Monday, November 9, 2020



28 years ago I met a man I had a crush on in person at a law conference in Ottawa.

My crush on him started a couple years prior to us actually meeting each other.  I read a couple of speeches he wrote for the then Attorney General of Ontario, Roy McMurtry. in addition, I also read a number of legal opinions he had written on treaty and aboriginal rights.  To clarify, I had a crush on his brain, his intellect. Who is this man?  He made complex legal arguments understandable.  This said to me that he knew his area of specialty, and he also had a clear and uncluttered mind. As it turned out we knew a number of people in common. 

That lucky day in Ottawa, we spent the whole afternoon getting to know each other  after his presentation. Later that evening we had dinner at Sitar,  an Indian restaurant with lawyers we both knew, my current boss and a lawyer I worked with before I moved to Ottawa.  By the end of the dinner I knew this was the man I wanted to marry.  He was intellectually stimulating and we also had chemistry.  And although he said he would call he didn't.  And we didn't see each other until that fall at a business meeting in Toronto we had. 

To be sure, our 28 years of marriage had its challenges, but nothing we couldn't overcome.  Not long after our marriage Alan drafted the beginnings of a novel. It described eerily perfectly the view of our future house from the river shore, before we even thought of selling my condominium in Ottawa and moving to the country.  Recently, after minor changes to his manuscript, I convinced him to go back and complete his novel.  I am so excited to see it finally completed and in print.  

The reason I believe we can choose the person we fall in love with is because I had a clear vision of who I wanted to spend my life with, someone who is not run by his ego or his profession. Who is intelligent, authentic and has integrity.  Alan is all of this and more.  In fact, while we were dating I said something to the effect that he was a nice man.  He didn't want to be known as "nice."  I think he wanted to be described as a wild man! 

I am grateful to have met and married such a beautiful wild man who knows me like no one else in the world.  He is my best friend.  Happy anniversary darling. I am so blessed you said yes when I proposed, and when you were ready I said yes when you proposed.  

November 11,1992


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Indigenous Heritage Month 2020

November is Indigenous heritage month it is an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge important cultural contributions made by Indigenous peoples to the world. The picture above is of my dad, who was a traditional trapper, and an older brother. 

         Water needs flow to stay fresh, humans need to  adapt to challenges to create a life that is                             meaningful and purposeful.  Indigenous peoples are survivors, they have adapted, and continue to teach us by their example.  

In the summer 2020 during a global pandemic four professional Indigenous women  came up with a plan and met to discuss a vision  I am one of them.  What followed was an electric conversation, filled with inspiration and insight.  We had noble aspirations to combat addictions in Indigenous communities across Canada.  Our idea is to  develop curriculum based on intergenerational trauma as a source of addictions.  

  I admit the subject of addictions is  broad and complex and cannot simply be reduced to  effects of trauma. This point cannot be ignored or understated.  However, coupled with looking at the effects of the impact of colonization on Indigenous Peoples is a pathway to uncovered a possible link of intergenerational trauma and addictions.  There is Overwhelming trauma in our history. 

It goes without saying that the impact of the global pandemic created a perfect storm for addictions to take hold in Indigenous communities,  due to  months long lockdown, loss of income and security. People suffered and continue to suffer and is placing a  burden  on their mental health.  These stresses are exactly what drives people to  turn to substance abuse.

Since the onset of the pandemic suicides, and abuse incidents have increased in communities.  communities are  under insurmountable grief.  The four women decided to do something to mitigate the damages done by the pandemic and step into an huge undertaking.    The fruits of their conversation resulted in the creation of  7th Generation Indigenous foundation and training, also known as GIFT.  it is no mistake that the foundation acronym is GIFT it was by design.  the foundation is a gift to the communities. 

 Careful consideration was given to people who were invited to sit on the foundation.  An ideal director would have the following qualities, leadership and knowledge in the area of addictions, integrity, a strong desire and commitment to be part of the solution.  In turn, the foundation   aligns with their inner purpose for  meaningful service to  their communities.  Essentially to be involved with a movement greater than themselves, a noble cause. 

 The foundation's work will transform individual lives and communities by creating healthy relationships. 

 We are extremely pleased that we have attracted  Scholarly and established Indigenous people to sit on the foundation.  Day one they showed up engaged and ready for the challenge ahead. 

 Through the efforts of the foundation we are creating a vision of healthy  communities. We are creating a new reality,   Our plan includes uplifting all Indigenous peoples to be the very best version of themselves.  

November is Indigenous heritage month I salute all Indigenous peoples across turtle Island who show up every day for their communities, giving their  time, energy, and dedication   for a  healthier year-round environment  for all Indigenous communities.  A special acknowledgment for the women who shared a vision with me and have joined me on this journey side-by-side on the foundation.   Our work is a reflection of what is in our spirit.  

In just a couple short months we were able to act on this vision from spirit of our ancestors.  Their strength has led us to include Harm reduction as a  model in reducing substance  abuse.  This is not just a theoretical idea.  Countries such as  Denmark, Germany, and even Canada have establish regulated medically  supervised, safe injection sites.  These facilities operate by avoiding stigma and shame on those who use the facilities.  When a safe humane program is available it increases the probability of them seeking treatment to combat addictions on their own. It has demonstrated this as a  successful approach, perhaps most significantly they build their confidence and ability for them to tap into their inner source for healing.  

 A question I will leave you with, what would a future look like for Indigenous Peoples if there were professionals or organizations that not only provided a safe environment but also focussed on  offering resources on  mental and physical health?     This foundation is a start towards  fulfilling that vision.  If anything you read here aligns with  your spirit, and you would like to help with a donation, all gifts will receive a tax receipt.  


Monday, October 12, 2020

Cultural Genocide is Trauma


During the course of the last seven months my mind has been preoccupied with the notion of trauma.  to understand better as to how trauma has affected me personally I studied trauma, and decided to look   to my own. I didn't have to go too far back.    

When I was a young girl, 10 years old I was living with an older brother and his wife.   One evening hearing a commotion outside my door I opened the bedroom door to witness them arguing.  Very quickly the argument escalated to a physical confrontation.  Quickly I shut the door and covered my ears to block what was going on as hard as I tried I could not get the image out of my mind.  This incident had a huge impact on me, I became fearful of intoxicated people,  and anyone who would raise their voice and look like they were going to lose their cool.  To this day I avoid confrontation of any sort. 

Recounting the story has a visceral effect on my body, heart pounding, hands sweaty. as I reflected more, I clearly saw not only my own trauma but  trauma in others.  My first step to healing was to recognize the  trauma within me.   

Deep  connection, support, and social cohesion, are necessary requirements of healing our own   trauma. 

we must remember our songs,  dances, and stories.  The photograph above is of my niece who is passionate about connecting to her indigenous culture.   Our journey to healing will take many avenues. 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Summer Of Transformation





Inasmuch as the world stopped for many in early March 2020, it did not stop for me.


Since the beginning of March I have had two tragic and heartbreaking losses, first, my brother, Pat, and then my oldest sister, Liz


I embraced my vulnerability and accepted it as part of my journey that I needed to walk.  And I embarked on my next challenge.


A leader in the Dene community inspired me to take a 12 week leadership course, Being A Leader facilitated by Unstoppable Conversations. This was his project  when he took the course. 

I just completed the last session this week.  And of course, this would have little meaning if I also didn't experience a transformation.  In the last week of the course I  took responsibility for an action to occur that would make a profound difference for the organization I lead.  It was not easy, as it never is when making difficult decisions. 


The fallout from these actions is ongoing as I disrupted business as usual.  And I suspect it will continue.   As a leader, I am confident that actions that were taken will stand the organization in good stead for years to come.  Taking being a leader course left me with a greater appreciation for my word and how I hold others to their word. That was a game changer for me.  And upgraded the caliber of being a leader.


Disruption is an opportunity to start a new.


Among the many lessons the course revealed, an important and vital lesson I learned is that to have  authenticity I must first look at myself and where I lacked authenticity.


This inquiry led me to discover that I often lack authenticity by my being extremely nice.  The basis of this behavior is rooted in childhood trauma and I decided early on I wanted to be liked and accepted, and I didn’t ever want to hurt people’s feelings. 

The downside to this behaviour is I would hold back from truthfully saying what needed to be said. Numerous times the facilitator said to me Angelina, you are being too nice!  Obviously, the only person I was fooling is myself. Being too nice is ineffective and stops your growth.  


An aspect of being a leader is to know what you stand for and, to make a declaration on what that is.  This is just the first step. Your actions moving forward will speak to what you have declared.


Again, I cannot emphasize more strongly, that when speaking your truth, it is important that you speak from a place of authenticity because, no matter what words you use, if you lack authenticity everything you do will fall like a house of cards.  And that does not serve anyone.


 moreover,  It is not about trying to be a leader; it is about taking on leadership like you would take on being yourself, as mom, or dad,   It is not separate from who you are being. And through my participation in the course I can show up being a leader.


The insight that I received over the 12 weeks would not have been possible had I not been inspired by Norman Yakeleya, Dene National Chief, who took the course before me. Thank you, Norman.  You will never realize how many people  are impacted by being the leader you are. 


In the last Zoom session in the course, it surprised me when everyone was acknowledging the facilitators for their insight in helping the course be as successful as it was.  I got emotional. I really took on that they were showing up and creating space to make a difference for the 60 people worldwide who participated. As stated earlier the impact those beyond the 60 people to all the people they Inspired. In turn each of those  people through their project are impacting many more people.  As people revealed their transformation one by one. I eyewitnessed a confidence and distinct uncovering of their true authentic selves. These 60 people, which I am one,  awakened their purpose and created an action plan to make it happen on a humanitarian level. bravo!


As part of the course, each participant choose to undertake a project to demonstrate their new understanding of leadership.  These projects revealed will  make the world a better place.  Examples are;


1.    Teaching illiterate mothers in Bangladesh English, so they can create a possibility of a better life for their children.  To empower women is to empower the entire community. 

2.    Farm radio Internationally, 40 African farming communities in rural Africa, empowering them to help themselves, by:

·       Securing increased funding

·      Impact on ownership and forming responsible partnerships in rural Africa


3.    Investigating the correlation of toxicity from the oilsands upstream from Fort Chipewyan Alberta on health and the high rates of rare bile cancers among members and offering them a possibility for optimum health. (My project, but did not get off the ground due to the person I partnered with did not provide me with the studies on toxicity.)


4.    Changing a teaching paradigm for First Nations communities of how we  address  addictions by, incorporating compassionate inquiry and looking at trauma as the cause of addictions moving away from seeing addictions as a disease. (The project I took on halfway through the course I changed the focus of my project, identified Dr. Gabor Maté as my partner. We will start the project in September, after he completes his latest book.)


5.    Humanizing the delivery of  services to Canada. Creating a new standard that reduces bureaucracy in favor of humanizing government delivery of services.


6.     A father's project to create a path forward for independence for his son, resulted in creating a more desirable relationship among his entire family, based on communication.  Being present with each other, listening, and being heard.


7.    People who resisted speaking up, stepped up and spoke revealing vulnerabilities and their authenticity.


8.    A project to provide care for the elderly project designed to provide a safer institution for elders what the policy is  based on  kindness and compassion for the elderly.    


Indeed, the course delivered and surpassed on its promise to give us the tools to allow participants to discover for themselves, and allow for true transformation to occur.


We leave the course literally as  transformed  people,  truly leaders,  and   folks I am proud to call friends  to walk with on my journey.    


Sunday, August 2, 2020


"I tasted it in reality, and that was all I got. A one time deal. I can’t taste it again in my imagination." -Brian Leibold

I discovered that I have aphantasia. Discovered in 1880, and coined it  in 2015 by  cognitive and behavioral  neurology scientists, Adam Zeman in the UK.  

I found out I had it quite accidentally, during a conversation. What this means for me,  is that I don't see images in my head.  Crazy.  It means that I have a condition that only 1 to 3 per cent of the world's population has. It never occurred to me even to investigate this phenomenon. I never knew that other people have a superpower of generating pictures just using their mind! Who would have thought?


Prior to a few days ago, I never gave it a second thought. Incidentally during a conversation with my daughter, I discovered I could not visualize what she was saying. Whenever I shut my eyes all I get is black with a bright/ light spot - I can't picture anything in my head at all.


There was an aha! moment for me, and I suddenly understood why I am geographically challenged. I cannot envision lakes, rivers on a map. And further it now made perfect sense that when I was talking to designers who were designing either my layout of the kitchen, bathroom, or landscaping I could not envision what they were creating until it was completed.  

Until today I always thought that when people said they saw images it was more like a metaphor ... or like remembering.  It is interesting  to find out because I never knew what it meant to imagine something visually. I always thought that it was an intellectual process and not a situation of conjuring up a visual image with the mind. This knowledge does not change anything, although it does help me understand to some extent how my brain works.


For me, I connect through my feelings. My memory works by connecting events that have taken place directly to how I felt about it. When I tried to remember somebody, I don't get an image of them in my head; instead I get a feeling of them. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and author, wrote a book titled The Man Who  The Man who mistook his wife for a hat. 


It is difficult to explain.  I think it is like all the data is stored in my brain like on a hard drive and can be reassembled when needed. But it is not stored as a picture.


That is pretty freaky because if – like most people - you can see in pictures it must be hard to believe that others can’t do that because it seems so natural to you.  Another insight into that amazing organ, the human brain!

Monday, June 22, 2020

Ten little Indian boys

Yesterday  was Father’s Day

A typical day growing up in a house full of siblings...

My dad, Isidor Deranger was a man of few words. But he revelled in telling stories.  He always made  them sound so fascinating. I wish I had his talent for making a simple hunting story sound like an amazing adventure.

I grew up in a large Dene family. Indeed we had a humble beginning. But what we lacked in material stuff, my father made up for by his  exciting  stories, and visions of the future.

I grew up in a house with ten brothers who all enjoyed reading, so there were always plenty of books around.

I remember picking up one of my brothers’ books when I was 11 and read it. The story was so  captivating. As I read it, it unfolded much like a movie in my mind.  Instantly I fell in love with books. It was the gateway to escape from the chaos in the home.  in the evening when it got dark we used a homemade   candle  was called " bitch light, which is  a makeshift candle made with oil and a cotton rag. 

 My brother's book was John Stienbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. perhaps this is why I like blogging, chronicling bits and pieces of my life. Possibly my childhood might be boring to most but I am cognizant that it definitely is  unique and special.

First, I am Indigenous. Secondly, I had 10 brothers. That in itself is crazy. Not the Indigenous part, but the ten brothers part.

How many people grew up with 10 brothers, in a small log cabin that did not have electricity or plumbing? 

But most importantly my mom was a force to be reckoned with and her OCD about cleanliness, that kept my sisters and I constantly occupied with cleaning is a separate story in itself.

When I pick a subject to blog, I am careful to not portray myself as a victim, at the same time, I don’t over exaggerate my blessings. I like things to be simple and straightforward and if you read it to the end and have felt entertained, or learned something new then I am satisfied.

 as I mentioned,In my formative years we lived in a small log cabin that my father built.  We had a wood stove in the middle of the living room. The woody fragrance coming from the burning logs in the stove and constant flurry of activity around, comforts me as I got older. We slept four or five to a bed. And we had three bedrooms. The boys had their own room.

 In the dog days of summer, my Dad would put the wood stove outside so, when my mom baked bread it would not make the house uncomfortably hot. There was no television.  We created our own amusement. Music coming from a small transistor radio which my brothers hooked a ground wire to was our entertainment. It gave us access to  630 CHED, a local radio station 24/7. my brothers  enjoyed reading comic books, and  would  trade with the neighborhood children. 

In the afternoon my Dad would take my brothers  and walk down to the lake to get water, while mom and the girls prepared dinner. Dad fashioned an apparatus out of wood that allowed him to carry two large pails of water, one on each side.  the board rested on his shoulders. We could hear their  chatter getting fainter and fainter as they walked further away from the house and  all that was left was silence. Their phantom laughter often hung in the air until we would hear them again in the distance upon their return as their laughter penetrated the silence.

Summers were enjoyable. Our Cree neighbour would have tea dances, lively music would emanate  from their home. We were never invited because we were too young. The  dancing fiddle music would last into the wee hours of the morning.

We often would make up stories in the dark about what we thought our neighbours were up to and when we got tired of them, we would make up ghost stories until we were more sleepy than scared,  and then fell asleep.

Angelina in front of an  earlier log cabin. 
 picture of my dad in the Chip  Museum. 

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