Rynor: Here’s a ‘convoy’ that all people in Ottawa should support

If we really want change in Canada, this is the cohort we all need to focus on.

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If I could have invited the convoy of chronically disaffected people to just one Canada Day event, it would have been the graduation ceremony earlier this week at Notre Dame Catholic High School in Ottawa.

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This is, as director JP Cloutier told the hall of radiant students, families and friends, “a unique school.

“You haven’t let a pandemic slow you down,” Principal Clouthier said, praising the 76 students who rock the caps and gowns for persevering through “some of the most difficult years in education in history.” And then a little.

In a school that is also ethnically, socially, and economically diverse, many of these young adults carried the kind of baggage that many of us only need to read and cackle through high school. Or contemplate in a hot tub outside the parliament buildings.

The young man I saw pass across the stage there is just an example. In addition to a pandemic that left us all confused, he also endured more than two years in emergency housing — hotel rooms — with four siblings. He often missed school to take care of the youngest so that his mother could go to work as a personal tutor. He was stoic for over four years when bureaucracies collided, red tape was stretched and confused, permissions granted and then reversed, as his father tried to join his family here. It was a bittersweet irony that Dad finally made it, arriving at the Ottawa airport just hours before seeing his son graduate. However, he will be here this fall to watch his remarkable boy go to college to study software engineering.

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The farewell address at this quintessentially Canadian event spoke with maturity and eloquence about sacrifice, perseverance and success. His parents fled the civil war and political conflict in Myanmar “so that me and my siblings could live in Canada.

“They will never again feel the tender touch of their parents, never laugh hysterically with their siblings, never see the sunrise in their homeland again,” he noted, all so they could watch their children do something they never did. had been given the chance to do: accept a high school diploma.

If the protesters could have sat with these young people during graduation, they would have heard the roars, applause and cheers for children of every color, stripe and type. Essentially the colors of Canada. They are also the people who may just appear at our bedside in the future as doctors, personal counselors, nurses. For those of you protesters looking for lawyers, you may have noted the name of the student who trotted off with a lucrative prize from a law firm in Ottawa.

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You probably missed this demographic from the cab of a truck last winter, because many of these young people – and their parents – were literally afraid to show their faces downtown during your profession.

You may not have known, as you danced and barbecued and forced the closure of many stores and services, that many people in the National Capital Region were missing out on coveted, necessary services at jobs that not only fed families and paid bills, but that—for many young people – were also laying nest eggs for post-secondary education this fall.

So you may not have seen them on your last visit to Ottawa. You may not even see them this long weekend, because again, your presence may have deterred many locals and tourists from participating in the Canada Day celebrations that we all look forward to and that – given the pandemic restrictions most of us have observed – we all desperately need it.

But here’s a warning: they’re on their way. And if we really want change in Canada, this cohort is the convoy we should all support.

Becky Rynor is a writer from Ottawa.

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