I learned that I have to become more assertive within myself. I can accomplish many tasks when I am with the people who give me the proper help. I can also complete many of these on my own. I also discovered that it is alright when things don't go as planned. Sometimes God places me in unique situations and I have to open my eyes and see what He is teaching me. Often when this happens everything seems to fall into place. It is very exciting when God orchestrates everything and He gives me the ability to recognize it . I am unable to describe this feeling.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I am often asked where my writing comes from.
Sometimes it comes from another source. Other times it comes from deep inside me.
I am often inspired by my circumstances. My writings can be about how I am feeling about a specific situation at the time.
Sometimes I write about what God has been teaching me. At times God just gives me the words and I have to write them down.
Through my writings sometimes God gives me burdens for the people around me and this is how I express them.
They can come all at once or I can get a title and go from there. When a writing comes to me I like to think about it for a while before writing it down. I want to make sure that I have it all straightened out in my mind.
Writing is my favorite way of expressing myself. I hope the writings that I have written will inspire others to achieve their dreams as well.
Friday, August 28, 2009
There are several challenges I have to overcome on a daily basis: physical, emotional and mental.
There are times where I have to battle negative self-talk. When this occurs, I have to remind myself who I am and who I was created to be.
Living with a disability has made me dependent upon people to complete my tasks. Most of the time, this is very difficult for me.
I know I have no control over these types of circumstances. I have learned to give up to God. This is the best way I have found anyway.
I am anticipating upcoming events that excite me:
I am becoming more independent and efficient on my computer.
I am enrolled in the journalism program.
I know that there are many more exciting things to come. These kinds of things inspire me to keep going.
I pray for mercy. I pray for grace. I pray for revelation. I pray for wisdom.
It pains me when I witness some of the situations around me. I feel very helpless. I don’t know what to do. It is very upsetting to me.
Sometimes I just want to walk away because I can’t be there.
This is one of the many disadvantages of having a disability. There are times when I desire to step in but it is not my place to. All I can do is just pray and ask for His wisdom.
Writing it down helps as well.
Friday, August 21, 2009
During my life time I have had the opportunity to participate in many events. They are great and unique experiences. I am very blessed to be a part of them.
Living in the moment is very important to me. There are so many amazing things happening at once I try to take it all in and I enjoy drinking it in.
Sometimes people around me focus on the negative aspects instead of the positive ones. I don't understand why. This makes it difficult for me to express how I am feeling at the time.
When I am in that place I am taken to other levels.
Some moments are historical and I feel should not be taken for granted. I am privileged to be a part of just a few of these occasions.
I was also reminded on a practical level that there are certain issues that have to be addressed and I can accomplish this through my writing.
If I didn't have a big perspective of God I don't know where I would be. I am glad that God made me who I am - a positive, happy person.
I believe I would be an anxious and depressed person without it.
Don't get me wrong. I have my good days and bad days. I constantly have to tell my Flesh man to die in order for my spirit man to arise.
God has been showing me ways to accomplish this by being with Him and reading His Word.
Trusting in God is another key that I attempt to live by. God is the only one I can truly trust in. He is always faithful to me. He is always there for me. He will never leave me. God is greater than any situation that I may face. He never gives me more than I can handle.
Friday, August 14, 2009
God is central in the ordinary events of my life.
Whether I am reading my Bible, visiting with friends, or reading any of my other favourite books, God can speak to me anytime or anywhere.
There are times when I become frustrated by the circumstances around me. During these times I go off by myself and relax.
This summer I participated in a dance production. I was very thankful to be a part of it. It rekindled a spirit of intercession within me.
This production has given me the opportunity to speak not only for myself but for others with disabilities as well.
In the midst of the dance I feel free and beautiful. I knew I was where I supposed to be at that moment. The person who portrayed me in the dance represented me very well. She expressed what I had in my heart through dance.
God knows the hidden desires of my heart. He will fulfill them if He wills it.
When I listen to music often I am taken to another place. God comes and envelopes me in His presence. We connect Spirit to spirit.
In His presence I can picture Him wrapping His arms around me and holding me close. He speaks to me in that place because I have my ears wide open.
Sometimes I can see myself dancing with Him.
Friday, August 7, 2009
God is wisdom. God is above all wisdom. He is everything.
When I was reading my Bible the other day, I was reminded that my Heavenly Father is always with me. I can communicate with Him every second of every day. He will guide me and my footsteps. I must ask Him to open my ears in order for me to hear His voice. This is possible by just being with Him.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Every time I listen to the Word of God my spirit leaps within me. I never grow tired hearing it. I often want more I cannot get enough.
I lost that hunger for a while but now it is coming back. It is only by the grace of God. God reveals new truths to me when I read the Word. He creates simple analogies in order for me to understand. I do not have to comprehend everything all at once.
The Word washes me and cleanses me from every stain that I have in my heart.
God has dreams for me just as I have dreams for myself. He desires to fulfill them.
Everything happens for a reason. Each event that occurs in my life prepares me for the next one. There is a lesson in every one. Sometimes fear and circumstances overwhelm me. I must remember to focus on my eyes on Jesus.
When I am going through dry times He is the fountain that fills me up continually. His waters refresh me. He is my source of strength, setting up divine appointments in unexpected places.
I must ask Him for the grace to keep my eyes open. He takes care of every small detail. I love Him very much. He is so amazing.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Every year my Mom, my sisters and I take a trip to Kelowna for a girls’ week. That’s what we call it. We go to the Grand and get spa treatment. My mom goes on the computer and finds activities for us to do.
This year my sisters were too busy so my Mom and I just went. It was very fun and relaxing.
This time my Mom found a children’s author. He was Métis. I was excited when I heard this because I have a special love for Aboriginal people. I also enjoy writing. I hope to write a children’s book one day myself.
I have been blessed on many occasions to meet some pretty important people. Sometimes I feel a special connection with them. This was one of those times. I was honored to meet David Bouchard.
After he had finished speaking, my Mom and I bought a book. He signed it for us. It was a very interesting experience.
He offered to play a song for me on his flute. I accepted. It was very beautiful. My Mom took a picture of us while this was happening.
I have learned that things take place for a reason. Afterwards, when I discovered that he was staying at the same hotel as we were, I decided to leave him a copy of my book.
Sometimes, when these moments occur, I’m reminded of the bigger picture the God is painting for my life. I am very thankful for these opportunities and I don’t take them for granted.
Friday, May 8, 2009
People often ask me how I overcome my daily obstacles.
I have a strong family who encourages me in achieving my goals and dreams. My number one strength comes from the relationship I have with God. Reading my bible and listening to music also helps. The small happenings of life make me happy.
My church family is also very supportive. It is important to me to stay connected with them .
I try to set goals for myself every day. I create a list of goals in my head. When I am unable to achieve them I wait for the next day. I go over my list until I accomplish all of them. When I have completed my list I make a new one.
Believe me, there are times when I become discouraged and frustrated.
I remind myself keep looking forward and not back. I know that there is someone greater then myself watching over me.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Some people don’t see past my disability and see who I am.
I am a woman.
I am beautiful.
I am intelligent.
I long to be heard.
I long to respected.
I long to be romanced.
I long to be held in someone’s arms.
There are times when the kindness of people overwhelms me with emotion.
God has given a new amount of energy
God has rekindled the fire that burned within me
He has allowed people to come along my path to help me
God has given the ability to refocus on him when the circumstances become derailed around me
I will run after him with all of my heart mind soul and strengths
Expression is a dancer who dances with abandonment.
Expression is a writer who writes fully what is in his heart.
Expression is a painter who puts his paint brush to paper.
Expression is someone who expresses themselves in whatever they want.
Expression is a person who places a symbol upon themselves that expresses a special meaning.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
This is an assignment that I did for one of my classes at university.
- In many aboriginal cultures, when a person has a disability they see it as evil or having an imbalance in a persons life.
- Many aboriginal communities turn to their traditional ways to remove what they consider to be evil spells (disabilities) they believe that this will restore balance and harmony within a person.
- Many aboriginal families encourage people with disabilities to be independent and make their own decisions and if they fail they bring them back into their family circle and their family welcomes them until they are ready to persevere in whatever they are trying to accomplish.
- In many aboriginal cultures it depends on what type of disability a person has and how long you had it.
- Some aboriginal cultures have more self determination than others this can have effect on the person with a disability.
- Men with disabilities sometimes feel that they do not have an important role in their communities.
- In some aboriginal communities men with disabilities are treated with more respect than women with disabilities.
- Aboriginal women with disabilities are seen as inferior and they have low self esteem, because in the aboriginal communities women are responsible to mother children and if they can not do this they are looked at as damaged, therefore in the past aboriginal women with disabilities where forced to be sterilized.
- Many aboriginal women with disabilities do not have role models to look up to.
- Many aboriginal children with disabilities are in the welfare system because of poor living conditions. These families are unable to care for their children with disabilities adequately because there is a lack of support from the system.
- Many aboriginal people with disabilities face many barriers in their communities. Some of the barriers are accessibility to many of the buildings on the reserves and as a result of this aboriginal people with disabilities are unable to participate in many aboriginal ceremonies because of their disabilities. Other barriers are a lack of knowledge of what is available to them for financial assistance. In most cases there is not a personal advocate for them.
- In many aboriginal cultures they discriminate against their own people with disabilities.
- Aboriginal women are the ones who are responsible to take care of people with disabilities in their communities.
- People with disabilities in the aboriginal community must have a voice in order to get their needs met.
- Aboriginal women with disabilities consider themselves to be aboriginal first and then to be a women and then to have a disability and in our society a person with a disability considers themselves to be women first and then to have a disability. This shows me that the aboriginal culture is very significant to aboriginal people.
- I believe it is very important for aboriginal people with disabilities not just to be part of various organizations, but to make sure that their voices are heard on a regular basis.
- It is very important that aboriginal people with disabilities become involved and advocate for themselves, to receive what they need in their communities.
My Own Journey in Living with a Disability
- My disability is Cerebral Palsy and I have had it since birth it effects the mid part of my brain which controls all my motor skills; it does not effect my mentality sometimes people make assumptions that it does.
- Growing up in my school years the teachers did not know what to do with me and I always felt that I had to prove myself by achieving good grades.
- When some people see me they see my physical disability before they see me as a person. Many people forget the fact that I am unable to come up to them and talk to them and as result, over my lifetime I have missed many of experiences that many people take for granted, such as being invited to birthday parties and sleep over’s and being included in everyday conversations.
- Many people throughout my life have made decisions for me and I have found this very frustrating and it makes me angry.
- Some people stare, but I do not really notice anymore. Others will pat me, put their hands on me and otherwise take liberties with me that they would not with others. This makes me feel invaded.
- Others treat me like I am not very intelligent.
- Many of these things happen because people do not really know how to act and then make assumptions.
- I believe sometimes people are afraid to approach me because I always have an assistant with me. I feel more comfortable interacting with people when my assistant is not there.
- When I am in large groups I tend to observe people instead of interacting with them. I think that people sometimes forget that I can not just come up to them and start a conversation.
- It is difficult for me to start a conversation when I do not know if they are going to understand what I say, I do not mind repeating myself though! Having a disability has given me a lot of patience!
- I used to think that what I had to say was not very important. Now I am learning that is not true.
- Over the years I have been afraid to be open and talk about my disability, but now I realize that it is important to educate people about disabilities.
- I have over come many obstacles through out my life and I have learned that it takes a lot of perseverance, courage and patience.
What we can do as Social Workers
- As social workers we must remember to not make decisions for our clients. This is one of the reasons why empowerment and self determination is so important to me.
- We must work together with people with disabilities to advocate for the things that they need in their community.
- In my social work profession I hope that I can assist aboriginal people with disabilities and others to accomplish their goals.
- Remember when you are working with people with disabilities it is important make sure that they have access to whatever recourses that you have available to them.
- When you are working with people with disabilities, speak directly to them, not to their assistant. Make sure that they can see you when you talk to them.
- If you are not sure how to act or what is appropriate when working with people with disabilities ask them, treat us like you treat everyone else.
- If they need an advocate do not be afraid to speak up for them, when they can not speak up for themselves.
- Most importantly see people with a disability as individual people, not just as the disability that they have. They are not defined by their disabilities.
During this presentation I discovered that if you have a disability it does not matter if you are aboriginal or not, we all want the same things. When I think of people from different cultures and different minority groups I relate them to various types of butterflies. And how the creator created us in many different colours and shapes, when a butterfly comes out of it its cocoon it is like us overcoming many obstacles throughout our life and we have to come together as one. The transformation begins at this moment and carries on into our future! I believe what I am accomplishing right now is a form of decolonization. In my social work profession I hope to take what I have learned and my experiences and assist aboriginal people and others with disabilities.
Aboriginal People with Disabilities…an Introduction Part 2. Retrieved March 14, 2007, from http://www.schoolnet.ca/aboriginal/disable1/3rd-e.html
Aboriginal Women with Disabilities. Aboriginal Culture and Disability. Retrieved March 6, 2007, from http://www.schoolnet.ca/autochtone/disable6/cultur-e.html
For one of my classes, the assignment was to take an article and write something of my own using the same style as the article.
The following is an excerpt from All My Relations: An Anthology of Contemporary Canadian Native Prose by Thomas King
- In my family, Joe's the one blessed with that rare gift which allows him to stare at a rock, hear muted voices within, and chisel away the excess until only the rock's inner spirit remains and is set free. He can look at a blank canvas and, with splashing colours and gentle strokes, make a dream dance upon its surface. He hates guns and war and violence. That's when I decide—no matter what—I will not pick up a gun.
- It may sound strange, but that summer I feel I've found home for the first time in a long while. I'd left years before to get away from people grown used to silent resignation. I return to find people filled with pride, hope, and even dignity. Inside the barricades, people who haven't spoken to each other in decades over long-forgotten arguments hold hands and stand together in one great circle under the Pines. For at least a little while, they bury the old hatreds. They're just grateful to be alive and free. At times like this, they believe that almost anything is possible. So do I.
There is such peace behind those barricades. It's easy sometimes to forget the stone-throwing mobs outside. I sit for hours in the Pines and never hear a car break the silence. I listen under those trees while my soul dances to the sound of Mohawk, Mi'kmaq or Kwakiutl voices weaving themselves into the beat of a drum. I don't remember the northern lights being so bright, so intense, so green. My sister's right—the spirits are with the people in the Pines.
- On September 28, 1990, after two and a half months, my brother puts down his weapon and "walks home" with forty-six other hold-outs, men and women, out of the barricades and into army detention. I go back to my former wife's reserve north of Ottawa. Too much hate. Three packs of cigarettes a day. A bottle of aspirin and two hours of sleep a night for weeks on end. I collapse. A couple of months later, on a job-hunting expedition to Toronto, a helicopter bursts over the buildings, the sound exploding overhead. I find myself crawling under the back of a parked car. I'm a stumbling, mumbling example of Kanehsatake after the standoff.
- The decision to go down one road or the other requires an individual leap of faith into the unknown. It doesn't matter if it is a considered choice or results from the flip of a coin, there's no guarantee the choice is the right one. The signs before the choice and afterward are deceptive, contrary, and confusing. There's often no one to provide a gentle nudge in one direction or the other. Every now and then, however, the voice of an ancestor whispers in your ear, barely heard and rarely recognized. All my relations.
- Wash your eyes so you may see clearly. Wash your ears so you may hear again. Wash your head so you may think clear thoughts. Wash your heart to rid yourself of anger, doubt, and fear. Wash your body so you may know who you are and be certain, proud, and strong. Give thanks to the Creator for all who have come before and all those yet to come. Ask for guidance in your actions—not for yourself but so you may keep in mind your children's-children's children. All my relations.
In my family, my Aboriginal uncle Gord has a gift which allows him to stare at a canvas, hear whispers and paint away until the story from within is revealed and is displayed clearly. He visualizes a painting before he creates it, and with a rainbow of colors and soft strokes, makes a choreographed sequence upon the canvas. He loves to paint and share and tell. He decided that -no matter what - he would keep doing what he loved.
It may sound odd, but that summer after I met with my uncle; in that pivotal moment, I felt a revelation for the first time in a long time. I realized that the new-found inspiration led me to pursue an education.
When I arrived at University I was used to feeling isolation. Initially, I came into contact with classmates that were cold, shy and even distant. Among the students, Aboriginal classmates were warm and accepting and welcomed me with open arms and we came together in one united front, in equal standing. For the first time I was shown fascinating traditions, such as smudging and healing circles. The healing circles freed me. From barriers and fear, fear of not being heard for who I am. Hear me roar!!
There is such freedom in healing circles. They helped me forget the smothering stereotypes. I sat mesmerized in the circle and didn't hear the outside distractions. I soaked in the truth they were telling me to the beat of distant drums. Voices of my new found friends singing songs of reconciliation. I could feel the spectrum of colors so accepting, so genuine, so free. My new friends were open-the Aboriginal traditions accepted all human kind.
One day in my Aboriginal class, I had a chance to share a presentation about how the Aboriginal people and people with disabilities are connected. I gained a new voice I never knew I had. So much told. Several papers to hand in. Tired but energized by the concepts I was learning. I spoke. A few months into my semester a classmate had me over to his house, a feast of food and celebration, the echo of conversation surrounding me. At the end of the night he presented me with a gift. A beautiful handmade medicine bag, filled with sage and tobacco.
There was a choice I had to make whether or not to go to school. It didn't matter that I was apprehensive or afraid. I wanted to take that leap, no matter what, the decision had been made. There were signals surrounding me that bombarded me from every side.
There were a number of people encouraging me in my pursuit. Every once in awhile the voice of Uncle Gord spoke softly in my ear, perfectly heard and always understood. Reconciliation.
Open my eyes so I can see clearly. Open my ears so I can hear your voice. Open my mind so I can think freely. Open my heart to rid of any opposition and fear. Open my soul so I can be courageous and free. Remember to be grateful to the Father up above and all others that are to come. Plead for assistance in your decisions-not for yourself but for the many generations to follow. Reconciliation.
Over the years, my schooling has allowed me to gain a broader perspective on Residential Schools in Aboriginal culture. First, I had to see if I had pre-conceived ideas. Then, I had to prepare myself for learning about tragic circumstances that happened throughout Canadian history. Afterwards, I attempted to sort out the stories from history that took place in my mind. This subject was new to me because I was just a student and an uninformed Canadian, but I had become interested and very passionate and I had grown to love the Aboriginal Peoples and their culture. Understanding Aboriginal culture has been heart wrenching, powerful and difficult all at the same time. I am still trying to grasp what is at the core and what is the truth about the past. This was a very significant time in history, even shameful, because what we have done in the past can influence what we do presently at this very moment, and affects many generations to come.
The question is, "Who has the right to say how the Aboriginal Peoples should live? Who gets to rewrite details from the past and justify their previous acts?"
From the dominant culture's carefully planned assimilation, the dramatic, detrimental events that occurred were very horrendous experiences. Unspeakable tragedies transpired.
Take, for example the loss of Aboriginal languages. During my life, these unspeakable tragedies were taking place all around me, I was unaware of the discrimination that Aboriginal Peoples of my time faced, designed to assimilate Aboriginal children for years to come. These children were forced to speak English and were forbidden to use their own languages. They were punished with physical abuse such as nails through their tongues, a painful reminder that their language was "inferior."
In Canada, the effects that Residential Schools had on Aboriginal Peoples are still present today. In all generations these painful circumstances will be remembered for more generations to come. When the memories of the physical abuse of these children come back to haunt them, the effects are felt by their whole family.
There is much that is sacred in the ancient traditions: family relationships, connection to land and the maintaining of language. But our dominant culture has attempted to strip them away.
The thought of being taken from my family is unthinkable and unimaginable. My family had a very important decision to make when I was born, they could either place me in an institution or take me home and care for me themselves. They wanted to give me the best life possible, so they chose to take me home and love me for who I was. My Mom took some time to educate herself on cerebral palsy and what it entails, so that she could help me grow up and be a successful person in society. A challenging undertaking, maybe? It proved to be a difficult decision, but a triumphant one at the same time.
I am being taught about what happened to the Aboriginal children at the Residential Schools, I consider myself very blessed that my family had a choice.
You can only be an observer for so long. At one time or another, you have to decide whether or not to get involved.
This comes from what I remember:
In June 2006, the meeting room in Vancouver, BC was filled with brightness and anticipation. A small group of people - defense lawyers, a scribe, myself and my assistant - had gathered together. Samuel Davis, properly dressed in a three-piece suit sat directly next to me. The authoritative calmness of Davis' voice rang throughout the room as he guided the process. His genuine smile, which stretched from ear to ear, reassured me. The defense lawyers sat across from me and they began bombarding me with questions.
And beside me sat my support, Andrea, professionally dressed in her black pin striped attire, ready to interpret. For quite a few hours, I stared at everyone in the room, listened intently to their questions and, with Samuel's permission, answered them honestly. The intensity that filled the room weighed heavily upon me.
"Lisa, how much do you weigh?" one of the lawyers asked me. What kind of dumb question was that? It was so demeaning and irrelevant I might as well have told him every detail of my life!
Davis stopped me abruptly. "No, no you don't have to answer that" he said, "My client will not discuss this issue any further."
"Okay," he replied with a sarcastic tone.
I was a client. It was my fight. I'd lose.
"I have no problems with your disability," the defense rudely stated when my lawyer summoned me. "I understand that your family has struggled. I definitely get that. Just make one thing clear. How come you waited so long to seek retribution?.....Do you need money? What about the doctor? Don't you know his estate is tied up?"
But I was determined to continue. It seemed to me that I was heading nowhere, but I wanted to state my case, they could no longer silence me. What they had to understand was that it was the doctor's fault. With only an apology on the line what did he have to lose by admitting his mistake? What I really wanted was for him to recognize the effect on my life.
My first attempt at dabbling in the law was a foreign experience. My target was a doctor. His name was irrelevant. 28 years plus had passed since the day I was born in Elliot Lake, Ontario. I found my lawyer in a local newspaper article. Davis had won every case he had been involved in, so far, and that's why I chose him. Evidence proved that he was a successful lawyer. He was the one I wanted on my side to fight my battle with me, even though in the end I couldn't prove that it was the doctor's mistake, and I never did get that apology.
When I initially began the journalism program, I was uncertain of journalism's role and purpose. I wanted to expand my writing techniques and style and explore research methods and current news. My first year of journalism school has given me the opportunity to delve deeper into the subject of journalism. My perception has evolved throughout this past year.
Presently, I believe the role and purpose of journalism is to inform the public and help them to make their own decisions and judgments on past and present issues. I also believe that journalists can empower citizens to act on issues that are important to them. They can enable citizens to become involved in their communities.
Another purpose of journalism that is especially relevant to me, is to challenge and at times change perceptions. One of the many responsibilities of journalists is to use their power and resources in order to succeed in challenging common misconceptions.
One principle that is significant in my view of the role of journalism is verifying the facts. When writing a story, I first need to determine who I need to interview. Where will my information come from? How will I receive the information that I need? One of the first things I would have to figure out is what information is significant to the story? Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel state: "How do you sift through the rumors, the gossip, the failed memories, the manipulative agenda, and try to capture something as accurately as possible." (The Elements of Journalism, p.79) Kovach and Rosenstiel mention the "tools in the discipline of verification." (p.79)I believe these tools are essential to accurately capture and verify the facts. For me, these tools are: seeking out multiple sources, gaining a diverse representation, continually asking questions and being transparent to and about your sources. Using these tools helps to filter out the gossip and misconceptions, in order to find the true facts. I also agree with Kovach and Rosensteil that "the discipline of verification is what separates journalism from entertainment, propaganda, fiction or art." (p. 79) For me, journalism should be more educational, more focused on facts and less on opinion, creativity and self-expression. I do believe there is a time and place for "infotainment," fiction and art, but I believe that the lines between these subjects have become blurred. The concepts that Kovach and Rosensteil outlined in forming a foundation for verification make journalism more concrete and the line between "infotainment" and the journalism profession can become clearer, if these tools are implemented.
Another principle that supports my view is having a diverse representation of sources. By having a diverse group, it enables the journalist to connect a variety of people in the community and allows them to represent different angles to their audience. I believe that this is important in Civic journalism because it can make people feel interconnected as a whole. For example, I would like to see more people with disabilities covered in the media, as well as women's issues. I feel these issues are very limited or non-existent in the current field of journalism. As a journalist, I will strive to include these issues in the media. I desire to see people with disabilities represented in a variety of different professions and issues. I feel that the media tends to focus on disabilities rather than contributions to society. I would like to see more focus on abilities instead of inabilities. The media does not necessarily have to mention a person's disability, unless it is relevant to the story. As a journalist, I do not want to be categorized as solely being a representation for people with disabilities, simply because I have one. I want to cover a wider variety of topics.
Remaining objective is an important principle in my view of journalism's role and purpose. I realize that I have my own values and beliefs, but I want to present the facts and remain neutral. It is important because I may think I know how people feel, but I want to listen to them tell their own stories. I hope to exercise humility in my work by considering other points of view and recognizing that I will not always have all the answers.
Some of the challenges that I anticipate in my journalistic career are: finding opportunities for employment, not being taken seriously in the newsroom, as well as online, and overcoming physical barriers such as, not being able to get to sources directly or operate equipment in the newsroom or out in the field. In my pursuit to inform and educate the public, I may have difficulties communicating directly with my sources. Since I most often have an assistant with me, I am also apprehensive about interviews, since my assistants may occasionally take over my work in the interview process. In order to meet and overcome these challenges, I hope to have freelance opportunities. I plan to continually pursue job opportunities and search for them. I have yet to discover how I will overcome all of these challenges I will face, but there are always unique ways to accomplish goals.
Some of the stories and issues I hope to cover and have a passion for are : First Nations issues and culture, women's issues, eating disorders, homelessness and single parenting, to name a few. My philosophy of journalism will assist me in searching for information on these issues because I am driven to inform and want to affect my readers by giving them the tools they need to act on these issues.
I am somewhat unfamiliar with publications and organizations that I wish to pitch to, but I plan to devote some time over the summer to research options. A few publications I have already come across are: Psychology Today, Reader's Digest, Ability Magazine, People in Motion and The Tyee. Publications such as Ability Magazine and organizations such as People in Motion relate to my philosophy of journalism because they both concentrate on abilities rather than disabilities. They also educate people in society by showing them that people with disabilities can participate in everyday life. They help change perceptions by showing that there are many different ways of participating. Most of these magazines also have online publications and this will make it easier for me to access them. I also want to pitch to these publications because they deal with a variety of issues that relate to my interests. They are popular and my articles could be read by a diverse group.
As mentioned previously, freelancing would be a great opportunity for me because I could send in my query letters when pitching my work. Editors could focus on the quality of my work, rather than preconceived notions based on physical appearance. It would be similar when I send my work into online publications. With freelancing, I could eliminate the face-to-face interview process. My query letter would provide all the necessary details an editor would need to make their decision.
The method of incremental reporting, as used by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in the infamous Watergate scandal, is a method that will be extremely useful to me in the journalism industry. When I find different information, I can publish right away and not wait until I have the entire story. This will be especially useful for me because I can get my work noticed. I will not have to always worry about time constraints and deadlines. I could publish my work in pieces. My readers would hopefully become intrigued by my articles and want to keep following along to find out more. This would allow my readers to feel closer to me because I would appear to be gaining the information at the same pace as they were. I would not appear to "know everything."Issues such as homelessness and the high needs of food banks would not be forgotten and would be on people's minds on a continual basis. Keeping stories such as these at the forefront would help keep people involved because these issues would not be brushed aside by our fast-paced society.
The method of investigative reporting is one that will be useful for me in my career. Kovach and Rosensteil state that the newly added Pulitzer for investigative reporting in 1964 "[put] new emphasis on the role of the press as activist, reformer, and exposer." (p.139) This is a significant method for me because presently I feel that the media does not have enough investigative journalists. I feel that people may not know enough about issues such as funding cut-backs, especially for seniors housing, single parents, public schools and the medical profession. It is important for me to discover these hidden issues and present them to the public. This principle was also discussed by Kovach and Rosensteil in that "the earliest journalists firmly established as a core principle their responsibility to examine the unseen corners of society." (p.143) This is one of the principles I hope to continue to develop over my career as a journalist. This principle also relates to the "watch dog principle" illustrated by Jan Schafer, executive director for the Pew Centre for Civic Journalism, in her speech "Attack Dog, Watch Dog, Guide Dog: The Role of the Media in Building Community," presented at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, October 21st, 1999. Schafer stated "the press is often doing more than simply covering stories -- they are often driving controversies, especially in looking at the personal and ethical behavior of public figures." Though this principle is valuable, it is not being practiced correctly at this time. The media often focuses on sensationalized public debate, causing both readers and public figures to mistrust the media. This principle will only work if journalists use it wisely and therefore change direction, gaining back the public's trust.
It is a common belief to many people that journalism is disappearing and does not have as much value as it once did. I do not believe this is the case. I believe that journalism is changing direction and needs various guidelines in order for it to become more efficient. Journalism is moving away from print newspapers to online news. Readers and journalists alike must be accountable in their representation of news online. In order for this to take place there must be some written guidelines. In my opinion, journalism should become professionalized. Those wishing to pursue a career in journalism should be required to follow a code of ethics, swear an oath stating that they must remain loyal to the citizens and maintain professional morals.
Though I do feel that a broad education and a journalism degree are both valuable to the profession of journalism, I do not believe that they are absolutely necessary. Those living in rural communities may be unable to attend university or college, but should still be able to submit their work and have it published, as long as it meets the editor's criteria. Editors could base their choices on the quality of a journalist's work rather than their qualifications.
Everyone must recognize that they have their own prejudices. This does not exclude journalism professionals. Journalists must be aware that prejudices are present in the newsroom. To counteract this, I believe we must be open-minded and discuss prejudices and learn from one another. This approach was demonstrated at the New Orleans Times-Picayune in 1993, when they published a series of articles on race relations. The staff members explored their own values and beliefs about racism and attended various diversity workshops to address these issues in a professional manner. According to Jim Amos, the New Orleans Times-Picayune editor at this time, these diversity workshops "got us to talk about race relations and what our opinions were and helped us break down some barriers." (Nelson, Jack "New Orleans Times-Picayune Series on Racism." Thinking Clearly: Cases in Journalistic Decision Making.) I am hopeful to see this occur throughout my own journalism career. I believe more of these types of workshops should be mandatory when dealing with issues of prejudice and racism and hope to have the opportunity to present some of these workshops in the future.
Throughout my education in journalism so far, I believe I have begun to gain the tools I will need to be successful in the journalism field. Although I still have a vast number of things to learn, I believe that the foundation that I have already gained will remain the same. My philosophy on the role and purpose of journalism will still stay with me and I hope not to lose sight of the significant role that journalists play in society. One of the roles that I wish to play is to inform the public on critical issues and empower them so they feel as though they can make a difference on their own. During this process, I hope to continually change perceptions and educate the public on issues that affect them in their communities and the surrounding world.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Fig. 1 Uganda. 1980. "Starving Boy and Missionary."
The photo "Starving Boy and Missionary" by Mike Wells (United Kingdom. Karamoja district, Uganda, April 1980) was named 1980's World Press Photo of the Year. A young starving boy lightly and desperately grasped a strong, stable hand. The boy stood beside the missionary, casting a shadow that could be seen on the ground beneath them. God knows what the boy had endured; his hand told a myriad of stories. At first glance the only images seen are the small, frail, emaciated hand of the young boy and the large, healthy hand of a servant. It sends a message that we witnessed a moment of commitment, but upon study the scene told an in-depth story that had an even greater meaning: The boy and the missionary convey an unspoken connection that one cannot explain. It seemed to me that when I first laid eyes upon this photo, I was compelled to write about it because of the vast contrast between the one hand that had promise and the other desperately trying to survive.
That feeling was similar to when I went to Guatemala in 1995. I saw the devastation and poverty that filled the streets as we walked through a village on a March afternoon. The cobblestone covered streets were the backdrop for the shanty makeshift houses, where poverty stricken people spent their long and hungry days. The mood of helplessness and hopelessness was abruptly transformed with the laughter and joy of children thanking our missionary group for candy. As Canadians, we sometimes put on a façade of being happy, even though we are not half the time, but the Guatemalan people have an indescribable joy even though most of them live in poverty.
The chocolate brown, sparkling eyes of a little girl in Guatemala are the eyes of a girl that captivated me. I knew the children needed my help, so I took the opportunity to make a difference in whatever way I could. I first saw her in a picture, wearing her colorful Guatemalan dress, her dark, flowing hair pulled back. Her gentle, sweet spirit took my breath away, as I gazed at her smile. She held a brand new pair of shoes proudly in her hands; shoes that my sponsorship money had helped her to buy. I could see how happy this made her.
The background of this photo is filled with lush greenery, a red wreath placed upon a green wreath woven together to decorate a makeshift Christmas tree. Elvia Natalia stands beside it with a grateful look in her eyes. There is so much I need to know about my little girl Elvia. I hope to return to Guatemala one day to meet her, hold her in my arms and gently kiss her cheek-tell her how much she means to me-and how much joy she has brought to my life.
Elvia Natalia brings to mind the "Starving Boy and Missionary" photo, a photo that spoke volumes to me with a sense of urgency; I did not want Elvia to suffer the same fate. I felt an unexplained connection between her and I. Something inside told me to give her as much love and support as she needed and that I needed her as much as she needed me.
I want to share a memory of mine that happened on a summer's day when the sun was shining brightly and all I could see was blue in the sky.
I hiked a mountain in Herald Park in the summer of 2006, near the west shore of Shuswap Lake. My friends, family and I hiked the steep mountain until we reached the waterfall. The surroundings were filled with majestic trees and the sounds of nature were in the air, a variety of bird species spotted in the branches above. My friend Terry had rigged me up a back pack out of an old wheelchair seat with straps to hold me in place. It was amazing to me that he could carry me on his back all that way, stride by stride!
The trail was so steep that sometimes Terry had to crawl. I was concentrating on the beautiful scenery around me, but was also concerned with his well-being. The words that kept going through my head were "thank-you," and "awesome." At the time I had strong feelings of emotion and felt like crying with happiness and joy. The people with me could not comprehend my feelings at that moment in time; I could not verbally express myself.
I was taking it all in, a variety of colors and shapes that flashed before my eyes. I was sure on one thing: I was in very capable hands with Terry. I knew that he would not let me fall. Still, I often asked myself the question, "Why would anyone do this!?" A conversation I'd had with Terry before we left kept playing in my head: "I love you; of course I will do anything for you. I count it as an honor. I want you to share my special day with me."
The day he was speaking of was his 30th birthday; my Mom had prepared a picnic lunch. When we arrived at Margaret Falls, we took a well-deserved break from our expedition by eating the delicious food while laughing and joking. My friends had extremely tired muscles from the long trek up the mountainside, their legs were about to collapse.
Just as we were to continue on our journey I had a surprise for my friend Terry, a gift between him and I. He was overjoyed and pleased with the gift that I presented him. My friendship with Terry was an unexpected surprise before all of this began. He is an unlikely character that I am privileged to know over these past years. He has had some struggles throughout his life and now was helping me to overcome one of my greatest obstacles, it didn't matter to him what he had to do. The memory of that day is strong; I'm always reminded of it on his birthday. The heart and soul of this journey will forever be imprinted in my mind, I can always return to that day filled with treasures.
I have fond memories of my childhood, when I first had the experience of horseback riding. It was on a warm summer afternoon. I remember being filled with excitement as I saw the horse's strong, muscular stature and his quick, majestic stride. His white body, splattered with black polka dots, was robust. When I saw him, I was pleased to meet him and I shouted with glee.
Twenty four years later, I found myself sitting in class, reminiscing about my first experience riding a horse. My classmate, who sat near me, reminded me about the first time I saw that horse. The conversation was a strange and peculiar one, but I welcomed it gladly.
His name is one of the things I remember very clearly. It struck me as extremely unusual; his name was Zerap. His mane was jet black and stretched on for what seemed to be miles. His eyes were filled with tenderness and friendship. His ears perked up, listening intently to my voice. He was wearing a brown leather saddle and his bridle tightly gripped his teeth. His manner had an air of confidence and he was undoubtedly going to keep me safe. He moved, trotting slowly, picking up his smoothly polished hooves, with a straight forward pace.
When I rode Zerap, I felt freedom. Constantly. Jody, my instructor used to guide me and encourage me to sit up straight and hold my head high when horseback riding. I listened eagerly to her instructions, paying close attention to every word that she spoke to me. Even though it was therapeutic, it was a very enjoyable experience for me and from ages seven to twelve I had no inhibitions with this animal.
Exploring life on horseback gave me a uniquely profound perspective - and this feeling stayed with me for a long time after. This place seemed to be one of serenity and healing for us with disabilities - determined, empowered, care free, peaceful, adventurous, exhilarated, accomplished, renewed - were all words describing my feelings at the time. Each time I mounted my horse, I felt the warmth of the small of his back against my legs, and the smell of the sweaty horse mixed with dust wafted up into my nostrils and I found myself loving every moment of it and wanting to come back again and again.
The corral was circular and small, only large enough to fit a few other riders at a time. The noises of nature hummed in the background. My sturdy hiking boots were held securely in the stirrups. I could smell the strong stench of the ranch. Occasionally, I noticed my family observing my journey. This event occurred up in Barnhartvale, close to Kamloops, at a place called Robins Run. I rode there several times throughout my early childhood, and will always have treasured memories of that place that will last me many years.
Friday, March 20, 2009
At times I feel many truths bubbling up from within me. Sometimes I don't know how to express it all. It comes all at once.
Other times I sense nothing.
"When one door closes another one opens."
I know that God will open many more for me.
Throughout my life I have often had to learn to become vulnerable. I have learned how to trust people as well.
Recently, I have found this new confidence that I haven't felt before. I've discovered unique and interesting ways to express myself.
And I thank God for that.
You still amaze me and you always will
You still woo me
You still draw me ever so close
You present me with divine appointments
I must open my eyes to see who crosses my path and speak what You want me to speak
Because I know that they are ready to hear
Friday, March 6, 2009
I was sitting in my room, spending time with God as I often do. I was feeling alone and afraid about my future. I do not quite remember what the circumstances were. However I was a typical teenager: I guess I was not feeling so beautiful that day.
God wanted to tell me how beautiful I was and how much He loved me. He spoke it over me. This made me feel like I belonged to Him and He made me feel beautiful inside.
He told me that I am His beautiful bird.
Beautiful, Beautiful Bird
Beautiful, beautiful bird
You are the sparkle of my eye
Beautiful, beautiful bird
I gave you wings to fly
So don’t be afraid
You beautiful bird
I am here to help you
So spread your wings
You beautiful bird
I created you to soar
So you must fly
You beautiful bird
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Unveil your eyes
Your eyes are filled with love
Your eyes are filled with compassion
Your eyes are filled with passion
Your eyes are filled with healing
Your tears wash over me
They envelop me and heal me
Your tears continually allow me to be free
Friday, February 6, 2009
Take every opportunity that GOD gives you
Do not be afraid
If you happen to miss one that is all right
God will give you many more
Each one of us has treasures inside
Use your life as an example
Show others who you are
Who God made you to be
Friday, January 23, 2009
Everything I have comes from Him.
It is all about Him.
It is all for Him.
It is all because of Him.
It is important for me to have a close relationship with Him.
When I wander away He always draws me back.
God has given me three tremendous gifts:
He has helped me get through many difficulties on a daily basis.
God has given me an inner strength that is unshakable.
I do not know what I would do without Him.
I am very thankful for all that He does for me.
He deserves all the glory, honor and praise.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Writings and Articles
VideosVideo of a dance that I was a part of in Heather Clark's 'Least of These' dance production. It gave me a voice through dance
Excerpt from Marni Jackson’s “Turning into Talent.”
When you’re a writer or a journalist, you lose your innocence in several stages, like a space launch. You may write away for a while with no discernible relationship to your readers. But if you become a columnist or publish a memoir, you create a public persona that both is and isn’t you. The tension between these two selves may even be the tension out of which writing spins. When novelists publish their first book, they go through a similarly intense feeling of exposure; even glowing reviews aren’t a salve for the feeling of having handed over few of your internal organs to perfect strangers. This is part of the job of writing, apparently, and for better or worse, it is a searing passage.
Going on TV is another radical loss of innocence, one that more and more of us must undergo in the course of a career in the arts. Journalists who appear on panels, authors who go on book tours, experts who appear on the news—they all experience the strange conflation/deflation of self that TV brings about. You see yourself on tape, in the round—not as an image in the mirror, but as a set of behaviours and gestures. The way others see you, in fact. You forever lose a certain innocence about yourself.
But writing, it seems to me, is about not seeing yourself in the round—that sort of writerly self-awareness has a blind spot in the middle. It supplies some of the courage and foolishness required to write, and the unfinished puzzle of identity is what drives many authors on. Writing feeds on distortion, prejudice, and eccentricity. Honing your TV self, on the other hand, requires a sleek and calculated brand of self-consciousness.
And self-consciousness, as the poet and novelist Michael Ondaatje once muttered in an interview, is the enemy of writing. On TV, the host has a fitted earpiece so that, if something goes wrong, the producer in the control room can tell him what to do and say. In writing, an author deliberately turns down the volume of the world around her, so that she can detect the inflections of her own voice. The exhilaration of TV is its potential for democracy—its leveling effect. The danger lies in the way it likes to turn people into smooth, simple shapes, like soapstone carvings.
By the end of my first year on TV, the show had been subjected to a focus group, one of those marketing tools that tries to evaluate what the “public” wants. I was designated Host B. “Host B’s style,” the report stated, “was either liked or disliked.” This sums up most of the wisdom concerning who works on TV.
The way strangers relate to you is illuminating too. Being the host of a book show with 35,000 viewers (on a good night) is minor celebrity indeed, but it did happen that people would give me puzzled, do-I-know-you looks at the Y or sly smiles in the parking lot. And what they said is revealing: not “I liked your conversation with Grace Paley” but “I saw you on TV!” It’s like you’re a raccoon that wandered into their living room—a refugee from the wilderness of TV, come down their chimney. When people say “I saw you on TV,” they’re saying “We have a history now—we’re connected.” What they feel is the powerful indiscriminate relationship people have to faces on TV. What you feel is the curious blend of being visible and erased at the same time.
Lisa Coriale’s Modeled Version :
When you’re an author and disabled, you see your confidence in various phases, like onion peels. You may get carried away for a time, with no sustained awareness of your audience. But if you are a poet and disabled, you project public images that are and are NOT real. The tug-of-war between these images may also be the tug-of-war out of which poems come. When poets publish their first book, they experience an incredible feeling of accomplishment; on the other hand, it’s like revealing every part of yourself for all of the world to see. This is a difficult aspect to writing, an intense journey to the unknown.
Being in a wheelchair is another bash to confidence, one that many more will understand in the path to publish. People with disabilities who are writers, poets, athletes-they all experience the strange highs/lows that being in a wheelchair brings about. You see yourself in the mirror - not an image that you often forget, but one that presents intelligence and vision. The way others may NOT see you, in fact. You perpetually lose a particular confidence about yourself. Writing it seems to me, is about seeing oneself more clearly – that sort of clarity that brings a broader sense of direction. It provides some of the perseverance and determination that enables one to write and that challenge is what drives writers on. Writing feeds on originality, resourcefulness and creativity, ……self, on the other hand requires a fair amount of self-confidence.
And self-confidence as my professor Dr. Maxine Ruvinsky once proclaimed in a lecture, is the companion of scripture. When alone, a poet has an inner voice so that if confidence waivers, the voice whispers and tells you what to do and write. In writing, a poet purposefully shuts out the noise of the crowd around her, so that they can decipher the whispers of their inner voice. The solidarity of writing is the platform for expression-the energizing force. The trappings are in the direction in which it tends to turn poets into ignorant, prideful souls, like hardened stones.
By the end of writing my first book, the poems had been read aloud at a book-signing, one of those presentations that shows my talent to the community. I was displayed author. My reading evoked emotions both delightful and somber. It summed up all of my feelings concerning my faith in me.
The way the audience accepted me was exciting too. Being the guest speaker with 35 listeners was a major milestone for me, but realizing this feat did give me the drive, an “I-can-do-it” attitude or uplifting spirit as I went on my way. And how I felt was empowered, not “I will never reach the end of this process,” It’s like my heart was awaiting their acceptance-a hidden self from the public eye, invigorating lives. When people say “I heard your reading” they’re saying “We have a connection now-like no other.” What they felt was the joyful, incomprehensible, spiritual bond between poet and reader. What I gained was the momentum to press forward and conquer all of my dreams.
When I pondered the question “What is Journalism For?” I discovered that there were a number of concepts. There was not one solitary answer. I believe that journalism gives me a voice I do not often have the opportunity to express. It is also an educational tool. It gives journalists the ability to express themselves freely. However, there are a number of challenges that Journalists face. Journalism is a field that can allow for freedom of expression, without immediate interference.
Changing peoples’ perceptions is one of the main values that is important to me. I believe that Journalism is a vehicle that will assist me in accomplishing this goal. It gives me a voice that I can express loud and clear. In doing so, I hope to provide a voice for those who feel incapable. It is one of my aspirations to pave the way for others who might not have the role models or courage to do so themselves.
In my view, Journalism is a vital educational tool. People need to know what’s going on around them. One of the main roles of a Journalist that I have is to find the truth and the story that lies beneath it. This is not always possible, but in my opinion, a good Journalist strives to achieve this. It’s in my nature to be curious and I believe that Journalism will feed this insatiable hunger.
One of the responsibilities of a dedicated Journalist is to present the audience with a variety of angles, in order for them to make an informed decision. Therefore; this should create a more self-aware, open-minded public.
Another attribute that draws me to the field of Journalism is the platform to express myself freely. Though I realize that there are challenges in the field, I hope to navigate through.
Through my studies so far, I have grown to understand my own values and beliefs on various social justice issues. I have acquired my voice and have learned that I have something of value to share. I find that in my experience, no one is writing about the issues I find important. I want to explore and address these issues more thoroughly.
It will teach me to express my thoughts more effectively. As a person from a minority people group, (physically disabled) I believe a Journalism degree will expand my ability to use my voice not only for myself but for others in my community. I have faced and broken down many obstacles throughout my life, and I hope to use my writing to support others in similar situations. A Journalism degree will give me the skills I need to accomplish my goals in this area.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Here I present myself to You
When I am distracted by my circumstances
Jesus is my source of strength
I keep my eyes focused on Him
He is my plumb line
He holds many promises for now and for my future
I am tired of hiding
I want to show the world
Who I am
Walking out into my destiny
Tearing off my grave clothes
Shaking off the things of my past
Stepping out from the shattered pieces that surround me
I know from the deepest part of my soul that I am walking into my destiny
Into the new life that GOD has destined for me