Remembrance Day 2019

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.”
John Diefenbaker

Picture of my father in his Legion dress coat proudly exhibiting the Legion crest, tie on and standing at the back of the SUV.  In the caption "Dad on his way to the Legions Remembrance Day celebration
Dad on his way to the Legions Remembrance Day celebration

This is Remembrance Day, that one day a year where we collectively commemorate and honour those who have fought or fallen for the great country of Canada. This year feels very different and it saddens me. I have heard many people this year tell me that the veterans are all dying off, as if age defines a veteran. The only thing age has a role in Remembrance Day is the acknowledgement of what conflict they fought in.

My dad and his peers fought in Europe during World War 2 but I know others who served in Afghanistan in 2001, Iraq in 2003 or the Libyan intervention in 2011. Age does not decide a veteran. A Canadian committed to all things Canadian does so even when it involves taking up arms for those unable to defend themselves. .

Many years ago people left the farm or the mining industry in Manitoba to stand up for the Canadian way. They left the wheat fields and potash mines of Saskatchewan to represent the ideals of Canadians. They left the logging and fishery industries of BC to take the diversity of Canada to stand against the rise of fascism in Europe. Teenagers were leaving the manufacturing lines and mining industries of Ontario bringing the diversity of Canada to help stranger from being slaughtered thousands of miles away. Thousands left good forestry jobs or the ranks of longshoreman from Quebec’s St. Lawrence Seaway to stand in unity and proudly display the compassion that the world know was Canadian. They left the fisheries and shipyards of the Maritimes as part of the diversity that has made Canada the pride of the world.

Many also left these diverse and fertile lands as peacekeepers. Canada had international attention as a strong contingent of blue beret clad peacekeepers. They helped maintain order during civil unrest in many parts of the world. Of just over 125,000 peacekeeper’s Canada has lost approximately 130 veterans. Even during times of peace the diversity and compassion of Canadians rose to the surface and stood out to help the world.

Jacob Wiens, military head stone with a vase of poppies with a small Canadian flag in front of it.  Captioned "RIP Dad"

Canada has always been there for the world. Canada has always been diverse and compassionate. as a Canadian I am here, as was my father, for others. That is what Canada does, we extent a helping hand. Our strength is in our diversity and acceptance of others. The world knows that about us but it is being eroded.

I took the time in my life to live in other areas of our great country and build a better, more inclusive, understanding of exactly what Canada is. I was born in Manitoba, grew up in Alberta, lived and worked in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax. Before retiring I spend the last twenty years of my career living in BC but upon retirement I returned to Calgary. Calgary has always been home and I’m proud to be Calgarian. However with the hate and bigotry I see growing in Alberta it is becoming increasingly difficult to be proud.

We are a diverse nation and we should be proud of that. On today of all day’s we should be celebrating those brave individuals that went off to strange lands to defend a concept that was really alien to so many receiving the help. The world respected us and we respected ourselves. People like my father fought, worked and grew a family of proud Canadians.

We are proud Canadians because of the time and effort dad put into helping build this nation. He would never have used that energy to help grow those things he fought against, a nation intent on tearing itself apart. He was a proud vet who was there to help pick you up, not kick you down because you may have been marginalized in some way. He was there to extent a hand of friendship and provide assistance (he spend years as a scout master and that was his creed). It was never his intend to drag people down with the type of hateful rhetoric we see spewed today by so many self serving politicians.

I am proud to be Canadian and I am proud of our diversity. I know if my father were alive today he would be disgusted. The words “I didn’t fight for this” echo in my mind because I know that’s what he would be feeling. If you are truly a proud Canadian make everyday Remembrance Day and think about what got us here. To all of those vets out there, young or old, I salute you…AND LETS KEEP CANADA ALIVE!

No Bulb in the Socket

“Life is to short to drag a trunk of suppressed negative feelings around, dump that crap and travel life’s road with an overnight bag.  The trip is much more enjoyable when not weight down with old baggage.” – Terry Wiens (2018)

CONFESSION – ALERT, if course language and angry outbursts affect your sensitivities you should stop reading now.

"It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them" - Alfred Adler

Every now and then I just feel the need to lose it.  I get tired of the “political correct” approach, I get tired of worrying over others sensitivity when it is very apparent they don’t give a damn about mine. I get tired of swallowing my feelings to the point where I’m a festering volcano of emotional sludge ready to blow just to avoid hurting someones ego.  This is one of the moments.

I thought the light had come on last night until I woke up this morning and realized there is no longer a bulb in the socket.  The “flickering” of the light was simply the shorting of the power running through the empty socket.  Society has unscrewed the light bulb.  I am fucking tired of this.  I am not just tired of how society can overlook so many aspects of inclusion I am also fed up with many in the disabled community who want everybody else to do all of their advocating.

I’m sorry but just because you broke your back doesn’t mean you don’t have a spine.  Start standing up for yourself and quit waiting for the next thing to screw up before you take a stand.  Grow a pair and start to #SpeakOut before you lose something else, rights are not guaranteed if you don’t fight for them.  You can choose to be the doormat of societies compassion or you can choose to be an agent of change.  If you want a system that is fair and protective then be an agent of change.

I have been an activist for 50+ years.  Over the last ten years I have been attending the funerals of my mentors and role models.  That generation that laid the foundations of so many of the rights I enjoy today.  Sadly they are gone and it is now my generation that is fighting to protect and strengthen the work they did.

Fifty fucking years of fighting for access, services and recognition.  Fifty fucking years of fighting for the right to employment, the right to live where I want, the right to self-determine and, when you add all of these things up, the right to be a contributing member of my community.  And still I get calls from people or organizations asking for help.  I’m an activist, not an enabler.  I’m fucking tired of it, I helped set the table, I’m not going to cut your meat.  The tools are there, make use of them.Continue reading “No Bulb in the Socket”

Remembrance Day 2012

To me every day is a remembrance day but today is the official Remembrance Day of 2012.  Today is that one dedicated day of the year when we pay homage to those who gave so much for our freedom and democracy, our veterans.  Today is that one day of the year when our collective soul takes time to remember those who gave and are giving so much so we can remain safe by our hearth and in our home.

For fifty years plus I have participated in Remembrance Day events as a way to acknowledge the sacrifices of a previous generation, my parents’.  My father, many of my uncles and their peers were veterans from that generation who were lucky enough to make it back from the wars.  Not all of my uncles (one’s I never know) made it back from the battle fields of Europe and the Pacific front.  However over the years they have been joined by the many that did make it home only to succumb to the reality of the circle of life.  My father passed away in 1998 but he is never closer to my heart than he is on Remembrance Day.  May they all rest in peace as we continue to recognize their successes and sacrifices in building this compassionate democracy we call Canada.

In the Remembrance Day services of today my generation has added brothers and sisters as well as our own children as an observance.  The bulk of our veterans have taken on a new face, a younger face however they continue to fight for the same concepts that my father and so many others fought for.  However now they fight to help bring a level of democracy to other parts of the world assisting the less fortunate in overcoming tyranny and fascism.

They do this because my father’s generation accomplished what they did, not only for democracy but in building a compassionate and caring Canada.  From my perspective a democracy isn’t a real democracy if there is no caring or compassion for the less fortunate.  That is what my father fought for and any time I read or see an act of compassion or caring I have a remembrance moment.  I don’t wait for November 11 to remember what went on before us.

Despite the adversity many of our vets are facing today I will remain non-partisan in this article and just focus on what our vets have given us.  I will celebrate their accomplishments and mourn their losses.  I will remember while I watch for the ripple effects of their actions in the community around me.  I will acknowledge the acts of kindness and compassion I see happening around me every day despite the growing negativity we read about daily in our papers or see in our news.  I will also share as many of those acts as I can through my writings and through my Facebook posts (yes I use Facebook).

And for today I would like to acknowledge the actions and write-up of a gentleman I like to consider a friend.  The action he speaks of in his blog, in my opinion, captures that compassion and caring that so many vets gave their lives for.  His actions on this day is about using a talent he already has to help out a hard working single mother battling a serious illness while maintaining a positive approach for her seven year old daughter.  To me this is what remembering is all about, so Eugene I salute you along with all of the vets that stood by my father and continue to stand today.

Dad you, like so many before you are sorely missed, but your actions have not gone unnoticed.  And the results of your deeds are reflected in the actions of so many caring and compassionate people.  Every day should be a day of remembering so we don’t repeat the past.  Lest we forget!

Juts one man’s opinion.