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Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Just as Canadian Thanksgiving occurs before the American Thanksgiving every year, Canadian Thanksgiving also predates the US celebration.  And, I’d like to think, our celebration is a far friendlier more welcoming one.  Ours is a celebration of thanks for the bounty this land has to offer, and a time to be thankful that we’ve survived the (sometimes harsh) journey that brought us to where we are.

You can find a general overview of the first Thanksgiving, and Frobisher’s role in it, as well as the parliamentary decry that made it a public holiday at http://www.twilightbridge.com/hobbies/festivals/thanksgiving/canada/ – but just a warning…  the website is bright red, which can be hard on the eyes.  However, I am THANKFUL not to have to give a history lesson on the events and to be able to point you elsewhere for it.  😉

So, today, I hope you gathered with loved ones and thought about all the things you are thankful for.  Sometimes our journey is full of difficulties and pain, but we end up where we are, with those we love…  and that is definitely worth giving thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

A2Z – Native & First Nations Individuals in the LGBTT2QIA Community

Blogging our way from A to Z on sexual and gender identity - Native and First Nations Individuals in the LGBTT2AIA Community

 

The 2 in LGBTT2QIA comes from my Native and First Nations brothers and sisters.  It stands for Two-Spirited.  There has been quite a bit of confusion lately on what two-spirited actually means, and I hope I can help clear the water vs further muddying it.

I know quite a few Native and First Nations individuals who identify somewhere on the sexual minority, gender variant spectrum, but that does not make them all two-spirited.  However, all two-spirited individuals, are by nature of the word itself, Native and First Nations.  Not all birds are Eagles, but all Eagles are birds.  Clear so far?

Even within some of our local First Nations communities, the idea of an individual being of two spirits has become muddied.  It has been used by so many as a blanket term for all First Nations individuals who identify as being part of the acronym community that it is losing some of it’s power and intent.

When asked to share his personal thoughts on the term, Ryan Jimmy (a wonderful individual I am blessed to know) said this:

I understand how the term is a way for indigenous queers to reclaim their sexual spaces rather then have other non indigenous folks create identities for them. What I struggle with is that there still seems to be a lot of romanticism around the term meaning that people tend to believe the term is a simple male\female spirit and that we poses some super neat powers. I feel the term is very complex and I personally just haven’t found my place with …it.

Amongst all those I know who identify as both First Nations (or Indigenous) and a member of the acronym community, I only know one individual who identifies as two-spirited.  And that’s an important thing to note.  As Ryan mentioned, there is this romanticized view of two-spirited individuals which has found it’s way into modern culture.  And while the idea of one person with two spirits (each of a different gender inhabiting the same body) does have aspects which lend itself easily to those types of ideals and fantasies, those notions ignore the hard struggles that have faced our Native and First Nations community members. While there may have been a time when two-spirited people were revered in some First Nations cultures, that vanished along with so many facets of their culture with the unfortunate Christianization of their world.

Clearly, this is far too large a topic to really get into in any real way in a blog post.  But, if nothing else, I hope this brief look at what “two-spirited” means encourages you to dig a little deeper yourself.  It’s an absolutely amazing area for study, and filled with a wealth of enlightenment.  In a search to understand ourselves, it is one area that should not be overlooked.

One last, rather unique tid-bit I’ll share:  Have you ever looked at your hands, at the length of your fingers in particular?  Well, there have been numerous studies over the last couple hundred years that reflect a hormone correlation which suggests Women have a longer index finger, and Men have a longer ring finger.  The one individual I know who identifies as two-spirited?  Has a longer index finger on one hand, and a longer ring finger on the other.  Just one of their many intriguing qualities.  😉

 

Government sanctioned discrimination, way to go Canada!

So, it appears Canada is again on the chopping block thanks to Harper.  Our flags once waved proud, but now are just as often full of disgrace.  This newest measure allows discrimination based on gender, going so far as to allow airport security the right to allow or deny access to individuals based on their gender.

Under section 5.2(1)(c) of the Aeronautics Act:

“An air carrier shall not transport a passenger if:  the passenger does not appear to be of the gender indicated on the identification he or she presents.”

Why is this an issue?  Because for many Trans individuals the sex on their passport may not coincide with their gender.  There are very strict rules in place for changing the sex on your international identification that only a very small segment of the populace qualifies for.  These rules make it impossible for non-operative Trans people to have the M or F on their documents changed to reflect their actual gender.  A better solution, if this wording is to remain in place would be to allow for an “Other” designation.  Gender is, after all, a social construct that has nothing to do with an individuals sex (which, lets be honest, also has more than two possibilities).  Alas, we are stuck in a society that appears to enjoy this incorrect, yet entrenched, gender binary.

This goes even farther though.  The instant we allow those with limited power the ability to select who qualifies as female and who as male – based on how they present, we are opening ourselves up for all sorts of abuses.  Gender is a social construct that changes with time.  It used to be that we dressed our long haired little boys in pink dresses, while the girls wore blue.

What happens when the thirteen year old girl, with short cropped hair, wearing low rise baggy pants and a jersey is denied access to a plane to fly home to her parents after spending part of the Summer with her grandparents?  This policy gives airports the right to determine who is female enough, or male enough to board their planes.  The potential abuses this brings forward are downright scary.  Don’t think for a second that because you are not a genderqueer, or trans individual, or because you don’t have a gender creative child that it won’t affect you.  This is something that has the potential to harm us all.  Will we all have to don a dress and kerchief in order to be female enough to avoid speculation?  It’s a scary idea.  Men, don’t even think about wearing that salmon coloured shirt, you too may be pulled for questioning regarding your gender presentation.  Is this really a slope we even want to start on?

There is a petition here:  http://www.petitiononlinecanada.com/petition/tell-harper-to-allow-trans-people-to-fly-on-airplanes/758  Add your name, and let Harper and his yes men know that you are saying NO to this government sanctioned discrimination.  And for more information and ideas on what you can do to combat this, check out what Chris Milloy has to say here:  http://chrismilloy.ca/2012/01/transgender-people-are-completely-banned-from-boarding-airplanes-in-canada/

female enough to fly?In 1930 Amy Johnson finished a record-winning solo flight from England to Australia.  Would she be “female enough” to be allowed on a plane in Canada in 2012?  I wonder.

Aphrodite and Isis – Two Goddesses of Love

We’re laying in bed, snuggled up together.  She eating a bedtime snack of applesauce.  Me reading our nightly chapters.  We’re on page 140-something of Aphrodite the Diva (one of the Goddess Girls books by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams).

Aphrodite is holding a contest for the mortal girls of Greece, when Lily-Ann exclaims “Hey!”

“Hey what?” say I.

“There can be two Goddesses of Love!  Aphrodite is the Goddess of love for the Greeks, and Isis is the Goddess of love for the Egyptians.  They don’t have to fight, they can both be the Goddess Girls of love!”

“Oh my goodness!”  I marvel at her wit, “You’re right.  I wonder what will happen next in the book.  Do you think they might figure that out?”

“I don’t know momma.  Keep reading!”

Seriously, is there anything more cool than the aha moments of a clever four year old?

A page or so later we read how Aphrodite is confiding in Ares, about how she feels about her part in the Trojan “incident”.  When another lightbulb goes off:  “Mom!  We’ve read about Odysseus before, in another chapter book.”

“That’s right, he fought in the Trojan war.  We’ve talked about him a few times, haven’t we?”  She nods her head enthusiastically.  “It’s neat when we meet the same characters in different books, isn’t it?”  She grins and nods again.

Lily-Ann asks “Do you remember the Trojan horse?” the wheels obviously turning, making connections.  Then she giggles over the brilliance of Odysseus and the lack of foresight demonstrated by the Trojans.

“I do.”  I smile at her and give her side a little tickle.  “Should I keep reading?”

“Yes Mom.”

We settle back in for some more cuddles and read on.

goddess girls bookmark - showing the covers for books one through six

 

Is it any wonder this is my favourite time of day?    🙂

 

OMG!

I honestly never thought I’d see legislation like this passed during my lifetime.  It was too much to hope for.  Let’s hope that California merely leads the way, and soon the rest of North America follows.  It would be a dream to have my daughter and her friends grow up learning about the amazing LGBT men and women who led the way to freedom, and those who who still continue the fight for equality.

 

http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2011/07/california-assembly-approves-landmark-bill-that-would-require-teaching-of-lgbt-history/

 

I honestly have tears rolling down my cheeks over this.

To one of the most important men in my life…

I finally figured it out, what has been bothering me the last few days.  I’ve been really stressed and feeling overwhelmed – more so than I should be.  Sure I’m in the middle of planning the Green Party’s AGM, and I’m working on a number of other projects too…  but nothing that should have been causing the feeling of being crushed under too much that I was experiencing.

Last night I was running everything through my head, doing a bit of a check list.  What I had accomplished, what I still needed to accomplish, what I could work on the next day…  That’s when it hit me.  The overwhelmed feeling is about my Grampa’s birthday.

Okay, okay…  I know.  That’s a little odd.  But let me give you a little back story.

My mom was still a girl, just a teen, when she had me.  And I’ve always been so grateful for everything she sacrificed for me.  She was a single, teen, mom…  just being ONE of those things can be tough, but she was all three.   Because of this, my Grampa was the man in my life when I was really young.  Almost all of my earliest memories center around time with him, or at his house.  Even after Mom met Dad, and the three of us became a family, Grampa remained an ever steady, ever present part of my life.

Grampa took me camping, a lot.  He instilled in me a love and respect for nature.  An awe at the miracles that surround us, the miracles in the every day.  We fished.  We camped.  We rode bikes (well, I didn’t ride until I was twelve, so mostly I got rides on his bike).  We took trips.  We went to family reunions.  Grampa was always there.

In high school he remained as steadfast as ever.  Once a week he’d pick me up early and we’d go for “coffee” before classes.  I always had a hot chocolate.  Those mornings were sooo important to me.  And I knew that if I was ever in  a spot I could count on him.  He’d pick me up and give me rides to Youth, and drove to come get me TWICE on Sundays for morning and evening service.  He was my best friend.  It may not have been a ‘cool’ thing to admit, but if anyone ever asked me, I was always the first to tell them exactly that.  My Grampa was my bestie, my BFF.  I was popular, I had lots of friends…  but none of them came close to the love and friendship that he and I shared.

When Grampa married Joan I was in University…  and I’ll admit it…  I disliked her out of pure jealousy.  All the time that he used to spend with me, well, he now spent with her.  No, I wasn’t cut out of the picture entirely.  We still spent several days a week together…  but I was jealous.  I was a kid, and my best friend had found a new best friend.  Now I look back and am more than a little embarrassed about feeling that way.  I love Joan, she’s a member of the family, and I’m so glad that Grampa has her…  and that we have her too.

That was the beginning of our separation.  Slowly, as I grew up, the gap widened.  We spent less time together.  Our interests didn’t lead us in the same directions.  And these days (fifteen years later) I’m lucky to see Grampa once a month… and often that is just in passing.

So, the idea that my Grampa, one of the most important men people in my life, will be turning EIGHTY?!?!?  Well…  it’s hit me rather hard.  77, 78, 79… no problem.   But 80 is different.  80 is hard.

I’m in the middle of helping to plan his birthday party…  trying to track down people that he and I used to see all the time.  The Morin’s, the Lutz’s, people who’s names I’ve forgotten but who’s faces I remember…  people who were adults, who I  smiled at and waved to from the other end of the Church that my Grampa and I helped to build (both literally and figuratively).  I’m hoping to find them all, so they too can help celebrate the man who has meant so very much to me, who has ALWAYS been there…  who I know I can still count on no matter what.

No.  Not all our memories are blissful and happy. Like the time we drove to Wisconsin for a family reunion…  Grampa, two of my younger cousins, and myself.  Then came home with lice from one of the motels we stayed in on the trip home.  It was SOOOO gross.  They were HUGE.  And I was a TEENAGER!  It was a nightmare.  But even that I can look back on and laugh – because we were in it together.

The fact that this man, my Grampa, is now going to be 80 scares me.

I remember, during one of our “coffee” dates.  He suddenly fell silent and took my hands into his.  “Tobi”, he said.  “I want you to promise me something.”  The mood instantly changed, and I’ve never forgotten it.  It’s something I’ve carried with me my entire life.  “When I die, I don’t want a funeral.”  I remember being totally taken aback.  I was 16, and my Grampa was talking to me about dying.  “Promise me you’ll plan everything.  Throw me a party.  I don’t want anyone to mourn.  When I  die, I’m going home.  It’s something to be celebrated.”  I made that promise, and at the time it was really just my way of trying to get him to stop talking about it.

Grampa has never been old, and I can’t imagine him ever being old.  He’s always been active.  Even when his pain got the better of him, he’d just find a new way to keep being active.  He’d give up one thing, but would find something else.  He’s been a member of a gym now for about six months.  Goes a few times a week, and is better shape than he’s been in for some time.  He’s not old, so I don’t know what that number scares me.  That number may be old, but my Grampa is not.

So…  here’s to my Grampa!  One of the best men I know.  To another entire lifetime.  To him never getting tired, never slowing down.  To him, and all he’s given me.  To the love we shared, and continue to share (despite growing somewhat apart).  He’s amazing…  and I look forward to celebrating him with our family and all his friends this February.

Will he get a chance to read this?  Not as long as it’s solely available online.  He sold his computer after a few months, claiming he didn’t receive enough email for it to be worth the trouble.  LOL

I love you Grampa.

a scrapbook layout I did using photos from grampas last birthday

Bill Guskjolen’s 80th Birthday

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=173829629326890

Friend of Bill’s?

Hope to see you in February at his birthday party.

See the link above for all the details.

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