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Better Together

It’s busy season! Christmas is here and I find time is disappearing faster then I can knock my lists off. This year, personal commissions have been coming in steadily since January and are still coming!

One specific one commissioned this spring by Lindsey Cook, a vice principal at Maplegrove Public School, deserved an opportunity to sit in the spot light. I wanted to share this commission for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I felt that it directly united my two journeys I spoke about in one of my past blogs “From Then to Now”. I also believe it is a perfect platform to remind us of our responsibilities as a community in a time of unease on the world stage.

“Better Together” – Is one of many slogans the Simcoe County District School Board (SCDSB) uses in it’s language to promote successful and positive school environments. It illustrates a beautiful picture of teamwork and inclusion that leads to a better alternative. The image that goes hand-in-hand with the SCDSB slogan, 10 Canadian Geese in a V-formation, reinforces that idea and adds a layer to the concept as a whole. The 10 Canadian Geese represent the 10 Character Traits the school board promotes each month, to teach life skills and character building. Those character traits are;

My understanding of the logo is that it has two messages directly related to each other. First, when you can combine these 10 character traits as an individual, you can grow to become an individual that projects positivity into the world and can tackle a variety of obstacles.  Just as the geese collectively support each other as they fly south, the character traits collectively support you as you grow and find your way in the world. Second, when we work together as a team, each bringing forth a collection of these character traits, we can become better and the team as a whole will be strengthened. It is a lovely message and one that I feel is also reflected in this one simple quote…

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My father gave me a piece of computer paper with this quote printed on it when I was probably no older then 9 or 10. Shortly after, my mom had bought a frame for a picture she was hanging. I took the thin paper matte used to display the frame in the store, taped it around the printed quote from my dad with scotch tape, and stuck it to my bedroom wall, right beside the door. Even at a young age I recognized the importance of it. I remember on many occasions reading that quote as I left the room or sat quietly on my bed.  On those occasions I’d think about it and hold on to it throughout my day, practicing exactly what it asks of you; checking your thoughts, making sure they are kind, true, and honest.

This initiative by the SCDSB and the quote my father gave me as a child are both about teaching ourselves and our children how to be better people; how to grow up to make the world a better place. I feel like there is no greater opportunity to stress this than right now, as our world faces a small group of extremists posing under a false identity of “faith”, with the intent to attack our humanity.

Let us be leaders, let us model for our children. Check your thoughts before you speak. Do they promote hatred and fear? If they do then change them. Educate yourself and add to the conversation constructively.  Call upon your character traits. Be responsible, both for your words and your actions. Be responsible for staying educated and looking after the safety of yourself and loved ones in a manor that reflects respect and empathy.  You are entitled to an opinion, however be caring and respectful when expressing it. Find in your heart empathy and be inclusive; whether Christian, Jewish, atheist or Muslim, we are all human beings united as Canadians and with a common goal of peace. Whether you are supportive of Canada’s doors open to refugees or not, it’s happening. These individuals are looking for safety in our country, be inclusive. Let us stay united, lets us be cooperative and not allow these acts of hatred to divide us. Find the courage to do this and you will be showing integrity to humanity. Above all be optimistic, for positivity breeds positivity. As I have said before, when you look for it there is magic all around us. In this crisis the magic is shown through trust, kindness, honesty, and love of one another.

It is this logo and slogan that Lindsey Cook asked me to remodel as a painting which now hangs in her office and is an inspiration to the students, parents and teachers that find themselves moseying through. Let us do just as it asks. Let us be better together, and show that a few individuals cannot divide us and have us fight their war for them. Let us teach our children to unite, and in that unity, soar above the clouds. “You are what you THINK“… check your thoughts; are they True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and are they Kind?

Better Together

Thank you to Lindsey Cook for commissioning this piece. If you are interested in having one for your own classroom or office there will be a run of 20 limited edition prints for sale. You can find them in the JSAA Store.

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