Good Sunday Morning!
This morning finds me back in Ottawa after a terrific visit with Manitoba Greens.
On Thursday, we had the huge honour of being invited by Knowledge Keeper Dave Daniels to the Water Ceremony led by Indigenous women. Dave reminded me that last time I had been in Winnipeg, he had given John and me a marriage blessing, invoking hummingbirds to guide us on the path to a happy life. I assured him it had worked!
Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse simply overwhelmed me with the gift of a ribbon skirt. I put it on before the smudging where I had been asked to join the other women in the circle. Women are the Water Keepers; men keep the Fire. Elder Dave led a pipe ceremony with ceremonial drumming from the men – the North Eagle singers- and then the water ceremony began. It is, as Indigenous people say, “opening a meeting in a good way.” Blessing and being blessed by the four directions and gratitude to the Creator. We opened a meeting recognizing that water is sacred. So very appropriate as the day’s business meeting was with federal officials from Crown Indigenous Relations consulting on the upcoming new law on safe drinking water and water sovereignty for Indigenous Nations.
The ceremony was the setting for a day’s worth of meetings of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. I connected with so many old friends, Merrell-Ann Phare of the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources, national treasure and hero Phil Fontaine. The whole timing was coincidence. Jonathan and I headed to Manitoba this week because of the parliamentary break. He heads on to the west today to Saskatchewan and then Alberta, where we will work together again in Edmonton next Saturday.
In another lovely coincidence, I ran into someone I love like a brother, Clayton Thomas Mueller. If you have not read his best-seller “Life in the City of Dirty Water,” I highly recommend it. How this loving, laughing and caring man survived the horrific conditions of his childhood is a miracle. He is such a strong and good man. He was with me at the Kinder Morgan pipeline site when I was arrested back in March 2018. We have seen each other since, but no hugs since before Covid. And there he was on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature as we froze in the shadow of that massive building. He was mc’g an impressive gathering of Fridays for the Future climate activists. There was a whole class of fourth graders, stomping and chanting in protest and for warmth! Many youth attended, as well as older activists and a great round of songs from the Winnipeg Raging Grannies. (To the tune of “Bringing in the Sheaves,” “Leave them in the ground, leave them in the ground, Fossil fuels are poison, Leave them in the ground!”)
The last coincidence, a brilliant Indigenous woman from Northern Manitoba, was one of the last speakers. Brielle Beardy-Linklater is Clayton’s niece. I went to congratulate her and she reminded me we had met back in 2017 at the first Daughters of the Vote. Daughters of the Vote brought young women from across Canada to take their MP’s seat to mark the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote. She remembered, “you were the only political leader to give me a shout out as the only trans-daughter of the vote.” I was hugging her and remembered her so clearly – a younger version of the woman I was hugging against the bitter cold. “so it is not the first time we have hugged!”
Do you ever wonder when “coincidence” is too good to be random? I call it angels working overtime. I recall Mike Harcourt’s description of the multiple coincidences that saved his life when he tumbled tens of feet onto the rocky shore far below his deck on Pender Island, breaking his neck. First was the uncanny instinct that led his wife Becky to go check on him. She clambered down that rock face turned him so he was no longer face down and somehow clambered up again, called 911, where the water ambulance service that had been officially closed two weeks before was still staffed, rescued him and brought him by helicopter to the Vancouver hospital where a UK expert surgeon, one of the best in the world, happened to be visiting, and performed the surgery that repaired his neck, and on and on. As Mike’s wife says, “God works in mysterious ways, often cleverly disguised as coincidence.”
The timing was great for our trip to Winnipeg. Manitoba Greens are nearing the end of their leadership contest. Current leader, young lawyer and dedicated voice for Greens, James Beddome is stepping down after 15 years. The Manitoba Greens face a provincial election on October 3. Good luck to all four contenders – Janine, Nick, Donovan and Dennis!
Meanwhile, federally, we will have two by-elections in Manitoba, likely this summer – in Winnipeg South Centre and Portage Lisgar.
The Alberta Greens face election May 29, with leader Jordan Wilkie and team knocking themselves out to run a full slate. Fun fact, Jordan’s grandfather was the legendary Max Ward, founder of WardAir. Jordan is a firefighter and a fabulous and inspiring human being.
The likely soonest election for our green cousins will be Prince Edward Island. Rumour has it that Tory Premier Dennis King will break his fixed election date law (what’s new?) and call the election as soon as this week with a vote in early April!
Reminder: Greens are the Official Opposition in PEI. Green leader Peter Bevan Baker is one of the kindest and smartest people I know. He has a stellar caucus, 8 Green MLAs elected in the last provincial election. So, another good coincidence, I am heading to PEI very soon! If you have ever wanted to learn more canvassing skills, or just enjoy a gorgeous spot in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, get your travel plans organized! Premier Peter Bevan Baker has a very nice ring to it.
Sending much love and appreciation for the many encouraging messages since last week. Your support means the world to JP and me! (the P.S. has two recent article I wrote, just FYI).
One important last note. March 3rd marked my twentieth anniversary with a very special person in my life. Nope, not John! We are heading for our fourth! My dear friend, colleague, “babe of honour” and Chief of Staff Debra Eindiguer may have wrecked her life by accepting a job offer as my assistant at Sierra Club of Canada twenty years ago!! Thanks to my work wife and best friend!
We are hiring in my Parliament Hill office! Do you know an energetic, bright activist who can write well and enjoys getting a message out through social media?? Let me know!
Policy magazine celebrated its Tenth Anniversary this year. This issue asked contributors to focus on the last ten years.
We Can’t Afford Another Decade Like The Last One – Policy Magazine