More Frogs of Bognor Marsh

By James MacDougall

With these photos I have applied a variety of digital treatments to create a more painterly effect. They were taken in the Bognar Marsh near Owen Sound with a Nikon D5000 on an overcast day.

by James MacDougall
Marsh Dweller 01 by James MacDougall
Marsh Dweller 03 by James MacDougall
Marsh Dweller 02 by James MacDougall
Marsh Dweller 01 by James MacDougall
Marsh Dweller 03 by James MacDougall

 

“We Are All Treaty People” Lee Maracle & John Ralston Saul

We Are All Treaty People Event
We Are All Treaty People Event

By James MacDougall

On Saturday June 6, I had the opportunity of hearing acclaimed authours Lee Maracle and John Ralston Saul speak at the Harmony Centre in Owen Sound. The event, Wasa Nabin 2015: We Are All Treaty People was put on by the M’wikweedong Native Cultural Resource Centre with financial support from the United Church Justice and Reconciliation Fund and the Community Foundation of Grey Bruce. Introductions to the event were made by Seven Star Dancing Woman with an opening prayer by Strong White Buffalo Woman. The Circle of Indian Women Drummers  performed the Bear Song.

Serendipity prevailed as this event occurred immediately following the release of the summary of the final report of Truth and Reconciliation Commission‘s investigation into the Residential School System.  This served as a focal point around which issues of Canadian history and the relationship between native and non-natives were discussed.

Lee Maracle, Owen Sound
Lee Maracle, Owen Sound

Lee Maracle spoke first. She is an award-winning poet, novelist, performance storyteller, script-writer, actor and keeper/mythmaker among the Stó:lō people. She recounted her years growing up as a child and the chaotic famiy structure that she lived within. She explained how her own parents experiences with the Residential Schools contributed to her own upbringing and fractured family dynamics. She also countered many myths and stereotypes that are attributed to First Nations people through a lack of knowledge from many non-natives.

Her central message was that “all of humanity is one great circle” meaning that the walls we put up between us are from a lack of awareness and that what we all need to do is make an effort to “discover each other.” We are all on this planet together and ultimately we should be working together . Lee Maracle’s message was one of unity, respect, love, co-operation and sharing.

She finished by saying that for Canada reconciliation involves two steps. The first is to “face the truth”, of history, of the present and of the relationship between natives and non-natives. The second step is to “respect all 94 recommendations” of the TRC report. Her last words were those of the importance of unconditional love in all our relationships both personal and in broader social circumstances.

John Ralston Saul
John Ralston Saul


John Ralston Saul spoke next. Saul is a celebrated author and essayist, president of PEN International, and co-founder and co-chair of the non-profit Institute for Canadian Citizenship. He is a highly regarded philosopher of the relationship between power and identity.

Saul began by pointing out that Canada is unique in the world in the way our society and government function which he said is because of the historical influence of Aboriginal peoples on Canadian government and social structures. He then said “You noticed how generous she (Lee Maracle) was to you?” stating this was the same generous tone that the TRC report took even though it concerned matters of grave consequence. He referred to the report as “an elegant document, not legalistic or obscure.” and without hyperbole.

He went on to define what he saw reconciliation to mean and require: Respect, an awareness of the past, acknowledgement of the harm done to native peoples, that the residential schools were part and parcel of a project of cultural genocide, atonement through acknowledgement of non-natives role in wrongs done, and finally real change as per the recommendations made in the report.

He spoke of the role that education had to play in all of this; that there is a need to usurp the old mythologies and narratives about “Indians” and replace it with truth and knowledge.

John Ralston Saul sees the TRC as a turning point for Canada. It is an opportunity and a necessity to rebuild our country into an ethically sound nation-state. He said our global reputation was on the line and our ability to speak as a voice of fairness and ethical soundness was at stake.

He concluded by saying that just as we encompass Aboriginal identity into our visual mythology and literature through the contributions of native artists and writers, we need to acknowledge the very substantial Aboriginal contributions to our social and government realities and the origins of this country. he concluded with the observation that Canada has always been shaped by Aboriginal contributions even if we have not acknowledged these openly or properly.

It is not often that speakers such as Lee Maracle and John Ralston Saul make it to this neck of the woods. It was an opportunity that I and the hundreds of others in attendance did not forego.

 

The Frogs of Bognor Marsh

By James MacDougall

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Petrel Point, Bruce Peninsula

By James MacDougall

This weeks trip took Ray and I visited a number of sites on the Bruce Peninsula. These are some shots from Petrel Point nature Reserve. The area is characterized by cedar groves and meadow marsh and is home to bladderworts, sundews and pitcher plants and a variety of rare orchids. These are all moody black and white pics. We visited around mid-day and the sun was harsh and the colour washed out so the drama of the landscape displays better in black & white.

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Isaac Lake, Bruce Peninsula

By James MacDougall

Today I had the pleasure of discovering for myself yet another corner of the Bruce Peninsula. This time my travels took me North-West of Wiarton to Petrel Point. On the way I saw this magnificent marshland.

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Watersnake at Isaac Lake
Watersnake at Isaac Lake

The Big Book of Ghost Stories

The Big Book of Ghost Stories
The Big Book of Ghost Stories

By James MacDougall

I don’t always read ghost stories, but when I do I read them from The Big Book of Ghost Stories (a Black Lizard Publication), This 800 plus page compendium has some of the finest stories of the genre with stories ranging from the works of such  literary illuminati  as Joyce Carol Oates, Conrad Aiken and Mark Twain to the more pulpish fair of August Derleth, G.G. Pendarves and Manley Wade Wellman. For someone like I who have read hundreds of ghost stories throughout the years, it is a real treat to find one hundred more stories, most of which I have not read before and which are generally of fine quality.

As editor of this collection Otto Penzler (the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City) indicates in the introduction there are all sorts of ghosts, those who frighten us, those who make us laugh and those for whom we have pity. You will find all of those and more here.

So far I have read the following from this collection:

  • Mr. Arcularis, Conrad Aiken
  • The Shadowy Third, Ellen Glasgow
  • The Moonlit Road, Ambrose Bierce
  • Thing of Darkness, G.G. Pendarves
  • The House of Nightmare, Edward Lucas White
  • The House on Half Moon Street, Hector Bolitho
  • Song of the Dead, Wyatt Blassingame

All have been satisfying if in different ways and a few will join my favourites. This is an exceptional collection selected from a pool of over 1,000 stories covering over 3 centuries of writing. I highly recommend you grab this chunky volume, make some tea and settle into your favourite chair for an evening of atmosphere and chills.