Human Flow


“Being a refugee … is the most pervasive kind of cruelty that can be exercised against a human being.”


I watched a documentary the other evening on the refugee crisis which has been steadily escalating for years now. There are some pretty scary statistics shared and the numbers of human beings displaced is rising faster than can be safely or humanely accommodated, even by those countries willing to offer refuge.

Maha Yahya, Acting Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, shares her wisdom that  if children grow up without hope, prospects, or a way to make something of their lives, they can fall prey to exploitation, including radicalization.  “Many of them are traumatized by unimaginable losses at home.  They’re angry, frustrated, they want to make a difference in their lives… they’ve seen their homes demolished, their families killed, and there are children who themselves want to go fight.”  “They think it is a way they can get revenge for the horrors they lived through.”

Ai Wei Wei filmed this documentary in more than 23 countries at 40 of the world’s largest refugee camps, and he shares the lives of victims of conflict of every age, with both words and heartbreaking images that you will never be able to forget once seen.

I have so much respect for Ai.  My son, the artist, introduced me to his work a few years back, and I follow every move he makes very closely now. He has lived such a unique life and always highlighted social injustice with his art in ways that make it impossible to look away.


Until I watched Human Flow, my awareness was limited to the Syrian refugees, as many of them came to Canada, and their stories have been shared on the national news frequently. I interact with them in the stores, and hear many wonderful stories about how easily they have integrated into our communities.

Last month, when I started hearing about children in cages in the US, I broadened my reading and researching on the subject, as I truly couldn’t understand why anyone could or would deny children safety and care. The images I saw and the audio of the those children crying for their parents broke my heart.

As a mother, I wanted to hold them and rock and rock and shush them and tell them everything would be ok.

I understand the need for limitations and vetting and security for countries.

I understand fear of difference and how bigotry exists and blooms within society.

I even understand to a certain degree the decisions that need to be made to maintain law and order. There’s a reason I am not in charge of those decisions.

I don’t believe in borders.

Borders are a social construct designed in my opinion to separate, and that is something I find almost humorous, in relation to how I see the world.

How can an arbitrary line no one can see on the ground keep anyone in one place?

The displaced humans of the world are growing in numbers that it is not sustainable to safely manage in the near future. We need to do the work now to make space for these people, both in our countries and in our hearts.

The human spirit is strong, and while many give up due to age or fear, the strong will continue moving into and over borders, either with permission or with force, either legally or under the cover of darkness, if necessary.

And while that is frightening to many, it is reality, so the time to do the right thing, the kind thing, the human thing –  is now.


Rise Now for the Syrian Refugee Children






Photo courtesy of



CAR: do refugee children go to school?






Photo courtesy of:



Alan Kurdi lifeless body.jpg









I spent the day yesterday withdrawn from the world around me.

The night before yesterday, I fell asleep with the assistance of Ativan, knowing in my bones that the citizens of the US were about to have their worlds rocked hard-core when they all awoke the next day.

The reverberations of the outcome of that presidential election were immediate and felt around the world, and I didn’t have the strength to do anything other than go to work and keep my head down. Dodging water cooler talk , in order to avoid having to discuss what had happened and having to listen to opposing views on the event.

I did not eat or even drink water for over eight hours, to ensure I would not have to interact with others.

I zombie-walked my way through 11-09-16.

My only communication yesterday was a response via text to my youngest son, my soul-searching, achingly earnest baby…the one who has always, ALWAYS, done the right thing.

Followed the rules, walked on the greens, watched cautiously on the ambers, and preferred to let his bigger, braver brother break  path for him his entire life up until now.

He texted me at 8:27 yesterday morning with the following:


And knowing him like I do- those few words said so much to me. He was bewildered.

He was in shock. He was a bit frightened and a whole lot confused.

Because I raised my children colour blind and in a home primarily run by a single mother, his half-awake brain could not even compute all the things that had occurred while he was sleeping.

How the clocks and the years had all been set back.

How the accomplishments and struggles of so many for so long had been neatly cut off at the knees and thrown in a burning, rusty dumpster full of shit and broken dreams.

How a woman who spent her entire LIFE working in public service and primarily focussing her efforts on women and children had been beaten in a democratic process by a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, ablest, reality-star sideshow barker.

How the conman pulled off the long-con and emerged the winner over the woman who dared to dream there was ever going to be a spot at the big boy table for her.

How hard work and doing the right thing and slogging along on the right path was trumped by a bully with a loud voice and no morals, who has treated women and persons of colour and the disabled and prisoners of war with contempt and disdain.

I have witnessed some atrocities in my life but have never felt so heartsick as I did yesterday, not that the con man won, as I have seen many, many sociopaths rise high over the years.

My heart hurts that there were so many humans in the world that bought into his rhetoric.

My mind struggles in trying to understand how ONE woman could ever cast a vote for that monster, let alone many.

I hold women to so much higher standards than I ever have men, because I know our strengths. I know it is women who run the world, sometimes alone, but often at a man’s side- encouraging, planting small seeds, manipulating, loving, feeding, comforting…but always, always, ALWAYS working to plant those seeds…the seeds of forgiveness, the seeds of love, understanding, caution, consideration for others.

My response to my son was brief, and I prefaced it by saying I had been searching for hours to find even the smallest silver lining, as is my way. Typo intro should be into:


I know my son is struggling to understand and I have nothing to give him this time.

My mother’s favourite response to us when we were growing up and whined that something was not fair, was ” Who ever told you that life was FAIR?”

I hated that response as a child and chose never to respond to my sons in that fashion.

I wanted them to think that if you worked hard, and did the right thing and treated others with kindness and understanding and with respect for diversity, that everyone’s life would be better.

Obviously, I was wrong.


It has always been kill or be killed, survival of the fittest and the louder the voice, the greater the rewards.

History has shown that over and over again.

And money talks…boy does it ever.

Obviously, I’m struggling here and I need a minute to gather my thoughts and get myself back on track. I welcome any and all words of advice from those that are wiser than I am.

But there will be changes for me and they will be long-lasting.

I will be encouraging every young woman and girl I know that despite what we have been shown in the past two days, despite the fact that the nude model,the mail order bride who used her vagina and married rich will be moving into the white house with her con man, the woman who used her power in the right ways is the real winner here.

The one who graciously accepted defeat, and who encouraged so many of us to use our voice, and who supported her very flawed man with poise and understanding for years in the public eye…she’s the winner and the one who will go down in history.

No more will I shut up and sit quietly waiting my turn to express my opinions while a man has his say first and I feel the need to just let him have it to avoid being looked at as an aggressive, mouthy bitch.

No more will I allow anyone within my immediate vicinity to spew a racial slur or even slightly try to tear down or discriminate someone based on their colour, or gender or handicap or sexual preference.

I need to feel in control of my environment or else my PTSD ramps right up and causes me to isolate myself in order to feel safe, but I refuse to allow this dirt that is reality now to shut me up about those values I did my best to instil in my children and which I believe in my heart and soul SHOULD be most important and SHOULD be lived.

So maybe the con man and his deplorable minions won this round, but they won’t win the game.






While We Were Sleeping

I really live a blessed life.

I am as entitled and privileged as any other female of my age living outside of a third world country can be.

The worst slights I have encountered in the last few years from society as a whole has been a very subtle ageism that is perhaps only a flavour of the month in my workplace, and may just settle itself in time.

This past week I have suffered greatly with the news of young black men being shot like dogs in the streets.

I cried on and off for days this past month while reflecting upon all the lives stolen away in Orlando.

In my own country, I cannot go an entire eight hour period without seeing an ignorant post about Muslims, or refugees.

Keyboard warriors posting disgusting words in relation to female politicians whose party lines they are in opposition to.

Where did our humanity go ?

When did we begin turning blind eyes to racist, misogynistic or homophobic behaviour?

To intolerance and hate for those that don’t look like us or live by our beliefs?

When did it become OK for us to shame and blame victims for crimes committed upon them?

Has it been insidiously creeping forward, under cover of darkness while we all slept soundly in our beds? Slithering into our shared consciousness like a virus?

Have we just seen so much brutality and intolerance that we have become frozen inside and simply pick up the remote control and make it go away without feeling or fully processing it?

How can it be that a gorilla receives more sympathy and concern than actual living breathing human beings murdered in the streets by those that we teach our children will protect them?

Racism is not even covert any more; it is loud and proud and very much alive on social media and in the comments sections of local newspapers.

Chants of ” I’m just telling it like it IS” ring out to cheers and “likes”.

“Go home to where you come from if you don’t want to live OUR way”, “stealing all our JOBS”, ” that bitch needs someone to take her head off with an AXE!”,” they were fags in a queer club; God hates fags.”

I have read all those and many more these past few weeks and I am so sick inside at where this world is headed to.

My challenge was to find who I look down upon and it didn’t take me long at all this time.

Those that tear down instead of giving a hand up.

Those that see colour rather than the soul inside.

Those that think some lives are worth less than other lives.

Those that feel offended by different belief systems and religions.

We were all once someone’s child, someone’s baby.

We all have to share this space and planet.

There needs to be a shift in thinking moving forward or we are most certainly doomed.

I know in my very being that there are more of us than there are of them but they are louder and angrier, more violent and vocal.

It is time for the rest of us to stand up and say, “enough”.

This will not be tolerated any more by our society.

No more.