Re­al­ity change starts with small steps

Cape Breton Post - - EDITORIAL - Char­lie Ma­cLean North Syd­ney (Board chair Sco­tia Rail De­vel­op­ment So­ci­ety)

I re­cently read an ar­ti­cle in your pa­per (“Provin­cial dreams,” Nov. 7) re­port­ing on the pre­sen­ta­tion by Sen­a­tor Dan Christ­mas at the Greg MacLeod Me­mo­rial Lec­ture.

Sen­a­tor Christ­mas brings very pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence from his time work­ing with Mem­ber­tou, and its eco­nomic suc­cesses of re­cent years. His sug­ges­tion of Cape Bre­ton self-gover­nance, as a means to im­prov­ing the qual­ity and quan­tity of life in Cape Bre­ton, is not a new idea.

Also, the un­der­ly­ing con­cept of a com­mu­nity dig­ging in and tak­ing charge of their sit­u­a­tion is not a novel sug­ges­tion, but it is some­what of a dras­tic de­par­ture from re­cent Cape Bre­ton his­tory. Cape Bre­ton has been tar­nished with the im­age of a beg­gar with its hand out, wait­ing for oth­ers to look af­ter it. This im­age ap­pears to be very real in the minds of a large por­tion of this coun­try, whether it is war­ranted or not.

I would think that the road to Cape Bre­ton po­lit­i­cal self-de­ter­mi­na­tion is an al­most im­pos­si­ble jour­ney, given the na­ture of our con­sti­tu­tion. How­ever, the other road of tak­ing charge of our com­mu­nity, iden­ti­fy­ing our chal­lenges and find­ing our home-grown so­lu­tions is a less trav­elled path, but most likely more re­al­is­tic.

Cape Bre­ton­ers have been known for many years to be hard­work­ing, con­sci­en­tious peo­ple, who care for and look af­ter their neigh­bors. They have la­bored on the wa­ter, on the land and un­der­ground, of­ten in very try­ing con­di­tions.

Now we have to do the hard­est work of all – we need to look at our­selves and our com­mu­ni­ties, iden­tify our short­falls, learn from our past ef­forts and be cre­ative in find­ing re­al­is­tic op­por­tu­ni­ties for the fu­ture.

Also, we need to be bet­ter at com­mu­ni­cat­ing where we want to be, and how we plan to get there. We need to build this plan from the ground up, not rely on some­one else do­ing it for us. We need to stop re­ly­ing on the in­fa­mous “they” to fix things. Ev­ery per­son is im­por­tant to this ini­tia­tive if we are to make real and last­ing progress. We need to be sure that our elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives are aware of these plans and what their role should be in bring­ing these plans to fruition – re­gard­less of their po­lit­i­cal af­fil­i­a­tion or back­ground.

If we are to change our re­al­ity, we need to do it in small man­age­able pieces. If we start this process when­ever we gather or meet ¬whether at a friend’s house, at the lo­cal cof­fee shop or just walk­ing down the street at the same time - we can make progress. This will not be a quick ef­fort, but it will be far more pro­duc­tive than just com­plain­ing about the sta­tus quo.

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