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Now is the Summer of our Discontent

Just as we seem to be turning the corner of these past challenging months of the pandemic, with effective vaccines, our next challenge burns on the horizon. This is a difficult post to write. I wanted to write about Canada as a great country, the one I came to as an immigrant, where I added my little piece to the cultural mosaic. Yet, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the deep wound of past treatment of our First Nations. Clearly work needs to be done, and while this newsletter is not the place for political argument, I think our Discerning Seniors Community has much to offer to the national conversation, to the journey towards healing and greater connection. What we in the Discerning Seniors Community try to do is gather information and resources to carry us along the journey of life, a kind of Swiss army penknife service- a tool for every problem. If our clients have a challenge, we provide a solution. We also learn a lot from our clients, depending on their unique needs. This give and take of information and wisdom is the kind of life advice that only age and experience provides. Community knowledge matters, and as we live further apart across the globe, generational mixing doesn’t happen as much as it could. That’s a real shame. I know how lucky I am to have had known three of my grandparents, and indeed my children know all four of theirs. The quirky familial traits that we inherit, warts and all, reveal our connection to each other. We learn history from each other, a far richer understanding of our identity and our belonging.

So it is with a heavy heart that despite Canada’s intent to provide a new life for new Canadians, Canada’s ties with its original inhabitants were cruelly severed. This part of our past needs careful healing, compassionate action, with less talk from lofty podiums. What can we learn, in order to move on, and not repeat the past’s mistakes? We have much to learn from our First Nations for whom elders hold a special place of reverence in the community, playing vital roles as leaders, as holders of culture through oral stories, of medical traditional healing, and a deep understanding of the symbiotic relationship between humankind and Nature. That’s a key element; respect for the elders, respect for the past, and a respect for the fragility of life, so that we can be better shepherds here, leading with careful consideration for others and the planet. I was reminded of this duty of care when I attended a book launch for Marie-Claude Michaud whose book, Être leaders sans armure, was promoted by retired General Roméo Dallaire. In his speech, Dallaire emphasized the need for a culture shift in the military towards one of benevolent leadership. Whereas before the military had a kind of rigidity, an almost inhuman expectation from its troops, both Dallaire and Michaud argue that compassionate leadership is the key to future conflict resolution.

While this summer may be heating up in the language of discontent, we have much to be thankful for in Canada, and much to build on. We will heal together. It’ll be a rocky start, surely, but Canada will continue to grow, to move forward out of past missteps, and honour every part of its cultural mosaic. No-one should be invisible or unheard. We all deserve to contribute to Canada’s story and become part of it. We all deserve, young and old, in age and in cultural identity, to build Canada’s future so that we can leave it better off for our kids and grandkids.

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