ure Magazine,  I attended Carnivale Lune Bleue  an event inspired by the traveling carnivals of the 1930s complete with vintage rides and actors in period costume (the full review can be read here.) Over all I enjoyed the carnival; however,  on the evening I attended a decision was made by the organizers to tack on an interview with an actress before the acrobatic Cirque Maroc.  I feel this was a mistake and instead of adding value it only added time.

The actress in question starred in an HBO TV  series about a 1930’s traveling carnival, which obviously served as inspiration for the organizers of this event.  While on paper this might look like added value (it was thrown in at no additional charge to the audience) it was actually detrimental to the experience.  

Previously, much effort had been put forward into setting the mood/atmosphere for the carnivals patrons taking them  back in time to the 1930’s.   It worked and the audience was immersed in the spirit of the carnival and primed to see an acrobatic circus act performed under the big top.

Rather than the high energy acrobatic show we were expecting, we were greeted instead with a TV screen and a Q&A session.

 The interview itself was clearly an adhoc affair, more reminiscent of a high school yearbook interview then anything else.   Most of the audience, including a large proportion of children, were bored out of their minds.

I also doubt very few knew who this actress was and those that did were probably not that impressed with the line of questioning.  Unfortunately, many of the questions were actually very inappropriate for the kids.  “What’s your favourite cuss word?”  being one example of  a question that was particularly poorly thought out, provoking a string of profanity from the actress.  

The greatest sin on the part of the organizers was this was not what the audience was promised.  We came for acrobats and a carnival atmoshphere  and we were given a modern TV interview.  It felt like a “bait and switch” maneuver and all the magic of being under the big top was destroyed.   The tent became a hot non-air-conditioned space and the audience was held captive wondering where the hell the acrobats were.

Forty minutes later they did appear, and they were excellent.  It is a testament to their performance that the interview portion (hopefully) will be forgotten.

This serves to underline another lesson.  If you have a “winner” don’t tack anything on to it.  The acrobatic show was more than enough to wow the audience.  

If you are wondering why this criticism didn’t make the review, it is because this tacked on interview only lasted for a couple of days (thankfully).  By the time the review was published it was no longer relevant, so I left it out.

Confessions of a Late Adopter (post by request… well by taunting really)

I am a notoriously late adopter of technology. Here is a Wayne quote, circa 1990, “The Internet will never amount to anything more than a glorified porn mag and shopping catalogue.”  Instead of using this new technology, I made do with a dial-up modem and a local BBS  for e-mail and Internet-like activities. I came around in the end, and now I spend more hours than I would care to mention on the Internet.

For years I’ve felt the same way about cell phones. “When I’m out why would I want to be reachable by phone?”  I used to say.  Well, due to a fantastic offer from the 7-11, and much prodding from Sterling and Colleen, I finally purchased one. Over night I became a texting, cell-phoning maniac.  Damn it Sterling you were right! Cell phones are actually pretty useful.

While I’m late for the party once again, I think there are certain advantages to being a late adopter.  All the kinks of the technology have already been worked out, there are plenty of resources to help you with trouble shooting, and it’s usually much cheaper to join 🙂

Any other late adopters out there?

Summer of Love

Last Saturday I attended Canteen Gallery’sVisi>Cue-Cue
our semi-literate summer love child
exhibit.  It features “small prints, paintings, photography, drawings, poetry and other works complicating the life and times of our minds in this our summer of love.”  The exhibit runs until August 31 and the gallery is conveniently located in downtown  Ottawa at 238 Dalhousie.  

 I don’t feel up to doing a proper review, as this event was a fairly large collaboration of artists in various mediums.  Let me just say that I generally enjoyed the experience and throughout the event I took advantage of the very reasonably priced wine.

My main reason for attending the opening, and the reason for this post, was because Jessica Ruano mentioned on her blog that she (along with others) would be giving a poetry performance as part of the launch.  I have been a fan of Jessica Ruano’s poetry for awhile now.  Her last performance as the “headliner” for the Voices of Venus series was particularly exceptional and I was eager for more.

While she seemed quite a bit more nervous this time, she once again delivered a solid performance.  In fact, she stood out as the highlight of the poetry portion.

Here is why:

Jessica rarely reads her poetry.  She performs it.  It is quite refreshing to have a poet look the audience directly in the eye as she recites her work.  This is in sharp contrast to the majority of the others that evening who stared primarily at the printed page in front of them.   The impact of something as simple as regular eye contact and “stage presence” is extraordinary.  It creates a feeling of inclusivity, followed by intimacy, and finally community.  Despite her obvious nervousness, Jessica firmly had won over the audience because of her presence and delivery.

Jessica did two other things that nurtured a feeling of community that are also
noteworthy.  During the event, a few people had gathered outside the gallery obviously curious to see what was going on.  By the time Jessica started they had made it as far as the doorway.  Jessica welcomed these folks and invited them in. They were a little too  shy to take her up on her offer but it was obvious that the genuine offer was appreciated.  In fact, they stayed all the way to the end.

Jessica also noticed that one of the poet’s bios wasn’t read so she took it upon herself to introduce this individual before she began her own set.  The host herself had missed this oversight and Jessica’s awareness of this error, and action to correct it,  demonstrated tremendous solidarity with her fellow performers. 

Artistic performances whether they are musical concerts, plays, or poetry are ultimately all about building, nurturing, and growing the community.  As you can tell from this post, Jessica does this remarkably well.

I’m really looking forward to her next performance and for those of you in Ottawa, I highly recommend you check Jessica’s poetry out. I’m also hoping she’ll have a recording available for purchase soon. Because her delivery is such a vital part of the overall experience,  I don’t feel that the traditional chapbook would do her justice.