Not this year

Today is June 29. On this date I usually change my profile picture on Facebook to a Canadian flag, or a photo of a maple leaf and leave it up until July 5 because that brackets both Canada Day, July 1 and Independence Day in the US, July 4. But not this year.

I’m still a proud Canadian, but this doesn’t seem like the year to celebrate this country. Here are three numbers to help explain why: 215 – 104 – 751. If you’re among my followers and readers from other countries you might not grasp the meaning of these numbers, but if you’re Canadian, I’m quite certain you understand at least the first and last of these.

For those who for various reasons – COVID 19 takes up much of most newscasts – aren’t aware, those three sets of numbers represent the numbers of unmarked graves recently located by various means, including ground penetrating radar, at the sites of now defunct residential schools.

215, Kamloops B C at a school run by the Roman Catholic Church.

104, southwestern Manitoba. None of the news articles I can locate mention which church ran this school. This didn’t seem to receive the same amount of national coverage as the other two.

751, southeastern Saskatchewan at a school run by the Roman Catholic Church.

Following is an abridged definition and history of the residential school system from The Canadian Encyclopaedia:

Residential schools were government-sponsored religious schools that were established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. Although the first residential facilities were established in New France, the term usually refers to schools established after 1880. Residential schools were created by Christian churches and the Canadian government as an attempt to both educate and convert Indigenous youth and to assimilate them into Canadian society. However, the schools disrupted lives and communities, causing long-term problems among Indigenous peoples.

… residential schools became part of government and church policy from the 1830s on, with the creation of Anglican, Methodist, and Roman Catholic institutions in Upper Canada (Ontario). The oldest continually operating residential school in Canada was the Mohawk Institute in what is now Brantford, Ontario. This began as a day school for Six Nations boys, but in 1831 it started to accept boarding students.

Survivors of these schools speak of harsh conditions: forbidden to speak their native languages upon threat of punishment; the boys forcibly having their hair cut, and physical and sexual abuse. A survivor from the Kamloops school, in an interview, said that if a child suddenly vanished overnight, it was assumed they had simply run away, and the schools would encourage that assumption. The overall aim of these schools, in the words of one survivor interviewed, was “to take the Indian out of the child”.

The Roman Catholic order than ran the Kamloops school has announced they will provide whatever documentation they still have to aid in the identification of these 215 poor unfortunate children. I’ve not read or heard of any such offers regarding the Manitoba and Saskatchewan sites. Both the Ontario and federal government have announced they will make funds available to help in the search for unmarked graves and identification of the remains.

I realize that now, in 2021,society’s attitudes have changed greatly since these schools were introduced, but I can think of nothing at any time in history, not just the history of Canada but the history of the world, to justify such treatment of children.

I can’t say if the news of these discoveries in Canada had any bearing on it, but Deb Haaland, the American Secretary of the Interior this past week announced an investigation into the American version of residential schools. I’d like to be optimistic, but I fear that investigation will reveal similar events in the US.

As a result of these sad and tragic announcements, many cities and towns are cancelling their planned Canada Day celebrations. They too find it hard to celebrate this nation’s birthday.

We as a nation have failed these children and I personally don’t think we have anything to celebrate this year. Maybe next year.

Cat.

A view from without

For the past several months, there have been many postings on social media both for and against the apprentice president. I use Facebook, but I presume the reactions are the same on all social platforms: comments follow such postings – comments that either castigate or support the posted point of view. Some of these comments come from people from other countries and are occasionally met with responses along the lines of “why are you commenting, you’re not even American?”

This is in response to those questioning outside comments. Reasonable people, no matter where they live, are aware that what happens in Washington will, or may, affect them and their countries of residence. Whether something as simple as insulting Kim Jong-un (“little rocket man”) or as divisive as declaring the United States recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the words and tweets of the apprentice have an effect not only in the US, but internationally. Look at the protests and riots in some cases over the Jerusalem announcement. As I write this, there are protests in front of the US embassy in Toronto.

While American influence on a global scale has been somewhat diminished by the actions and comments of the current occupant of the White House, it is still significant in many places. Leaders of countries that are considered allies of America are condemning the Jerusalem decision, claiming that rather than bring stability and peace to the region, it will only inflame passions.

We here in Canada, especially those in the southern part of the country, are inundated with American broadcasting, including news, mainly because we more or less speak the same language. So much so does this occur that many Canadians are more aware of the American political scene than they are of their own. We are also aware that as our closest neighbour, events in the US may affect Canada long before they affect other parts of the world.

To those who question why we comment on postings about the apprentice president, I say this: America does not exist in a bubble – our ass in on the line too.

Cat,

Some random thoughts

Riding the bus today, my mind wandered and touched on various items.

1 – The Region of Durham is doing some serious road work at a major intersection. This of course is causing massive traffic backups and pretty much throws bus schedules out the window. The irony in that is the construction is they are installing “bus only” lanes to speed up public transit.

2 – If you were to ask Canadians the origin of Canadian English, no doubt most, if not all, would say “England”. According to a documentary I watched, they would be indirectly correct. The documentary stated that the major influence on “Canadian English” actually came from the United States, which was settled in large part by the British. Pronunciation, definitions and some nuances are all courtesy of our friends south of the 49th parallel. Spelling is a different matter. In the 1870’s, Sir John A. Macdonald, the Prime Minister at the time was the head of the government that passed a bill that made the use of “u” in words such as colour the only official spelling. So when I use that spelling for neighbour and honour for example, I’m only following Canadian law.

3 – Watching some programmes on Germany before and during WWII. Am I the only one who sees irony in the fact that the Nazis ideal was a tall, blond, blue-eyed physical specimen while neither Hitler nor his inner circle were anywhere near that ideal?

4- This isn’t exactly a random thought, but was a private Facebook message regarding a string I was involved with, and thought about during my bus ride. I think it bears repeating here:

I am horrified by some of the postings I read from my American friends regarding their troubles with housing, medical care and employment. Granted I lost a job when I came out, but someone through church told me that if I could get my Pickering taxi licence, he’d hire me. I did and he did and I drove for seven years until I was injured. Perhaps it’s the Canadian psyche, but except for the young drunk men on Friday and Saturday nights in the cab, I’ve never had a problem. As an example of what appears to be the general view (and yes I know generalities can turn and bite me in the butt), during the last provincial election campaign, not one candidate; not one reporter from any media, nor any member of the public brought up the fact that Kathleen Wynne, the Premier of Ontario, is lesbian. Everyone stuck to the issues. I think that had this been an American election campaign, her sexuality would have overshadowed the actual issues. By the way, she won and now heads a majority government. Based on my experiences over the past twenty years, I sometimes think that my brothers and sisters in the United States would consider Canada, specifically Ontario, a trans Utopia.

Not quite, but we’re working on it.

Since it’s Friday, enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist, we need love too.

Cat.

Information – don’t leave home without it

I found the following in my Facebook newsfeed yesterday: Police Called as American Tourist “Shocked” to Discover Canada has its “Own Currency” from a site called “Failmuch.com fmnews”.

According to the article, a tourist from Indiana was in Vancouver and purchased something in a store with US funds and received her change in Canadian money, which is usual. It didn’t state if they gave her exchange. She apparently freaked out at the Canadian money and demanded they give her “real” (US) money and the police had to be called. This article appears to be fake for various reasons.

She is quoted as saying she thought Canada, or at least British Columbia, was just another state, like Washington. Not buying it. Surely she would have realized something was amiss when she had to produce a passport to clear Canada Customs at Vancouver International Airport.

While the story is phony, unfortunately the attitude detailed is not unusual. I am fond of a show called “Border Security” which covers the activities at several British Columbia ports of entry. These ports, especially the land crossing at Douglas Highway, make for some “shake my head” moments because Douglas Highway is the main port for Americans driving to Alaska or Port Roberts Washington. One incident in particular stands out.

A couple from Texas wanted to drive to Alaska. Unfortunately he neglected to check on Canada’s gun laws before he left home. At customs he admitted he was carrying a sidearm. When told he couldn’t bring it into the country, his response was “I thought carry laws applied everywhere.” Dummy, they may apply anywhere in Texas, but you’re now in a foreign country that doesn’t necessarily recognize American, especially American state, law. The weapon was confiscated for later destruction and he was fined. I’m not sure if this incident was the result of ignorance of Canadian law, or simple American arrogance.

All too often on this show, people from California will be stopped and found to be in possession of marijuana, claiming they have a state issued permit to use it. Sorry dude, that piece of paper is worthless in Canada. The usual result of this is arrest for smuggling drugs into Canada.

People, and by people I mean Americans intending to visit to Canada, before you plan your trip, take some time and get some information on Canadian laws. You can’t bring your sidearm into the country. A long gun may be permitted provided you complete the proper paperwork and it isn’t a type banned. In other words, leave the AR 15 at home unless you want it seized. Medical marijuana permits are another thing. They are only valid in the state of issue and mean nothing to Canada Customs. Bringing weed into the country will restrict your site-seeing to the inside of a jail cell.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Neither is the arrogance I see displayed by so many people on “Border Security”, who seem to feel that being American gives them leave to do whatever they want. Doesn’t work that way and that arrogance could land you in the cell next to the drug smuggler.

Learn something about our laws before you come. Oh yes, don’t lie on the entry documents or to the Customs inspector because they could refuse you entry.

Other than that, welcome to Canada and enjoy your stay.

Cat

“Twilight Zone” revisited

I have no proof, but I think the name of the Registrar-General for Ontario is Rod Serling because I seem to have been thrown into an episode of “Twilight Zone”. Here’s the situation:

As I have written previously, I want to change my name. I originally changed it when I began my transition to give my family some privacy. That was twenty years ago. My ex-wife has gone back to her maiden name and I’ve decided to take back my family surname and adopt the name my mother had in mind had I been born female and as middle name I chose “Ann”, which is the common middle name of my new family.

With this in mind, I sent an application for a name change, with the appropriate fee, to the Registrar-General’s office in Thunder Bay. Three months later I received my application back, with a request to provide a criminal background check. Now, according to the form, because I answered all the questions related to criminal background “no”, it was not necessary to provide this additional document. Because it had taken so long – the R-G’s office said six to eight weeks – I had contacted my MPP’s office to find out what was going on. (The Member of Provincial Parliament in Ontario is the equivalent of a State congressman in the US.) Upon receiving the form and request, I contacted the MPP’s office again and explained the situation.

You can cue the “Twilight Zone” theme now. While they didn’t indicate as much on the sheet attached to my application, what they want is a criminal background check on my chosen name, not my current name. This seems like a very odd request. How am I supposed to get a criminal background check on a name I don’t use yet except on Facebook and WordPress? Next step was a phone call to Durham Regional Police. The young lady I spoke with was quite blunt after I explained the situation to her. She simply said “You can’t.” Fortunately, she did have a solution. I have to apply for a background check under my current name and apparently there is a space on the form for “other names” and in that space I should put the name I want. That means both names will be run through the system.

This is where it gets a little more strange. The lady at the Ministry under which the Registrar-General operates told the lady at the MPP’s office this additional background check is required to make certain the name I’ve chosen is “clean”. In this context that means there is no other person with that name in the CPIC records who may have a record or otherwise may have attracted the attention of the authorities. If there is, I may have to change the spelling of my name. Not much of a problem other than I refuse to change the spelling of my surname. We’ve been here since at least 1850 and my surname honours that.

So, at the end of the month, once my pension check arrives, I’m off to the local police station to try to explain this to whoever is working the desk. That should be fun. Oh yes, I must also have $55 to pay for this.

I’ll keep you informed. I have the feeling this won’t be the end of this episode.

Cat.

Yes, I am

I was away for a couple of days and found the following in my gmail spam upon my return:

Mr. Boni Gozie <robinsonfranklin@cantv.net>

8 Dec (4 days ago)

to ces854

I am writing to confirm the fact if you are (Dead) Or (Alive)? Because Mr. Jude Betsy came to our office stated that you are dead and failure to reply back in the next 24hrs simply means what Mr. Jude Betsy said was right that you are dead. And Mr. Jude Betsy has agreed to pay the needed valued of $105 dollars required for the transfer charge fee of your consignment box, but we have not gotten the fee from him yet as we want to find out if you are dead or not, so if you are still (alive) you are advice in your own best interest to reply back within 24hrs, Regards Mr. Boni Gozie.

Checking the details, I note the actual sender was in Benin. The lack of an actual addressee, combined with the poor English all tell me this is some kind of scam or phishing attempt. The email address “cantv.net” is also a giveaway. I posted a warning on Facebook last week after I noticed I had received several messages telling me my money was ready to be sent from this same address. All they needed were an amount of money and my personal details.

Obviously I’m not going to respond, but I wonder what they’d do had I responded with the title of this piece, “yes, I am”.

Remember, if you get messages from “cantv.net” they only want your money and personal details. You’ll get nothing but grief in return.

Cat.

Where are their support groups?

If you’re like me, you ignore most of Facebook’s suggested groups as being of no interest to you. Tonight though, I noticed one I have no intention of joining, but couldn’t ignore either. It was called “The Caitlyn Jenner Support Group”. Now I agree that we could all use support when we begin this journey, so my objection isn’t to the existence of the group. I just wonder if this group was started from an honest desire to support Caitlyn or from some hope to perhaps share the Jenner/Kardashian spotlight in some small way because of her former life? I just hope for her sake that anything Caitlyn gets involved in doesn’t degenerate into a typical Kardashian media circus but that hope may already be misplaced.

But my real question is this: What of those other people who chose the day Caitlyn made her debut to decide they could no longer live the lie and took their first steps into this strange new world called Trans without all the television interviews and magazine covers? Where are their Facebook support groups? No, I’m not bitter or jealous for I’ve been Cat for 19 years now and am doing quite well, thank you for asking. We’ve read recently of people committing suicide, Leelah Alcorn comes to mind, because they had no support systems and didn’t feel they could cope on their own. There may be some support groups out there, but how easy are they to find? I know of none in my town or the two towns on either side of mine.

I recently changed doctors and this new doctor is very trans-friendly. One of the first questions she asked was “who’s in your village?”, meaning “who supports you on your journey?”. If asked that question, how many people can put a number to the people who they can rely on as they go through this? I’m fortunate in that I not only have some close friends in my village, but two of my three sons also support me.

As I asked in the title though, where are the support groups for these other people who aren’t athletes or reality television personalities? They are just as deserving as Caitlyn Jenner, if not more so since they probably don’t have the same financial backing.

Cat.