Wednesday, June 20, 2018

1491s : Wounded White Warrior Savior Photographer

If you've been following my blog for a while you will know that I have been educating myself about Indigenous history and issues. I'm just nearing completing the University of Alberta Indigenous Canada course.

In the final module (#12), which talks about Indigenous art, they introduce a comedy troupe called 1491s. I visited the 1491s YouTube site and found this hilarious gem... Wounded White Warrior Savior Photographer. Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Squirrel frustration & funny

Who would have known that a squirrel-proof bird feeder and clever squirrels could be so entertaining? Apparently, a lot of people. This week I had a wicked laugh at a video of a squirrel trying to climb an oiled pole to get at a bird feeder.

Meanwhile, I continue to shoot ... er, photograph the squirrels on my patio. They've kind of become my cat substitute. Although, last week someone left a chunky white and black cat in the apartment hallway. Very friendly, she let me pet and play with her.  It was sweet.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

#Next150 Challenge - Part 2 - Frybread

A couple months ago I joined the #Next150 Challenge. This week (9) the challenge takes me way out of my comfort zone.  See my #Next150 Challenge Part 1 blog posting for weeks 1 to 8.

Week 9: Bannock/Fry Bread

The challenge is to make bannock or fry bread and either post a video of you going through the baking process or a photo of the end result.

There are great instruction videos and lots of links to recipes on the #Next150 website. So I downloaded recipes. The Bannock Awareness pdf is especially good with health and Indigenous history information and a ton of recipe possibilities.

I read the recipes. I re-read the recipes. I re-read the recipes again. You see where I'm going with this?

The problem?  I'm not a good cook. Also, I hate frying. It makes my apartment smell greasy for days. I know, you can also bake bannock but I also hate wasting food (see "I'm not a good cook").  I can do easy stuff like scrambled eggs,  muffins (but only on a rainy day), and turkey meatloaf ('cause you just throw it all together). My main cooking tools are the microwave, toaster oven, crockpot, and rice cooker.

Still, I accepted the challenge.

I thought maybe I could do Victor's mom's frybread recipe, from the movie Smoke Signals. Maybe it would be magic for me.

Recipe from Victor’s Mom
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup steaming tap water
Vegetable oil for frying
Step 1: Mix ingredients together with a fork in a medium bowl. (will be sticky).
Step 2: Liberally grease your hands with vegetable oil and shape dough into a ball. Leave dough in bowl and cover with a towel and set in warm place for at least 20 minutes, but leaving longer makes the bread fluffier.
Step 3: Heat vegetable oil on medium heat at least 1 inch deep or deeper in a frying pan or electric skillet. Test a small ball of dough in grease, it should float in grease, not sit on the bottom, if it doesn’t immediately float, oil is not hot enough.
Step 4: When oil is ready, grab a ball of dough a little bigger than a golf ball and stretch out in your greased hands until dough is flattened out about the size of a large cookie. Poke a few small holes in the center of the dough with your fingers.
Step 5: Fry to a golden brown before turning over and frying other side. Drain on paper towels.
Step 6: Serve immediately with anything you like.

Okay. I did it. I think.

I made some modifications.

First I cut the ingredients by half.  If I messed up I would only mess up a little.

Then I followed the instructions up to the mixing of the stuff with a fork in a medium bowl.  Looking at the white batter I had a childhood flashback of making gluey paste out of flour and water. So I threw an egg in - it looked much better - then set aside the rolled ball for about 1/2 hour.

When I put corn oil in my little cast iron skillet, just enough to make a thick layer, not the 1 inch the recipe called for.

Like pancakes, it took a few tries before I got the right brown.

Then voila... frybread biscuits!

My biscuits were pretty bland tasting by themselves but pretty good with currant jam.  

Having never had real frybread I don't know if this is how they're supposed to turn out. I'll have to check out a pow wow this summer and find out.

I couldn't believe how easy it was to do, though. I'm thinking of trying again and maybe adding onion bits or maybe basil. Or blueberries! There are creative possibilities here!

It's said that bannock and frybread are considered comfort food.  I'm thinking I might add it to my comfort food list, too.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Casey Eagle Speaker talks

Last week I went to a talk that Casey Eagle Speaker (Sorrel Horse) gave on Native spirituality at the Wild Rose United Church. A two-part series, the talk on Wednesday was about beliefs. The next one in two weeks will be about ritual.

Casey Eagle Speaker has given these talks before and I found videos posted on YouTube. They are worth watching. Session 1 is pretty much the same as the talk he gave at Wild Rose. I haven't watched Session 2, yet.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

#Next150 Challenge - Part 1

This post is a little different from my usual photo blog. A couple months ago I joined the #Next150 Challenge. What's that? In short, it is an Indigenous response to Canada's 150th birthday celebrations. But it's much, much more.

"The #Next150 challenge is all about setting a different tone in 2018 than what we've seen in the first 150 years of our country. Throughout 2018, we will be releasing new challenges for you to take part in that we hope will push your thinking and your understanding of Indigenous issues forward."

Always curious and willing to learn I was eager to check this out! I thought I knew stuff, but now I know more. I can't know everything, but I continue to learn about Indigenous histories, issues, cultures, and peoples. I also know more about colonialism and the crap Canadian governments have and continue to put Indigenous people through.

The #Next150 challenges range from putting Indigenous art on your profile photo to reading an author never read before to creating an Indigenous Mixtape.

I tried to keep close to what was challenged, however, my mind tends to wander (frequently) so some of what I found may not match the challenge exactly.  Some things I have posted on Twitter and Facebook, but it occurred to me maybe I should blog this. There are more challenges yet to be posted, but I thought I'd record what I've done so far. So here goes, from current (to be updated) to the oldest challenge.

Oh, I might also throw in a few of my own photos.

Week 8: Storytelling Mixtape

"Create a playlist of Indigenous storytelling that teaches, motivates, or otherwise inspires you. Curate a playlist of 10 songs, poems, videos, short films or other forms of Indigenous storytelling and post as #IndigenousMixtape."

This challenge was the most fun to create. My mixtape includes:

  • The traditional Strong Woman Song, first heard at a local protest. 
  • Buffy Sainte-Marie's song "You've Got to Run" which includes punk throat singer Tanya Tagaq. 
  • Tanya's Tagaq's stunning video for her song "Uja". 
  • A Tribe Called Red "We Are the Halluci Nation".
  • Info vids from Wab Kinew (500 Years in 2 Minutes), TedX (Judge John Reilly's "My Aboriginal Education"), and This Hour Has 22 Minutes ("150 Years? That's Cute"). 
  • An Idle No More round dance that took place in the TD Square mall in downtown Calgary December 22, 2012. 
  • A series of photos of vintage First Nations photos (many Blackfoot people). 
  • N'we Jinan's upbeat song "Bimaachiihiiwassuu" which in Cree means "to provide or to be a provider."

#Next150 suggested the mixtape should take from 40 to 90 minutes to make.  Being easily distracted, it took me most of a day to do. Worth it!

More will be added on a second Indigenous playlist I'm continuing on YouTube!

One of my co-workers is also doing this challenge. Here is her excellent #IndigenousMixtape.

Week 7: Indigenous Art in Public

The Indigenous art in public challenge was to put Indigenous artwork around a profile photo. I dislike photos of myself, so my profile photos are usually photos of objects. Lately, my Facebook profile photo has been a small, stuffed bear. The frame was created through the #Next150 Challenge website.

Week 6: Diversify Your News

This challenge was to find media sources for Indigenous news that I hadn't read before. These were my finds:
This challenge was little tougher as I have been loosely following First Nation news since I learned about the Lubicon Cree in 1978. Here are other news sources that I follow:

Week 5: Indigenous Reads

This week had us find an author we hadn't read before. Again, another tough one since I've already read several Canadian First Nations authors including Richard Wagamese, Thomas King, and Wab Kinew. My choice was based mostly on a keyword title search of "colonialism" and I found "Islands of Decolonial Love: Stories and Songs" by Leanne Betasamosake. Less about love and lots about colonial attitudes and repercussions, it was a riveting read. A small book, it was a quick read of poems and short stories. A bonus was a web link to the author reading her poetry and songs:

Week 4: Understanding UNDRIP

UNDRIP is the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. I had no idea. I shook my head in disbelief that this was necessary to create. I kept thinking these rights are basic human rights. We shouldn't have to make declarations. What made me really angry was the fact that the governments of Canada would not sign UNDRIP, thinking they had done enough with the Canadian constitution. Unbelievable.

Eventually, in 2016, Canada did agree to UNDRIP. According to the CBC News coverage of the signing, Chief Wilton Littlechild was optimistic saying, "today's announcement marks a beginning to what could be a long process of "harmonizing" Canada's laws with the standards set in the declaration and improving the country's relationship with Indigenous Peoples."  However, Indigenous history shows that Canadian governments have been and continue to be less than honest with First Nations people when it comes to creating and honoring treaties. I say Indigenous history because I wasn't taught any of this when I was a kid. To be honest, I probably zoned out during the recitations of white male accomplishments. I hear there is a movement afoot to make Canadian history lessons more diverse. Here's a copy of Treaty 7 kept at the Glenbow Museum Archives.

Week 3: Amplify Youth Voices

We got to choose and share a video from several created by youths from around Canada. They were posted to the We Matter campaign website. First I searched the We Matter website by Region, then by Challenges, and then by People (singer, comedian, actor).  I lost count of how many videos I watched. The videos about suicide and depression were especially challenging to watch.  Finally, I chose motivational speaker Savvy Simon from New Brunswick. I loved her positive twist on the famous "today is a good day to die" saying. "Today is a good day to have a good day."

Week 2: Moosehide Campaign

We were invited to order small patches of moosehide pins to wear to start conversations about missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls (MMIWG). It took a while to get my patches, so I forgot about this challenge. I have to admit to only partially completing this one as I don't remember where I put my patches. Still, I don't need a patch to get the word out.

Week 1: On Whose Land

This first challenge was to find out on whose traditional land I live on and acknowledge their territory.

#Next150 had links to the Canadian Association of University Teacher's "Guide to Acknowledging First People's Traditional Territory" and a "Native-Land" web site to learn where those traditional territories are.

According to the Native-Land website I live on the traditional lands of the Treaty 7 peoples including the Tsuu T'ina, the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot), the Sarcee, the Ktunaxa, and Metis.

The Making Treaty 7 Cultural Society  has a website with a ton of information designed to be shared with schools. That's where I found this map:

According to the Guide to Acknowledging First Peoples & Traditional Territories created by the Canadian Association of University Teachers these are commencement introductions used by schools in Calgary:

"I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikuni, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, including Chiniki, Bearpaw, and Wesley First Nations. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III." - ACAD

"We [I] would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikuni, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, including Chiniki, Bearpaw, and Wesley First Nations. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III." - SAIT

The University of Calgary has three acknowledgments and a video "Why are territorial acknowledgements important":

Basic Acknowledgement 
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional territories of the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III. 

Specific Tribal Territorial Acknowledgement 
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional territories of the Niitsitapi (Blackfoot) and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikuni, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, including Chiniki, Bearpaw, and Wesley First Nations. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.

Extended Acknowledgement 
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the traditional territories of the Blackfoot and the people of the Treaty 7 region in Southern Alberta, which includes the Siksika, the Piikuni, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina, and the Stoney Nakoda First Nations, including Chiniki, Bearpaw, and Wesley First Nations. I would also like to note that the University of Calgary is situated on land adjacent to where the Bow River meets the Elbow River, and that the traditional Blackfoot name of this place is “Mohkinstsis” which we now call the City of Calgary. The City of Calgary is also home to Métis Nation of Alberta, Region III.

I just found on YouTube this short "Acknowledgement of the Land"
used in a Calgary Junior High School.

My place of work is currently working on an acknowledgment of their own.

The first place I heard an acknowledgment was at a multi-cultural event I was photographing and it was Calgary Mayor Nenshi who gave it.  I remember my heat feeling warm. Feeling like this was the right thing to do. Almost wanted to fist punch the air. Now I hear it everywhere an event takes place. And it still brings a smile to my face.

This is the acknowledgment I have created for myself:

With respect, I wish to acknowledge I live on Southern Alberta Treaty 7 lands which include the territories of the Niisitsapi Blackfoot Confederacy (the Kainai, Piikani, and Siksika), the Stoney-Nakoda (Bearspaw, Chiniki, and Wesley), and the Tsuu T’ina Nations. I also acknowledge the Metis Nation Region 3 community that also resides in Calgary.

Friday, March 2, 2018

New Central Library - Part 1

Nominated one of "The 12 Most Anticipated Buildings of 2018" by Architectural Digest, the New Central Library (NCL) is getting close to completion. Opening day is November 1, 2018. On February 28th, the Library opened up for local media.  CBC News posted a sneak-peek video of the New Central Library, as did the Calgary Sun. The Sun's story gives more detail about what will be new at the new Library (2 coffee shops, kids learning area...)

Last year I went on a walking tour of the New Central Library when the walls were just put up and the floors weren't quite in yet. A quick search of my Flickr page and I realized that I hadn't posted any of those photos (fixed that). A bunch was given to GBM, one of the Super managers at the Central Library. (A couple found their way in her staff meeting presentations.)

Bigger, better, and beautiful, the new downtown Central branch will be very exciting to work in. (I've taken up a new exercise program and bought good walking shoes in anticipation of all the ramps.)

As we near the opening date, I hope to take and post more information and photos. Here are some of the photos taken from the walkabout in April 2017. (Click on photos to enlarge.)


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January - a month of squirrels

At the beginning of January I set out a bird feeder full of peanuts, originally for wild birds, but the squirrels have claimed it as their own.  They can quickly remove the lid from the feeder and swing upside down and sideways plucking out the nuts. After I froze one afternoon trying to find the lid in the snow, I decided to tie it to the feeder with plastic computer cable wraps.

I've tried to distract the varmints from the bird feeder by setting aside their own little metal dish full of peanuts. The dish is set in a plant pot full of dirt to keep it in place by my window. (Great photo ops.)  However, the squirrels like both feeders and now I have two or more squirrels at once stealing peanuts.

Now the squirrels are getting even bolder.  I can hear when they're in the bird feeder because it rattles from their weight, but yesterday afternoon I heard a metal rapping on concrete noise.

When I peered out the window I saw that a little black squirrel had removed the metal dish from the plant pot. It was grabbing the edge of the dish with its teeth and deliberately lifting and dropping  the empty dish on the concrete pad as if to say, "The dish is empty, fill it!"

It's tricky getting the little guys in focus, what with the moving and the low light.  Without sufficient contrast of light, auto-focus doesn't work quickly enough. So, I manually focused, mostly on their eyes, but often it was an ear or chest fur or the birdfeeder that was caught in focus. I also tried continuous shutter release, but just got more out of focus photos. Here are a few shots that worked (sort-of). [Click on the image to see bigger photos.]

February update:

The squirrels figured out that they could chew the plastic ties I was using to keep the feeder lid on.  So, I tried again.  I attached two tiny padlocks and a dog collar chain bought for $3 at the dollar store. It slows the little critters down. Now a feeder that they could empty in one afternoon takes a little longer.  The squirrels are not happy. lol