We Are More Than We Have Shown…

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Creation is an act of choice.

Choice is an act of will.

Will is an act of reason.

Reason is an act of thought.

Thought is an act of awareness.

Awareness is an act of spirit.

Spirit is an act of Creation.

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I think about creativity ALL THE TIME.

I think about how it is almost non-existent in many power structures, especially government. When the government wants you to do something, more often than not you will find them appealing to your fear, your hate, your selfishness.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they appealed to your courage, your love and your selflessness, your sense of community?

But that requires the ability to trust, and trust is an extension of being practiced in creativity. And when you’re operating from a creative place you don’t always know how something is going to turn out, but you have faith, you have experience, and you have the ability to help guide and flow with the unexpected.

And when you do that, incredible, previously unimagined solutions emerge.

Everyone has the potential for great creativity but sadly we are taught the prevailing mindset that it’s unimportant to ‘reality’.

And so we ignore our intuitions, our Sparks of imagination, and our ennobling inspirations.

Well, you can change that.

And in changing that you change your thought in that moment. Those moments become your day, your days become your life.

Believe you are creative. Pursue it. Find out what it means. You will discover that creativity isn’t just reserved for artists or children, but it’s our birthright and is the most practical discipline you could ever master. Your creativity is the essence of a passionate, purposeful life.

If you change your life, we are all one step closer to changing the world.

It starts with that little firing of a neuron, and another and another.

We are more than we have shown, and even more than we have allowed ourselves to dream.

We are not going to go down in history as the destroyers of the world, but as the generation that stood up and began the incredible transformation.

The start of a better tomorrow for all our generations.

Believe that.

And start creating it.

We rise together.

Hiy hiy

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Words & Art: Aaron Paquette

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Never Forget – Our Descendants Deserve to Know

“Get over it”

I hear or read that phrase almost continually, easily once a day.

The people who say it are usually not compassionate to your situation or those of others.

What they are really saying is, “Kill your feelings so I don’t have to feel.”

It’s impossible to get over anything. Attempting it means locking your experience – your emotions – in a casket and dumping it down into the dark recesses of your soul, there to rot and fester and leak out in unpleasant ways.

The only solution is to go through it.

Imagine if those who said, “get over it” instead said, “get through it.”

What a difference!

The phrase alone immediately sparks a moment of compassion. We all recognize the journey, the shadowed path, the eventual breakthrough into light.

The trail ahead is dark. Get through it.

There is no bypassing, there is no getting over. The only way is one step, then another.

And never alone.

It happened in the past. Get through it. I believe we can together.

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In Canada, survivors of the Residential School system, and their directly affected children and grandchildren are often told to just, “Get over it.” The Indigenous people of North America are survivors of a monumental and horrifying colonial expansion and attempted genocide that is ongoing today.

But when we talk about the Nazi Holocaust, we don’t tell people to get over it. We have monuments and museums. It’s required learning in school.

After 9/11 the call was, “Never Forget.”

So I say to those who have suffered, that are suffering, don’t get over it.

Get through it, as we’ve talked about.

But never forget.

Never forget so that this nightmare might be averted for others in the future. Add it to the cultural memory and the wisdom teachings of our various peoples.

Never forget.

Heal, but always remember.

Just as we know not to eat poison berries, let’s always remember the rotten fruit of human growth based on greed, murder and lies. On sickness and dogma and dehumanization.

Hold your government, your institutions, you society and yourself to higher expectations and standards.

Our great grandchildren and theirs deserve to know their history and to learn to walk along brighter paths. Their challenges will be greater than ours. Let’s send them as much strength and readiness as we can.

hiy hiy

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This painting is about the Residential School experience.

It is filled with symbols that most Indigenous people in Canada will immediately recognize and understand.

If you don’t know the history, briefly:

It was the policy of the Canadian government to “kill the Indian in the child” by taking them at a young age from their families and sending them to these distant schools. On paper, the goal was to destroy their attachment to their own culture and indoctrinate them into Western religion and ideals.

The children had their braids cut, their clothing replaced and were forbidden to speak their own language. One punishment was needles in the tongue.

The government practiced medical experiments on many of the children, leading to crippling and death.

Disease was rampant as was malnutrition.

Sexual abuse was common, as were pregnancies from priests. The children dug the graves for their own friends and cousins.

Some tried to escape and many died in the attempt.

The police would not allow the parents to save their children.

This went on for over a century. The last Residential School closed in 1996.

The US had a similar program with their Boarding Schools.

After much legal battling and outcry from communities, the government agreed to a Truth and Reconciliation process where survivors could tell their stories and the truth of all of this could finally come out. The mandate has been extended to 2015 as Churches and Government still refuse to release all their documents. Perhaps they are busy destroying the worst of them, who knows?

At any rate, generations of this has left its mark on the Indigenous people in Canada and the US, leading to all sorts of inherited social ills. When you see an Indigenous person lost in addiction or pain, you can be certain it is a direct result of this attempt at cultural genocide.

I tried to capture all that in this painting.

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If you liked this, please consider sharing it and picking up a copy of Aaron’s new Bestselling YA novel, “Lightfinder”

Aaron Paquette is a First Nations Metis artist, author and speaker. Based in Edmonton, Aberta, his first YA Novel Lightfinder comes out June 2014 through Kegedonce Press.

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RESSCHOOL_PAQ

We Are All Treaty

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“As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…”

The poetry of this phrase – this idea – of Treaty always struck me as uncommonly beautiful.

As does the truth of this statement:

We Are All Treaty.

For those who don’t know, Treaties were made between Canadian First Nations groups and The Crown, which is to say, the authority from which each successive Canadian Government derives their authority to rule.

They were intended as a peaceful resolution to a problematic conundrum: how to form a country in a land peopled by Aboriginal groups who could not easily be defeated on the field of battle?

For the Indigenous population, it was an opportunity to return to a more stable way of life, unmolested by the European invaders who they once protected as friends but now fought with for the right to live.

As we saw with the Residential School horror, that peace was not to last.

Here are some very broad strokes:

For the past century and more, Indigenous groups have witnessed the encroaching of their lands, the theft of their resources, and the reneging by the government of monies agreed on in return for peaceful use of the land.

There used to be a fund set aside. Corporations could extract resources from Treaty lands. They would keep 60% of the value and the landlords, the First Nations, would get 40%.

(almost done the history, bear with me!)

Canada’s first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, wanted to build a railroad…but how to pay for it?

You guessed it. That fund was dissolved. And lo! the railway was born!

And the taxpayer was given the responsibility of taking care of the corporation’s debt to the Treaties. And even then, it was a pittance compared to what was actually due.

If we add up the money that is owed, some calculate there is a Trillion Dollar Debt to the children of Canada’s treaties, many of whom have no clean drinking water, no warm shelter for the cold winter months, and no access to decent education and healthcare (all part of the original Treaty Agreements, by the way).

And in the meantime, the government has been trying to rid itself of the “Native Problem” through attempted Genocide, assimilation, and reduction of funds to “starve them out”.

No one in the general public really complains because at the same time, there has been a public continuation of some popular memes.

Some of the common Propaganda myths:

  • The “natives” are lazy.
  • The leaders are corrupt and lack accountability
  • The problem with the natives is the natives themselves.
  • Everyone suffers, why should they be special?
  • It’s in the past, forget about it.

As long as people believe these obvious untruths and misrepresentations, the government has free reign to continue their work of dehumanizing their enemy and starving out and chipping away at the people to gain access of treaty lands for corporate use.

Why is this important?

Because those lands, almost negligible as they may be as far as land mass goes, have been instrumental in keeping Canada a natural paradise. This is why we are all Treaty. We all share that responsibility.

This isn’t just a Native thing, this is an Everyone thing. We are all in this together.

The beauty of our unspoiled places, that they have been kept pristine and clean for this long is a miracle.

And we want to keep it that way.

All our children deserve it.

The Treaties make this possible, and its what the government wants to be rid of so that those lands can be developed.

And the waters are now unprotected.

It’s easy to do the math.

All you have to do is see who profits.

I’m not anti-corporation at all. But I am all for a responsible stewardship of the land we all share. The water we all drink, and the air we all breathe.

As long as the grass shall grow and the rivers flow…

First Nations in Canada have been good allies for the rest of Canada.

In every instance they have come to the table in peace. In every instance they have operated in good faith.

There is a misconception that they are always asking for more. They are only asking for the Government of Canada to live up it’s share of these Peace Treaties.

There is a misconception that all the Chiefs are corrupt and the meagre sums provided have been mishandled. The office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has to approve every cent of expenditures. Myth destroyed.

Canada’s Indigenous people have been very patient. They have been purposely kept in a state of poverty and emotional wreckage in order to control them.

But the new generation is rising. They have been freed from the cycle of abuse and they are educated. They are supported by the wisdom of their Elders. And they are tired of this long, long, fruitless fight. They want peace and fairness.

And so should you.

You should be proud that you live in this time when the broken pieces of the past are being gathered, put back together.

You live in a time when an abused people are reclaiming their dignity and strength. And they don’t carry blame, they don’t carry guilt, they carry an olive branch.

And the settler’s legal books, which they have read and mastered.

Canada is sadly a deeply racist society and that is now being uncovered and revealed.

Be happy and overjoyed! The light will cast out the darkness.

You are witnessing a Civil Rights Movement that is lighting up the world with inspiration.

And you are invited to join it. You are invited to be part of what will be the remaking of Canada’s present and providing a better future not only for one of the largest landmasses in the world, but for the world itself. This is only the beginning and it’s time is due.

The time is now.

And you are here.

It can’t happen without you.

You’re here for a purpose. To be a part of something wonderful.

You can feel it.

And you can feel the fear of the establishment. They don’t want change. But change is coming. Peacefully.

It’s time to put this broken world back together again.

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People say, “Put the past behind you.”

I say, put it in front of you. A vast wide vista of your life, the lives of your parents, and that whole amazing assortment of those who came before. Learn from them. Learn perseverance, learn love, learn compassion. Learn perspective.

And learn their stories.

Behind you is the future. And you walk blindly into it because no one can see it, we can only catch glimpses.

Allow those who came before you to be your guide. And they will guide you. Their time is done and they can see where you are going, they’ve been down similar paths.

Gain wisdom from your ancestors and prepare yourself to pass wisdom on to those who come after.

The past is gone, and it’s a feast for the curious, a balm for the lonely, and a hope for those who despair. All who came before you are cheering you on.

“You can do it!”

They should know. They left you with the best parts of them.

So don’t live in the past, but never forget it. Bring the lessons with you into the exciting and unknown road ahead.

hiy hiy

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