Saturday, March 4, 2017

Home and Heart

I spent this morning at Welcome Place, listening to the stories of three men from Somalia and Ghana.

They are now living in Winnipeg, having come across the US border as refugees. One of them has been here for a couple of years: He arrived mid-August 2015 by swimming across the Red River. The other two arrived in the dead cold of last December and have paid the price for their freedom - quite literally - with their digits, which were frozen so severely they have been surgically removed.

I then was given a tour through Welcome Place, and I saw the desks at which employees and volunteers sit to help refugees navigate their way through the many forms needed to file their case. They have just 72 hours from arrival on Canadian soil in which to file the first forms to make their claim; thereafter, they have just 15 days in which to expand on, and submit, their claim.

And I saw the bare-bones apartment that Welcome Place offers refugees as their first home in Winnipeg. It was compact and clean, but spare. Very spare. I tried to see it through the eyes of a mother who might arrive with her children having left everything behind in, let's say, Syria. And I tried to imagine what it must feel like to bear the burden of all that loss for the sake of all that might be gained in the future -- if only one can make it into that future with head and heart intact. And I wondered if I would have the courage and the fortitude, the daily confidence, to wake up and do all the very hard work of learning the language, navigating the city, meeting strangers, figuring out how to take the bus, how to find food my kids will eat, how to make friends...

And, truly, it's near impossible for me to imagine what it must feel like. Can you?

Whether or not you can, I am asking you to #openyourhearts and support the important work that happens 24/7 at Welcome Place. Big or small, every donation will help men and women and children who found the courage to leave their lives behind and to find their way into Canada and, they hope, a new and better future for themselves.

This is our time to make a difference. With Donald Trump rampaging across democracy in the US, and with Kevin O'Leary set to emulate the carnage in Canada (at least, that's what I believe he will do if he wins the Conservative leadership), I am committed to standing up for the core values that guide the work of the Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council:

  • Compassion
  • Caring
  • Understanding
  • Acceptance
  • Love

I stand #WithRefugees. Will you?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

No more fraudulent thoughts

It's the day after America elected Donald Trump, quite possibly the most spectacularly unqualified candidate ever to run for President of the United States. It's not how I would have voted, but that is not what this post is about.

This post is about me suddenly realizing that it's totally and absolutely time that I stopped wasting even one more nano second thinking that I might not be qualified to teach a classroom of college students, offer an opinion in a meeting, lead a group on a project, suggest to a decision-maker up the hierarchy from me that their perspective could do with shifting...In other words, today is the day I own my own potential and take up the space in the world that my knowledge, skills and experience give me the right to do.

I'm fed up with others around me - often men - taking up air space with opinions and ideas not supported by facts, research or experience. And I'm really getting fed up with men being given the chance to lead when they have less experience than I have. Effective immediately, I know I can be - and should be - the acting chair in my department when the boss is away...and I'm going to let the boss know that I want that responsibility.

This sudden realization might be the only good thing that's come out of the 2016 US election for me. And I'm going to take it, and I'm going to run with it.

Look out world. Here I come.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

A new MP for Winnipeg Centre?

Are you a Winnipeg Centre voter who wants to see an MP represent us in Ottawa 
who will be accountable to his constituents and visible on the ground in the riding 
doing work that furthers social justice for the people who live in this riding? 

I have voted in every election I was eligible for since I turned 18. Over the years, I have supported representatives from parties across the political spectrum and I have held memberships in some of those parties, too. Sometimes I wanted to support the national leader, sometimes the local candidate. But always, I wanted my vote to help fill the House of Commons with people whom I trusted to represent my values and my commitment to social justice.

A party's policies may come and go. They may not always hit the mark from my perspective, so I want my elected representative to be an effective and frequent communicator with me. I want them to knock on my door to ask me what my current issues are and to get feedback on their performance. I want to know that person and feel a connection with them as they work on my behalf at the municipal, provincial or federal level.

For these reasons, I am supporting the nomination of Allan Wise in the upcoming Liberal Party nomination meeting for the 2015 federal election. I gave him my vote last time round and wrote about my reasons here.

I will be giving him my vote this time round again, and I am asking you to consider doing the same. But before we can vote for Allan as our representative in Ottawa, we need to help him win the nomination in Winnipeg Centre.

Please email me at alerougete at gmail dot com if you are a Winnipeg Centre voter who wants to see an MP represent us in Ottawa who will be accountable to his constituents and visible on the ground in the riding doing work that furthers social justice for the people who live in this riding.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Gone fishing

I'm offline to renew and rejuvenate.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Laying fallow

More than six months without a post can mean only one thing: My focus has been elsewhere...

However, the new year and new beginnings are nurturing my creative juices - and my vision board for 2012 says WRITING EVERY WEEK, so stay tuned!

Who knows what will pop up here one day soon...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lessons in the garden

Everything really important in life can be learned in the garden:

First the rain, then the sun, then things grow.

Ten minutes here and there keeps it looking good. Much better than good intentions to spend half a day making it look gorgeous.

Earthworms can be startling creatures but their work deep down is vital to what shows above.

Cats love sitting in among the plants. Natural (and wise) decorations that move with the sun.

Build a retaining wall and little kids will play on it. Young spirits bring good energy.

A plan is essential.

Ripping out wild and unexpected growth is essential.

Letting unexpected things spurt up between the plan is essential.

What was dormant last year, may come back better next.

Getting your hands dirty early in the season gives you a jump on new growth.

Whether sites of activity or quiet contemplation, gardens ARE life.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Monday's election: Vote local

This election, I'm voting local - I mean really local, for Winnipeg Centre's Liberal candidate who has worked on social justice issues in this riding for 20 years. Allan Wise arrived in Canada as a refugee from Iran and has lived through poverty and struggle, and always given back. Now I'm giving him my vote on Monday.

Allan is the executive director of the Central Neighbourhoods Development Corporation (CNDC), and teaches politics as a sessional lecturer at the University of Winnipeg.

Unlike Winnipeg Centre’s Conservative and NDP candidates, I have attended the last two all-candidates forums: one at Gordon Bell, the second at Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre. Bev Pitura attended neither, while Pat Martin was absent at Gordon Bell (he attended a fundraiser instead).

I first met Allan on my doorstep where, eloquently and passionately, he explained that he wants to be the voice for the people of this riding in Ottawa. He wants to take his experience with social justice issues and translate them into policies on housing, jobs and youth programs that make a difference on the ground, here at home. He has pledged to hold town hall meetings throughout the year and to listen to us more than he talks at us: “I have two ears and one mouth; this means I should listen more and speak less,” he says.

In my neighbourhood of Wolseley, we represent only 20% of the Winnipeg Centre riding, yet hold the voting power. We show up at the polls, while many, many residents north of Portage and west of Main Street do not.

Before you vote, please consider the record of our incumbent MP and think about everyone in our riding who needs – desperately needs – a strong, locally rooted voice in Ottawa. If this election is truly about change, that change begins with your decision about who to vote for on Monday. It matters to you and to me, and it likely matters even more to the kids who go hungry for lack of food in the fridge at home and who think a short stint in jail is the best way to find a place to sleep. For the single mothers of every race who cannot afford a decent, safe place to live and raise their children. For the immigrants and refugees who are trying to find their way into a new life of meaning and dignity in Winnipeg. The list goes on...

Think before you vote on Monday. Same old, same old is not the best choice this time round.

For more info about Allan Wise, visit him online at .