Dear Editor

30 09 2015
I have just sent this letter to the editor to my local newspaper, Bruce Peninsula Press, and the Owen Sound Hub. Please consider making a pledge at votetogether.ca and voting strategically to oust Harper. I’m anxiously awaiting my voting kit to vote by mail!

Dear editor,

Over the past nine months, I’ve been living outside of Canada. There is something about being abroad that brings you to reflect on what it means to be Canadian. In meeting and talking to people from around the world, naturally we discuss similarities and differences between our home countries. While I’m grateful for my Canadian citizenship and the freedoms it entails, my national pride dwindles as I think about the “achievements” of the Harper government over the past nine years. Read the rest of this entry »





The spirit of an aspiring volunteer

16 04 2011

This past week, I was given a opportunity of a lifetime. I traveled to Toronto to receive the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers from the The Honourable David Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. Find the press release here.

Following the medal ceremony, there was a grand reception where I had the privilege of speaking about the experience, on behalf of all of the medal recipients. This speech was a response to a toast from the Advisory Council for the award.

Your Honor, Members of Provincial Parliament, ladies and gentlemen and fellow medal recipients, I thank you for this unexpected recognition. Even the most careful planning and preparation could not have prepared us for such an occasion. As passionate volunteers, we quickly learn the value of thinking on our feet and responding as well as we can in each opportunity that presents itself, but as my fellow recipients can surely relate, I have been utterly overwhelmed and pleasantly surprised by the experience of being a recipient of the Ontario Medal of Young Volunteers. Although we feel privileged and honoured to experience this special occassion, volunteering is not a unique opportunity. Instead it is an attitude, a lifestyle, a state of being that we have chosen to adopt. And I believe that this is the true beauty of volunteering. Like myself, this year’s selection of recipients come from humble beginnings, in most cases, small towns that seemingly offer limited volunteer opportunities for volunteering. We are not exceptions or outliers among today’s youth. We are simply the lucky ones who received the unconditional love and support from our family and friends that inspired us to engage in our communities. And the secret is that volunteering is in fact a hedonistic act. It is an addiction that makes one feel so good that once we start, we cannot stop. And I don’t think, any of us have such an intention. We thank our nominators who took the initiative to give us this incredible distinction, the advisory council for their dedicated efforts in making this year’s selection and above all, we thank our supportive communities that empowered us in such a way that we can stand here today. This honour is one that we will cherish for a very long time and one that motivates us to continue volunteering for just as long.

This experience was an incredible learning opportunity. I was able to put Melanie’s etiquette training to good use and network with elected and appointed officials as well as Ministry staff. I was also able to talk to many people about my studies at Quest and share my enthusiasm for volunteering, while resisting the urge to talk about partisan politics, for the most part (The upcoming election made this a bit difficult, but I tried to adopt the essence of Eric Gorham by using my words judiciously.) This experience also re-ignited my grade-8 passion for politics, something that has been stirring as of late as a result of my election to the Quest Students’ Representative Council as well as the development of my Question. Who knows what doors this honour will open? I can’t wait to find out!

On a more personal note, I was overwhelmed and surprised by my emotion during the ceremony. I was the only university student among the recipients (the others were in their final years of high school) and I was the only recipient to cry during the ceremony. In addition to preparing physically (i.e. trying to make my unruly, half-finished head of dreads look as neat and tidy as possible), I tried to prepare mentally and emotionally for the experience. However, when I was standing beside His Honour hearing my citation read by Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, my lip started to quiver and my eyes began to well with tears. At first, I tried to hold back and smile politely. But then, two thoughts occurred to me (well, really a zillion thoughts were swirling around my head, but these two were especially significant): 1) In the words of Eve Ensler, “I am an emotional creature!” and; 2) “The only person I know how to be is myself.” And in acknowledgment of these two simple mantras, I recognized my emotions and allowed myself to express them. No, I didn’t burst into sobs of joy, but there were definitely a few tears. Besides, it is not everyday that someone cries in the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite, or at least I hope not.

I am likely romanticizing the circumstances (as I tend to do) in saying that my emotional response was a conscious choice. In more honest terms, this is only a half-truth or a way of rationalizing my emotional behaviour. In reality, once started, emotions can’t be stopped, nor should they be, in cases such as this. We are told to “save face”, “not to let emotions get in the way”, think rationally rather than emotionally (I personally don’t agree with the affiliation between irrationality and emotion.) and to save face. Although I appreciate these sentiments and even act upon them regularly, they are not as universal as we may think and in all honestly, they are highly overrated. That said, I am slowly learning the importance of wearing different “hats” and I look forward to further developing this skill next year during my term as student body vice president!