Thursday Tidbits

Posted on June 17, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

 

Photographs and Memories

 

“There are places I’ll remember,

All my life, though some have changed,

Some forever, not for better,

 Some have gone and some remain.”

In My Life – The Beatles

It started innocently enough. I went looking for an old document.

There was a time in my life when I fancied myself as a somewhat organized person. Back in olden times, I was a copious note taker and journal keeper, of the hand -written variety. I had filing cabinets that were meticulously organized. When I was in business, I had day planners that I kept for years. I was involved in a lot of organizations and kept minutes of meetings, some as far back as 1981. I even kept copies of marathon training schedules…. and old birthday and Christmas cards. You get the picture.

When I retired (the first time!), I kept one of the four drawer filing cabinets from our office and took it home to store all of the aforementioned memorabilia.

This begs the question. Why in the name of god would any sane person hold on to documents and newspaper clippings for 50 years? Do we actually think that our children and grandchildren will ever look at this collection of detritus after we have “slipped the surly bonds of earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings”? I doubt it.

On the morning of the “first day of the rest of my life”, after completing my quarantine, I started the day in style with a pleasant 2- hour walk. I then bumped into a neighbour who asked me a question which required me to go rooting around in my filing cabinet.

You will recall that I said that I once was an organized person. It appears that in retirement, I quickly became a disorganized person, and my filing cabinet was a clear refection of this. A number of times over the past several years, I have gone looking for something, usually coming up empty handed. Such was the sad state of the filing cabinet that I would have had an easier time finding the Dead Sea Scrolls or Oak Island gold.

I cautiously opened the first drawer. I don’t discourage easily but when I looked at the mess in front of me, my first instinct was to immediately close it and go watch Netflix. My MacDonald/O’Flaherty blood has a stubborn streak in it, and I was determined to find the old document.

After the first hour, I was sweating as I hauled pile after pile of papers to the kitchen table to go through them. Out came the first, large blue plastic recycling bag.

The purge was on.

Something clicked in my head. I thought of the Nike ad exhorting us to “Just Do It”. I decided that this was the day that I would slay the beast and go through all four drawers, undertaking a massive cull.

Many of us have had the unenviable but necessary task of being an executor. While dealing with the mounds of paperwork required to wind up an estate is a formidable job, dealing with the deceased’s personal items is even more daunting. What does one throw out and what does one keep?

I thought about this as the first blue bag was full to bursting. A second bag was hastily assembled by the kitchen table. My thoughts turned to my executors. Little did they know that I was about to make their lives infinitely easier when my time comes. I don’t mean to be maudlin, but we entered this world with nothing, and we will leave the same way. In my case, the only difference is that I entered the world with more hair than I have now!

I must admit that it was a serious trip down memory lane. For hours, I pored over photos and documents that I hadn’t seen in decades. I sent one particular newspaper story and photo to my children. Fifty years ago, I won a golf tournament and the local paper, The Casket (a casket of jewels and not the kind one might find in a funeral parlour!) snapped a picture of this geeky looking guy who had a full head of hair. I posted the picture, not to brag about my victory, but to assure my loyal readers that there was a time that going to the barber was necessary and not the show of vanity it is these days.

The other newspaper clippings I decide to keep surrounded a most unusual event that people in my hometown, of a certain age, will remember vividly. In 1992, the Town Council of Antigonish decided to offer homeowners a tax holiday. I was on council at the time and while I wasn’t the architect of the plan, I happened to be the chair of the finance committee. The initiative received a lot of attention locally, provincially, nationally and even internationally.

Several hours later and “three bags full”, the job was finished. It was cathartic.

Oh, yes. I never did find the document that I was looking for!

I failed to mention that my filing cabinet is kept in a large storage closet. The storage closet was in even worse shape than my filing cabinet, if that is humanly possible.

The day after the big purge, I decided to go “all in “and tackled the closet. My closet is now a “walk in” rather than a “stumble over”.

It feels good to simplify and to know, at last, where everything is situated in my apartment.

As long as I can remember where the closet is located, I should be fine!

Have a great weekend.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on June 10, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with 2 comments

Yes. Be kind

 

“We can bridge the distance,

Only we can make the difference,

Don’t ya know that tears are not enough.

If we can pull together,

We could change the world forever,

Heaven knows that tears are not enough.”

Tears Are Not Enough – Northern Lights

Are we a racist country?

Are we anti-Black?

Are we anti-Indigenous?

Are we anti-Semitic?

Do we have anti-Islamic tendencies?

Are we anti- anyone who doesn’t look like us or speak our language?

Sadly, I think the answer is possibly yes.

First of all, we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants with the exception of Indigenous people who have inhabited the land for millennia. As far as I can tell, my roots are in Inverness, Scotland and Tralee, Ireland.

It saddens me that we have to have an entity called Black Lives Matter. It is devastating to see four innocent Islamic people run over on a sidewalk. It is heartbreaking to learn of the 215 young children, unceremoniously buried in a mass grave in Kamloops. It is pathetic to know that our own Atlantic Provinces is home to people who hate Jews.

I am not a historian, a sociologist or an anthropologist. I am not going to try and explain that which cannot be explained: man’s inhumanity to man. What in the hell is wrong with us? What gives us the right to be intolerant?

It is easy for many us to finger point, sitting in the comfortable pew.

Now, I am being unduly harsh, using the royal “we” flippantly. I am pretty lucky. I have been blessed with great family and friends over my lifetime and as far as I can tell, we are not overtly racist. I realize that this is a sweeping generalization. I believe a very close examination of conscience would reveal that just about everyone of us has either uttered something racist or had racist thoughts. “Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.” John 8:7

During my quarantine, I have been doing a lot of thinking about racism. It seems to have dominated the news lately. I am particularly distraught by the events in Kamloops. It is much more personal to me after having spent the better part of two years in an Inuit community. I had an opportunity to meet and talk to, people who attended residential schools. A few admitted that not everything was bad about these places. Some attributed their success in life to the good education they received but this, I believe, is a minority opinion. The scars of residential schools are evident.

What is even more shocking is that some of the churches who inflicted much of the damage have refused to own up to their transgressions.

I have a Jewish friend in Victoria, B.C. She told me recently that her grandsons go to a Jewish daycare which is attached to a synagogue, and she fears for their safety. In Canada. So sad and disturbing. She went on to say that no one, anywhere, should be persecuted for being who they are. I couldn’t agree more.

What is it like to be a minority? I got a taste of this when I travelled to India five years ago. Walking the streets of Hyderabad and then Kanyakumari, I certainly received a few stares but never felt uncomfortable. I walked the streets at night alone and never once felt threatened. When I went into shops to buy things, nobody followed me around suspecting me of thievery. Nobody pulled me over on the side of the road just for being white.  I can’t imagine what it is like to constantly be the victim of racial profiling.

Not all Canadians are racist, and it would be unfair to hang that label on the country as a whole.

The best I can do is examine my own conscience.

The second best thing I can do is to be kind and tolerant.

How about you?

Have a great weekend.

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Thursday Tidbits

Posted on June 3, 2021 under Thursday Tidbits with one comment

Residential School – Chesterfield Inlet

(Posted with permission)

 

If you were looking for some light humour today, check out the comics or Colbert. You won’t find any in this post.

Unlucky numbers.

The obvious one is 13. When Friday the 13th rolls around, ominous things are supposed to happen. Many hotels don’t have a 13th floor. The list goes on.

I would like to add another unlucky number: 215.

Two hundred and fifteen, beautiful, innocent children were tossed unceremoniously into a mass grave in Kamloops. They were ripped from their parents’ arms and forced to attend a residential school. This is yet another stain on our country. The wounds left over from this tragic chapter of Canadian history never healed. The scab has been ripped off… again.

Over a year ago, I was introduced to Piita Irniq. Here is a brief bio. Please take time to read about this distinguished Canadian. https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/peter-irniq. Among other things, Piita is a survivor of a residential school seen in the picture above. He is a wonderful writer, storyteller, and educator. He regularly posts stories on Facebook, many of them explaining Inuit culture. A few days ago, after hearing about the tragedy, he reposted an older story that he had told before. With Piita’s permission, I am sharing it with you. There are thousands more of these stories.

“I feel, today is the right time to repeat these words, words I said, long time ago, and I said in part:

“I was kidnapped, by a Roman Catholic priest, in broad daylight, right in front of my parents! We were at our summer camp near Naujaat, a tiny settlement on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay, getting ready to walk to inland, for our annual caribou hunt.

It was in 1958, I was 11 years old, and I was to attend Sir Joseph Bernier Federal Day School in Igluligaarjuk – Chesterfield Inlet – for the first time.

Little did my parents or I know that this was the beginning of leaving behind my culture, language, Inuit Spirituality; and the practice of Shamanism for which we used for healing, special relationship among us Inuit, with animals, land, our past and the future. We were to be assimilated into the Qallunaaq world, to think like a European.

The losses we experienced were to be permanent. The impact on all of us – my family, my friends and many of us who are now seen to be leaders of our people – was traumatic. Many of us have spent our lives trying, in many different ways, to bring ‘meaning’ back into lives that were emptied of the ideas, beliefs and relationships that for thousands of years, brought meaning and purpose to Inuit. Some have turned to this modern religion, called Christianity. Others, like me, are convinced that recovering the culture we lost is essential to giving direction not only to ourselves, but also to future generation.”

 

I just returned home from two years in Northern Quebec in an Inuit community. Kangiqsujuaq is one of fourteen villages in the Nunavik region. It is a place of stunning beauty. It is also a place that still shows the scars of the past. I saw it in the weathered lines in the faces of older people in the village. These are people who for centuries lived on the land and lived off the land. They hunted, fished and trapped as a means of survival. Life was not easy but easier, as it turns out, before the arrival of European fur traders, missionaries and residential schools. The collapse of the seal hunt, thanks in part to the heroic efforts of starlets and famous musicians, devastated their economy and a way of life. Add forced relocations and the killing of the sled dogs and you can see why their brows are furrowed.

Lowering flags is an important gesture as is the placing of 215 pairs of shoes at various sites across Canada. Maybe it is time to take some of the passion and energy that we devote to sports and other endeavors, to learn a bit of history.  Maybe you can start by viewing this NFB documentary called “Angry Inuk”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85Ns94DWAQ8

 

When you’re finished watching this, listen to some wonderful Inuit musicians, The Jerry Cans. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5neft4S0nr0

 

We have a lot to answer for, especially religious orders who have caused so much harm.

 

I am an angry Qallunaat (white person).

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