• Eugene Stickland

Heading Into 2020

We are living in an interesting time, which as you may know is a curse in China, as when they say "May you live in interesting times." In many ways, the world seems out of joint. The economy is perilous in Alberta and beyond, the climate is both fragile and volatile, many of our leaders are reviled, not revered. And on it goes.

We may sing of "Joy to the world," but joy - and faith and hope and peace and love - all seem in short supply. I've talked to so many people since Christmas who tell me the only good thing they have to say about Christmas is that they survived it. They endured it. It was a grim, bloodless experience.

I think most of us can relate to these sentiments. I know I can. It's a dark time, deep in the dead of winter. The days are short, the nights long. How can we manage to rise about this and find true happiness?

The people I know, the friends I have who find this to be a tough time of the year would seem, on the surface, to have little to complain about. They all live in nice places, they drive nice cars, they have money in the bank. In short, they are safe. There are no real threats to their way of life.

Yet as we all know, depression and other mental problems can strike anyone at any time, regardless of their circumstances. No amount of money, no architecture no matter how vast and ornate, no set of wheels can keep it away if it sets you in its sites.

I try to imagine just how it is for some of the Stardale girls at this time of year. I think my own sadness probably arises from my memories of magical Christmases when I was young. But that was so long ago. My parents have both passed away, as well as my brothers. I have sister far away and my daughter is in another country. It feels so empty that I don't even try.

But I wonder if some of our girls ever had a good Christmas at any time in their young lives. Some of them survive in very dysfunctional family situations. Many of their parents are survivors of the residential school debacle. And the sad assumption that we can make in this country: because they are First Nations we can assume they live in, or at least not far from, poverty.

These thoughts propel me forward into a new year. I'm sure I speak for Helen and all of the wonderful women who work at Stardale when I say this cycle must be broken. We must do what we can to help shape a better future for these girls and their families.

In the immortal words of playwright Arthur Miller, "attention must be paid."

And so I head into 2020 with renewed energy and strength to help these girls tell their stories, with the hope and prayer that someone is listening, and that we will help make a difference in our world.

Happy New Year.

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