Monthly Archives: January 2017

Not my Canada

More often than not I put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) to air my grievances in a humorous manner. I do this to remind myself that my problems are small and the best way to let them go is to laugh at them. After all, I have a roof over my head, food on my plate, my health, my sanity (for the most part), great friends and family, a beautiful child with another on the way and so much more. The problems that I have can’t take any of this away from me, and so at the end of the day I can consider myself among the lucky ones on this earth.

Today I can’t laugh. Yesterday many individuals in Québec City likely woke up feeling as I do: Grateful for life, love, happiness, community etc. By nightfall much of this had been stripped away from them, as their family members and friends were gunned down during evening prayer just because they were Muslim. These families are experiencing an unimaginable loss. I can’t even type this without tears spilling from my eyes. A community targeted for what? This was without a doubt an act of terrorism. This is not my Canada.

All Canadians are immigrants. Well, all Canadians are immigrants except the First Nations from whom we expropriated the lands upon which our cities sit, but that’s another story. This country’s immigration policy is the reason that I am here today. On my mother’s side I am a first generation Canadian, as were and are my paternal grandparents. I can’t know exactly why my family left Europe when they did, but I can only assume they were in search of a better life here in Canada.

My father’s family emigrated from Poland during the early 1920s. We are Jewish. As a child I was always acutely aware that I was ‘different’ from my Christian friends, but I was never singled out or targeted for that difference. I distinctly remember thinking that I was proud to live in a time and a country where race and religion didn’t matter. I remember being annoyed at my grandparents’ discomfort that my best friends were German. It wasn’t until I was 13 and did a class project on Anne Frank that I understood why they were uncomfortable, though they never told me I couldn’t or shouldn’t socialize with Germans.

My grandparents’ immediate families were the only ones who made it out of Poland before the Nazis invaded. They were living in Canada with the full knowledge that their loved ones were back in the old country, living in conditions that we Canadians can’t really even fathom. They rarely spoke about it, but I do remember my Papa telling me that he was responsible for fetching the mail for his mother from the post office during WWII. He was a teenager at the time. His mother would correspond with her sister in Poland quite frequently, and he diligently brought home her sister’s letters until one day there were no more. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for him. To know why the letters had stopped. To have to tell his mother yet again that there was no news. To know that it meant death and loss. To know that his empty hands were breaking his mother’s heart.

My family lost their loved ones during a war that persecuted innocent people simply because they were Jewish. How is this any different from walking into a mosque and shooting up a room full of people simply because they are Muslim? Our differences are what make this world beautiful. I have travelled around this world and back again and marvelled at these differences. What are people so afraid of? I share a lot more in common with my welcoming, generous Muslim neighbours than I do with a white skinned bigot. I am an invisible minority and I admit that sometimes I hide within that identity. You can’t deduce my religion or cultural background from looking at me. My skin is so white it’s almost translucent. My native tongue is English. My son is baptised into his father’s family’s faith. Yet had I been born in a different time in a different land I would have shared the same fate as my Jewish brothers and sisters, as would my children. Hate doesn’t care who you are, only what it can label you.

Many Muslims don’t have the luxury of being ‘invisible’, nor should they want to be. If you can’t tell the difference between someone spouting the hateful ideology of a radical offshoot of Islam and a Muslim family fleeing their war torn homeland where they have lost everything to that same radical offshoot, then you are the one with the problem. I will never condone hateful words or actions, no matter the colour of the skin or religious beliefs of the owner of those words and actions.

Despite the discourse of hatred and fear that has permeated present day politics and infiltrated many aspects of life in the western world as of late, I am pleased to see that there is push back. My greatest fear today is not ISIS or Al Qaeda or the average Muslim Canadian. My greatest fear is complacency. At least here, despite many other failings, we have a government that speaks out against this hatred even if we have citizens who would idealize what is happening south of the border and live out that hatred here. The sad truth is that those citizens are no different than the ones they truly fear and hate. The more you hate, the more they hate and so on and so on. It’s the worst kind of positive feedback loop or vicious circle. Although it is scary to learn that the number of people contributing to this dangerous discourse is far greater than I ever believed it could be, I am grateful for the many more voices I hear speaking out against it.

To the community of the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, I am truly sorry for your losses. This hateful Canada is not my Canada, nor is it the Canada of the vast majority of Canadians. We stand with you today and I hope we will prevail, God willing/b’ezrat HaShem/insha’Allah.

jack-layton

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PBS must really hate kids

As I rang in 2016 listening to the dulcet tones of my husband snoring on the couch next to me and Carrie Mathieson saved America on Netflix yet again, little did I know that life as I knew it was about to end. I logged out of Netflix not knowing that the following day, the first day of 2017 (That beacon of hope! That clean slate!), would dawn with doom and gloom on the horizon.

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By the end of each day my house looks like a tornado has passed through it. I’m pregnant and tired, sick of asking the four year old to pick up his toys, and just done with the day. Cleaning and tidying are for the morning, before I’ve been asked a dozen times for candy for breakfast (and called the meanest mom in the world at least a dozen times for denying the request), before I’ve caved and given my kid Cheetos for breakfast (because cheese is full of calcium and is therefore healthy), before life has generally beaten me down for the day. The day still holds a lot of hope at 5am, so that’s the best time for tidying. After coffee, of course. But sometimes the house is just so destroyed that I’m still cleaning when Hurricane H emerges from his room, and I count on Netflix for entertainment while I finish up. On the days when I haven’t even started yet I count on Netflix to allow me to enjoy at least one beverage while its still hot.

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And so, on the first day of 2017 I turned to Netflix to save my morning (and let’s face it, that morning was going to set the tone for my year – I had a lot riding on that morning). “Mom, put on Neckflix while I eat my cheesies,” H requested. I obliged with , “What would you like to watch?”

“Curious George.”

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The books are so much better, anyway

All 9 seasons of Curious George had been on Netflix as of Dec 31st, 2016. On Jan 1st, 2017, every episode vanished. It’s usually right there at the top of the screen, under suggested shows, recently watched, continue watching… I scrolled through each list, panic mounting. I finally searched ‘Curious George’, staring at the screen in horror as ‘Titles related to Curious George’ popped up – the equivalent of a Netflix death sentence. A quick Google search revealed that PBS has signed an exclusive deal with Hulu this year and pulled all programming from Netflix. This means that our backup show, Caillou (which most parents hate but I have grown to love because, whiny bald bastard aside, HOT COFFEE), is also gone.

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I’m sure all you other non-Pinteresty, average moms feel my pain too. My kid is acting like the world has ended and after many tears is now reluctantly lost in a Mighty Machines YouTube loop of despair. I fear he may never find his way out.

MY COFFEE IS COLD.

PBS:

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Bonus – further proof that PBS hates kids:

Bonus The 2nd – I confess that by ‘clean the house’ I really just mean ‘clean the kitchen’. The rest of the house I’ll get to when I get to it… I blame PBS.