This Corona virus has knocked some of us on our ass, but only for a few weeks; nine in our family got sick and two dead, one from the virus and one from a broken heart, we believe, because she couldn’t see her family for months, but it affects us all because everyone steps up. It lingers, but we’ll beat it. Our family, and all of us Canadians can deal with anything, and we started training for it during the great wars, when our young folks gave up so much for the freedoms we have today. I am so proud of our family, our community, in Winnipeg and in Canada, the way we pull together in a crisis. We can overcome any adversity, just not the ever advancing march of time.
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.
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.
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.
Just watched MUDBOUND for the second (or third) time, and totally immersed in the tragic racial divide of the American deep south, the divide that has tentacles that reach the far corners of continent. I can’t imagine the gut wrenching racial and economic oppression that so many people in North America have lived with/through. This movie captures the pain of war, the brutality of racial divides, and the humanity, anguish, and dignity of living with impoverishment.
It makes me wonder what we could each be doing more to eliminate poverty and racial injustice, and move towards reconcilation.
“Every day is a new opportunity to begin again. Every day is your birthday” (from The Book of Joy by The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Viking Press, 2016).
Both of these men lived through difficult times, and both are spiritual leaders with something to say about how to be happy in a changing and often difficult world. I sensed the love and compassion when I visited Tutu’s church in Cape Town, South Africa, and had the same feeling when I had the privilege of visiting the Dalai Lama’s home base in Dharamshala, India. I once stood in the cell that Nelson Mandela resided in for 27 years, at Robben Island Prison, South Africa- during Apartheid, and I visited Mahatma Gandhi’s home of many years in Mumbai, as well as the prison he was detained in for many years in South Africa- for his leadership in non-violent resistance that we’ve all learned so much from. Mandela and Gandhi remind us that principles are worth dying for, and they can guide us to rise above the challenges of everyday life.
Absolutely humbled and inspired today, to speak with a graduating class of the Health Fitness Protection Program; 24 young ladies who have climbed out of a life of sex industry slavery and exploitation, forging new lives for themselves, and for each other. My sisters, dreaming new dreams, starting new lives and accepting a helping hand from many good-hearted people along the way. It is a good day.
I was honoured and enjoyed making this series of videos for PROJECT 11, to help young kids (and adults), deal with stress through standing meditation/Tai Chi/Qi Gong. Terry Apostle and the whole gang were fun to work with on it. The Videos were released for teachers across Winnipeg to use in classrooms starting this fall.
Remember- we all have stress, but you do not have to react negatively to it; when things are bugging you, get in the moment, be present and let your worries go for a few minutes.
Reflecting today on the lessons that almost all of the greatest philosophers and spiritual leaders in human history have stressed on the importance of accumulating wealth.
Its all about relationships, love, gratitude, compassion, and contributing something.
What a pleasure to attend Devon and Pearlene’s second book launch today; the story of the little girl (Pearlene) from Osoyoos. Their message, “we’re all more alike than we are different” is so important for today’s youth, and everyone.
#16DaysofActivism. Day 4: Today we are highlighting Winnipeg Police Service: “The narrative at all levels must acknowledge that gender-based violence is everyone’s problem, never someone else’s. We need to all take responsibility and work together to solve serious social problems like rape; that is the path to significant change.” – Bob Chrismas. Bob is a Staff Sergeant for the Winnipeg Police Service and has his PhD in Peace and Conflict Studies. To learn more about what he offers to the community, please visit www.bchrismas.com.
Hey, I just decided I’d like a higher wage for all the sacrifices I and all my brothers and sisters in arms have made for this community over the past 30 years of my service, perhaps starting with the benefits we gave up in the recent past, DURING COLLECTIVE BARGAINING, in exchange for a good pension that we knew we were working for. I know that is what I was thinking about, that my family would be taken care of, when I was wiping that blood off my face (that a suspect spit in my mouth and eyes), during those high-speed pursuits, going into those burning buildings to look for survivors, running towards men with guns, knives, bombs, hostages (you name it) when others were running away, being investigated by three different agencies for doing my job with the highest integrity, missing all kinds of family events and living in a surreal reality in which we lose track of what day of the week it is. If we no longer need to adhere to the agreements that were negotiated on our behalf, and the pension can be changed mid-stream, then I think I’d like better wages and benefits- retroactively. This recent theatre and lack of support does not reduce my community commitment one bit, and I know my brothers and sisters in blue are the same; it just makes me question some people’s definition of loyalty; I know where mine lies.