Monday, October 15, 2007

Daycare daze

Our little lad Noah-David has been on the daycare train for the last two months. He pulled into the station just a couple of weeks shy of his second birthday. Up to that point he had been loved, snuggled, bum wiped and tickled mostly by his Mom and Dad in his own home.

The switch to daycare days has been tough for all of us. We didn’t just dive in. We took the time for a gradual introduction and it seemed that all was relatively well. Short little bursts with Mom, or caregiver Tomoyo, in attendance for most of the visit were seemingly happy, at least neutral, ruckus free occasions with no cause for worry.

When visits became longer stays with Mom and Tomoyo removed from the mix, tears began to define the daily drop off. There was a constant refrain in a pleading and wavering voice when getting ready to leave the house, or arriving at the daycare – “no garderie papa, no garderie” – garderie being the French word for this unmentionable place.

Joking aside, as I entered the space it was heartbreaking to hear the anguish in his voice. Wiping away the salty drop tears trickling down his cheeks and seeing the puzzled hurt in his unbelieving eyes as I peeled his arms from around my neck and brought him gently down to the floor was a difficult way for us both to begin our days away from home.

The first week was the toughest particularly when we got the reports from the teachers at pick up time. There was one full day of crying with only a brief break in the morning during story time. As the story ended, the tears began to flow. That same afternoon the children were taken to the gym to listen to music. Our wee boy loves to dance and dance he did through a stream of tears and sobs. This crying and dancing image will be with me forever – a young broken heart trying to dance his troubles away.

One change in routine that seemed to help things was walking to daycare instead of taking the car. Pushing the stroller along for a 30-minute saunter allowed us to discover together, to talk, to laugh, to have fun. It was a less abrupt transition, more about being in the moment and less about the apprehension of getting there. The tears were still there on arrival but now they only lasted for a brief spell.

During all this time, maman had the pleasure of pick up duty. Every day when she arrived it was to an armful of ecstatic baby boy thrilled to be going home. This was the part of the day that Noah got to say, “bye-bye les amis”, undoubtedly his preferred daycare expression.

Well maman continues to pick him up in the afternoons and is now dropping him off in the mornings too. She’s one month away from baby number two and on leave from work because of some challenges with the pregnancy. She is gathering her energies and strength for the big push. For maman’s first drop off there were no tears. That was an exception as they came back the following day and are with us still though less intense, less pronounced.

Daycare for Noah-David will come to halt within the next couple of months and he’ll be home full time with his new little sister and maman. It’s likely that he will never go back. This experience has made us reassess our priorities as parents, as breadwinners, as partners. Our new goal is to have a parent at home until the babies are in school. We haven’t worked out all the details yet but we’re confident that we can and we’re sure that we’ll all be dancing minus the tears.

A quick postscript, personal experience has taught me that daycare professionals are warm, caring and loving with their charges. This is what I’ve seen with Noah and with my two daughters. The caregivers do everything within their means to console, cajole, to bring about a smile, to make the daycare space safe and playful.

That’s certainly how it was when I worked in Toronto’s Snowflake Parent-Child Centre Co-operative in the early 1980s. I was only there briefly and I cherished the time. Each of those children needed to be loved – Tosha, Tu, Spencer, David, Michael, Spring Dawn, Nadhezda – some were more loveable than others.

It was a rainbow of a place with all colours of children from points across the globe, some of whom were just learning English. The staff were diverse too - three women and three men caregivers, a rare ratio even by today's standards. It was a place that advocated for childcare and I remember us protesting outside Queen's Park to improve access and funding.

I still have vibrant memories of those small, wee souls who trusted us with their days. I hear their soft voices at play. I still see the bursting excitement at a parent’s arrival. I see their smiles after tears have been comforted away and think of how fortunate I was to share some brief moments full of wonder.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Best Summer Job - Sailing The High Seas at 16 - Part III

As my first real summer job, five months on board Canadian Coast Guard vessels was definitely in the best ever category. And when you throw in a trip to the Arctic, it became pretty hard to top. This was an extraordinary encounter made all the more fun because it was so unanticipated and it started with skipping school. This is Part III of III of The Best Summer Job Ever.

We cleared temperate waters and charted through the Strait of Belle Isle, the Labrador Sea, Davis Strait and into Baffin Bay beyond the Arctic Circle at 66° 33’. The days seemed endless, an undulating horizon, grey expanses, little to break up the isolation. The muted tones of Baffin Island’s sheer striated cliffs were our only visual relief. Thank goodness for our on board diversions – three beers per day, table tennis in an empty hold back aft and, for the newbies, our induction by baptism in freezing water to the Order of the Bluenose. Having sailed into the northern polar regions, we had now become official companions of King Neptune and his cronies.

Finally, we hit landfall in Thule, Greenland – 1,100 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. North Star Bay was a spectacular delight. There were scores of icebergs bobbing in bright sunlight each an individual sculpture carved and teased by windy sea. After two or three weeks in confined quarters these crystalline reflections were like long, cool drinks, sirens leading us to safe harbour.

Thule was our one appreciable foray ashore during the trip. We whooped it up at the BX filling our faces to a level of piggishness that surpassed even our habitual excesses. We were after all in an outpost of the home of the free and the brave and we felt a need to demonstrate our manliness to the Yanks. This was their northernmost air force base and in ’74 it must have been a plum assignment because it meant you weren’t flying missions into Vietnam.

Liquor was cheap and plentiful on the base. Just over two dollars for a 40 pounder. The official word from the chief mate to us bejeezly labourers was that the booze was off bounds. None was to come on board. It’s a good thing that no one took the prohibition edict too seriously because over a few hours the base BX was nearly sucked dry and the Canadian boys had ample hard liquor to consume for the rest of the voyage.

Our next and last landfall was the community of Resolute Bay a couple of weeks after our Thule escapade. We steamed west and north through the channels separating Bylot Island from Baffin Island. Just offshore of Pond Inlet, two Inuit kayakers glided across the sound’s smooth surface. They came to trade. That evening, crew and officers ate arctic char. The Inuit made their way to shore with tobacco and alcohol we had purchased in Thule.

Everyone was promised a trip to Resolute long enough to make a phone call. The Louis’ draft was too much so she had to sit offshore, the largest human imprint for hundreds of miles. We were ferried there and back three at a time on the ship’s helicopter. This virginal helicopter ride pretty much beat anything I had ever tried on the carnival midway. We were ship to shore in a couple of minutes whirligigging over abandoned wreckage that lay where it had crashed on the approaches to the airstrip.

The phones were well used that afternoon with calls south to loved ones. We only had a few minutes each and it was sometimes a little difficult to hear what was being said through the satellite skip. This time delay echo was like a third party companion on the call interjecting with comments that had already been made.

After this brief respite in the town that had signposts for the North Pole, South Pole, Las Vegas and Columbia it was back to sea. Aside from delivering supplies for a scientific expedition based on Ellesmere Island, it didn’t seem like we had accomplished a lot. In fact, we only broke ice once and that seemed to be at the whim of the officer on the bridge. To the untrained eye, it looked like we could have skirted the floe without too much of a diversion. It must have been a challenge for the ice observers on board to keep at the top of their game, to maintain some form of motivation.

Not that I was complaining. School had already started back south and here I was raking in the dollars as the night steward supporting the officers on watch with coffee and snacks. Every morning at the end of my shift I racked up two hours overtime to butter toast destined for the officers’ palates. I liked the money but I detested the rank separation of officers and crew. The worlds were physically separate – different messes, different accommodations, different
off-hour gathering spots. There was virtually no socializing, no fraternizing across these two solitudes.

As we started steaming south for Halifax the shipping lanes were closing behind us. Open channels were fewer and fewer. The season of small steel ships was over as the crushing ice expanded its grip. Now I was getting eyed up as the steward that would provide dedicated service to the old man, the captain’s kiddy. For a couple of weeks I cleaned his stateroom and served meals in his private dining room but I have no recollection of the man, his likes, or dislikes, any words he shared with me. But apparently he wanted me to be on duty for him.

By the time we tied up in Dartmouth my desire for the sailing life had greatly diminished. I was lonely for home and had missed family and friends. There was an expectation from the Chief Steward, or at least a desire, that I would be staying on in the captain’s kiddy role.

I didn’t have the heart, or the courage, to let them know I was leaving. Despite the adventure and the good wages, I knew I had to get out and get on with the business of completing high school. I called my Dad and asked him if he would drive the 300 kilometers round trip to pick me up and bring me home right away. He never hesitated, never questioned my judgment. He just came to get me and took me back home. I was so happy to see him. I walked down the gangway that night a few inches closer to being an adult, to being a man, but still very glad to be a son, a boy loved by his parents.

The New York Times recently reported that the Arctic is experiencing growing stress. Many scientists believe it is a weathervane for our global ecosystems – its health is a pre-requisite for planetary well-being.

To chart the Louis St. Laurent’s modern day journeys, visit this tracking map.

P.S. Unlike some hapless teens that signed on board in the summer of ’74, I was never sent to the Purser’s Office to ask for my masturbation papers and, after five months at sea with the men, I managed to stave off my desire for a crazy, colourful, trumpeting tattoo…………..

Sunday, September 9, 2007

From Japan with Love

Our son loves Moyo. She’s his best friend. Over the past five months they’ve been inseparable. I was there each weekday morning to witness her arrival and each time she rang our doorbell I was reminded of our good fortune.

Immediately on hearing the chimes, our lad literally dropped whatever was at hand and lunged in the general direction of the front door. Whether he was strapped into his high chair, or snuggled up reading, his drive was to get close to Moyo as quickly as possible. All the while he would repeatedly shout out her name in a cadence that unmistakably said – and so much more eloquently than mere words – “we’ll have great fun again today Moyo”.

If Noah-David happened to be on the main level of the house and he saw Moyo’s face appear at the door, the fun would get off to a rollicking start. Our young boy would propel himself to the entrance and begin an energetic dance full of pirouettes and gyrations of happiness, his little body an animated exclamation mark of pure, unrestrained joy. As she walked through the door, the dance intensified and Noah would approach Moyo requesting one of his favourite activities.

One morning, shortly after arriving, Noah-David took Moyo’s hand and led her into the living room closing the door behind him. He was on a mission and I was curious to find out what was on his mind. As I gently pushed the door open, I felt resistance from the other side and heard Noah’s tiny voice exclaiming ‘no’ as he emphatically closed the door. This sharing moment was between friends and didn’t require a Dad on the journey.

In the five months that Moyo came to our house, there were only tears on three occasions as I left for work. Our standard adieu shtick consisted of an enthusiastic send-off with waves and blown kisses whose real subtext was, “thanks Papa I was despairing of ever having Moyo all to myself”.

What a great feeling at the outset of the day’s adventures to know with certainty that your child is playing happily - learning, loving and being loved. That’s the nub of it all, what Moyo embodied was much more than childcare. She gave herself totally and unreservedly to our boy. She shared her enthusiasm for hopping, jumping, bubble blowing, drawing, reading, walking, making believe and so much more.

On a recent morning as I prepared to leave, Noah-David and Moyo were crouched in the living room, two friends lost in the wonders of modeling clay. Noah-David was rolling roundness in the palms of his little hands. Tiny orbs were populating the floor for no discernible purpose. It was tactile creation, texture, shapes, colours, and fun. It was the becoming of a new world under the direction of quick, smiling eyes.

For Noah-David the five months with Moyo represented nearly one-quarter of his life. As August came to an end so too did our time together. Our Japanese friend left Halifax last week. She is continuing her travels en route to Belfast, Dublin, London, Paris and Amsterdam before returning home to Hyogo prefecture on Japan’s west coast.

Late one evening while preparing Moyo a small gift – a movie of her adventures together with Noah-David punctuated with still photos - I was struck again by how present this young woman had been for our son, how much there and in the moment. Several times as I was editing, reviewing clips and inserting favourite music, I was overcome by tears. I cried in happiness for each magic moment they shared. I wept to mark the passing of a formidable love.

That night it was hard to believe that there would be no more rainbow flotillas of chalk drawing boats on our driveway, our fences, our deck, or our front steps to greet us as we arrived home. We will make sure this playful tradition lives on. The mighty armada, with the S.S. Noah and the S.S. Moyo as the proud flagships, will continue its adventures on Young Street’s calm seas.

On our last day, Moyo presented us with a beautiful parting gift, an album of photos starring Noah-David. It was a tough afternoon, difficult for the adults to say goodbye. Noah’s intuition told him something was amiss and he was unsettled. Dropping Moyo off at her house on Pepperell St., there were tears all around. It was our last chance to say thanks one more time in person. It was hard to let go.

As Moyo flew east to Europe, we flew west to Québec for a few days. Our destination was chez les grandparents in Sorel. Tante Danielle’s horses, walks along the river, dancing with Grandmaman and Tante Stéphanie, kicky-ball with Grandpapa and fun and games with la petite cousine, Maxime kept Moyo’s absence at bay.

We’re into a new week now and it’s no longer quite the same relaxed, languorous, carefree start to the day in familiar home surroundings. Noah-David is off to day care. Two weeks prior to her departure Moyo helped with this transition. She was so proud to see how her little friend was adapting to and embracing this new experience.

It’s been a great run for all of us. Thank you for everything Moyo. We love you.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Best Summer Job - Sailing the High Seas at 16 - Part II

Thirty years down the road I can still taste the adventure. Looking out from monkey’s island, the most elevated deck on the icebreaker immediately above the bridge, I can feel the gusting wind working itself into a gale and storming waves are gyrating the vessel propelling us like a corkscrew. Even 60 feet above the water’s surface, salt spray soaks through permeating the air each time the bow crashes into the grey Atlantic steel.

Although the Louis dwarfed other ships in the Coast Guard fleet her mass was as nothing in the open ocean. In the couple of storms I experienced we were tossed about like so much jetsam. There was always a quiet undertone of vulnerability, of risk. In this expansive environment where sea kisses sky there was ample opportunity to experience, or at least reflect on humility.

Not that there was a lot of humility in this all male, testosterone charged world. For the younger members of the crew the basic life philosophy could be summed up as work hard, play harder. For some there was a slight variation, work hard at avoiding work to stay fresh for some real serious play. Our engine room oiler friend really pushed the envelope on this approach.

In early August, the Cornwallis was docked in Dartmouth prior to another run to repair, paint and replace buoys off the coast of Nova Scotia. I was called into the personnel office one morning and told that I’d have to pack my bags and head for home as the person that I’d been relieving was returning from leave. To soften the blow, I was advised that I might get a call to join another ship over the next couple of weeks.

The call came much sooner than expected. I was summoned to the personnel office that same afternoon before I had even fully packed up or said goodbye to my Pictou buddies and friends that I had made on board.

Asked if I would consider working on an icebreaker and being flown to Montreal where it was in drydock at Vickers Shipyard, I nearly catapulted out of my chair in my eagerness to accept. Personnel guy who had metamorphosed in a few short hours from Mr. Prick to Mr. Congeniality told me to take a week to get “my personal affairs in order” and then join the Louis.

I had only just turned 17 and my last year of high school was to get underway in a couple of weeks. A six-week voyage in the arctic would not get me back until mid-October. My father, worried about the possibility of my never resuming school, did not support my decision. I left for Montréal in defiance.

Vickers was in the eastern part of the city only steps away from some fine working class brasseries on Ste. Catherine East. The crew had made themselves at home in these beer and pool emporiums over the many weeks they had spent in drydock. You could say that for many of us sobriety during off work hours was a highly suspect state of mind.

And let’s not forget the times, alcohol was not the only mind altering substance in vogue. Some enterprising lads found a connection downtown in the Disco Araignée. The one time I visited this labyrinthine nightspot it was bursting at the sequins, pulsating dance on every square foot of floor space, bodies jammed and jostling, strobing lights careening, voices no competition for the volume, volume, volume.

It was really a paean to debauch, a bacchanal workout, a homage to peacocks everywhere. Dilated pupils and perma-press smiles were the norm and so was the absence of women. None of us heterosexuals were going to get lucky there except of course to score some of those happy substances, those instant laughter smoky remedies.

Our circus life in Montréal finally came to an end. We were a bit the worse for wear having succumbed night after night to a variety of liquid grains and those soporific natural herbs and spices. On board we lazed in the netting back aft suspended above the stern deck and cooled by the river’s eddying breezes. Sorel, Québec City, Rivière-du-loup, Tadoussac, Matane all bid us adieu as we made our way out into the Gulf homeward bound to Nova Scotia.

There were a few beer soaked nights of stagger, dancing in Dartmouth’s finest watering places as final preparations were made for the six-week north trip. The alpha males took the opportunity to stoke up on some lovin’ and the occasional fisticuffs. Those with families headed home for a last cuddle with kids and the missus.

The third and final installment of the Best Summer Job will be posted later this month.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Best Summer Job - Sailing the High Seas at 16

I’m a little surprised that the Web isn’t crawling with sites reporting on details of the best summer jobs ever. Given that millions of North American youth are entering this temporary job market every year, I thought there would be much more cyberspace activity recounting exploits of adventure, good fortune, quirkiness, or incredible earnings.

I’ve been giving some thought to those summer job days as my 17-year-old daughter has recently been sizing things up in a trendy footwear store. After pounding the pavement looking to earn some money and gain valuable experience and life skills, she’s landed on her feet serving customers looking for that elusive pair of je ne sais quoi.

Back in the mid-70s, I had a number of great summer jobs – ones that got me away from home, paid me well, or offered an adventurous twist. There’s no doubt though that I snagged the best of the best in 1974 as a steward on board the Canadian Coast Guard Ships the Edward Cornwallis and the Louis S. St. Laurent.

I was still 16 when I signed on to the Edward Cornwallis in drydock at Ferguson Industries in Pictou, Nova Scotia. My arrival in front of the ship’s purser on a scorching early June day was the culmination of serendipitous good luck.

Ditching classes that day with my best pal, we ran into two older friends who had dropped out of school a couple of years earlier. They were high – no pot required – floating along, euphoric on just having landed full time jobs on a boat down at the shipyard. They said we should get our asses down there to see if there were any more going around. We did. There were. Right place, right time. Our seafaring days were about to begin.

That summer I cleaned heads, swabbed decks, served and cleared crew and officers meals, waited on the captain’s table, did duty steward on night watch, buttered toast, washed dishes and polished so much brass I was verging on addiction to the solvent. My five months in the service of the coast guard paled in comparison to Richard Dana’s exploits in Two Years Before The Mast but it certainly qualified as an adventure for a small town teen in the 70s.

I had the cruises of my life during those few months. South of the arctic circle the weather was spectacular and the waters calm. Bobbing off the Nova Scotia coast or chugging up the St. Lawrence en route from Montreal to Halifax was a sweet way to make money. On more than one occasion, between wave swells when I wasn’t in a brasso-induced stupor, I had to pinch myself to see if indeed it was all really happening.

Well it turned out that it was. There was a whole lot of seafaring manliness going the rounds. Tiny was a dear archetype who stood about six foot two and could unhurriedly pace his way through a quart of rum while pegging to victory at crib. He’d push back from the table with no swagger and not a hint of a stagger, not one unbalanced step even in rough seas – he could replicate this night after night and show no outward signs of being in less than top form the mornings after - routinely performing his heavy and sometimes dangerous seaman duties on deck. Tiny’s gentle quiet masked an unspoken promise of menace if his peace or person were disturbed.

Gary, the meanest-spirited son of a bitch on board, was always looking for someone to bully, to fleece, to bilk. If your money was in his pockets at the end of a night of cards and you were no match for him physically, his goading and gloating were sure to endear him to you for life.

One night though it went a bit awry, not at all according to script. Following a gambling dispute, he punched Dougie the steward – the youngest of the crew - in the face and returned to his room calling it a night. Moments later he had to barricade himself in because Dougie arrived wielding the largest cutting knives from the galley wildly screaming that he’d “kill the fucker” that had humiliated him. They managed to co-exist for the rest of the voyage but only just.

Then there was our very own movie-of-the-week - a berserker engine room oiler who thought he had the perfect strategy to get off the boat and flown south. He decided to barricade himself in his room with plenty of alcohol and refuse to work.

Neither the Chief Engineer, nor the Old Man bought into his delusion. Our oiler’s stash of special elixirs - lemon heart rum 151 overproof and beer – couldn’t stand up to his prodigious thirst. Before too long there wasn’t enough monkey juice left to fill a shot glass.

Just before running dry, our stupefied oiler lad exploded out of his room, a couple of lurches beyond the pale and drunkenly pawed at fire axe number 42 quickly liberating it from the bulkhead. He waved number 42 about like a crazed troll and chased a couple of the crew around the laundry room. There were a few abortive lunges but no personal injuries resulted from his sortie. It was a strange escapade, a rampaging, axe brandishing surge of madness that no one saw coming.

Our oiler star never did resume work, nor did he get flown south. He did the whole North trip secluded in his cabin. By the time we got back to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia he owed a tidy sum of money to Her Majesty as the Old Man had decided to charge him room and board for his leisure cruise to the arctic. This former shipmate went on to later notoriety and court-imposed incarceration following an armed hold-up of a Dartmouth Holiday Inn.

The coast guard was a world apart, tiny communities adrift at sea. I’ll recall some more of my best summer job ever in the coming days.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Frog's Out of the Box

Recently, our little lad – notre p’tit gars – said “grenouille”. Both Mom and Dad reveled in this new acquisition, as excited as if he had brought home a tadpole sheltered in inquisitively cupped hands. Grenouille – frog in English – is a bit of a tongue twister so we’re happy that he’s added it to his ever expanding French and English word palette.

Both Mom and Dad are bilingual and words are the currency of our professions – translation and public affairs. We have always known that French and English would be the only way to go with our kids. As parents of a young toddler learning two languages, we’ve embarked on an exciting learning journey and we wonder about the impact this is having on him.

Until we poked around a bit, we shared the popular belief that learning two languages simultaneously would result in some delay in language development. We were pleased to learn that studies indicate there is no such correlation and that a number of other common misconceptions have no basis in fact.

We’re at the 23-month mark and it’s been a mini-explosion of individual words and two and three word phrases for the last few weeks. Everyday there is something new in French and English. It’s hard to keep pace.

Our young guy now regularly speaks about 100 words from each language in his daily comings and goings. Frequently, his words describe immediate needs and desires – “up”, “milk”, “en bas”. Concepts that embrace a wider world are also beginning to emerge. While “kiki” is his word for “collé” – a hug, or snuggle in French, it is impregnated with so much more meaning – it’s touch me, hold me, comfort and love me, a world wrapped up in a word.

For our first 18 months we practiced the one parent one language model. Maman spoke in French only, Dad in English. While Mom was at home this was a very practical approach to ensure a solid grounding in the minority language.

On Mom’s return to work we were very fortunate to find an excellent caregiver to look after our lad in our own home. She is Japanese with an excellent command of English but no knowledge of French. After a couple of months, we felt a need to increase exposure to French.

One parent, one language has been deep-sixed for the time being. We are now speaking primarily in French and have noted an accelerated rate of new vocabulary over the past few weeks. We’re in a smileful, chattery, mimic mode now, a juggling of sounds, words, intonation and gesture, a playful poetic place where laughter and wonder are the norms.

Using our lad’s own words, it might go something like this:

ben oui maman
ben oui papa
kicky ball
gros gros gros drapeau
boat papa boat boat
go go go
maman en bas en bas en bas
un deux quatre
milk milk milk
kiki maman kiki
tam-tam tam-tam tam-tam boom boom
saute saute saute grenouille

Some resources that we’ve found to be fun and useful:
  • The Québec public television series Passe-Partout available on DVD;
  • ABCs for young children great for hours of learning and entertainment;
  • A French ABCs illustrated with children’s drawings;

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Assembly of First Nations Observer – Take 2

My son and I were “observers” again today at the Assembly of First Nations closing ceremonies. What a great category of participant. Fifty dollars, no questions asked, and you get to hear first hand about the key issues facing First Nations and possible approaches to addressing them. More organizations should adopt this approach to accessibility and transparency

My little guy was pumped to get back there today to see the ceremonial flags and hear the drumming. All the way downtown it was, “boom, boom, boom” and “gros, gros, gros drapeaux”. It was a rush to leave the house and get there on time. As we entered the Assembly area we were on the receiving end of miles of smiles all directed at my son whom folks had seen a couple of days earlier. He’s in that cute of cuteness stage with curling curls, open, open eyes and a sweetness that rivals any naturally produced sugar.

The Grand Chief Phil Fontaine was at the podium wrapping up the conference. He is a natural speaker – his tone, his rhythm, his cadence. The aroma of sweetgrass impregnated his words sending them true and straight to listeners who will relay and transmit them multiplying their effect and impact far beyond Nova Scotia. His words were powerful speaking of sorrow and tragedy. His words were hopeful speaking of intransigent engagement and focused dissent.

The drummers from Membertou drummed everyone out. Volunteers bore the flags. The media packed up and went home. But the spirit will linger and perhaps bless this small naval town and infuse us with a gracefulness and understanding that will help to restore a balance in our relations with First Nations Peoples.

Certainly one Mi’Kmaq that helped in bridging worlds and instilling positive ways of seeing is poet Rita Joe who died earlier this year. CBC provides some video that reflects on Rita’s quiet determination.

AFN, thanks for having us as observers.