A browser app exists called “StumbleUpon” that functions just as it sounds: you find something on the internet by happenstance that interests you and you would like to share with others. I think the popularity has faded with the rise of Tumblr (I don’t get it) and Pinterest (ok, I get it). Personally, I prefer the live version called “life” – throw in a bit of flexibility and spontaneity and you get your very own StumbleUpon.
On my way out of work on Thursday for a quick wardrobe change and French class I found myself lured by a poster to a free talk by Canadian author Joseph Boyden. I didn’t necessarily recognize his name but I had definitely seen his bestsellers, Three Day Road and Through Black Spruce, on bookstore shelves. “Three Solitudes”. Whatever that means, I’m in. Being a few minutes late I slipped through the back door and sat down right as he started.
Mr. Boyden is part Ojiway-Cree and this drives much of his writing and his passion for First Nations people in Canada. The Solitudes referred to in the title referred to personal, cultural and spiritual solitude. He shared his own suicide attempt at age 16 and then emphasized the crisis happening in northern, primarily First Nations communities in Canada among youth resulting in hundreds of suicide attempts each year and some “successes”. His intention was good, he spoke from his experience and his heart* to encourage health care professionals and citizens of Canada not to let this happen or to allow the stereotyping and disenfranchisement that comes from a long history of abuse. It was a moving talk. But it almost felt a bit dirty. Imagine being one of the only women in a crowd of men discussing how they needed to take responsibility, to stop stereotyping women and give them the autonomy and control they haven’t been getting. Or, take it one step further, a group of white people having the same talk about black people. Yet again a group of “newcomers” to Canada asking ourselves how we can make things better for the First Nations people and not getting much in put from them. Or maybe we were because of Mr. Boyden’s background.
Even though I can’t seem to properly put that small icky feeling into words it was nonetheless a moving talk; it was a good reminder of our country’s flaws when it comes to treatment of aboriginal people. There wasn’t much concrete advice provided except to provide compassion and to support bids for First Nations peoples to gain more autonomy and more benefit from the natural resources on their doorsteps.
Stumble across anything noteworthy lately?
*He also seemed to put on a fake affect when reading his speech that sounded as if he suddenly because Irish at the end of each phrase. He really was genuine but the skewed intonation was almost unbearable. Perhaps elocution lessons are in order as, during question period, he managed an entirely normal conversational speech.