For The Helpers

My family taught me that sometimes you can say “I Love You” through the hard work that you do.

Today, it seems more than ever, our neighbourhoods and families are searching for community led responses to the never ending systemic challenges we are living through. At a time when faith in our official systems, police and politicians is at an all time low, we need somewhere to look for leadership and for hope. To the helpers in the village, I want you to look in the mirror. I want you to see every scar, every wrinkle, every grey hair as a badge of honour. I want you to see in your reflection medicine; the medicine we need to heal our shared pain. I want you to think back to the times you were cooking food, searching in the river, smudging or patrolling the streets, attending meetings, advocating inside and outside of these systems, and I want you to know that you are appreciated. For our relatives who have done wrong in the past and are working to right those wrongs every day, through their employment, volunteer work and family responsibilities – keep going. Your example is the blueprint that our kids are need moving into the future. Let’s teach with our example how to be relentless, forgiving and kind. When our world is this sick, we must be the medicine.

I hope that the helpers in our community, in the village, can see how loved you are through the work we are doing and the work we will continue to do. When you think no one notices, the village appreciates you fulfilling your responsibility as a good relative. The heavy lifting that you think nobody sees, the village benefits from and is getting stronger thanks to you. And though they are slow to change, the systems that hurt us are beginning to change too. For many of us that still have a hard time saying the words I love you, sometimes actions speak louder. So when people try to call you down, or even you try to call yourself down, remember you are not alone. The grandmothers and grandfathers of yesterday are walking with you today – guiding us all towards a brighter tomorrow. But in order for us to get there, in order for us all to get there, we have to be kind to one another and kind to ourselves.

I need you to see how important you are. We need everyone. Despite those mistakes we have all made, we can learn to be better together. If you don’t give up, neither will I.

[photo is at the Bell Tower 2016, photo by Greg Littlejohm]

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