Op-ed: Time to focus on the promise of 2017
- John Lagimodiere | January 17, 2017
I am so very happy to welcome 2017. How fitting that the 2016 Word of the Year is “Dumpster fire.” The year was so bad that the American Dialect Society, a group of linguists, lexicographers, and grammarians that voted on the award had to use two words this year.
Though the dumpster fire has arisen because of the Trumpster Fire that American voters created, the word plays well to what we experienced in 2016 in Saskatchewan. It was a rough and tumble year with tragedies, violence, economic woes and racism abounding. But we are not here to rue the past. We are looking forward to seeing how we can shake off the past and promote success in 2017.
Here are a few things we can look forward to in 2017.
It was a nice surprise to see two very accomplished people recognized as Citizens of the Year. In PA, the tireless Sheryl Kimbley was named Prince Albert Kinsmen Club and PA Daily Herald 2016 Citizen of the Year. Sheryl’s list of volunteer activities vary from feeding the poor, welcoming Syrian immigrants, fighting youth suicide and for creating the Northern Spirits that empowers young northern people thorough music and the arts. This lady doesn’t have an off switch and we are lucky because of it.
In Saskatoon, CTV has named Judge David Arnot Citizen of the Year. Judge Arnot is currently the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commissioner but his work in the Indigenous community has had a major impact in Saskatchewan. He was appointed a Judge of the Provincial Court of Saskatchewan in 1981. He was also seconded to the Federal Department of Justice as Director General of the Aboriginal Justice. He was also Treaty Commissioner for the Province of Saskatchewan for a 10 year period.
Judge Arnot’s work on the “Teaching Treaties in the Classroom Project” led to Saskatchewan having the most progressive Treaty education in Saskatchewan. He also promoted the term “We are all Treaty people.”
With folks Like Sheryl Kimbley and Judge David Arnot battling for the community, good things can happen.
Reconciliation and public education
The momentum around reconciliation will not go away. Reconciliation Saskatoon, an association of dozens of community groups that promote Indigenous inclusion and acts of Reconciliation has been coordinating events and bringing people together for the past year. The good thing is other cities are asking for guidance on how to proceed, thereby spreading the movement of reconciliation across the province.
Also consider the amount of people now that are exposed to Aboriginal awareness sessions at their workplace or the amount of community groups that are listening to residential school survivors and the new curriculum that students are learning and bringing home to their parents. As Judge David Arnot stresses, public education is so important. The good thing is it is happening.
Oh my, the amount of big sporting events this year is overwhelming. This summer alone we have NAIG in Toronto, the World Indigenous Games in Alberta as well as the First Nation Summer Games in Regina. Throw in the Saskatchewan Aboriginal track and Field Championships in March in Saskatoon and the track athlete in your family could be a busy little hurdler. Plus all the hockey tournaments, ball games, back yard gymnastics and school sports, kids can and should be busy. In a day of such need in the north and for many disadvantaged youth, there is nothing like sports (or the arts for that matter) to connect a kid with teammates and positive role models.
This one is going to be interesting. With Prime Minister Trudeau approving two pipeline projects, with one of them cutting across parts of Saskatchewan, there will be a flurry of activity in the industry with training, employment and sub contract opportunities abounding. This will be a welcome economic boost to many communities, Indigenous ones included, near the construction. On the other hand, we see what is happening at Standing Rock and the extreme reaction to any sort of pipelines. Will battle lines be drawn on this issue? Smart money says yes. This will be most interesting.
It felt good to turn the calendar onto 2017 so we can start fresh. And we hope that the word of the year in 2017 can expand to three words: “Progress and Hope.”