Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 11, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

Immigration Minister, Lena Diab presents Human Rights Award to members of SAFE

 

Here’s a SAFE bet.

On Friday, December 8th. at a ceremony in Halifax, SAFE, ground breakers locally in bringing Syrian refugees families to Antigonish, were awarded a Nova Scotia Human Rights Award. Long before the plight of the refugee crisis became a major story, the local SAFE group was trying their best to bring awareness to the humanitarian crisis half a world away.

Over the past two years, SAFE has sponsored several families with another handful in the queue. Their work has been exemplary and according to MP Sean Fraser, the settlement of Syrian refugees in Antigonish by the three groups (including Tri-Heart and CARE ) has become the gold standard in Canada. But make no mistake, SAFE laid the groundwork and they rightfully deserve this prestigious award.

Christmas is bearing down on us like a “nor’easter.”

The quasi frantic pace leading up to December 25th. is palpable. Being empty nesters, you don’t get the same buzz without kids around… Nor the mental, physical and fiscal exhaustion that goes with the season!

But for every person experiencing the joy of Christmas, you can bet your boots that for someone else, it is a time of the year which brings sorrow and tears. Yes. Someone you know and love is hurting. Some people are lonely.  Loss of loved ones is tough 24 hours of the day but at Christmas it is somehow magnified because so many other people are in a celebratory mood. I don’t want to be “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.” But when you meet up with someone that you know is silently grieving, give them the best gift possible… your time and a hug… and a good cup of tea.

Can’t bear the thought of preparing another big turkey dinner? Sacrilege, you say? As most of my loyal readers are “north of 60 “, you know what I mean.  As B.B. King sang, “The thrill is gone, the thrill has gone away, the thrill is gone, baby.”  (Stop calling me Scrooge. I can hear you all the way to Court Street! ). If you want to experience Christmas dinner in a whole new way, why not join the many people who have their Christmas dinner at St. James Church in the hall.

This is open to the public. Many of the folks who attend the twice weekly Hot Lunch program come that day. Foreign students who can’t make it home are regular attendees. Sometimes it’s someone who has experienced a loss and just wants to be around people. And then there others like us, who for one reason or another, like to spend December 25th. at St. James. All the food is donated (by participants and other people) and there is live music (Christmas Carols). Members of my family will be providing the music this year as we have done from time to time in the past. It has become one of our newest and most enjoyable, Christmas traditions.

And if you haven’t had your fill of the MacDonalds, son Peter, daughter Betsy and yours truly will be performing at a fundraiser at Little Christos on December 17th. Between 6:00- 8:30. It’s in support of Aghyad Al Zhouri who recently attended Encounters with Canada symposium. I’m sure we’ll do a few Christmas carols but you’re more likely to hear Johnny Cash, Neil Young or Blue Rodeo.  You can come up on stage and sing harmonies.

Have a great week.

Reminder. Christmas book sale. Three books $25.00 + shipping. Regular $55. Value. Message me or send me an e-mail at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on December 4, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with no comments yet

Dr. P. Sainath – Fall Convocation 2017

 

Small is beautiful.

Four seemingly unrelated events have got me thinking… which is always a dangerous proposition. Last week (like most weeks in Antigonish), there was a dizzying array of events open to the public and most of them free.

On Tuesday evening, Jamie McDonald, aka “ Adventureman” held a small but very attentive crowd rapt at the People’s Place Library. Sadly, this is not our own Jamie MacDonald who plies his financial planning business on Main Street although Jamie has done some incredible work with the Main Street Fair during Highland Games.

The “other” Jamie is from England. Among other things, he has run across Canada and cycled from Thailand to England dodging bombs in Afghanistan. As a young boy, he was unable to walk as a result of rare medical condition. He was in town on a book tour (he had stayed in Antigonish a few years ago during his run). Lots of people have done similar runs for charity. What struck me were his comments about the kindness of strangers, especially in rural Canada. He was so well fed by Newfoundlanders that he managed to gain weight after running the equivalent of 20 marathons while traversing the province!

I trekked back to the library on Wednesday evening to witness the launch of The People’s Archive of Rural Nova Scotia. (www.parns.ca ) In many places around the globe, rural communities are dying. PARNS had been launched in Antigonish as a repository of stories, photos, audio tapes and videos of ordinary people. It’s sort of like Week45 on steroids! The concept was pioneered in India by Palagummi Sainath ( pictured above ), guest speaker at the event and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate at the Fall Convocation at St.F.X.We are bombarded every waking second of our lives with news and information, much of it soul destroying and destructive to the psyche. Wouldn’t you rather hear stories, or better still, tell stories about extraordinarily ordinary people in our own backyard? Check out the site.

On Thursday evening, I attended a meeting of the United Nations, otherwise known as the Coady Farewell. I was part of the “ Coady Neighbour” program and went to bid farewell to my new friend, Father Joseph, from Kerala, India. It was a colorful and moving ceremony. It was really interesting to hear the comments of Otgonchimeg Altangerel from Mongolia who gave her impressions of Antigonish since arriving here four and a half months ago.

In no particular order, here are some of the things that stood out for her: The Op Shop (!); The ESL Friendship Café; The Farmer’s Market; Cultural Connections (Potluck); The Antigonish Art Fair; AHA! (Arts Health Antigonish). She also remarked that Antigonish embraces those with physical and intellectual disabilities.

“Coady Rising.”

I think that this would make a good title for a book. The Coady institute has been in our midst for almost 60 years (1959). While the Coady influence is probably better appreciated in many countries around the world than it is in Antigonish, it seems to me that in the past 5 years or so, something quite remarkable has been happening in Antigonish. We seem to be morphing into a real multi-cultural community and I attribute most of this to the influence of the Coady which is becoming hard wired into our community’s psyche. More and more events have an international flavour. It could be argued that the Coady influence is helping us become more tolerant, not only to strangers from far flung corners of the world, but also our First Nations people who are right in our back yards.

On Friday night, I drove out to the Heatherton Community Center as one of the performers at a fundraiser for the group home located in Heatherton. I arrived half an hour before the start time to “get my game face on.”! Not really. All I was doing was reading one of my Christmas stories. I was shocked to see the parking lot three quarters full. By show time, there wasn’t an empty seat to be had in the converted gymnasium.

I am not a curmudgeon (?) but I am rarely infused with the “Christmas Spirit.” I won’t go into my commercialism rant. But it was hard not to feel joy watching residents of the group home perform their own Christmas magic. There was lots of great music and tea and cookies at the intermission. Hats off to Brenda Berkvens and her team for reminding us about the important things in life.

So, what is the common thread in these four disparate events? The importance of community, especially small, rural communities. We mustn’t let them die. They are the real deal.

#Rural Communities Matter.

Have a great week.

Reminder. Christmas book sale. Three books $25.00 + shipping. Regular $55. value. Message me or send me an e-mail at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com

 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted on November 27, 2017 under Monday Morning Musings with one comment

December 17th. Little Christo’s. The MacDonalds

 

What is your absolute favourite thing in the world to do?

Is it a solitary walk in the woods? Christmas Shopping at the Mic Mac Mall on Christmas Eve? (I’d rather a public flogging!). How about curling up in front of a toasty fire with a good book and a glass of wine or a nice single malt? Hanging out with your grandkids would certainly rate highly.

For me, watching my children perform music always comes to the top of my list. They did quite a few public performances when they were teenagers performing at venues with the likes of Natalie MacMaster and Bruce Gouthro. These days, they are spread hither and yon so opportunities to see them play are few and far between.

My second favourite thing (a tie with a good piece of coconut cream pie with real whipped cream) is having the chance to play WITH my children. So, mark this on your calendar. On Sunday, December 17th, 2017, from 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., I will be sharing the stage with my son Peter and daughter, Betsy at Little Christo’s. We’re doing a fundraiser (more details to follow). We’ll do some Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Gillian Welch, Blue Rodeo and probably some Christmas tunes in three part harmony…. four if you want to chirp in. It’s a Sunday so hopefully there won’t be 50 other events going on that evening.

And speaking of the Holy Trinity, I have not mastered the art of being in three places at once. This past Saturday, I was invited to two events that coincided with the Christmas Parade and tree lighting ceremony. No. I am not that popular but I can provide a warm bum in a seat. The “Dance for Life” event at Immaculata Hall was amazing. Sponsored by Arts Health Antigonish and the local Heritage Society, it was an evening of learning and listening about Mi’Kmaw art and culture and an opportunity to sign a parchment renewing peace and friendship with our First Nations people. I was honored to be a signatory of the parchment. The rest of the evening was taken up with dancing of every conceivable type. I couldn’t stay for the entire program as I scurried off to my third event of the evening.

Singling out any one performance is always fraught with danger but I don’t think many would argue that Anne Camozzi’s wheelchair dance was the show stopper. Her dance to peace and friendship offered comfort to all, especially those with physical challenges. The music was haunting and the dance was quite stunning.

You knew this was coming… a bit of shameless self-promotion. It’s time for you to get into the Christmas spirit. Even an old curmudgeon like me likes certain aspects of the holiday season. You can get a copy of all my three of my award winning books for only $25.00 (+ shipping). Award winning, you say? Yes. As far as I can determine, I have sold more books than anyone in my apartment complex. You can give someone the gift of laughter with the knowledge that you are supporting yet another starving artist. I have been told that my Week45 series makes excellent bathroom material!

Private message me or flip me an e-mail at lenpdmacdonald@gmail.com.

Have a great week.

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