Mâmawêyatitân Thunder Bay – Move Forward Together

Thunder Bay looking eastward over Lake Superior
Thunder Bay looking eastward over Lake Superior

Thunder Bay looking eastward over Lake Superior
Thunder Bay looking eastward over Lake Superior

THUNDER BAY – EDITORIAL – Thunder Bay, like many communities across Canada is in a state of transition. Canada is transitioning, our world is transitioning. The future today is far different than it was twenty, thirty, or fifty years ago. Communications has been the impetus for change.

Yesterday, via television and the Internet live images from Baltimore Maryland showed the effects of protests and riots on the streets of that city. We were able to see the devastation of the earthquake in Nepal, half a world away almost instantly.

In Thunder Bay we are seeing both the positive and the negative impacts of images. Over the past several years, we have also seen far too many instances where racism and hate appear to be growing in our community.

A friend recently relayed the thought that, “Under the stars, we are all brothers and sisters”.

That has been on my mind a lot lately.

When one sees the strife and hate that happens in our world, when you watch people in the streets of Baltimore feeling that the only way that they can solve problems is by force, rioting, throwing cinder blocks, and lighting fires, it is a strong sign something is deeply wrong.

In Thunder Bay, we face challenges. We might be 1300 miles from Baltimore, but sadly many of the core issues are not that far away.

Mâmawêyatitân – is a Plains Cree word meaning, “Let’s all be together”

Mâmawêyatitân – In other words, “Under the stars, we are all brothers and sisters”.

Thunder Bay is, in many ways, at a crossroads.

We are at a crossroads in choosing our future.

The moves forward in medical research in Thunder Bay represent a new way forward. The moves in education at Lakehead University, Confederation College present hope and new beginnings.

At the Nishnawbe Aski Development Fund Forestry Expo, the message was forestry is moving forward.

There is a growing sense of togetherness across parts of our region of Ontario. There is also a growing distance between many in our community and real solutions to problems facing us.

Right now the choices we make here in Thunder Bay will determine our community and region’s future.

Choosing the Status Quo, or a Brighter Future?

We can, as some are willing, to stay to the status quo, keep to old and familiar paths of the past. That path is simply not the right path.

The past is the past.

We need, in Thunder Bay to take new and bold paths forward.

We need to realize that change is the one constant in our world, and that the future will belong to those willing to accept, endorse and promote change.

The next time someone tells you that “The status quo is good enough”, it is up to you, but for me, those words mean that person is happy with where we are and happy with what is going on.

A futuristic thinking person will simply realize anyone not willing to move forward is only going to hold our city back.

How Can Thunder Bay Move Forward?

First and foremost, Thunder Bay needs to look at where we want to be in our future. We need to look at the trends, and at the future opportunities.

Our city has many opportunities, if we as residents, and our leaders are willing to be brave and bold. If our leaders are willing to accept the status quo, because we as residents are willing to accept it, our community is not going to realize all of the potential for our future.

Thunder Bay will move forward only as fast as the weakest in our community. We need to be realistic here, and realize that there are issues with addiction, homelessness, poverty and racism. We need to look carefully at what we are doing to move past those issues.

Merely forming a committee to work on the issue is not enough. Thunder Bay needs to fully embrace strategies that move to the future.

Addiction is an issue in our city. Yet we don’t have enough treatment facilities to deal with addiction. That is a failure of leadership.

The ‘Status Quo’ approach seems to be bringing in experts to speak at seminars.

The solution is far simpler, Thunder Bay should have more treatment facilities.

Thunder Bay has issues with poverty. Many look to the root causes of poverty. The solution is that we need to be offering a ‘Hand up’. Far too many in our community fall through the cracks, and are left on the outside.

People sleeping outside is a sign that the 'Status Quo' isn't working and that new ideas are needed.
People sleeping outside is a sign that the ‘Status Quo’ isn’t working and that new ideas are needed.

Almost every night, Shelter House on George Street is full to capacity. The evidence of the growing issue with homelessness can be seen in the blankets left around the downtown. With warmer weather arriving we can likely expect more people who are looking for a home to simply camp out.

Racism in Thunder Bay remains an issue. Again, the solution appears all too often to host seminars, bring in speakers, and have the people who already know it is a problem to be gathered to listen to yet another set of possible solutions. That status quo approach isn’t working.

Bringing together an audience, often the same audience that attends all the same kinds of talks is not making things different, it is keeping things the same all while creating the illusion of busy work. That approach has to change. There comes a time when you have to act, not talk.

Thunder Bay needs to decide that we are going to solve issues, not study them year after year.

Thunder Bay City Council, moving toward the 2016 Budget process should start yesterday with a performance audit of all departments and efforts within the City of Thunder Bay.

Thunder Bay needs to embrace enthusiasm and new ideas and concepts. Our city must take its place as the regional capital of Northwestern Ontario, and work toward positive change and creating hope for the future.

Mâmawêyatitân – Lets all be Together!

James Murray