Don’t sacrifice truth for illusion of security

Very few people have ever had the freedoms Canadians enjoy today. May we always be mindful of this

Don’t sacrifice truth for illusion of securityLike many of my generation of German descent, I’ve had to grapple with an uncomfortable family history. Though I know he came to regret his decision, my grandfather was a member of the Nazi Party and was part of the populist movement that brought them to power. I could make excuses for his decision and…

Three generations of courage and commitment

When you search the name Henry Morgenthau, you find remarkable legacies left by three men of one extraordinary family

Three generations of courage and commitmentAs I examined the history of human rights in America, one name kept coming up: Henry Morgenthau. It turns out I was actually learning about three men: Henry Morgenthau Sr., Henry Morgenthau Jr. and Henry Morgenthau III, father, son and grandson. All of them spoke with courage and together advanced the cause of human rights…

Through crisis we can find a common humanity

After things settle and we look back on COVID-19, we need to recognize the lesson it taught us about looking after one another

Through crisis we can find a common humanityI always believe that life has something to teach us. We just need to listen. Experts in many fields have been warning about a global pandemic for years. Prof. Frank Chalk, the director of the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, for example, has pointed out that when we help the most vulnerable…

Just do the right thing – no matter what

You may never know the outcome of your actions. But you can know with certainty the results of doing nothing

Just do the right thing – no matter whatIn studying the history of social change, I’m moved by the number of great people who died never knowing the full extent of their contribution to a better world. Three examples from the 20th century are Raphael Lemkin, Peter Bryce and Viola Desmond. Lemkin was a brilliant lawyer and professor. He was also a Polish…

We must face up to Canada’s dark past

Telling our Indigenous people to ‘get over it’ comes dangerously close to outright genocide denial

We must face up to Canada’s dark pastAs tensions have mounted in Canada in recent months over land claims and Indigenous rights, I’ve heard and read many variations of the phrase, “The Indigenous just need to get over it.” I wonder if the people who embrace this view really know what they’re saying. It reflects complete ignorance of the history of Canada…

Making a commitment to common humanity

We may have different opinions, alliances, ideals, languages, skin colours, gender preferences. These are simply characteristics that add variety to life

Making a commitment to common humanityGroundbreaking American anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” In many ways, this is a call to action for all of us, regardless of our political or economic perspectives. We have the power to change the…

Turning challenges into opportunities for success

But to successfully face those challenges, you need to know yourself and the opposition you face, and be prepared to grow and adapt

Turning challenges into opportunities for successIn the classic book The Art of War, Sun Tzu teaches about far more than war. He also teaches some of the key elements of a joyful and meaningful life. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the…

We’re all equal but this doesn’t mean we’re all the same

May we always have the freedom to ask the difficult questions and the courage to seek the difficult answers

We’re all equal but this doesn’t mean we’re all the sameOver the years, I’ve found that being authentic is one of the most important qualities I need to display with my students. From time to time, this requires me to admit that I’m wrong. I once corrected a student who was putting on a stereotypical Indigenous accent. His reply was, “I’m part Indigenous, this is…

Words matter, outcomes matter more

In modern society, we tend to casually toss around words like racism and genocide. We need to be more respectful of these words – and their horrible history

Words matter, outcomes matter moreIf you are an activist who wants to persuade your fellow citizens of the correctness of your views, the first thing you should do is take control of the English language. Change the meanings of words so your enemies can be accused of any crime and your side can always claim the moral high ground.…

Which inner wolf will you feed – good or evil?

Amazing people are all around us. In fact, they live within each of us. We simply need to pay attention to them

Which inner wolf will you feed – good or evil?Not long ago in my Social Justice 12 class, we were discussing a particular genocide when one of my students drew our attention to the Cherokee legend of The Tale of the Two Wolves. In this story, a child who was wronged comes to his grandfather for advice. The elder tells him that in every…