Paul Kennedy's Us and Them Travel Diary

From the Us & Them Series

South Africa | Israel | India | Germany | Canada

South Africa 


5 years ago
Duration 3:59
Recovering a multicultural South Africa

My overnight flight landed in Johannesburg far too early on a Sunday morning. I was now on the other side of the planet, where the world seemed upside-down. Water swirled counterclockwise down the bathtub drain! But somehow everything suddenly started to make sense. Perhaps a state of low-level confusion was a perfect mindset for the launch of our international tour for "Us and Them", in which IDEAS set out to explore the many meanings of diversity.

I grabbed a cab for the Museum of Apartheid, where I then spent most of my first afternoon in South Africa happily getting lost in a wonderful temporary exhibition about Nelson Mandela. (Note to reader: there's an excellent online digital documentation of the entire show currently available at the Apartheid Museum website (just scroll down to the prompt marked "Other Exhibitions", and then click where you see "What's on Now"). It was an emotionally powerful crash course on the man who almost literally made modern South Africa. Historic photographs and artifacts, old newspapers and videos revealed the enormous complexity of the miracle Mandela achieved; and how much his life, and his country's evolution, are woven into the unbelievable diversity of South African society.

"Can't Forget, Can't Remember"

Before leaving the museum grounds (which are oddly situated right beside a busy amusement park), there was time for a brief visit to another art show, where I saw stunning photographic portraits of anti-apartheid activists. There were installations examining many painful differences between then and now. But what sticks with me most was the title of the show itself: "CAN'T FORGET/CAN'T REMEMBER". These four words were the most frequently repeated statements during Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings convened all over South Africa. Many witnesses, predominantly white, testified that they couldn't remember the ugliness of what went on. Others, usually black, declared they could never forget.

That night I dreamed about apartheid. I woke up in time to watch the sunrise and read the newspaper that was waiting for me outside my hotel room door: COMRADES NO MORE screamed the front-page headline.

Tens of thousands of protesters across the country were preparing to march against President Jacob Zuma. They were calling for his immediate resignation, or impeachment. Zuma had been Mandela's "comrade", and legitimate successor -- both as leader of the ruling ANC (or African National Congress Party) and as President of the new South Africa. They'd met in prison at Robben Island, but it would be difficult to imagine more different personalities. And now, the fault lines dividing South Africa against itself were visible once more.

My main task on Monday was to connect with journalist and activist, Sisonke Msimang, who would be delivering the first Us and Them talk. We agreed to meet at the historic Women's Gaol, on Constitution Hill, where her lecture was scheduled to be delivered the following evening. 

Sisonke is an explosive fire-ball of positive energy, her conversation crackling with lively intelligence. She obviously loves to laugh, and it's contagious, as you'll find out when you listen to her. We discussed her views on the current political situation. Then she took me on a tour of the jail -- which had been built in 1892 as a lockup for long-term female prisoners. At various times, it also served as a temporary holding-cell for Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and even Jacob Zuma. It is now a museum.

"This jail is a testament to how many women were politically active", says Sisonke. "Many women didn't have children, or left children, or lost children to play a hugely important political role."

The Women's Gaol is located on Constitution Hill, which is also home to the Constitutional Court, the highest and final judicial authority in the country. The location of the court so close to the prison complex was deliberate: symbols of the past and the present, of justice and injustice, there for all to see. The court itself was designed with an eye on pluralistic democracy and legislative protection for diversity. And its location has a practical function: Pretoria is the administrative capital, but post-apartheid South Africa wanted the court safely away, in Johannesburg, because they believed it would symbolize (and likely encourage) the absolute independence of lawmakers from the legal system: "At a time when lots of our institutions are under strain and pressure, and democracy is being questioned," says Sisonke, "The Court is something that South Africans are really proud of".

Not far from the Constitutional Court Building burns an eternal flame that illuminates an inscription enshrining diversity into the Constitution's opening lines:

We, the people of South Africa,
Recognise the injustices of the past;
Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land;
Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and
Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

Sisonke's lecture was a great success. The room itself had been perfectly restored to invoke the chilling atmosphere of an ancient two-tiered cell block. But people had come to hear a vibrant and unapologetically positive spokesperson for a new generation. The anticipation was electric! Some members of the audience had taken part in the anti-Zuma demonstrations earlier in the day. There were also students, academics, and even a Canadian contingent! It was a signal honour for me, and for the entire "Us and Them" team, to be introduced by the Canadian High Commissioner for South Africa, Sandra McCardell.


On Wednesday, I found myself in front of a journalism class at Witt's University. We enjoyed a lively discussion about diversity, with the students patiently teaching me, and filling in some of my long-distance misconceptions about South African society. Several of them had attended Sisonke's lecture. They expressed a few minor criticisms, but basically believed that she had accurately captured the mindset of a new -- and very different, you might even say "diverse" -- generation.

"We're the first 'Born Free Generation'!", one of them exclaimed, and everyone agreed.

I had never heard the term before, except as the title for a mid-60s British movie about a lioness named Elsa, with an ear-worm of a theme song. Of course, these young journalists had no idea what I was talking about. They'd been born after Nelson Mandela was released from Robben Island. Their South Africa is very different from the one making headlines back then. They face different challenges and cherish different dreams. There's no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and Steve Biko is more important to them than Nelson Mandela. They believe that the South African rainbow is a lie. I was only beginning to understand how diversity itself can be very diverse.



5 years ago
Duration 5:55
The immigrant underclass

There's an ancient Yiddish saying that 'the person who cannot endure the bad will never live to see the good'. My experience during my first few days in Israel provided at least partial proof that the saying is true.

Our flight arrived at 3:00 am. One of videographer James Cooper's checked bags -- the one containing crucial camera equipment -- had gone missing. The friendly face at the front desk of our hotel regretfully informed us that our rooms wouldn't be ready until noon. So we made our way to the breakfast room, where they told us that only instant coffee was available, because it was Shabbat. After breakfast came the really bad news:  Our rooms wouldn't likely be available until 4:00 pm -- at the earliest.

I set up camp in the hotel lobby, and proceeded to send email messages to friends and colleagues back in Canada. It wasn't long before a reply arrived with the hopeful news that "Help is on the way! Just tell me the address of your hotel".

Within a few moments, another message arrived, from somebody in Israel I'd never met, nor even heard about: "I'll be there in approximately an hour. Be waiting outside the hotel. What do you look like?" It was from a friend of one of my friends, and he was coming to take me away. I checked most of my luggage with the concierge of the hotel, and waited on the sidewalk to be voluntarily kidnapped.

Levi arrived exactly on schedule. For some reason, I felt compelled to give him a big Canadian bear hug. He put me into the passenger's seat and we set out. Before we reached the edge of town, Levi turned to me and said, "You'll be staying with us, on the kibbutz, for a night or two."

It wasn't a question. But I agreed, anyhow. Since it was was the Jewish Sabbath, everything was closed. The next day would be Memorial Day, when everybody in Israel takes time to remember the soldiers who died during the country's wars. And after that came Independence Day: party, party, party.

Lev pointed out that the Mediterranean Sea was still visible in our rear-view mirror. "That's the west," he said. "In less that fifteen minutes, we will get to the eastern border. This is a very small country!"

That night, I slept in a yurt -- I kid you not! -- on the roof of my new friend Levi's house, in a kibbutz, near the border with Palestine. I met Levi's wife and kids, and I absorbed the kind of "deep background" briefing that best comes accidentally. He took me to "the wall" -- a wire mesh fence that keeps Palestinians out of Israel. We discussed Middle-Eastern politics. We ate in Arab restaurants. We debated the meaning of diversity.

One of Levi's boys was a soldier who'd come home for Memorial Day. When we went to pick him up at Tel Aviv train station, we drove through a neighbourhood that was "different". Almost everybody in the streets was visibly African. 

A few days later, I met our "Us and Them" speaker, anthropologist Galia Sabar, who specializes in the African diaspora. She's now President of the Ruppin Academic Centre, and she's been working with migrants from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Sudan ever since she was an undergraduate. Her lecture, called "What Tribe are You From?", urged the Israeli government to open up the borders, and accept a more diverse range of immigrants and asylum seekers. 

"In it's core, Jewish tradition has mechanisms for living with disagreements. All the Biblical discussions are about interpretation. We're trying to find one voice, but why can't there be a plural way? You look at the Holy Book, at the Bible, and you see how many voices there were. You see the different people... . the twelve tribes of Israel! That's a gift we have to give the world, and we have to practise it first within ourselves." 

Galia's lecture was well-delivered and positively-received, but her message became even more powerful for me the following morning. That's when she took me on a tour of the neighbourhood I'd driven through with Levi. It's not easy for a radio guy like me to admit, but some experiences are best conveyed through visuals (as you'll see in the video James made of that day, although he was still missing much of his equipment.)  It's maybe not the nicest neighbourhood. Things aren't exactly neat and tidy. Streets are dirty, and buildings are worn down. 

I was beginning to internalize the bleakness that surrounded me, until a man jumped out of a tiny restaurant entrance and gave Galia a huge hug. They exchanged excited greetings that were as animated as they were warm. There was obvious affection, and mutual respect. They'd been friends for years. The man was working brutal hours with the dream of eventually bringing his wife and family from Africa. Galia was a home-grown focus for his hope.

He invited us into his tiny restaurant, and proudly showed us what he was preparing for customers later in the day. The  risen sour-dough flatbread -- called Injera -- that he shared with us was one of the most delicious morsels that I'd eaten in ages. 

The person who can not endure the bad will never live to see the good.



5 years ago
Duration 3:18
Why India must be secular

For each of the stops on the whirlwind-worldwide Us and Them tour, I tried to make a (perhaps silly) point of wearing something distinctly 'local', while introducing the lecturer. For South Africa, I bought a peasant-style dashiki shirt from a street-seller in Soweto. The woman who sold it to me had set up her shop just outside of Nelson Mandela's house.  In Berlin -- where the lecture was delivered in the much more formal setting of the new Canadian embassy -- I stuffed a small German flag into the pocket of my jacket, so that tiny patches of gold, red, and black were clearly visible. 

I had no idea what to wear in India. A Nehru jacket seemed completely anachronistic, not to mention the fact that such sleek and slim South-Asian lines would prove to be anything but flattering on my ever-expanding North American physique. While watching a televised cricket match between the Mumbai Indians and the Delhi Daredevils, I momentarily flirted with the possibility of acquiring an official Indian Premier League jersey.

The day before the lecture, after visiting some of the standard tourist sights -- like the historic Gateway of India, and the futuristic Bandra-Worli Sea Link -- our driver, Mr. Santos, suggested that we visit a famous tailor shop, to have some suits made. Videographer James Cooper and Farid Rohani (from the Laurier Institution, and our indispensable partner on this project) expressed immediate interest. Since I hate wearing even a tie and jacket, let alone a fitted formal suit, I was less enthusiastic, although happy to tag along for the ride, and to absorb the experience. 

During our drive to the tailors, Mr. Santos pointed out the bizarre building that currently ranks -- at more than a billion dollars! -- as the most expensive residential real estate in the world. It's got twenty-seven floors, although it looks more like forty, since several of those floors are two stories tall. The occupant is the richest man in India. He lives there with his wife and three kids, although two of those children are currently attending American universities. There are 168 luxury vehicles in the garage, and three heliports on the roof. Obviously, diversity can be identified and measured using many and various criteria. 

While James and Farid were being fitted for their suits, I checked out the shop's impressive selection of ready-made, off-the-rack, silk shirts. There was one in a burnt orange colour with golden highlights, and a classy collarless cut. The sales person insisted that I try it on. Before finishing with the buttons, I had convinced myself it would be perfect attire to host an early evening lecture in India.

Our speaker, Neera Chandhoke, flew in from New Delhi to deliver her talk the following evening. She arrived at Mumbai's Jai Hind College wearing an elegant saree that was made from a silk very similar to the cloth, but not the colour of my shirt. I interpreted this as a positive endorsement of my sartorial selection. Remember that I don't like to dress up. A perfect compromise had been magically achieved.

Her lecture, entitled Why India Must Remain Secular, was equally successful. The hall was filled with undergraduate students who responded enthusiastically to the effortless connections Neera made between the conventional insights of a social scientist and the often less rigorous (but arguably more profound) wisdom contributed by poets, novelists and creative artists. She seemed equally comfortable discussing such diverse figures as John Locke and Rabindranath Tagore, or Plato's Republic and the Mahabharata. The youthful audience revelled in her periodic references to popular culture to Bollywood blockbusters, but she repeatedly (and sometimes almost scoldingly) reminded them about their responsibility to "keep an open mind".

"You people are young. You have your whole life to live out. A society only thrives when it begins to ask questions, and not just read life as a series of newspaper headlines. Think about it. In Ancient Greece they asked questions, and Greek society thrived. Socrates was known for asking questions, and the Oracle at Delphi declared he was the wisest man in the world. When somebody asked  him, Why?, Socrates said other people don't even know they don't know. I know I don't know."

Two days later (after performing the almost mandatory touristic pilgrimage to the Taj Mahal -- which -- I'm happy to report -- is even more impressively beautiful than I had allowed myself to imagine!), Neera and I got together again in New Delhi. She suggested that we meet at the India International Centre, where she often finds a quiet place to work and write. I proposed a working breakfast, so that we'd be ready to record a video interview around 10:00 am. I wondered whether it might be possible to set up the camera in the garden, to take advantage of the adjacent Lodhi Garden, which is widely praised as New Delhi's "lung".

"Outside at that hour?", Neera inquired, as her voice rose and her eyes popped opened wide.

"Would that be a problem?", I asked.

"Unless you want to get sunstroke, there's no way that we could sensibly start after 6:00 a.m.," she continued. "The temperature will be in the upper 40s Celsius by mid-morning! This was in late April, by far the hottest time of the year in India, before the arrival of the monsoons.

We agreed in advance to record our interview in the air conditioned comfort of the International Centre. Jamie had just finished setting everything up in a coffee lounge when Neera arrived, wearing another stunning saree. After exchanging brief but genuinely congenial greetings, the camera started rolling, and our work was underway. Not much had been recorded when one of the waiters told us that we'd have to leave immediately. Neera, who is a member of the Centre, spoke privately with him. She returned to report -- regretfully -- that it was apparently against house regulations for anybody to wear shorts. I was the offending party. We moved all of the equipment to the outside lawn, and started to record our interview once again.

I remember wondering why I wasn't smart enough to wear a proper pair of long pants, probably topped by my new silk shirt. It started me to thinking that what a person wears is yet another aspect of "diversity". It's obvious, of course, that I should have known this long ago. People have been killed because of the clothes they wore. "Religious" clothing is still a tricky issue in many parts of the world. (India and Canada come immediately to mind.) A pair of pants might hide my knees, but it also sends a message that reveals much more. Being banished to the lawn, in torrid temperatures, because of my shorts, was merely a minor sentence.



5 years ago
Duration 4:36
Conflict as successful integration

The relatively new Canadian Embassy in Berlin was built on what was once a dotted line. That line was utterly imaginary, although it could often become dangerously and sometimes even deadly real. It marked the border between East and West Berlin. When I was a boy, that imaginary line seemed more important than most international boundaries, even though it didn't run between different countries, but through a single city.

The line divided Leipziger Platz, which is where our new embassy is now situated. We call the city just Berlin, now — as it always had been called before August 13, 1961, when a very real 'wall' was built on top of the imaginary line. The Wall — Die Mauer — created two new cities: East Berlin and West Berlin. It also created a temporal boundary. For twenty-eight years and ninety-six days, in other words for much of my young life, there were two Berlins — one east, and one west. During all that time the rest of world lived in limbo, as opposing sides fought something that everybody agreed to call the Cold War. East was east, and west was West, and the twain was never supposed to meet.

Aladin el-Mafaalani delivered his Us and Them lecture at the Canadian Embassy. I can't  imagine a more perfect place, or a better person to talk about diversity. Some of the things he said in his lecture rekindled in me the faint but sadly almost forgotten hope that the kinds of 'walls' that once ran right through Leipziger Platz will someday, somehow become extinct.

"Conflicts are very, very important," said Aladin el-Mafaalani. "Conflicts are energy — energy for development, for improvement and for progress. This energy can be something wonderful…. Wars are the result of conflict. But so are democracy, human rights, environmental protection, humanism, the social welfare state, the concept of an open society and liberalism. All of these things were fought for, and they were always preceded by social conflicts. The constructive management of conflicts leads to social progress, to social innovation."

Aladin was born in Germany, the son of Syrian emigrants, so he inherited an almost genetic right to say the sorts of things he does about both diversity and conflicts. More importantly, he also earned the authority to present his thoughts in a public forum by writing a dozen books and hundreds of peer-reviewed articles. I really enjoyed and admired his lecture, and I got a feeling that we might likely be closer acquaintances, or even friends, if we didn't live and work on different continents, with a wide ocean between us. We agreed to meet for beer, the day after his lecture, at a sidewalk patio, on Leipziger Platz.

In the beginning, it was just the two of us. We exchanged jokes about when it was appropriate to consume alcoholic beverages, according to inherited aphorisms from our different cultural backgrounds. He cited the German expression  "Kein bier vor vier", which implied that we shouldn't start drinking until at least 4:00 pm. I countered by quoting "The sun is over the yard-arm", and suggested that we were free to order right away. Our waiter arrived, as if on cue, and we ordered the first round.

Aladin asked whether I minded if he smoked. I answered that it wasn't a problem, and pointed out that I'd seen him exit rather precipitously the previous night — just before the lecture started. I hinted that he was probably sneaking out for a few quick puffs. "To be honest," he confessed, " I was going out to check the score of the game, but I also had to have a smoke." 

This triggered a conversation about football and Aladin's favourite team, Dortmund. On the evening of his lecture, Dortmund was playing against European powerhouse Bayern Munich, in a semi-final game for the German cup. Unfortunately for Aladin, that game was slated  to start moments before he was scheduled to give his lecture. (Dortmund ultimately won, by the way, 3-2, which made Aladin very happy, although he didn't get the results until after his talk was over.) We were sharing jokes and laughing easily together before the first round of German beer arrived.

It broke the ice. Drinking out of doors, on a sunny spring day, usually provides an appropriate setting for a convivial encounter between old friends, or new acquaintances. Humour is often an excellent catalyst for good conversation. It helps to build bridges, and open corridors for conversation.  Laughter almost always works.

We laughed a lot when it was just the two of us. Then people started to join us at our table, on the patio. 

First I met his older sister. She's a theatre director in Amsterdam, and it was instantly obvious that she enjoys being simultaneously both excessively protective and effusively proud of her brilliant young brother. Aladin was a bit embarrassed, but also flattered. There was a synergy that they'd worked out over the decades, with healthy doses of intellectual and emotional intelligence from either side. We talked about many things, one of which was Aladin's daughter. 

Although I don't remember anybody snapping their fingers, the daughter suddenly appeared beside our table, in real life. It was beginning to feel like our meeting might be taking on magical undertones. We discussed what she'd done that morning. Aladin had made special arrangements for her to attend the German version of "take your kids to work day" in Berlin. They don't live in Berlin. He works, and his daughter goes to school in Muentzer, which is much further south. But they both thought the day was so important in learning how the world works that they agreed to make it happen, even though they were away from home. Now, with the afternoon off, and a big city at her fingertips, Aladin's daughter said she wanted to go shopping, so she did. Aladin mumbled something about her being 14-going-on-32, because she loved to shop.

We laughed. Then Aladin's sister, who'd been talking on her cell phone for part of the daughter's visitation, first asked him (in Syrian) and then asked me (in English) whether I would mind if her husband joined us. I agreed immediately, of course. Both his sister and his brother-in-law had been at Aladin's lecture. It would be interesting for me to hear what they thought. And I was frankly enjoying learning more about his family.

The brother-in-law arrived, and ordered coffee. He didn't drink. We briefly talked about the lecture, because the brother-in-law didn't understand English quite as well as everybody else. Then the conversation suddenly slipped into a discussion about the family schism over what's happening in Syria. From what you already know about Aladin — the sorts of ideas he presented in his lecture, or the type of person I've tried to describe above — you can probably guess where he stands on the country that his parents left. He's opposed to the current regime. His brother-in-law is on the other side. They've agreed to disagree. We talked about that. But everyone remained completely rational.

Before it was time to go our separate ways, our talk turned again to the US & THEM series. Aladin's sister said she was pleasantly surprised that a public broadcaster would ever take on such a topic. She knew it could never be possible in a country like Syria, but she believed it probably wouldn't happen in a liberal country like Holland either. "It's very courageous!", she said. "You should be proud." I flashed the embarrassed smile that I usually deploy when flattered, and quickly admitted that I am proud.

Then she focussed on the way that I had introduced Aladin the previous evening. I had intentionally given a relatively hasty rundown of his academic credentials and achievements, before admitting the real reason that I was so happy he was included on our speakers list. He's young. The world that he researches and writes about is a world that he will have to live in. His sister didn't believe she would ever hear such cross-generational enthusiasm from a public platform. I should probably confess that I was more than a little bit surprised to hear such optimism from a first generation Syrian in Germany.

The German lecture was all about coming to the table. The following day, in a small but significant way, I sat at a small table on Leipziger Platz in Berlin, and witnessed it happening within a single family in the real world.



5 years ago
Duration 4:26
Still waiting to be realized

After travelling to five countries on four continents, the Us and Them odyssey finally brought it all home to Canada. I walked from my own apartment, in downtown Toronto, to the lecture hall at Ryerson University, in order to introduce Roberta Jamieson, and hear her talk about diversity from her perspective as a First Nations woman. Not long afterward, we shot the video recording of our interview in the backyard of Roberta's home, at the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, which is just a short jaunt west from Toronto.

Being home makes everything sound so much simpler, even easier. No long lines at airport security. No more never-ending flights with seats so close together that it's impossible to read anything when the person in front puts their seat back into reclining position.  There is, however, a problem connected with the comforts and conveniences of being back home. Daily existence in a familiar environment can sometimes be just a little bit too comfortable. One of the most important spinoffs from travelling to foreign places comes when the traveller is forced to confront, and even reconsider, some of the convenient assumptions that are too often taken for granted.

Roberta Jamieson did that for me. I won't say it was always a pleasant experience. In fact, there were moments when her lecture made me feel uncomfortable, or even painful. But I will say that I was sincerely grateful for the wake-up call -- even when it hurt. She asked some extremely unnerving questions:

"What are you doing to push for real action in implementing the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action? What are you doing to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples? Do you know what it says? Did you know that it was accepted in Canada?

Of course, I did know about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and its epic journey from one end of this country to the other, trying to uncover an ugly reality that most Canadians have chosen to either ignore or deny. It reminded me of the eye-opening art show in Johannesburg called "Can't Remember/Can't Forget". Roberta convinced me that it's going to be impossible to achieve any form of reconciliation with the Indigenous population of this country without first confronting and acknowledging some very ugly truths about what white society has done. It's not going to be fun.  It won't be easy, or even painless. But it's the only possible way for Canadians to aspire towards true diversity in "our home and native land". 

What's striking is how much this issue affects the way we're seen around the world. Every speaker in the international Us and Them tour asked me about my country's record of performance on that particular front. Generally, they tended to admire or even envy Canada. They considered us to be a relatively open society, with respectable policies for immigration and openness. Some of them suggested that the general Canadian attitude of acceptance comes easily -- especially when compared to countries like Greece or Italy that are enmeshed in the current refugee crisis. Canada is effectively insulated by three wide oceans (one of which is frozen, at least for the time being) and a southern neighbour that seems determined to shut the international movement of people completely down. We've got it easy. But the rest of the world seems to know more about some of our problems than the majority of Canadians do.

Roberta hit that nail right on the head.

What most impressed me about her lecture was the way she managed to keep so many options open, and suggest a positive direction for future discussions and negotiations: 

"First Nations established roots for the relationship that infuses Canadian values still today. These are roots that explain things like Canada's preference for negotiation rather than war. Canada's comfort with social complexity. Canada's approach to immigration, which embraces diversity. It was from Indigenous nations that Europeans learned about democracy and its ideas… So let's celebrate that. Let's celebrate how those indigenous roots -- roots which already were growing deep in Canada -- have made Canada so great and different, and how they make us uniquely Canadian."

There was a moment near the middle of Roberta's lecture when you honestly could have heard the proverbial pin drop. She had asked a question that suddenly seemed to catch even her off guard. The question was obviously intended to be rhetorical, but for a moment she paused, and seemed to weigh the options as though she was herself considering them for the first time. You'll hear it when you listen to her talk yourself. The moment wasn't long, but it was powerful. Everybody in the room could see that Roberta was struggling to maintain her composure. In the end, she allowed herself a momentary, but confident smile, and proceeded to provide a list of simple actions that people could take to help us all move forward. You can see them elsewhere on this page. It was the high point of her lecture, and quite possibly the emotional climax of the entire tour. 

There are times when it's necessary to leave home in order to gain a real perspective on what "home" truly means. Travel tends to clear away outmoded habits, and provide an opportunity for a radical re-examination of accepted truths. It frees the mind and opens the imagination.

Roberta Jamieson gave me an idea about what real diversity could mean for Canada. I will be grateful to her, for that, forever. 


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