Dear Jack Layton
The first thing I need to say to you, is thank you; for all of the work you have done in trying to change the way people look at and engage in politics. Thank you for being a leader that was approachable, courageous, and real. Thank you for sharing an example of positive politics, advocating for compassion, and being an example of collaborative leadership. 2 days ago, Jack Layton wrote a letter to Canadians...he knew that he was not well, and left us with these amazing words that bring me to tears...
I am a young person who is 'at-risk'. I am Aboriginal, grew up in poverty, went through the child welfare system and have been the victim of abuse. I have many reasons why I could be sad, disenfranchised and hopeless. But when there are role models, like Jack Layton, that make these inaccessible systems feel like they are listening to someone like me...that has to be something big. That has to be acknowledged, because what he has done, is he has broken down those walls. Now I believe that I can help lead our country. Now I believe that I can make a difference by sticking to positivity and hope. Because of Jack's example.
When I heard the news of you passing today, I didn't know that it would affect me in this way. I didn't know that my heart would be broken. I didn't know that the love that you shared with the people, the young people, of this nation would be felt so deeply in my own heart. I didn't realize that his way of campaigning, his method of reaching out to people, was something that I felt in my own heart.
Jack Layton 'Pound It'
I remember when Jack came here recently, for the last Election, and Rebecca Blaikie had an event at the Ukrainian Labour Temple. I remember it because I didn't want to go. I didn't want to go to another volunteer thing after a long day at work...but I did. And when I did I got to wear a 'Steelworkers for Jack Layton' T shirt. I got to go on stage, and I got to be in line, so I could shake his hand when he entered the building.
Well, being the MC that I am, I did wait patiently for all of this to happen. At the time, I was tired, but I remember the way the room lit up, the energy was intense when Jack entered the room. People young old and of every colour and shape were so sincerely pleased to see this man, who was sincerely pleased to see them! He went through and shook a bunch of hands and then he same to me. I didn't want this to be a usual hand shake, and I wanted Jack to be aware that shaking hands isn't the most accessible way to greet all people at all times. When he got to me, I stopped Jack, and refused his hand shake *gasp!* and moments later, I put out my knuckle, in the usual fist-bump fashion. Being the quick adaptive guy he was, he paused for a second, and proceeded to give me a 'pound it' and I thought he was so cool!
I am moved by Jack Layton and the example he has set. I hope that the other political leaders and parties have learned from his example and we truly can move our nation, and all of Turtle Island forward, with hope, positivity and integrity. Thank you Jack Layton for showing the world that it IS possible, even when they tell you its not. Thank you Jack Layton for showing the world that you can give a shit, and be real about it. Thank you for showing the world that when you lead with your heart, that the great dreams we have inside of us, can become reality.
Safe Travels to the other side brother.
Love, Respect & Courage
Michael Redhead Champagne
Inspired Young Canadian
Shamattawa Cree Nation/Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada