Speakers go up and come down from the podium, each sharing something profound and encouraging at the Be the Change conference. Despite disheartening statistics, every person sitting in the Anvil Centre felt hope that things will get better. I believe it to be important to remain hopeful – hope is the very reason we are all gathered here.
Dr. Vikki Reynolds took the stage and said we are broken hearted. We are at this conference because we are ready for change. We are ready to bring hope to the helping relationship and remember that transformation is possible if we continue to show up.
My greatest goal is to continue to show up with respect and compassion for those in and out of my communities. Sincere, genuine care for humanity is such a beautiful thing, isn’t it? I have faith these are the actions that enable human connection and allow for a more optimistic outcome for those living under difficult circumstances. I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Vikki’s speech as she spoke with so much passion and with much needed humor for such difficult topics.
We watched a short video about a Community Mental Health and Addictions Worker grad before Hon. Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training spoke. I was warned by my instructor, who was the MC for this conference, to bring tissues. I should have taken his advice as I was a weeping mess after the clip was over. I am sure if I looked around I would see running mascara. If I wore mascara it would be all over my face. Needless to say, it was a powerful, inspiring, and important video. Important because it showed the beautiful life changing experience this program has on grads and those currently enrolled in the program, like me and my classmates.
Hon. Melanie Mark took the stage with tears in her eyes, looking out at an audience who mirrored her emotions. She shared her story of fighting. She spoke of the early death of her father, her mother’s addiction to drugs, the sudden death of her beloved brother and of other life altering traumas. Her story is one of resilience and strength. It took staring out of the trenches of poverty to become the first First Nations’ woman to serve in the Cabinet of British Columbia.
Melanie made it clear she wanted to become a politician because she was done being angry. Done with the injustices Indigenous people face in Canada. Sometimes for change to happen you have to take the lead and pave the way for others. This is exactly what Melanie is doing – paving the way for those already here and for those who have yet to come.
I am grateful for these paved paths and hope to never take them for granted. Sometimes, I feel like I am alone in my thoughts and that my actions, whether present or in the future, are small and insignificant. I wave these thoughts along as I sit in my seat thinking about the current path I am on. And I am not alone. I am accompanied by my CMHAW classmates. Growing and learning together with each one of them. Changing our mindsets and opening our hearts to the countless ways we can define the word “hope”. To have shared tears with the hundreds of people who attended this conference, it is joyous to recognize that support is vast.