Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Guest Blogger: Jacob Ashamock

Jacob Ashamock is a Northern College student in Fort Albany. He and his partner Kerry Bitternose are the parents two young children, Andre and Mispun.

Do you ever wonder why you are here on earth? Why do you think what you are thinking? Think about it. What is the purpose of each one’s individual existence? You know, when you are born, a whole new generation is born, too. If you were born 10 years ago, or 100 years ago, or even a thousand years ago, would your purpose of existence change? Yes, it probably would. What if, in WW2, Adolf Hitler had weapons of mass destruction? Do you think you’d be here if he did? Do you think there would be a Canada, a U.S., or whatever? No, because Hitler felt that his purpose was to make the world full of people with only blonde hair and blue eyes. Except him. Yep, it’s true. And that’s funny because Hitler had dark hair and dark eyes.

Monday, January 29, 2007

250 km north of -33

This morning, I walked to work with the rising sun behind me, reminding myself to keep moving, lest I lose feeling in my legs and collapse in the cold white snow. I’m not sure what the temperature was, but I do know it was -33 C in Moosonee, and we are 250 km north of Moose. That wasn’t even the coldest locale in Northern Ontario - that distinction went to Chapleau, checking in at a frosty -38 C.

I don’t need a thermometer to tell me how cold it is. For me, cold is measured in the length of time it takes for my legs to start freezing when I take Ollie for her 7 a.m. walk. The last week has been the coldest stretch I’ve experienced in the 19 months I’ve been in Fort Albany. Last February, we had about 28 straight days of -20 highs and overnight lows of -35. This last week, however, felt even chillier.

Let’s see...What else is going on? Our class held a fundraiser on the weekend, selling Indian Tacos at Helen Knapaysweet’s place. Helen is Rex’s mom and surely one of the kindest people in town. She offered up her home to us, and along with her daughter Pam, did all the cooking. The students and I baked some desserts on Friday afternoon, but Helen and Pam did all the rest. The money we made will go towards our field trip to Moosonee on Feb. 9, where we will attend a career fair at Northern Lights Secondary School. Rex thinks one more fundraiser (he’s thinking a Texas hold em tourney) will allow us to charter a plane for the day. Talk about travelling in style!

On Friday night, Christine cooked up her fantastic veggie chilli and we hosted a dinner for the nurses and paramedic(s). I had one of those "I’m getting so old" moments when I had to explain to a 22-year-old nursing student that Miami Vice was a popular 1980s television show. Do they not teach kids these things in school?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Here are my top 100 singles of 2006

OK, I wasn’t going to post this, but then I figured why go to the trouble of compiling my favourite 100 singles of 2006 if I wasn’t going to share it with the world? Perhaps someone out there will spot a song they really like, or maybe share the same infinity for an unknown act as me. I just found out there are websites out there featuring favourite song lists of ordinary music fans. And I thought I was the only one.

1 Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol
2 Nothing Left to Lose, Mat Kearney
3 Slow Motion, David Gray
4 Don't Wait, Dashboard Confessional
5 Girl In The War, Josh Ritter
6 Open Your Eyes, Snow Patrol
7 Ticket to Immortality, The Dears
8 Roger and Out, Neil Young
9 Not Going Home, The Elected
10 How To Save A Life, The Fray
11 The Adventure, Angels And Airwaves
12 Twenty Four Hours, Athlete
13 Hate Me, Blue October
14 Good Things, Kathleen Edwards
15 You’re All I Have, Snow Patrol
16 When The Sun Goes Down, Charlie Mars
17 Over My Head, The Fray
18 I Won't Blame You, Pilate
19 Sorry Again, Tomi Swick
20 Hometown, The Supers
21 Our Last Night, Better Than Ezra
22 Jolene, Ray LaMontagne
23 Pussywillow, Greg Dulli
24 It Was Love, The Elected
25 We All Lose One Another, Jason Collett
26 A Night Like This, Tomi Swick
27 Let's Impeach the President, Neil Young
28 Shadowland, Youth Group
29 World Wide Suicide, Pearl Jam
30 Trust Me, The Fray
31 Hands Open, Snow Patrol
32 Try So Hard, Charlie Mars
33 Angels & Saints, Neverending White Lights
34 The Man, Pete Yorn
35 Ever The Same, Rob Thomas
36 Surrender, Ox
37 To Leave It Behind, Great Lake Swimmers
38 Miracle , Foo Fighters
39 The Hardest Part, Coldplay
40 When the Angels Make Contact, Matt Mays
41 Coast Is Clear, In Flight Safety
42 History Remade, FemBots
43 The Grace, Neverending White Lights featuring Dallas Green
44 Wandering Soul, Kate Rusby
45 Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels), The Arcade Fire
46 Learning the Hard Way, Gin Blossoms
47 Beauty, James Iha
48 Now And Always, David Gray
49 Is It Any Wonder?, Keane
50 Stand Up and Be Strong, Soul Asylum
51 Life Wasted, Pearl Jam
52 Conceived, Beth Orton
53 When You Were Young, The Killers
54 Sing, The Dresden Dolls
55 Bodies And Minds, Great Lake Swimmers
56 I’ll bring the sun, Jason Collett
57 In The Backseat The Arcade Fire
58 Alibi, David Gray
59 The Past, Matt Mays
60 For Us, Pete Yorn
61 Beautiful Son, Without Gravity
62 Age of Consent, Neverending White Lights featuring Nick Hexum
63 Haiti, The Arcade Fire
64 Help Me Suzanne, Rhett Miller
65 Let Love in, Goo Goo Dolls
66 Cold December, Matt Costa
67 Orange Sky, Alexi Murdoch
68 The Kill, 30 Seconds To Mars
69 If Tragedy's Appealing, Then Disaster's an Addiction Moneen
70 Stay With You, Goo Goo Dolls
71 Move Along, The All-American Rejects
72 Land of Confusion, Disturbed
73 Begin, Ben Lee
74 Good Man, Josh Ritter
75 Welcome To The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance
76 Bonnie Brae, The Twilight Singers
77 A Message, Coldplay
78 I Will Follow You Into The Dark, Death Cab For Cutie
79 See Right Through Me, Mobile
80 Shine A Light, Wolf Parade
81 Music Is Power, Richard Ashcroft
82 Pull Me Through, Jim Cuddy
83 Helicopters, The Stills
84 Do It Again, Nada Surf
85 The Golden Boy, Shelby
86 Don't Look In Their Eyes, Stabilo
87 Hospital Food, David Gray
88 The Gift, Seether
89 Shopping Trolley, Beth Orton
90 FaceDown, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
91 Lips Like Morphin, Kill Hannah
92 Perfect Situation, Weezer
93 Dirty Little Secret, All American Rejects
94 In The Beginning, The Stills
95 Rooftops, Lost Prophets
96 Fall Down With You, The Paperboys
97 World, Five For Fighting
98 Doctor Blind, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton
99 So Much for Everyone, Dan Mangan
100 Hangover Days, Jason Collett

Thursday, January 18, 2007

That sound you hear is American Idol sucking me in

Oh my God, it’s happening again. Last year at this time, we started watching American Idol for the first time, telling ourselves we only wanted to watch the auditions because the horrible ones are so funny. Then a terrible thing happened: we couldn’t turn Idol off. With nothing to do on cold winter nights in the F-dot, we would turn our brains off and watch this mess of a show, powerless to its mass appeal. I told Christine it wouldn’t happen again. I wasn’t even going to watch the auditions this year because I felt so bad for watching a show that is so gimmicky, and such a ridiculous marketing vehicle for the music industry. Guess what? I watched all four hours this week, and I laughed my butt off.

Let me say, I am a big fan of Simon Cowell. Sure, he crosses the line with his comments, but I respect him for being blunt. Hey, if I had to spend hour after hour, watching awful auditions, I’d get pissy too. The show, on the whole, presents America as a nation of retards, completely obsessed with fame. Didn’t something like 10,000 people line up in Seattle, yet they only picked 7 for Hollywood? Don’t get me wrong, the show does unearth a lot of talented people, but it also creates the illusion that anyone can become a star. Well, hello! You need talent, desire, and a strong work ethic to become successful at anything in life. I wish America would realize this.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Bush 60 Minutes interview disturbing

Did anyone else out there see the George W. Bush interview on 60 Minutes last night? I was deeply troubled, to say the least. Bush looked as unpresidential-like as ever, so unsure of himself to the point of embarassment, still unable to logically explain why increasingly the troop build-up in Iraq to 2004 levels is better than withdrawing completely. Virtually every expert I’ve heard advises against this plan, even some from Fox News.

I might feel better about the future of the world had Bush presented a strong, resolute image to the world last night. Instead, you could almost see the beads of sweat on his forehead when asked the pressing questions. The security of the free world, my friends, is in the hands of this man. And that scares the crap out of me, considering how badly he has bungled the Iraqi invasion, a mess that he started by misleading Americans. Normally, I would advise him to resign, but the alternative might even be worse. I’m talking about Cheney, of course. So, in other words, there is no alternative.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Rollie-Pollie Jonas

Another Day, Another Milestone.

Just a few minutes ago, Jonas rolled over on his own for the first time. He rolled from front to back, most likely in an effort to see the TV. All this a day before his four-month birthday, which we understand is right about the time infants start rolling over on their own. Nice going my little friend. Here’s a picture of him, moments after the big event.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Niska Cafe Open For Business

Screw You Starbucks: Rex Knapaysweet (left), and Brent Nakogee

Natives love coffee.

As the treasurer of the Northern College coffee club, I know first hand just how much coffee a person of Canada’s First Nations community can consume. One fellow I taught last semester was never without a coffee while in class; he was to coffee what Julian from "Trailer Park Boys" is to Rum and Coke.

Well, I am pleased to report that Albany now has a coffee shop, a place where the locals can drop by for a coffee until 1 a.m. The proprieters are a couple of fine young gents: Brent Nakogee and Rex Knapaysweet. Rex is our program assistant at school, and quite possibly the hardest working person on the Rez. He shows up at school, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, at 9 a.m., after working until 1 a.m. the night before, all to support his two young sons. It is terrific to see such initiative in a young person (geez I sound old). In addition to being well-versed in a number of important subjects, Rex is marathon runner, having competed in the Toronto Marathon last year, along with fellow rez boy Gabriel Sutherland Jr.

The shop itself is a shrine to Jonathan Cheechoo, who happens to be a personal friend of Rex’s. Among others things, there is an autographed stick commemorating Jonathan’s 50-goal season, as well as a framed issue of The Hockey News with Jonathan on the cover (that was my donation). The best part about the operation, in my opinion, is the Tim Horton’s coffee, which I am seriously addicted to. All other coffee is just swill, I must say.

Before the Christmas break, the students and I went to the Niska on our coffee break, an experience that reminded me of the Java Joe’s trips we used to make at The Hockey News. As we made the fairly short walk (everywhere here is a short walk), one of the students said "Jeff, people are going to think we’re looking for a party."

It was 10 a.m.

There must be something to this, as it was not the first time a student made this remark while we walked through the reserve. So, there we were, about eight of us walking through town, coffees in hand. Good times, for sure.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I Want Answers

First, Can anyone please tell me why 3,000 Americans and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have died in Iraq since 2003? I have yet to hear a legitimate reason, and it breaks my heart to think so many people have died in vain.

Secondly, this is an occupation, NOT a war.

Third, is there a good reason why George W. Bush should not be tried for war crimes?