Where are Canadians at these days? Global village? Tuned out? Navel gazing? Impervious to the world because of Canada’s saturation in wealth, scraped from the ground? Nope.
Just being Canadian
[Comment] by Micheal John
The early morning Monday this week started with heavy monsoon rain and counseling and meds for an HIV patient who tearfully explained that he thinks his sweetheart may have contracted the virus.
We brought the boy back out of the mental grave he had dug in his mind and got him moving forward. Every day is a struggle for children whose rape left them with this tenacious virus. Nevertheless, the battle against sexual violence against (mostly) children, and its hideous diseases, has devoted soldiers.
Every day a humanitarian worker faces unexpected challenges.
An email from Michele in Venezuela seeks more meds for chronic-care patients. We have something making its way through another country in South America. I’ll see what we can scrape up. It’s only getting worse there. Sexual violence, extrajudicial killings and torture of NGO workers is what a secret service of illegitimate leader Nicholas Madura does to learn who are the people allegedly preaching insurrection against the dictator’s regime.
I looked around me in the midst of a monsoon downpour, part of a month-long jungle torrent in Southeast Asia.
RINJ’s trusty tropical region Hyundai was out there a distance away abandoned on the side of a mountain, broken down, immovable because of a broken hydraulic clutch master cylinder part. Only pure luck or reaching out extensively would bring that automotive piece to this mountainous tropical landscape.
Vehicles can be hard to maintain in war zones.
There are occasional skirmishes in the mountains between brave young soldiers and angry misguided Communist Party militia. We worried about the safety of the vehicle.
In Iraq and Syria we lost more than five ambulances. Hence we have given up on white and red vehicles as they are bomb-targets. We must work and survive in this era of pugnacious nationalism of the defence-industrial complex that runs a good part of the world.
Next on the Agenda. The Man Machine Poetry
I joined a morning team heading out to rescue our vehicle in the torrential downpour. I became designated mechanic with the small box of tools we carried in the vehicle mostly because I could sometimes differentiate between the handle and working part of a socket wrench, but no other particular talent.
Soaked to the bone and contorted through a maze of steel rods, pressed between tons of steel and granite, my ear buds played Tragically Hip‘s “Bobcaygeon” as I tediously reached through a maze of stuff to turn bolts an eighth-turn at a time.
Listening to Downie’s poetry I started thinking about the front man of the Tragically Hip: The most Canadian band in the world and the Canadian music-people I have met over the years. in 2016 Gord faced imminent death from a pernicious brain cancer. There was nothing anyone could do.
That’s not exactly true. Canadians would not let this devoted Canadian go out alone.
As I soaked in puddles of water and at times, crashing winds, I remembered the 20 August 2016 concert in Kingston, the last show and the last song of a 15-performance “Man Machine Poem Tour”. The last song was “Ahead by a Century”.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation turned its might toward getting that last Tragically Hip concert out to all Canadians without asking for a dime–no advertising, no commercial breaks.
My countrymen were not going to let Gord Downie who had gifted us all with his amazing poetry for three decades go silently into the night, alone.
I remembered our natural Prime Minister as one of the crowd, hugging Gord then chilling with The Hip like everyone else. Nobody very special, except for being one of us very-Canadians.
A strange thing; my old brain flashed back to a beautiful sunrise I saw from a prairie field near Maple Creek, Saskatchewan. It was 1998 and I had just driven a van all the way from Toronto, Ontario to Maple Creek heading to Medicine Hat, Alberta for the funeral of my mother-in-law. That’s another Canadian thing. Twenty-something hours traveling the distances that separates us, almost 3,000 km. We just get it done. Distance is nothing; family is everything.
Gord Downie and the Tragically Hip were singing “Bobcaygeon” on the radio as I stared across the biggest horizon in the world, toward Bobcaygeon, somewhere near that incredibly beautiful, warm sunrise.
I thought at that beautiful time, this would be a moment I would never forget.
Returning to reality, over two decades since Bobcaygeon was released, we needed to move the vehicle to a more level place. I said that and everyone, Canadians all, jumped to the task of moving a couple tons up a mountain.
Human Development needs Humanitarians’ Guidance
Wow. I thought, whenever you are in need, look first for a Canadian, there’s likely one nearby or on their way.
We are fortunate. We have a humanitarian leader in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and gradually he is steering the country away from the negative, hate-filled influence coming from the south of us and encouraging Canadians, ‘Don’t let go of your humanity’. Let’s go with that.
Canadians – Ahead by a Century
Caring. It is a Canadian thing to do. Like deeply loving our naturally Prime Minister, whom we sometimes love to hate. But what’s to hate?