Editorials - July 8, 2021
A new beginning?
It was an uncomfortable Canada Day for many, as the horrors of the residential school system for our Indigenous peoples were laid bare for the world to take notice. Canada is a nation that in recent decades has been known internationally as a humble and apologetic country (sorry, eh?). The proof of the cruelty to children who were stolen from their families and communities and forced into residential schools to try and strip them of their cultural identities has knocked us off our pedestal and forced us to look at ourselves differently.
While we may not have been directly responsible for the actions of the past, it is now time to acknowledge that it happened, that it is still affecting our Indigenous communities, full of our neighbours and friends, and to truly listen to what needs to happen to begin to heal.
Thousands of people, wearing bright orange in memory of those young victims, gathered in cities across Canada to march in “healing walks” and thousands more posted messages of sympathy, solidarity and sadness on social media.
This is a horrible chapter of our history that has been hidden for far too long, but it can no longer be ignored. Recognition is the first step toward reconciliation. – DS
People helping people
Late last month, the Ontario Provincial Police arrested 42-year-old Meggin Van Hoof of Strathroy, charging her with manslaughter. The charges stem from the 2015 death of Nathaniel McLellan, a toddler who collapsed at Van Hoof’s unlicensed daycare. Van Hoof has been released on bail and the charges have not been tested in court.
Why the 2021 arrest? Dogged police work? Maybe. New evidence? It doesn’t really sound like it. Rather, it seems as though a Toronto Star investigation by award-winning reporter Kevin Donovan may have had something to do with it. Van Hoof was arrested on June 23, one week after The Star released the five-part “Death in a Small Town” series. Donovan told the story of the McLellan family and the tragic death of Nathaniel, a case that was unsolved, but remained open. The parents felt unfairly blamed, while they felt Van Hoof was barely investigated. It would eventually turn ugly, with a number of lawsuits among those involved in the case still before the courts. Donovan and The Star would go to court to unseal documents that aided in reporting the story.
While bashing the media has become the norm with everyone from world leaders to local politicians, with accusations ranging from fake news, to spin, to driving division, “Death in a Small Town” reminds us that true and honest journalism is about helping those who have nowhere else to turn. The Star nudged this case forward and hopefully the McLellans will get the answers they have so desired for over five years, regardless of the final findings of the court.
Journalism has become a convenient punching bag for many, to an audience eager to hate an industry that hasn’t always earned gold stars for helping its cause, but at its best, it is there to help and hold people accountable. From the biggest investigations to the weekly grind of local newspapers, it can be easy to look past the good being done. – SL
A line in the sand
Last week, Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro had a brush with some aggressive protestors who surrounded and berated him and his family at a Canada Day celebration. As an elected official, Shandro needs to be ready for this kind of interaction and, to his credit, in follow-up interviews, he didn’t seem fazed by the incident, however a line does need to be drawn in this country about what is acceptable behaviour and what isn’t when it comes to these protests.
The group of protestors, supporters of incarcerated Calgary mayoral candidate Kevin J. Johnston, surrounded Shandro and yelled things like “arrest Shandro” and “lock Shandro up” in front of his family, including his young children. Not satisfied with undoubtedly causing the family stress, the protestors then reportedly turned their abuse to Shandro’s sons, telling them their father is a war criminal.
The abuse continued until the parents lifted their children over a chain link fence to put them where the event was taking place.
With Canada already taking a beating on the world stage for the sins of our past, with the discovery of the bodies of hundreds of children around residential schools making international news, the worst of the nation’s people, like the aforementioned protestors, seem hellbent on continuing to put Canada’s worst foot forward.
Protestors can debate Shandro’s actions, and, despite all common sense, people can even debate scientific proof. There needs to be a line when dealing with elected officials, be it the disturbed individual brandishing a butcher’s knife on Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s front lawn or these protestors verbally assaulting Shandro’s family. Canadians need to remember to show respect to the people put in the tough position of charting these waters: everyone is figuring this out on the fly. – JDS