“Making sure it never happens again” is such a potent source of social innovation. This combination of necessity and love is a force of nature. Particularly when it emerges from the hands and hearts of Moms. I see it all the time. I bet you do too.
Here are three all-too-short illustrations.
Consider the work of Colleen Cardinal who is a grass roots organizer, filmmaker and Indigenous rights activist. Colleen was just a baby when she and her sisters were taken from their Alberta home and placed with a non-Indigenous family in Ontario. Starting in the 1960’s an estimated 20,000 indigenous children were taken from their parents and placed with mostly white families. “The 60’s Scoop” was a continuation of the residential school mentality which tore Indigenous children away from their families. Today she works with other adoptees to undo the psychological damage of Indigenous-to-white-family-adoptions. Colleen’s mission is to build a community of non-Indigenous and Indigenous people to address the devaluation of Indigenous women, culture and history. Colleen was recently honoured by the Nobel Women’s Initiative.
Consider also Kathy Hutchison’s work on restorative justice and forgiveness. Katy ‘s husband Bob was beaten to death while checking on a party being thrown by their neighbour’s son. Within an hour of her husband’s death she promised her then four-year-old twins, Amelia and Sam, that she would not allow their lives to become dominated by their father’s death. She made a promise that underneath the horror of what had just happened she would find a gift. She has since forgiven the young man who confessed to the crime. Read his story and apology here.
Finally, consider former Canadian senator Sharon Carstairs who I wrote about in Impact. As a young child she had been sexually abused by a family friend, who effectively silenced her by insisting that no one would believe her if she spoke about his violations. Yet in the face of her abuser’s developing interest in her younger sister, she found her voice. This set her on a path that led far beyond protecting her younger sister, to a lifetime of advocacy and public service. Today she is Canada’s most prominent champion for palliative care.
‘Making sure it never happens again,’ is relational and inter-generational. It is anchored in personal experience and deep caring. Such strongheartedness has launched millions of social innovations. Not all of them spread far and wide. Nor should they have to. Collectively they represent the sacred headwaters of human ingenuity. And deserving of our acknowledgement and respect not only on Mother’s Day.
Everything I do is for my children, my grandchildren and my grandchildren’s grandchildren. I feel that if I didn’t do something about what’s happening to Indigenous people in Canada, if I didn’t share my story, there would be nobody left in my family to fix it, to make it better.
– Colleen Cardinal
Whether victim or perpetrator, part of being human is rolling up our sleeves and taking an active part in repairing harm.
– Kathy Hutchison
I feel great about my voice — and about using it!
– Sharon Carstairs