Downie takes to Parliament Hill to speak out for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples

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Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, July 2, 2017 6:57PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, July 2, 2017 8:23PM EDT

OTTAWA — Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie made a rare public appearance Sunday to bring attention to the ongoing plight of some of Canada’s young indigenous people, likening it to the same kind of pain young people suffered in the now defunct residential schools.

He told young people gathered at festivities surrounding “We Day,” the movement inspired by children’s rights activist brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger, that they can learn a lot about the history of government-funded, church-run residential schools, where indigenous children endured widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

Standing on the stage set up on Parliament Hill for Canada Day weekend, Downie said that indigenous children in parts of Canada still must travel great distances to go to school, likening it to “the pain, the torture and the death,” suffered in the residential schools.

Indigenous leaders say children regularly leave to the nearest urban centre to get education and health care services not offered in remote communities. There have been cases where the young people have died because get caught up in risky behaviour because they lack community supports.

“It is still happening even though the residential school has gone away. Kids are still having to travel great distances to live and go to school,” Downie said, with silence filling the pauses between his words.

Downie is suffering from an incurable form of brain cancer and makes few public appearances, but has used those to be a voice for the country’s indigenous peoples and the harm caused by the residential school system.

One day after the country marked 150 years, Downie used his brief time on stage to speak about the “new” country that would be born in the next 150 years.

“Yours is the first generation in the new and real Canada. I love you,” he said to applause.

“You and yours, the indigenous, together will make this a true country now, one true to your word. The new 150 years, not the old one. The new one. Exciting and true.”

The path to reconciliation was a key theme of the Canada Day weekend in the nation’s capital, which saw a group of indigenous activists erect a demonstration teepee on Parliament Hill as part of what they called a “reoccupation” to bring attention to the history of indigenous people. It was removed on Sunday.

The federal Liberals have been the focus of political heat over the party’s sweeping promises to First Nations, amid increasing pressure to comply with a human rights tribunal’s order to properly fund First Nations child welfare services.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Downie and those in attendance that Canadians and their government must accept responsibility for “our failings” as the country tries to help victims and their families heal decades-old wounds.

“Gord, your work is a powerful reminder of all that still needs to be done to acknowledge one of the darkest chapters in our history and make things right with Canada’s First Nations, Metis Nation, and Inuit peoples.”

After Trudeau spoke, a school choir performed Downie’s song “The Stranger,” the lead track off his solo album Secret Path that tells the story of 12-year-old Chanie Wenjack. Wenjack died in 1966 after running away from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Kenora, Ont.

Downie had previously performed the song at a “We Day” event in Toronto in October. This time, he stood to the side, appearing emotional at times, and tipping his hat to the choir when they all donned sparkling purple hats similar to the one Downie wore during the Hip’s last tour last year.

As the choir walked off the stage, Downie shook the singers’ hands and thanked them.

Why the only future worth building includes everyone. Pope Francis, Ted Talk

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Translated by Michele Gianella
Reviewed by TED Open Translation

0:11 [His Holiness Pope Francis Filmed in Vatican City First shown at TED2017]
0:15 Good evening – or, good morning, I am not sure what time it is there.
Regardless of the hour, I am thrilled to be participating in your conference.
I very much like its title – “The Future You” – because, while looking at tomorrow,
it invites us to open a dialogue today,
to look at the future through a “you.”
“The Future You:” the future is made of yous, it is made of encounters, because
life flows through our relations with others.
Quite a few years of life have
strengthened my conviction
that each and everyone’s existence is deeply
tied to that of others:
life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.
1:27 As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who
face terrible hardships
in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates
who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts,
and to those, many of them young,
who cannot find a job,
I often find myself wondering: “Why them and not me?”
I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like
many other Italians,
left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left
with nothing.
I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people.
And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: “Why them and not me?”
2:35 First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us
that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent
“I,” separated from the other,
and we can only build the future by standing together,
including everyone.
We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and
we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.
Even the harsh judgment I
hold in my heart
against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never
cured, the offense that was never forgiven,
the rancor that is only going to hurt me,
are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs
to be extinguished
before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.
3:38 Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something
impossible to achieve.
While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they
are not invincible.
They can be overcome when we don’t lock our door to the
outside world.
Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between
the whole and each single component.
Even science – and you know it better than
I do –
points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element
connects and interacts with everything else.
4:27 And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if
the growth of scientific and technological innovation
would come along with
more equality and social inclusion.
How wonderful would it be, while we discover
faraway planets,
to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around
us.
How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient
word,
were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default
attitude
in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships
among individuals, peoples and countries.
Only by educating people to a true solidarity
will we be able to overcome the “culture of waste,” which doesn’t concern only food
and goods
but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our
techno-economic systems
which, without even realizing it, are now putting
products at their core, instead of people.
6:08 Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary.
Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed
or controlled.
It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone.
Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many
contradictions, is a gift,
that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can t
hey withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?
6:50 In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity.
And I know that TED gathers many creative minds. Yes, love does require a creative,
concrete
and ingenious attitude. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often
used to appease our conscience, are not enough.
Let us help each other, all together,
to remember
that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face.
The “you” is always a real presence, a person to take care of.
7:52 There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between
those who’d rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other.
I am sure
you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

When Jesus was asked: “Who is my neighbor?” – namely, “Who should I take care of?”
he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and
abandoned along a dirt road.
Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very
influential people of the time,
walked past him without stopping to help.
After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by.
Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he
weren’t even there.
Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled
him to act in a very concrete manner.
He poured oil and wine on the wounds of
the helpless man,
brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him
to be assisted.
9:26 The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity.
People’s paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around
money, and things, instead of people.
And often there is this habit, by people
who call themselves “respectable,”
of not taking care of the others, thus leaving
behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations,
on the side of the road.
Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care
of the other, even out of their own pockets.
Mother Teresa actually said:
“One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense.”
10:26 We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we
do that with all the evil we breathe every day?
Thank God, no system can
nullify our desire to open up to the good,
to compassion and to our capacity
to react against evil,
all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you
might tell me,
“Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan,
nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta.”
On the contrary: we are precious, each and
every one of us.
Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God.
Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become
a bright candle,
a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the
other way around.
11:27 To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope.
Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy
humanity is facing.
Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness,
that doesn’t dwell on the past,
does not simply get by in the present, but is able
to see a tomorrow.
Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble,
hidden seed of life
that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some
invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow,
that brings flavor to all
aspects of life.
And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds
on hope
is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough
for hope to exist,
and that individual can be you. And then there will be another
“you,” and another “you,”
and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when
we have an “us?”
No. Hope began with one “you.” When there is an “us,” there
begins a revolution.
13:16 The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution:
the revolution of tenderness.
And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes
close and becomes real.
It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches
the eyes, the ears and the hands.
Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other,
our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid
of the future.
To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and
polluted earth.
Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other,
to take care of those in need.
14:13 Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need
the other.
A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze,
their voice, their tenderness.
I like when I hear parents talk to their babies,
adapting to the little child,
sharing the same level of communication. This is
tenderness: being on the same level as the other.
God himself descended into
Jesus to be on our level.
This is the same path the Good Samaritan took.
This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire
human existence
practicing the real, concrete language of love.
15:23 Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous
men and women.
Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of
solidarity, the path of humility.
Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more
your actions will have an impact on people,
the more responsible you are to act
humbly.
If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.
There is a saying in Argentina: “Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.
You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting
yourself and those around you,
if you don’t connect your power with humility and
tenderness.
Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power –
the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.
16:52 The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of
great leaders, of big companies.
Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility.
But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other
as a “you”
and themselves as part of an “us.” We all need each other. And so, please,
think of me as well with tenderness,
so that I can fulfill the task I have been given
for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us. Thank you.