Contemplative Reflections

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BY: KATHY MCDONALD 

As I reflect on the last two weekends and all the activities and learning opportunities that were available to all I am inspired. From the Peeks Caribbean Carnival to Jerk Fest, there were a plethora of activities that we could engage our children in learning about their rich heritage while enjoying time together as a family. It is important to try and partake in meaningful family activities that keep the family connected to their roots.

What was very surreal about the first weekend in August was the fact that it often felt like mother nature was reminding us that winter is not too far away. As my family and I sat in the cold winds at Lamport stadium waiting for the results of the Pan Alive competition, covered in blankets and winter gear it hit me. Summer is gallantly marching along. We should be preparing for its demise and equipping our children for another dynamic school year.

Hopefully, families got a chance to visit the Scarborough Town Center Community Center and treat the sense to a Historical Art Exhibition. The Toronto Library services offered great Caribbean Carnival Programs. The Library advertised four informative workshops that covered most facets of the carnival, they included, a slide show and musical explanation of the Story of the Steeldrum lead by  Pat “Panman” McNeilly;  The Magic of Mas’(querade) explored how Mas bands create, produce and present the spectacle that millions get to enjoy on the parade route; Denise Herrera-Jackson discussed the economic impact of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival and Roger Gibbs explored the roots and the calypso art form in a live music in a workshop entitled Caribbean Folk Songs and Calypso.

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) has opened, which in my mind is the beginning of the end of carefree summer days. Let’s use what time we have left to have some meaningful conversations with our children. During the summer holidays, most of us have the tremendous advantage of not having the rigor of all the scheduling, homework and time constraints associated with the demands of the academic year. Let us take advantage of this and use this time to have deep and meaningful conversations with our children about their lives. I challenge parents to challenge kids to put down their devices and tune into each other. This is a good time for serious reflection. We should encourage our kids to scrutinize their journey thus far and encourage them to contemplate where they are coming from, where they are now and where they want to be in the future. It is in exploring the “Who am I?”  the “Where am I ?” and the “Where do I want to be in five years” that we give our kids the opportunity to self-reflect and earnestly get in touch with their divine self.

For many such conversations can be uncomfortable but I truly believe that we should encourage our children to be contemplative. It is through introspection that we are able to develop and grow. We all have different paths in life and as parents or guardians, we should be guiding our children or guardians along their life’s journey. Education is the foundation, our building block to a whole and better self. Be it university, college or an apprenticeship. We all need knowledge so we must earnestly pursuit. It is within this pursuit of knowledge that we develop as humans. We can cultivate our children’s self-concept and confidence when we give them the basic tools.  We need to nurture their minds, physicality, hearts, souls, and divinity. Confident children with a healthy self-concept are limitless.  By investing in our most precious resource, our children, we are investing in our future.

I strongly encourage my readers to visit the CNE. This Canadian tradition is worth the visit. A single ticket gives you access to one of the most eclectic experiences of a lifetime. There are activities that will interest the young and old, the sedentary to the dare devil, the culturally acute to the not so astute, horticulturalists, animal lovers, artisans, thrill seekers, people watchers, concert enthusiast and any other living personality trait. There are even areas for quiet reflection and solitude. There are free samples, an international market place, local outdoor market place, warehouse market, home show pavilion, Arts Crafts and Hobbies Pavilion, special historical, science, Canada 150 displays, a daily horse show, and a daily dog show and a food pavilion that will meet the demands of any taste bud. There are various specials and entry discounts. So “Let’s go to the Ex” and meet Barney, Magic Night, Juzzie Smith, Hot Rocks, Elyse Saunders and just about any genre of musical performers.

It’s hard to believe that we have only one long weekend left for the summer. Simcoe Day is but a distant memory and time is marching on. If you missed some of the activities described above take note of them for next year. Don’t despair the culinary bonanza Jerkfest which took place August 10-13th at Centennial Park will be back next year along with the TD cultural stage. There is the Trinidad and Tobago flag raising in Brampton and other cities in the GTA on August 31st, Jamaica Day and several other Caribbean celebrations that are yet to come for summer 2017. So, journey with me as we continue to empower our youth to be culturally cognizant and confident members of society. Walk Good Belle Marché.

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