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Archive for the tag “Winnipeg”

Cutting Off The Nose To Spite The Face?

Nick Troller has two Star Trek themed licence plates. This one that reads 'ASIMIL8' is being recalled by Manitoba Public Insurance. His other plate reads 'Voyager.'Yesterday I watched the news about a city man who had his personalized Star Trek-themed licence plate recalled because ‘Manitoba Public Insurance received a complaint.’  Yes, all it takes is one solitary complaint.  Even over a 2-year old licence plate that is obviously, in a blatant way, not intended to be offensive in the least.

Now as a black man, I do understand and know offensive, (Trust me, I have seen and heard my share of thinly-veiled offense). and I’m happy to know that you Caucasians are looking out for us minorities, but sometimes you over-do it and I’m left embarrassed.  I feel as though you are helicopter parenting me.  My co-workers sometimes say they are ‘working like a slave’.  Should I file a complaint?  What if another caucasian hears it and feel offended? Well that’s just wrong.  Why should YOU feel offended if I am not offended?  I do understand the plight of the Aboriginals who were forced to assimilate and give up their culture but do you think they cringe every time they come across the word while reading a book? Should it be banned then?  Should Star Trek also be banned?  See?  There’s no end to it if we go down this road.  We are cutting off the nose to spite the face.

In this situation, I would recommend a meeting with an aboriginal group and the licence plate owner.  Hear how each party feels about the situation and take it from there.

My two older boys claim the don’t love each other.  In fact, the word hate is used. Whenever I catch them hugging or playing together I would say ‘Look at you! You do love each other!  They would promptly back away and give each other space. So what I learn here is, if you leave some things alone, they would be forgotten but if you keep digging things up and looking under rocks for allusions, you re-open wounds.  Words have multiple meanings and memories for many of us.  Some good and some bad.  Don’t cut the nose to spite the face.

Just My Take



Frank Friday: We Are Not Racists, We Just Don’t Care Too Much

On Thursday, Winnipeggers were in a frantic panic when the City declared a boil water advisory following a water test that showed positive for E.coli bacteria.  It wasn’t a city-wide result but a blanket advisory was advised just to be safe.  Bottled water flew off store shelves like bread on the eve of a hurricane.  It was all everyone talked about.  Alas! Woe is us! A few more days and we would have had a city-wide emergency worthy of an intervention by the army.

While we were thus inconvenienced by our 2-day water boiling, our First Nations people living on Canadian reservations have been enduring the same minor setback for years.  Shoal Lake, just north of Ontario, has been under a boil water advisory for 17 years!  (Coincidentally, that’s where Winnipeg sources its water!). I admit, I never knew this until yesterday when I read a piece in the Winnipeg Free Press entitled, ‘Our inconvenience, their way of life.’  Here. It made me stop and think.  In fact, it made me feel selfish.

Interestingly, the readers’ comments on the writer’s piece were not sympathetic.  Many blamed the First Nations people for their plight, mentioning that Winnipeggers pay more taxes and so are deserving of the VIP treatment and suggested that the First Nations people should move, seek greener pastures elsewhere, simple enough.  Someone should tell that to my family back in St. Vincent.

Maybe they have a point, maybe the First Nations people do not pay taxes or their leaders misappropriate funds or whatever, the fact remains that while we show ads of thirsty Africans, there are thirsty Canadians in our midst.  Canadians who travel for long distances to get water just like we see on the television ads.  We could spend hours debating how they got in this position.  We could even play the blame-game.  Or we could just care.

Maclean’s magazine says we are the most racist province, maybe we aren’t…maybe we just don’t care.  About THOSE people.

My Take.


Magazine Ranks My City As Most Racist In Canada And I’m Not Surprised

Official logo of Winnipeg

Official logo of Winnipeg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week Winnipeggers were shocked, dismayed and maybe a little embarrassed, to learn that Maclean’s magazine had singled them for an unenviable distinction.  That of being the most racist city in Canada.  No surprise for some, including me.  In fact, last October I blogged about the way we treat our Native people. Please read here.

Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t, it doesn’t matter.  The fact that we are mentioned in that light is bad enough to make us want to stop and take notice.  I hope that this ‘out’ will serve as an eye-opener to the people of Winnipeg.  The Aboriginal people face injustices daily, not only from us but even from those who are paid to protect them.  They have no one to turn to, (No wonder some turn to alcohol and drugs).  It’s sickening that it has morphed into an acceptable norm.  Indians will be raped, it’s normal.  They will get drunk, their murders would not be thoroughly investigated as they are ‘only Indians’.  They will kill each other and if they don’t, it’s ok for us to murder them…They are our dispensable race as I blogged here.

Our license plates tell visitors that we are ‘Friendly Manitoba’ and maybe we are, but to who?  Remember, racism is not always black and white.  My Take

What About The Children?

Let me start by asking, who defends these sick perverts? Who in their right minds would even think of asking for any form of leniency for someone who sexually abused their 5 kids and post photos online?  Defense lawyers.

A Winnipeg man was in court last week to hear his fate.  He has five kids, one girl and four boys all of whom he sexually assaulted.  He took nude photos of his daughter at 9 years old and posted them online, sometimes offering them as trade for other child porn photos. But as sick as it sounds, someone was willing to earn a salary to defend this man.  Defense lawyers.

The Crown wanted a long jail time and I do too but the defense said a long sentence would hinder his chance at rehabilitation. And the children? Who cares? I take it these defense lawyers have no children or family. Maybe it’s a criteria for the position.  Must have no kids.  Or family.

The seriousness of this crime and the victims’ ages are deserving of a long long time in a lonely prison cell. A long time to think and perhaps rehabilitate.  Letting him out to share space with kids might not be a good rehab gesture now would it?

And the kids? Yeah, what about them? They are sentenced to a lifetime of hurt, scarred for life. Some can overcome this, many can’t. So while the court discusses how to fix this sick perv, I asked no one in particular, “What about the children?”

If this guy gets out in under 10 years, I am going to lie to the cops and say he kicked my dog.  That’s usually good for about 10 years isn’t it?


Just My Take



What Should We Do With The Black Guys?

I received a call from the casting agency that I’ve done a lot of work for regarding a role as an extra in an upcoming television series called, ‘The Pinkertons’.  The show was centered around life in 1860s Kansas.  When I got there, I noticed right away that one of these things were not like the other. Well make that most of the people were not like me, or the other black extra, an older gentleman who I quickly gravitated to.  As expected for that era in the USA, everyone, meaning the Caucasians, had that ‘look’.  You know the white 1800s look? The beard, hard face…ready to rope a black man look?  They had it.  Man these guys were awesome extras!

Back in da day!

“This is going to be interesting.” I said to my new friend and fellow minority.  I don’t think there were any aristocratic looking blacks wandering around Kansas around that time, were there?  Costume did a great job of putting us in getups that made us look like well-to-do slaves. Ok maybe freshly-freed slaves.  They even came by from time to time and rubbed dirt on us.  Hey, it’s all about credibility.   Then it was time to send the extras to their various positions or activities.  Now this is where ‘interesting’ comes in.  Remember, blacks weren’t ‘in style’ back then.  So where oh where should we go?  At first they told us to stand on the train platform and pretend to lift a box.   Nice! I will be on camera!  Well that suggestion didn’t last too long While all the other extras were finding their niches rather easily, finding something to do with the black guys was creating a small problem.  That was until I spotted an 1860 wheelbarrow sitting there right in front of me.  “I can push that”, I offered.  The production guy was only to glad to agree.  I pushed the thing for most of the day. Back and forth, figure 8s, letter H, back and forth…

It wasn’t exactly all I did.  One scene called for the extras, or townsfolks as they/we were called, to pretend to be engaging in buying and selling outside their stores.   There were Coffin makers, Mercantile stores, Pottery stores, etc.  Again, it was no problem finding a spot for the Caucasians.  My friend and I were brought over to the mercantile store that sold pots and pans and other supplies.  We were told to pretend we were buying something. That idea lasted as long as the first one.  After some head-scratching and hmms and aaahs from the production fella, I spotted another prop.  A broom.  “I can use this and pretend to sweep.” I offered, grabbing the broom and sweeping the dirt lightly.  “Yes! Perfect!” The guy must surely be thanking his lucky stars that I was on the ball.  I swept or pretended to sweep for a few hours.

I was having a field day with this.  Watching them struggle trying to figure out where we should go.  I could imagine the director thinking,  “Who thought it was a great idea having a couple black extras?  This could very well compromise the integrity of the show.”  Or maybe, “I could have sworn the casting call was for white extras.”  As each new scene was introduced, I would tell my friend and new partner, “Let’s see where they are going to put us now.”  The we would both have a good laugh at the expense of the guy trying to find somewhere to hide to black guys.  The last scene I did before they decided to wrap me, was shot on the train station platform. Everyone was to be on or close to the platform as it involved someone getting off the train and the hubbub that ensued.  Again, finding somewhere to put the two black guys  presented a headache.  They finally decided to split us up.  My friend was taken somewhere and I was taken to the platform. Yes! Right in the thick of things! Not so fast.   The guy had another changed of heart,  “Hmmm….how about you and you go stand at the corral and you pretend to be showing him what to do?” You and you meant my friend and I.  He had come full circle and we were once again re-united.

My buddy trying to find where the camera was

So off we went to our new job as stable boys.  We looked at the camera and figured if we stand in a certain spot we would be sure to get some face time but when the director yelled, “Background!” we were disappointed to see a pall of movie smoke coming our way. Effectively thwarting our dreams of being seen.  We both had a laugh at this.  “Oh well…”, said the old man.

The food was great.  The people were nice and friendly and it was a great day spent outdoors.  I later found a newspaper ad for extras for the show.  It read in part: “Winnipeg casting agency Kari Casting has put out the call for “Caucasian extras, both male and female, ages 18-70, to fill background roles as townsfolk, saloon barmaids, saloon patrons, union soldiers, coal workers, police, and many more.”  Maybe they ran out of caucasians?

That’s all folks

Click here to read about the show and see some more photos (with Caucasians) taken on the set. On page 2, you could see my wheelbarrow.  A split second more and I would have been in that shot!

Our Dispensable Race

MailmasterTina Fontaine was only 15 years old.  She should have been getting ready for the start of the new school  year. Instead her lifeless body was dragged from a Winnipeg river on Sunday.  Murdered.  Another statistic. Another aboriginal.

Last March, after watching a news story of yet another missing aboriginal woman, I was moved to write a blog about it.  Unfortunately, it never got past the draft topic.  A week ago, I had to re-visit it after the tragic tale of young Tina Fontaine made the news.  As awful as it may sound, it is realistic to think that we are as a nation are doing very little to give this issue the publicity it deserves.  “Oh, it’s just another native woman.  She was probably hooking or homeless.”  I have heard it.  Too many times.  They are swept under the bureaucratic rug.  Police has no time to spend investigating missing street walkers, especially if they are natives.  The Government has no interest in opening up an inquiry into it.  While they dither, perverts and creeps ply their trade on these vulnerable people with reckless abandon.  It’s a national tragedy. A travesty. A humanitarian crisis.

Yes, our aboriginals are known for their issues. Issues that have been compounded by society.  At the end of the day, they are humans too and deserving of the same protection afforded to all Canadians.  After all, they are the true Canadians, aren’t they?

RIP Tina.  We failed you.

No Singing On The Bus!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou are on the long ride home on a Winnipeg Transit bus, you have your ear buds in and with eyes closed, you are in your zone.  Listening to some Bob Marley as he sings, ‘One love, one heart, let’s get together and feel alright.’  Without thinking, you start to hum, then it turns into a low singing, at least to you it does as you cannot hear your own voice over Brother Bob’s.  Bad call.  Without warning a shadow looms over you.  You look up to see who dares to interrupt your reverie. It’s the bus driver. Or is it a cop? Or a bus cop? Maybe one of those people they have on planes to thwart terrorists?  Either way, here he/she/it is hovering over you like a bird of prey.  You are ticketed. For singing on the bus.  Don’t laugh, it can happen. If you live in Winnipeg.

City Councillors have put their collective heads together and came up with a bylaw that prohibits singing in City buses.  Offenders will be fined $100.  I am not sure on the specifics, like how and who is going to be that bird of prey. What would they do if someone is singing? Go up to them and say, “I am going to ticket you for singing, please hand over your id so I know who you are” That’s it? What if the rider refuses to accept the ticket or decline to provide their name? What then? Take a photo and pin in up around town asking for people to identify the perp who dared sing on a city bus?

In all seriousness, this is probably one of the most ludicrous thing I’ve heard in a long time, especially coming from City Hall.  While the city burns, the Councillors fiddle. While streets look as if they barely escaped an overnight bombing, the decisions makers chose to ignore this and come up with a law that makes you wonder…

Please remind me again why I bother to vote…oh nevermind, I don’t. 

And that’s My Take. 






Roughing It With Wifi Access,

Feel like roughing it outdoors for a weekend and being one with nature but just can’t ‘lose connection’?  Well have no fear,  Parks Canada will be installing wireless hotspots to up to 50 parks this year and just last year, Winnipeg saw three campgrounds gaining wireless access.  So there you go! You can rough it just like a boss, literally.

When I think of going camping, thoughts of sitting in my tent browsing the internet is not what I think of.  In fact, I actually enjoy the fact that I sometime lose my cell phone connection.  It means I have to put the useless thing away.  Some may argue, “But what if there’s an emergency?” and I will counter with, “Well what did you use before?”  Or they may say, “I need to stay connected with work and family.”  To which I would respond, “Get a life. Maybe you should camp in your work’s parking lot or in your backyard.”  Sometimes we seem to forget that we existed quite well before there was this mass electronic reliance.

What next? Fully furnished condo rentals in the parks for those who want to rough it but just can’t shed their pampered lifestyle?

Just My Take…

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Don’t Boo The Biebs!

thCAQC7FIKI don’t like the Junos.  I never watch it.  I know, I know, I am unpatriotic and not a true Canadian blah blah.  Well don’t be pointing fingers at me, sister,  why do you think they cancelled Canadian Idol eh?  See? I’m not the only one who supports American tv over Canadian.  Still mad at me?  Go knock on your neighbor’s door, no not that one, the one with the illegal dish on his house.  Ask him why he got it.  He would say “Duh, to get the American channels.  You kinda dumb eh?” 

Now that we’ve cleared that up, I must admit that the Junos aren’t all that bad and does a fine job of keeping up to its American counterpart.  It’s still not the Grammy’s but we will take it.  It would help if the big Canadian stars like Drake, Robin Thicke and even Bieber himself would show up.  Nothing against Serena Ryder, Tegan and Sara and BTO.  I heard my girl Sarah Mclachlan was in the house.  I missed that?? 

Everything was going great and Winnipeggers were repping their city quite well until Canadian heart-throb and bad boy Justin Bieber was announced as the Fan Choice Award winner, to which he was soundly booed.  Come on Peg City, stay classyWe are still broadcasting live to the world.  We don’t have to be like them.  Good thing the Biebs wasn’t in attendance, who knows, he might have had a few of his eggs thrown at him. (ok sorry, bad punny joke).

Serena Ryder came to the aid of her fellow Canadian superstar and told the dubious crowd that Justin Bieber works his a** off and she wasn’t say this to kiss a** either.  No one belieb her.  How did I know so much even though I said I never watch the Junos?  Well thank goodness for a house with an open concept.  I was doing dishes in the kitchen and the tv in the living room was directly in front of me. My mom who was over, was watching the Junos.

Booing is immature.  Plain and simple.  I don’t care what the kid did.  I won’t boo him.  He does have talent, not sure about the ‘working his butt off’.  So much for Friendly Manitoba.  Been to a Jets’ game recently?  They boo the refs, players, coach, puck, whatever.  I cringe in my seat when the boo birds come out…anyways, back to the Grammys Juno, I should watch it next year.  If not, the year after for sure…

And you, you should too!  It’s Canadian Eh.  And so is Bieber.


In Defiance Of Winter

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Here’s to you, Mr. Winter

Hey Winter, you there?  Oh there you are! You still haven’t left, have you? Overstaying our welcome are we?  Let me get something straight here. This year you have been a real pain in the you-know-where.  Hitting us with snow and freezing temperatures continuously.  You really dumped on us, didn’t you? Was it something we did?  Or say?  Was it even us?

Well Winter, I hate to tell you this.  Actually I take that back.  I am happy to tell you this, your show of strength did no phase me.  It didn’t cause me to bow down to my knees in surrender to your onslaught. No, not at all.  Instead Mr. Winter, I grew stronger and stronger by your every attack.  When you thought you had me down and I would cower indoors, I went out skiing! Yes! I did!  I never ever skied before but thanks to you I did.  It didn’t stop there.  I went ice skating also.  First time again.  I built snow forts, ski slopes in my yard and actually use your weapons against you.  Man did you ever underestimated me!  Did you forget I live in Winnipeg?  Winnipeg’s nickname is Winterpeg.  I’ll let you chew on that for a sec.  Ok, enough thinking.  You probably thought, “Man did I ever put the ‘Winter’ in Winterpeg then.”  Ya you did, you son of a gun!

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Note the smile despite the cold

Note the smile despite the cold

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When I thought you were finally going to pack it in, you came back at us with a ferocity unlike no other, and you weren’t blowing hot air. it was a cold arctic wind coming in from the North packing bone chilling wind chills and creating blizzard-like conditions.  Hmmm…Nice, Mr. Winter. Nice!  But guess what? I still made it to work.  On time. Ha! In your face old man! Granted, some were not so lucky.  Or should I say not well-prepared to deal with you.  Between you and me, some were just plain idiots who couldn’t adjust themselves to the conditions you created. I saw them on my way to work, their vehicles tossed in ditches or into each other.  Some passed me going at unsuitable speeds and I feared that I would succumb to them before you got me.  I really didn’t relish dying by friendly fire.

Nice one, Winter

Nice one, Winter

Down but not out

Down but not out

During your reign of terror, I shovelled my driveway so many times that I lost count.  Now it’s your turn, Winter.  You can clean up after yourself.  I am done!  No more shoveling, no matter what and where you dump.  You can shove-l your own snow, I’ll gladly tell you where to shove-l it.

So Mr. Winter, I want to thank you for a great and epic battle that I would not soon forget.  I have gained a lot of experience from it and I hope you have too.  We will meet again, that’s for sure but I hope that you have expended all your energy in this all out battle and I will vanquish you easily next time.  Please go now and if you meet Ms. Spring-er coming this way, tell her to hurry up.  So long Mr. Winter! So long!

Snowman standing proud in my backyard.  Middle of winter

Snowman standing proud in my backyard. Middle of winter

Still standing but barely.

Still standing but barely.

Battle-weary wife and son

Battle-weary wife and son

I built it and they came. Front yard ski hill.

I built it and they came. Front yard ski hill.

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