Everything is connected! During the treaty training session I attended at the Manitoba Museum last week, along with the rest of the education staff from the Winnipeg Art Gallery, we spent some time studying a painting by Jackson Beardy that offers a unique First Nations perspective on the interconnectedness of living things.
The bear represents the animal world.The flowers represent the plant world. The thunderbird symbolizes the rain, thunder and lightning. Here is Mother Earth’s heart beating.
The grandmother and father moon represent birth, nourishment and protection.
The human being is the smallest element and is using the pipe to give thanks to all the other beings that give the human life.
In Beardy’s painting all the facets of the world are joined together -plants, animals, heavenly bodies, natural elements, the earth and human beings. Beardy illustrates how we are all interdependent.
Parfleches For the Last Supper
A Bandolier Bag
I visited three classrooms last week as a mentor and supervisor for university student teachers. I’ve only just begun several jam packed weeks of school visits and report writing but I’ve already had a great time.
In a grade nine language arts class I listened to the music of Canadian rapper Shad for the first time. I must admit rap isn’t necessarily my genre and I knew Shad only as the host of the CBC program Q. But together with the students I considered the lyrics of his piece Remember to Remember and heard kids discussing among other things alcohol and drug use, life goals, if it is better to be rich or poor and whether we can rise above our past. Later in the class the kids used Shad’s lyrics and a black out technique to create poems of their own.
I also watched grade twos working on a list of things they’d like to do to improve their neighborhood. They are preparing to visit their councilor at City Hall in a couple weeks to present their ideas to him. One idea they have is to create a butterfly garden on their school property to help save the monarchs, but they’ve got lots of other great ideas too. Those seven years olds made me take stock of what I’m doing to make my city a better place to live. There’s a new book just out called Re-Imagning Winnipeg. It is written by adults who have a vision for our city. I wonder what a similar book written by kids would look like?
I visited a group of grade ones who were designing fish nets. My student teacher had a table full of supplies, pipe cleaners, plastic bags, straws, string, wool, popsicle sticks, tape …… She talked about volume and porisity with the kids and showed them the little foam number fish swimming in a tub of water they would need to catch with their nets. The little designers and engineers all went to their seats to draw plans for their nets and then they built them. They were AMAZING! Each one unique and all except one able to trap fish.
My first week of classroom visits has me all excited about the visits that remain. It’s going to be fun!
Learning Cool Things
Popping In and Out of Schools
I exercise at a YMCA five or six times a week. It’s a great place to work out. People of all sizes and shapes and nationalities and ages use the facilities. I particularly admire the many octogenarians who show up everyday from a nearby seniors residence. There is one man, tall, black and wiry, who sings hymns softly as he moves from one weight machine to the next. There is a tiny Asian lady who can’t speak English but gives me a warm smile and an enthusiastic wave every morning. There is another white haired woman who comes onto the exercise floor with her walker. It isn’t easy for her to maneuver onto the seat of the recumbent bike or the rower but she has a system figured out and she manages independently. One day I was rowing beside another elderly woman with a considerable stoop in her back. We started chatting and she said, “My children have given up on me and so has my doctor. They think I should be in a wheelchair. But they can think what they want. I’m not giving up on myself.” There’s a man with a shock of white hair who reads the Toronto Globe and Mail as he bikes and another woman in her eighties who swims, walks and bikes everyday. There’s a First Nations man with a white cane and a grey ponytail who told me he’s keeping fit because his girlfriend likes him that way.
If I don’t feel like exercising, all I have to do is look at the people twenty or so years my senior at the gym who show up everyday so they can stay as fit and healthy as possible. I admire them. They inspire me.
What Will You Be Building?
Sitting is the New Smoking
Filed under Health, Sports
Easter 2008- on holiday in Bali, Indonesia
Easter 1961- Coloring Easter eggs with my siblings
Easter 2009-Playing bridge in Koh Samui Thailand with our friends Rudy and Sue
Easter 1956- My sister and I in our Easter bonnets
Easter 2010- With my two brothers at a family party in Winnipeg
Easter 1960- Ready for church with my brother and sister
Easter 2011- With my great niece at a family party in Leamington Ontario
Easter 1957 – With my sister in dresses sewn by our mother
Easter 2015- With my good friends in Assiniboine Park
The T-4s Welcome Spring
Easter A Time of New Beginnings
I See His Blood Upon the Rose
by Joseph Plunkett
I see his blood upon the rose
And in the stars the glory of his eyes,
His body gleams amid eternal snows,
His tears fall from the skies.
I see his face in every flower;
The thunder and the singing of the birds
Are but his voice—and carven by his power
Rocks are his written words.
All pathways by his feet are worn,
His strong heart stirs the ever-beating sea,
His crown of thorns is twined with every thorn,
His cross is every tree.
The choir I’m part of this Good Friday morning is singing this poem in an arrangement by composer Hugh Robertson. It reminds me of St. Bonaventure who said that every piece of creation is another footprint, another fingerprint, another revelation of the mystery of the divine. The whole universe….. it’s all sacred.
Thinking About Mary on Good Friday
A Life That Adds Up to Something
Filed under Holidays, Poetry
I can’t believe it! There are only two books left in the Canada Reads contest and they are the two I chose for my first and second picks in previous blog posts. My favorite book was The Hero’s Walk and my second choice was The Illegal. One of them will win today.
I have to say that even though I liked The Hero’s Walk the best, Clara Hughes, the Olympic medalist who is championing The Illegal is my favorite panelist. She is so well prepared, has thoughtful opinions, and is gracious about the other books. She looks for good in them all. I find her more articulate than Vinay Virmani who is advocating for The Hero’s Walk although they both are passionate about their books.
In past years I haven’t watched the Canada Reads debates as faithfully but because this year I’ve read all the books I can hardly wait to see it every day. One thing I’m really appreciating is the variety in the panelists. They are athletes and business people, entertainers and social advocates all excited about the value of reading fiction and the pleasure it affords.
I truly believe reading fiction makes us better people, enriches our lives, and offers us an avenue for solace and salvation. The fact that our country has a sort of annual national book club that sparks such interest and enthusiasm for books by Canadian authors reflects what a civilized, sane and progressive country Canada is.
No matter which book wins today I think anyone who watches Canada Reads, or reads one of the books in contention is a winner! In the meantime till I get home from work around 3:30 and watch the show I’m keeping my fingers crossed for The Hero’s Walk.
On Reading Lila
A Flood of Books
Filed under Books, Canada