The first time I heard of Brian McDonald was in 2005 when he and others developed an immersion school in Onion Lake. I was working as a web developer for the Gift of Language and Culture website, based in La Ronge. The first song I ever heard from Mr. McDonald was tânisi, it was, and still is, a very popular Cree song. It is one of the best Cree songs I have heard, right up there with many Winston Wuttunee tunes and Carl Quin.
There is a GoFundMe page organized by Belinda Daniels that states:
This action for fundraising is for Brian MacDonald; for all the years, his songs were used by family members, teachers, schools, the community & artists across the Cree country.
It is a very worthy cause and I happily donated what I could to help out Brian McDonald for all his contributions to the Cree music universe.
I have typed out the lyrics of the song, tanisi, line-by-line, and included audio clips for whoever wants to practice saying the phrases. I took the lyrics from our dear friends from the Cree Literacy Network and added them to my website. Be sure to check out their great Cree website: https://creeliteracy.org/
tānisi Song: Brian MacDonald
Hello! – tānisi!
How are you? – tānisi kiya?
I am fine. – namōya nānitaw.
Come on in. – pihtikwē.
Sit down. – API.
Have some tea. – maskihkiwāpoy minihkwê.
It’s nice that you’ve come to visit. – tāpwê miywāsin ê-pê-kiyokawiyan.
Where have you been? – tānitê ê-kî-itohtêyan?
Please tell me what you’ve been doing. – mahti ācimo kîkway ê-osihtāyan
Please tell me a story. – mahti ācimostawin.
I am trying out a new microphone but it is not the greatest. I have a new mic in mind and I might purchase it in the next month or so. Check out the link, maybe you can use one too. If you have a suggestion, please email me at email@example.com. Thank you for visiting.
I have been sober for a total of 70 days. 10 weeks without a drop of alcohol. It has been very difficult for me, considering I used to drink every weekend. It may have been more difficult if I had drunk every day. I am happy to be where I am right now and I hope it stays that way.
My health has improved and so has my weight training. I walk more often, except for a few days when my knee was sore, but that is bound to happen when you have not been active regularly. My muscle memory is improving every week, so much so that I am going to have to watch myself and not get injured.
I have not started any intense exercise such as jogging, but I do go on a stationary bike sometimes. I would like to save my knees for when I am older, I am currently 48 years of age and I have seen too many of our middle-aged friends and family members with bad knees. I did have a bit of a scare last week but my knee is much better now. I hyperextended it by tossing and turning, of all things. Who knows, maybe I weakened it by going too hard on the stationary bike or by walking too fast.
I have seen many posts on Facebook by survivours that did not make it home. If you are Indigenous, chances are, you have been affected by residential schools.
kahkithaw awāsisak akisowak – Every Child Matters
atōspīwinākwan papakiwayān – Orange Shirt
When you really think about it, we are all affected in some way. We all live together on this land and we all affect each other one way or another. It would be remiss for anybody, not to acknowledge the terrible history of residential schools, day schools, and other places where Indigenous people were supposed to be “assimilated” into mainstream society.
While it does not make up for the atrocities, I find it welcoming that Orange Shirt Day has been recognized across our nation. I have read the story of Phyllis and her orange shirt that she was so proud of. It is a very disheartening story, I cannot imagine the horror she went through and the very indecent and atrocious “welcoming” she received when she first attended school (https://www.orangeshirtday.org/phyllis-story.html).
I hope this day brings awareness to all of our country and to the world. We can never forget what took place and we must try to find out what happened to those left behind. I really hope we can all live in peace and harmony someday. I hope we can all accept each other and our diverse beliefs, the way it should have started when the settlers arrived.
Please have a look at the new images that I have been working on. I took a lot of time because I was getting more and more indecisive. I finally decided to post three different designs that you know of, lol.
You will notice in two of the images, I use a fifth hand (orange hand), it is to represent the missing children that never came home to their loving families.
If you want to print any of these images out to a t-shirt, please feel free, as long as you keep my website logo on the side. I further request that you donate any profits to a charitable organization that recognizes victims of residential schools.
I realize and understand, that the translation and/or interpretation of the phrase, “Every Child Matters” has been discussed and debated on social media. However, I will not be participating in such a subjective topic because it can easily be taken out of context in both text and tone, thank you for understanding.
I have developed a YouTube video of one of my original First Nation Stories, Joe and the Stranger. It took many, many hours and it is a project that I have wanted to do since late spring of 2022.
It is the first of its kind on my YouTube Channel, there is bound to be an error or two but hopefully, they are at a minimum.
I am hoping to learn much more about video and YouTube channels. I want to try new ideas when my creativity starts to bubble (is that a good word?). I have used many images and other videos to help develop this video and relearned a few things from my Flash development days (Adobe Flash has been renamed Animate, I have it at work).
“niwī atāwākān nitahcahk simāk kita takosiniyān itī kāwīkiyān.” – I will sell my soul to get home now.
“tānisi cō, tāpwī kayās.” – How are you Joe, it has been a long time. Says, the stranger.
“awinōma kītha?” – Who are you?
“cō, īmowī nihtāwikīn kāki wāpamitān, ikospi kākī nitowithihtamān kitahcahk.” – Joe, I saw you before you were born, since then, I wanted your soul.
“namwāc kiwī mīthitin kīkway.” – I will not give you anything.
“kiwi asotamātin kīkway cō, māka kita mīthin kitahcahk” – I will offer you something Joe, but you must give me your soul.
“tānihkōma cō?” – What is the matter Joe?
“namwāc!” – No!
“kihtwām kawāpamatin cō.” – I will see you again Joe. Poof, he disappears.
I have used various sounds from YouTube to try and fall asleep, from ocean waves, rivers, and lakes, to the sound of rain. I decided to get into the act for the first time and see how it goes. I like to experiment and this might be a good little project to start with. This is the first of such a project and I am hoping that it goes well. I would like to use other settings in the future.
Audio files of dialogue:
nitohta kimowan īpākītihk ikwa kita nipāpathīn – Listen to the Rain Falling and Fall Asleep
kimiwan nīso tipahikan kita ispathiw – Rain will go on for two hours
ikosi kakwī nipā ikwa – There, now try to go to sleep
Have a good sleep- mitho nipā
There are a few websites that may help you decide to use the technique:
It has been 28 days since my last drink. Four weeks without alcohol, I have not gone this long without a drink in years. It was difficult staying away from drinking, considering it was one of my weekend routines. I at least purchased a 26 of whiskey, each weekend, to give me a good buzz. More often than not, it would lead to more drinking at another place or me taking a cab to get more as soon as the LB or B&W opened the next day.
I was falling behind on so many projects and I angered many people around me and even online. My family, especially my girls would have to deal with me pestering them and I was feeling ashamed about everything. I knew I needed a change.
I have been working out again and taking regular walks at an indoor track. I am finally getting used to exercise and I am feeling much, much better. Check out my video below, I shot it this morning in Cree and translated it to English text this evening.
I want to continue on this path and get healthier. I appreciate the support I have received and I would like to send a special thank you to Kevin Roberts for his offer, to whoever wanted to quit drinking, for a free membership at the gym at JRMCC. I am only on my third weight training workout but I am improving, plus my walks are getting easier.
I am sure by now, that many of you have heard of the multiple stabbings that took place at or near James Smith Cree Nation. I was woken up by the many alerts that were sent out by SaskAlert. My mind raced and wondered if it may have been another abduction, but unfortunately, it was the breaking news of a very tragic incident involving many helpless victims.
According to Global News:
At least 10 people are dead and 15 are injured following a slew of stabbings in 13 locations on James Smith Cree Nation and in Weldon. A Prairie-wide manhunt for two men wanted in connection to the killings continues.
Here’s a timeline of what’s happened so far in chronological order (all times local):
(Please go to the Global News website for details on the timeline).
I have heard of James Smith Cree Nation but I have never been there. I have looked up the FN and found a very beautiful website: http://www.jamessmithcreenation.com/. The reserve land is vast and covers 15,099 hectares, which is a little over 150 SQ KM.
There are many places the wanted criminals could go and there have been plenty of warnings on social media about the perpetrators.
Let us hope that these horrible criminals get caught soon. There are already too many tragedies affecting us in this world.
When I looked at some of the personal pictures of the men, they look to be good upstanding citizens. While a picture is worth a thousand words, actions speak louder. I hope all the families get the justice they deserve and heal, as soon as possible.
The @reginapolice continue to work collaboratively with our partners @RCMPSK on this investigation that started this morning on James Smith Cree Nation. Suspects have not been located. An active, focused investigation will continue until they are located and taken into custody. pic.twitter.com/8m91oSINIU
I remember way back in the mid to late 2000s, I used to drink much more that time than I have recently before I quit last month in August. Although I was in my mid-thirties, it was a confusing time for me personally. I am glad to be here to tell you this story.
My brother and I had managed to purchase a 66 oz Five Star whiskey. I do not remember the details on how we got it but we had it and we were going to have an all-nighter down by the lake at Hall Lake. It was a beautiful summer night and we had a mosquito coil repelling all the bloodsuckers away from us. We had a deck of cards, and we played many card games, I do not remember if we gambled or not, but it was fun.
As the night wore on, I remember laughing and joking with my brother as we brought up stories of our friends and the past history of our lives growing up at the house up the hill. I remember we would argue over trivial matters and apologize for past misunderstandings. Dialogue would be spread from “I love you, bro,” to “You’re so stupid!” Haha, good times (well, maybe not).
As the morning came and the sun started rising, I asked my brother what happened to the guy that was sitting with us and was laughing and listening to us as we drank ourselves away.
“You kept asking me earlier, I keep telling you, there was nobody here with us.” My brother explained.
I thought back and distinctly remember a guy wearing a brown leather jacket, a dark jean pants and he had neat black hair. I remember his smile as he nodded his head when he listened to us joking and laughing. I could not recall the way his face looked, but he was dark-skinned like my brother and me.
Later, as I drank some more over the years at different times, I would recall this event vividly. When I got to a certain state of intoxication, I would sense that I would see the other person again, I even gave him a name: Seth. I would be in a heightened state of awareness of my surroundings and fear would envelop me as I thought that he would show up again.
When I lived at Lakeview apartments, I saw him at the corner of my eye at the doorway, and yes again, I was in a certain state of intoxication. I did not see the details of his features as well as the last time, more of a silhouette of the man I saw so many years ago. This was either 2012 or 2013, I binged many times during those years.
The last time I saw him was in a dream. I had been drinking at my apartment and fell asleep. I was parked at a parking lot of a 24-hour gas station, Meechewin Place. It was night, well past midnight, I was sitting on the driver’s side when I heard a voice saying, “Let’s go see her.” A reference to my now wife of four years. I looked at the passenger seat and there he was, Seth, grinning and encouraging me to drive to Hall Lake even though I was drunk. His features were in much more in detail than the silhouette but less than when I saw him down by the lake.
I had told my mother about the initial interaction with Seth and she called him,”kimacāyisim,” your devil or demon. I do not know how serious she was because she just sounded like she was teasing me about it. Considering I was drunk at the time, I am not surprised at her reaction. Maybe she was trying to scare me, haha, it might have even worked a time or two when I thought about it at night.
I am a skeptic of many things, including my imagined interaction with this person. I was always under the influence when I thought of him or supposedly interacted with him. Never at any time was there any physical contact. Other than in the dream, he never talked or reached out to me. He was more of a presence that kind of reminded me of me, like a younger self who had never gotten anywhere in his life. A path I could have ended up following many times but have since smartened up. It is surreal to write about and even more so to reminisce about the events that I know could not have taken place.
Being under the influence of any mind-altering substance is dangerous: physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Spiritually I have many challenges, I hope to understand someday what I may be missing, but then again, maybe I am not missing anything. However, that is another blog for another time.
kotak awiyak ī-wihci minihkwīmikowahk – Another Person drinks with us
kimacāyisim – your devil or demon (may mean something different to others).