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July, 2004 - Nr. 7


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Letter from the Editor

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister  

Dear Reader

I am writing this on Canada Day, a very warm Thursday with lots of sunshine and high humidity; in other words: it is a typical Canadian early summer day, perhaps the first real summer day this year.

The city around me is quiet, but I know that there are lots of celebrations going on everywhere. Harbourfront has a very extensive program throughout the season, but also and especially on Canada Day. All this will end of course with fireworks, this magical display of lights in the darkened sky, that makes even grown-ups dreamy.

All this just after an election that brought the people’s desired result: a minority government, which hopefully will learn to work together with all other factions for the good of the nation. Bickering and posturing of individual parties is not what we want. We want the democratic process strengthened through genuine and sincere dialogue, and by forging agreements, not creating inner-political altercations.

This brings me to our front page, one we have run several times already. It is a fusion of several elements: a photo of some of Toronto’s fabulous skyscrapers, which tempt me again and again, and an old gnarly evergreen tree amidst a meadow of wildflowers, a shot I took in Cambridge, Ontario.

These two photos represent the obvious elements of Canada, the urban and the rural landscape and all that goes with it in this society and civilization.

If you notice, the tree is looking pretty bad and is in danger of dying. No wonder, too much cement, tar and mortar cover his natural habitat.

Similarly some of our own organizations are withering from too much of our civilization, which subscribes to a newer and meaner form of capitalism, that rationalizes everything. Our columnist Martin expounded on that a few issues back.

Thus we buried the oldest existing German language newspaper, the Kanada Kurier, after 115 years of existence.

Perhaps it was inevitable. This paper never re-invented itself, stayed the same course throughout, something that is no longer viable in this harsh business climate we live in. And when it did have opportunity to change with the times it refused to do so and people left and went their own way. So did I nearly 15 years ago. I know several others who have been with the Kurier and who struck out on their own or went elsewhere. It was the Kurier that was the "training ground" for many of us that evolved into something else, something more appropriate for the times.

Our community has a problem. Perhaps it is not even unusual and other groups suffer from the same malady, I really cannot say; I have not really researched the conundrum elsewhere, but I do know that in our ranks is an attitude of not caring what happens to us, our organisations, our culture, after we are gone. "Nach mir die Sintflut" is the German term. We have justified all our actions so well that we have no solutions that encompass a future in our community. Most clubs are withering away despite efforts to halt the decline.

The interesting thing is that there are people of German/Austrian descent out there, who are interested in preserving the German culture; they just do not like doing it the way their fathers and forefathers have been doing it. That alone causes enough conflict for the younger generation to stay away.

In the past we used to describe this phenomenon as "generation gap", but I think it is much more than that. But whatever it is, it is sad to watch, and even harder to deal with.

Colourful costumeIn my neighbourhood, on Vaughan Road, just where Vaughan and Bathurst join is another cross roads of another nature. The Vaughan Portage Route is proudly proclaimed by our Native neighbours, who announce loudly to have been in the neighbourhood for 20 thousand years; most of which the white man had no idea of their existence. In fact, we nearly wiped them out in very little time, yet they did make a comeback, and we are learning to live with them and they with us in a whole new unit of time. The Canadian Natives have a community centre with several buildings right on Vaughan, which fulfill different purposes. Physical rehabilitation from addiction is just one of them.

An awareness and a sharing of their cultural and spiritual history is another strong feature.

Everybody dance!I attended a fabulous Pow Wow in a small park across from Loblaws on St. Clair and marvelled at the many participants and the generous and inclusive spirit of these people. The drums did their ancient work and much dancing was done in colourful costumes. The counterparts from South America joined in. One of them played the much admired pan flutes, including the famous song of the Condor. And all of us that came to watch were invited to join too in the dancing.

These actions created a feeling of communion in the neighbourhood.

In a world that is threatened by insanity of terrorists and ordinary man alike, that are crazed from drugs and all sorts of problems, it is more and more important to hold together what we have and create a future. An attitude of "Nach mir die Sinflut" is just not appropriate. We cannot afford a defeatist attitude. It is not an option. We cannot help but survive somehow, but we can do so either well or miserably. Our actions decide what we leave our children and their children. They represent our collective future.

So why not be a Phoenix and rise above the ashes of the past and join the Condor in a lofty future. It only requires our participation, our desire to work with the best we have to offer, instead of letting our dangerous "animal instincts" take over to play petty and base jungle-games.

Canada is beautiful; let’s keep it that way!

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister


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