Friday, October 6, 2017

The Lansdowne Letters: A Question of Identity


I remember the first time I saw a person who wasn't the same color as me.
It's one of my earliest memories and only a flash.
My mother remembered it too well, only able to laugh about it years later.  

I was three, possibly just four, and we had gotten on a bus in Charlottetown.
We started down the aisle to take a seat,
and suddenly I came to a full stop at an amazing sight.


Three (Roy) and Four (Me)
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island Canada
late 1953 or early 1954
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



"Why are you brown?" I blurted out to an older man sitting by the aisle.

The flash I remember is of him in dark brown work pants, jacket, and a flat cap.
His white undershirt peeked out from the unbuttoned gap
at the neck of his shirt, so striking against his dark skin.
He was a big man, with warm brown eyes and a touch of gray in his dark curly hair.

My mother, brought up short behind me, was mortified and apologized,
"I'm so sorry, sir!  You mustn't ever say something like that, Louise!"

"It's okay," he said, smiling broadly and leaning closer to me.
"When God made us, he took most of us out of the oven on time,
but sometimes he forgot and some of us turned out browner."

"Like rolls?"

"Like rolls,"  he winked.

"Thank you," my mother said softly.  
"She's very young, and she's never seen a negro before."

She hustled me into a seat before he could hear the inevitable,
"God baked us in an oven?"


Hot Out of the Oven!
Flickr:  Yutaka Seki   License



How we identify, think, and speak of ourselves and others
are difficult currents to navigate at times.
It's easy to wound with a word, deliberately or unintentionally.

In my posts I have tried to walk delicately between the "Indian" of a half century ago
and the "First Nations, Aboriginal, Indigenous, and  M├ętis" of today,
balancing my father's language of the past with mine of the present.
I know I've failed at times, but I'm learning. 


Some of My Father's Students
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



The language of identity is complicated.
Today Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada recognizes
617 First Nations, 126 of which are in Ontario. INAC

At the time my father lived in Lansdowne House
many of the Ojibwa belonged to the Fort Hope Band,
an original signatory to the James Bay Treaty, but now
they are recognized as the separate Neskantaga First Nation.

I am almost as confused today as my father was
during his first weeks in Lansdowne House.

When my father arrived in there in mid-September 1960,
he didn't just find an empty school.
He found a school with no student records.

My father handled the challenge of scrounging desks, chairs, and tables for his students from around the community with a combination of innovation, persuasion, and grit,
but identifying his students was harder. 

My father wrote of this
(I changed the names and numbers.):
"The difficulties faced by the Indian teacher are many and varied.
One of the foremost of these, aside from shyness
which I have already mentioned, is the identification of students.  

Indian families are quite large by white standards,
and it is very hard to keep records with any degree of accuracy.
This difficulty was further complicated in my first school
by the fact that the old school had burned down the year before,
and all the school records had been destroyed.


The New Church of England Indian Day School
Lansdowne House, Northern Ontario, Fall 1960
Photo by Don MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved


About half of my children had the same surname of Mink,
and at least two of the fathers were named Elias Mink.
All the mothers of my children seemed to be named
either Sophie, or Minnie, or Katie.

The solution to the whole problem,
and it took me a week of utter confusion
before I accidentally tumbled upon it,
is the band numbers.

All the Indians are organized into bands, 
and all the adults over 21 years of age have band numbers.
The children have the same band number as their father,
and when a woman marries, she loses her own band number
and takes the number of her husband.

At Lansdowne House, most of the Indians were of the Fort Hope Band,
although there were a few from the Ogoki Band,
and one or two from the Marten Falls Band.

A few of the other bands with which I came into contact later
as supervising principal included the Trout Lake Band,
the Caribou Lake Band, the Deer Lake band, the Pikanjikum Lake Band,
the Fort Severn Band, the White Sands Band, and the Poplar Lake Band.





As soon as I found out about band numbers,
most of my difficulties were over.

Ivy Mink became #528 Fort Hope Band,
and I knew which Elias and which Sophie
were responsible for her presence.



Off to School the First Day
Photo by Uno Manilla
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




However this didn’t clear up all my difficulties,
as I found out to my acute embarrassment one day
when Nettie Marten came to school
to enroll her young son Samuel Marten.  

I took down Nettie’s name and number
and the name and number of her husband Joe.
Naturally the numbers were the same,
but when I started to put the number down for Samuel,
Nettie said, “No, no, Samuel has a different number.”  
I kept insisting that he couldn’t have,
and she kept insisting that he most certainly did have.  

The whole conversation was being carried on through an interpreter who, 
to further complicate the proceedings, was a French Canadian Oblate brother
who was not too proficient in Ojibway and equally unproficient in English.

All of a sudden it hit me what was the matter,
and I put down Samuel’s number with no further argument.
Samuel was illegitimate, the result of some premarital dalliance." 


My Father and His Interpreter, Brother Bernier
September 13, 1960
Photo by Donald MacBeath
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



As I said, the language of identity is complicated,
and its currents can be difficult to navigate.





Till next time ~
Fundy Blue



Boars Head Lighthouse
Tiverton, Long Island, Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved



Notes:
1.  James Bay Treaty or Treaty 9:
     "Treaty 9 was an agreement established in July 1905, between the Government of Canada
    in the name of King Edward VII and various First Nation band governments in northern Ontario
    One First Nation community in the bordering Abitibi region of northwestern Quebec is included
    in this treaty. It was also known as the "James Bay Treaty," since the eastern end of the affected
    treaty territory was at the shore of James Bay."   Quote:  Wikipedia

2.  Unpublished Handbook:
     Recorded in Dad's unpublished The Northern School Teacher:  A Hand Book To Be Issued To All
     New Entrants To The Teaching Profession In The Indian Schools In The Sioux Lookout Indian
     Agency, 1966, pages 6-8.


For Map Lovers Like Me:
Map of Canada
Highlighting Ontario
Wikimedia  edited





Location of Lansdowne House (Neskantaga)
Wikimedia   edited





Location of Charlottetown, P. E. I.
Wikimedia edited




48 comments:

  1. Greetings, Louise. You certainly startled your mother with your first encounter with a coloured person. At a young age in Chester, it was rare that you saw a coloured person, but there were Asians. Now there are lots of coloureds in our area. Your father had his frustrations, but her persevered by soldiering on. An interesting piece that I enjoyed reading. Blessings to you and enjoy your Weekend.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

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    1. Hi, Andrew! Terry and I made it home a-okay, and we've made it through the first snowfall of the year. Burrr! Thanks for sharing your memories. Soldiering on ~ That was Dad. I'll be catching up with everyone over the next few days. I just need to get through our consultations for cataract surgeries tomorrow. Can you believe it? Both Terry and I need the surgery. Blessings to you, my friend!

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  2. That would sure confuse indeed. Although maybe some around here could use numbers. So many B Whynot's it isn't funny lol Especially when they don't put their box numbers on their mail and then whine they don't get it. End rant haha Kids sure say plenty of embarrassing things. Bet the oven conversation went interesting too. Have to be one big oven to fit all those babies in there.

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    1. So do you deliver mail in your spare time, Pat?? I'm thinking of "Delivered." We all need our rants, now and again. I love kiddos and their unfiltered blurts. I don't remember what my mother said on the bus, but I do know she explained that babies came from their mothers fairly soon after. That caused another set of problems because I shared that exciting information with some of my young neighborhood playmates which upset their parents. I hope your week has gotten off to a great start, my friend!

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  3. Well, that did explain why his number was different. Probably not something that happened as often then as it does today.
    I think some people come out half-baked.

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    1. I've been chucking off and on at your half-baked comment over the past few days, Alex! Sorry that I'm not replying until now. The last few days have been crazy with traveling home after a jam-packed last week in Victoria. It's really great to be home, despite the cold and snow today and cataract surgery facing us both. Life is always interesting. Have a great week, my friend!

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  4. Leave it to your dad to find the number system. He coped with any problem that came his way. How difficult his job was. I loved your three year old comment. Where I live in western Pennsylvania we don't have a lot of diversity except for doctors and university professors. Our children are not exposed to different ethnic groups. This in a way is very good because they don't develop predudices. I remember once when I was teaching that one of my students came to me and said that a boy in another class hit him in the restroom. I asked him to identify him and he told me he had brown hair and a blue shirt. We went to another classroom to find the child and he was Afro .American. It never occurred to my student to identity him that way.

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    1. Loved the story you shared, Peggy! Children have to be taught prejudices. I taught at a very diverse elementary school, and although there were sometimes racial tensions between some kids, most of the kids acted like the boy in your class. I hope that you and Don had a great weekend.

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  5. I'm pretty sure there was no "one moment" like that for me. Black people have always been a common sight in the south, so when you go from 1-3 years old seeing them all the time in public, you never think about it.

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    1. No doubt about it, Adam. You aren't startled by what is normal or usual around you. I hope that you and Daisy have a great week together!

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  6. Hi, Everyone! I should have added a note to my post that I'm flying today. Because I land very late, I won't be able to reply until late tomorrow or Sunday. I always enjoy your wonderful comments!

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  7. Dearest Louise, your father never ceases to amaze me. And your posts as well. I hope you had a great week, my cherished friend.

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    1. Hi, Linda! Sorry that I'm just responding now. I had a fabulous week, and thank you for wishing it so. With two posts (northern and IWSG) to write, IWSG Day, packing, traveling, and making the most of my last days in Victoria, plus flying home and unpacking ~ Well, it was a busy and happy week! You are always supportive, and I appreciate it more than I can say! I hope that your week is great. I'll be catching up over the next few days! Hugs to you!

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  8. Your Dad was innovative, resourceful, and very astute. Here, we have darker skinned Maoris, some paler ones from mixed parentages, Asians, and so many from other countries. Each time I go to hospital, it is like the " League of Nations" as invariably there will be more than one doctor from overseas, I have met them from Canada, US, Germany, India, Poland, Egypt, England, South Africa, and if the say Canada or US, and I ask where, they are amazed that I might have friends nearby. One Dr from Colorado lived near 2 friends!!!Amazing when I know Co is about the same size as all of NZ. Have a wonderful weekend. We have grey skies, no sunshine, and a family is coming this morning for a photo session, with their own photographer, while they are all gathered together for the last time. Hope it brightens up.

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    1. Hi, Jean! I hope that your family photograph session went well! I also hope that both you and Hugh continue to improve. I'll be around catching up in the next couple of days. We had snow today, raw wet weather and sullen skies, after a glorious warm day yesterday. I managed to get out into the park along Piney Creek yesterday, crazy busy or not. There were clouds of beautiful American Painted Lady butterflies feeding in the yellow rabbit brushes in parts of the park. They're migrating south right now, so I'm going to have to go on line and find out what happens if they get caught in snow. The Denver metro area is very diverse, so I am used to seeing people from all over the world. I like being surrounded by people from everywhere. It exposes me to new ways of thinking. Have a lovely week my friend!

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  9. I was 10 years old before I ever saw a black person in real life. I was in the US with an aunt and uncle, sitting at some event that I don't remember now. There was a black family sitting in the bleachers ahead of us. The mom was wearing a sleeveless blouse and I could hardly tear my eyes away from her arms, I was so mesmerized by her beautiful chocolate colouring.

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    1. Hi, Debra! You don't forget a striking experience like that! I taught in a diverse school with kiddos from around the world who came in all sorts of wonderful colors: skin, hair, eyes. It never ceased to amaze me. I remember when I first found a box of people colors crayons at a teaching supply store. I was so excited and bought it immediately for my students. Twenty-four gorgeous shades. I bought boxes of them every year afterward. Every kid wanted to find his or her shade! Have a great week, my friend!

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  10. Band numbers! As I read about people being given numbers, I thought it seemed cruel to reduce people to a number. But we have Social Security numbers that identify us. Do the two concepts seem similar to you? I guess what bothers me is that only a certain race of people had band numbers, correct? I was eight years old the first time I saw an African-American person. Few were on TV. I won't tell you what my mother called them. It's shameful.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. My mother-in-law visited the South for the first time when she was a young woman. It was probably the mid-1950s. She got on a bus, went to the back, and sat down. People became upset, and she didn't know why. The bus driver said to her, Girl, get up here and sit in the front before you start a riot.

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    2. Hi, Janie! The story about your mother-in-law is so sad, but typical of that time. We still have a long way to go.

      When I mentioned Indigenous identity, I didn't get into the more confusing aspects of it, which I'm still working on understanding fully myself. Most of the Indigenous people in Canada lived in small bands or groups, and these groups were signatories to treaties in many parts of Canada well over a century ago.

      The band numbers date back to the Indian Act and who is a Status-Indian and who is a Non-Status Indian. Status-Indians are in the Indian Register and have important legal rights that come with their status and they receive federal funds when they live on a reserve. Over the decades there were all kinds of ways that Indigenous people could be stripped of their Indian-Status, the goal being to decrease the number of legal "Indians" until there were no "Indians." A band number was an important piece of identification, still is.

      It's a mess in Canada right now, especially after a Supreme Court ruling in 2016 that I don't even begin to understand. I have a lot to learn and understand, so I won't say anything more about it right now.

      Have a great week, my friend!

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  11. Your story of talking to the first person of color that you had seen, it reminds me of the first time I ever rode on a bus. I offered to let an elderly black man to sit beside me. He gratefully accepted. I could instantly see the people around me stiffen in disapproval, although no one said a word. (This was in the 1960's in Georgia when there were separate drinking fountains for blacks and whites!) Looks like I almost started a riot on a bus when I was just a kid! Still think I was right though to let him sit beside me, I don't care if it was 1963!
    Your story of your Dad...he really tried so many different ways to respond to his students and their families, didn't he?

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    1. Hi, Kay! I'm back in Aurora from Victoria now, and I wasn't able to stay on top of my blog in the past few busy days. Yes, Dad really did try to respond to his students and their families wherever he taught.

      I often think about those days when there were segregation rules when I ride on a bus or train. Kudos to you for doing the right thing. I'll give my spot to anyone who looks like he or she needs a seat. Period! I'm sure you do too. Have a great week, my friend. I'll be round asap!

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  12. I have a bus experience similar to Kay G. (Her post is before mine.) When I was about 4 yrs. old in 1950 in Virginia, my grandmother and I were traveling to someplace (I don't remember where) by Greyhound bus. The bus was nearly empty when we stepped on board and sat in the front seat. A few other "white folks" boarded after us and seated themselves close to the front, too. Next came a black grandmotherly-looking lady who struggled trying to climb the steep bus steps, and, then, she slowly walked all the way to the back of the bus. I followed her with my eyes until she sat down. Turning back around, I asked my grandmother why the lady didn't take a seat closer to the front of the bus where you could see the sights better and where you would not be smelling those stinky back-of-the-bus fumes. My grandmother replied that "Colored" people were supposed to sit in the back section of the bus. I was puzzled because, to me, why would anybody have to be relegated to sit at the back of the bus if the bus was not full, regardless of what they looked like. I thought that was unfair! I was also beginning to learn about separate restrooms, separate store and restaurant entrances, separate schools, and separate drinking fountains for the Colored and Whites at that period in my young life. Even as a youngster, this division didn't make sense to me. We all are definitely a work in progress as we struggle to get rid of inequalities for all people. Thank goodness!

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    1. Hi, Susan! I always love the stories you share from your childhood. You had a lot of unusual experiences too.

      I never understood segregation as a girl either, because it didn't make sense to me and it seemed wrong. Black people were certainly subjected to bad and unequal treatment in Canada, although it wasn't as vicious as in the US. You are right that our countries are works in progress. We have a long way to go in both countries, but at least we are trying to get rid of inequalities. Although right now I am very discouraged by events (Charlottesville and the like) that are happening in the US. I hope all is well with you. Sending you big hugs!

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  13. The process of identification sounds like it was challenging, but I am not surprised you father found a way. It is always interesting to read your posts.

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    1. Thanks, Truedessa! I'll be by to catch up on your posts shortly ~ I love your beautiful and mystical poetry.!

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  14. Challenging and sad. He would have that number for the rest of his life? Hmm. But then only his own people would know what it meant, maybe. I, too, find it hard keeping up with all the political correctness of today. I keep having to look it up to see what the latest version of a proper title is. I remember first hearing Indigenous in reference to the first nations of New Zealand. My ancestors has always used the term Metis, but my mother said French. In fact, for many years she said we weren't Indian. Long story. Interesting that only Canadians know how prejudice our country can be. The world seems to believe we're beyond that.

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    1. Hi, Joylene! Like you, I am frequently looking up what is the correct term to refer to a whole range of people and things. Politically correct is a field of land mines. I wish Canada and the USA were beyond prejudice. I think that Canada is coming to grips with its past better than America is. Sometimes it is discouraging to think how far we have to go. Be glad that the world thinks Canada is beyond prejudice! It's not much fun being an American right now!

      When I was a kid I thought the Metis were the offspring of French and Indian parents, especially in the prairie provinces, and that they had rebelled with Louis Riel. What a lot I had and have to learn! I never grew up with questions about my ethnic identity, since I'm mostly Scottish on both sides. The big division in my family, and it was bitter at times, was religious: Protestant vs Roman Catholic, and then even further Baptist vs Presbyterian. Some interesting history there on both sides!

      Take care, my friend!

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  15. Fascinating post - I spent three weeks on the Blackfeet Nation Reservation in 2005, volunteering and teaching a one day class at the local community college. I learned so much about the native people and the horrors they have been through.

    I've never considered myself prejudiced, even though I grew up in small town New England, home to many white faces. After graduation from high school in 1965, I took a bus from Portsmouth NH to Vero Beach FL by myself (my parents had moved in April of my senior year and I stayed with the family of my best friend). Segregation was a reality that was forced in front of me at bus stops along the way south. To say I was shocked is an understatement. I remember purposely sitting next to a young black girl, maybe 5-6 years older than me, just so we could chat.

    Yes, it was an interesting bus ride.

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    1. Hi, Donna! Everyone has such a unique story! Thanks for sharing your experiences traveling through the South to Florida. Even today, I am shocked when I see documentary film from the days of segregation and the fight for civil rights. We had plenty of problems with discrimination against black people in Canada too. It just wasn't so blatant and inscribed in law. Have a good one!

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  16. We grew up dirt poor where a lot of different races lived in the same neighborhood, so I never had a moment of seeing a certain skin color as questionable. It just always was a melting pot of races for me.

    The number system does sound a bit confusing. In today's world, I am sure there would be a lot more Samuel Martens with different numbers. It seems more commonplace to have different children by different men these days.

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    1. Hi, Theresa! I'll bet it was fun to grow up in a diverse neighborhood. Diverse for me as a young kid was going to school with some French Canadians in first grade. As an elementary teacher I met just about every kind of family you could imagine over the years. It's a very different world now, for sure. At least the horrible stigma of having a child "out of wedlock" has lessoned. I rarely hear "illegitimate" and "bastard" anymore ~ Thank goodness! Well, except for "Game of Thrones." Now that I'm home, I'm going to try out some of your recipes! Take care!

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  17. I remember saying to my father many decades ago, after playing with a few black kids who were neighbors of my cousin, "You know, Dad, colored kids aren't that bad."
    Always embarrassed by that memory, wish I could take it back.

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    1. I hear you, Al! I won't even tell you the awful rhyme we kids used to say to chose someone to be "It" for a game. My only defense is that we really didn't understand what we were saying. At the time it was just a rhyme. I wish I could take that memory back! Have a good one!

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  18. I can't stop laughing about the oven! That is adorable!!! That man was priceless explaining things to you that way!! I really can't remember when I saw a person of a different colour for the first time?
    Your father was a brilliant man! I so enjoy reading all these stories!
    Big Hugs and Much Love!

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    1. It was quite an explanation, Stacy! But how are you going to explain race to a little kid on a bus? I may only have a flash of memory of that kind and understanding man, but it is definitely a warm memory. I'm glad that you enjoy my stories! Big hugs and love back at you!

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  19. What an interesting story, Louise, from your childhood. Young children do not mean to offend. Their comments are innocent and pure. I grew up in a big city and exposure to different cultures and races was immediate. My parents, on the other hand, both lived in small towns in Greece until their 20s, and they'd never been exposed to anyone different from their own people until they came here. My mother once told me that up until she came to Canada, she had no idea what a black person looked like. She knew of them but had no visual. I asked her what she thought when she arrived here and saw a diverse population. She told me it was the most fascinating experience of her life.

    That oven story had me laughing out loud! Thanks for sharing it :)

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    1. Thanks, Martha! I always smile when I think of that story. What an unusual explanation! LOL It must have been quite a cultural shock for your parents to arrive in Canada and a city like Montreal. With the internet these days, we have a world of images at our fingertips. Have a great week, my friend!

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  20. My brother and his wife, unable to conceive, adopted seven kids. Some of them were black (still are, actually). Years ago, on a visit to our area, my brother and some of my nieces and nephews were coming out of a store when a person walked up to him and said "Why are your kids black?"
    My brother never missed a beat. "They were born that way," he replied.
    :D
    What a fascinating account of the naming habits of other cultures. There are some large Amish communities near where I live, and I've seen many instances among them of children with identical first and last names - often in families that live next door to each other. When I worked at the drugstore it could be quite confusing as many of them were our patients.
    Hundreds of First Nations - what a richness of cultural heritage! I hope some of it was allowed to survive.

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    1. I love your brother's answer, Sue! What a credit to him and his wife for adopting seven children. Some people make such a big deal over "blood." I think it's love that truly makes a family.

      Some of the culture of the First Nations in Canada has been lost, but many people are working to pass on what has survived. I just got back from Victoria, British Columbia, two nights ago. It is Canada's most British city, but underneath it all is evidence of the Lekwammen people who once lived where the city now stands. I've had fun hunting down those traces. British Columbia is a linguistic hot spot, and the First Nations people are working hard to save their native languages. From Alaska to Hawaii and all across Canada, Indigenous people are sharing their concepts about the environment and peoples' place in it. There is a lot to learn from them. Have a good one! I'm so behind in blogging, but I'm back at catching up ~ again. Have a good one!

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  21. I think you are doing WONDERFULLY with your choice of words! You tell a wonderful story, even when it's hard to tell. I do love that photo of your dad holding his shoe! I think that kids in general aren't supposed to have "tact". When I was a kid, my aunt came over with her son. We were all going somewhere...too old to remember lol...but we had to take the bus. So we all got on the bus, and my aunt had my cousin in her arms. She sat next to a black man (African American now)...and my cousin pointed and burst into tears. He'd never seen any other colour but white on a person. My aunt was mortified, but the man was gracious. That's class. :)

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    1. Thank you, Rain! Thanks for sharing your early experience. The man in your story was classy like the one in mine. I remember reading accounts of indigenous people in the America thinking the first western Europeans they encountered were ghosts. Fairly often babies of a certain age react with shyness even fear with new people, even in their own families. Fortunately there are many good and compassionate people in this world. My dad was carrying his shoes because he had to canoe to work! I'll be around soon; I'm so behind right now. I hope all is well with you! take care!

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  22. Buns in the oven. That's where we come from! I always wondered.

    The language of identity is so complex, but we're such simple creatures, we constantly judge each other by our "looks." We're so much deeper than that, but we have to want to scratch away below the surface.

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    1. That early memory of mine has always cracked me up. Wouldn't it be great if we would all dig deeper than looks? I've found that the more I dig, the more I discover that people around the world are the same. Which we are, of course, since there is no such thing as race biologically. Have a good one, Jay, and thanks for visiting!

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  23. Wonderful story and it is nice that the man was so kind and understanding.

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    1. Thanks, Sage! I've never forgotten the kindness and understanding of the man on the bus. In my flash of memory, I see his big smile and warm eyes. Not everyone has such a positive introduction to people who are different from them. Have a good one, my friend. I'll be playing catch up.

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  24. Oh dear that was painful!
    though it was not his mistake still he managed to reply politely and affectionately!

    Children are free from any border or barrier who can stop them to THINK or ASK questions.
    you were intelligent Louise and man was wise .

    In movies many times i saw that out of racial arguments people kill each other for just one single word that teases their inevitable habit to react for word "Negro "

    My sister who lived in usa for six years told that this word is banned now as it hurts the feeling of particular group .

    I appreciate the positive effort your father put for uplifting the life of his students, it is rare now

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    1. Hi, dear Baili! You have been in my thoughts a lot, even if I haven't been able to visit your blog with all that has been going on in recent days. I also keep thinking of your eldest son, and I hope that he has been settling into university in Germany well. You and your husband must be so proud of him!

      I loved teaching young kids because they are so honest and say what they think and feel without filters. I could have done many things in my life, but I'm so glad I answered my call to teach.

      Yes, the word "negro" is now inflammatory. When I write about the past, I want to be authentic in reflecting that past time. So I don't change "Indian" or other words in stories from the past. Then, a polite person said "negro" rather than "colored." There were worse words, of course. There always are. I have often wondered what it would be like to have to keep changing what you refer to yourself as, when every description you choose is quickly used in a derogatory way.

      I'm white, protestant, Scottish Canadian, but the only thing I've contended with is that Scottish people are considered to be tight or miserly with money. Not a big deal compared with what others have endured. Sometimes my husband asks me if I'm sure I am of Scottish descent since I have no problem spending money. LOL Terry is of Irish descent, and the Irish are associated with drunkenness. I've never seen my husband drunk, maybe feeling good a few times, but not drunk. It just goes to show how wrong it is to use hurtful words. All these words and prejudices have to be learned. I wish we could get beyond these ways of thinking.

      Sending you love and hugs, my friend!

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the time and energy you put into making them very much.