Celebrating Canada

There’s a growing movement to cancel Canada Day celebrations this year, in light of the recent graves discovered at the residential schools and the reminder of that terrible part of our history, when children were removed from their homes on reserves and sent to schools. These schools were nothing less than re-education centres, run by a few organized religions, predominately Roman Catholic. It was, in fact, cultural genocide and many children were abused and died of various causes, their unmarked and undocumented graves only recently discovered.
I’ve thought long and hard about whether we should be celebrating Canada Day this year, even taking into consideration the fact that some of my ancestors were Aboriginal.

Every country in the world has shameful events in their past. In our multicultural country, many of our citizens come from countries where exploitation, torture, and genocide are still happening. Our local newspaper just published an article about a refugee from one such country.–everyone-was-brutalized-how-a-liberian-refugee-escaped-to-live-the-canadian-dream-in-georgina/?s

We cannot change our history, but we can change how we respond to the tragedies that are part of it. By coming together and recognizing our strengths and our weaknesses, we are demonstrating what it means to be Canadian. As Canadians, we must not cover it up, but bring it to light and find a way to reconcile what has happened with who we are today.

That is worth celebrating.
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Stronger, Freer – A Celebration of Canada

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”

That’s a quote from Jessica Hische, but how many of us have the opportunity to turn our passions into our work? Maybe there’s a compromise. Some companies/universities offer their tenured employees the chance to take a sabbatical and what a wonderful opportunity that could be. A year to re-ignite your passion and follow your heart.

Steve Harvey said that in order to achieve great success, sometimes you have to jump. You will never be a huge success by doing the same thing day after day and never taking a chance, never following our passion, never dreaming that we can soar.

A couple I worked with for several years are doing just that. They’ve jumped and they’re taking a break from their professional careers to follow a passion of theirs. That passion led to the creation of Stronger, Freer. In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, our sesquicentennial, Stronger Freer tells the story of a struggling Canadian family over the course of 150 years from Confederation through to present day, in a series of vignettes. It’s going to be playing June 15, 17, 18 at Nineteen on the Park in Stouffville, Ontario – even though it’s not on the calendar yet, the venue is booked and I predict it will sell out fast, so keep an eye on their calendar.

Two ordinary people taking a leap of faith to use their gifts and share their passion for Canada and for theatre with everyone else. I’m envious. And honoured to know them. They are setting an example for all of us and giving all of us this fabulous gift. You won’t want to miss it.





#Canada150 #CrazyPassionateCanadians #Stouffville #Sesquicentennial #StrongerFreer

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Helping Our Own



Every time I try to say something succinctly, it winds up being longer than I’d like, but here’s my opinion, which is NOT open for argument (which many people confuse as discussion):

I am not better than any of the Syrian refugees. They have as much right to shelter, food, stability, and safety, as I do. My life, my job, my family, are all because I was born in Canada. This country helped me when I needed help, provided a foster home when I needed care, and gave me the opportunity to be safe, get an education, and build a life for myself. If I had been born in Syria or Afghanistan, I probably would not be alive today.

When I think about the refugee situation, I think “there but for the grace of God go I”. All that I have today can be gone tomorrow because of civil war or an act of terrorism. Every day, I am grateful I was born here.

Compared to most people in the world, North Americans are rich with privilege, much of it just because we were lucky enough to be born in this country. Millions of children, who months ago had bedrooms and dinner tables and doctors and schools, are sleeping directly on the ground, their parents unable to secure shelter or food for them, much less healthcare or education.

We have access to education and healthcare. We have a peaceful society and programs to help us when we hit stormy waters. And we have a choice – we can share with others and help them find the peace and safety they so desperately seek, or we can turn our backs and become hateful and fearful of people of a different culture or religion.

How can you harden your heart against others, especially the children who are hungry and cold? These are families just like yours. These are mothers and father, brothers and sisters – all just trying to be safe, and to live free.

We need to be human beings, and understand that every human being has basic needs and that the lucky among us can afford to share our luck to ease suffering. Stop thinking, posting, politicizing around the idea that we just can’t help before we’ve taken care of our own people.

There is no such thing as “our own people”. Every human being is our own. Every hungry child, grieving mother, frightened husband, weary grandmother is our own. Nobody gets to pretend our world is a different world from the world that creates civil wars and bombs and hunger.

Anyone can fall at any time. It’s up to each of us to be there to catch them when they do.

Empathy and Elections

Someone I care deeply about but hadn’t seen in many years once declared, “life has been better to me than I deserve”. And he did indeed have a good life. His own law firm, world travel, a condo in Palm  Springs; a fortunate life.

I’ve often thought about that phrase and I recently realized that life has been better to me than I deserve too. I’ve spent my whole life feeling like I’m faking it – you know, “fake it until you make it”, and I know that I came across as heartless and self-centred at times, and at times I really was. I had to fight and even bend the rules at times in order to just survive, to stay alive. That’s been my whole life.

But now, I’m tired of faking it and I’m tired of fighting.

The fact is, I care very deeply. In order to survive though, I’ve had to push my feelings down and act tough. When someone is hurting, it reminds me of my hurt and I’m in pain with them. When someone is sad, it makes me sadder than I already am, and I hate that we’re both so sad.

So, I have a vested interest in helping others. If I can make their life a bit better, I reap the real benefit. People have helped me along the way (intentionally or unintentionally) and I want to pay that forward.

That’s why this election means so much to me. If I was growing up now in what were my circumstances, with a government as uncaring and mean – yes, mean! – as this government, I never would have survived, never mind thrived.

It was a Liberal government who gave me chances. Who closed the orphanages and instituted a good foster home system. Who cared about us. Who gave single mothers accessible child care subsidies so they could go to school or work. Who helped people get ahead. And I want the next generation or two to at least have the same benefits and opportunities that I had. So they can become contributing members of society as well.

That’s not too much to ask.

But that’s not Stephen Harper. And that’s not the Conservatives.

We have been through recessions before. The sky doesn’t fall. The world doesn’t end.  We adjust and move forward. But we don’t lose faith in ourselves, as a people, as a Nation. We don’t stop caring about others. We don’t turn our backs on those less fortunate and deny them opportunities.  We have always survived recessions by investing in our infrastructure and investing in our people. And we can do it again. And survive it again. And pull together in unity as a Country.

It really is a time for change – a change back to who we really are, so we can ALL benefit.

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