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  • Dave Barnes

Suzuki Weekend – Life is Good!

David Suzuki’s Brandon visit on Friday, Oct.16, 2015 kicked off one tremendous weekend.  Dr. Suzuki waived his speaker’s fee for our Get Out the Vote! evening at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium, and we had a full house despite the very short advertising window.  Proceeds totaling $4000 were donated to AFFI … what an amazing gift from Canada’s best-known environmental hero!  And let me tell you, the audience that night lived through an almost magical experience.  After opening remarks on behalf of youth by Rashmini Shunmugam of Neelin High School, the atmosphere was set by spiritual healer Frank Tacan’s blessing followed by Tim Bone and the Sweetgrass Ojibway singers & drummers, who performed an honor song for David Suzuki.  As Frank began, the indigenous people in the audience rose to their feet in respect … and before you knew it, the entire audience had risen for the opening ceremonies, a powerful sign of the intercultural respect that was in the air.

David Suzuki felt it too.  Away he sailed through a 40-minute discourse that touched on politics, environment, future generations, and human survival … round after round of applause urged him on.  Although Dr. Suzuki never endorsed any political candidates or parties, he definitely criticized the Harper Government severely.  When he took his leave for the drive back to Winnipeg and some rest after a very busy day, there was a loud and long standing ovation.  But the evening wasn’t over, not by any means!  Addresses by David Neufeld of the Green Party and Melissa Wastasecoot of the NDP were given repeated applause and cheers.  The audience was resonating the love that had taken over the auditorium … you could feel the spirit move, and our guest speakers were articulating what everyone was thinking.  It’s time for respect … for Mother Earth, for the grandchildren of the seventh generation, for the trees, for all our living brothers and sisters,  time to heal wounds and live in peace.  I am blessed to have been there to share in the joy that touched us all that night.

Saturday was trail building day in the Ancient Oaks grove at the food forest … we six volunteers spent a warm, sunny fall afternoon clearing two deer trails with rake, hatchet, and saw, followed by wood chips to make a new surface.  And despite our small numbers, we completed every metre of trail that we set out to accomplish.  The woods told us tales, of the flying Velociraptor Accipiter cooperi and the terror he sows in the hearts of small birds, of ancestor oaks and canopy dominance, of modern human cultures and their waste.  There certainly is peace and harmony in old woods, though … the children played happily and the work was joyful and easy.  Please see the Gallery for images from that exercise.

Monday, of course, was the federal election, and it still feels like part of the weekend to me.  Despite another false majority government (where less than 40% of the electorate installs 100% of the power in a single party) the feeling is positive … Canadians said “Enough, already!” and made a change.  We all know, however, that the actual change we want is still to come … we want our votes to count in parliamentary seats instead of this useless first-past-the-post system used to perpetuate two-party governments.  We really want proportional representation, so that we can vote our conscience instead of having to vote strategically for someone we don’t support.  So don’t let these new people forget now, we still have work to do as responsible electors … call our representatives, keep them honest, insist that promises are kept. No falling asleep now!  With climate change looming ever larger, raging wars and millions of refugees around the world, the onus is on us free Canadians to represent the rights and aspirations of humanity everywhere.

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