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Monday, August 10, 2009

Life in Calgary II

Me not knowing anyone in Calgary I spent my late Saturday evening riding around town and looking at places and people a bit. At some point when I was sitting on my bike while leaning on a lamp post, I was approached by an Aborigine asking me whether I'd have 67 cents I was not emotionally attached to. Apart from that being a pretty decent line of course I have been intrigued by the Aborigines (or Indians, Native Americans or whatever you might call them) living in Calgary ever since I got here. The few Natives you see running around here are a rather sad sight, quite clearly drunks, quite evidently without any kind of decent home. The impression of Canada as a better (because socially and environmentally more responsible) USA fades away when you see these figures tumbling along the street in downtown Calgary while the new (white) rulers of the place pass them in their massive trucks and SUVs.

So, to get back to my story, I gave the guy a two-dollar piece which prompted him to call me a good person. I replied that I wasn't as sure of that as him and we struck up a conversation as he took for a lack of confidence my sense of realism and felt he should help me with that. I sat on a bench for maybe 30 minutes with him, while he sipped from a bottle of mouthwash (the cheapest alcohol to be had apparently). The guy obviously was completely fucked up. He kept on telling me that he works for the Aboriginal Secret Service and that these guys were better and bigger than the CIA. He insisted that Russia was going to invade Iran and wanted to know whether Germany was going to help them. He sincerely asked me whether I would kill a Jew if given the chance.

All of that really seems besides the point though, since he is such a prime example of how society destroys those that do not fit into its mold. His alcoholic father and mother abandoned him (or the government took him away from them, not quite sure which). He was raised with 'your folks' as he put it, meaning white people, but spent part of his youth with the Blackfeet as well. He hates Natives because they believe him white, he hates whites because he is a no-good drunk Indian with them. No, he doesn't hate either one of them, he just hates how both make him feel. He drinks with abandon, going for mouthwash not only because it's cheap but also because you can get it at eight in the morning, liquor stores only open at ten.

Yet, he also is a warm-hearted, genuinely nice human being (or he was towards me in any case). He is not dumb (loads of more 'successful' people believe in conspiracy theories) and has a broad knowledge of (pop)-culture. Human tragedy. Of course. But is it more than that? Does the post-national Canada I praised in my previous post even exist? Maybe it does, but only exists for well-educated people of high social standing. I have yet to see one Native American in any of the numerous downtown luncheons I've frequented this past week. The only thing I've read in the paper about them ever since I got here, was that they are labeled as a threat to national security because of a couple of pipeline bombings in the north of Alberta.

Is something rotten in the state of Denmark?

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