November 9 in Canada

The thin margins in every state, the almost-equal doling out of the popular vote tell a terrible story; it’s the story I worried about for Canada a year ago.

What we’ve learned is that the rights we hold most precious, the rights we believe define us as a people, are in fact alienable, if we do not protect them with our strong voices and especially our strong actions. Our takeaway as Canadians has to be how we choose here in Canada to react, and how we choose to move forward. Don’t fool yourself: we’re not any better. Our election process last year was threaded through with racist ploys to win votes. I watched with horror as women were attacked on the street for what they chose to wear – because of a campaign promise from the man who’d already been our Prime Minister for years. Across the country we are watching right now as governments of every level ignore the rights of indigenous people to clean water, to their land, and to a real say in its use. Kellie Leitch, hoping to gain the federal leadership of the PC party, has already sent out a campaign letter promising to bring Trump-style politics to Canada.

What I’m saying is: Now is a good time to decide what is important to you. Now and for the next many years is the time to fight more starkly than ever for full and uncontestable equality. For women, People of Colour, indigenous people, LGBTQ people, for people of all religions, for citizens and for refugees.

A few days before this election, my daughter called me from the city where she now attends university, to tell me the details of how she peacefully protested DAPL in solidarity from here in Canada, how she walked into her bank– a major investor in the pipeline–  and demanded some accountability. I take heart in that. But we need people of all ages to participate, everyone.

There is no time left for complacency – even with a new Prime Minister, even with a new government in place. There is no time left to take anything for granted, because the wall that is really coming up is the wall of intolerance from the south. It has a fantastic media package. It will be hard to avoid being crushed.

For every one of us expressing these same thoughts, for everyone I can imagine nodding along as I type this, I also know there is another person, someone who is galvanized by this election result. Someone who takes it as permission.

I will not give that permission.

In which we begin again

ImageThis is a picture of my office door. It’s also largely how I managed to write The Devil You Know in a house I share with four children and a dog, while I was working a full-time job. Any other parents out there know what I’m talking about? It’s the pre-emptive answer to all possible questions and needs: Can you make me a sandwich? (No.) Can you drive me to mall? (No.) Can you help me find my other shoe? (No.)

Any two year-old has already learned  that NO is the most powerful word, but it somehow took me 37 years to re-learn that lesson — and use it to my advantage. (I share the house with my husband, too, of course, but he’s a brilliant and supportive guy, so the sign is not really aimed at him. Or, at least a whole lot less.)

The power of NO comes in using it to define your boundaries, give yourself guilt-free permission, and defend your own positive time (to the death! Okay, maybe that’s too much.To the pain?)

I’ve been thinking  a lot about this in the last week, partially because I noticed articles like this LinkedIn piece making the rounds. Learning to say No is a valuable skill. More salient was Jonathan Ball’s great post about scheduling writing time rather than just trying to “find it”.

IMG_0006All this came across my screen at the right time, when I’d been gearing up to start work on a new project. So the NO sign is back up on the office door today. (Full disclosure: I’ve been working solidly, on schedule, for a week or two now. So it’s time to let the rest of the household know.)

The only difference this time around? I’ve made a second sign, for the inside of the office door. It’s the sign that tells the writer YES.