Cecil, it’s not personal

On July 1, 2015, a tragedy struck the world – the internet forgot that human beings are worth more than animals. Cecil, a famous lion, was killed in Africa and outrage ensued, leading to the online and real-life lynching of the man who killed him. Literally, the hunter became the huntee. And while the fallout of those actions lead to ‘justice’, the tragedy wasn’t in the death of a protected lion. The tragedy lies in the lack of reaction to other more horrific human deaths that were overlooked without a thought or care.

I appreciate animals. I understand that they have the power to heal, to help, to create meaning in people’s lives. I get it. But their lives should not be the only ones we think about, defend, and fight for. They are not the only ones we should be angry about when they’re cut short. They are not the only ones we should weep over and grieve. We should be angry and grieving over other human lives more than we grieve animals we hear about on the news.

At the beginning of June, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report on the cultural genocide wrought by the Canadian government, people, and churches against our indigenous people. From 1883 to 1996 (yes, as recently as 19 years ago), over 150,000 aboriginal children were ripped from their families and placed in residential schools, resulting in the documented deaths of 6,000, with the understanding that there is a high probability of more children who died at the hands of officials. This means that the children in the schools had around the same chance of dying as a soldier in World War II.

the-legacy-of-canada-s-residential-schools

Languages were wiped out by the schools, forcing the children to learn English and leave behind their cultures, their history, and their homes. People were destroyed by the abuse and ‘teachings’ administered by school officials. Families were ripped apart when children were taken from their homes, away from their parents and everything that they had known. And these actions were taking place in force until the 1980s. THE 1980s. Think about that. Only 30 years ago, the Canadian government was involved in a genocide of our most vulnerable people.

The horrific implications of these actions will last generations and will take generations to repair. For the families that were affected by this, for the children who survived this, for the cultures that were destroyed by this, this horror will be felt for all time.

It’s unconscionable. It’s disgusting. It’s unbelievable. And it’s true. It happened. The active residential school program has been officially over for 20 years, but the effect is still here and will be here forever.

Did you know about this? Did you tweet about this? Did you make your outrage known? Did you track down the politicians, the teachers, the church officials who did these horrific things or allowed this horrific things or put these horrific things in motion and set up protests outside of their offices or their homes? Did you lynch them online and demand justice? Did you talk about it endlessly, worried over it and felt grief over it? Did you feel guilt? Did you feel enraged? Did you feel anything?

Did you even know?

This is my problem with Cecil. I personally believe that trophy hunting is disgusting and harmful – that it’s simply a power trip whereby humans get to murder and then gloat about it. It’s gross. If you hunt to eat, fine. If you hunt to adorn your wall, you’re scum. But to freak out about one lion, then go after all the trophy hunters who boast online, and spend energy and emotion on an animal on the other side of the world and have no idea what is happening here is disgusting and makes you scum.

I am a privileged white woman. I may not have been party or integral to the residential school system, but my people were. My people killed other people because they didn’t agree with their culture. Their centuries old, were here before we were, rooted in all the good things like respecting and honouring our natural earth, culture. My people did that. They are scum. I am scum by proxy.

I am tired of hearing about Cecil. I’m sick of hearing about all the animals in the world that are being abused at the hands of horrible humans.

I want to hear about the human beings that my government killed. I want to know about the children that survived and who they are now. I want to know how to help the people whose lives were destroyed by my people. I want to help with the reconciliation piece. I want to be part of the path to healing.

Don’t you?

To learn more, visit the Truth and Reconciliation Commission website. For a summary of the findings, take a look at this article by the CBC.

~ Julia

Leaving

We made a huge decision last year. A decision that rocked our home and our family. A decision that had been a long time coming, yet still was impossible to predict.

We decided to stop going to church.

Ben and I both come from a long tradition of attending church services on a regular basis. His grandparents went to the church that his mom and dad both attended, and he attended the same church his entire life. My parents found the church we were attending when I was less than a year old and had been members for my entire life.

Last year, we changed that.

Leaving a church is not something we had ever thought we would do. Ben and I met through the church’s youth group. Ben was a minister and head choir leader. I was crazy involved as an organist, a Sunday School teacher and leader, and a choir member. We decided to live in the city we do because of church, even though when we got married we were looking for work in other cities. We didn’t want to commute to the place where we spent a third of our time. At the height of our involvement, if we weren’t at home or work, we were at church. We LIVED church. And loved it.

We had a community of believers that were living the same life we were, that had the families and the marriages that we wanted, that were the volunteers we strove to be, and were our friends.

And then we had Sophie.

I’m not blaming Sophie, but as you know (or maybe you don’t…) after you have a kid EVERYTHING changes. EVERYTHING. Think of something, anything, in your life. Now, have a kid and it’s CHANGED. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever done (as any new parent will confirm). And because I had an undiagnosed round of PPD, it was worse. And my interaction with the church, because it was SOMETHING, changed. But we still held on.

Then we had Lillian. And I broke even more because PPD with a newborn and a toddler looks vastly different than PPD with just a newborn. And in therapy I was told if I wanted to survive, to live, to keep my family together, to keep me together, I would have to take a hard look at our extracurricular activities, or things that we were doing or were involved in that weren’t an absolute necessity, like eating, or bathing, or sleeping. Getting dressed didn’t even make the list, so volunteering in the church, attending church services regularly, being involved were no longer options. So, we stepped back and attended when we could, and weren’t involved anymore.

And then we had Isaac. And all hell broke loose. People say that having three kids is harder than having two, which is harder than having just one, and that going from none to one is by far the biggest change. In our experience, this has all held true. Having three is switching the defense from man-to-man to zone, and being outnumbered all the time, not just when one parent is out of the room. It’s hard and crazy and, now that everyone is sleeping again, awesome. But, there was no way we could pick up where we were in the church, where we were in the community, where we were when we were a family of two, or three, or even four. We were five and church was a really hard thing to maintain.

This was half of our trouble with our church. The other half is a long, complicated story of intimate details I won’t go into. I love lots of people who still go to the church. I respect so many people who go to the church. And I’m not going to use this platform or any other public forum to tear apart such a personal piece of people’s lives. If you have a true relationship with God, and you have found the best place for you to worship, you know what a deep commitment and what an intricate piece of your life it is. This post is not to rip apart what other people have with our old church. It’s to talk about what it was for us.

Our biggest trouble was feeling like there was a lack of support for young families and specifically young mothers. So when the bottom dropped out on our lives, we lost all the connections we had with our faith and with our worship.

I think it’s important here to describe the difference between faith and worship. It’s as different as belief in God and organized religion. There’s God, the perfect being, the One who loves you through everything and anything, and the religions that are man-made, imperfect bodies set upon this earth to help us get closer to Him. The trouble? All of those man-made rules, judgments and complications. For us, our relationship with God was there, through ups and downs, but our ability to worship and to receive support in our relationship with God was destroyed and non-existent. We loved God. He loved us (because that will always be). But we had lost our place in a community of believers. We had lost our connection through worship, which is singing, praising, working and sitting in that community of believers and hearing God’s word.

It hurt. A lot. And it just kept hurting. Until I decided that I needed more.

So I told Ben that. I explained to him that I couldn’t go on not worshiping, but that I couldn’t go back to how we had always worshiped. I told him that I wanted to go church shopping. I told him that I needed to go church shopping. And then I asked him what he thought. And then I started apologizing.

Asking someone to change pieces of their faith or all of their faith, or having someone jump ship on the faith when you have spent your entire lives and relationship believing and worshiping together, in my opinion, can be such a blow. It’s like you had a deal and the other person reneges in the worst, biggest, most awful way ever.

I needed to find a way to worship but I hated that I was asking Ben to give up everything for it.

So we talked and talked and I cried, and we talked and talked, and I apologized and cried some more, and we decided – we’d go shopping. We’d keep an open mind. We’d look for the support that we so desperately needed. And we’d attempt to find a church that would work for our little family, not necessarily one that worked for the generations of church-goers before us.

We have found a church and a community that gives us the opportunity to worship in a completely different, yet sacred way. We have found a church that is giving us support that our former church just couldn’t muster. We have found a place to sing and praise and stand in a community of believers again where it doesn’t hurt quite so much.

It still hurts. It hurt over Thanksgiving when we weren’t in our old congregation with the altar laden with harvest and the singing being incredible and feeling of gratitude overwhelming us. It hurt over Christmas when we didn’t go to church on Christmas morning because there are no services in our new church. It hurts every time I see a minister get up to serve and I know that for Ben, if we stay in this new place, that it will never happen for him again, whereas he had that opportunity in our former church. It hurts when I think about all of the people that we have left behind, people who loved us and helped us get started as a couple and as a family, people who baptized our babies and loved them like their own. It hurts.

But.

It doesn’t hurt as much as nothing or as returning to old habits that don’t work for our family anymore.

And it feels lovely to be sitting at the feet of God again, praying in a community again, loving other believers again. It feels good. And it feels like there’s hope. It’s hope-full. It’s promise-filled. And for now, for today, it’s working for us.

I never in a million years thought that we would leave our church. I watched other people leave and I didn’t understand it, I worried for them and their souls, I shook my head in disbelief.

And now we are in a place of such flux, of leaving and of looking, of trying to find a way to stay and being resigned to look elsewhere, and all I know now is that God loves us. He’s there, like always, like forever. And we have found a way for today to worship with others like us.

~ Julia

Musical motivation

Ever since I can remember there has been music in my life. My dad introduced us to Queen, Pearl Jam, David Bowie, The Tragically Hip, Neil Young, Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers, and Metallica, while my Mom showed us The Rankin Family, Blue Rodeo, Seal and so many others.

    

 

My sisters and momma were all in the choir at our church, and still to this day music surrounds us!

I am blaming the early exposure to music for my now current obsession with musicals and music in general.

From TV shows, such as Glee, to movies (once theatre musicals) like Chicago, Rent, and Burlesque, add music and a dance number to actors like Merly Streep to express the stress of three men possibly being the father of her child!?!?!?! AMAZING! To make it even better, add some comedy and I am tickled pink!

 

In fact as I write this, Toni and I are giggling away as we watch Pitch Perfect. Seriously!
Best!
Movie!
Ever!!!!

If you have not seen it, I am allowing you to leave this blog for the hour and a half that it will take to watch it! …. I’ll wait here. Go on!

……

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, I feel you can appreciate musicals so much more. Cody also shares in my love of music, however hates that I love musicals. This may be because there is a no way to make a musical manly… even if the protagonist is shooting machine guns, while riding a great white shark, somehow adding a musical number for him or her to sing along with it would change the genre from badass to beauty queen (badass beauty queen that is)!

Not a man, but still pretty bad ass… and a little weird!

Although it’s not technically a musical, Nashville pulls at my musical heart strings. It combines my love of country music and good TV. I have been watching since the first season and tell everyone I know who also shares my love of country music about it! Like, for example, my supervisor at work. Every Thursday morning we squeal over the characters’ drama, relationships, deaths and most of all THE MUSIC!!!! I have my phone beside me as I watch to quickly Shazam any and all music that they sing in order to download it from iTunes.

 

I have music with me throughout my day, which means I pretty much live in a musical. So I asked myself what my daily routine would look like without music… My morning run would be fuelled by the song of the birds and although I do enjoy nature’s soothing sounds, somehow I don’t think I would get the same results as if I were being motivated by Beyoncé.

I sing constantly at work, whenever I am around music – my desk mates will have to agree with me. My renditions can be painful and comical but it makes the day go by faster when the sounds of the fax machine and phones are accompanied by Bruno Mars featuring yours truly.

Making dinner would be the simple sizzles of simmering sauces instead of the soothing serenading of Eric Church or Eddie Vedder.

Music makes life better. I suggest you make your life a musical. I did!

~ Jacqui

Adventure within an adventure

So last summer I did something slightly stupid. I went to Prince Edward Island (PEI) for a weekend. Me and one of my bestest friends in the world, Elena, drove to PEI late one Thursday night only to turn around and come back late one Sunday night after some adventures.

Now, it takes roughly 18 hours for you to drive from Ontario through the crazy province of Quebec, winding your way through the wild roads of New Brunswick, where we picked up two more friends, and finally, after a stop for a shower, over the biggest bridge in the universe to PEI.

Many crazy and wonderful adventures happened within this adventure, but I want to tell you about this one part of said adventures.

So on our way back we decided to stop at the quaint city of Charlottetown. Elena, who is just as strange as me, decided to go wandering. She had disappeared for about 30 minutes while I was walking around in a fountain outside  city hall. I was just splashing at our two friends, when she walked up and told us she had wandered into this church and wanted us to come see it because the pastor (preacher, father, etc.) was really awesome.

We went inside this beautiful and historic church and got the run down on it from the guy (his name now escapes me). Apparently this is the site where amazing Juno award-winners, musicians and singers alike have performed, especially at the local blues festival (which was two weeks later and we were angered we couldn’t make it). I love to sing, and after some prompting from the wonderful Elena, I started to sing Caro Mio Ben.

I was stopped by the pastor guy (I really wish I would remember his name!) who told me I had to stand on the stage where the past award-winning singers have sung because the acoustics were better. So I sang, and it was the most uplifting, wonderful moment of my life, especially when I was told by the pastor guy that I had a great voice and amazing presence, better than some of the other stars he has seen preform there. The feeling that came over me when I started singing and my friends’, who had never heard me sing before, jaws dropped was unlike any other.

They were amazed I had it in me, and wanted to hear more. The sound was unlike any other. A beautiful. resonating tune that came out of me and into the ears of my friends and my own didn’t sound familiar to me, the notes sounded more beautiful, and more passionate.

The floor that I was standing on, was designed by a famous violin-maker, and had strings running under the floor to make the sounds expand over the room and contract back to the singer, so no amplifier is ever needed. I loved all the adventures from that weekend, but that one was my favourite.

That, and the fact that after I had finished singing Elena got up and we sang a duet. We usually sing in the middle of stores, so it was nice to be able to share a stage for once.

I hoped you enjoyed my reminiscing and I hope you do something out of your comfort zone today!

~ Andreah