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IMAGINE...

I think and wonder about my 18-year-old grandfather who fought and served in World War II and wonder if we have honoured our veterans in our actions and question our ability to learn from the past.

I think about him only being 18 years old when he enlisted. He was just six years older than my son is now.


I think about him still being a boy and having the courage to volunteer and go off to fight in a war he knew nothing about, for the peace and freedom of all humans in the world.

I think about him making this brave decision to go even though Indigenous people were fighting for their own freedoms and basic human rights here in Canada.

I think about him training to become a soldier. I think about him becoming a paratrooper with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion attached to the British Airborne Division and I think about him being dropped from the sky into the fields of France alongside hundreds of other young boys who will die.

And then I wonder if my grandfather thought about his parents, family, and friends when he was falling through the night sky, shells whizzing by him.

I wonder if my grandfather was scared as the world around him exploded on the battlefield, as he bared witness to some of the most horrifying acts committed against humanity by humans.

I wonder if my grandfather cried or just became numb when he had to leave his boyhood behind in a foreign land because he had to make those real, life-or-death decisions, whether to end another man’s life or have his life ended, all for the peace and freedom of the world.

And then I wonder about our contributions to his legacy, and the legacy of his comrades, to those we honour on Remembrance Day, to those who paid so dearly for our peace and freedom.

These men physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually fought, bled, broke, and died so that we could have the freedom to do so many things we take for granted, and despite all they did we still haven’t learned a thing, you know why, because.

We still fight one another.

We still hurt one another.

We still judge one another.

We still abuse one another.

We still hate one another.

We still kill one another.

I don’t think that’s what these men fought for, and I find so much irony in what we have become as a society.

I hope after reading this you’ll choose to honour these men with acts of kindness, humility, patience, understanding, and above all love, especially a love for life.

I honour and dedicate this column to my grandfather, Lawrence F. Paul who served in World War II and the Korean conflict.

Thank you for your contribution to bring about world peace and for the contributions you made to our Indigenous people’s rights and sobriety journeys. I ‘m sorry that all humans didn’t uphold our end of the deal, which was to learn from the past so that these atrocities of human against human wouldn’t happen again.

I thank you for everything you gave, everything you lost and everything you gained, but most of all I thank you for my fiery spirit! Your blood runs deep within my heart and spirit and will always help me to be a better human. Wela’lin aqq Kesalul Poppa.

I am reminded of the song Imagine which was written by John Lennon.

Take a minute to really listen and think about the lyrics and maybe, just imagine what our world could be like if we all did our part to be better humans.

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us, only sky

Imagine all the people

Livin’ for today

Ah

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion, too

Imagine all the people

Livin’ life in peace

You

You may say that I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope that someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world

You

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one


Postscript: Lawrence F. Paul took his discharge in 1954 after serving in WWII and the Korean conflict. He went on to be Chief of Membertou in 1967, was the co-founder of the Union of Nova Scotia Indians, and founder of the Native Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselling, two organizations that continue to operate today.

In 1990 Lawrence Paul was photographed burning the flags he had so proudly brought home from the war and kept after serving his country. His displeasure with the Canadian Government is evident after the same army he fought with was sent into Kanesatake Mohawk Territory, also known as the Oka Crisis. He couldn’t believe that the Canadian military was sent in to fight against his own Indigenous people.

Lawrence was a beloved Indigenous rights activist and true warrior of his time.

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