@seanspicer Speaking up for those in my family who were silenced when they perished in Hitler’s gas chambers. Go fuck yourself. #NeverAgain
“Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” George Santayana
© Chuck Duboff
Editor’s Note: I have known Josh from a distance at Goldeyes games; he has always seemed like a very devoted fan…yet, I didn’t really know him.
Josh regularly reads my Goldeyes blogs and leaves commentary. I was very impressed with this young man, yet still, I didn’t know his story. Little pieces would come out, but it was still a puzzle.
Recently Josh posted some very personal thoughts on Facebook about the challenges he has faced in life. I reached out to him and asked if he’d like to share his story on the blog…I sensed at first some hesitation, but with time and thought, Josh eagerly agreed to share his story.
What follows is the story of a transgender youth trying to find himself.
Well done Josh…very proud of you for having the courage to write this. I know Luis Alen is proud of you also…as are all your friends and Goldeyes family.
© Josh Alen
Sometime in the spring of 2007, my local indy-league baseball team brought a rookie bat catcher onto the roster, a little guy from South America with decent numbers. His name was Luis Alen, and I guess that’s where this story starts.
I didn’t know the first thing about baseball back then. I followed the Winnipeg Goldeyes casually, solely because they were the hometown ball club. That changed pretty quickly after that signing.
You know that feeling when something happens, and you feel a click, as if to say this is going to be important? That’s the feeling I got, reading that press release.
It would end up being six years before I got to see that kid from Venezuela play a game in person, but man, was it ever worth the wait.
I went to my first Goldeyes game on March 18th of 2008, my first words? “Where’s Alen?”
“Oh, he doesn’t play for us anymore.” I was told.
Needless to say, that was a disappointing summer. I didn’t end up going back for a while, but the reasons were unrelated.
In May of 2012, I was reeling from years’ of mental illnesses, abuse trauma, and a couple failed suicide attempts.
I didn’t want to live anymore, let alone go to a baseball game. I did anyway.
It was the 30th, just days before my nineteenth birthday. The night was warm, the breeze was perfect, and the sunset was one of the more beautiful ones I’d seen in a while. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would end up being the first day of the rest of my life.
“Just one game” I’d said.
That “one game” ended up being close to fifteen or twenty by the time September rolled around, and turned into becoming a season ticket holder by age twenty-one.
I don’t remember much about the 2012 season,
I remember that first game though. I remember finally seeing Luis in person, I remember seeing him interact with fans, how kind and sweet he was, how genuine he seemed, I remember watching him walk up to bat. It was like being a kid on Christmas morning again. I remember watching him hit, hit after hit, after hit…it’d be a while before I saw him strike out. He was a genius behind the plate too, called the game like few others.
That game set the stage for the coming years. I don’t remember if we won or not, it wasn’t important. I remember feeling, a certain safety, a sense of home (there was that click again).
I’d continue to feel that throughout the rest of the year, as I became more familiar with the team that was quite quickly becoming mine.
Everything was so new, and so fun, getting to know some regular fans, some of the staff, and some of the players themselves.
It was refreshing to have something to look forward to, something exciting, that was bringing me out of my shell after so long; the championship run that fall certainly didn’t hurt either.
Still, the best part of that first summer was watching, awe-struck every time #18 walked past, or went up to the plate.
That would be the case every year. I’ll never know exactly why, but nothing else ever seemed to matter quite as much. Maybe it was simply how good he was on the field. Maybe it was how he carried himself as a professional athlete, or how humble he was. Though it could have been that in getting to know him I’d come to find that the kind, gentle soul I’d seen interacting with kids on that night in May wasn’t the same act that most athletes put on to impress; but in fact just who he was. It was likely a combination of all those things, mixed with a little of the world’s best hugs.
Whatever it was, it kept me coming back, not just in 2012; but every year that followed.
Life didn’t just magically get better after one summer, no. That has been a lengthy process that has lasted up until this day, and will continue for as long as I live.
There has been hurt, there has been heartache, there have been more mental illnesses, there have been my first steps in the world as a transgender male, there has been loss, so, much loss.
Though, no matter the mud that I’ve been dragged through, no matter how far past rock bottom I’ve sank, there has always been a light at the end of the tunnel, I’ve always had my boys. Even when I didn’t have “my” boys, even when every other player I’d liked had left for whatever reasons, when a large portion of the friends I’d made in years past had decided to not return; there was always, my catcher. That was what got me through even the darkest nights and back through the doors of my beloved ballpark every spring.
Until one day, he wasn’t anymore.
That’s when it became real.
That was the point which I had to sit back, and reflect on the years I’d spent telling myself that this one, amazing player had kept me coming back long enough to love a team that I kept claiming saved my life. I came to a crossroads at which I was forced to look at whether or not those claims were true, or if they were just the rugs under which I’d been sweeping my problems.
It was agonizing, to say the very least.
I was convinced that I didn’t have a chance in hell at recovering from the loss of the person who’d been there from the very beginning, who was the catalyst for all the friendships, all the happy memories, the person who none of this could be at all without.
I did have a chance though, after months of self-destruction and doubt I overcame, and I conquered with such tenacity that even as I write this a year later, I still cannot fathom.
I spent the last three hundred and sixty five plus days moving one of the most enormous mountains that life has ever dropped in front of me.
I didn’t do it alone though, not for a single second.
On a frigid, January morning the safe, familiar home that I’d built for myself burst into flames, and burned to the ground; leaving me buried so far beneath the rubble that I was rendered virtually unrecognizable. At the time I was thought that everything I’d come to know was over, when in reality it was just beginning. Slowly, everything that I had gained from the interest in baseball that a catcher had sparked a decade prior started to unfold everywhere I looked. All the happiness that reminded me of why I started this chapter to begin with, the memories that I’d miss making, the love that would be left over with nowhere to go should I make good on my “resignation” from my Goldeyes, the friendships that I’d come to cherish that would likely be lost.
That last one was the most important, and ultimately what has gotten me to the place I am in right now.
The friends that I had made and continue to make, the people who found the multiple feet of rubble, and chipped away to find me at the bottom. The people who pulled me out, and dusted me off, the people who held me up and showed me not only how to stand again, but how to walk on my own; those who stood on all sides of me, and picked me up every time I fell, every time I still fall. The people who believed in me, who loved me until I could be myself again, the people who ended up showing me what it meant to belong, and to be truly accepted.
The people who I would never have met, had it not been for the love I developed for that rookie catcher from Venezuela, who I’ve now come to call My King.
I will not forget the bad that came with this last year.
The sheer terror on that morning, the devastation I felt when walking away seemed like the best and only option, or the weeks I spent lying awake at night, most of the time fairly intoxicated.
However, I will also not forget the good.
The leaps and bounds I made towards recovery after so many years, the obstacles that I laughed in the face of, as I surmounted them.
The night before my twenty-third birthday; on which I summoned the courage to tell the man that started this all, a watered-down version of this story. The same night that I asked him for his blessing to take his last name as my own (I should mention that he said yes, and I’ve never been more proud of anything in my all my years).
The new people I met along the way that help each and every day to shape me into the man that I hope to eventually become.
Oh, and the championship run at the end of this season wasn’t too shabby either.
I have learned so much about the mental strength that I did not know I possessed, about perseverance, and resiliency. I’ve learned what it means to truly love, and to be truly loved.
I’ve learned about taking risks, and making the most of every precious moment you’re given, how not a single one of those moments should be taken for granted, and making damn sure that you tell the ones you love that you love them while you still have the chance.
I’ve had proven to me the meaning of fate, and destiny. I learned to trust that click, to trust the feeling of this was meant to be. If something screams “this is your purpose, this is what you were meant to find” for a decade, you should probably stop being stubborn and just listen.
I am finally on a road to a real, and long-lasting recovery after over a decade of suffering, I am on a path to becoming the most authentic me I can possibly be; none of which could be possible without the environment that a small sports organization in downtown Winnipeg creates for their fans
Sometime in the spring of 2007, my local independent-league baseball club signed a soft-spoken, catcher, with a heart of gold, and one of the most beautiful souls this world will ever know. His name was Luis Alen; and he, along with his team changed my life forever.
© Chuck Duboff
“We are at war with the media.” This has become the go to mantra for the Trump Administration. They believe that journalists are doing all they can to delegitimize the Trump presidency, when in fact they are presenting the Facts.
During the Sunday morning political talk shows, a Trump’s spokesperson, Sean Spicer, went off on the media for reporting how small the turnout was for the Inauguration; he in fact stated that the crowds were the largest in inauguration history. The fact is very clearly shown in pictures and video that the Washington Mall had nowhere near the crowds of the Obama inauguration…yet, the Trump people disputed that.
Then the “scary one”, KellyAnn Conway, began her tour of all the networks, introducing the populace to the term “alternative facts.” When questioned about the apparent misleading statements by the Trump regime, Conway stated “we will present Alternative Facts”.
I would suggest, in non-Orwellian terms, they will present LIES!! Tell the people the same thing enough times and they will begin to believe that a square really is a circle.
“War is peace / freedom is slavery and ignorance is strength” Orwell.
This phrase was used by George Orwell in the first chapter of his novel “1984.” The Party believed that they could endlessly engage in a war to keep peace in the country. This slogan describes the reality of accepting two mutually opposing beliefs simultaneously as correct. By presenting their own set of Alternative Facts, the Trump Administration will have the masses shaking their heads in disbelief and confusion.
Tony Goldwyn expressed, “Kellyanne Conway just coined a very dangerous phrase like it’s the most normal thing in the world. #AlternativeFacts.” Sarah Silverman said, “Lies now called ‘alternative facts’ by Trump admin.”
George Takei tweeted, “Kellyanne Conway now refers to their lies as “alternative facts.” We get it. War is peace, freedom is slavery”
As stated by many journalists during the Sunday morning “Alternative Facts” tour, these are very scary times we are living in.
Björn Höcke of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) was giving a speech to the group “Young Alternative Dresden” on Tuesday when he began discussing how Germany remembers its history.
He urged the country to end its ‘culture of remembering Nazi crimes’, adding that Germany must make a 180-degree change in how it reflects on the past, describing it as a “stupid coping policy”, according to broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.
“We Germans, our people, are the only people in the world who planted a memorial of shame in the heart of the capital city,” he said, referring to Berlin’s Holocaust memorial.
He also compared Chancellor Angela Merkel to Erich Honecker – the former socialist leader of East Germany who was put on trial for human rights abuses during the Cold War, including for the killing of people who attempted to flee the country.
When Höcke compared the Allied forces’ bombing of Dresden to the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he received a round of applause.
He further described Germany’s frame of mind as “a brutally beaten people”.
“Instead of bringing up the new generation with the great philanthropists, the world famous, groundbreaking philosophers, the musicians, the ingenious explorers and inventors, of which we have many… maybe more than any other people in the world… and instead of exposing our students in schools to this history, the history – German history – is made into something rotten and ridiculous.”
The politician further said that both de-Nazification and the bombing of German cities had “cleared out our roots”.
Höcke also bashed the famous speech in 1985 by then President Richard von Weizsäcker, in which he called for Germany and all Germans to remember their historic responsibility in the crimes of the Nazis, marking 40 years after the end of the Second World War.
The AfD politician said Weizsäcker had made a “speech against his own people”.
The chair of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, said he was shocked by the comments.
“The AfD have shown their true face with these anti-Semitic and extremely inhumane words,” Schuster said.
“I would have never believed that it would be possible for a politician in Germany to make such statements 70 years after the Holocaust.”
Höcke responded on Facebook on Wednesday, saying he was astonished by the media coverage of his speech. He defended his calling the Holocaust memorial a “memorial of shame,” saying he was also acknowledging Germans’ shame over the genocide.
“In my speech in Dresden, I was concerned with the question of how we Germans look back on our history and how this can can help us establish our identity in the 21st century. Undoubtedly, we must be aware in our self-assurance of our immense guilt. It is part of our history. But it is only part of our history,” he wrote.
“Guilt consciousness alone cannot create a healthy identity, but only a broken one. And it must also be clear to us that the integration problems that are all visible to us in this country also result from our broken identity.”
But Höcke did not comment on his other statements about city bombings, Weizsäcker, or “doing a 180” on remembering the Nazis’ crimes.
Opposing politicians have also condemned Höcke’s comments.
“Höcke held a rabble-rousing speech in Dresden, he wants to rewrite history,” wrote Social Democrat Ralf Stegner on Twitter.
“The AfD must unmistakably distance themselves from this and apologize to our Jewish friends,” Peter said.
AfD politicians have stirred controversy before with statements seemingly sympathizing with Nazis or downplaying the Holocaust. It was revealed in September that one then newly elected member of the Berlin parliament had referred to civilian victims of the Nazis as “guerilla fighters” and said that killing them was “legal”.
Another politician described the Holocaust, in a book, as “certain infamous actions” and Holocaust deniers as dissidents.
In just two days, the United States of America will have a new president; an individual who is bombastic, racist, misogynistic, and is incapable of speaking the truth.
He has taken on the press, and is repeating a statement over and over, that any news outlet which does not agree with his outrageous comments, is a fake news organization. Repeat it enough times and those whose blind faith got Donald Trump elected, will believe it.
To state that CNN is a fake news organization is a grandiose lie. CNN, unlike Fox News and Breitbart, does not blindly accept anything which Mr. Trump spews.
Jeremy Peters of the New York Times stated:
“The C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the White House may all agree that Russia was behind the hacking that interfered with the election. But that was of no import to the website Breitbart News, which dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as “left-wing fake news.”
Rush Limbaugh has diagnosed a more fundamental problem. “The fake news is the everyday news” in the mainstream media, he said on his radio show recently. “They just make it up.”
Some supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump have also taken up the call. As reporters were walking out of a Trump rally this month in Orlando, Fla., a man heckled them with shouts of “Fake news!”.
If Americans continue down this path of allowing their new President to repeat the same falsehoods over and over, I dare say the days of Hitler taking over control of the media are not far behind.
© Chuck Duboff:
I am so very proud to share the news that my very good friend, Al Bryski, has his first book published. Al is a wonderful wordsmith, a gentleman filled with wonderful insights into life.
You can purchase a copy of Saskatchewan Farm Boy at McNally Robinson Book Store; $19.95…and if you wanted the book inscribed, let me know and I will make sure Al gets it signed for you.
Enjoy one of Al’s wonderful pieces of writing…Hunger.
Hunger. © Al Bryski
Have you ever been hungry? I mean really really hungry? Most of us in our daily lives seldom experience true hunger. Oh, sure, we get hunger pangs when we are late for or skip a meal. But to experience real hunger is something most of us have not had to do and hope not to ever have to do!
The definition of hunger according to Merriam-Webster dictionary:
a : a craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient b : an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food c : a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food.
The only time I truly experienced hunger was when I first arrived in the city of Winnipeg, a callow recently graduated-from-twelfth-grade youth. I arrived in the city in late July at the height of a recession. Jobs were scarce, especially for 17 year old children with no practical skills that people looking to hire someone would consider as assets. Sure I had a lot of skills and smarts that working on a farm instil in a person. But none of these were very obvious and though many of them would have been transferable to on the job training, no one was willing to take the chance. No one, that is, except for the CNR – also known as Canadian National Railways.
The CNR took me in because I could read and write and speak fluently in 2 languages with English being the main criteria. They hired me because I had completed my high school education, which at that time was a standing equivalent to a university degree today. I had all my body parts, excellent vision, and excellent hearing( this was before my phys-ed teaching days in poorly constructed non-acoustic gyms)and I showed up sober for my interview without any mad dog characteristics. I was hired on the spot to work out of the Fort Rouge, Transcona, East Yard, CNR Union Staion, and Paddington rail yards as a yard staff employee.
My first shift would come off the spare board where I was placed among 30 other recently and newly hired employees. I was the lowest man – there were no women on the yard staff – with the lowest seniority possible. I was inexperienced and my seniority number was lower than a snake’s belly! Spare boards were designed to help fill immediate vacancies arising as a result of some one “booking off”, that is calling in sick or because of some other emergency. Then the first person – the one with the greatest seniority – would be called with about 2 hours notice to fill in for the absentee at whatever yard the job took place.
My first week, I worked one shift as a callboy, a position dating back to pre-telephone days, when callboys were dispatched to the homes of train crew members to let them know that they were officially called to crew an outgoing freight or passenger train. With the advent of telephones, callboys were in less need and new duties were added to their job descriptions such as delivering inter-departmental mail and serving as general “joe-boys” for the chief clerk for whom they were working that shift. The pay was the minimum wage of the time as we were unionized wage earners. My salary for an eight hour shift was a dollar an hour or eight bucks. This wasn’t as bad then as it seems now because bus fares were 15 cents, burgers were between 15 and 25 cents, bread was about 20 cents a loaf, a 6-pack of beer was a $1.25, and movie admissions were about 25 cents.
The second week I worked another shift as a callboy but in Transcona which was hard to get to if you didn’t own a car. You had to catch a bus which ran once every hour from Portage and Main to Transcona. The fare was 20 cents plus the last bus from Transcona was at midnight. If the chief clerk didn’t give you an early quit, that is let you go early, you would miss your bus, and for me it would have been 13 km walk or about 3 hours to get home.
So after two weeks I had accrued 16 hours or $16 in wages. As we were being paid every 2 weeks, I looked forward to receiving my first paycheck minus the usual deductions. When on payday I went to the pay office to pick up my scant pay, I discovered to my horror that because I was a new employee, my first check would come in the next pay period, a practice for better and more accurate accounting. Our pay checks were always for the two weeks previous to the last two weeks.
I was broke and I was now alone in the small 3 room suite that I shared with my brother and my cousin. I could have hit them up for a few bucks but my brother had just left to engineer some work on one of the airports in northern Manitoba and my cousin Merv had just gone home for a couple of weeks to help his dad with the haying and harvest season. The fridge and the cupboards were almost bare. To top it off I had only a dollar in cash and I needed it for bus fare so I could get to and from work. My shifts were in yards which were usually an hour or more of walking away from where I lived and because sometimes my spare-board assignments came at the last moment leaving me with very little wiggle time to get to work, I needed bus fare money.
I was okay for about a week and then all the food was gone. I ate the last of my ketchup sandwiches and drank the last of my Kool-Aid. There was no more food! I guess I could have begged some food from the neighbors but I was young and proud, so I “sucked it up” and lived on glasses of water. This went on for about 3 days …no food, only water.
I was called to work once that week in Fort Rouge where I did my first shift as a car checker with an increase of my wage to $2 an hour but with a greater expenditure of energy as I would have to walk the tracks checking or writing down the numbers of rail cars on the track in their sequential order. Some of the tracks were a mile in length in the yard and that meant that I could walk up to 20 miles in a shift. Add to this some hunger pangs and my life did not have many positives in it.
Back then I lived just off off of Maryland Street south of Broadway. On Honeyman Street just west of Broadway was a small hole-in-the-wall grocery run by an older Jewish couple. Their store was the Ches-way Grocery and I think it was about 10 metres deep and about 4 metres wide and about 4 metres high and packed to to the brim with foods and household needs. They had a small meat counter and a fridge for dairy and frozen foods. We used to buy our groceries here because of convenience and closeness to home- the prices were higher than in the large supermarkets.
On the start of my fourth day of no food I was so hungry that I went to the store. Why? I don’t know because when I walked into the store the smell of food almost drove me crazy. I wandered the store taking in all the wonderful aromas and tantalizing displays of foods and fresh fruits and veggies. I started salivating and I started contemplating for the first time in my life the act of shop lifting.
“They wouldn’t miss a can of beans or maybe a package of biscuits if I was quick and quiet and unobtrusive, ” I said to myself. But the Jewish couple were experienced in what they were doing and they probably sensed what I was contemplating, so there was always one of them nearby, ostensibly re-arranging cans or packages but probably to keep an eye on me so I wouldn’t do anything rash.
Finally the woman said in a heavy accented English, “You are hungry, no?”
I nodded that I was. She then smiled and said, “You have no money, no?”
“No, ” I replied, thinking now that I would be asked to leave the store. But no. She called her husband and they conferred for a minute in what I think was Yiddish. Then she smiled at me, and spoke the sweetest words a hungry person could hope to hear. “You take what you need and we will write it down and when you have money you will come and pay us, no?”
“Yes,” I answered with tears of gratitude and joy . They asked me my name but they never asked me for my address or a phone number. It was complete trust and kindness.
Gratefully I loaded up 2 bags of groceries and quickly headed back to my place before they could change their minds. I feasted and I ate and I feasted. No, actually I was only able to eat some small amounts because my stomach had managed to shrink quite a bit in the previous weeks.
The next pay day, I cashed my check at a bank and the first order of business was to repay the trust of the beautiful Jewish couple who had done such a wonderful kindness for me. In the future I bought all my necessities there and I was always grateful for what they had done for me.
I really hope I never have to experience that kind of hunger again even though it was very mild compared to what so many people on our planet suffer through every day.
© Dan Rather
Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent. We must all stand up to be counted.
HIstory will demand to know which side were you on. This is not a question of politics or party or even policy. This is a question about the very fundamentals of our beautiful experiment in a pluralistic democracy ruled by law.
When I see neo-Nazis raise their hands in terrifying solute, in public, in our nation’s capital, I shudder in horror. When I see that action mildly rebuked by a boilerplate statement from the President-elect whom these bigots have praised, the anger in me grows. And when I see some in a pliant press turn that mild statement into what they call a denunciation I cannot hold back any longer.
Our Declaration of Independence bequeaths us our cherished foundational principle: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
These truths may be self-evident but they are not self-replicating. Each generation has to renew these vows. This nation was founded as an opposite pole to the capriciousness of an authoritarian monarch. We set up institutions like a free press and an independent court system to protect our fragile rights. We have survived through bloody spasms of a Civil War and a Civil Rights Movement to extend more of these rights to more of our citizens. But the direction of our ship of state has not always been one of progress. We interned Japanese Americans, Red Baited during the McCarthy era, and more. I feel the rip tide of regression once again swelling under my feet. But I intend to remain standing.
In normal times of a transition in our presidency between an incoming and outgoing administration of differing political parties, there is a certain amount of fretting on one side and gloating on the other. And the press usually takes a stance that the new administration at least deserves to have a chance to get started – a honeymoon period. But these are not normal times. This is not about tax policy, health care, or education – even though all those and more are so important. This is about racism, bigotry, intimidation and the spectre of corruption.
But as I stand I do not despair, because I believe the vast majority of Americans stand with me. To all those in Congress of both political parties, to all those in the press, to religious and civic leaders around the country. your voices must be heard. I hope that the President-elect can learn to rise above this and see the dangers that are brewing. If he does and speaks forcibly, and with action, we should be ready to welcome his voice. But of course I am deeply worried that his selections of advisors and cabinet posts suggests otherwise.
To all of you I say, stay vigilant. The great Martin Luther King, Jr. knew that even as a minority, there was strength in numbers in fighting tyranny. Holding hands and marching forward, raising your voice above the din of complacency, can move mountains. And in this case, I believe there is a vast majority who wants to see this nation continue in tolerance and freedom. But it will require speaking. Engage in your civic government. Flood newsrooms or TV networks with your calls if you feel they are slipping into the normalization of extremism. Donate your time and money to causes that will fight to protect our liberties.
We are a great nation. We have survived deep challenges in our past. We can and will do so again. But we cannot be afraid to speak and act to ensure the future we want for our children and grandchildren.
© Chuck Duboff
I was sickened to see this headline on CNN. Giving time to the Alt-Right legitimizes their existence, hatred, bigotry. CNN is no longer a news outlet…it is sensationalism for the purpose of boosting ratings. Gone are the days of Bernard Shaw reporting on the news, not talking heads screaming at each other. Where is the reporting on what is going on in North Dakota? It would seem that CNN would rather fan the flames of a Nazi revival. I have not turned on CNN since Election Night, I will find other sources for “new facts” which are occurring around the world.
I WILL NOT SIT IDLY BY AND WATCH THE MANNER IN WHICH THE ALT RIGHT IS GIVEN LEGITIMACY AND JEWS ARE DENIGRATED AND MADE THE SCAPE GOAT. IF THIS BLOG NEEDS TO BECOME A DAILY REMINDER OF WHAT IS HAPPENING, THEN THAT IS WHAT IT WILL BECOME.
I am proud to be Jewish; this video speaks to me and I will stand up for the 6 million who can’t speak.
CNN: this is what is happening in North Dakota, in case you were too busy giving life to a Nazi party.
© Chuck Duboff
My good friend Geoff Brookes, and his wife Laureen, are currently on a three week holiday in Italy. Geoff has been sending breathtaking pictures and this morning an e-mail arrived (of course Geoff has been asking for Jets updates…lol) Enjoy this blog written and photographed in Italy:
© Geoff Brookes
‘m in the outdoor seating at “Bar Focacceria Antonio”, in Monterosso Al Mare, on a peaceful Saturday morning. In the misty distance I can see rocky hills falling to the sea like folds in a roughly thrown blanket. In each fold is another town of the “Cinque Terre”, the five towns that dot this spectacular stretch of the Mediterranean Sea. I’m having my second cappuccino, but I will wait until Laureen wakes to sample the three kinds of Focaccia bread that I spied in the display case. (We brought our gluten-cutter pills for this reason). This is where they invented Focaccia bread – Liguria province.
Last night we had a feast of seafood at a wonderful restaurant, “Belvedere”. It is indeed a “beautiful view”, through an open window to the Mediterranean. With a fine local white wine made in neighbouring “Vernazza”, it’s a slice of heaven to sample, where earth, wind and sea wish each other “buonasera”.
Rome was spectacular. We had guided tours of the Pantheon, the Colliseum and the Forum, while we wandered through the Palatine hill on our own. We also had an excellent guide for the Vatican and St. Peter’s (thanks Trev!). We liked the guide for the Pantheon, but the guide for the forum seemed to evaluate the ruins based on how much was left standing for each of the hundreds of ruined structures for the “forum” and the palatine hill. The forum is actually a vast congregation of ruins from the valley that was the centre of Ancient Rome. The Palatine hill was the area where the aristocrats built their palaces, above the city centre, and technically beyond its city limits, as was required at that time.
There are amazing ancient buildings scattered everywhere throughout modern Rome, but when you walk through the large area of the coliseum, the forum and the palatine hill, you feel like you’re walking through time. There are enough fully preserved remnants that you feel like you can imagine them as they were 2,000 years ago.
This 5 square miles (my guess) controlled Europe and North Africa for parts of 1,000 years, long before plagues ravaged the population of Europe. Most importantly, the Romans provided continuity in culture, art and science from the Greeks (who played at least some role in the origins of Rome), and similar historical cultures before them. Unfortunately, this knowledge went underground for 1,000 years after the Roman Empire collapsed, until its “rebirth” in the Renaissance, in which the Italians played a leading role once again.
Enjoy the pictures!
© Chuck Duboff
Recently, I have had the good fortune to meet Leah ProudLakota Gazan. We have had some interesting, intense conversations about the plight of the Indigenous peoples of Canada. She has opened my eyes to The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…a document which I believe should be required reading for all students in Canadian schools. The plight of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is a scar on our wonderful country. Please take 20 minutes to read this document…and ask yourself why these actions are not being taken. I read through the whole document, word by word, line by line and shook my head in disbelief to the complete disregard with which our new government is acting towards our First Nations population. Will you take some time to read this?
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Article 1 Indigenous peoples have the right to the full enjoyment, as a collective or as individuals, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms as recognized in the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights4 and international human rights law.
Article 2 Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.
Article 3 Indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.
Article 4 Indigenous peoples, in exercising their right to self-determination, have the right to autonomy or self-government in matters relating to 4.Resolution 217 A (III). 5 their internal and local affairs, as well as ways and means for financing their autonomous functions.
Article 5 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their right to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
Article 6 Every indigenous individual has the right to a nationality.
Article 7 1. Indigenous individuals have the rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security of person. 2. Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.
Article 8 1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture. 2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: (a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities; (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; (c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights; (d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration; (e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them. 6
Article 9 Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right.
Article 10 Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.
Article 11 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature. 2. States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.
Article 12 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practise, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains. 2. States shall seek to enable the access and/or repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains in their possession through fair, transparent and effective mechanisms developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned.
Article 13 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by other appropriate means.
Article 14 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning. 2. Indigenous individuals, particularly children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State without discrimination. 3. States shall, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.
Article 15 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information. 2. States shall take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society.
Article 16 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to establish their own media in their own languages and to have access to all forms of non-indigenous media without discrimination. 8 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that State-owned media duly reflect indigenous cultural diversity. States, without prejudice to ensuring full freedom of expression, should encourage privately owned media to adequately reflect indigenous cultural diversity.
Article 17 1. Indigenous individuals and peoples have the right to enjoy fully all rights established under applicable international and domestic labour law. 2. States shall in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples take specific measures to protect indigenous children from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child’s education, or to be harmful to the child’s health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development, taking into account their special vulnerability and the importance of education for their empowerment. 3. Indigenous individuals have the right not to be subjected to any discriminatory conditions of labour and, inter alia, employment or salary.
Article 18 Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision making institutions.
Article 19 States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.
Article 20 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions, to be secure in the enjoyment of their own means of subsistence and development, and to engage freely in all their traditional and other economic activities. 9 2. Indigenous peoples deprived of their means of subsistence and development are entitled to just and fair redress.
Article 21 1. Indigenous peoples have the right, without discrimination, to the improvement of their economic and social conditions, including, inter alia, in the areas of education, employment, vocational training and retraining, housing, sanitation, health and social security. 2. States shall take effective measures and, where appropriate, special measures to ensure continuing improvement of their economic and social conditions. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities.
Article 22 1. Particular attention shall be paid to the rights and special needs of indigenous elders, women, youth, children and persons with disabilities in the implementation of this Declaration. 2. States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.
Article 23 Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for exercising their right to development. In particular, indigenous peoples have the right to be actively involved in developing and determining health, housing and other economic and social programmes affecting them and, as far as possible, to administer such programmes through their own institutions.
Article 24 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services. 2. Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this right. 10
Article 25 Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
Article 26 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired. 3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.
Article 27 States shall establish and implement, in conjunction with indigenous peoples concerned, a fair, independent, impartial, open and transparent process, giving due recognition to indigenous peoples’ laws, traditions, customs and land tenure systems, to recognize and adjudicate the rights of indigenous peoples pertaining to their lands, territories and resources, including those which were traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used. Indigenous peoples shall have the right to participate in this process.
Article 28 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent. 2. Unless otherwise freely agreed upon by the peoples concerned, compensation shall take the form of lands, territories and resources 11 equal in quality, size and legal status or of monetary compensation or other appropriate redress.
Article 29 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination. 2. States shall take effective measures to ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent. 3. States shall also take effective measures to ensure, as needed, that programmes for monitoring, maintaining and restoring the health of indigenous peoples, as developed and implemented by the peoples affected by such materials, are duly implemented.
Article 30 1. Military activities shall not take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples, unless justified by a relevant public interest or otherwise freely agreed with or requested by the indigenous peoples concerned. 2. States shall undertake effective consultations with the indigenous peoples concerned, through appropriate procedures and in particular through their representative institutions, prior to using their lands or territories for military activities.
Article 31 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their cultural heritage, traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, as well as the manifestations of their sciences, technologies and cultures, including human and genetic resources, seeds, medicines, knowledge of the properties of fauna and flora, oral traditions, literatures, designs, sports and traditional games and visual and performing arts. They also have the right to maintain, control, protect and develop their intellectual property over such cultural heritage, traditional knowledge, and traditional cultural expressions. 12 2. In conjunction with indigenous peoples, States shall take effective measures to recognize and protect the exercise of these rights.
Article 32 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine and develop priorities and strategies for the development or use of their lands or territories and other resources. 2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources. 3. States shall provide effective mechanisms for just and fair redress for any such activities, and appropriate measures shall be taken to mitigate adverse environmental, economic, social, cultural or spiritual impact.
Article 33 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity or membership in accordance with their customs and traditions. This does not impair the right of indigenous individuals to obtain citizenship of the States in which they live. 2. Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the structures and to select the membership of their institutions in accordance with their own procedures.
Article 34 Indigenous peoples have the right to promote, develop and maintain their institutional structures and their distinctive customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and, in the cases where they exist, juridical systems or customs, in accordance with international human rights standards.
Article 35 Indigenous peoples have the right to determine the responsibilities of individuals to their communities. 13
Article 36 1. Indigenous peoples, in particular those divided by international borders, have the right to maintain and develop contacts, relations and cooperation, including activities for spiritual, cultural, political, economic and social purposes, with their own members as well as other peoples across borders. 2. States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take effective measures to facilitate the exercise and ensure the implementation of this right.
Article 37 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements concluded with States or their successors and to have States honour and respect such treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements. 2. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as diminishing or eliminating the rights of indigenous peoples contained in treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements.
Article 38 States, in consultation and cooperation with indigenous peoples, shall take the appropriate measures, including legislative measures, to achieve the ends of this Declaration.
Article 39 Indigenous peoples have the right to have access to financial and technical assistance from States and through international cooperation, for the enjoyment of the rights contained in this Declaration.
Article 40 Indigenous peoples have the right to access to and prompt decision through just and fair procedures for the resolution of conflicts and disputes with States or other parties, as well as to effective remedies for all infringements of their individual and collective rights. Such a decision shall give due consideration to the customs, traditions, rules and legal systems of the indigenous peoples concerned and international human rights. 14
Article 41 The organs and specialized agencies of the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations shall contribute to the full realization of the provisions of this Declaration through the mobilization, inter alia, of financial cooperation and technical assistance. Ways and means of ensuring participation of indigenous peoples on issues affecting them shall be established.
Article 42 The United Nations, its bodies, including the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and specialized agencies, including at the country level, and States shall promote respect for and full application of the provisions of this Declaration and follow up the effectiveness of this Declaration.
Article 43 The rights recognized herein constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.
Article 44 All the rights and freedoms recognized herein are equally guaranteed to male and female indigenous individuals.
Article 45 Nothing in this Declaration may be construed as diminishing or extinguishing the rights indigenous peoples have now or may acquire in the future.
Article 46 1. Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, people, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to the Charter of the United Nations or construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States. 2. In the exercise of the rights enunciated in the present Declaration, human rights and fundamental freedoms of all shall be respected. The exercise of the rights set forth in this Declaration shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law 15 and in accordance with international human rights obligations. Any such limitations shall be non-discriminatory and strictly necessary solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for meeting the just and most compelling requirements of a democratic society. 3. The provisions set forth in this Declaration shall be interpreted in accordance with the principles of justice, democracy, respect for human rights, equality, non-discrimination, good governance and good faith.
© Chuck Duboff
The past few days on this blog I have written and posted about tolerance, about human rights, about racism….My friend Reggie Abercrombie posted this speech by Martin Luther King on Facebook; how very, very appropriate my friend. These are very difficult times in the United States….tensions are high on the streets and lives are being taken. I asked both Reggie and Casio Grider to be safe…Casio indicated to me that he is blessed that he lives in a part of Los Angeles which seems to be safe from what is going on. But the mere fact that he must think about his safety is so very scary. Though they are perceived as “just ballplayers” for our Winnipeg Goldeyes, both Reg and Casio are wonderful human beings and friends and inspirations to so many. Winnipeg would welcome both of you with open arms, any time…
In the meantime, think of the words of Martin Luther King…process and do something positive today to make this a more peaceful world.
© Chuck Duboff: I am asked why I keep talking, writing about issues like racism, tolerance, human rights…when racism ends, when human rights for all is not questioned, when tolerance is our way of life…then I will stop…until then…ask yourself why, in 2016, racism still permeates society.
First They Came
Pastor Martin Niemoller
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left To speak out for me.
© Chuck Duboff
Tolerance is defined as: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, beliefs, practices, racial or ethnic origins, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. … a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions, beliefs, and practices that differ from one’s own.
Some thoughts and questions to ponder:
A society which encourages tolerance of those who differ in their beliefs, opinions, religious teachings and cultural behaviours…is a society which will function peacefully, respectfully and in harmony.
A lack of tolerance for others…resisting change, fighting back against new cultural norms, denigrating the religious beliefs of others…leads to a society filled with chaos, tension and disunity.
Ask yourself: are you able to tolerate new cultures within your community?
Do you value, respect and listen to the opinions of others?
Are you set in your ways and not able to have an open mind to change, to accept that society is always evolving?
We often imagine that things were greater in the past…ask yourself honestly, were things really great “back then” or have you sugar coated the past?
Tolerance…without it, societies fall apart; there is lack of mutual respect, people live in fear and anger towards others is the overriding emotion…which fuels a society on the brink of anarchy.
I learned that very often the most intolerant and narrow-minded people are the ones who congratulate themselves on their tolerance and open-mindedness.
© Geoff Brookes
As I was driving into my office to do some work on Sunday evening, I happened to scan the FM radio dial, and found (by accident) a very articulate speech, by an individual named Adam Gaudry. His speech was entitled “Are the Metis a treaty people?”
The radio station carried approximately the first 20 minutes of his presentation. Adam explained many details about the history of Manitoba and the Metis people in those crucial months leading up to the formation of Manitoba as the fifth Province of Canada. I would like to write about those important events in future blog posts. In this blog, I would like to plant a few seeds.
I studied Manitoba history as part of my high school history courses. I had good history teachers, who cared about what they taught, and who were doing their best to bring it to life for us. But the material was stagnant on the pages. And, I have begun to think that the story needs to be retold, and relearned, because it is an amazing story. In many ways, it is one of the most beautiful stories, about people learning to live in a multicultural, multilingual society, with a great deal of cooperation. It seems to me, from the distance of time, that it might also have included a large amount of mutual respect.
One of my favourite places in Winnipeg is the St. Boniface Basilica. Perhaps that, and the small monument at the Forks, marking the ancient meeting place of the indigenous people of this land, are the places that resonate with me, marking the history of this city. There are also old cemeteries, where you can see graves from the 19th century. We, who currently reside in Winnipeg, tend to see the modern aspects of our lives in this land. We tend to think of our city as a “young” city in terms of Canadian city, and cities of the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. I realize that there are places in the world where history is documented thousands of years ago, instead of hundreds of years ago. But our history is very rich, in terms of what our peoples accomplished, in the era that they did it.
As Adam Gaudry spoke eloquently about the events of 1869 and 1870, I was inspired by the amazing history of all of the peoples that chose to live here together, in Winnipeg and in Manitoba. I thought of the Manitoba club in downtown Winnipeg, where Louis Riel and other important leaders of the soon-to-be Province would gather to talk and socialize. I thought of Fort Garry, which we are only now recognizing properly, as something more than a solitary wall left standing behind the Manitoba club, with only a small plaque to commemorate it near Broadway and Main Street. I was struck by his description of peoples intermarrying and cooperating with one another. I thought of books that my grandfather had given me to read, about the characters that lived in that era, through the 19th century, and during the formation of the Province of Manitoba within Canada
And I realized that this is something that we barely know, as Manitobans, because it probably consumed all of 4 classes during our entire high school years, with less than 10 pages in a book – if we took it at all.
It’s time we learned, and celebrated, our proud and remarkable Manitoba history! There will be more to follow!