VoC speech in Caledonia: “It WAS worth it, Jack.”

On Sunday, January 14, 2007 Gary McHale held a public town meeting at the Caledonia Lions Hall to explain what he thought had been accomplished with the March for Freedom events so far, and where he thought the movement needed to go. One of those accomplishments was evident in the form of 38 (yes, someone counted!) OPP officers present to provide personal security for Gary and the event, a March for Freedom first.

I was pleased when Gary asked me to provide some opening remarks. Below is a transcript of the speech I like to call, “It WAS worth it, Jack.” We have someone working on producing a video of the entire two-hour event. It – of course – will follow.  See the following links for more info:

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Also, there have been some encouraging indications from the discussion/questions that took place after the meeting and from the letters I’ve received since that hope is slowly – very slowly – coming alive in Caledonia. I can sense it. Something is changing.

In the absence of other developments, watch for a post called ‘Hope in Caledonia.’ 

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NOTE: You are free to reprint the transcript in whole or in part without permission provided you do not alter the text in any way, and provided that you credit “VoiceofCanada.ca” as the source.
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mark_vandermaas_62×88px_b-w.gifIntroduction to Gary McHale March for Freedom presentation at Caledonia Lions Hall, January 14, 2007 by Mark Vandermaas

Hello Caledonia! It’s been an interesting past few weeks, hasn’t it?

Normally, I like to speak with minimal notes, but I want to be very precise and very clear in my language today, so I would like to read from a prepared statement. I’ll do my best  not to put you to sleep.

My name is Mark Vandermaas. I was born in Hamilton. At age 6 I was placed in an orphanage in Brantford. I grew up in Grimsby and also lived many years in Hamilton before moving to London 4 years ago. Today – thanks to a fight I didn’t go looking for, I am the editor of VoiceofCanada.ca. and I work virtually full time supporting Gary McHale in his fight against Two Tier Justice.

Before we listen to what I know is going to be a great presentation by Gary, I hope you’ll allow me a few minutes to explain why I came to Caledonia and continue to do so, since that seems to be a topic of great concern to your Mayor and the OPP Commissioner.

First though, I think we all owe a round of applause to the man who was the first to be arrested for trying to erect a Canadian flag, and for the man who electrified all of us this past week by standing up for his rights both as a property owner and for the Canadian flag: Bo Chausse and Chris Syrie.

When I was released from the Cayuga jail on Dec 16th the Sergeant told me that if I came back to Caledonia for more protests I’d likely be charged. I told him that I would keep coming back until the OPP enforces the law equally, so I’d probably see him again.

So…why did I come to Caledonia and why am I gladly willing to be arrested for doing so?

Gary McHale once posted a letter from Martin Luthor King Jr. on his website. It was written while he was in jail in 1963 and it explains why he went to Birmingham despite warnings from well-meaning leaders who were worried that his visit could spark violence:

“I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham, since you have been influenced by the view which argues against “outsiders” coming in.  I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. I cannot stand idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial “outside agitator” idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”

Simply put…Injustice in Caledonia is injustice in London. In Toronto. In Ipperwash.

When the Mayor of Brantford did everything he could to take away Gary McHale’s right to speak to the residents of Brantford about why he was organizing the original March for Freedom  I knew I had to go to Brantford. When, in Brantford, he was viciously heckled and slandered by supporters of violence and lawlessness, I knew I had to come to Caledonia on October 15th, 2006.

After hearing two brave women, Mary Lou Lapratte and AnnMarie VanSickle describe the terror affected their daily lives I was inspired by their courage for speaking out. I was also ashamed because – after witnessing the intimidation against Gary McHale – I was publishing Voice of Canada under a pen name. I decided right there and then that if THEY could make a stand, so could I. I began to produce Voice of Canada under my real name, and I also knew that I would have to continue to come back to Caledonia

I didn’t come to Caledonia to defend Caledonians. I came to defend Canadians as I once swore to do as a member of Canada’s Armed Forces.

I will pay any price so that your children, London’s children, Toronto’s children and Ipperwash’s children can live in a province where all people are equal before the law, and where the Rule of Law is not a subject for debate.

I am willing to risk my freedom, my financial well-being and – yes – even my life in order to make Two Tier Justice a bad memory in my old age.

I recently had the honour of meeting a WWII veteran who lives in Caledonia. His name is Jack and he was a pilot in North Africa. Jack has 8 screws holding his back together. He got those screws after he crash landed a bomber that didn’t quite make it back in one piece. Jack’s best buddy lost a leg in the crash.

For more than 65 years Jack has lived with pain in his back, but he has also had to live with a horrible nightmare that doesn’t go away. One day he saw another plane on the runway that had been badly shot up, so he went over for a look at where the tail gunner sits at the back of the plane. Jack told me that being a tail gunner was the worst job on the aircraft because they were always the first to be targetted as enemy planes came up behind. The tailgunner was still sitting in his seat, but his head wasn’t there. Jack remembers he had red hair though, because he could see it on his chest. He still sees that tailgunner in his dreams today and he’s been seeing him for more than half a century.

As we talked about how the DCE thugs threw rocks at his home, how dozens of them stood in his backyard as the OPP watched and did nothing, he said something that made me angry…and it broke my heart at the same time:

“I spent 4 years in hell for Canada and now I don’t even know if the police will protect me. It wasn’t worth it.”

Well, I say that Jack’s sacrifice WAS worth it, and I say that we dishonour him when we refuse to pick up the torch from him.

OPP Commissioner Fantino has publicly ridiculed and insulted those who come to Caledonia in the name of patriotism, proudly carrying flags, determined to stand against police officers who just as determined to deny us our rights.

Your own Mayor, too, has questioned our motives despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary that we are who we say we are.

Are words like DUTY, HONOUR, SACRIFICE, EQUALITY, JUSTICE and PATRIOTISM words that deserve such scorn. Is it SO very hard to understand or believe that some ordinary, overweight, average citizens are willing to put their country’s interests before their own?

I must say that I am so proud of you in Caledonia for welcoming us and resisting those who would have you waive your rights as Canadian citizens. We are making history together.

But, let me return to the question that Jack raised, “Was it worth it?”

Were his 65 years of back pain and nightmares a price worth paying for his country?

Was his lost youth equal to the cost of preserving the freedoms that criminals, politicians and the police are trying to take from us?

What do I tell a man who gave SO much for me – for us – when he silently asks what I am prepared to do so that all the freedoms he thought he was defending are not lost?

What would Julian Fantino have me tell Jack? Sorry, I can’t come to help you because I might get arrested? Sorry, I didn’t come to help because I’m not a resident of the geographical area known as Haldimand? Sorry, the commissioner might call me names? Sorry, I didn’t come because I couldn’t afford it? Sorry, Jack, I’m not going to do what I can to preserve democracy and the rule of law because the Mayor doesn’t think it’s a good idea for “outsiders” to “provoke violence.”

Martin Luthor King Jr., in his letter from the Birmingham jail, addressed this very issue of ‘provoking violence’ much more eloquently than I could:

“We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.

“In your statement you assert that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But is this a logical assertion? Isn’t this like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery?

“We must come to see that, as the federal courts have consistently affirmed, it is wrong to urge an individual to cease his efforts to gain his basic constitutional rights because the quest may precipitate violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.”

In other words, we can NEVER give up our rights simply out of fear that others will be angered to the point of violence.

Still, we must be sensible. If, for example, the OPP knows that the people on the Douglas Creek Estates are SO dangerous and SO well-armed and SO volatile that hundreds of armed officers could not protect us from violence during the mere erection of a Canadian flag, then they should bring that fact to the full attention of the media, the government and the citizens of Ontario.

I have promised the Commissioner in an open letter on VoiceofCanada.ca that if he were to issue such a statement AND it included a statement explaining that he had asked for military assistance AND was refused that help, I would be the first to focus my attentions on the government(s) responsible for denying him the resources needed to restore the Rule of Law in Ontario.

Until Mr. Fantino issues such a statement however, I will continue to fight alongside Gary McHale as we – with your help – hold the Commissioner and his officers accountable for their failure to restore law and order to every area of this province.

In summary, I say to Commissioner Fantino and Mayor Trainer and every other politician in this province that I will NOT give up my rights simply because you refuse to defend them, or because you are unable or unwilling to protect me from those who would harm me as I exercise them. This I say as a citizen of Ontario and of Canada.

I made a promise to Jack the day I met him that I would pay any price – any price – asked of me to restore the rule of law and equality before that law to Ontario. I promised Jack that I will do what I can to destroy Two Tier Justice, and that losing that fight is not an option I am prepared to accept.

This I say to Jack and to you all as a former soldier and peacekeeper who believes that there are causes worth fighting for no matter what the cost may be.

Thank you for listening. =============================

Before I let Gary McHale tell about all the good things that have been accomplished so far, and where he sees this movement going I need to share a funny story with you about the day we went to jail. The OPP thought they were going to intimidate him by holding him overnight even though they knew they weren’t going to charge him.

Just to show them how wrong they were Gary took off all his clothes except for his boxers and refused to eat or sleep. After he was released I said to him that I bet the officers who had to watch him on the cell camera would have paid him 50 bucks to get dressed.

During the night the officers came several times to his cell offering him a blanket. Since he kept refusing they were forced to turn up the heat to keep him warm. I wondered why MY cell was so hot. The police were trying to intimidate Gary, but the whole time Gary was messing with THEIR minds.

It’s rare to meet someone who’s willing to lay it all on the line for what he believes in, someone who can’t be bought off or intimidated into NOT doing what he knows is right. Gary McHale is such a man and I’m proud to know him.

And – needless to say – I would be proud to go to jail with him any time and any place for this cause.
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9 responses to “VoC speech in Caledonia: “It WAS worth it, Jack.”

  1. I will start by saying that I feel that your willingness to engage in constructive dialog and at least consider alternative points of view from what I have read here on your site is commendable.

    I am glad you are doing something by standing up for your honest beliefs. I support your right to criticize the police and question their professionalism if you feel it is appropriate to do so. By all means exercise your freedom of expression and speech responsibly; we live in a free country. I am not accusing you of this, but some of the libel, slander, insults, racial slurs, and outrageous lies I have seen posted from both sides are unacceptable and counterproductive but much worse, fuel extremism.

    You must know first hand as a former member of the military what it is like to stand between two factions with different agendas. You said you would help the OPP commissioner get the help and support of the military to intervene if his request was turned down by pressuring the government. As an advocate for non violent solutions I must admit that in some ways I am confused by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reference in your speech. I understand that it was done to support your point that people from outside the area have a legitimate right to engage in activism. However in my opinion it seems to me that it’s cherry picking. For example did Dr. King, a man of peace, call for a military solution to enforce the rule of law and the civil rights his people were being denied?

    As you know the police and the military are authorized to use up to and including deadly force to enforce the rule of law. Especially in the southern United States black people suffered deplorable systemic discrimination and injustice at the hands of police, corrupt judges, state government, KKK sympathizers etc. So have the Native Americans but in distinguishably different ways.

    The fight for equality for blacks was won by exposing the stupidity of racism and intolerance and raising the consciousness of the entire nation to it. Two types of resistance emerged from the struggle for equal rights and protection under the law. One being the passive non violent resistance based in practice by the example set by Gandhi in India. The other type of resistance being the more militant and confrontational form as practiced by the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers.

    The big difference between the black people and the natives is that they did not have historical claims to the land they were living on. They didn’t ask to come here, they were forced to come here as slaves. Do you view the natives as an oppressed people with legitimate grievances or do you view them as the oppressors?

    Do you believe that the natives are acting out of frustration from their perception that their grievances are being perpetually ignored?

    Will our democratically elected government ever be able to settle those grievances to the native’s satisfaction?

    Do you feel that the pendulum has swung back the other way so as to effectually grant the natives more rights than their neighbors, the townspeople?

    Yes I agree the townspeople have legitimate grievances too, and have a right to be heard. Do you believe from a truly practical standpoint it is physically possible for the OPP to lock up everyone who causes a disturbance, regardless of what race or color they are? I have heard and read the rhetoric, and have seen the grandstanding from both sides. What I have not read or heard much of is constructive ideas on how to solve this crisis peacefully and to the satisfaction of all the interested parties. In a legitimate negotiation nobody gets everything they want, but they should at least get what is just, reasonable and fair.

    Do you or anyone else have the answer as to what exactly that is? I certainly don’t, the complexity and the quantum of issues are mind boggling. It took two hundred years to create this mess I doubt it will get solved in a couple of hundred days.

    VoC REPLY: Wow, Mike. Congrats on asking some of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking questions that anyone has ever posted on this site. As you can tell, although I have some pretty strong opinions about some things, I try to wait and let my readers raise the real important questions even though I may feel strongly about them. For example, I waited until a reader named ‘Rob’ brought up the issue of native over-representation in prisons so I could introduce the Ontario SIU report regarding race vs. crime statistics and then try to have a discussion about it in “Are Aboriginals unfairly treated by our legal system? StatsCan vs. SIU study.” That discussion, in turn, led to another post called, “Does past oppression justify present violence? VoC gets real.” Now, I could have just written these posts on my own, but the fact that ‘Rob’ felt passionately for the native side gave our interaction much more credibility (I think).

    I believe that the questions you have raised in the manner you have raised them at the time you raised them are not even close to being a happenstance of coincidence. It tells me that (perhaps…just maybe…hopefully) we’re getting past all the phoney racism allegations, the namecalling and the questions about ‘hidden agendas’ to finally talk about how we keep our country safe for our kids, and make it a better place to live for all citizens.

    I know that your questions aren’t a coincidence, by the way, because two non-native citizens asked questions in a similar vein yesterday (Jan 14/07) at the end of our presentation at the Lions Hall. One man told the natives who were there that he still considered them as friends and asked them to join our fight for law and order and equality. I watched one native man in particular during the discussion and he seemed very thoughtful as the discussion went on. You’re going to love the video when we get it out!

    I’m going to do up a new post based on your comments and I’m going to answer all your questions as per usual – directly, honestly and from my heart. I love getting messages of support, but I love getting great questions even better. I’ve got a bunch more comments to respond to first, so it probably won’t be posted until tomorrow.

    Regards and thanks, Mark

    P.S. Mike, this will be an important post. Are you willing to let me use your real first and last name? I won’t include your email address, I promise. I understand if you’re not ready, but I think you deserve the recognition.

  2. Thanks for coming out today Mark. I only wish that I could be there to stand with you on the 20th. I do have an excuse, I’ll be out of town many miles away, working to provide for my family. I sure hope that those of us that truly believe in this fight against two-tier justice will be there with you and Gary to help put an end to this whole injustice. If you guys ever get sick of being called “outsiders”, I offer free room and board at my house so as you can say you are residents! Thanks again for being there for us.

    VoC REPLY: Thank you BeothucVSA! I just forwarded your comment (minus email address) to Gary – I know how much he’ll appreciate it! Actually, in retrospect, the whole ‘outsider’ issue has been very helpful since it has allowed us to get our message out, and it shows how foolish our opponents are. My God, if that’s your best argument – might as well pack your bags Commissioner because you’re going to be retired – again. I might use part of your comments on the right sidebar. Thanks for the support even if you can’t be there on the 20th! It does make a difference to us knowing that your thoughts are with us. FREE IPPERDONIA! Mark

  3. Jeff Parkinson

    There’s almost too much that has happened in the last week and today in just a couple of hours to comment on everything so I’ll try to just stick to the public meeting and not wander with one exception.

    I’ve been at everything except the speech Gary gave in Brantford (but saw the video) and was astounded to see that clearly unimpressed natives showed up today but said and did absoloutely NOTHING. As Gary has posted on his site, these people were a shining example of what these events are all about, but beyond that they are a a shining example of how the relations / negotiations should be conducted between both sides. Why is it so hard to just listen to the other side and try to understand?

    After the meeting a teenage boy (15?) yelled something to the effect of “you suck” to the natives who were standing in the parking lot doing nothing, (from a good 40′ away and while running in the opposite direction) and he should be ashamed of himself having seen what went on inside, but aside from that no problems. One woman whom I don’t think (could be wrong) was a native attempted to heckle Gary briefly and fire up the crowd by calling our flag crap or something to that effect. She too should be ashamed of herself in my humble opinion but there’s always going to be an instigator and she was unsuccessful. A woman beside her informed her that the floor was no longer hers and the Q&A session continued without interruption. Her only point seemed to be that we can’t possibly be putting up flags in Caledonia unless it’s to provoke the natives. Not suprisingly she was unable to answer the simple question posed to her by Gary of why would the sight of a Canadian flag provoke anyone?

    Cudos to the OPP officers who showed up to ensure there was no threat to Gary. We have a long way to go when it’s a rare thing to have reason to thank the OPP for actually doing their job these days but this is progress.

    As someone who reads both CaledoniaWakeupcall and VOC every day, I was already aware of most of what Gary had to say today but I was still riveted to my seat and that 2 hours flew by. Seeing and hearing about things that most would have said were impossible 6 months ago is something that I find difficult to find words for. This kind of thing only happens in the movies.. until now!

    Sad but very understandable that Fantino was a no show. As seen clearly in his recent interview on CH, the man is not capable of being asked questions that require answers outside of his rehearsed script.

    Now the one thing I must comment on outside of today is an editorial I just read on CWUC in which OPP seargent David Rektor states “It’s just when people want to incite problems and antagonize, that is when the temperature rises a little bit and we have to react accordingly to keep the peace” This statement strongly reinforces the message I believe Fantino was trying to send by saying the OPP will “keep the peace at any cost” on the 20th which is that despite everything that’s happened, they still intend to arrest those who dare to stand up for their rights.

    To both of these men I must say despite your efforts to frighten us away, despite any efforts you might make in the coming week to stop us on the 20th (such as striking a backroom deal to temporarily raise flags in advance to placate us perhaps?) the issue is NOT just flags on a pole. The issue is that you won’t allow US to put Canadian flags on those poles as is our right to do. On the 20th we are coming to Caledonia, and we are going to put our own flags up on the sacred hydro polls or be (illegally) arrested trying. If your agenda is indeed simply to maintain the peace, take the hundreds of officers you send in at our expense and line them up at the front of DCE to ensure that nobody on either side can get to the other.

    I will of course forward this suggestion to the office of Fantino so that it can be shredded.

    Unlike Mark I don’t have anything eloquent from Shakespear or Martin Luther King to quote so I will simply leave you with a line from a song I believe we’ve all heard at some point. In regards to the 20th..

    “Let My People Go”

    VoC REPLY: It was so nice to meet you yesterday, Jeff. You’re so right about all the developments. It’s so hard to keep up. That’s why I continually apologize to Gary McHale for my frustration with him at not getting ‘this or that’ done all the while he was trying to organize the original March for Freedom.

    I didn’t hear about the kid insulting natives – I agree, he didn’t grasp what it was all about, but we both know someone who DID grasp it in a big way, don’t we? Our message speaks truth – that is why we are growing stronger. Gary was right that non-violent movements have always effected the greatest changes in history.

    Your last paragraphs say it all and now you are inspiring me! I like your reference to what had to be one of the first civil rights movement in history “Let my people go.” Let me leave you with another song that was sung during the civil rights movement:

    “We shall overcome.
    We shall overcome.
    We shall over come
    One day.

    Deep in my heart
    I do believe
    We shall overcome
    One day.”

    I seem to recall that Pete Seeger once singing it. Not sure if there are more lyrics.

    Thanks for the memory, for the support and for sharing your personal experiences with me. FREE IPPERDONIA! Mark

  4. Jack Van Halteren

    Hey Mark,
    Keep up the good work. Can’t have people committing crimes with the police just standing around. My only guess for the delays in arresting the criminal is so they can collect more overtime pay.

    VoC REPLY: Thanks for writing with your support, Jack. I know I’m repeating myself in all my replies, but it really means a lot to us and our wives who have to live with the stress. As for overtime, I’m not even sure I want to know how much money is being paid out to watch criminals commit crimes. In fairness to the OPP, though, 38 officers showed up yesterday to keep our meeting safe and free from intimidation and believe me when I say they did their jobs well. It was – as always! – completely peaceful.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are a lot of officers in Caledonia who secretly support us and are just dying to become true police officers again. But, we are judged by our actions, not by our thoughts.

    Thanks for writing. FREE IPPERDONIA! Mark

  5. God bless you both

    VoC REPLY: Well, Dan, you get the VoC award for the shortest supportive comment I’ve had, yet. Thank you so much for it, it means a whole lot to Gary and me, and especially our wives – ESPECIALLY our wives. They’re the true ‘strong ones’ in this fight.

    I hope you realize that we are making progress, but let’s not forget that Ipperwash needs us, too. Those poor people up there are suffering under a crime spree since the Inquiry finished its hearings. There are a few battles left to fight before Two Tier Justice is finished. Thanks again for writing! FREE IPPERDONIA! Mark

  6. Why should a WWII vet who laid it on the line for his country have to endure vandalism and intimidation from thugs? The “law” and the government should be ashamed.

    The only reason this occupation has been allowed to continue is the number of people involved. If it were only a handful then the police would have removed them and if a few more replaced them then they would also be removed. But, when you’re talking about 100’s of people then it probably is a job for the military. That’s not to say that there needs to be any shooting (there doesn’t) but a large group wouldn’t tend to respect the law when it thinks it has superior numbers.

    The lawlessness just sickens me and seeing the police and the government act like they’re doing the right thing by negotiating with criminals just burns me to the core.

    By all means, settle land claims but don’t reward criminal occupations with any kind of talks at all.

    VoC REPLY: Hey Dennis. You said it. Why indeed?

    If these people are really so dangerous and disrespectful of the rule of law, what makes our ‘leaders’ think they can negotiate anything with them, and that they would actually abide by any agreement if they did? Check out my recent post called, “Mediation & negotiation with natives? Yes. With sociopaths? No.

    I don’t know if it’s hundreds or dozens. I have absolutely no evidence to back this up, but I suspect there’s a core group of true fanatics that number in the dozens who are seducing hundreds of younger natives with false visions of glory and power. That’s not to say that there aren’t a lot of natives who are sympathetic or supportive at some level, but I don’t believe that the vast majority want to live in any country – no matter who owns the land – where violent criminals of any race are running the show.

    Thanks for writing, Dennis. See you on the 20th! FREE IPPERDONIA! Mark

  7. Jeff Parkinson

    Hello again Mark,

    It was a great pleasure meeting you as well! It’s always great meeting new friends that you never thought you’d have 🙂

    The kid in question who yelled at the natives came into the meeting well over half way through, but I doubt anything he heard would have changed his mind. Those who don’t know how to control their anger can’t see past it. I was outside talking to Gary when it happened and unfortunately “Timmer” was there with his camcorder to capture it.

    I just took a challenge that Gary laid down at the meeting. Search the internet for Ipperwash and try to find any stories or sites (unaffiliated with CWUC) that aren’t about Dudley George. I am rather resourceful and I did my best, but I could only find one. It’s an official government website promoting Ipperwash as a beautiful provincial park with a little note in the corner listing it as “temporarily closed”. I can’t imagine why they don’t elaborate.

    VoC REPLY: Isn’t that amazing – you can’t find anything that tells the story from the Ipperwash residents’ perspective. Too bad about the kid acting like a jerk, but what can you do: One thing Gary has taught me is that we have no control over who shows up at an event or what they do. It’s sad that after everything that the DCE criminals and their supporters have done that we have to even discuss the fact that one resident kid got mad at Timmer for taking people’s pictures and lost his temper. Thanks for writing, Jeff. Will be in touch. Mark

  8. I will give you a little background information so you will know that I am just an average work a day Joe with some spare time on my hands. My real first name is Mike and I am from London Ontario originally. London at that time 35 years ago when I was about 9 years old was a very white middle class city that wasn’t very nice to people who were minorities, especially east Indians and blacks. I grew up in a home with an alcoholic, verbally abusive, racist and occasionally violent father who was every bit the self centered sociopath type you couldn’t reason with. He wasn’t all bad but for the most part a pretty rotten bastard before he quit drinking 22 years ago, however he passed away last year so that chapter is closed for me now. I survived all that because my mother was and still is, the exact opposite, very loving and caring. Thank god, and also I was very lucky on many occasions I didn’t get killed driving like a fool drunk etc. Notwithstanding, my father’s influence really screwed up my way of thinking when I was younger, starting at about age 15. In short I was quite the prejudiced redneck asshole 29 years ago; being white I was free to hate everybody who wasn’t WASP. My outlook and behaviour didn’t change much until I left London to work in Brampton 20 years ago. What an immediate culture shock!!!! Suddenly I was surrounded by people of color everyday and forced respectfully interact with them for a whole year. Finally I learned that if you are an asshole, you are an asshole, regardless of what color you are, and many times I was the asshole!!! I quit and got a better paying job in Hamilton. I actually lived in Caledonia for 1 year in 1989 in a rented farmhouse on Hwy 6 (chicken farm) right where Hwy 6 meets Argyle st. at the bypass. I live in St. Catharines now and have for the last 17 years. I’ve worked in a unionized factory in Stoney Creek on second shift during the winter months for almost 18 years. I have had extensive training through the union regarding human rights, collective bargaining, health and safety, compensation etc. That and the changing demographics and exposure to peoples of different races, creeds, and nationalities changed my thinking, and my life. I am 44 years old now and married common law for 19 years with a son 12 and daughter 9. As Dr. King said in his I have a dream speech “I have a dream today that one day my children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”. I too have been attacked politically for exercising what I honestly believe is responsible freedom of speech and press in my workplace, standing up for my own rights, and the rights of others. Elimination of racism and teaching my children to be tolerant and understanding of others who are different from them is of the utmost importance to me. I don’t want them to rely on luck to keep from getting killed or repeat the same stupid mistakes I made. I want them to go farther, faster than I did in life by not having to be weighed down hauling around all that excess baggage, if you know what I mean. Feel free to post this testimonial about how people can change and learn a better way if they want to and if you want to. I am looking forward to your next post and your answers to my questions. It is my pleasure to challenge you to expand your understanding of the bigger picture. P.S. I don’t profess to be any kind of an expert just a concerned citizen and consider myself an amateur journalist much like you.

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