Monday, April 7, 2014

Mondays

I go for coffee often with a number of what is a group of senior guys and gals. After being at home and seeing the headlines that come across Facebook, in a quiet moment between sips, the table fell silent. Spontaneously, I mentioned Bob Geldolf's daughter died today. She was only 25. Without hesitation, the most elder at the table, said, " I guess she don't like Mondays!"

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Saskatchewan's Film Industry Not Feeling It!

Saskatchewan’s Film Industry Not Feeling It!

July 3, 2013.

Story by Norm Richards

In the late 80's and early 90's a number us got together to promote investment in our communities for filmmaking, video production, audio development and industry infrastructure. I think we succeeded for the most part. There is film industry in other places besides Toronto and Montreal. Today, a report in The Star Phoenix in Saskatoon reports the provincial government in Saskatchewan has created a fund and program named "Creative Saskatchewan." Not saying it meets all the requirements of putting back into place what was taken away when the film industry tax credit for film production was cancelled last year, but it may help.

Sure, SaskFilm is still in place but it's limp and running on dust. Most of us knew if you work hard to develop and lobby governments to invest, outsiders who care about creative image making would come and invest. The result is; you built an industry, you attract talent, build working crews, producers buy better equipment and a great deal of spin, energy and bang for the dollar is set off.

Now, I'm not saying a tax credits is the only thing that works. But, at what point do you slack off and see less need to stimulate a dollar driven business? For every dollar invested in film production it's ten or twelve times better for what you put in. I'm sure it's greater in many places across Canada. Studios are created. Audio postproduction houses are built. Producers open up offices and employ the locals. World level creative people come to work. Big name actors show up. They raise the bar.

My brothers and sisters of SMPIA the independent producers organization claim their membership dropped to 60 from 600 after the tax credit died. I wish everyone here a better year next year and over the next five years. It takes time to re-build. Producers in Saskatchewan have to weigh the positive against the negative. The intent of a $5 million fund for culture administered by Creative Saskatchewan may fall short for big industry filmmaking.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

My Father's Day Dedication



By Norm Richards


For my dad, it was work clothes for the work day, come weekends he dressed up. whenever we travelled as a family south on the train, dad wore his best. Dad was a practical man. He loved to read the weekend newspaper especially the funnies while eased back in his favourite living room chair. He enjoyed a smoke as if it was a perfect moment and nothing else mattered.

I much preferred my dad's days after he quit drinking. Before that, he usually drank in the company of his many brothers. When he came home it was for sanctuary. Mom expected him to get sober fast and be civil. He struggled hung over but he loved us kids. Dad was a caring and sweet guy at home. He loved to joke and tell stories. Dad loved poems. He recited them to me right off the top of his head.

While growing up, we went fishing and hunting a lot. Things men did together. Never once did I ever see dad drink when we did this. He enjoyed things as a sober man. He could be a father to me and my sister. Dad worked hard all his life. He was a long run endurance runner as a young man. He was a champion boxer. He once took a French Royal expedition from the Atlantic to the Arctic Oceans overland and rivers and kept them alive to complete it. The Royal Duchess honoured him dedicating a book based on his leadership, strength and perseverance.

Before he left us, he made a special trip to the city with mom. My wife and I had a nice home on the river, two cars and good careers. Our daughter was growing up healthy, bright and smart. We were soon going to have another child. Over dinner he leaned over and said to me, “ Look after mom when I’m gone, eh!?” He meant it. You could tell there would be nothing else said about that. A month later he was gone.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Metaphor of Love

Story by Norm Richards


I awoke this morning feeling cleansed, as if I'd been pressed through the eye of a needle and come out the other side cleansed. And yet, as I lay there bright eyed and not able to fall back asleep and return to that blessed dream I was having, I share it's experience here with you. I can't interpret dreams well. Maybe you can?

I was someplace with friends. We're in a warm place with beautiful colours crossing through pillars, flowers and trellises of wonderful light shining on our arrival here. People make introductions and hug as if they haven't seen each other in a long time. The couple I'm with pass my hand to greet this radiant young woman.
     
Later, we are together, my friends and this woman viewing some sort of public event. There are many others there. And yet, we are left to our own. The woman and I share each others lives. We are affectionate. Through her eyes I see love. It's as if it was always like that. The whole day goes by and we must part. She doesn't want to separate from me but she has to. She's a princess and held to her duties and promise to her family.

She leaves. I see her perform in this public event. She's the main act. She was what everyone waited all afternoon to see. She does great feats and I realize she is much more than the radiant woman I met earlier. She leads a procession away and seems to be on this well organized marathon. My friends tell me she will be away fulfilling the expectations she will once again win the marathon, in turn raising vast sums of money to feed her people.

I'm left knowing only hours before the two of us were together, in love and nothing else mattered. But now everything matters. She's somebody who's important and even committed and I don't fit in. Somehow, I know I'm ready to be part of her life and meet the approval of her parents. I know I'll do anything to be with her. I know she feels the same way. I come from another place, another age and time. Before she left me, we shared our commitment that nothing would ever come between us.

I awake!                

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Métis Declared Indians!

Métis Declared Indians!

 

Identity for convenience and for Who?

By Norm Richards

Yesterday, Federal Court Judge Mr. Justice Michael Phelan ruled that Métis* along with Indians who have lost their formal legal status, "qualify" as Indians under the 1867 act in the Canadian constitution. "The recognition of Métis and non-status Indian as Indians ... should accord a further level of respect and reconciliation by removing the constitutional uncertainty surrounding these groups, " he said.

But, it should be known further, even while Louie Riel and his followers pushed to establish a home province in what became Manitoba, the north west including Manitoba was founded on fur trade, fisheries and humble forms of transportation. Not long ago, I wrote about our family history in a published memoir.

In our youth, my sister and I asked our grandmother of the southern Saulteaux and French heritage about who we were. We spent evenings and other times talking about our background and history. We acknowledging the influence the church had on us. Each night we knelt on our living room floor to face a crucifix affixed on the wall before us while grandmother lead us in prayer in our French mother tongue.

This is symbolic of who we are and that combined with grandfather welcoming natives at our front door to trade their furs is trade mark of our heritage. Some Métis families faced hardship, displacement and a sense of belonging when the fur trade declined and economic stability could no longer be counted on. For survival and existence Some took shelter and identity with native ways and culture. My family remained autonomous but still aware of who we are.

 

Continued …………

 

Page 2.

 

It should be acknowledged, we are not Indians. We are kin but we are not Indians, or should we even be aboriginal? We are people of Canada. We are the first makeup of this country. Now, for the sake of belonging and making right what wrongs were done to us in the past, current leaders decide to take sides with native jurisdiction? Should that be?

I was born in The Pas, Manitoba where the river is the border between Indians and whites. The town was settled with people of Métis heritage and white families. In fact, most of the mixed blood people are like my family, French heritage and identify with white society. There has always been difference between people on both sides of the river. With this new declared status by Justice Phelan are those who have always maintained white identity now going to move to the Indian reserve across the river, be tax free and squat on native land? Now, that would be change.

There seems to be more than one way to skin a beaver I suppose. Have us declared Indians and everything will go smooth after that. For who? Not a great legacy as far as I'm concerned. Does any of this make real sense?

 

* Métis, for those who don’t know are the first children and their descendants who came from Europe to explore or ended up settling in Canada even before Canada became a country, a new land, a new people. The Métis for the most part are children born from French Merchant traders who came to Canada to take part in the growing wild fur trade industry. Hats, coats, footwear and other items made of fur found here were all the rage in Europe. Before oil or any other trade products were produced for shipment abroad the fur business was major trade. The major trade companies were The North West Company, Hudson’s Bay Company and French company Réveillon Frères were the dominant forces in the fur business.

My forefathers were merchants for or in competition with these companies.

 

Monday, December 31, 2012

Protest or Just Persecution

Protest or just Persecution for Persecution Sake!

 

By Norm Richards



 

Hi everybody, Everybody? Hello!

As the new year approaches I begin to wonder if I’m making an impression on anyone, enlightening or at least amusing someone.

Granted, I haven’t often picked serious stories that needed response or interaction but on occasion I have. I wrote about the Free Pussy Riot movement in 2012. I think what happened in Russia over the imprisoning of three young women over a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin was a legitimate cause. Pussy Riot as they are known were sent to prison on what could be considered trumped up charges. They used the Russian Orthodox church to bring attention to their protest. It worked.

Here is the Wikipedia page that explains it all - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_Riot and yet I don’t feel they should have been sent to prison for the kind of protest they conducted. I think it’s an outrage!

What if our children in Canada or the USA were put in jail for similar reasons? How long do you suppose they would remain in jail or would they go to jail at all? I don’t think so. There might be out cry from the religious right. Franklin Graham would comment. Who knows, Jessie Jackson would side with the protest and give reason and understanding to the whole thing. The next week they'd  be on all the talk shows explaining themselves and that would be it. Fifteen minutes of fame and done. Smoke.

I can’t think of anyone high profile enough in Canada who would be listened to about such an issue.
Shaun Majumder would do a far better job than most any other countrymen I can think of. At least he’d add humour to those charges no one deserves to be struck with, no matter what country you are from. .

But perhaps Pussy Riot committed the ultimate protest. When Punk-Rock had it’s beginnings did the performers, if you want to call them that, think they would raise enough hell, the state would react and shut them down? Did they imagine at all? Well, perhaps not. Johnny Rotten sober wouldn’t have figured out a cause suitable to protest least of all getting upright to even perform.


Where does a state come off doing what was done to these women in Russia? Who would want to live in such a state? If a Titanic size ship left port at St Petersburg or Novorossiysk on the Black Sea next week and there were no restrictions on who left, who would leave Russia? But then what would move them to leave anyway? Are these women anywhere on anyone's mind in Russia today? Perhaps Putin knows how dumb his countrymen are and just what he can get away with to create fear in the populace. Is that it? Is it that simple?