Idle No More: Appeared Aboriginal

The photo of a man with flowing dark hair, brown eyes, and a scarf draped across the lower part of his face and wearing a dark coat has been flashed across social media, television screens, and in newspapers countless times since Wednesday’s shooting at the War Memorial and in the Parliament buildings in Ottawa (ON). It’s an image that many of us will remember for a very long time. But it’s troubling for a number of reasons, one of which has to do with some of the comments posted to social media as the tragedy unfolded on that day.

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Bill Curry is a Parliamentary reporter with the Globe and Mail newspaper in Toronto (ON). His profile on the Globe and Mail website states that he’s been a member of the Parliamentary Press Gallery since 1999. He was with the National Post until 2005 when he was hired to work for the Globe and Mail. In other words, he’s a seasoned media professional when it comes to reporting the news.

So why would a seasoned media professional tweet that two eye witnesses alleged that the shooter appeared to be Aboriginal?

And what does that mean exactly: two [eye witnesses] said [the shooter] appeared aboriginal?

Did they mean that because he had dark flowing hair, they believed he must surely be Aboriginal because all Indigenous peoples have dark flowing hair? Did they mean that because he had brown eyes, they believed he must surely be Aboriginal because all Indigenous peoples have brown eyes? Did they mean that because they thought he probably had dimples, they believed he must surely be Aboriginal because Indigenous peoples have dimples? I mean just look at all those actors with dimples like Adam Beach and Wes Studi and Eric Schweig.

Let’s take a quick scamper through the “Traits Made Easy“ refresher course that was part of “Genetics 101” in elementary school. This is where teachers taught students that traits sat in one of two camps: Dominant and Recessive. To make this easy to remember, eye color will be discussed.

Each parent is responsible for a gene with two alleles that help determine eye color. So if Parent #1 has a gene with two brown alleles, it doesn’t matter what Parent #2 has because brown trumps everything. But if Parent #1 has a brown alleles and a blue allele, and Parent #2 has a green allele and a blue allele, depending on what Baby gets, the child could have either brown eyes or green eyes … or blue eyes.

That doesn’t explain how it is that some people have grey eyes or hazel eyes or varying shades of blue, brown, green, or grey, and that’s because there are three genes involved in determining eye color. We won’t discuss that here, but suffice it to say, it’s possible for an Indigenous person to have blue eyes. And it’s possible for a non-Native person to have brown eyes.

In response to Bill Curry’s tweet, a number of people on social media called him on his tweet, pointing out that it was irresponsible of him to have mentioned possible cultural background. However, the situation was compounded when this was brought to Mr. Curry’s attention.

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You see, regardless of whether the alleged shooter appeared to be Aboriginal or appeared to be Arabian or appeared to be from outer space is really immaterial. What someone appears to be culturally is not reporting on what’s happening that’s newsworthy. It’s playing to the lowest common denominator: Racism.

In fact, none seemed to say it better than this person who took issue with Bill Curry’s tweet.

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Racism has no place in the news being reported responsibly. Truth be told, no –isms have a place in the news being reported responsibly.

Responsible news reporting doesn’t rely on fear mongering or negative stereotypes or culture bashing. Fobbing fear mongering, negative stereotyping, or culture bashing off on eye witnesses doesn’t make it right or acceptable.

Reporting the news impartially, based on facts, and without bias is what we expect from reporters and journalists … especially those who considered seasoned media professionals.

Elyse Bruce

Who Said That?

The graduates of McGill University who finished their degrees after World War II ended are the great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents of those who are graduating from university and college over 65 years later.  The quotes beside each graduates’ name speaks volumes of how they interpreted the world around them.  Since most of the quotes fail to acknowledge the author of the quote, I thought it would be fun to see how many of these quotes are recognized by those who follow or visit my blog.  Today’s quote is this:

Should not the heart beat once?

Feel free to add the name of who you believe was — or may have been — the person who first spoke or first wrote those words, in the Comments Section below.

Making Sense Of Yesterday’s Attack In Ottawa

My work day had barely begun when news hit that a terrorist attack had broken out in Ottawa at the War Memorial and on Parliament Hill.  Conflicting reports were being thrown onto the Internet like bullets being fired in the marbled hallway of the Centre Block.  For hours afterwards, Ottawa was on lockdown as the Ottawa police, the OPP, the RCMP, and the Canadian Armed Forces joined forces and worked together to secure not only Parliament Hill, but Ottawa as a whole.

The shooter was identified as a “high risk traveller” by the federal government and his passport had been seized.

His step-father was a Libyan businessman, Bulgasem Zehaf, who returned to Libya in 2011.  After marrying the boy’s mother on July 15, 1989, he adopted her son on December 14, 1995, and the boy named Michael Joseph Hall at birth became Michael Joseph Zehaf-Bibeau (he was 13 years old at the time of adoption).

The step-father travelled between Canada and Libya for business over the years, and he found occasion to take Michael with him from time to time.

Zehaf and Bibeau divorced in 1999 … four years after Zehaf adopted Michael.

His mother is a Canadian woman from Manitoba named Susan Biebeau — a high-level federal staffer.

Susan Bibeau holds a Bachelor of Law degree from the Université de Montréal, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Concordia University, as well as a graduate certificate in business administration from the Public Administration University (Université du Québec à Montréal).  Since 2012, she has been the Deputy Chairperson of Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada after serving from 2008 to 2012 as the Director General of the Immigration Division.  From 2005 to 2008, she was the Director of the Immigration Division for the Eastern Region where she managed the delivery of the Immigration Division (ID) program and advised the Immigration Division on technical and legal issues.

There are those who may point to the fact that he was allegedly bullied as a child for being overweight but can that really be used as an excuse for the criminal activities that seem to be a core aspect of the shooter’s adult life?

There are others who point to the fact that in high school, he allegedly had a serious drug problem, and used marijuana and acid.

Michael had a troubled and troubling past that allegedly started with a credit card fraud charge in November 2001.  Two years after that, in 2003, he was incarcerated for 2 years on robbery and weapons charges.  Between 2003 and 2011, there was a flurry of other lesser charges such as drug charges involving marijuana and PCP, as well as possession of a dangerous weapon.  And in 2011, there were charges of uttering threats (found guilty) and robbery in Vancouver.

It has been alleged that he had an acquaintance with 25-year-old accused B.C. terrorist, Hasibullah Yusufzai, who traveled to Syria in the hopes of joining a terrorist group there.  Interpol has a red notice out on Yusufzai.

And while it’s true that Michael seems to have held extremist views and was prone to criminal and violent activity, it should be noted that mainstream media has reported Michael had expressed to others that he believed the devil was after him.

At this point, more important than pointing fingers at what’s to blame for how yesterday’s tragedy happened is making sure that these horrors don’t happen again.  I don’t know what the solution is.  I don’t believe anyone knows what the solution is.

What I do know is that the world is becoming an uglier and uglier place these days, and that needs to be addressed — in our countries, in our states and provinces, in our communities, in our schools, in our homes, and in ourselves.  Peaceful existence doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes a concerted, constant effort on everyone’s part.

Now ask yourself this question:  What have you done to make the world a more peaceful, nurturing place to live?  Then ask yourself this question:  What else can I do to make the world a more peaceful, nurturing place to live?

In the days, weeks, months,and years that come, don’t glibly pass along the saying “be the change you want” on social media.  Become part of the process that will create the change you want, and make that change a change for the better.  Platitudes accomplish nothing when no action is taken to make things happen.

Elyse Bruce

The Words Of King Zuckerberg’s Reign

With technology rapidly advancing, the question oftentimes heard in business and on social media is this:  Is that even a word?  While many new words are added to the Oxford English Dictionary every year, there are some words that were part of the English language long before technology took hold.

While researching phrases for my Idiomation blog, I came across a poem, “Easter Week” by Erik Axel Karfeldt in a poetry anthology entitled, “Arcadia Borealis.”   The book was published in 1938 at the University of Minnesota.  I don’t know what possessed me to read the poem, but read the poem I did.  Imagine my surprise when I came across this passage in the poem.

Imprisoned in the grave, my friends are banished –
I have an unfriend in the days long vanished;
God’s peace be over
The house from which I then was rudely thrust!

Surprised to find such a modern word in a poem written and published over 75 years ago and long before technology was a common occurrence in almost every household, I began to wonder about the history of the word unfriend.  If someone was an unfriend (and not an enemy), then at one point had they been friends?  It was a question that nagged at me until I took matters into my own hands and began hunting down the answer.

Research uncovered a Letter to the Editor in the archives of the Pall Mall Gazette.  The letter writer was Oscar Wilde, and his letter was published under the heading, “Half-Hours With The Worst Authors.”  The famous playwright took exception to what he called the “extremely slipshod and careless style of our ordinary magazine-writers” and he used an article written by George Saintsbury (who had published a book on prose style) that had recently been published in the January 1886 edition of Macmillan’s magazine. It was in point 9, that the word was used.

9.  He certainly was an unfriend to Whiggery.

That certainly carried, not only the spelling, but the sense as well, of being unfriended.

The comment reinforced by belief that if one could only be unfriended, that could only happen if they had previously been friends, and it stands to reason that if two people had been friends at one point, one or both could be unfriended.

But would history bear this out?  Indeed it did as it was found in the writings of Patrick Abercromby, M.D., in his book “The Martial Atchievements of the Scots Nation: Being An Account of the Lives, Characters, and Memorable Actions of Such Scotsmen as Have Signaliz’d Themselves by the Sword at Home and Abroad” in Volume 1 published in 1711.

William, King of Scotland, thought himself unconcern’d with these Transactions:  ‘Twas not his Business to determine who had best Right to the Crown of England; yet he made no haste to Recognize King John’s Title:  And it seems he was by that Prince’s Party consider’d as an Unfriend; for his Brother, Earl David was one of these suspected Peers that summond to Court, and by many fair Promises cajoll’d into a Submission.

In other words, William, King of Scotland, was a frenemy in the eyes of King John of England … someone who King John had considered a friend, but whom he now considered an unfriend.  Yes, it would appear that King John unfriended King William.

Sneaking back into the previous century, the next document I found was used in a letter written by English church historian, Thomas Fuller, to Peter Heylin.  It was dated 1659, and is found in “The Appeal of Injured Innocence.”

I hope, sir, that we are not mutually Unfriended by this Difference which hath happened betwixt us.

There is was in black and white, and using the old-fashioned, obsolete version of today’s screenshot.  Printed proof that unfriending could, and did, happen back in the 17th century!  So how far back did this unfriending activity go?

Back in 1566, according to the State Paper Department of Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, they have in their possession a collection of documents entitled, “Calendar of State Papers, Foreign Series, of the Reign of Elizabeth I.”  You see, the passage on page 118 of Volume 8 makes a clear delineation between a friend, an enemy, and someone who was once a friend … someone who was unfriended.

The King confessed that reports were made to him that Murray was not his friend, which  made him speak that which he repented. The Queen said that she could not be content that either he or any else should unfriend Murray.

I don’t know for certain who Murray may have been (though I suspect the reference may be to the Earl of Murray, the illegitimate son of James V), but it would appear that the King and others had unfriended him.  Not nice, you historical figures, you! That’s,you know … technology-free cyberbullying!

That’s where the trail ran cold, however, the fact of the matter is that the word unfriend was known and used in the mid-1500s with no worry that the others wouldn’t understand the word’s meaning.  It was very clear what unfriending was.

Now all of that is interesting, however, in the context of today’s technology, unfriending someone on Facebook isn’t a new activity that came about as a result of technology.  People have been unfriending others for centuries with and without computers, with and without Facebook, with and without a written account of the actual unfriending!

And even though the adage “everything old is new again” is apropos here, the bottom line is, nobody likes to be unfriended whether it’s during the reign of King Zuckerberg or nearly 450 years earlier during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Elyse Bruce

Who Said That?

The graduates of McGill University who finished their degrees after World War II ended are the great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents of those who are graduating from university and college over 65 years later.  The quotes beside each graduates’ name speaks volumes of how they interpreted the world around them.  Since most of the quotes fail to acknowledge the author of the quote, I thought it would be fun to see how many of these quotes are recognized by those who follow or visit my blog.  Today’s quote is this:

All things come to them who will but wait.

Feel free to add the name of who you believe was — or may have been — the person who first spoke or first wrote those words, in the Comments Section below.

Who Said That?

The graduates of McGill University who finished their degrees after World War II ended are the great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents of those who are graduating from university and college over 65 years later.  The quotes beside each graduates’ name speaks volumes of how they interpreted the world around them.  Since most of the quotes fail to acknowledge the author of the quote, I thought it would be fun to see how many of these quotes are recognized by those who follow or visit my blog.  Today’s quote is this:

For man is man and master of his fate.

Feel free to add the name of who you believe was — or may have been — the person who first spoke or first wrote those words, in the Comments Section below.

6 Ways To Avoid Marketing Mayhem

As an entrepreneur or small business, marketing can sometimes prove to be trickier than anticipated.  Some entrepreneurs and small businesses create a plan they follow, while others fly by the seat of their pants.  However, neither method will be effective if you make any of these mistakes along the way.

Shotgun Sales Messages

Social media is a great tool to help get your message to the public, but that doesn’t mean you only touch base with social media connections when you have something to sell.  It also doesn’t mean you should bombard your social media connections with rapid fire tweets and status updates over a period of days then disappear.

If you don’t keep in regular contact with your social media connections, you will fall off their radar until you start with shotgun sales messages which may very well prove to bring your business the wrong kind of attention.

Failing To Identify Your Niche

Your business is unique in that it’s your business.  It’s also just like every other business in that all businesses belong to someone (or a group of someones).  Add to this the fact that no business can be all things to all potential customers, and the importance of identifying your niche rises to the surface.

Follow and be followed by those who are interested in what you do and what you have to sell.  Block troublemakers and trolls who will eat up your time as you interact with your social media connections.

Find your place on social media and in the business world, and you’ll be amazed at how smoothly social media will work for your business.

Unrealistic Marketing Goals

Everyone dreams of success.  It’s a fact of life.  That being said, there’s a world of difference between dreaming of success and establishing goals and identifying milestones.  In terms of marketing, your goals need to clearly mark what you consider to be marketing plateaus.

And what is a marketing plateau?  When your first marketing goal is reached, keep up the buzz and momentum before zooming off to the next goal.  Not only will this approach ward off marketing burn out, it gives you customer and potential customer base the opportunity to savor the moment with you.

Don’t expect to be an upstart enterprise this year and a mega-success next year.  This doesn’t mean it can’t happen.  It means that it’s not likely to happen that way for most businesses.  That being said, even those who see their businesses take off like a rocket usually have a reasonable marketing plan in place in case things progress at a more recognizable pace.

It’s All About You

This matter was addressed in the April 2013 article, “What Do Customers Expect?

Remember that those who reject or embrace your marketing approach are not rejecting or embracing you or your business.  They are rejecting or embracing the “need” you are offering.

Customers and potential customers are emotional buyers.  Even the most logical of customers or potential customers are emotional buyers.  They want their needs taken care of to their satisfaction.  So when your marketing fails to impact positively with your customer and potential customer base, it’s because what you’re offering doesn’t meet their needs, and that makes your marketing all about them.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s business.

Lack of Creativity

Spending hour after hour on social media does not mean you have a great marketing campaign in place.  It means you’re spending hour after hour on social media.  What sticks with customers and potential customers are creative messages that stay with them long after they’ve walked away from technology and call it a day.

Invest time in brainstorming ideas that will give your marketing message the most effective, positive results, whether it’s by way of original memes, short videos, giveaways, taking advantage of holidays and special dates like Valentine’s Day and Family Day.

It’s No Fun

You’ve heard the proverb:  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  According to Forbes magazine earlier this year, a study done by Boston professor, Peter Gray, Ph.D., and published in Psychology Today indicates that all work and no play could make you a narcissist as well.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that the proverb should be rewritten to become all play and no work, but there’s a lot to be said about finding the balance between the two.  After all, if your customer and potential customer base doesn’t get the sense from you and your marketing that you enjoy what you do and what you’re selling, they’ll stay away in droves.

Have some fun along the way, and lighten up that serious business demeanor that may be overtaking your marketing efforts.  I’m not suggesting for a moment that you let mayhem rule the day, but not having a set vision and goals when it comes to marketing could very well lead to just that.

Final Note

Success with marketing — whether it’s traditional or technology based social media — requires attention and fine tuning.  It’s not about how much time you spend online or how many tweets or status updates you post every day.  It’s about connecting with people and creating a relationship that relies on interactions, even when those interactions don’t lead to immediate sales transactions.

Elyse Bruce

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