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When Little Things are Big

The past few months have been challenging, to put it mildly, and there is a certain monotony to conversations and situations. I sometimes wonder whether it is possible to write a blog that doesn’t, in some way, tie to a pandemic theme. For so many, lives have been turned upside down and people have been put in precarious positions; for others it has been inconvenient.

In the midst of challenging times, I have personally found that my experiences, my thinking, and my beliefs have been positively affected. I have been forced to remember that little things are big.

On Saturday, my Mum and I went for a drive- we each live alone and so are permitted to get together. While a drive might have seemed a pointless exercise a year ago, in pandemic times, it is an opportunity to get out of our respective isolated spaces, spend time together in person, and look around. A big little thing.

We were exploring the area around Cherry Beach and came across a view of gorgeous pieces of glistening ice on the frozen shore of Lake Ontario. The sparkle of the ice and the different shades of grey were beautiful to look at; so much so that I stopped the car and hopped out to take a couple of pictures. I am not sure I would have marveled at this sight just a year ago. A big little thing.

It has been easy to overlook what I perceived to be small, inconsequential things when consumed with busyness.

But here’s the thing: I have been asking myself of late whether it has, in fact, been busyness; or, is it because I haven’t tasked myself to consider the need to learn from and understand something I perceive as  a “little thing”?

Beyond the opportunities to notice the beauty of nature and preciousness of time with loved ones, I wonder whether we have taken enough time to notice the small things that are actually very big things about which we are not aware- or about which we are aware but choose to pass by.

February is Black History Month in our country. In 1979, the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS) petitioned the City of Toronto for a formal celebration of Black history, and the first Canadian proclamation was issued in Toronto. With thanks to then-president of the OBHS Rosemary Sadler, Ontario followed suit in 1993. Finally, Canada officially recognized Black History Month after a motion was introduced by the Honourable Jean Augustine, the first Black woman elected to the House of Commons. In 2008, Donald Oliver, the first Black man appointed to the Senate, brought a motion forward to not only recognize February as Black History Month but also to recognize contributions of Black Canadians to our country’s history.

There is so much that needs to be learned- beyond one month- about the contributions of our Black citizens, and about the way big things have been misrepresented or kept from view and thus diminished. It is our responsibility to challenge ourselves to reconsider what the “little” and “big” things are and teach and learn in a manner that honours every citizen’s history and contribution.

On Saturday, I attended a History Symposium offered through Heritage Days entitled Hidden In Plain View: Re-Reading Colonial Markers in Search of the Enslaved  by Natasha Henry, President of the OBHS. I encourage you to take the time to watch. As I listened to Ms Henry’s presentation and thought of how many times I have passed by or read our country’s markers, I realized how often I take for granted the little things that are so big.

This is but just one example of so many important opportunities to reframe and refocus our thinking. What many deem “little” things are, indeed, very big things to many others. If we wish to grow and learn, and do so in an environment where everyone feels known and valued, we must recognize this.

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