Thursday, September 10, 2015

Federal Election 2015 - Why I Chose to Vote

Recently I ran for the NDP nomination in the St. Albert – Edmonton. I didn’t know what to expect and no matter how many people I asked for advice the process of becoming a nominee was a learning experience. I learned a lot about the nomination process and even though I didn’t win, I didn’t lose either.  I think one of the more important experiences has been reflecting why I wanted to run as a candidate in the first place. Being involved in politics is something I thought about before but I planned on working on a campaign to gain experience. After talking with friends, I was encouraged to run this year. Now that I know the process I will be better prepared for the next election.

Inside the Aboriginal vote in Alberta was one of the interviews I did during my nomination. I talked about how racism was a fear of mine and something I considered before applying for the nomination. I am proud to say that I didn’t experiences it during my nomination. There were some overzealous Conservative supporters, who I think were trying to find proof that I attended anti-pipeline protests, who called me some names but nothing to write home about. I appreciated it. Others wanted to know what I would do if elected, such as what is happening in Gaza. I like questions that make me think and the truth is I don’t know. I try to read the news every day. I want to stay current on issues but I don’t think that it is enough, I like to get information right from the people themselves. I now have more time to become more involved and  to become the kind of leader I would vote for.

If we have more Aboriginal candidates, would Indigenous people vote more? I hope that more Indigenous people vote in this election. I hope ALL Canadians vote in this election. As a member of a sovereign nation (Kashechewan Fist Nation), I have never voted in an election on my reserve. I didn’t even know when the elections were until Facebook. I have never collected my Treaty money, the whole $2 I get a year, and I have never been to Albany Band (Kashechewan First Nation/ Fort Albany First Nation).  I’ve was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. When non-Native people ask me where I’m from, I am from Edmonton, Alberta. When Native people ask me where I'm from, I’m Treaty 9 from Kashechewan Fist Nation (Albany Band). This disconnect affects me in many ways and one of them being that many of my issues fall under the Federal jurisdiction because I’m a Treaty 9 person living on Treaty 6 territory. Priority is usually given to those who live on reserve and I’ve never even been to my reserve. It is probably the biggest influence over why I wanted to run in the Federal election and not the Provincial election. Everyone has their own reasons why and where they vote and for me voting in the Canadian elections just makes sense to me, plus I don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to travel to vote.

Voting is a choice. All we can do is ask you to consider choosing to vote. If you don’t know how to vote, there are many organizations and people that can help you. There are many websites that breakdown each party platforms. Also, research who is running as a candidate in your area and contact them. These people are going to be representing your area and you can help choose who gets elected.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Sir Paul McCartney’s B-Day Cake – Gift that keeps giving

There are many Beatles fans around the world and you know you work with some when co-workers arrange cake and ice cream in celebration of Sir Paul’s Birthday. We had three different types of cake and ice cream that lasted all week. When Friday came and we still had left over chocolate cake, I was the only person willing to take it home – I didn’t want perfectly good cake to go into the garbage. Walking to my car took me about 15 minutes while I held this huge cake in my arms, I was greeted by a lovely couple who asked for a piece of cake. They were surprised when I offered the whole cake. They declined the cake but suggested that if I was going to give it away that the Bissell Centre or another shelter would appreciate the cake. I was already running late and I didn’t know if I would have time to drop off cake but as I loaded the cake in my car another women greeted me but this time asking for money. I hardly carry money so I offered her the cake instead and she was willing to take the cake. As I handed her the cake she told me, “you let everyone know that the women from Tim Hortons has a gang. Spread the Word. Oh and thanks for the cake.” I agreed and watched her walk away. Downtown Edmonton can be interesting and I think what makes it great is the people. I was happy to be able to share the cake. Truth is I didn’t want or need the cake but I couldn’t support throwing away food when a charming women, from Tim Hortons with a gang, was thankful to have Sir Paul McCartney’s birthday cake.

Monday, June 22, 2015

H4AN: Raising Money for YESS

The first time I signed up for Homeless for a Night I didn't know what to expect. I pictured being on the streets of downtown Edmonton with a sleeping bag and cardboard box trying to get warm as people passed by me. I don’t know what I was more afraid of, the fear of sleeping on the streets or the judgement of passersby. The event took place in TELUS Field in the shelter of the walls we were still open to the elements – the cold, mosquitos, and rain. With nothing but a sleeping bag and mat, my friends and I made it through the night. 

When I decided to participate in Homeless for a Night to raise money for the Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS), I knew that this time I would use this opportunity to share this experience with my niece Keearah. I was prepared to be uncomfortable again because I knew what to expect. With a team made up my 15-year-old niece, my cousin’s wife, and myself we began to encourage people to sponsor us to be Homeless for a Night. Our team name was given to us by my mother and aunt who felt that we needed a name that represent the collective of a community looking after one another in word that encapsulated the expression that we all shared a home, keimahkeenenoo (key-ma-gee-nah-new) which means “our tent”. I’m not sure if that is how you spell the word but I tried my best. 

I was adamant that we were not going to use a tent, we were going to sleep under the stars and then it was raining and windy. My cousin’s wife didn’t want to get her down filled sleeping bag wet and so we brought a tent. I would like to think I stood my ground to fight for a comfort free sleep but it didn’t take much to convince me before I caved and was glade we brought the tent.

The night was fun, there was entertainment, games, and food. My favorite part of the night is when YESS youth shared their success stories because they are the reason we have this event. When they succeed we all succeed. Our team entered into a “Pack a Sack” race were a team member had to run around the field and collect items once we correctly answered a trivia questions. My poor niece ran around that field three times and my cousin’s wife ran once before we ran out of time. We joked that if we did win, it would be worth it just to hear the emcee try to pronounce our team name.

Throughout the night it rained and the wind toppled tents around us, our tent moved the least but then again it was built to withstand all four seasons. We met some nice people around the bonfire as we roasted marshmallows, my niece stayed up engaging in conversations half the night. We slept without pillows and my neck was sore. I took off my sweater to use as a make shift pillow but now I was cold. The moment I woke up I called for our ride to get us and take us to the nearest Denny’s for breakfast. I kept saying to anyone who would listen that I could not be homeless. I tried not to complain too much but the experience was enlightening to how comfortable we are in our luxuries. 

I am most proud of sharing this experience with my niece. I am a firm believer that we need to show our children how to see the world from all perspectives to remind us of all the riches we have in our lives. We may not always have new technologies or name brand cloths but what we do have is family, shelter, food, love, and opportunity – we are blessed. 

My goal was to reach $500 so far I have reached 80%. You can still donate on my page by following the link bellow.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Homeless for a Night Fundraising

I'm raising money to help homeless youth. This will be my second time fundraising for Homeless for a Night where I commit to sleep outside in a baseball  field with others who also raised money for the same cause.

My goal is to raise $500.

Visit link to pledge a donation.

Spring, Summer, and Fall Challenges

I’m so excited that the weather has improved but I don’t want to jinx myself and become over confident because then a blizzard is going to hit tomorrow. I’m always finding new apps and programs to use and a part of my wellness goals. I have 2 apps that I use on a daily basis and they are myfitnesspal and Jawbone UP. A Major wellness goal has been to be more active and I have tried to walk 10,000 steps every day. At first I thought it would be easy until I realized how much I had to walk to actually walk 10,000 steps a day. My goal is still to walk 10,000 steps a day but if I make it to 5,000 steps it has been a good day. To motivate myself more I started joining challenges. Through work, I was introduced to a new program called that was created by the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation at the University of Alberta. They don’t have an app but you can access it through your smart phone or tablet, or computer with a browser. The program helps you track your physical activity and you can create and join communities and challenge each other. My work constantly has challenges with other departments. I recently joined a challenge called Alberta, Border To Border, where the challenge is to walk 2,610 KMs which is the length Alberta. I started the challenge on March 20, 2015 and I’m hoping to complete the challenge before June 28, 2015.uwalk

Although I have joined a community group for my work branch, I’ve been thinking that maybe I
should encourage friends to join my community so we can take on challenges together. And maybe in future create challenges. Future challenges that I think would be cool are, Around the Moon in 90 Day and The journey from the Shire to Mordor.

Who is interested in joining me?

You can contact me on Facebook or Twitter if you are interested. Also, tell me your ideas for a team name.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Personal Mission Statments

Have you ever tried to write a personal mission statement? I have tried and I found it hard to do. Saying it out loud makes the statement real and a commitment. I think I'm a self-aware person but there are still tasks that I need to work through and I think my biggest task is confidence. I believe in myself but not enough to say that I’m confident. Even saying the word confident out loud is hard. If your mission statement is “for what you do for whom and how” the truth is what do I do. What do I want to do? I recently finished the 7 Habits training through work and one of the tasks was to write a personal mission statement. After Identifying things that were important to me and visioning what would I like people to say about me on my 80th Birthday, we had to write non-stop for 5 minutes to draft a mission statement. I found it interesting what I wrote. It’s basically one big run on sentence but there are some ideas in there for me to think about.

This is what I wrote:
I want to inspire others to think the imaginable and transform the impossible.  This world can be hard and as an individual we are responsible for our own actions – so how can we change the world to be more empathetic and kind? I want to be known for helping people and always putting the bigger picture first. It isn't my dream, it is a positive representation of our community vision for the future. Also, help those develop their dreams who don’t know they have the ability or a choice to dream. If there is one driving force let it be love for one another.”

From this exercise I pulled out ideas and used what was important to me and created an artist version of my mission. And this is what I came up with, as a visual person I want to see this every day and remind myself of what I want to achieve in life. What I hope people will say at my 80th Birthday.

Would you write a personal mission statement?

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

For the Love of Travel

My mother and I have always loved to travel and the most important part about travelling is a compatible travelling companion – we have always been good travelling buddies. We both love to explore and we have a good balance of schedule plans and the flexibility to change our plans if there is something that catches our attention. There is something about travelling that allows us to function off very little sleep – maybe it’s the excitement. My mother recently started talking about creating a Bucket List for Travel. My mother is a retired Canadian federal employee and it was always her dream to travel when she got older. In our conversations, I only recently learned that my mother has not been out of North America. I immediately wanted to jump on a plan but the adult in me kicks in and reminds me of all my responsibilities such as mortgage, work, etc. and I know that I won’t be jumping on a plan any time soon. If you have read my blog before you know that I plan on going to Germany in 2016. This will be my mother’s first trip out of North America, which makes the trip that more important to follow through. My mind is now focused making sure that we travel next year.

My mother and I started our Travel Bucket list. We felt it was important to not only list places we wanted to visit but why we wanted to visit these places.  And because it is a bucket list we started thinking about the places we have already been and to include them. And just so we can explore these places together we are adding places we have gone individually so we can travel together. Also, think about the places we have been and did we really achieve the things we wanted to see. To this day my mother and I still talk about being in San Francisco and not visiting Alcatraz; we had planned to but we had got a call that my Grandfather (mosom) was sick and we drive straight home. We never regretted going home because my mom got to spend time with my mosom for a month before he died.

After we decided to make this bucket list, we started to research existing bucket lists and where should we go. Our list was pretty vague at first and the more we looked up these places we realized that this plan could get very detailed. The list was getting pretty long when my mother says to me that she’ll be dead before we finish this bucket list – I assured her that I would carry on but please reconsider her previous request of taking her ashes with me. I don’t want to be that person talking to the urn in the seat next to me. I am over exaggerating but we better start these plans so we can finish our Travel Bucket list together. We did decide that once a year we will make plans to travel to at least one place a year and more if we can afford it.

Where is one place you would love to travel and why? Also, who is your ideal travel companion and why?

Visit our website to follow our Travel Bucket List as we continue to develop our travel plans and listen to our Solom-Atrix Podcast.