My head is reeling from the news of the mass grave found at the Kamloops residential school. I can’t seem to focus on anything else. There were children found as young as three and UIDs in children under 10. Sounds like geocide to me.
I think about the families I worked with in my classroom years ago. Native parents learning to be parents after five generations of no one knowing how to parent because they were removed from their families. Many died, all were emotionally and mentally abused. Too many never returned home. The shame I feel as a white Canadian and former Roman Catholic is insurmountable.
So what I have been doing about it? I have been educating myself. I follow First Nation content, I read and learn. I share out their stories and I listen. I don’t offer ‘my take’ nor do I tell them how to feel. I stand in support and help where I can. I invite you to do the same.
Join me and donate to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society. So much healing needs to happen.
Sitting high above the North Saskatchewan river is Government House. This park is also home to the form Royal Alberta Museum or RAM. I may be wrong, but I think the old RAM still houses museum archives. I hope one day it becomes an indigenous peoples museum. The architecture of the building is stunning. It would be a shame to let it fall into ruin.
I came here a few weeks ago when the sky’s were filled with smoke from the American fires. Edmonton had very few smoke filled days this summer. Likely because everyone stayed home (for the most part) this year. The government house grounds are home to a significant collection of public art. The Captain and I strolled around the grounds to take it all in. It had been a while since we visited here. Often its in the winter to look at the Christmas lights.
There was a wedding in front of Government House, probably no more than 10 people and two dogs. All wearing masks. It was a lovely setting. I know it isn’t a ‘trend’ to have smaller weddings right now, but I like it. The big splash of a wedding doesn’t appeal to me. I like a nice simple affair with a handful of meaningful friends and family. I parked far away from the wedding party so they could have their privacy and I could have minimal people contact.
At the bottom of the parking lot is a path that leads to the valley and Government House Park. There is a great tobogan run and a fantastic running path that takes you west along the river bend and then south. The leaves were perfection. This was the peak day for fall.
We then headed towards the totem that sits on the south east corner.
I don’t know what it is, but I love totem poles. I like to really take my time with each face and study the carver’s ability.
This one is soulful and feels sad.
Cap soon became restless so we headed towards RAM to look at the public art. One section of the building has stone carvings that represent petroglyphs. In all my years coming here, I had never noticed these before.
We wandered around the building to look at the other pieces of art, but honestly none were as beautiful as the building itself.
This is my favourite piece on property.
We wandered around the back of the building and Cap heard the howl of a coyote so we stopped to listen. I thought he would join in but he was not okay with the coyote and thought we should leave.
The medallion in the centre is a wild rose. I would love to take an imprint of that and turn it into a tatecanvas bag or something.
We stopped this building. I am not sure what it is but it is beautiful to look at.
If you enjoy public art, I recommend a visit to Government House grounds. Wander around and take in the views. Whatever you decided to do for fun, keep your distance, wear a mask and stay healthy friends.
It’s that time of year where I find myself hunkering down and taking a step back from my busy life. Partly because December is so hectic with gatherings and special events, it’s nice to sit around and expect very little of yourself. It helps that the weather has been a wee bit on the cool side. -51C windchills anyone? The wind has been a tad brisk. Today is the first day we opened the curtains and let the sun in. Why? Normally we keep them shut as an added insulation barrier to the wind that whips out of the north. It is -17C and quite frankly, it feels like spring.
I read once that how you react to winter is a metaphor for how you react to life. I take it in stride.
Coping with cold does take more effort and thought. For example, I have to plug my car in. Not because it is electric, but because the block heater warms the oil pan and it makes it easier to start. I plug it in when I get home and I also plug it in at work. It adds an extra five minutes each time. Not a huge deal except I am outside struggling with frozen cords praying the end doesn’t snap off like it has before – that is a major hassle if you have never done electrical work before. Things break easily is this type of cold.
Dressing for cold takes thought. I work in a glass building. Sure there is central heat, but it still feels cool. I have a blanket and pashmina at my desk. I wear wool socks, and usually have a base layer, mid-layer and outer layer. When I only have two layers, the blanket comes out for my lap. As I get tired near 3:00 p.m., I find I get cold. Pot of tea and my pashmina help to perk me up. I always wear a scarf and an extra wool scarf for outside. Winter takes effort.
Eating is also a change to the regular. The last thing I want is a salad. Give me hearty soup and crusty bread. Soup for days is my motto. Bread and baked goods make the house smell delicious, warm and welcoming. It is comforting to eat at home when it is cold.
At home, the curtains are drawn and the fireplace is on. Quilts on chairs and sofas to snuggle with in front of the fire while watching tv or reading. The duvet on the beds and long hot showers are the best part. I don’t like going anywhere so I cancel plans and stay home. We have lived through two weeks of this. Now, as a reward the weather is moving up to single negative numbers it will feel like a treat.
Weather in Canada seems to be a competition. The Prairies are better at it than Vancouver, but Newfoundland is better at it than Alberta. When I lived in Yellowknife, NWT, cold and dark was a way of life. Too cold for your car to start but you went to school or work anyway. If you didn’t, you would never get anything done. Same as Edmonton. I missed work once because of a blizzard in 1988. It rained, covered my car in an inch of ice and then it snowed so much it buried my car. It took most of the day to dig my car out. The roads were closed anyway, so there was no way I was getting out of my town to drive into the city. I was late once because my car didn’t start but a new battery helps that from happening again. So this year, that didn’t happen. As a child, I never missed school because schools never closed. It is what it is. Weather is relative. What is hard for us prairie folk is harder for Lower Mainland folk and the thought of surviving winter on the Rock is unfathomable yet here they are, surviving.
Tofino residents were still surfing this week in spite of the fact they walked through the snow to get to the water. I get that. Winter is a metaphor for how you face life. You either hide and complain, or you get out there and enjoy it.
The sun is on its way back to me. It is setting as I leave work now. This makes it feel like spring is coming. It is rejuvenating to see the sun as I warm up my car and unplug my car. Do I hate winter? No. I love the dense sound when it’s cold. The crunch of the snow and event the frosty feeling in my lungs. It makes me feel alive. Cold snaps help me appreciate spring and summer. I am planning my garden and dreaming of my summer vacation. This year I have decided to not plan around anyone. I am taking the vacation I want without accommodating other people. I am spending my one week at a retreat between the Monashee and Cariboo Mountain Ranges and then one week staycation at home hanging out in my beautiful city.
I can’t imagine living somewhere where the four seasons don’t exist. Winter is the perfect time to hibernate, relax and enjoy the cozy warmth of inside and all the great things about home.