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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

WUN FEATHER -- Peter opened my eyes. It was then that I realized that surviving, and being successful, were not mutually exclusive to each other

When I was a young fellow, my parents were too poor to help me finance my education, so I worked my butt off. I did whatever I could to make money. Whenever classes were not in session, I was working for wages.

One particular Spring Break, I went to work at a mine. I had gotten to know one of the mining engineers, who had a nice new truck, and a pretty wife and a new house.  Wow.

I liked his lifestyle, and knew that he must know something that I did not know about getting ahead. His life was so much better than mine. I would make every attempt to "accidentally" run into him at one of the few businesses that were in the small mining town.  I wanted to learn from him.

One day I saw him at the post office and said ..."Hi Peter ... fancy meeting you here!"

He laughed because the town was so small. Everyone ended up at the post office at least once a day.

He smiled and he asked me how I was doing. Because I was raised to be humble, I told him that I was surviving.

What he said to me after that, changed my life forever!

He just looked at me and said, "Well, I suppose some people are on this earth to survive."

Then he finished it off by saying: "I am here to succeed".

He did not speak to me in a malicious or spiteful manner at all, but those words hit me like a sledge hammer. All my life I had been pretty darn proud of the survival skills that my Elders had bestowed upon me.

They taught me how to hunt, and fish, and trap, and gather all the things I needed to survive. But no one had ever made that sound like it was not enough.

Peter opened my eyes. It was then that I realized that surviving, and being successful, were not mutually exclusive to each other.
Right now, because of this COVID-19, many people are in survival mode. The government is handing out just enough taxpayer money to keep people from giving up.  Don't get me wrong, I am glad that I have paid taxes for over 50 years.

Right now, everyone who is getting some kind of financial relief from the government, should be thanking the people and corporations who have been paying taxes all these years. And just to spell it out clearly ... there is no such thing as government funded -- there is only taxpayer funded.

All my life, people have asked me why I don't just live on the reserve, and take advantage of the programs that are available to me.

Maybe at one time, I could have done that, but then the words that Peter said to me would come back to haunt me ... ‘Am I on this earth to survive?’

Let's face it, I could survive very well if I just hunted and trapped and fished for food, and accepted some kind of funding from the government. Heck, many people survive quite well doing that.

But like my friend Peter said, I am not here to merely survive ... and the majority of my friends are the same way ... we don't want an allowance!

We don't want Justin Trudeau, or the government, to lord over us and make all kinds of rules for us to abide by, and then they give us some money to keep us afloat ... we want to be in control of our own destiny.

Surviving is fine, but in reality, that's what the animals in the forest do each day. The stronger ones are predators of the weaker ones, and only the strong survive. 

What sets us apart from the animals, is our desire to do more with our lives than just survive – that’s the lesson that my friend Peter gave to me.

Let’s consider me as a trapper.

These beavers have made their dam --they made their lodge -- and they stored enough food to last them until spring time. And then I come along ... Mr. Trapper.

I am the person who is responsible for limiting the population of the beavers so that they don't ruin our roads and farmers fields. It's kinda sad really.

The beavers and I are just showing you the difference between them having the ability to survive on the land in their own environment, and me.

I can survive on the land just fine ... but I have also chosen to become successful enough to live off the land if I want to, and to have the desire inside me to create a better life for my family.

If that means eating a few beavers and making a few blankets, then that is what I do.

Meanwhile, I send my sincere blessings to each and every one of you. I ask the creator to keep you safe and healthy, and I offer thanks for allowing me to be successful in my endeavor to out smart a few beavers.

About Wun Feather ...

I am one of the last of my generation to have actually attended residential and Indian day schools. I have lived on and off reserve, and have seen the benefits and the hardships of my people in both situations.

My parents taught me that any time I fell down physically, or emotionally, I just needed to pick myself up, shake myself off, and continue in a forward direction. So, I cannot claim that I did it on my own; I had great Elders.


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