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.

From the home front

DATE: May 7

TITLE: From the home front

Ontario is currently in the middle of a four week mandatory stay at home order intended to slow the spread of COVID 19. For me, the only real change is that I now stay home because I’m told to, not because I want to. But it does give me some time to think and ask questions I probably normally wouldn’t dream of.

Before I get to the questions and other observations, Canada is conducting its official census this month. This year it is all being done online. I’ve already filled out mine and hit “send”. I noticed a couple of questions that I don’t recall seeing on the census before. The first dealt with gender at birth, and part B of that question was current gender. The second asked about past or present military service. In all the years I’ve been doing the survey, I’ve never been asked that before. If you’re curious, my answer was “yes”.

I haven’t picked on commercials for a while. There has been one on recently for Scotties tissues. At the end, there is a scene where the actress is crying and the tag line is something like “send in the Scotties”. Only problem I have with this is that although the dogs are cute, they aren’t Scotties – they’re West Highland White Terriers.

Okay, on to the questions, actually just a multi-part single question: When and how did certain languages become associated with certain fields? For example, in law and medicine, Latin appears to have become the lingua franca. When, why and how did this occur? As I understand it, much of our law is descended from ancient Greece and the middle east, as is medicine. So how did Latin become the common language of these fields?

Classical music is another case. Italian seems to be the common tongue among composers, yet not all composers were Italian. Bach, Beethoven, Brahms didn’t speak Italian in their daily lives. There are French composers as well, such as Saint Saens, Delibes and DeBussy. Norway gave us Grieg and Finland added Sibelius. Yet each of these composers use Italian in their notations.

Ballet seems to be the province of French terms – pas de deux, barre, jete.

Who decided, and when, that such-and-such a language would become the common tongue of a field of endeavour?

I blame all these questions on Doug Ford, the Premier of Ontario. If he hadn’t told me I had to stay home, I’d have been out with a camera and wouldn’t have time to dwell on topics like this.

Stay safe and remember to give an artist a socially distant hug – we need love too.

Cat.

Thoughts from isolation

1 – I don’t know about you, but to me it seems the pandemic and resulting restrictions and social distancing measures have changed the way I shop. For years economists and others have been talking about moving to a cashless society. It seems COVID may be hastening that eventuality. Other than for cab fare, I can’t recall the last time I used anything other than credit or debit cars to pay for anything.

2 – I’m upset with one of the cable channels I get – AMC. Last year they ran a series called “A Discovery of Witches”, which really captured my interest. About a month ago, they showed the complete first season. This was good as I’d somehow missed a couple of episodes. Among the various commercials were some advertising season two and those are the reason for my upset. Season two will be shown on their streaming service, not the regular cable channel. For some reason I am unable to access American streaming services (I’ve tried several times.) This show is set in modern times and involves witches, vampires and others of the fae realm. (Random thought: I find it somewhat ironic that this centuries old vampire drives a Tesla.) Brief synopsis: young woman discovers she’s a powerful witch and gets involved with the above mentioned vampire. Other discover her power and try to capture her for various nefarious purposes. In the final episode of season one, she and the vampire escape through time – she has the ability to do what the show calls “time walking” – to 1590. But since it’s on the streaming service, I’ll never know how and when they return to today. Oh well, perhaps it’ll turn up as a box set on Amazon one of these days.

3 – When I drove taxi, I kept a crossword book with me to pass the time between calls. It was a way to stave off boredom. After a year of COVID isolation I’ve started solving them again because yelling at the television isn’t working any longer. It has been several years since I bought a crossword book and well, I still see the same clues recurring.

The creators of these things still use “Hilo honker”, or “goose that frequents crosswords” when after “NENE”. And they all seem to think the only native tribe in Canada is “CREE”. These are but two examples of clues and responses I recall from my cab days fifteen years ago. They are also fond of using proper names – Esai Morales in various forms is a common choice, as is Ava Gardner. Just once I’d like to see a puzzle that doesn’t involve proper names at all.

Every so often someone will come up with something that is so wrong it infuriates me, such as this one. The clue was “Renee Zellweger faked this for ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’”. The logical answer would be “ENGLISH ACCENT”, but that would be incorrect. For reasons known only to themselves, the creator decided the correct response was “ENGLISH ACCIDENT”! I’ve seen the movie and I have no idea where that came from.

Okay, I’ve ranted and must admit this feels better than screaming at the television. Stay safe and remember to give an artist a virtual hug – we need love (and social distancing) too.

Cat.

Miscellaneous musings

1 – I’ve come to the conclusions that people in my neighbourhood either can’t read, can’t count, or both. There is a small convenience store down the street from me. This is a long, narrow shop with limited space. On the front door, taking up most of the width of the glass, at eye level, is a sign that reads “2 people at one time only” in large red characters on a white background. As you may be aware, many levels of government, municipal, provincial and federal, have imposed restrictions designed to slow or prevent the spread of COVID 19 and one of these is a restriction on the number of people allowed into an establishment at any one time. As I wrote above, this is a small store, so the maximum number of customers is set at two. I don’t know how many times, I’ve been in that store with one other customer and watched two or three more people walk in, completely ignoring the capacity sign they’ve been staring at. C’mon people, those restrictions are for your and my safety. Learn to read and count. It should be easy: one, two.

2 – Maybe I should change my surname to “Scrooge”, but doesn’t it seem to you that broadcasters started their Christmas programming earlier than usual this year? One radio station in Toronto began playing 24 hour Christmas music on November 2! And some of the cable stations I have access to (note “have access to” not watch”) have been showing Christmas themed movies since late November. By the time the actual holiday arrives, we won’t care because we’ll have been so inundated in the previous two months.

3 – I’ve been reading many comments over Jill Biden using “Doctor”. These comments are usually along the lines of “she isn’t a medical doctor, so she shouldn’t use the title.” Excuse me, but by that logic, a dentist shouldn’t be called “Doctor” either, but I’ll be you do use that title even though by the logic you’ve used against Dr Biden, the dentist wouldn’t be entitled to is. I have to disagree with this viewpoint. Any doctorate requires many years of study and great effort. Doctorates aren’t handed out the way presidential pardons seem to be recently. Anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort of earn a doctorate, in any field, deserves the right to use the honorific. I suspect the party affiliation of the people condemning her use of the title plays a part in their comments.

Stay safe,
Cat.

Bring him to justice – on hold

Following is an excerpt from The St Catharines Standard of March 13, 2020:

Upcoming criminal and civil jury trials in Niagara and across Ontario have been suspended as a precaution to keep the public and staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice announced.

In a statement issued late Thursday, Chief Justice Geoffrey Morawetz said anyone who has received a summons for jury duty for an upcoming trial does not need to attend court.

“The safety of all who use and rely upon the court is essential,” the statement reads. “Equally important is continued access to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice should COVID-19 disrupt court operations.”

Officials said small claims court cases have also been temporarily halted.

So it appears George Flowers will be staying in jail while the Province of Ontario finds a way to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

If or when there is a change in this status, I’ll write more.

Cat.