Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Humans of Hawthorne

 We could close our eyes, keep breathing poison air, witness the extinction of our relatives and continue to measure our worth by how much we take.

Robin Wall Kimmerer

     My daughter, Caroline, is the Office Administrator at Hawthorne Public School in Ottawa, a very special school indeed. This is a a place where the bulk of the students are immigrants, frequently refugees, who have had experiences and have seen horrors we can barely imagine. Yet they are durable, sensitive, wonderful kids who have made Canada their home and will leave us all grateful that their parents chose to come here. Thank goodness we live in a country where all are welcome, where we do not try to seal our borders, where we recognize the inherent worth of all human beings and we cherish and respect differences.
     The far-sighted principal of the school, Kristin Kopra, initiated the project Humans of Hawthorne to celebrate the experiences of the Hawthorne community, staff and student alike. It is founded on the assertion of indigenous writer, Thomas King: "The truth about stories is that that's all we are. You can't understand the world without telling a story."

Principal extraordinaire, Kristin Kopra

     During a visit to Caroline and her family this past weekend she introduced me Humans of Hawthorne and I was very moved by it, and could not help but be struck by the number of students who voiced concern over the state of the environment, and what their future might be in a world of devastating fires, catastrophic floods, food shortages and other calamities yet unknown.
     Since I do not have the permission of the children's parents to use their names, I will not show them here, but read if you will the pleas of these young people who are inheriting the mess we have created for them, and continue to do so without an appreciable end to it, or even the resolve to do better.

Dear humanity...
I want to warn you
From the sky to the ocean
Covered in pollution and waste
We have failed to protect the world we were given
So much so that the earth is trying to get rid of us
From the tsunamis to tornadoes and even thunderstorms
This is to tell you that if we don't act now we'll lose this home
This planet is our home and if we don't protect it
We'll lose it
(Student - Grade 8)

Dear Humanity
Please stop polluting the Earth.
The Earth is slowly rotting and everybody can see it.
I strongly disagree with littering and if you are littering you are adding to the cause.
The littering is ruining our earth.
In April it's supposed to be spring and it's snowing like it's Christmas.
We are hurting our own planet and killing it.
In our school there is so much waste in the yard like masks, bottles, and paper.
If we don't stop littering we won't be able to breathe in non-polluted air. 
We'll have to wear plague masks.
It's not too late to make a change! 
Start cleaning up our waste. 
We NEED to do better as humans.
(Student - Grade 7)

     Let me remind you that these words come from young people who have had to deal with inconceivable grief, misery and horror, yet their concern is for the planet - the only home we and they will ever have, yet we continue to poison the soil, the water and the very air that we breathe.

Dear Humanity...
Dear Humanity, listen to me.
You're doing bad.
Here is why you have to listen to me saying you're wasting food.
We need equal rights.
You have started a civil war in these countries.
You have polluted our oceans by throwing plastics.
We have to make our beloved Earth a better home for use.
You have to make better choices.
( Student - Grade 8)

Dear Humanity
Dear humanity, you have been doing bad and good things to the Earth.
Warning:
You've been throwing plastic in the ocean.
A lot of poverty, people are homeless, hungry, dying.
Garbage is being thrown away everywhere.
Food is being wasted.
We need equal education. 
Thanking humanity:
For donating.
For those who welcome and help refugees - to those who help my family.
Safe places from war created.
To those who keep our Earth clean.
Fighting and protesting.
(Student - Grade 8)

Dear Humanity...
Dear Humanity.
I warn you about the world
What you're doing to the Earth is not right, 
Causing worldwide pollution and high levels of carbon dioxide.
I want people to cut down on the use of gas.
If you listen to this letter then a lot will change
cleaner air
and climate change won't last.
(Student - Grade 7)

Dear Humanity
I think it's a bad thing to pollute the Earth; please refrain.
Stop littering in the ocean.
We are hurting the earth and the animals.
Stop using plastics and start recycling and reusing.
Start farming/planting and eating more vegetables instead of meat.
Stop burning trash, leaves and other materials.
Use bikes instead of cars
unless you're going somewhere really far.
Turn off the lights when you're not using them.
Think about switching to an electric vehicle,
It can be expensive but will save you money in the long run.
And it also causes less pollution to the environment.
WE SHOULD DO BETTER AS HUMAN BEINGS!!!
(Student - Grade 8)

     There is much more. A united voice of anguish from young people facing a very hostile future.
     Do we bequeath them this:


     ..... or this?


     This.....


     ..... or this?


     The choice is ours to make, and each one of us can do our part. No one is going to become an environmental saint overnight but there are countless small things that can be done. Refuse to accept plastic straws and lids, plastic cutlery, never buy bottled water, drive less, buy only the food you can eat and don't throw food away, never litter...and...and - you fill in the blanks. You know what they are. 
     We owe no less to all the young people of the world. Or is it already too late?
David M. Gascoigne,
David M. Gascoigne,

I'm a life long birder. My interests are birds, nature, reading, books, outdoors, travel, food and wine.

76 comments:

  1. ...many adults theses days make good decisions. Our son teaches immigrant students English in a local high school.

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  2. I fear it is too late. I would be very, very glad to be wrong, but think that the time to act was yesterday (or perhaps the day before).
    This is such a sobering post.

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    1. Sadly, Sue, I am inclined to agree with you.

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    2. Well, it's never too late to do something right!

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  3. Hari OM
    🙏Oh those dear young people... these need to be made into billboards... great post, David. YAM xx

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    1. "The choice is ours to make, and each one of us can do our part." Truer words could not be written.

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  4. So true! And the young people are very aware of what they have inherited. I did love the student who talked about both sides of humanity--the ones who add to the problem and the ones who are trying to do something about the problem. We are all humanity. We really do need to realize the depth of how we are all in this together. :)

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  5. I have great fear, despair, and huge concerns for our young people. Whatever will the world be like as they grow older - the prospect is unimaginable. You only have to look at the huge band of red hot weather that is blighting so many countries all around the world currently.

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  6. I'm encouraged to read this, for future generations hold the future of the planet in their hands.

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    1. I fear that their future will be unmanageable. It is going to be akin to trying to put out a raging forest fire with a bucket of water.

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  7. It is good to see youth so committed to the environment! They are our hope!

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  8. I am very touched by these children. We need to do more to give them a better future, but they will be smarter than all of us judging by what I have read here.

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  9. This needs to SHARED everywhere! That very last photo just horrified me.

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  10. Bless them all these children from far off lands. I believe it's too late and all the world has to take part in prevention, not just several countries.

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  11. I was very touched when I read what the students have written, David. I share all their worries for the future. I fear it's too late to change all the bad things in the world, but I do hope we can change some of them.
    Hugs and kisses, Marit

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  12. The young people have the future, they say here, but that future looks bleak for them.
    We humans are destroying the earth, you see it happening everywhere around you, here in southern Europe they have a terrible heat wave that has been going on for ages and there is no prospect of change either, it is almost 50 degrees Celsius in Sicily.
    Unfortunately, only the money counts for the big companies, here in the Netherlands we have a few of those polluting companies and they do not intend to change anything about the emissions, my advice is to close those companies.
    Greetings Irma

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  13. It is good to read that younger people are concerned about losing nature. Even though I tend to think that it is too late, I still harbour certain hope that humanity will eventually realise and work together to repair what is broken. I'm currently really worried about the results in the national elections here in Spain, as the far right, which denies climate change, has a high possibility of winning. But I think humanity as a whole has to work together. If some countries implement respectful policies towards nature and many more do not, what's the point? I try to do what I can in my every day life, I plant hundreds of trees every year, but what is that compared to the big companies who pollute the world? It's such a complicated situation!!

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    1. It is a cause for sadness and consternation, Guillermo, that around the world we are still electing governments that deny the reality of climate change that we are witnessing daily, and that is destroying life on Earth as we know it, reducing biodiversity and affecting the entire web of life.

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  14. Buena labor desempeña tu hija. Esos niños necesitan mucha ayuda.
    Es impactante la imagen de la Ășltima fotografĂ­a-
    Un abrazo

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  15. Hello,
    It is great to see letters from these young people. They could be our future leaders.
    It would help if all the industries found better ways less plastic to package their goods. I am sickened by the littering. Take care, have a great day!

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  16. Je trouve que plus il y'a des informations pour moins polluer et plus les gens polluent. Comme quand chaque année il y'a des pubs pour ne pas abandonner ses animaux pour les vacances et que les abandons augmentent. Je vois que cela se dégrade, je trouve plus de mégots de cigarettes devant chez moi alors que cela peut facilement créer un départ de feu. Les gens qui jettent leur mégot dans la nature ne valent pas mieux que les pyromanes. Cette année j'ai porté mon attention au jardin sur l'eau, j'économisais déjà beaucoup mais j'ai pu faire plus. J'ai rajouté quelques cuves pour l'eau de pluie, mis beaucoup d'oyas vers les plantes, choisis des plantes trÚs résistantes au sec, arraché ce qui avait besoin de trop d'eau et aussi beaucoup taillé car un arbuste taillé va avoir moins de feuilles et donc moins besoin d'eau.
    Cette Ă©cole semble trĂšs bien, ouverte Ă  tous.
    Bonne journée

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  17. I was moved to tears by the words of these young people, David. If all young people voiced their concerns like this, there might just be a future for the planet - if those in power would listen to them!

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    1. And if only we could stop electing politicians who work against sensible change, Richard.

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  18. Hi David.

    Impressive David.

    Man has almost certainly used up the world completely and made it uninhabitable for humans and animals.

    Shame on humanity.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  19. I am so happy to hear of this school and the words that these students have written means they are being taught well. with 8 billion on our planet, it is important to start trying to turn things around. I do believe we have waited to long and that major disaster/catastrophes are going to happy due to what we have not done in the past. that said, we need to stop what we can as we can. I saw on tv this morning that the governor of Texas is spending almost a billion on trying to stop the immgrants at his border. just think what that money could do if spent helping people instead of hurting them. our immgrant population here in Florida is huge and because of how our state treats them, a lot of them are moving to Canada. or trying to. agree with Patricia, Shame on humanity. Not only are they destroying the planet but now they are killing each other at an alarming rate

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    1. A huge part of the problem is that we keep electing politicians like Abbott and DeSantis to keep doing more harm. When did the electorate become so dumb?

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  20. Wow. That sounds like a very impressive school and the depth of thought these young people have put into words is profound. It gives me great hope knowing that these kids are so aware of our environment and planet -- and great concern that it might be too late for them when they reach an age they can actually help enforce change. Hats off to your daughter and her school for what they are doing, what they have done.

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  21. Thank you for sharing this, David. I am shocked and sickened by my fellow citizens of the United States who are opposed to allowing people from other countries into the U.S. It makes no sense to me. The thought of a potential second Trump presidency horrifies me because he will also turn back any progress made in protecting the environment.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I just read a sickening report of officials at the border pushing migrants back into the Rio Grande and refusing them water.

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  22. As the saying goes, "out of the mouths of babes". One hopes they won't be disheartened or simply become so busy being an adult and trying to make a living that they become complacent. The older I get, the more I am worried about the future of the world we live in, and the one I'm leaving for my grandson. Are we doing enough, not likely but I am hopeful that the changes we are seeing will sustain our planet for a long time yet.

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    1. The planet will survive, almost certainly without humans, and in what manner is impossible to predict.

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  23. Dear humanity,
    You are doing badly,
    An acidic message, but true.

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  24. What a powerful message to the world. Smart kids, they get it while the adults just turn away.

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  25. Thanks for sharing, we can all do our part.

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  26. Maybe there is hope after all...Glad the young are paying attention..
    (I actually could comment today...go figure) ENjoy the rest of your week..

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  27. Firstly, my apologies for being slack in my responses of late, David.

    Your article is excellent, and the words of those kiddies worth the time of everyone to take notice of, and heed.

    I was concerned the other day when I read a small article in a newspaper...whether it is true, or not, I found it very worrying. The article said the Chinese are considering mining on the moon! Let's hope it was "Fake News".

    Take care of yourself and your loved ones.

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    1. I don’t think it is fake news. The USA is also contemplating it, so just another source of human conflict.

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  28. I feel for those kids who have written their concerns so clearly. On some days I am hopeful that we might be able to stop this madness that we have created, but mostly I am very pessimistic and am afraid it is far too late. I don't think this ship can be turned around. Everybody can do their part, I certainly do mine, and then I see someone throwing trash out of their pickup truck. The companies don't care, many politicians don't care. When will they understand that we don't carry around a second earth in the trunk of our cars? And thank you for writing about these kids at a time when so many complain about "our youth", how disrespectful they are etc. etc. If they're in 7th and 8th grade they're 12 and 13 years old, a difficult age, and they express themselves in such a mature way. Thank you. And kudos to Caroline for working in such a wonderful school.

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    1. Jonathon Kingdon says, "I take heart in the knowledge that adults with closed minds are no match for the independent intellect of children." Sadly the power structure is still controlled by rapacious adults for whom profit is the only motive.

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  29. There is always hope!....young generations are smart enough to see and work for a better and brighter future!....Abrazotes, Marcela

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  30. Powerful words but not enough actions....
    Profits over nature...
    Sadly most of people and states don't see that they are killing our Earth.
    Have a shinny day !
    Anna

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    1. You are seeing the results of our assault on nature with the excessive heat and wildfires across the Iberian Peninsula, Anna. When will we wake up? Too late, I fear.

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  31. David, your daughter works at a school and brings up students well. I can hardly imagine what awaits children and youth in a year and several years. Good letters from children.

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    1. As individuals, we can only do our best. How do we convince the nations responsible for the worst pollution to desist? That is the biggest challenge we face, for unless they accept responsibility and change their practices our grandchildren and certainly our great-grandchildren will definitely suffer.

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    2. We could also start electing politicians who give a damn.

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  32. Out of the mouth of babes, if only the adults would listen. I guess some of us do, but too many do not. Sadly I think the world is never going to get back to the state that many of us remember before plastics and poaching. I wonder how long it will be before humans are also extinct. Excellent post David and I hope many people read it and take notice. Bisous Diane

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    1. If we don't pollute ourselves to death there is still the option that we will do it with nuclear weapons, Diane. AI scares the hell out of me. Can you imagine a combination of AI and nuclear bombs in the hands of a terrorist group bent on destruction?

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  33. We, human beings, still continue to give everything for granted.
    Great to hear of that school in Ottawa.

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  34. I don't like to close my eyes but it hurts so much to tell myself it's over because it's too late. I mourn the pollution, the human suffering and the disappearance of animal and plant life.
    So as not to suffer too much, I close my eyes sometimes đŸ˜„

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  35. Me encantó lo que han escrito los niños, estoy muy de acuerdo con todo lo que escriben. Abrazos.

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  36. hello David
    thank you very much for this publication, the children's texts are food for thought and reflection, but you are right, we only have this one planet... A great director .
    Greetings Frank

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  37. Oahu, where I live, has one large landfill, which is filling up, so we are looking for another place on this island to turn into a landfill. Hard to know where all our trash can go without upsetting the environment. And it's just a small island at that.

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  38. That brought me to tears. Our generation has failed the future. We tried, but we failed.

    P.S. I suspect that your factory picture is an AI image. Perhaps I should try to use it more as a tool for change.

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  39. So good to read this post.
    I like your words, 'the choice is ours to make, and each one of us can do our part'.

    All the best Jan

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  40. Hello David, thank you for sharing these texts from these children. For years and years we see the destruction of our home the Earth. As we mentioned manny times in our posts in our blogs. We know that it must change but the way all governements are reacting is to slow. They are in the pockets of the big industry that keeps on putting drinks, foods, and so much more, in plastic. Rivers that consist only of waste it makes my hart bleed. I have not enough words for telling my distress for the future for our planet. Are we still in time to reverse this destruction?
    Regards,
    Roos

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    1. Sadly, Roos, I think the train has already left the tracks.

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  41. A friend has sometimes said to me that she has to have hope about the climate crisis. My reply was always that hope requires a sense that something can be done to solve the problem, but since I don't think that's the case, I don't actually have hope. I can wish, but not hope. Or to be more precise, things could be done, but the willingness to do them isn't there, so we will barrel towards our own destruction. The earth will be fine with or without us..

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  42. Great post David. It is encouraging to see all these letters from the students.
    Pollution is terrible and the politicians are in the pocket of these big industries. Very sad.
    Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a great weekend. PS, thank you for leaving me a comment.

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    1. I am not sure I would use the term ‘encouraging’, Eileen. Sadness might better reflect that twelve- and thirteen-year olds should feel the overwhelming need to express such thoughts.

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  43. Beautiful words of the students. Have a nice weekend !

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  44. These children have clearly suffered multiple tragedies from the actions of their authorities in other parts of the world, and it makes me sad that their hope is in taking personal responsibility for their decisions (and hoping others will also do so). Unfortunately neither the tragedy of totalitarian or other violent government nor the tragedy of climate change and resulting effects can be really resolved by personal choices, we also need collective action by the very governments that have already failed the children (and the rest of us).

    Thank you for sharing these very lovely thoughts, even if hope is dim.
    best, mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  45. Beautiful post with great words. I was member for many years, until my retirement, of an european committee about the sustainable development so I understand very well what you mean.

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  46. I agree with Elephants Child. There have been people in the long past who have warned us of this. However, big bucks in the pockets of big corporations out do the saving of the world. I fear for the future.

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    1. The thing that continues to baffle me is that these corporations are made of of people just like you and me. How do they get to the point where they continue to make decisions that are destructive, jeopardizing the future of their own children in the process?

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  47. our youth are well aware that they may very well be the last humans to live on the surface of this planet. if only they had the power to do something about it. alas, those in control, those getting rich off the destruction they cause don't care. they'll be dead before it gets that bad. they won't be the ones who suffer.

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  48. As there is little hope for some adults, not all, currently, the wisdom of these young people in recognizing the ills of society may spur them on for global changes.

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    1. The sad truth, supported by mountains of evidence, is that most adults don’t give a damn, and refuse to make even minor changes in their lifestyle in the interests of their children and grandchildren. I was horrified to recently learn that human breast milk now contains micro plastics. We are bent on self-annihilation.

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  49. What a powerful message from such amazing young people who could be our future leaders!

    Happy Sunday, David.

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  50. We need more schools with open philosophies and countries with welcoming borders. And maybe fewer Republicans or conservatives who play on people's fear. You have to start with the children, and especially with children who have not yet totally solidified their knowledge. But children have to have open minded parents too because it is too easy for parents to smother any bright flames. That is sad too, but hopefully we can have more children speaking out and more adults who actually listen to them. I'm in catch up mode this morning, so I apologize it took me a few days to stop by. hugs-Eria

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  51. How beautiful is your daughter, she has the eyes of goodness and spiritual greatness. She and I have a certain resemblance, besides the same name :)

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  52. Hi David - I know I'm late ... things going on - Your post is inspiring ... we forget how people suffer to join us in a place that is meant to be a better world. Anyone who has been through the privations of 'escape' and travelled far, always potentially near death, deserve our help ... especially for the youngsters who will inherit this earth, who I hope can rise above the horrors of humanity we seem to be allowing to increase. Caroline certainly introduced you to some special people ... thanks for sharing with us, and for showing us some of their pleas. So many in authority are self-serving ... it's desperate times - I hope human beings can rise above and shine. So appropriate for today - Hilary

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We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.

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