Some good news amidst a crisis; my new book arrived today from University of Toronto Press.
This book is the end-goal of seven long years of grad studies right through to my dissertation. It’s such a bummer I can’t do a proper book launch, announcing this from isolation as me and multiple members in my family are quarantined, riding this Covid thing out. I do hope that people will take this work and do some good with it; if it helps just one person, it will be worth all the years of effort.
Violet was born in Winnipeg, in 1929 and grew up in Brooklyn; she passed away peacefully in Tuxedo Villa Care Home on October 10th, 2020.
There are so many stories, but this one stands out. When she was 10 years old Violet’s father enlisted in the army to fight in World War II. In the six years he was gone, from 1939 to 1945, Violet, her younger sister Evelyn and their mother only heard his voice once, in a pre-recorded message that was played for them over the radio in a Winnipeg theatre. Even at 90 years of age and with advanced Alzheimers, Violet still cried when she recounted her father getting off the train, after six years away, and not recognizing her. Now suddenly father of two teenage girls, there was some tension and Violet used to love talking about how they eventually worked things out as a family.
Violet worked at Rolls Royce and then the Bay Downtown had many stories, especially from her time as a personal shopper, assisting people. When they heard she was engaged to be married, Violet was called in by the manager and let go- as policy at the time was to not employ married women. They said she could come back anytime when the policy changed; it was a different era. We always wanted to take her back there later in life and demand her job back.
Violet married Doug, from a small farm in Vivian Manitoba, and had three kids, Doug, Debbie and Bob. She was a total mother and cared about nothing other than the welfare of her family. Struggling to retain her memory in the last few years Violet’s fulltime hobby was remembering the names of her children and grand-children, who she loved dearly. When we visited her in Tuxedo Villa, Violet would recite their names: Doug and Star and their kids, Tony, David, Karen (now Violet), Scott and Heather, Debbie and Charlie and their kids, George, and Amanda, and Bob and Barb and their kids, Crystal, Chelsea, Brandi and Bobby. It was tragic when Violet had to move into a home without her cherished cats. She would have loved nothing more than to be involved more over the last ten years with all of us, and all of her great-grandchildren, who all live on because of her.
Violet and Doug (Mom and Dad), modelled unconditional love and the importance of family for all of us. Now they are back together and their legacy will live on.
Life is tough; there’s no doubt about it. I think a bit of wisdom I’ve comprehended is that what is important in life is the journey; we need to learn how to appreciate the journey and the people we share it with. There is no destination; it is here in the present. The secret to fulfilment is to let go of what we desire, and what we regret, and be present and love unconditionally the people who choose to be present with us and appreciate us for what we are right here and now. Help people when you can and love unconditionally.
Convenience and Carwash Canada, July/August 2020 issue
NEVER LET ANYONE INTERFERE WITH YOUR EDUCATION; do what your heart tells you.
School councillors told me I should quit, and that their “tests” said I should be a labourer
Who’d of thought, 35 years ago when I was finishing grade 12 as an adult, and taking night courses for seven years to earn my BA, that one day I’d be writing books with University presidents, famous professors and community leaders.
I miss you Dad. As Fathers’ Day approaches, I find myself reflecting on the wisdom you had and how little I took advantage of it. You exemplified commitment, to your family, to your values and to humanity. You showed me how to be an intellectual, but the most important education comes from experience, living a good life and caring for people around you. You taught me how to be present and work with your hands, but I was young and stupid and never realized all the wisdom you had to share until later in life. Now I’m trying to live up to the good example you set. I now understand why people throughout history have respected their elders; it is because experience forces you to learn, no matter who you are.
New experience last night; guest lecture via Zoom, for a class on peace-building at McMaster University for my colleague and fellow alumnist of the Arthur V. Mauro Institute for Peace and Justice, Dr. Olga Skorlato.
RESPECT to ALL the mothers out there. I was trying to resist posting to this, but my own family has relied on Barb, our mother, for so much lately, I could not let this opportunity to recognize her pass. I’ve been reflecting so much on my own mother, Violet, and what it means to be a mother. Violet gave up everything gladly for her family. It meant something; even as advanced dementia set in, keeping her long-term memory as Alzheimer’s victims do, Violet talked with pride about her career making engine parts during the war and working in the Bay downtown. She got called into the manager’s office one day and got fired because she got married, because they didn’t want to deal with maternity leave; how far we’ve come. But in Barb’s era, we had much better benefits. In our case, we made a more conscious decision to keep Barb home. She put her dreams of being a nurse, like her mother, on hold- in order to raise a family. We had four children, and we believe that keeping Barb home for 14 years, to be there when they had lunch, for extra-curriculars and just to be there helped them greatly. Barb stayed home, and also helped support my policing career and all the crazy overtime it brought, and later she helped me through my masters degree. For a person who quit school for work when I was 15, what are the chances I could achieve my educational goals later in life? When I was done my Masters degree, the kids were older and we put Barb through nursing school and she went to work part-time. This didn’t happen in Violet’s era, mothers just gave up everything for family. Once Barb was established in nursing, she supported me through my PhD, so we both actualized our life-long dreams. But the children and family always came first, and they still do. None of this happens without the self-sacrificing and supporting role that mothers play for all of us. To this day, I do not know how my friends and colleagues in policing fulfill demanding policing careers while raising kids. I certainly am bewildered how so many single mothers in all professions raise children successfully. HERE’S TO MOTHERS EVERYWHERE, ON MOTHERS DAY, FOR ALL THAT YOU DO TO KEEP FAMILIES AND SOCIETIES TOGETHER.
Renditions of the famous quote, “Society will be judged by how we treat our most vulnerable citizens,” are often referenced and commonly attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. While the exact origin of the famous saying is unclear (see Atkins’ article below on the potential origin), it rings true. Indeed, people in future generations will look back and assess how we did in 2020 to support and assist those most vulnerable in society. Tragically, while statistics might say something different about standards of living, from my own ground-level observations, on the streets of Winnipeg, I am forced to say things seem to have gotten worse over recent decades. The tent cities that are being erected by homeless people in Winnipeg are reminiscent of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, in which he described the gut-wrenching struggle for survival of impoverished people across the United States during the great depression. Closer to home, my grandmother, who lived to be 100 years old, was born into a large family on the Saskatchewan prairies, sent away from the family farm because her parents could not feed her. Even at close to 100, she used to cry when she described the despair of people in that era, hitching train rides back and forth across Canada looking for work.
Even more on point, Wiseman’s book, Stations of the Lost, described her study of the infamous ‘skid row’ of Los Angeles in the late 1960s. It was brilliantly written from the perspective of skid row alcoholics who described how they navigated staying alive and the fragmented assortment of organizations providing various services for them. I drew on Wiseman’s approach for my study of human sex slavery in Canada, for my dissertation and my forthcoming book, Sex Industry Slavery: Protecting Canada’s Youth. Wiseman’s book describes the rotted core of a city, inhabited by people lost in the despair of hopeless poverty, anesthetized by alcohol, to numb the pain of having no hope. Wiseman’s account eerily resembles what we are seeing in the streets of Winnipeg, and most likely across North America.
While most people in the City are social distancing to stem the spread of COVID-19, during the worst pandemic of the century, people with fewer means are crowding into bus shacks to stay warm, and huddling in makeshift tents. Below is a picture of people gathered around a soupline, many with no home, the thought of social distancing to avoid getting sick pushed down by the soul-crushing pain of hunger. Paramedics, first responders, medical personnel and police are overwhelmed with trying to help people in the constant and relentless cycle of substance abuse and violence related to alcohol, meth and whatever people can lay their hands on to numb their pain. Who is responsible for addressing these major social issues? I would argue we ALL are, and our most significant barrier is the attitude that these are all someone else’s problems. Ironically, emergency services did not create these problems, but they get the brunt of responding to the side-effects. They can play a significant role in their solution. My first book, Canadian Policing in the 21st Century: A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes, mainly focussed on how we can all pull together and collaborate on the root causes of social problems. Our Shared Future: Windows into Canada’s Reconciliation Journey (Reimer & Chrismas, 2020), dives deeper into positive examples of how Canada’s deep divides can be traversed.
What are we doing about the root causes of these massive and growing social problems? The only viable solution seems to be greater collaboration and focussing the larger society-wide discourse on the fact that we ALL are responsible. If homeless people erected a tent city anywhere in the suburbs, I’m quite sure it would be dismantled within days; but in the core, it seems acceptable. These are certainly some of the most vulnerable people in the greatest need in our community. If we are to be judged by future generations on how we looked after our most vulnerable, surely this will be one of the measures.
Steinbeck, John. (1939). The Grapes of Wrath. The Viking Press
Chrismas, R. (2013/14). Canadian Policing in the 21st Century: A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes. Montreal, Canada: McGill-Queen’s University Press. https://www.mqup.ca/canadian-policing-in-the-21st-century-products-9780773542747.php
Chrismas, R. (coming in fall of 2020). Sex Industry Slavery: Protecting Canada’s Youth. Toronto, ON, Canada: University of Toronto Press. https://utorontopress.com/ca/sex-industry-slavery-2.
Reimer, L. & R. Chrismas. (coming in May of 2020). Our Shared Future: Windows into Canada’s Reconciliation Journey. New York: Lexington Books, Rowman Littlefield. https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793603470/Our-Shared-Future-Windows-into-Canada’s-Reconciliation-Journey
Wiseman, J. (1970). Stations of the lost: The treatment of skid row alcoholics. Prentice-Hall.
Public Lending Rights Program (PLRP) is a Federal Government program, funded by the Canadian Council for the Arts, that pays authors for making their works available in libraries. Every year, they check seven libraries across Canada and pay authors about a set amount for each library they find your registered works in. You get the max amount if your book is found in all seven. Once you do, you have to nothing further except register new books in the future and they send a small cheque each spring.
Access Copyright, is a program that pays authors and creators (artists and writers) for the number of pages they create. Once you register, you receive a small cheque each spring.
Endorsement by Police Chief Devon Clunis, on LINKEDIN
Book review: Amy Kaufman Canadian Law Review
Book review: John Mansbirdge, Saskatchewan law review
Book review: Dr Rick Parent Canadian Criminal Justice Association
Book review: Dr. Neil Boyd Literary Review Canada
Obtain your copy and more information at McGill-Queen’s University Press, many libraries, online, and all major bookstores:
CBC interview with Dr Reimer, Monday 3 August, 2020
Join us as President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. David T. Barnard hosts Visionary Conversations—an evening for people who love exploring tough questions about the topics that fascinate us. Come learn, debate and discuss alongside experts and community leaders. Join the conversation.
How can our community come together to combat the impacts of drug addiction?
Is there an approach that can balance treatment and enforcement, to make our communities healthy and safe?
Visionary Conversations brings people together to explore tough questions and foster conversations that provoke dialogue and debate among leading experts and the public. Join us for the last of three engaging discussions that comprise our 2019/2020 speaker series.
Admission is free, but seating is limited.
Doors open 6:00 PM
Program 7:00 PM
Reception to follow until 10:00 PM
Learn more at http://umanitoba.ca/community/visionaryconversations
Danny Smyth [BA/83, ExtEd/05]
Chief, Winnipeg Police Service
Dr. Ginette Poulin [BesSc/00, BSc(HNS)/03]
Director, Mentorship and Clinical Enhancement Program, University of Manitoba; Medical Director, Addictions Foundation of Manitoba
Melanie MacKinnon [BN/96]
Executive Director, Ongomiizwin Health Services
Head, Indigenous Institute of Health and Healing, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Senior Health Advisor to the Grand Chief, Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
Executive Director, Main Street Project
Dr. Erin Knight [BesSc/05, BSc(Hons)/09, MD/13]
Lecturer, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba; Medical Director, Addictions Unit, Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Bob Chrismas [MPAdm/09, PhD/17]
Staff Sargent, Winnipeg Police Service
Dr. Kathleen Buddle
Professor, Anthropology, Faculty of Arts, University of Manitoba
Mitch Bourbonniere [BSW/87, MSW/95]
Community activist, affiliated with Mama Bear Clan Patrol, founding member of the original Bear Clan Patrol.