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Please note: opinions in posts are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of HC Link or our funder.

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Reflecting on Madiba

Today is Mandela Day, and Nelson Mandela's 94th birthday. With South Africa six hours ahead of Ontario, I woke up to a flood of emails, social media alerts and articles celebrating the life of Madiba, as he is affectionately known. But as the day wore on, I noticed international tributes circulating as well. As a South African, his effect on me is profound. But I often forget that his legacy is admired around the globe, as he is arguably one of the most influential people in the world. Amongst the wishes and reflections, one quote was shared more than the rest:


As a bibliophile and a quote fanatic, one of my most cherished gifts is Nelson Mandela By Himself: The Authorised Book of Quotations, bestowed upon me by my brother. Organized by theme, the entry on poverty is four pages long. It is not surprising that Mandela became Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience. In his acceptance speech, he says:

"Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of fundamental human rights. Everyone everywhere has the right to live with dignity, free from fear and oppression, free from hunger and thirst, and free to express themselves and associate at will.
Yet in this new century millions of people remain imprisoned, enslaved and in chains. Massive poverty and inequality are terrible scourges of our times - times in which the world also boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom...
People living in poverty have the least access to power to shape policies - to shape their future. But they have the right to a voice. They must not be made to sit in silence as "development" happens around them, at their expense. True development is impossible without the participation of those concerned."

Today we reflect upon, and celebrate, a man who dedicated his life to equality. He made a difference in a once divided land. He left the prison gates as a friend of the prison wardens; he ventured into the new South Africa with no bitterness, as he said he had to leave that behind to be truly free. For a time, he made everyone know what it is to be united as one, to share a common destiny. He chose to focus on the future rather than the past, on reconciliation rather than retribution. There was a euphoric sense of community – South Africa celebrated as one! We need to be reminded of this as the South Africa, and the world, prepares for a time without Nelson Mandela. With so few giants of his stature bestriding the world stage, it is imperative that his values live on, even as his physical presence will inevitably fade away.

To learn more about the life of Madiba, visit the Centre of Memory.

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Summer Long Weekends

By Patricia Scott-Jeoffroy, Parent Action on Drugs

As the July long weekend approaches, our thoughts turn to an extra day off work, fun with family and friends, and celebrating Canada. Another common association with summer long weekends is the use of alcohol. It is hard to watch TV without seeing the joy of the "beer commercial lifestyle" where revellers are depicted having a great time, courtesy of a cooler full of beer. The message is clear: part of having the great cottage, the newest boat, and a houseful of friends is also having an abundance of alcohol. I am concerned that our culture seems to have embedded the use of alcohol with the celebrations of our summer long weekends. 


Police will typically increase their surveillance of the highways and increase RIDE checks during a long weekend, and hospitals tend to increase staffing for emergency rooms. It appears that those who deal with the consequences of excessive drinking know the other side of long weekend drinking. 

As adults we may have an understanding of the role that drugs and alcohol are playing in our lives, but do our actions send conflicting messages to youth? The baseball tournament where you over-indulge after the game and wake with a pounding headache, family gatherings where your uncle falls in the pool but manages to keep this drink above water, the T.G.I.F parties after work soaking up some sunshine with co-workers, the association of the May 'two-four' weekend... what culture are we creating?

Over the next several months, Parent Action on Drugs and HC Link will be hosting a series of webinars focused on youth and substance use.  For additional information and programming options on youth and substance use please access our website.


Related resources from the Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse:

Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm in Canada: Towards a Culture of Moderation

- National Alcohol Strategy: Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm in Canada

Alcohol and Health in Canada: A Summary of Evidence and Guidelines for Low-Risk Drinking


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