15 Months

15 Months.

That’s how long Lindor Reynolds battled cancer before the monster took her.

And at 56, much too early. I wasn’t a frequent reader of Lindor’s columns, I knew of her involvement in a mutual faith denomination. In a small place like Winnipeg, where there is no more than 3 degrees of separation there was probably one or two for us, but we had never met.

But her writing and passing have affected me. A punch to  the gut was her column on August 16th of this year, and since then we waited for the other shoe to drop. It was awkward and uncomfortable – reading about someone facing their own demise, and not knowing how to react. They’ve come to grips with this, and yet it hits us unexpectedly. We read about her diagnosis, and next thing we know, she’s  saying goodbye. It’s a shock to us.

But there has been one thing that has remained with me since that August column, something that was reinforced by her passing.

15 Months

56 Years old.

What would I do if I was diagnosed with 15 months? Would I be able to cram into those remaining months all the plans, things I still want to do with my life? Would I need to revisit ( obviously), would I fill the 15 months with something else?

So that question has sat there ever since I read that August column. What would I do if I had 15 months left? And why should the answer be any different if I don’t have to face pending mortality? Shouldn’t we be living life to its fullest? As Helen Keller says “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”

I’m pondering if it is a daring adventure. For how many of us is it , as Helen Keller says, is it “nothing at all”? Who defines what a daring adventure is?

So if nothing else, Lindor’s passing has made me ask – if I had 15 months left, would that be enough time to do all the things I want to do? It’s not a comfortable thing to think about, especially in detail and where it leads if the answer is no.  Sometimes the most important gifts are those that aren’t comfortable, the gifts that are uncomfortable, that make us think and re-evaluate. And for that, I say thank you Lindor, you’ve left a lasting impression.

Blog Action Day 2014 – Inequality

So today is blog action day – what does that mean?

It’s a day when bloggers ( dare I call myself that?) blog on one subject for activism and social justice.

I’ve wanted to take part in blog action day in previous years, but I have always been too late; finding out about it after it had already happened.

This year I found out about it yesterday, and while posting at 8pm may seem late, the timing is intentional and not because I don’t have anything to say.

So this years topic is inequality. Where do you start with that, or perhaps how do you narrow it down in a world full of inequality. I was thinking about this on the ride home tonight. At most I fall into the top 10% of the people in the world , since I own a car. I have a university degree, own a home, clean water and sanitation, and am sitting in a coffee shop typing this on my wi-fi connected computer. Am I part of the so-called 1%? Of course, and what more glaring example of inequality than that. However, as another blogger I follow put it, you at least have to acknowledge the issue first. I don’t have to sell all my possessions and live in poverty, but it is incumbent on me to understand that there is an issue here.

Inequality also hits close to home. The first nations incarcerated population is about 77% of all incarcerated individuals in Canada, but only represent 12% of the total population. How is that not glaring inequality and what are we doing to address it.

But what has been sitting in my gut like an undigested peach pit is the intersection of inequality, water and first nations communities.

We live in a fairly well off city here in Winnipeg. Our politicians tout our slow but steady economy, we have development and are looking at increasing our commercial base through industrial development like Centerport. And that’s what got me thinking. Because there is an issue there – Centerport is in the RM of Rosser, an RM that is unable to provide the necessary water for the industrial development. Winnipeg could supply the water, but there is an agreement with Shoal Lake first nation that Winnipeg cannot extend water service to other municipalities without the agreement of Shoal Lake first Nation. They haven’t agreed.

And why should they?

We pipe water hundreds of kilometres from a  boreal lake. For us to enjoy, drink, water our lawns, and utilize in the economic development of this city. Piped in from a first nations community that doesn’t even have the basic necessity, scratch that, the basic human right of clean water. They have been under a boil water advisory for years. We take from them what they cannot have so that we can prosper. Is there any more glaring an example of inequity than that? We prosper, while a community suffers.

We fail in our moral and ethical obligation and responsibility to at minimum provide those that we take from the same basic rights as what we take allows us to use and prosper. We fail over and over again by not doing anything and we perpetuate the inequality.

The community needs a $25 million water treatment plant. And while they suffer, we haggle, between levels of government to decide who will pick up the cost. This isn’t a matter of jurisdiction. It’s not a matter of whose purse this should come out of. This is an ethical and moral responsibility that we have abdicated. It doesn’t matter which level of government is responsible. We’re all responsible – at a federal level for abdicating our responsiblity to first nations. At a provincial level by letting this ill-gotten product travel over provincial lands and at a civic level by utilizing this for our gain while those who should have clean water are left to suffer.

We are in the middle of a civic election. Why isn’t this an election  issue? Why is this inequality so readily accepted. We need to address this and address this now. We need to remedy this inequality. We need to construct a water treatment plant at Shoal Lake. We need to step up and say “It doesn’t matter if this is a responsibility of our government. It’s a responsibility of us as citizens and Canadians.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/shoal-lake-40-human-rights-violations-museum-highlights-water-problems-1.2769067

 http://uniter.ca/view/shoal-lake-reserve-joins-counterpart-in-lawsuit-against-city-of-winnipeg

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/winnipeg-native-band-battle-over-water/article7206899/

http://www.cbc.ca/news/aboriginal/human-rights-museum-needs-to-act-on-first-nations-right-to-water-1.2703052

http://worldcentric.org/conscious-living/social-and-economic-injustice

It’s a dirty campaign

I often look at civic politics as the most pure of all three levels of politics, especially when it comes to council races.

Wow, am I ever naïve. This is one of the dirtiest civic campaigns I can remember.

At the Mayoralty level, there are quite a few people on twitter that have mentioned that the Bowman campaign is the dirtiest going. I personally haven’t seen a lot of that, but I have seen one tweet from a Bowman supporter that said that if you care for and love Winnipeg, you’d support Bowman.  And it was re-tweeted by Bowman’s campaign. Seriously? Yes, if you support any other candidate, you obviously hate the city. Unbelievable.

But it’s not just mayor, it’s council. Whoever I vote for in my ward, I’m holding my nose while doing it.

I’m not a fan of Janice Lukes’ association with Justin Swandel, and that does influence my vote.

But, I think I’m more disgusted at the actions of Sachit Mehra’s supporters.

It’s not bad enough that the MLA for the riding is spending all his spare time campaigning for Mr. Mehra, and making a point of posting it all over social media. He also attacks Mr. Mehra’s  main opponent over social media.

Mr. Mehra is being supported by UFFW. It may be worth a visit to Alex Forrest’s twitter feed ( @wpgfirefighter). Maybe I am making too much of this, but it doesn’t really  seem like people are actually volunteering out of free will.

And today? Here’s a little exchange between Stefano Grande and myself about his use of the term “High Road” with regards to Sachit Mehra. Given the attacks by Mr. Mehra’s campaign volunteers ( MLA Dave Gaudreau) against Ms. Lukes for the actions of Mr. Swandel, I’d hardly describe Mr. Mehra’s campaign as taking the high road.

Grande

 

A simple question posed to Mr. Grande. I don’t think Mr. Grande lives in the ward, so it’s reasonable to ask if this is his position or the official Downtown Biz position. Mr. Mehra identifies on his website as chair of the Downtown Winnipeg Biz.  Same questions that have been asked of Chamber of Commerce members who have publicly supported Brian Bowman. The difference? They answered the questions. Instead of answering the question, M. Grande attempts to work shame me*

I had hoped I could cast my vote based on a platform put forward by the candidates. Now I’m forced to take into account potential relationships with MLA, firefighters and special interest groups. I thought we would move past this crap after the fire hall/ Police HQ scandal.

I want to make my decision based on what the candidate stands for. However, several think I should make my vote based on their endorsement. No matter what, I’’m forced to hold my nose when I cast my vote for councillor.

 

 

*As an aside, attempts to work shame me must be that activity of the evening. My MLA, Dave Gaudreau, tried to work shame me when I questioned him regarding construction projects occurring in St. Norbert.