How Do You Defend Yourselves?

This blog post below by Patti Moore Wilson, a fellow New Brunswicker, captures the essence of what people outside the U.S. cannot fathom about the legal proliferation of guns in that country. While the mass shootings and suicides by guns pile up, the gun manufacturers get richer and richer. 🥲

Be sure to click on the “View original post” link below the following text to finish reading Patti’s post; it does such a good job of explaining in a few words the contrasting mindset between (most) Americans and (most) Canadians. To defend yourself … or, to defend yourself against what?! Read on.


Source of photo: Wikipedia

I wrote the post below several years ago. Unless we are hunting – with a valid and very strict hunting licence – we aren’t allowed to carry guns in my country. I admit, I was feeling a bit smug at the time that I wrote this: until quite recently, you didn’t hear about inner-city gangs (we do now) and you didn’t mourn the loss of eight (!!!) police officers in the line of duty in six months, as our country has been mourning since just yesterday. You didn’t hear about mass shootings either, but the world seems to have been rubbing off on what I used to consider my gentle country and unfortunately, they now happen here, too. Nothing though, compares to the regularity of mass gun shootings in the United States and nothing compares to the dreaded, unthinkable School Shooting. Those two words should never…

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When helping helps

Wars, disease, famine, and oppression are having devastating impacts on untold numbers of people around the world. In the “wealthy countries” we are seeing an alarming rise in the number of people who find themselves homeless. For decades homelessness was considered largely a big city “problem”, but no longer. You will find people living “rough” in cities, towns, and lately even in rural areas. Of course, it’s a very, very complex issue, and there are many reasons why people end up finding themselves homeless, by why are the numbers growing so dramatically?

Drug addiction is one issue – the huge spike in opioid addiction alone has ruined the lives of countless thousands of people, for which the main opioid-producing pharmaceutical company is finally being sued. Talk about too little, too late for all those families affected.

Mental health challenges in their very different manifestations is another issue. Too many people in need of mental health care are living on the streets, or in some places in prisons, for lack of sufficient support for mental health.

Escaping an abusive homelife and not having any resources to make a new life for yourself is another issue. Or, in some places these days, with deflated wages and inadequate supplies of affordable housing, people can be working and still find themselves homeless. And we can’t forget the very sad reality that sometimes everything just goes wrong for someone all at the same time; lose your job, lose your home, lose your credit, lose your car, suddenly you’re confronted with the unimaginable. “There but for the grace of God go I” comes to mind.

These challenges require different interventions; one solution most certainly does not fit everyone. And nobody has all the answers. But giving people who find themselves living in a tent city – especially in the dead of a Canadian winter – a chance to find their way to a better “place” – on their own terms, to the best of their ability, with personal dignity and personal safety – is surely what we should be striving for.  Surely we want to live in and support communities that aim to provide that opportunity for all of its citizens.

A tent camp in Fredericton last year (2022) before it was taken down for safety reasons. The shelters fill up, and some people aren’t comfortable being around lots of people in the shelters. Temperatures were in the -20C range.

In our town, there are many support programs and outreach work underway, including shelters, but still the tent camps keep springing up. It’s a long, slow process to get it right for everyone.

One person who has introduced a new approach in our town is local IT entrepreneur and social activist Marcel Lebrun. I’ve written a bit about his project and vision previously, most recently in my Who’s Your Hero? post. Marcel has worked closely with the Indigenous community as a strong ally, leading projects that hopefully will help other non-Indigenous people understand the Indigenous culture and history – and issues –  better. Most recently, he’s started his visionary 12 Neighbours Community, which is a multifaceted project providing housing (tiny homes) for people currently homeless, and at the same time empowering those new residents to take ownership of their new community and, for those who are interested and able, to learn employable skills. There is a workshop on site where new tiny homes continue to be built and added to this community, and aside from being part of the solution for providing homes for the homeless, these new residents obtain skills-training and experience that can be used to help fill our shortage of tradespeople.

A streetscape at the 12 Neighbours Community, when it started last summer and then this winter. The project was named for the original 12 tiny homes; the number has since grown to 44 and is growing.

Recently Marcel posted an article on the 12 Neighbours Community Facebook page that articulates the philosophy underlying this project so well that I thought it needed to be shared. It’s a message we might not all want to hear at first blush, but I think once you absorb it you will see the difference he’s speaking about. See what you think.

When Helping Helps, by Marcel Lebrun

As the famous Chinese proverb states, “Give a man a fish, and you feed hm for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This sentiment encapsulates the fundamental difference between helping that hurts and helping that truly helps. Many well-intended actions can, at times, cause more harm than good, inadvertently undermining the development of an individual’s capacity. In contrast, “when helping helps” focuses on fostering independence and growth by working alongside others to build strengths and capabilities.

Emergency relief, or traditional charity, is appropriate in acute situations; however, extending its application to chronic circumstances is inadvertently harmful. A chronic situation calls for long term development, not relief.

Additionally, it’s essential to recognize that a relationship that truly helps should not be based on a provider-recipient dynamic, but on mutuality. As Indigenous activist and artist Lila Watson said, “ If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.”

One evidence-based approach that aligns with this notion is Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). By cultivating the positive assets of a community, ABCD identifies and harnesses the skills, resources, and strengths of community members to foster sustainable, transformative change.

Robert D. Lupton’s book, “Toxic Charity,” echoes this sentiment, arguing that the traditional charity model often fosters dependency and undermines dignity. Lupton advocates for a shift towards a more collaborative and empowering approach, one that emphasizes development, capacity building, and genuine partnership.

To create a truly helpful environment that fosters development and capacity-building, consider these guiding principles:

  1. Listen and learn: Get to know each other, by deeply listening and understanding the unique perspectives, strengths, experiences, and challenges of those you aim to walk beside.
  2. Focus on strengths: Foster the capabilities of community members to achieve self-reliance, independence, and self-sufficiency.
  3. Mutuality: Work alongside communities and individuals – with them, not for them. Follow the principle: Nothing about me, without me.
  4. Sustainability: Prioritize long-term development and capacity building over short-term fixes.
  5. Person-centric: Adapt to the individual needs and situations, recognizing that one size does not fit all.

Embracing these principles and focusing on development and capacity building allow us to move beyond the harmful aspects of well-intentioned assistance and create lasting, positive change. In the slow, hard work of coming alongside others and helping them grow, we find the true essence of helping that helps.

Thank you, Marcel, for these wise words and for all that you do.

Posted in Leadership, Social justice Saturday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

A little humour (aka humor) that requires, gasp, reading!

I’ve loaded my readers with some serious topics this past week or so. Time for a lighter tone; let’s take a break with some stress-relieving chuckles. (Thanks to Bill, Marilyn, and a few other friends for providing me with quality material to share.)


A trip to Rome

A man walked into Joe’s Barber Shop for his regular haircut. As he snips away, Joe asks ‘What’s up?’

The man proceeds to explain he’s taking a vacation to Rome.

‘ROME?!’ Joe says, ‘Why would you want to go there? It’s a crowded dirty city full of Italians! You’d be crazy to go to Rome! So how ya getting there?’

‘We’re taking TWA,’ the man replies.

‘TWA?!’ yells Joe. ‘They’re a terrible airline. Their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly and they’re always late! So where you staying in Rome?’

The man says ‘We’ll be at the downtown International Marriot.’

‘That DUMP?!’ says Joe. ‘That’s the worst hotel in the city! The rooms are small, the service is surly and slow and they’re overpriced! So whatcha doing when you get there?’

The man says ‘We’re going to go see the Vatican and hope to see the Pope.’

‘HA! That’s rich!’ laughs Joe. ‘You and a million other people trying to see him. He’ll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on THIS trip. You’re going to need it!’ Continue reading

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Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racism. It should be changed from March 21 to EVERY DAY!

I don’t usually post two days in a row, but there are exceptions to everything and this is one of them. Today is International Day for the Elimination of Racism, and it needs all the help it can get. There are two things in this world that cause me more anguish than anything else that is wrong could be so much better in this world, never-ending racism and increasing inequality. Racism and inequality negatively impact millions upon millions of people every day. Why?! Why the blankety-blank doesn’t this change? Why can’t we evolve to see each other for what we all are, just people? All of us, just people. And that’s how we ALL should be treated. With respect.

Fellow blogger John Persico, at the provocatively named blog Aging Capriciously, wrote a powerful post last month on the scourge (aka evil) of racism. I’m going to reblog the beginning of his post here and encourage you to follow the link to read his further analysis. If you’re looking for thought-provoking reads, Aging Capriciously is always the place to go! Continue reading

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Map Monday: Exploring International Francophonie Day and the francophonie in Canada in maps (and words)

I bet most of you didn’t know that March 20 is International Francophonie Day. Or even what it is! Established in 1970, UNESCO describes the Francophonie as a coming together of nations and states that celebrates the cultural and linguistic diversity that makes up the world. That is a reason I can buy into. Language represents far more than just a means of communication (good and bad), it represents one’s culture, history, and sense of pride. Just ask people whose cultures have had their language taken away or who feel their native language is at risk. Just ask people whose hearts are warmed by hearing others speak their native language.

According to a Canadian government website:

La Francophonie, officially established in 1970, is currently a group of 88 states and member governments and observers that share French as a common language, as well as values in common. It is an important player in international relations that represents 1 billion people, including 300 million Francophones, on the five continents.

[To view any of the maps in more detail, just click on its image.]

Continue reading

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Thoughts on being a friend

Fellow blogger Coach Muller posted this little nugget, Share Your Light, a few months ago and it has stayed with me. It’s a bit hokey, but resonates strongly.  We need to be there for each other.  We need to be attuned to each other’s needs.  Sometimes we need to ask our friends if they’re all right; sometimes we need to be strong enough to tell our friends we’re not all right. Sometimes we need to share our light.

When a flashlight grows dim or quits working, do you just throw it away?
Of course not!
You change the batteries.

When a person messes up or finds themselves in a dark place, do you cast them aside?
Of course not!

Some need AA…Attention and Affection
Some Need AAA…AttentionAffectionAcceptance
Some need C…Compassion
Some need D…Direction
And if they still don’t seem to shine…
Simply sit with them and share YOUR LIGHT! Continue reading

Posted in Odds and Ends | Tagged , , , , | 36 Comments

Wordless Wednesday: Contemplation

Who are these creatures? What is their story?

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A little humour (aka humor) to help put life’s challenges in perspective

The stash of humour I collect from my social media feeds just keeps growing. Time to release a few more of them for your enjoyment (with special thanks this time to Bill and Marilyn). They’re all meant to be in good fun. 😉

Continue reading

Posted in A little humour (humor) | Tagged , , , | 44 Comments