August 11, 2007
She’s only fifteen but she is already an advocate for her people. Perhaps she inherited some of her great-grandfather’s wisdom for she already understands the need to know intergenerational stories. How easy it would be for researchers who prepared documents for the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples to make their reports accessible in every possible format so that young people like her could learn and be proud. She emailed me with this request:
Well I am very curious about his because Robert was my great gran father he has now passed on, and I’d really like to read more of this because the reserve we are now in Tsulquate; and the town we live in has really seperated our families with all of the alcoholism and addiction to drugs that has been introduced to us over the years has now grown on the children, youth and has had a very large impact on our elderly that have passed over the years due to being torn from there homeland. I am sure that the elders of our community would be very greatful to get a response as to what was said by my great gran father Robert Walkus Sr. who was a very wise man and a prayer warrior one of the few who has tried to change the future for our youth. I am only fifteen years old but I am very interested in what had gone on back then when our people were forced from our homeland. I honestly think that the youth and children would know more about our own culture, language, and alot of our elderly would still be alive today if we hadn’t been relocated. Thank you ever so much for listening and if you would please get back to me . . .
December 3, 2006
This is a partial truth, more like a flicktion, or a dream, or the virtual than the real. It’s not science or art, more like an invention or innovation. Pieces of this a flicktion are scattered throughout my semi-nomadic cybercamps like tiny inukshuk on a global landscape. It mimics visual anthropology but isn’t. It imitates ethnography but lacks the objectivity. There are words written, pictures taken of events, dates, settings, stages and characters without an author. Maybe it’s the wrong venue in a photo album of beaming faces, stunning scenery, professional photographers, travelers, techies, retirees. But we can all choose to follow each others sign posts in this cyberspace or move on. This is the power of this new social space spun in CyberWeb 2.0.
Cultural ethnographers are supposed to return to their academic spaces, sharpen their methodological tools to a tip that almost cuts the paper they write on (and too often the culture, pop or otherwise they are writing about). You’re not supposed to return from the field with their your mind numbed from the frosted words of those who were seduced by the gold mine of benign colonialism, their voices confident, mocking, paternalistic, jaded by years, or decades of northern experience (1970s-2002). Your were supposed to leave the field with the pace of your beating heart uninterrupted inside your embodied self. You weren’t supposed to leave your a chunk of your soul in that graveyard in Pangnirtung on the Cumberland Sound. This is just lack of professionalism. Get a grip. Just write that comprehensive, proposal, dissertation. Move on. It’s just the way it is.
In this coffee shop sipping a cup of freshly brewed French Roast, (better than a Vancouver Starbucks!), SWF listened with her eyes. She was compassionate but ever so slightly distant. She doesn’t seem to realize how much others from the outside can perceive her knowledge. It is what at times makes her intimidating. Her three generation life story is the stuff of Inuit social history. She seems to almost be unaware of how important that story is. She was surprised that the First Nations cared about the creation of Nunavut. I remember our first class together. She spoke so softly but she was so firm, so insistent, modest and dignified. The wails I had heard by the open graves that still echo in my mind, were all too familiar to her. Slowly, insistently she explained to me as if I really needed to listen, remember, register this.
“We do not need your tears. We have enough of our own. We do not need you to fix this. We need your respect. We need you to not make it worse. We need you to listen to us, really listen. Alone, with no resources an elder has been taking them out on the land. She gets no funding. What she has done works. The funding is going elsewhere on projects that are promoted by the insiders. Inuit like her are not insiders.”
Filed in Anthropology, Art and Science, Blogosphere, collaborative, Cultural Anthropology, hospitality, Memory Work, Power and everyday life, Risk Society, slow world, teaching learning and research, Visual Arts
Tags: Arctic Adventures, benign colonialism, Creative Commons, cultural racism, del.icio.us, Destination Guides, EndNote, ethical topography of self and the Other, everyday.life, flickr, Flicktion, Other-I, PhD attrition, sessional lecturers, Shields.Rob, SOAN, social capital, Visual Anthropology
November 13, 2006
The fishbowl often half-filled or empty reflecting my own image and the subtle changes in light of my embodied living space became a visual metaphor for the complex reflexive way I see and live the world. I took this image on April 15, 2006 from our Cowichan Bay home which looks out over Mount Tzuhalem, Saltspring Island, the Cowichan and Koksilah rivers watershed which feeds into Cowichan bay. In April I was barely beginning to identify places through maps, naming, etc. It was the first image I uploaded to Flickr on September 12, 2006 when I registered with their free online digital image-sharing service. I called it
“Mirrored mountain, marina and clouds” and the text I inserted was a paragraph copied from the home page of the Hul’qumi’num First Nations. I began to seriously explore the customized features of Google Earth on August 8, 2006 after returning from an overwhelmingly beautiful, stimulating Sea-to-Sky-to-Sea road trip. I wanted to relive the entire experience virtually learning by navigating through search engines. Then my real world entertainment technical tools gave up the ghost in unison: TV, VCR and digital camera all within ten days! So I switched from blurking other people’s blogs to making my own. 772 people have viewed Speechless since I uploaded my first blog entry 2006/10/03 entitled “Navigation Tools for the Blogosphere.” 574 people have viewed the 17 images I posted through Flickr over the past two months, 66 people viewed this one alone.
Today I would like to send out a message to embodied friends in the real world, that I need a drive to the gym; or a visit from an embodied person. I have a goal to return to my three-times-a-week gym sessions. I will begin today by packing my gym bag ready to go. My walking buddy cannot walk anymore because of her knee condition.
My contributions to Wikipedia: Memory work
I wrote this a few weeks ago as part of another entry. I am learning how to better use the artful science of folksonomy, so I separated the two entries to fit the tags. Do I train my tags or do they train me?
Strange it is that I am still unable after all these months to pick up the phone to call a dear friend or family member or to write them a personal email but I feel safe, solitary and satisfied while growing this strange, organic rhizome of virtual synapses from the security of my fish bowl here in this tiny but stunning island village. It is easier for me to compose the bulk of this reference letter as a blog than it is to open an MS Word document and write it. How can I be so verbiose and speechless at the same time?
Well, I’ve just gotten off the phone with a lawyer whose daughter was a former student. She’s now applying for law school and needs a reference. The letter would have written itself since she has such a stellar personality but I had asked to talk with someone who knows her well so I could refine adjectives and situate the fine qualities I had come to know within the broader framework of where she has been and where she is going. I had cautioned her that I am on medical leave and have not been doing teaching or research since 2005 and a letter from me might have no academic capital. But she still preferred to ask me. It is a bit ironical because that class was the last I taught at the university that turned me into a ghost, a non-entity in the department. Talking to her father reminded me of why I loved teaching so much. With or without my letter this young woman will become a fine lawyer with a fresh approach who will examine the law from a broader perspective. She isn’t afraid to ask “Why?” Her creative, original arguments will make judges blink without being disrespectful. Her clients will be in excellent hands. She will model ground rules of fair play by debating her arguments skillfully and forcefully without belittling her opponents or making personal attacks. She recognizes her God-given talents but they have not made her arrogant or boastful. Although she is a strong advocate of human rights she has a heightened sense of inclusivity and is therefore not blind-sided by the ‘we’ question. While she has the courage to take risks she is not rash or imprudent as it is in her nature to be reflexive in her thinking.
Her father acknowledged that the law itself is not rigid and timeless but organic and changing as we evolve. I understood that he was reminding me that something might be legal without being ethical. I found these useful citations through Google which I have added to my del.icio.us bookmarks.
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. Jacques Anatole François Thibault) (1894) The Red Lily
What does it profit a poor and ignorant man that he is equal to his strong antagonist before the law if there is no one to inform him what the law is? Or that the courts are open to him on the same terms as all other persons when he has not the wherewithal to pay the admission fee?” Vance, William (1926) “The Historical Background of the Legal Aid Movement,” The Annals from the National Equal Justice Library
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
del.icio.us | swicki | Technorati Profile | wordpress | Flickr | blogspot | photoblog | gather | thinkfree | Picasaweb | Carleton homepage
My contributions to Wikipedia: Memory work
Filed in folksonomy, Power and everyday life, slow world, Social Justice, Tag Clouds, teaching learning and research, Visual.Arts, visualizations
Tags: ethnoclassification, Fishbowl Writing, Flicktion, PhD attrition, reflexivity, sessional lecturers, SOAN, Tag Clouds