Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The True North Strong & Handgun Free

As published in the Citizen-Record newspaper on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, by Sara Jewell.
Dancing to Arabic music

If there is something I am most grateful for, it’s being born and raised and able to live in Canada where “eat, drink and be merry” is a way of life, not a hope for the future.
I don’t say this with smug patriotism; I say it with relief. I say it with thankfulness because I can’t imagine living day in and day out, every hour of each day, with the fear that fizzes through me momentarily when I hear about another shooting in the United States.
Awful things happen in Canada but it’s not our daily reality. For us, car bombs and mass shootings are horrific news stories but when something awful happens here, our response is compassion and unity, not political posturing. 

I’m also grateful to live in a province and a community where the majority of us welcome those families who have been bombed out and shot at, who have endured the crowding of refugee camps, who have lived with daily fear and uncertainty, and who are thankful to be able to live in Canada where on most days, the biggest hassle is a long line at the Tim Horton’s drive thru.
We have our issues as a country, among them the failure to eliminate child poverty and find our true path with our First Nations. What we are doing right, however, is gun control.
Last October, shortly after open carry laws were passed in several American states, my sister took four of her children for an evening walk through their quiet neighbourhood in Atlanta, Georgia. A man hanging up Hallowe’en decorations had a handgun holstered on his belt.
Her eight-year-old son recently asked during lunch at a restaurant, “What happens if a man bursts in here with a gun?”
Canadian children have their needs – a nutritious breakfast, proper winter clothes, a home that is safe and hospitable – but, generally speaking, they don’t need to worry about getting gunned down during school.
I’m grateful that we are a country of peace, and of peace keepers.

On Sunday afternoon just past, I attended a picnic hosted by a local Lebanese couple for the Syrian families who now live in Cumberland County and those who supporting them as they integrate into our communities.
Although we didn’t always understand what everyone was saying, we all understood the universal language of food and friendship. 
After the meal, which was a mix of traditional Lebanese and typical Canadian dishes, I looked around at the gathering and realized the picnic embodied the idea that “When you have more than you need, build a bigger table, not a higher fence.”
It also seemed the secret to world peace: serve so much delicious food (and no alcohol) that everyone is too full, too content to get mad and pick a fight.
Instead, we danced. We held hands and picked up the beat from the Arabic music blasting out of the van pulled alongside the picnic and as we whirled around the driveway, we worried about nothing more than not really knowing the steps of the dance.

Group photo
The immigrant experience was well-represented at the picnic -- Scottish and Irish and British (maybe even French), Lebanese, Syrian and even Mexican. More significantly, our gathering also included an Aboriginal person -- a member of the first nation who "welcomed" newcomers to the country they'd call Canada. 
Everyone is from somewhere. 


  1. Thanks, Sara. What a wonderful story and meaningful interpretation of what it means to be Canadian.

  2. I LOVE this, Sara. So much this. Thank you for it.