As we wrap up this year so many things race through my head.  In the midst of all of them all, a few personalities stand out from the crowd, in terms of iconic symbols….at least for me.

Trump

Standing under a painting of President Andrew Jackson (architect of the Trail of Tears), he attempts to honour Indigenous Code Talkers before being completely sidetracked by his own lack of impulse control and launches into an openly racist slur against Senator Warren, referring to her as Pocahontas. He follows that up by pushing through the Dakota Access Pipeline, and resurrecting the Keystone Pipeline right before shrinking the size of two National Monuments in Utah, Bears Ears Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante, to open up millions of acres for mining, ranching, fracking and oil drilling. And this is only the last few months.

But not my president right? So let’s go closer to home

The Sask Party

Beginning with the budget release in March, this provincial government has exhibited nothing but disdain for the middle and lower income residents of our land. From healthcare to highways, I’m sure that every household has been impacted to some degree, but on the Indigenous front, things are dismal.  The Sask Transit company which provided at least some access to remote reserves was dismantled and sold off, funding for reforestation almost eliminated, and have not even begun to address the Truth and Reconciliation Calls-To-Action.  However the thing that continues to jump out at me is the ongoing refusal of any government to address the funding inequity for Indigenous students, the reinforced healthcare inequities, and lack of adequate housing all coupled with the shrill demand that educators must increase Indigenous grad rates. . . and. . . Bronwyn Eyre

But optimism abounds because other people and perspectives, like water, find their way.

Wab Kinew

Wab Kinew began this year (literally January 3rd) with his own contribution to the Joseph Boyden story and it is worth a reprint:

There is room in our circle for everyone, even those who do not behave as we would like. We include them not just to make our circle bigger. We love one another as relatives because it frees our hearts from hurt and allows us to embrace the goodness in each of us. When we do that, we are stronger.

But Wab’s own story is why I am so drawn to him.  He has shared his own story in “The Reason You Walk”, was raked across the political coals and came out on top of the Manitoba NDP leadership race, deals daily with those who are not yet open to the world around them and still faces the future with optimism.  Wab Kinew acts to open hearts and open minds so that we may see that it can be done.

Ashley Callingbull

I have always loved Ashley, but this year she stepped into the light in a whole new way for me.  Ashley Callingbull is a Cree First Nations woman who was the First Indigenous Miss Universe, she appeared on the Amazing Race Canada and is an accomplished actress, all of which is amazing.  I loved Ashley first for her resiliency as a public figure, and most for her advocacy.  This year I heard her speak at Wicihitowin and I was smitten.  She shared her life, her passions and her love for Kentucky fried chicken unabashedly, as she should…as we all should.

All of these people have effected my life this year in powerful and sometimes unpredictable ways.  But here is my take;

We must never cease to be appalled by ignorance and inaction in the face of inequality, and we must demand that our leaders be better.

and

There is room in the circle for everyone, all voices have value, or no voices have value and we must never be afraid to be ourselves, flaws and flavor profiles included, or who can ever really know us at all?

All My Relations