Category Archives: Politics

Sacagawea, Pocahontas and Elizabeth Warren

President Trump has been sarcastically calling Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren Pocahontas for a long time now. This references the senator’s possible Native American ancestry.

wikipedia image of pocahontas

Wikipedia Image of Pocahontas

Pocahontas is an Algonquian woman who saved the life of John Smith the founder of a colonial settlement in Virginia in the early 1600s.

In a recent Fox interview a Republican congressmen named Matt Gaetz used the name of another First Nations woman to refer derisively to Senator Warren just after she announced she was exploring a possible run for the American presidency.  Mr. Gaetz called her Sacagawea. 

I learned about Sacagawea in Woodbury County Iowa a few years ago when we stopped at a travel rest area which also housed a History Discovery center Iowa tribute to lewis and clarkThe centre was a tribute to Lewis and Clark. It told the story of these adventuresome explorers and extraordinary journal keepers who were sent out by President Jefferson to map the Missouri River and evaluate its feasibility as a commerce route. The floor of the Iowa history centre was designed to look like the Missouri River.

sacagawea and son mural iowaThere was a mural of a woman and her baby on the wall of the centre. A brochure I picked up informed me her name was Sacagawea and she was a sixteen year old mother who traveled with Lewis and Clark. The daughter of a Shoshone chief, she was captured by Hidatsa Indians when she was twelve.  They sold her to a French Canadian trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau who made her one of his wives. She and her husband were hired as interpreters by Lewis and Clark. Her son Jean Baptiste was born on the expedition and was later adopted and educated by Clark. 

keel boat replica lewis and clark expedition history center iowaThe benches outside the Iowa rest stop were designed to look like the birchbark keel boats the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled in. One of these boats capsized on the trip and it was Sacagawea who jumped into the water to rescue the precious journals that contained Lewis and Clark’s detailed  notes and drawings of the wildlife, plants and First Nations tribes they encountered as well as maps of the river and regular entries about all their adventures. william clark's journal

Thanks to the Clark and Lewis journals we know about Sacagawea’s other contributions to the expedition. She served as an interpreter, was skilled at finding edible plants, helped choose good spots to camp and her presence and that of her child served as a symbol of peace with the various First Nations tribes the expedition encountered. sacagawea

Sacagawea has been immortalized on an American stamp and her image is on a dollar coin issued in 2000. There are American rivers, lakes and mountains named after her. Dozens of statues of Sacagawea can be found in various American cities. 

It is somewhat ironic that members of the Republican Party are trying to poke fun at Senator Warren by referring to her using the names of brave women of native ancestry who helped shape American history.   Perhaps their sarcasm serves only to mask the fact that they are scared of the way Ms. Warren might shape American history too should she be elected President of the United States in 2020. 

Other posts…….

She Persisted

A Beautiful Woman



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Like Father Like Daughter?

movie viceWe saw the movie Vice on Christmas Day. It is a biography of Dick Cheney. While serving as George W. Bush’s vice president Cheney probably wielded more power than any vice president ever has.  The film claims it was because of Cheney’s influence that……. conservative news stations like Fox proliferated, ISIS was created, the United States invaded Iraq, efforts to promote alternatives to fossil fuels were stymied, and America heightened the brutality of its interrogation techniques. Also thanks to Cheney the current interpretation of the constitution implies that a president’s actions are always legal.  The movie didn’t leave viewers with much of anything to like or admire about Dick Cheney.

dick cheney's daughter mary holds bible for him when he is sworn in as vice president

Dick Cheney’s younger daughter Mary who has a same sex marriage partner holds the Bible for her Dad as he is sworn in as Vice President

The one moment in the film when I felt somewhat positively about Cheney was when he made it very clear to George W. Bush that if he became his running mate in 2000 there would be as he put it ‘be a concrete line’ in the sand with regards to the fact that Dick Cheney’s younger daughter Mary was a lesbian and in a same-sex marriage. Obviously same- sex marriage was something Republicans did not support but Cheney indicated he loved his daughter and his bond with her was of primary importance to him. In 2009 Dick Cheney made a public statement in favor of same-sex marriage.

The early part of the movie depicts the Cheney family- Dick, his wife Lynne, his younger daughter Mary, his older daughter Liz and their spouses and children as being very close, affectionate and supportive of one another. 

Interestingly then in 2014 when Dick Cheney’s older daughter Liz, a former Fox News contributor, was running for a Senate seat in Wyoming, with her parents’ approval she publicly took a stand against gay marriage and gay rights, a stance that created a rift with her sister Mary that has lasted to the present day.  They no longer see each other and Mary and her partner have publicly criticized Liz.  

liz cheney posted this picture on her twitter page

Liz posted a picture on Twitter of her father hugging her after she was elected to Congress

Liz lost her 2014 senate race but in  2016 the state of Wyoming elected Liz as their member of Congress to fill a position left open by a retirement and just this past November Liz Cheney was reelected and has been picked as the GOP conference chair which means she will be in charge of the party’s communications strategy and is the third highest ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. Liz has always been very supportive of her father and played a key role in his campaign for vice president. He in turn heartily supported his daughter’s run for Congress.

Seeing the film Vice and learning just how tragically and terribly Liz Cheney’s father changed the course of American history it is pretty scary to think that such a man’s child is now gaining power in Washington. Like father, like daughter? 

Other posts……….

Women in Politics

A President’s Funeral and a Statue in Hong Kong

Doing Something

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A President’s Funeral And A Statue in Hong Kong

 Rev. Russell Levenson gave the homily at President George Bush’s state funeral on Wednesday.   The Bush family pastor described how just before the former president died his good friend James Baker who had been his Secretary of State and his White House Chief of Staff stood at the foot of the President’s bed and rubbed his feet for about half an hour.  “The president smiled at the comfort of his dear friend,” Levenson noted. The pastor then went on to say that as he witnessed Mr. Baker serving the former president in such a practical and caring way what came to mind was Jesus washing his friends’ feet just before his own death.  Jesus told his friends that he was setting an example for them.  He was serving them the way they needed to serve others. 

Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet by Esther Augsburger

The pastor’s remarks reminded me of a beautiful statue at the International Christian School in Hong Kong where I was a teacher for six years.  It was created by Virginia artist Esther Augsburger. The statue shows Jesus washing his friend Peter’s feet. It stood on a podium just above the main entrance to our school to remind all who entered that serving others with care and compassion was the most important mandate Jesus gave to his followers. What a different world we would have if that was the top priority of all government leaders. 

Other posts………

Mennonite Nuns

I Want to Be Like Anna

Thoughts on Refugees

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Happy About the USMCA?

dairy-cows public domain picture

Dairy farmers aren’t happy with USMCA.

There are Canadians who are happy with the new (USMCA) United States- Mexico- Canada agreement and there are Canadians who are not.  For example on October 1 Macleans magazine ran an interview with BC dairy farmer Dave Taylor who is very disappointed in the agreement but on October 2 the magazine featured an opinion piece by southern Manitoba grain farmer Toban Dyck who says the agreement will continue to foster strong global trade and that’s vitally important to his family’s agriculture operation. 

I belong to (CANSCAIP) The Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers and will be attending their annual conference in Toronto in November.  On Tuesday members received a press release from the Association of Canadian publishers thanking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Minister Chrystia Freeland and the entire Canadian negotiating team for the way the USMCA provides ongoing support to Canadian culture. Apparently the growth and development of the Canadian publishing industry was assured by a section of the agreement that will continue to make it possible for Canadian publishers to export their books to the United States where they earn half of their revenue. 

Listening to the debate during Question Period in Parliament on Monday I heard  Conservative critics grilling Chrystia Freeland about the USMCA pointing out all the ways it was bad for Canada, yet in a quote in the Financial Post the former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said the agreement was highly significant and Canada had achieved its most important objectives during negotiations. 

Is the new USMCA agreement a good one?  I guess it depends who you ask. 

Other posts……..

Should Women With Young Children Be Politicians?

I Sat In the Speaker’s Chair

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Laughing At the Suffering of Others

They laughed at suffering women!  On May 12, 1982 NDP health critic Margaret Mitchell rose in the Canadian House of Commons to address the issue of domestic abuse.  As a member of the Standing Committee on Health, Welfare and Social Affairs Ms. Mitchell had been hearing story after story from battered women who at the time had no legal recourse to hold their abusive partners accountable and no safe places in the community to escape them. 

Margaret Mitchell speaks in the House of Commons. Photo by Andy Clark -Canadian Press

During question period Margaret Mitchell asked the Liberal Minister for the Status of Women Judy Erola what the government was going to do to address this crisis. “One in ten Canadian husbands beat their wives regularly”  said Ms. Mitchell.  At that the predominantly male House of Commons erupted in laughter. Yes laughter ! Then Tory members of the house began to heckle her. 

Ms. Erola rose to tell the men she did not find their behavior amusing and neither did the women of Canada. She promised to provide funding for more transitional housing.   Margaret then asked the Solicitor General to require the courts treat spousal abuse as a criminal act. Of the more than 10,000 charges laid by abused Canadian wives up to that point only two had resulted in convictions. 

The next day Ms. Mitchell introduced a formal motion asking that the members of the House of Commons who had laughed at her and heckled her apologize.  It was defeated. 

The Atlantic magazine ran an article this week called The Cruelty is the Point. Writer Adam Serwer lists incident after incident where President Trump has made fun of the suffering of others. And incredibly many of his supporters hoot and holler and applaud when he does so. According to Serwer the American President really takes pleasure in his cruelty.

Trump believes the United States is the birthright of straight, white, healthy Christian men. Accordingly he says cruel things about the LGBTQ community, immigrants, black athletes, women who are the victims of sexual violence, Muslims, and people with physical challenges. His bravado in doing so makes his fans feel so proud and happy and united they cheer and laugh. 

But we Canadians should not feel too smug. We need to remember we are capable of such cruelty too, capable of laughing at the suffering of others.  Margaret Mitchell’s experience is a good example. 

Other posts…………….

Are You This Determined to Vote? 

From Pale and Weak to Platoon Commander

Encouragement After the American Election

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Who Should I Vote For in Point Douglas?

Mike Pagtakhan who has represented my home ward of Point Douglas on Winnipeg City Council for the last sixteen years has retired from political life so I need to decide who I will vote for as his replacement.  There are four candidates vying to take Mr. Pagtakhan’s seat. 

Photo from Ms. Santos’ website

Vivian Santos has lots of political experience having worked as Mike Pagtakhan’s assistant and also in the office of mayor Brian Bowman. Before her more recent jobs in city politics she was a legal assistant for two large corporate law firms. According to Ms. Santos’ website she’s been involved in a great many community initiatives and improvement projects as a volunteer. She’s helped build fitness trails, develop programs for seniors, plant new species at an ecological reserve, worked on traffic studies and organized charity events. And she’s a national bronze champion in arm wrestling.  

Photo from Ms. Sjoberg’s candidate Facebook page

Kate Sjoberg has been the executive director of the North Point Douglas Women’s centre and the Spence Neighborhood Association and currently serves as a consultant with the Louis Riel School Division working to improve educational outcomes in neighborhoods impacted by poverty.  She’s on the national board of the John Howard Society which advocates for prison reform. Ms. Sjoberg is also an instructor in urban studies at the University of Winnipeg which means she would bring relevant academic credentials to the role of councilor. Ms. Sjoberg’s website lists her many impressive community involvements which include working to make low-income housing safer, acting as an advocate for more efficient public transportation and trying to get to the bottom of possible lead contamination on land in Point Douglas. 

Photo from Mr. Koshelanyk’s candidate Facebook page

Dean Koshelanyk has such a wide variety of work experience. He’s had jobs in farming, construction, forestry, commercial cleaning, the restaurant business, school photography and technology.  He has been a Winnipeg School Division trustee and has volunteered in the community for more than 7000 hours although on his nominee profile he doesn’t get specific about what kind of volunteering he’s done.  Mr. Koshelanyk has lived in the Point Douglas ward for almost 20 years.  He hasn’t got a website but he does have a Facebook page   where he states the three cornerstones of his campaign are common sense, financial prudence and safety.

Photo by Ligia Braidotti from the Winnipeg Free Press

Filippo Palmisani is the owner of Centurion Enterprises a plumbing and heating business.  It is a little hard to find information about Mr. Palmisani’s platform or background because he appears to have no official website or Facebook page.  I did find a Free Press article written about him at the time he announced his candidacy. He wants to institute a city sales tax to replace property taxes and be more aggressive in attracting businesses that offer high paying jobs to Winnipeg. 

I have to say that right now from what I can find out about the candidates online Ms. Sjoberg is at the top of the list for receiving my vote.  Perhaps I will get more information before the election to change my mind.  I’m certainly open to that. I appreciate the fact that four civic minded people are willing to take the time and make the effort to run for office to represent Point Douglas on city council.   

Other points………..

Pop Up Toilet

Getting Involved At the Nelson Mandela Exhibit

A Woonerf in My Back Lane




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That’s Not My Kind of God Either

I have been watching the American television series The Fosters on Netflix.  It frequently addresses current political issues as it tells the story of an American family in San Diego. In the fifth and final season of the drama many of the episodes revolve around immigration as two high school seniors from the Foster family provide support to a college student from a Mexican family.  Her name is Ximena. 

Callie, one of the girls from the Foster family holds a photo of her friend Ximena at a rally to support young people in the DACA program.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement have arrested Ximena’s parents who are illegal immigrants. ICE officers arrive at a highschool dance to take Ximena into custody too. Ximena is acting as a chaperone for her younger sister at the dance.  Ximena has had DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) status in the past but is waiting for her status to be renewed. The younger sister who was born in the United States is taken away by Child and Family services but two teenagers from the Foster family help Ximena slip out a back door and drive her to a church where she receives sanctuary. The pastor of the church provides the young woman with food, clothing and bedding. 

At one point the pastor says, “If you want to talk or pray, I’m here.”  The young woman replies, “I don’t want to pray to a God that would allow my family to be torn apart like this.”  The pastor replies, “I don’t pray to that kind of God either. I believe in Immanuel God with us and God is with you always, in your family’s strength to keep going, in your hope for the future and in the people who have helped you tonight.”  

I  think along the same lines that fictional pastor in the television program did. I find it really hard to understand people who say they believe in God and yet support the current American administration who are arresting desperate asylum seekers, separating refugee parents from their children, and refusing to fully respect and honour the DACA policy established by their country in the past.  I admit it makes me want to ask, “What kind of God are those people praying to?”  I realize of course that they are probably saying the same thing about me. 

Other posts………

Tolerating Other Christians

Standing Up For Children


Filed under Media, Politics