Friday, December 08, 2017

[akkai padmashali's question and obama's answer...]

Direct link to video

Here's part of the conversation:
How can I speak up in front of a society when I am a criminal under Section 377?” she [Akkai Padmashali, a transgender activist] asked.

“I think the answer is, it begins with what you just did, which is to find your voice and be able to articulate your views and your experiences, and tell your story,” Obama answered.

“And that’s true of any group that is marginalized, stigmatized,” he continued. “Finding that voice, and being able to tell a story so that the perceptions somehow that you are different are broken down, because they start seeing their experiences in you. They see your humanity.

“Once that voice is there, hopefully others join you. So now you have networks, and organizations, and allies,” he said.

“And then, once that happens, it’s a matter of applying political pressure and being able to mobilize public opinion,” he instructed.
YouTube screenshot of Barack Obama responding to Akkai Padmashali's question.

Read the whole article at:

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

apologies from the prime minister and others

It's the month of apologies...

Tweet from Justin Trudeau apologizing to former students etc. of Nfld and Labrador residential schools.  "Today, we apologize to former students of Newfoundland and Labrador residential schools and to the families, loved ones, and communities for the painful & tragic legacy these schools left behind"

Justin didn't mince any words with his apology. Note the detail in the apology, and the language used.

Justin Trudeau apologies to the LGBTQ2S+ community, November 28, 2017.

Text link to the full apology.

And coming sometime in the future...

jesus prays, saying "Father, I pray you help me as I psych myself up to apologize for my people in the future... and inspire me with many ideas about how to make things right... (Sigh) If they would just follow my example in how to love others, I could avoid this embarrassment..."  cartoon by rob goetze

P.S. Was Justin also apologizing on behalf of Christians?

Monday, November 27, 2017

[voices of amiskwaciy and the seven sacred teachings]

logo for "voices of amiskwaciy" telling our stories project.
Voices of Amiskwaciy is a new webspace that "supports the community to create, share, discover and celebrate local Indigenous content online. It is guided by the values of ongoing consultation and collaboration with Indigenous communities in the spirit of reconciliation, dialogue and learning.

Voices of Amiskwaciy is hosted by the Edmonton Public Library and made possible in part by the Government of Canada."

There are few stories available at this time (Nov 2017) as the site recently launched, but the project looks very promising especially in terms of its posture and collaboration.

In particular, I'm intrigued by the 7 Sacred Teachings that the site has adopted:

Love: Engaging in relationships from a place of kindness, caring and compassion and supporting of self-determination.

Respect: Creating a safe space where stories are valued.

Courage: Committing to follow through on project goals.

Honesty: Being transparent about the process and progress of the project to the public.

Wisdom: Seeking out and including Indigenous knowledge throughout the project development.

Humility: Working in meaningful partnerships on an equal plane and being open to learning and embracing new ways of understanding, acting and knowing.

Truth: Creating an authentic Indigenous space where truths can be shared. (source)

They remind me somewhat of the four core values used by Generous Space Ministries:
Humility – “Might I be wrong?”

Hospitality – “Whose voices are missing?”

Mutuality – “Is everyone in our community empowered to make a difference?”

Justice – “How can I participate with you in dismantling the barriers preventing flourishing?” (source)

These 7 Sacred Teachings could readily apply (with very little adaptation) to other contexts where the goal is a space that welcomes and embraces people.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

[positive spaces]

Positive Spaces addresses the issue that despite Canadian law which prohibits workplace discrimination and organizational policy which typically echoes the law and the Charter of Human Rights, many workplaces are still not welcoming places for LGBTQ2S+ employees.

Positive Space programs typically include some or all of the following:

  • Training for staff
  • Posters and stickers to reinforce the training and to increase awareness by staff, clients, and the public
  • Positive Space champions - volunteers who "offer support, raise awareness, and wear and post identifiers to designate both themselves and their workspaces as safe."
  • Review of procedures and documents to ensure they are LGBTQ+ positive and inclusive

Positive Spaces and similar programs are intended to result in a declared space (declared as being a positive, welcoming and affirming space for LGBTQ2S+ employees), persons who have declared themselves as allies / advocates / safe people to talk to, and overall increased awareness. LGBTQ Positive Spaces are being used by various organizations to promote safety and inclusion of LGBTQ+ employees and clients. Here are some examples:

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

declared spaces inside declared spaces

cartoon about declared spaces inside declared spaces, with three people. By rob goetze

This site has extensive discussion of uncertain spaces and declared spaces. Much of it has focused on the big declaring that a church can do in terms of how welcoming and embracing it is. The outward signs, and the many inward ways which make the declaration more than just words and empty gestures.

One of the ways a church or organization can declare itself further, which has not been discussed here yet, is by having specific declared spaces within a broader declared space. As will be seen in the following examples, some of these specific spaces are physical spaces; others are "spaces in time". As well, there are also ways for people within a church or organization to declare themselves...

declared "spaces in time" within declared spaces

These are defined declared spaces that happen at certain times, within a broader declared space. Here are some examples.

example 1: standing stones services

Several churches in our parish hold Standing Stones services once a month, in some cases during the regular Sunday morning service time.
"Standing Stones is a gathering of Aboriginal and Non-aboriginal People to explore God in an Aboriginal Context.  We come to worship Jesus, infusing Cree symbols into Christian ceremony.  We smudge to purify our minds, hearts and spirits in order to come to a clearer understanding of God; we seek wisdom in Aboriginal story and scripture, we ask for God’s healing water and prayer on ourselves and our community and we celebrate God’s activities in our lives though the sharing of bannock and berries.  Standing Stones is a fresh expression of Jesus to the Aboriginal Community and to the diocese.  The hope is that this gathering is a means of Christ’s reconciling Love to heal ancient wounds and enlighten the next generation of all Canadians."(source)
stained glass windows at the chapel, all saints cathedral, edmonton. photo by rob goetze. windows, from left to right: medicine wheel, buffalo, bear, eagle

Monday, November 06, 2017

[the spirit of alex decoteau]

Esprit sculpture by Pierre Poussin, at Alex Decoteau park. Photo by robg

There's a new park near my office here in downtown Edmonton, named after Alex Decoteau, with a red sculpture by Pierre Poussin in the middle:
Esprit celebrates the spirit of Alex Decoteau. Alex Decoteau was a national hero with distinctions such as being Canada's first Indigenous police officer; World War I veteran; Olympic runner, and first inductee to Edmonton's Sports Hall of Fame. Composed of metal ribbons that intersect in fluidity, the sculpture stems from the silhouette of a man mid-sprint. Esprit strives to honour the achievements of a national hero and will serve as a landmark for the park, as well as for the greater Edmonton community. By choosing an abstract form, the artist aimed to render the artwork timeless and symbolic to as many people in the public as possible. (from the plaque)
I love the way it flows freely against the backdrop of a government building in rigid concrete ...

The park is located at 105 Street NW and 102 Avenue NW, Edmonton.

Monday, October 30, 2017

[those of us who stand outside...]

"Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference – those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older – know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths." 

~ Audre Lorde

Monday, October 23, 2017

[Jim Fitterling makes the case for LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion]

Jim Fitterling, President and CEO of Dow Chemical Company, says the following:
"Data suggests that about 75 percent of any organization’s LGBT population remain in the closet … because they’re too scared to come out. I know this from first-hand experience. I was one of those employees."

"Employees who feel connected to the workplace—who feel free to speak their mind without fear of being “outed”—and who feel connected to their co-workers—are more engaged and feel more empowerment.

Ideas flow more genuinely. People trust one another more. Collaboration rises.

Did you know, by the way, that natural work groups perform cognitive tasks 32 percent better when LGBT team members are “out” as opposed to when they are closeted?"
Read the rest of his talk at

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

[naming ourselves: who defines Indigenous identity? article]

Indian Act (2002) artwork by Nadia Myre. Image from Walrus article. Artwork is a page from the Indian Act, taped onto a background, with white beadwork on red covering the left portion of the page.

About identity and names and power....
Recent identifiers such as “Native American,” “Aboriginal,” and “Indigenous” are deceptively vague, attempting to contain all of the complexities and differences of each individual tribe under one umbrella term. The problem with such terms, of course, is that the bigger the group they attempt to represent, the more they erase complexities and differences and encourage homogenization. While grouping all Indigenous tribes and nations together can be convenient, the reason these terms became necessary in the first place is colonialism. Settler governments needed a term to differentiate us from the settler population (i.e., not indigenous to or claimed by a tribe indigenous to Turtle Island) to figure out how to exactly describe the problem we posed to their burgeoning nation-states. We could not be “The Hopitu-Oceti-Sakowin-Kanien’kehá:ka-Powhatan-Chahta-Annishnawbe-Beothuk, etc. problem.” We must be, simply, “The Indian problem.” Bearing that in mind, the question of how to define Native identity should always be split in two: how the government defines us and how we define ourselves.

Read the rest of the article at: