Living in Canada

When my father was in his early 20s, living in Chile, the democratically elected socialist government was toppled by a coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, and backed by the CIA. My father along with other Chileans protested and did everything they could to try and return things to how they were prior to the dictatorship. Or how they were promised to be. My father wanted everyone to have access to what the upper classes had always had access to: free healthcare and education. Access to good paying jobs. See, the poor in Chile are mostly Indigenous. Discarded, without any rights nor access to their land, the socialist party had sought to include them in what they were fighting for. What my father was fighting for. Most Chileans are descendants of Spanish colonizers and Indigenous peoples, including my father, who’s ancestors are Mapuche. The fight was not only the right thing to do, but personal in many ways.

What happened next is quite tragic and universal of dictatorships: dissidents (or those suspected of being dissidents) were swiftly incarcerated, tortured, killed or they “disappeared.” My father, along with many others, was jailed and tortured.

Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s PM at the time, decided to help the cause. He and other governments condemned the actions of the Chilean dictatorship and, with the help of the Roman Catholic Church, coordinated the release of those incarcerated and arranged for their travel to Canada. Here they arrived as political refugees. I would not be here would it not be for the Canadian government and the Roman Catholic Church.

My whole life I’ve been led to believe that Canada is a haven for those of us who are descendants of refugees — forever grateful for giving us life. And in many ways, it has been. But at what price?

It was a PR campaign, you see. While the world was praising Canada for helping “those poor Chileans,” under Pierre Trudeau’s government, residential schools went from being church-run to government-run (January 1969). Trudeau even wrote a white paper in 1969 which basically “…proposed to abolish all legal documents that had previously existed, including (but not limited to) the Indian Act, and all existing treaties within Canada. It proposed to assimilate First Nations as an ethnic group equal to other Canadian citizens.*” Many people — Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike — strongly opposed it. It was as if the then-Canadian Government was trying to get rid of everything (evidence?) and then like, clear itself of all its wrongdoings without acknowledging nor apologizing for its part in the genocide of Indigenous peoples.

So you see, Canada Day and being Canadian is a toughie for me. And if my dad had known that he was leaving one country where he was fighting for Indigenous people to have equal rights, only to go to another where their rights were also taken away, he would have stayed in jail. My dad was a stubborn young man of principles. Still is, in his older age. I’m sure he’s as conflicted (if not more) as his daughters are.

I will spend the rest of my life trying to learn and unlearn and teach my children the price our lives have cost. I’m not even 40 so I’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of time to make things right.

Chaltu May.🧡


Cannabis & anti-Black racism

I’ve recently started microdosing. It’s sporadic as I’m new to cannabis (could never smoke it due to recurring bronchitis/mild asthma and also the skunky smell) and have only had CBD oil in my vegan yogurt or tea and 1:1 TCH & CBD edibles — my faves so far are the milk chocolates from Chowie Wowie and peach mango gummies from Foray (for both external links you will have to verify your age first). I’m trying cannabis out as I’ve got some health issues that have ‘manifested’ since turning 35. And maybe gotten slightly worse since moving to a new city.

It’s been a great experience so far, I think. I walk to the nearby cannabis dispensary and chat with the budtenders a bit about their stock and other cannabis-related things before leaving with my goodies. The environment is safe, clean and well-lit in addition to being easy on the eyes. Their displays are plain, but interesting to look at. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and non-judgy. When I walk out, no one is standing around outside leering or anything, so I feel safe walking home. The dispensary is located close to where everyone gets their groceries. It’s a safe neighbourhood for families, professional couples and seniors. I’d say it’s about 99% white.

A few days ago, I watched an episode of the Patriot Act with Hassan Minhaj on Netflix about how the legal marijuana business is rigged. Minhaj goes into some detail about how all the way up and down the legal cannabis chain there are racial disparities. Basically, the only ones making money off of legal cannabis (and there is a lot of money to be made) — are white folks. He also explains how people of colour were and still are the ones most negatively affected by anti-drug policies. Now, I realize that this show is focused on global and American issues and politics, specifically this one episode, but hear me out here: in a piece published in the Globe and Mail last August, written by Chuka Ejeckam, he explains how these issues are affecting Black and Indigenous people here in Canada too. Of the top five cannabis producers in Canada, POC make up only 3% of management staff. 81% of cannabis companies are owned mostly by white men. Black people have gained little benefit to the legalization of marijuana. And the introduction of Bill C-93 (‘No-fee, Expedited Pardons for Simple Possession of Cannabis’) which is supposed to pardon those previously charged with possession of cannabis, doesn’t actually expunge criminal records from 2018 onwards, it merely suspends them.

And why would things be any different up here in the true north, strong and free? Why do we think we are better? We are a country with a colonial past, one which we have yet to reconcile or even come to terms with. While Canada proudly pats itself on the back for their role in the Underground Railroad, there is an 11 year old boy being accused of wearing gang wear, and his mother is deemed “threatening” while defending her child. While we scoff at the egregious incarceration rates in the U.S. for Black people, most don’t know that in Canada, Black inmates make up 8.6% of the total number of those incarcerated when they represent only 3% of the total Canadian population. In fact, between 2003-2013, the number of Black inmates increased by 90%. Carding practices by police (a.k.a. “Community Contacts Policy”) disproportionately target Black and Indigenous people. Canadian journalist Desmond Cole even wrote about how he’s been carded more than 50 times — just because he’s Black.

So, with every bite of my edibles, I think about how privileged I am to look the way I do. To be able to afford legal, safe cannabis products that have been lab-tested to ensure that not only are they not moldy, but aren’t “laced” with other drugs or chemicals. To be able to walk down the street without being questioned or feared — nor killed. Sometimes, I can’t handle all the hurt in the world. My anxiety-ridden brain wants me to hide away. I haven’t been able to — nor will I ever be able to figure out — why some people are racist. I understand that it’s learned, perhaps some anthropologists might even go as far as to say it’s ingrained in our DNA to judge and fear others when faced with unknowns. But what if you’re a grown-ass adult who should know better? Are the wires crossed? Why the hate? It’s something I will keep trying to understand & change around me — in my own neurodiverse way, like with this blog post.

Black lives matter.

Livin that COVID (19) Life

Hmm life in quarantine. I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess. Roof over mine and my family’s head, a steady household income, pantry and bellies full of food, access to some of the fastest internet in the country and multiple devices to use it with for entertainment, education and communication. We haven’t had it that bad, all things considered.

So as I write this, I am going to acknowledge my privilage.

My kids have special needs: they both have ADHD and learning differences, one is on the Autism Spectrum, with the other not far behind in a diagnosis. Both with a general anxiety disorder. As well as their mom. Yes, I am/have all of these things as well. So staying home has been a challenge for all of us, an excercise in managing emotions, frustations and fears.

Challenging, yes, but somewhat manageable. We are lucky to have access to great health benefits, afforded by my partner’s workplace, and the province/country that I live in. Access to roads and pharmacies, for medical emergencies, groceries or walks along the beach. With our access to the internet and devices we have access to school, tutors, doctors and therapists. Our special needs, mental and physical have been taken care of as well as they could be under these circumstances. We live in a country that has both the political and economic power to help those left vulnerable to COVID-19.

And yet, there is always room for improvement. The homeless or those living in poverty, those struggling with addictions or an immuno-compromised system, or seniors and indigenous communities. The disabled community. These marginized groups have been left with not much else other than perhaps a slight increase to benefits (depending on province/territory) or offered no benefits at all.

During this stressful, anxious time, my stomach problems have gotten worse. My IBS has flared up almost daily, and a problem that I thought was either gone or treated, has resurfaced: GERD. Which means that I now cannot eat my usual go-to comfort foods/bevvies. No more chai teas or lattes, no more chocolate nor cider. No more hearty curries or pizza. I am on a bland and FODMAP-free diet. Basically, herbal tea with ginger and turmeric, egg whites, gluten-free breads, celery and peanuts, white rice and roasted (plain chicken) and salad greens. So yum, right?

And yet, I have access to medical professionals and medicine to treat symptoms. I am able to purchase whole foods that, while yes they are very, very bland, are providing me with sustanance. I am able to go on walks, watch comedies, read a good book or listen to a podcast and even practice home yoga to de-stress. I am lucky. My family is lucky.

As we prepare to open our homes to more families, we are able to use the outdoor space that comes with the home we live in. An outdoor space to relax and enjoy the beautiful garden and sunshine. A place to play. A space to make and eat food with friends we have not seen in a while.

I am grateful. Yes, despite my physical and mental ailments, I am grateful to live in a country where my spouse has been able to retain his job and work from home. Where we can afford the little luxuries to make this stressful time a little bit less stressful. It hasn’t been perfect, but then again, what parts of life are ever perfect? We have our health, our home and — despite the daily bickering that would have you believe otherwise — the love we have for each other is still just as strong as ever.

FOREO’s Luna fofo

I was really excited to finally see a smart beauty tech product included in one of my FabFitFun boxes! So I did an unboxing on IGTV and thought I’d post my thoughts on how it’s worked out so far.

My little black FOREO Luna fofo.

I’m a professional procrastinator so it took me a while to get into a routine to give this a try. The app was okay, but I didn’t love it as I stopped using the features after a week or so. But I kept using the device. I have blackheads that I’ve been trying to clear for ages in the usual spots — chin, forehead, nose and kind of where my eye bone follows the shape of my eye into my nose area. So I decided to see what would happen if I washed my face with the Luna fofo regularly. Now, I have sensitive skin so “regularly” for me is about twice a week (when I’m introducing something new into my skin care routine). I bought Neutrogena’s trusty Oil Free Acne Wash with Salycilic Acid to use with the Luna fofo to help with unclogging my pores.

I splashed some warm water on my face and then added a little pump of the wash onto the Luna fofo and turned the device on before lightly pressing it onto my chin. I then moved to my nose and did the areas under my eye toward my nose last. In retrospect, I should have done the opposite as it progressively got faster (the vibrations of the device) as I went. Which is what I did the next time… aaaand I loved the results! My pores were cleaner and smoother! I followed up with a moisturizer with salycilic acid to ensure those pores were going to stay clean & smooth.

I’ve managed to keep this as part of my skincare routine. Twice a week, my Luna fofo gets to work on my pores.

So did the FOREO Luna fofo work as a smart beauty tech device for me? Maybe not, but it worked very well as ‘just’ a beauty tech device!

No-Tech Health & Beauty Tools

It’s true that I love tech which makes my daily routines easier to manage, but I have plenty of other tools that don’t require an electric charge…and not just tweezers and my eye lash curler!

HERBIVORE Jade Facial Roller

While facial rollers have been a recent trend in the beauty/health regimen — facial rolling to stimulate lymphatic drainage (that is, massaging your face muscles using facial rollers to improve the flow of toxins to be filtered via your lymph nodes) is not new. The Chinese are said to have used what resembles the jade roller for thousands of years. Do you need one?

BeautyBlender Original

So, I’ve no idea WTF I used to use to apply my makeup before this little doohickie came along. Maybe my fingers…. Whatever it was, I obviously no longer use it as this has become my makeup bag staple. My cat loves it too as I’ve had to replace it once or twice as she keeps hiding it! So now I guard it with my life. I could buy the cheaper alternatives, but once I find something that works, I tend to stick with it. FOREVER. Kidding. (Maybe.)

Footlogix “At Home” Foot File

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went to a spa in Calgary to get a couple’s massage and pedicures. The latter was supposed to be a new experience for him, and a teaching opportunity for me. You know, show him the ropes. And it was, for the most part, until practically the very end when the nail technician that had been shuffling between the two of us (guess they were short-staffed that day) mentioned how much smoother his heels were than mine. Now, I’m normally not a petty person, but take into consideration the fact that this man had never before had a pedi, NOR does he moisturize like a mad woman every night. Needless to say, I have been searching for the perfect recipe to smooth heels ever since. And I believe I have finally found 1/2 of the equation — this file. It’s so easy to use and to clean that I use it every time I shower. And I — erm, my heels — couldn’t be happier.

Simon’s Maison Pink Flamingo Shower Cap

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had this thing with collecting shower caps I find in hotel room bathrooms. I would use (and sometimes reuse) them to let my hair mask or hair treatment seep into my hair follicles while I left it on either overnight, or while I showered. Then I found this pretty shower cap online at Simon’s and now I don’t take shower caps from hotel bathrooms anymore. Much more sustainable.

INTIMINA Lily Cup Compact

I’d never used a menstrual cup until this year — and this is the first (and last) that I will try. Easy to apply, remove, clean and carry. I used a pad with it the first few times (and definitely overnight) in case it leaked, but it never did. If you’re looking for a menstrual cup, I def recommend this one!

SEPHORA Face Mask Applicator

I haven’t had this little tool for very long, but so far I’m liking it. The masks glide on pretty smoothly (I use a variety of them — from Boscia’s Charcoal Pore Pudding Intensive Wash-Off Treatment to Origins’ Dragonfruit Brightening Superfruit Mask) and it def beats having to clean the mask(s) off my hands and from underneath my fingernails (ughhhh) so I think I’m going to keep it!