By Darren Lum
I believe living in a democratic country not only affords us rights, but responsibilities.
To our community. To our neighbours and fellow residents. We need to vote, but we also need to be informed to vote with intention. I’ve written it before. I’ll write it again. Don’t simply vote for the person you know. Or the one you like the look of or sound of when they speak. It’s disrespectful to the other candidates who have been in government and have gone to great lengths to educate themselves about the issues or have put the work in to make the community the best it can be. Candidates are people who possess a range of traits. Some will be suitable for council and some won’t be. A personable candidate is a definite positive, but if it’s the only redeemable trait then do the research for what else they can bring.
Last night, thanks to the Rotary Club of Minden, there was an all-candidates meeting where close to 220 people attended to hear the candidates and to take the opportunity to learn and to share concerns they have for the present and the future of the community. The issues ranged from the lack of available housing, filling employment positions, connectivity, accessabilty and the environment.
One Rotarian thought the meeting made a difference.
I would agree. I believe it enabled the public an opportunity to gain an in-person insight into the candidates and to get a feeling that is not possible with reading the newspapers or in short visits at an entrance of a home. When the pressure is on in a room of 200 people and you can see the true self come through when it comes to handling stress.
This effort by people to go out to the all-candidates meeting was a great example of what is possible in a community where people care, which gives me hope that apathy (at least in Minden Hills) for our democracy hasn’t taken hold completely. It’s important the public ensures municipal government is accountable. It’s integral to an effective democracy. A caring place.
The same approach can be applied to everyone when it comes to how we treat others. This is particularly true of people we don’t know.
If we can do it in the democratic process context, why not extend this to the Indigenous people?
Although it’s come to light recently for the broader public, it was either known or suspected that the Indigenous children who were often forcibly taken from their homes to attend residential schools suffered not just the indignity, shame and guilt for being themselves because they were taught to hate themselves, but also faced a dire fate. Many alone and scared.
To date, there’s an estimate of more than 1,900 bodies (mostly children) who have been discovered at the sites of unmarked graves and burial sites near residential schools in Canada. The idea leaves many unknown to this instituted tragedy in disbelief.
With Sept. 30 marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, it’s clear what was done with the residential school’s objective of taking “the Indian out of the child” to quote Canada’s past Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald. At the time it was known as assimilation and was carried out with an intention to improve lives, which was far from it. Such great intentions steeped in ignorance and arrogance. Now we would perceive this kind of action as cultural genocide. However, this this will always be wrong.
Kindness is often said, but not always offered to everyone. We don’t know what people are enduring.
And when we do it’s our responsibility as a society that we can all be proud of to learn, listen and act to help everyone.
Vote by phone, the internet and with a paper ballot from now until Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. For more information on the election, contact the township office at 705-286-1260 ext. 9 or visit the township’s website at www.mindenhills.ca or email email@example.com.
Find important information related to Truth and Reconcilation at the link (nctr.ca) to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation for more information.