Thursday Tidbits

Posted on September 20, 2018 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

“Poetree”- L’Arche Hearts and Hands at Antigonight

(Place your positive intentions on the tree)

 

To an outsider, Antigonish must look pretty darn good.

Having just traveled across Canada, one quickly realizes that everyone considers their hometown as something special. Every village, town and city has its attributes which engenders civic pride. Antigonish is blessed with so many wonderful resources including a university and a regional hospital. The economy seems to purr along nicely even when global issues cause major disruptions. We have world class sporting facilities and we take great pride in our culture and heritage. On the surface, it appears to be one of the most prosperous communities in Canada.

But for all of the blessings Antigonish enjoys, not everyone participates equally in the spoils of success. According to the most recent census, Antigonish town and county have an alarming amount of poverty. We may not see it, but it is definitely there.

On a macro scale, you can draw lines to income inequality or power and wealth imbalance. It seems that the gap between the rich and the poor continues to expand and you can sense that the average Joe is agitated. Discontent with power structures, the corporate elites and politicians, people are electing people to positions of power who seem content to upend the status quo.

The reasons for poverty in towns and cities across this country are easy to pinpoint but oh so difficult to find solutions. Poor people don’t have enough money to live on. This includes, ever increasingly, the working poor. Income assistance levels and minimum wage are not enough to cover the basics of life nor to rise above the poverty level. There is gender discrimination and exploitation. Many women still do not earn what their male counterparts earn for work of equal value. There is institutional racism and class oppression.

The local Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition (APRC) recognizes, all too well, the challenges faced by people living in poverty. The big issues locally are transportation, affordable housing, income security, food security, energy security and inclusive recreation. Over the past several years the Coalition has expended a great deal of time and energy to build affordable housing units and help with the creation of Antigonish Transit. It was the Antigonish Affordable Housing Society, a member of the Coalition, that built the new affordable housing units. The action plan of the APRC ignited the Antigonish Community Transit initiative.

Earlier this week, I attended a full day conference of the many stakeholders who work with and for the people who struggle to live in poverty. Many of the problems are systemic. Just about everyone in that room works hard dealing with the consequences of poverty whether it is the public health system, the justice system, the Food Bank or St.Vincent de Paul.

The Antigonish Poverty Reduction Coalition wants to hear from you. During the month of October, a number of “People’s Schools” will be held throughout Antigonish town and county to get input from the general public. Sessions will be held in Pomquet, Upper Big Tracadie, and Paqtnkek First Nation as well as in the town of Antigonish. I have agreed to help organize the Antigonish meeting. So please, if you care about this issue and have some thoughts to share, join us on Tuesday, October 16th from 6-8:30 p.m. at the People’s Place Library Community Room. I must say that I found the session this week very enlightening.

Have you been following the NAFTA negotiations? Some may equate this with watching paint dry but there is some very serious stuff going on which could affect everyone’s pocketbook. The dairy industry in Canada is caught in the crosshairs of this debate. I want you to know that I did my level best this summer to do my share for dairy producers by eating ice cream almost every single day. We had grandchildren visiting almost daily for three months and with the endless warm, sunny days, a trip to the ice cream stand, strategically located about a 5 minute crawl from our apartment door, was a daily occurrence.

Have a great weekend.

P.S. You should have no trouble remembering the date for the Antigonish People’s School session on October 16th. This is the day before cannabis becomes legal. I think I’ll camp out in front of the NSLC on the 17th. I might get a story or two!

 

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on September 17, 2018 under Monday Morning Musings with 2 comments

What would Moses Coady think?

 

For six years, I have been writing about the lighter side of life. If today happens to be your first trip aboard the good ship “Week45”, I want you to know that this is far from a typical post. I normally avoid talking about politics at all costs. People tend to be very polarized on this subject. My views might cost me a few readers but once in a while, one feels compelled to speak up, maybe even scream in despair.

“Where have all the leaders gone, long time passing? Where have all the leaders gone, long time ago”? This is my cheeky paraphrase of the song “Where have all the flowers gone” popularized by Peter, Paul and Mary back in the 1960s.

I will leave it to the experts to tell us how we have arrived at a time where people holding the levers of power in many parts of the world, particularly in democratic countries, seem intent on unravelling decades of progress.

I am not an American. I have never lived in the United States. Tribalism in American politics is nothing new although it seems in recent years, it has been ratcheted up several notches. I have been reluctant to say anything about the behaviour of the current POTUS (President of the United States). Until now.  I have never been to Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States. I was not there in the fall of 2017 during Hurricane Maria. I did not go to the morgues to verify the number of people who lost their lives in this devastating hurricane. Apparently, the official number is 2975. Not according to POTUS. More fake news according to him. About people who lost their lives.

Doug Ford seems intent on disrupting the status quo now that he has his hands at the tiller of the Province of Ontario. I am not a resident of Toronto. I don’t understand the complex dynamics of running Canada’s largest city. I have no opinion on the number of elected officials required to efficiently operate the GTA. Most reasonably intelligent people understand due process. Mr.Ford has unilaterally decided to impose his will on the populace, overruling a judge. The judicial system provides checks and balances to protect the people and uphold the spirit and letter of the law. Premier Ford has decided otherwise. In the midst of a municipal election, he has decided to change the rules. He not only wants to change the rules, he also wants to use a sledgehammer to do it invoking the “Notwithstanding clause”.

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2011 and 2012. When I got to the start line, I had trained for months. My expectation was to run from Hopkinton to downtown Boston, a distance of 42 kilometres, plus a few extra steps to use the porta potty. Now imagine, that you have started your run and you have arrived at the halfway point in the race when an announcement is made that the remainder of the route has changed as has the length of the run. It would be chaotic to say the least. This is my impression of what is going on in Ontario.

Our own beloved Coady Institute is in turmoil. I have never worked at the Coady. Change is inevitable and is often painful. We all must adapt to the changing times. But something seems amiss at the Coady with the plethora of staff departures. I am not in a position to judge. However, I have spoken with people who worked there in the past. I have read their stories about the “crisis at Coady”.  They are amongst the most thoughtful, level headed and educated people I know. When they speak, I listen. I have also read articles from other equally thoughtful individuals who have a different assessment of the situation. This is more than change. Something appears to be wrong and needs fixing.

It’s not easy being a leader but it appears that these days, the reins of power, in some quarters, are in the hands of “disruptors.”

What is one to do in the face of seemingly never ending despair?

Sometimes, the thought of running to the nearest cave and hiding sounds like a good option. But we can’t just bury our heads in the sand. Writing letters to those in authority carries weight. I’m not suggesting that you fire off a note to POTUS. When things affect you directly, write to your councillor, Member of the Legislature, Member of Parliament or to any other institution.

I have found that hope trumps despair and volunteering is usually a pretty good antidote. The recent National Special Olympics held in our small town is a shining example about what’s best in us.

“Where you lead, I will follow, anywhere that you tell me to,

If you need, you need me to be with you, I will follow where you lead.”

Where You Lead. Carole King

 

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Antigonight

Posted on September 14, 2018 under News & Updates with no comments yet

Antigonight needs you! Due to unforeseen circumstances, the organizers of Antigonight require 8-10 volunteers for Saturday, September 15th. If you have any time to help out between the hours of 4-10 p.m.,  please contact Sarah O’Toole at 902-863-8570 or 902-863-4276. Generally speaking, the duties include welcoming people and being a “safety” presence. The forecast looks great and this is a fantastic event. PLEASE SHARE THIS. Thanks.

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