We can, and should, do better

The Manitoba Provincial election is April 19th. There aren’t many people enthusiastic about the prospects. As a result, I’ve heard far too many say they won’t be voting.

It is easy to become disillusioned with politics – it is far from a perfect system and power does seem to have a way of eroding values. However, it is a privilege to have the right to vote and our collective voices do make a difference.

Imagine the public outcry if we weren’t allowed to vote. One hundred years ago in Manitoba that was the case for women.

Nellie_McClung-248x300I don’t remember when I first heard of Nellie McClung, maybe grade five or six, but her story made an impact. Novelist, teacher, social reformer and suffragist, she worked tirelessly to bring about change for women in Manitoba and across the country.

Thanks to McClung, in 1916 Manitoba was the first province in Canada to give women the right to vote and run for office. It took until 1919 for the federal government to do the same.

Then in March 1928, a Supreme Court of Canada ruling stated that women were not “qualified persons”. Nellie McClung rose to the occasion, along with Irene Parlby, Emily Murphy, Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir Edwards. The Famous Five fought for change. In October 1929 they won the battle; women were declared “persons” and given equal rights.

They would be appalled to know that today so many chose not to “exercise their franchise”. Voter turnout for the recent provincial election in Saskatchewan was a dismal 56.83 percent. We can, and should, do better.

We have freedom. We have choice. We have the right.

Nellie McClung on loonieSometimes we need to look to our past to be grateful for the present. You don’t have to get involved in politics, but you should be informed and never take the privilege of   having a say for granted. So on April 19th, get out and vote. Let’s quell voter apathy       and take an active part in shaping the future of our province.

 

One small rain…

It rained last night. Not much, a mere one millimeter, but apparently enough to awaken the magic of spring. Winter has been reluctant to loosen its grip, but this gentle overnight rain had sufficient power to shift the tides.

This morning there is an après-rain freshness in the air. Overhead, summer-like wispy clouds reach out into in the cornflower-blue sky.

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An enthusiastic bird chorus greets me as I step out the door. Robins, which have been slow in returning, cover the lawn in convention-like style. Black-eyed juncos gather beneath the bird feeders, cleaning up the winter leftovers. Sparrows, finches and nuthatches flit back and forth to claim seed, scattering into the trees whenever a blue jay or woodpecker noisily bullies them away. Chickadees sing their spring song. Mourning doves coo softly in the background.

The wind is light, the temperature warm.  Miss Sage is anxious for a walk, and on a day like this, who am I to argue? It is all too easy to delay the tasks at hand and head down our quiet country road.

 

At the creek, we are greeted by the trills of P1140794red-winged blackbirds – the first of the season. The glass-like surface of the water is broken as a muskrat dives for cover upon on our arrival, ripples circling out as witness to its disappearance.

Then, a distinct rolling call urges me to look upward – sandhill cranes. Finally I see them, flying in relaxed, synchronized formation overhead, rising and falling with the thermal lift. Another sign that perhaps spring is here to stay.

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Back in our yard, the lawn is still a dried-brown, but here and there, tinges of green are beginning to show. It might only be the quack-grass revolting against winter, but nonetheless it is a welcome change.

It is remarkable what one small rain can do. More growth and change is yet to come, but spring is now poised to make an entrance.  And it finally feels like winter is headed out the backdoor.

Morning Walk

Currently spring and winter are having a tug-of-war in Manitoba, and lately it seems spring is losing.  As I went for my walk yesterday, bundled in layers of winter-wear to protect myself from snow-pellets and the cold, north wind gusting from 35 – 50 km/hour, this was the kind of morning I was dreaming of…

 

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Morning Walk 

Crisp morning air
wakens senses
refreshes the spirit…
Gentle breeze
blows away cobwebs
of anxiety and worry
lifts them
to join wispy clouds
in azure sky.
Sun glimmers
through lofty oaks.
This peaceful morning
calms and renews,
inspiration
for a new day.

Sandi Knight
© 2011