Following the Ottawa Shooting there was an emergency public meeting held at Sydenham Street United Church in Kingston where many community members gathered to mourn for the losses of life but also expressed concern for the possible loss of civil liberties resulting from rushed legislation in the aftermath of this event.
Below is an open letter from local resident Blenda Slomka who shared these words at the meeting and was supportive of us sharing them here. Thank you Brenda for sharing.
I am thinking of you. I think of you a lot, but today you take up much more of my reflection space.
I am one of your most devoted friends and I know you know this. For the (what seems) short amount of time we have shared together you have been ever present in helping me to conquer my fear of heights as I’ve traversed glaciers and mountains all over, you have reminded me of importance of narrative and the history of our country as I’ve travelled and read your blue historic plaques, you have kept me healthy as I have swam in your great lakes and beautiful clean waters, you have deepened my intellectual capacity as I have studied and learned and unlearned at your places of higher education, you have shown me the richness of cultural diversity, represented in your vast and rich regions that I have visited and you have written on my heart the beauty of community – the glorious and strong strand that get weaved together as we walk this journey we call life.
And so today I think of you
Today you lost two sons I hear you say.
Today your heart breaks for what should not have been.
Today you ask me, you ask us to consider what it means to be a truly diverse community.
Oh I know you well, and I know you grieve, for both your sons. I know your heart for freedom, for access, and for opportunity. I know your deep desire that the access afforded to all who belong to you would be used for good, for something more than harm.
I writing to you because I want you to know that embedded in who I know you to be are the values that will move us forward; compassion, hard work, understanding, care.
I know you get it. I know you hear the tension in loosing both your sons and it hurts when you hear the comments; the statements that one of them deserved to die. Ohhhh. I don’t like it. I don’t like that because I grieve, as you do for, two instead of one – and I know that for some grieving for two makes us less of yours, less “Canadian”.
We are all given choice to respond to this tragic event, and I’m choosing to not accuse. I don’t like it. I don’t. I know you don’t because you wanted the same opportunities for both of them, but one choose evil. I hear your heart break. Evil has harmful consequences, but there is light that shines even as darkness takes it place, and today forcefully it took its place.
I’m writing to you because I want to assure you that I don’t have to like it, but I do know I have to play a role in moving forward and that means not accusing and that means not allowing for blanket statements and that means love instead of hate, and it means choosing to challenge comments and it even means potentially loosing some votes.
You must know that I will not compromise my commitment to peace, to moving forward, to walking though the pain and the fear.
I’m here. I’m not afraid and I anticipate that you will rise as our glowing hearts unite to work for peace.
And so I leave you with this, my refusal and my commitment.
” I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word” MLKJ
With much love and appreciation for our shared journey over the years