Friday, December 31, 2004

Its The Afternoon of New Years Eve 2004

I wish I was some place else or someone else. Some with money and plenty of it to go around. Someone with a job and with grand children to spoil. But I don't have any of these things. Its been eighteen months now since I was fired from my last job and thirteen months since my husband's back was permanently injured. We have been just existing on nothing out here in beautiful British Columbia. I guess that is a positive thing for us. I mean because we are existing here on the west side of Turtle island. It really is beautiful if you can learn to look past the people sleeping in the door ways, the gardens and inside McDonald's Restaurants and pan-handlers every ten feet. That is what our politician are doing so I guess its alright for us to do the same. At least it not snowing here as I am sitting here trying to get warm after catching a bone chilling & damp cold after standing outside in free food line for more then two hours trying to instill hope to other people whom are less fortunate then myself I guess. I was inviting them to come and join me on a free New Years day levee tour and telling them this is the one day that the mayors and the council members would be feeding their Constituents for free. The people whom I used to be able to help no longer greet this day with the same enthusiam as I do. They say their are tired of being poor and that they are not at all proud to be and do not wish to be exploited any more. They are getting tired. They are being beaten down by the very system that has beaten down thousands of other people a like. Some of these same people say that I have become a part of the problem with doing this event every year and there fore no longer want to be associated with me, others love my courage and my strength. As for me personal I don't see most of the same things that other see. I see sorrow, a sadness that that gets deeper and deeper with each year passing and a new generation being born into poverty and having absolutely no fear in killing or dying for the only food that kills the hunger pain that dwells within their souls and kills the hunger pain of malnutrition and oppression. Their food is what ever their street drug of choice is. Herion. Cocaine, Christal Method, Glue, Lysal, and anything else they can get into their body to kill the pain. These are the only things that running plentiful and rampantly on our streets.

I thought poverty was suppose to be erradicated by the year 2000. I guess I missed that event because I might have been just to dammed busy ensuring that we the poor people still have a voice that will ensure that it gets feed once in a while; but not with more then Sugar and Salted promises and actions of our community leaders. To much of this stuff is not good for anyone.

I really do pray that everyone makes through the holidays alive and that one day we all might have just five minutes of blissfull rest and minimal things to worry about.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Isn't It Great To Be Poor At This Time of The Year

When your poor at this time of the year you don't have to contend with the Christmas mad marathon of buying gifts for everyone cause you just don't have the money to spare. This is the one time of the year that the upper and middle class people get to stand on equal grounds with us poor folks. In line up after line up and complain about how much money we have to spend just to make it through the holidays and how little time they have to get Christmas presents all wrapped before going out for a Christmas Treat called dinner and a drink. You should be great full that they are taking the time out of there busy schedule so that you can have more time to stand in another line called the Christmas hamper (aka food bank)line.
Isn’t it great to be poor at this time year. After all we repep from the benefits of other people buying, cooking and sufferings too. The suffering that we all share are the tire sore aching feet, and empty wallets.
While we impoverish are well experienced at standing in multiple lines waiting for doctor's appointments, employment insurance or income assistance cheques or our daily dinner that was left over from some else dinner the day before. Maybe we could earn a little extra cash giving lessons on how to wait or what to do while in line so we could help ourselves and buy gifts for our own families.
Sometimes if we are one of the lucky ones, people will buy presents for our children but not yourself because remember your an adult now and few if any care about your emotional spirits. Society seems to think that the smiles of any child worth a million dollars. Isn’t that good enough for everyone. You should be even more happier knowing that your children are gleefully unwrapping the presents that that others bought for them on your behalf.
After all you are one of their most valuable assets because they get to do the right thing and write you off as a recipient of their good charity and declare it as a income tax deduction. Is being a recipient of one of these gifts a replacement for the guaranteed livable income that today’s income assistant was suppose to be?
I know that this time of the year is very hard on a lot of people because they don't have what main stream society calls a family, a place to call home, and the stocking that we fill is usually with our own feet instead of sugar cane and other goodies or money to buy gifts for our children who have been usually apprehend by the government.
On a happier note we as poor people have one up on them we don't have to deal with a large credit card debt at the end of the year and some how we all know how to survive for more then two weeks without a cheque cause most of us have to survive for as long as five weeks without any income right after Christmas.
Most people have given up asking me what my family is doing for Christmas because they are tired of hearing the same blah blah blah answers but for me and my family this is the reality at this time of the year. For those who dare to ask me what I want for Christmas I tell them I All I want for Christmas is a job, the tools need to maintain a job and a bed to sleep on. A job that will offer me and my family some income so that I can get my grade twelve English and work family's way out of poverty. I want is a hand up not a hand out and not to be exploited because of my poverty. I want to be a success.
On this note I would like to wish everyone a safe journey throughout the holidays.

Monday, December 06, 2004


I just came back from delivering my yearly Christmas Stocking to the Legislature. In each sock I put in a little reminder of who the elected MLAs are suppose to represent. I know that on every Dec.6 that they are attending a memorial service to honor the fifteen engineering women who were murdered in Montreal.
I started delivering the socks when these women were killed because I wanted government officials to remember the real reasons behind the atrocities of their deaths. I at the time was struggling with the thoughts of what to do about our governments who were at the time targetting all poor people by eliminating some of the most basic needs for suvival.
Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one who see the connections and who is prepared to to take action. I wonder what has happened to all the women who proclaim to be willing to fight and defend all the rights that our ancestors have fought for. Am I the only one who remembers the stories of the trek to Ottawa, the stories of the women's liberation whose liberators still walk amoungst us telling us their stories such as the hiring policies that our govenrments had implented during ww1 and 2 designated for women only.I have inclosed an example of the rules that was used to hire women in the 1940s.

1943 guide to hiring women 1943 issue of the Transportation Magazine
Guide for male supervisors of women in the work force during WW II

1) Pick young married women. They usually have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters. They are less likely to be flirtatious. They need the work, or they would not be doing it. They still have the pep and interest to work hard.
2) When you have to use older women, try to get ones who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives. Older women who have never contacted the public are inclined to be cantankerous and fussy.
3) General experience indicates that "husky" girls-those who are just a little on the heavy side-are more even-tempered and efficient than their underweight sisters.
4) Retain a physician to give each woman you hire a special physical examination-one covering female conditions. This step not only protects our property, but reveals any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.
5) Give the female employees a definite day-long schedule of duties so that they will keep busy without bothering the management for instructions every few minutes. Women make excellent workers, but they lack initiative in finding work themselves.
6) Give every girl an adequate number of rest periods during the day, to make allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence if she can keep her hair tidied, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times a day.
7) Be tactful when issuing instructions or in making criticisms. Women are often sensitive, they cannot shrug off harsh works of ridicule the way men can.

8) Be reasonably considerate about using strong language around women.Even through a girl's husband or father may swear vociferously, she will grow to dislike a place of business where she hears too much of this.
9) Get enough size variety in operator's uniforms so that each girl can have a proper fit. This point cannot be stressed too much in keeping women happy.

HOW FAR HAVE WE COME AND HOW FAR BACK ARE WE WILLING TO GO? Are we willing to go back this far without a fight. Are we willing to forgot about the fight our mothers fought for here on the home front. Sure we didn't go and killed other mothers' sons, daughters and destroy their homes personally. We haven't personally drawn blood willing on our kitchen floors. For most of us we know that we stand a good chance that we will see our loved ones at least one more time just like we know that there is a good chance that we will eat at least once today.Did we stop caring about our sisters from the another mother, another race, another era. If we did when did we stop caring?

University held their ceromonies on Friday Dec3/04 three day in advance because the students weren't going to be able to take the time out to remember their follow students because they were going to be be to busy writing examines. No time to Remember.
Monday Dec.6 a few churches hold candle lights cermonies in heir own parishes which could comfortable seat five hundred people but only a handfull of concerned citizens attended. No Time to Remember.
At the Legislature all MLAs take a few minutes of their busy schedule to remember only the women who were killed in this horrendous act of violence. They only remember the dead. They do not mentioned the social, economic contributing facts that lead to both the killer's and women demise. They do not remember the thirteen women who survived the Montreal attack.
Who will the remember the 500 missing and murdered pre-kanadian women who have died because of their race, gender and class. These women stories have yet to be told of how they have gone missing or were murdered; some for as long as twenty years. Will there be candle light vigils for them? Will there a day of mourning for them too? Why were their names not included in the list of women names to remember?

To bring this story back to why I deliver Christmas sock I lay these sock at the hands of the people whom I see a partial responsible for eliminating some of the most services need for all women to sustain their life. These people are our elected leaders who are suppose to have our best interest in mind at all times. I think they have forgotten the values that all women have contributed. I think women have forgotten about our mothers battles. We have forgotten.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Literacy What is Its Value?

My definition of literacy and how valuable it is differs slightly from Oxford’s definition.

Oxford’s dictionary defines the word literacy as the ability to read and write. A literate person has a competence or vast knowledge in certain areas or subjects such as computer knowledge, poverty issues or politics and is able to read and write.

Personally as a mature First Nations woman traditional values play a major role in my life. Most of my educational training has come from both hands on teaching, and an oral history, with minimal written back ground. I never gave written literacy much attention while I was attending school during my early years. My inability to write at an age appropriate level in accordance to a race that is not my own exposes my weakness in my inability to perform well in both cultures.

Over the past several years I had developed a safety mechanism to compensate for this inability and to protect myself from becoming both the teachers’ and other kids’ targets. That mechanism was to memorize anything and everything that the people in my realm could and would send my way. I did this through songs, poetry and repetitive action games.

What does literacy mean to me personal?

For me being literate means the difference as to whether my family can eat and pay all of the rent at the same time. Weather or not I can get another job or not.
Literacy also helps determines how the rest of the world will value me and where I will fit in society’s class ism.

In my case it means one more hurdle in life for me to overcome.

It means that I will have to learn to speak and write a new way.
It is like a new language full of complicated words. Each word’s meaning representation and strength.

I over came these barriers by memorizing the basics which were enough to get me through to grade eleven. Then I dropped out two weeks before the end of the school year.
When I was in grade three learned to focus in on memorizing anything and everything. I still remember three and a half decades later I still remember the word that I spelled out loud and the spontaneous cheers that came from my classmates. The word was “Adventure” which is what learning about literacy have been all about it me.

Unfortunately I could not use this same strategy when it came to being able to write.
For the two decades that followed my departure from school I ended up living on the streets and working in a huge variety of labors dead end jobs. I never linked my poor literacy skills to my work skills. In fact the only time that I thought about it was when I was out of work and having to apply for work or re-apply for income assistance.

Things have started to change for me. I am seeing and starting to understand the light at the end of the tunnel. Everything that I have been speaking about around human rights issues and about the eradication of our own social problems, such poverty, racism and class ism; are starting to move forward shedding a different light on how we can solve our these problems.

Confirmation of what I thought was a weak connection came in early November. When I had the opportunity to attend the Premier’s Literacy Summit at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

In attendance at this summit were over one hundred and seventy educators and elected government officials.

I saw this as a window of opportunity to educate the educators about the struggles that I and thousands of other people are going through trying to get an education. I greeted these people with a huge hesitation because of my past experience with these types of people. I saw and heard more then just their own pleas for more funding. I saw that a majority of these people were not there to represent you or me. They were there to represent the private sector that usually represents the corporations who I see as our major oppressors.

When our provincial premier announced that he was releasing $55 million dollars to Literacy programs services in British Columbia most of the attendees where pleased.

The premier’s proposal was that he would release $12 million within the next six months to public libraries and an additional $43 million before the 2010 Olympics.

He also introduced a new Literacy Panel, whose members were already pre-selected, consisted of all business and career orientated white middle age people with the exception of one young First Nations woman.
Not one of them said that they were not currently in school nor did they have an immediate family member that was accessing the public school services. According to them every one of them had no disabilities and all their friends could read and write and had no problems accessing school services or funding.

The things that disturbed me about this summit was that short notice everyone received, not knowing where the money came from. Then there was the fact that the premier had already selected the Literacy panel without consulting the educators. He wants everyone in BC to be literate by 2010. In the mean time he is taking some of our most basics needs from us. He has only set aside $55mil for the next eight years. This is supposed to eliminate the 40% illiteracy problems that the province has.

I personally think that the government has the finance books up side down or maybe they are reading the books back wards. Or maybe they are illiterate themselves but are in denial about it.

Right now they are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the Olympics over the next ten years, lowering the minimum wage to six dollars an hour, reducing the working age to twelve years of age and firing thousands of career trained men and women who have worked within the government. These are the people who are the back bone of our society who are fighting not only for their jobs but for yours and my well being and our children’s future

I think the cure for BC alarming literacy problems is;
· We and government should invest in anyone who wants to enhance the educational skills.
· We as a community and our government should foster these people desires.

So if our government was to take the same amount of dollars that they are investing in the Olympics then maybe we can eliminate the literacy problems and get poverty under control. Once we get our poverty under control then we as society will experience living through the rippling effects of seeing less premature deaths because we will be in better health because we will be able to feed ourselves.

My Sumary of the Premier's Literacy Summit November 2004

Rose Henry’s
Summary on The Premier Literacy Summit
November 2004

After years and years of speaking to people about Human Rights and the eradication of Class ism and negativity that society cast upon people existing in the group. I have found myself speaking out about solutions and how we as a community could eliminate these invisible barriers. Some of these barriers included accessibility to education.

Over the past few months I have been saying that if we had access to tools (services) than we could work our own way out of such things as poverty and the type casting that comes along with being a woman, First Nations, or a person born into poverty.
The tools that I am referring to are the ones that can either be used as a barrier to stop the growth of a person’s self esteem or enhance it. Things like adequate daycare, transportation, clothing and basic school supplies.
Simplifying application forms and educational support services so that they are more legible to the individual’s understanding. Spending time and not rushing individuals who have expressed a desire in furthering their education.

For me a part of this solution came along time after one of the hundreds of rallies when one of the rally attendees invited me to attend Premier Gordon Campbell’s Literacy Summit, on her behalf. When this invitation came I saw this as a small window of opportunity to share some of the stories that I have heard over the years from everyday people such as myself who are trying to return to school.

This summit was organized to bring together over one hundred and seventy educators from all over British Columbia. These educators were from both the public and private educational departments.

The premier informed the group that he has plans to invest in to the literacy programs. He said that he has a vision of having one of the highest literacy provinces in all of Canada before the 2010 Olympics.

His plans are to release a small amount of money starting in the year 2005 until 2010 starting with accessibility to public libraries, and into non-government organizations (NGO). He wants the libraries to introduce a new province wide loans system to its users.

He and a few of his selected cabinet ministers claim that they want to reduce the alarming statistic of the 40% illiterate British Colombians and the 54% illiterate population of First Nations.
How they are planning on doing this is first attending this summit and utilizing the Literacy committee that was created by his cabinet members who have also committed to host a Literacy conference for consumers of these programs.

To show their commitment the minister of Education has vowed that his department will send out a set of educational books to every service organization that attended the summit. These organizations are providing a service to children as young as three years of age as old as sixteen of age.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Wind Benneth Me

I was not capable of feeling the wind beneath me until
I was about nine years old.

This is how I remember the first time I ever rode my two wheel bike.

I do not remember feeling any fear or other anxieties that might have come along with a child first time of experiencing their first time of learning a new task.

I don’t even remember why I had received this beautiful two wheel bicycle, which seemed to big for me to maneuver. Usually the only time I received any gifts was on my birthday and at Christmas time.

I do remember standing at the top of our newly covered dirt driveway positioning my bike in just the right position for me to mount. This shiny new white bike ready for me to hike my short chubby leg over the bike’s main frame and ready for me to coast my way… all the way down the side of my house and circle around in my back yard.

I gave it very little thought about the pain that I was about to feel.

Oh the pain and fear I felt was so... intense as I rode down our long drive;
past our yard and straight into the tree, at the end of our backyard.

Oh the pain I felt from every part of my body that had had contact with the bike and the tree.

There was pain in place that I had never felt before pain in before.

The only thing that surpass the pain that I felt as my mom and dad where pulling the blackberry thorns and gravel from every part of my body was;

the wind that I felt.

the wind that that brought a small sense of freedom.

the sense of accomplishment.

You see because I had spent so much of my ear childhood in the children's hospital I had never been allowed outside because everyone in my realm were afraid that I was going to get sick. So I had gone beyond the expectation of what the social workers and doctors had said that I was capable of doing.

In three short years I had over come multiple barriers.

I had become “normal.”

I had become acceptable to my peers.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Power of One

Back when I was about eight or nine years old I vaguely remember tell Miss Bledsoe my social worker that I wanted to grow up and be just like her. I wanted to grew up and be just like her and drive a white car with the same color of interior as her.
I never saw her after that. She just seemed to vanish like so many other people like the doctors and nurses who had come and gone through out my entire life. It was one of the saddest times in my life because I still believed that she was one day going to take me back home to where my friend Nancy was. She was my only link to the only home that I had ever known. She never did return.
My pining went on for what seemed like for eons. It sometimes seemed like it would never end.

When I was about fourteen I do remember telling my mom that I wanted to grow up and become a social worker and that I wanted to work in policy and development. She asked why I wanted to work in this career and why I was being so specific. I told her that I still want to be just like Miss Bledsoe and that I never wanted another child to go through the same thing that I had and still was going through and that thanks to my grade five teacher I was beginning to understand were I could make changes. She really encouraged my to tell my story and continue on with my education.
Forty years later I am doing just that. What is so cool about this is that i choose to call this writing new beginning and just two days ago my boss told me that is the exact meaning of what NIL/TU,O means

Friday, October 15, 2004

Flat line

I call this new subject this because I feel that my stories really are to flat. There are bland in my thoughts today. They tend to be really dark, sad and heavy on the emotions, because this is what I see and hear on a daily basis. My feelings though tend to be emotionalize at times when I should be expressing them. Perhaps this is because there are times when I feel that I have seen and been through it all before. If I haven't been through it I have heard it through some one else.
Sometimes I get angry at myself because I feel that I am not able to get past this point. But then I realize that this just another way of oppressing myself. Therefore the right to feel these feelings and going through this phase.

I realize that I am in control of my emotions and that if I want to change the style of my writing that it to will change in time and that it is okay for me to share a small part of life's story because this how we will make changes for a better tomorrow.

Thoughts of why I called this part flatlines eroded after I initially wrote this. This is a small part of revealing how I perceive events that happen in my realm. There a few bright spots in my life that I must teach myself how to cherish. Like my getting my driver license for the third time. I have let it expire three time. I totally forget about it each I have a birthday. Driving is one of the few things that give me still some kind of pleasure, a sense of freedom and giving me some kind of control over my own destiny. Oh yah back to why I called this part flatlines. . This kinds of reminds me of the part of a heart beat monitor straight line that I have seen to many times in the hospital where the monitor goes straight and then all of a sudden the lines starts a squiggly pulsating jerking lines across the screen usully meaning there is hope for a renewal of life.

Friday, September 17, 2004

As I Sit Here and Pray

I think that I have done everything that is right for me to continue struggling to get a certificate of some kind. So that I can continue on with my education and get a career of some kind. So that I while once again be gainfully employed. What ever that means. But I continuously come across multiple barriers that are erected.

Over the years I have learned to do what I call the government dance. It is called the round dance of wait and see. I kind of like the one you have to do when you are waiting to get some money from the bank or waiting for that big lottery wind fall. Unfortunately it is the anticipation that usually get to me. Especially when I know that I entitle to it. Meaning that I am still waiting three months later to be approved for my funding for a course that will most likely be shorter then the time spent waiting for it to be covered.

So while I sit here at my new temporary job.
I pray that I will have enough money to pay for such luxury as;
-enough food to feed my family.
-enough to money to keep the eviction notice at bay.
-enough money to pay at least have of my gas, electricity and maybe my phone bill.
-and oh yes get a monthly bus pass so that I can get back and fourth to my new temporary job.

(The one that I took for the learning experience and so that I could an extension on my Employment Insurance.)

I shipment wishes that I had my own computer so that I could continue writing my own stories and not have to keep going to one of those internet cafes to use their. I know that just one day or maybe one day of of these dreams will become a reality. And then one day I will be able to move onto another dream.

I know that some dreams really do come true.

Monday, September 06, 2004

One Foot At A Time

Sometimes I think I am just cursed with a kind and caring heart.
That my eyes and ears just open a little to much.

Then I begin to wonder am living in the same world as everyone else.

Does our government not see the despair that people are just existing in.
I say this because people who were once a upon a time living an okay life styles and were reasonable happy are now weeping in fear of their capabilities.

They are afraid of their own rage and despair.

They have been conditioned for years not to feel or deal with emotions.

I hear them sobbing as they tell me have just lost the job that they have had for the past fifteen years.
I hear them sobbing as they tell me they have just spent thousands of dollars repairing their house for the last time.

I hear them tell me about their experiences of having to apply for unemployment. Most them don't even know were the office is. Then they try and seek out a really human being to help them walk through the paper work. I hear their sobs as they come to the realization that they are being re-categorize in the state of "class-ism."In other words they have been bumped down the pecking order of a hierarchical system. This was done within their control; when they were working.

I have also heard them sobbing as they tell me that they are considering suicide. Some have succeeded.
I have also heard them tell me that they think they are going crazy, because their partner has just followed through with it and now they are considering this same escape route too.

They have lost hope, compassion, and the ability to trust themselves, their families, their community, their government. They feel that they can no longer do these things. Their coping mechanisms are depleted.

Why is it that I can see this and not our government?

I have been thinking about a conversation I had with James the other day. It was on a day that we were dragging ourselves down to the causeway for another day of foot massages. Just another day of sitting there for hours waiting someone to say that they wanted to sit for a few minutes and experience few minutes of receiving a pleasurable foot massage.

Any how some how we got around to talking about what he was going to do after the main part of the tourist season was over. He said that he really didn't know what he could do because he know that his body is total screw up after years of doing labourist work for minimum wage. I asked what he was going to do with that book that he had been diligently getting his guest to mark down the time and comments in. He said that he might one day need it to get in a course or something were he could come with a certificate.
Then with this strange look on his face he said that he really didn't know what he was going to do once the tourist season ended because he had been turned down by WCB for the back injury and was not about to humble himself and go through all the crap of trying to deal with unemployment because he didn't think that it was worth all that extra waste of time because it probable was worth a whole lot of money.

I tried to encourage him to consider following through with his dream of owning his own business in doing foot massage. But he just snarled back at me and said don't you get it? I said get what? He said " people don't want to hire Indian like me. They don't even want to acknowledge my existence. They just want to take, take and take. They want to make sure that we don't become educated and beside I don't want to become like them."

I thought about it and began to think about his words. I then began to think his right about a lot of things said that the only differences that he could see between me and the government is I see they don't, I care they don't, I do my best to help people they don't, I am one Wyman who nothing to lose they have are many and still nothing to lose(just more of it?). I have to walk with the same people that I have tried to help the government can drive away, I can't!

Any how after this rant that he was on I asked what it would take for him to go and get a certificate. He couldn't because he didn't want to go through one more rejection. He say he can't take it anymore. All he had was a grade ten and he has been with me through all the crap that I have gone through in the past eighteen months. He said that he has seen me get up in front of thousands of people and seen how compassionate I am about other people and human rights. He has also seen and heard how people have be little d me right in front of me and when they think that no one is listening. He also read a few comments in the news paper about me. He said that he could not put himself through that stuff again because it happened to him as well.

As we progressed in our conversation I also began to sense that he was planning something else. So I tried to give him some hope. It worked. He said that if he can come up with the money to pay for the rebelliously course he wants to continue on making his services affordable to everyone. He said he realized that he had literally been out in public selling his service to the entire world massaging people feet from all over the world and doing what he loved to do and supporting his family on a ten dollar foot massage. One foot at a time is the moral of this fable in accordance to him. So if we can raise eight hundred dollars to pay for the tuition fees and seven for a reflexology chair; then we are one less statistic for this dammed government incestuous need to target us simple because of race, gender, class, or age.

Quote from James Himself "Together will conquer this oppressive system one foot at a time. "

Monday, August 30, 2004

Hurry Up and Wait

Today I find myself sitting here in my classroom on my second to the last day for me just wanting to scream AGHH….
Being a people person is getting harder and harder for me to do.
My political side just wants to scream.
Is any one there?
But I can’t help but think that this would be just a waste of breath because I don’t think that there is no one listening.
But then I have thoughts of what if there is someone there. Then they just might be listening. But this morning events I am pondering this again.

As I wanted to share me delight in my attempt to prepare myself for yet another new journey.

The teacher who I have formed a working relationship with over the past few months had returned from her vacation just on time to say hello and good bye to me. But before she did this she asked me if I had contacted HRDC. I said that I was just sending them an e-mail to inform them that my last day was going to be Aug.31.

Before I could send them an e-mail I need to contact the office so that I could get the correct e-mail address. So I telephone the office and spoke directly to the woman who had been working with me since day one. I was surprise when she was anything but delighted with my news. She said “what about your education do you realize that you may lose all you’re funding.” I said “Yes” She then said “Have You contacted HRDC?” I said that I needed to get a hold of them for the worker’s e-mail address. So I thought that I would save myself a few minutes by asking her if she had their e-mail address. She said "yes" that she did but she could not give it to me but she could forward my information. All through this conversation she told me that I was taking a chance at losing my funding. I told her that I was only doing what the government’s system had instructed me to do when a job was being offered to me.

I was accepting the job knowing full well what it was going to cost me in the long run. I told I knew what I was risking. But I also told her that I could not live or just exist on what the government was allowing for me to exist on. I had told her that I was also going to get more experience getting experience in working for a family and child agency which was being run by and all First Nations staff. I don’t think she saw it the same way that I was seeing it. She still sounded a bit irked with me for going out and getting a job.

I know that this job isn't the best paying one, nor is it the the one one that I want for a career. All I want is the experience. The experience for means that this would be the first time were I get to work with people from my own race. this is going to be a first for me. Plus I get to try and work in an office which as doing preventative child apprehension, which is what I have been wanting to do all my life.

So me this is about another learning experience.A stepping stone hopefully into the right direction of a life long career of of helping others. (As if there really is a end to learning hahaha)

So I think the moral of this letter is hurry and wait but don’t hurry up to fast.
Remember that it is really not you who is control of your life and you are not as smart as you think you are because big mamma is the one who is holding purse strings.
So don’t go too far because you won’t get your reward.
Don’t think outside the box and definitely don’t take heed to everything the government expects of you when asking for their support, because if you do you just might succeed.
Then you will totally throw off the whole government system.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


I hate this feeling of uncertainty. Just as I think things are starting to final turn in the right direction for me. I get this phone call. It is NTU/O child and Family services. They phone and offer me a full time job at minimum wage for the next three months. I figure this would be great. At this stage I am willing to do just about anything.
Both James and I have been unemployed for a year now. I have been actively looking for work and going to school full time. Only had one person last Christmas over to hire me. I was never called back again after the initial interview. James want through some kind of a weird depression and retreated back into his acrophobia state of surviving after my hospital stint. He stayed in that state for several months. All through this time he was yaking about doing foot massages at people work sights and on the streets instead of begging for change. I realized that he was having trouble doing this on his own.
Having a partner that needed a little boos was something to me because I had become accustom to having people in my life who could operate on their own. I had never had the experience of having someone so closed in wanting to do foot massages on anyone who would let him do it on them.

So I spent a lot of time in the inner harbor helping him get Victoria's first out door foot massage going. That is how we survived and kept out sanity throughout the summer. Now James wants to continue on bring his ten minute treatments to people's home and work sights just like he did when he was living back east. I don't know if it will work but I am thinking what the heck the man wants to work and knows that he doesn't want to exist on welfare and know that he can't return back to heavy lifting. So who know this just might turn out yet for us. We have managed to stay of off welfare thanks to a lot of my friends who helped us with a lot of emotional support and financial stuff. The support has been just awsome.

I keep in encouraging James to go get one of those certificates. He is so good at giving massages. He has gone being a closed in person to an all out foot massage professional.

As for me I am still out there fighting and being the warrior woman I am. So until next time. Rose

Friday, August 06, 2004

Today Inventions

June 11/04

Today’s inventions can be an oxymoron hindrance for the human race.

Gone are the glorious days of yesterday where things took time to evolve.

We seem to exist in a world of instant gratification. It is a world about quantity not qualifications or quality of product.

Our government wants us to work towards a bigger, better and brighter future.

Our elders want us to remember how hard they fought for us to enjoy what some people take for granted. They want us to remember them.

Our youth wants us to feed their mind, body and soul with hope for a bigger, better and brighter future.

Our little ones want us to tell them about life without McDonalds’ fast foods, cable TV, what ATM stands for, and life without a computer.

Our parents and our grandparents remind us of how glorious life was for them in their younger days. When children could play safely on the streets with minimal supervision and wander around in their bare feet, running from house to house visiting their family and friends. As youth, they knew that they were valuable members in both their family life and in the community. They were the ones who fetched the water from the wells and rivers, fed the farm animals, babysat, and did chores for the neighbors. There, only expectation in return for the hard work that they did was a two-bit coin, a sincere thank you and maybe, a piece of homemade pie. They were the young legs and arms for all that could not do for themselves. Grandma and grandpa were almost, a fixture in every house. They carried a piece of the family history that was passed onto the grandchildren in hopes that they will have a bigger, better brighter future and not have to pay for it with a loss of a life or limb.

The world of high quantity has claimed its victim.
The victim's name is quality.
There was a time when Grandpa put a lot of his pride into his work; just like Grandma did in ensuring their children were brought up properly.

The quality of one's work was what put the bread and the butter together and on the table and into their bellies.

Everyone looked out for each other, ensuring that no one went hungry and that everyone was employed.

Some of us want to have our cake and pie, with ice cream, before working for it or worrying about the extra calories. We do this without giving much thought to the person dying from malnourishment or from starvation down the street or on the other side of the world.

June 11/04

Today’s inventions can be an oxymoron hindrance for the human race.

Gone are the glorious days of yesterday where things took time to evolve.

We seem to exist in a world of instant gratification. It is a world about quantity not qualifications or quality of product.

Our government wants us to work towards a bigger, better and brighter future.

Our elders want us to remember how hard they fought for us to enjoy what some people take for granted. They want us to remember them.

Our youth wants us to feed their mind, body and soul with hope for a bigger, better and brighter future.

Our little ones want us to tell them about life without McDonalds’ fast foods, cable TV, what ATM stands for, and life without a computer.

Our parents and our grandparents remind us of how glorious life was for them in their younger days. When children could play safely on the streets with minimal supervision and wander around in their bare feet, running from house to house visiting their family and friends. As youth, they knew that they were valuable members in both their family life and in the community. They were the ones who fetched the water from the wells and rivers, fed the farm animals, babysat, and did chores for the neighbors. There, only expectation in return for the hard work that they did was a two-bit coin, a sincere thank you and maybe, a piece of homemade pie. They were the young legs and arms for all that could not do for themselves. Grandma and grandpa were almost, a fixture in every house. They carried a piece of the family history that was passed onto the grandchildren in hopes that they will have a bigger, better brighter future and not have to pay for it with a loss of a life or limb.

The world of high quantity has claimed its victim.
The victim's name is quality.
There was a time when Grandpa put a lot of his pride into his work; just like Grandma did in ensuring their children were brought up properly.

The quality of one's work was what put the bread and the butter together and on the table and into their bellies.

Everyone looked out for each other, ensuring that no one went hungry and that everyone was employed.

Some of us want to have our cake and pie, with ice cream, before working for it or worrying about the extra calories. We do this without giving much thought to the person dying from malnourishment or from starvation down the street or on the other side of the world.

Friday, July 02, 2004


Victoria BC

I am from the Coast Salish Nation.
Throughout the past eighteen years that I have lived in Victoria I
have worked at various jobs as a home support worker, chambermaid, and as a support worker in a woman’s emergency shelter. The type of work that I have chosen to work at is usual with a class of people who come from a part of society that is considered one of the most disadvantaged groups. I have worked with homeless men and women who suffer from mental illness, drug addictions, and depression and separation issues. Many of these people have been displaced by society and sometime there own family and just need a little extra support from the people who work in these shelters.
I have worked with the disabled (both mentally and physically),
First Nations families who were facing child apprehensions and with homeless people. Many of my jobs where minimum wage paying job or volunteer ones.

My volunteer work represents a wide variety of my personal beliefs on how I have been able to deal with the discrimination(s) that I have learned to live with. It is through my volunteer work that I have learned to speak up and out about the discriminations that people of colour face everyday in the community. I had also learned that I belonged to a group called the poorest of the poor because of my race and my gender and because there are so few of us willing to speak out.
For the past ten years I have attended and spoken out at many different rallies union and non-union if issue was about the social in justices of today’s society. People have told me that some of the issues that I speak out are very provocative. I speak about these issues because these are personal issues being about the people who live in my community.

Things like Racism and what it is like living with it everyday.
I have spoken to union members about protecting our jobs (admail
carriers) and the need to work together. I have appeared a guest speaker in many different University classes and recently in South Africa talking about the many different isms and how to play a role in dealing with these issues.I have been a firm believer in people working for people no matter what sector of life they come from. Over the past ten years I have advocated for service providers such ad-mail carriers to join Canada Post Union,
Victoria Native Friendship Centre and Sandy Merriman House to join the BCGEU.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Rose Henry


Victoria Cook Aid Society Sandy Merriman House June, 1995-Sept.2003
Support Worker
Duties: Dealing with up to 15 women in crisis, intake (including
documentation) , assessments, crisis intervention and counselling, refer to community resources as necessary, supervised cooking, housekeeping,laundry. Required to keep up detailed entries in log book, keep statistics and generate reports. Advocacy for residents.

PEERS June 1998-December 1998 (contract position)
Street Outreach Worker
Provided support through educational and practical health services to men and women active in the sex trade. Required excellent listening skills, sound judgement, detailed nightly reports, facilitating workshops, advocating for clients with police reports, hospitals, community Health Nurses, Emergency Shelter Services. Generating regular reports.

Ministry of Social Services and Housing/Advisory Council 1994-1996
Advisor for the Cabinet Ministry of Social Services and Housing
Member of a fifteen member panel that advised the Member of Legislative Assembly responsible for people living on income assistance in the Province of BC. Addressed solutions regarding the housing crunch and shrinking budgets of the province and to rectify systemic weaknesses. Responded to all public correspondence in a timely fashion after reviewing government legislation.

Canada Post 1993-1995

Delivered Ad mail to over 1300 mail boxes, sorting, bundling and
delivering multiple pieces of mail.

Nisika Community Services 1989-1991
Home Support Worker
Provided on going support for families in hardship with health issues, communication issues, issues with the Ministry of Child and Family or in need of respite care. Assessed and assisted children as their sole caretaker. Supervised children, all care needed including hygiene and meals. Conducted supervised Ministry of Child and Family visit with First Nations Families. I also did homemaking for First Nation’s families and people with physical disabilities. My job was to do cooking,cleaning, and making sure that clients took their medications.

Telemarketer 15 years
Have worked on and off as a telemarketer for various non-profit
organizations such as the Mother’s March of Dimes, Fire fighters Burn Unit and the Search and Rescue Association to solicit donations.

Housekeeper 3 years
Jolly Knight Motel and the Travelers Lodge. Cleaned 16 units in eight hours.


2001 Delegate
The World Conference Against Racism, Durban South Africa.
I attended the conference as a non-government organisation delegate, representing the Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition. I had the honour of meeting with Nelson Mandela in a small group during the conference. We had discussions regarding the survival of indigenous peoples.

1992-present Together Against Poverty
I have been actively involved with this organisation for the past ten years, two of those years as a vice president. The focus for this organisation is advocate for people on public assistance, employment insurance and tenancy issues. My personal goal as to why I have remained on this board is to help educate the public about the true depth of poverty and about the relationship there is between race and poverty. It is through this group that I learned how to address the government in manner that they the government would listen to us when they start making policy changes. While I have been on this board I was appointed a one-year term to be an active member on the provincial government’s Ministry of Social Services Advisory Committee (I can’t remember the date).

May 1991-1996 Victoria Native Friendship
Member of Board of Directors
The main focus here was to keep the centre open and find a new location downtown.

October 1995-1997 Victoria Street Community Association
Volunteer Advocacy for street people, provided information
conducted media discussions, letter writing for the red Zone and news media, making coffee, answering phones, cleaning the office and dealing with people in crisis.
It was here that I was able to live example and take the lead role and show people how to work their way of the streets as I had.


2004 Food Safe Certificate
2004 Election Canada Deputy Returning Clerk
2004 First Aid Level One
2003 Canadian Congress of Women Voter – Leadership Training
2003 Emergency First Aid
Work Place Hazardous Material
BC Federation of Labour & Canadian Labour Congress Pacific Region
2002 VI Health Authority Community - Mental Health Education
2001 Solution Focussed Counselling – Cool Aid Society
1997 Advocacy Training - TAPS

1995 TAPS
1993 Victoria Native Friendship Centre
1992 Capital Health Region Mental Health Services and Vancouver Mental Health Support Society
Victoria Street Community Association

Monday, June 14, 2004

Maybe Time Will Really help

To realize
The value of a sister
Ask someone
Who doesn't have one.

To realize
The value of ten years:
Ask a newly
Divorced couple.

To realize
The value of four years:
Ask a graduate.

To realize
The value of one year:
Ask a student who
Has failed a final exam.

To realize
The value of nine months:
Ask a mother who gave birth to a still born.

To realize
The value of one month:
Ask a mother
who has given birth to
A premature baby.

To realize
The value of one week:
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize
The value of one hour:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to Meet.

To realize
The value of one minute:
Ask a person
Who has missed the train, bus or plane.

To realize
The value of one-second:
Ask a person
Who has survived an accident...

To realize
The value of one millisecond:
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics

Time waits for no one.

Treasure every moment you have.
You will treasure it even more when
you can share it with someone special.

To realize the value of a friend:
Lose one.

The origin of this letter is unknown,

Peace love and prosperity to all

This is apart of the Beginning

I know that life is full of a lot of ups and downs.

Unexplainable events just keep happening.

Some people just keep coming and going and but friends are forever.

Over the past eight months since I lost my job, my husband injuried his back so bad that he to became unemployed and not eligible for WCB.

I a few weeks ago I had the arbitration/mediation and didn't get my job. In fact I lost my position in the BCGEU where I was on the executive for my local, my Union Membership and a little bit more of my pride.

One of the only things that kept me going was my pride in my relationships that I have formed with each and everyone of you. It is because of your friendship that I really feel that I have been blessed with a lot of wealth. I wish that I could each and everyone one of you personally but unfortunately that would take my time away from what I am suppose to be really doing and that is looking for work.

I partly blame myself for losing my job because of doing what come natural to me, the other is for not being able to communicate to my co-workers and management about our cultural differences and values I hold in being a part of a union and activist. I was so proud to say that I worked in the front-lines and that I belong to a union that would protect me and that I could rely on.

I loved and still do love working with the people that I connected with. They showed there love and respect so much they still continue to rely on me as their voice and as someone whom they can still feel safe to talk too.

In October I ended up in the hospital on a heart machine because I had become so broken hearted.The doctor said that my blood pressure had drop into the danger zone. That is when I had decided that I was going to keep up the fight for some kind of justice.

I have continued to attend rallies, and provided support for my family and entered into the Victoria READ Society where I could learn to communicate through learning how to write. I started writing my autobiography. Which I stopped working on because of the emotional state that I am still going through with my former employer. So maybe I will pick it up after awhile. The part that I do have ready I will be putting under a new website at

One of the most happiest things that happened to me was that I was made Virgina Monologue Warrior Woman of the year and was nominated for YWCA Women of Distinction but didn't qualify for their award. I thought that it was great that someone thought this much about me.

Now my husband and I are trying to face the challenges ahead. Just in the past week alone we didn't have enough money to pay our phone, cable and rent so we pay most of rent and lost use of our phone which is our only connection to the out side world. Right now because of my volunteer work at Race Relations I can use their internet ( thank goodness some one still needs me). We maybe looking for a new home and applying for welfare at the end of this month, after working our way off of it over eight years ago, if we don't get work ASAP.
Our landlord informed us that he has put the house up for sale, so we don't know when or if we will have to move.They offered to sell it to us but with no work and no one to co-sign for us I don't think that this is possible for us to own our own home.

Both James and I are at the Causeway every chance we get doing foot massages for a donation. I am doing my best to abstain from sharing my politically believes on social and human rights injustices and why we are real down there. Thank god I have denture now because if I didn't my bite would be nasty nasty nasty. We would have an all out war in the causeway.

Most of us are down there because we need to feed our families and that is the reality for us. We have been talking about the huge injustices that we are all facing. I one guy was actually shocked when I told him that the artists were getting down there as early as 5:30 in the morning and several us us sit there for hours before we can get enough for our first cup of coffee.

I think James should a specially award for listening to my none stop chatter on what this government is doing to us. He has even about the segregation of FN vendors verse the the non-status first hand when the city commissionaires informed him that the indian were suppose to go to the south end of the Causeway because that is were they belong. That was enough for me. I wanted to set up my own soap box right in front of the Legislature. The commissionaires told him he had to have a permit and that he couldn't do his foot massage unless he sat in front of the welcome to Victoria sign. Well James won the first two rounds with the city because there was no room on the wall. Know he has set himself up a little stand and hopes that he can help relief some stress for people and at least feed us or pay some of the bills.

I am doing my best to encourage everyone to get out and vote. I am doing in the Causeway and working in David Turner office at least a couple times a week.

James and I both know the importance of good health and how we must keep up our energy. But with all the stuff that we have been through there have been moments that I find myself literally crying for no apparent reason. Like right know as I am writing partly for therapeutic reason and partly because I want to let everyone know how much we really do appreciate your support.

What we are really needing right now besides a good holiday is a job. James and I are willing to do janitorial work, I have learned how to work our lawn mower so I can cut grass. But my heart is working in the community service sector. My resume is listed on turtle island native news under discussions. James said that
he going to try and raise enough money to get our phone reconnected ASAP.

Thank you for being there during my time of need.

I hope that one day we can be there for you.

My Journey

It has been a long and rough emotional journey for me for the past few months. But today I went in By myself and heard what my former manager and his supervisor had to say about me to my former co-workers.
I think they were kind of stunned and caught of guard. I spoke to Mike a fellow whom I hold a lot of respect for and I said that he might be able to come but he said I really need to get my story out.

I feel that I have a lot to offer the world but there are days that I just want to quite. I wish that I wasn't a kind carrying bitch who thinks with her heart first. I hate it when my cultural thinking gets in the dammed way. Living and working in a world that values money and numbers more then they value culture and every human beings well being. Just pisses me off. This is the kind of crap that is just eating away at me internally. I wish that I could just detach from this.

I want to thank the creator for putting people like my sisters and brothers in my realm who have been with me for the past few months. Tomorrow I hope that this is truly just the beginning of a brighter future.

My sisters are some of the coolest ones. Tomorrow really is my birthday and they and there partners are are doing a pipe ceremony before I go into the healing circle. Then there is another group that wants to have a get together at my place afterwords. Which I think is I really don't what to think at this time because I have never been one to have anyone come over to my own personal space and now they whole gang want to come over and have a birthday party or something like that.
My sisters want to come to this circle just to support me even though they know that it is only suppose to be between me and the my former boss. They reminded me that we are still family first.
They are doing a pipe ceremony for me just before the healing circle.

I went to the staff meeting today at 3pm which was apart of the mediation agreement I think it was good to see the staff. It was really hard for me to walk through those doors and sit there and listen to Don read the letter. Melanie and most of the staff were there hope that this is the right thing to do. I really don't want to create any more pain for them.

I was very candid with them and told them how hard it was for me to be there and not break down and that I knew that I could only be there for a few minutes. So all together I think was there for about ten minutes if that. I also told them that it would mean a lot if everyone go come so that we could all begin the healing process. I told them that the Lawyer and the employment equity and aboriginal officer would be there.
I really hope that time does heal.