Lawrence Hill Interview


The senior English class of 2017-2018 at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Jenn Priddle and Yanik Gallie interviewed Lawrence Hill during the afternoon of May 10th, 2018. Seniors of the English class are Gabby Abaunza, Samuel Anthony, Lauren Breen, Bobby Burke, Ruby Cameron, Kara Christensen, Colton Coughlin, Danielle Elliott, Lucas Fabijancic, Peter Kopf, Emily MacEachern, Breanna MacInnis, Mya Mackenzie, Calum MacPherson, Timothy Matthews, Robbie Miller, Kendra Myatt, Jack Pittman, Michael Stevanovic, Kaitlyn Teasdale, Rory Teasdale, Carter van de Wiel, Emily and Laura Walker. 

Photographer: Lisa Sakulensky

Photographer: Lisa Sakulensky

Lawrence Hill, a professor of creative writing at the University of Guelph, is the author of ten books, including The Illegal, The Book of Negroes, Any Known Blood, and Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black and White in Canada. He is the winner of various awards including The Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and two-time winner of CBC Radio’s Canada Reads. Hill delivered the 2013 Massey Lectures, based on his non-fiction book Blood: The Stuff of Life. He co-wrote the adaptation for the six-part television miniseries The Book of Negroes, which attracted millions of viewers in the United States and Canada and won eleven Canadian Screen Awards. The recipient of seven honorary doctorates from Canadian universities, as well as the 2017 Canada Council for the Arts Molson Prize, Hill served as chair of the jury of the 2016 Scotiabank Giller Prize. He is a volunteer with Book Clubs for Inmates and the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, and is an honorary patron of Crossroads International, for which he has volunteered for more than 35 years and with which he has travelled to the African nations of Niger, Cameroon, Mali and Swaziland. He is the grandson and son of African-American soldiers who served with the American Army during WW I and WW II, respectively, and is working on a new novel about the African-American soldiers who helped build the Alaska Highway in northern BC and Yukon in 1942-43. He is a Member of the Order of Canada, and lives with his family in Hamilton, Ontario and in Woody Point, Newfoundland. 


CW: Having written your first story with your mother’s C. Smith typewriter at the age of 14, can you speak on how your mother influenced your style of storytelling?

LH: My mother was as much an influence as my father, they just had different influences. My mother was a very sharp, astute, editorial-type person who would leap in and say, “That sentence is slack.” Or, “that sentence is weak.” Or, “it’s ungrammatical and not clearly expressed.” So, she pushed me towards clarity of expression. She also encouraged me to imagine playfulness with language. If you don’t like to play with language, there’s no hope for you as a writer. My mother read to us, us being my brother and sister and me, regularly. She read non-sense poetry, very funny poems that played with language in silly and absurd ways. The kind of ways that children love to see language turned inside out and upside down. My mother was very influential to push me towards critical thinking. She pushed me towards editing my own work more sharply and towards imagining the playful use of language. 

SA: Referring to The Book of Negroes, what sources did you consult to inform your writing about Nova Scotia?

LH: If you combine the A word about history, For further reading, and Acknowledgements sections, you get a sense of the art of the research. In short, the research had several components. One was to re-read or to read for the first time in some cases, the major books describing the overall arc of the transatlantic slave trade. Just to make sure that I had the fundamentals of how the trade worked when it happened, where it took place, and who was involved. Where were the key places in Africa from which humans were stolen? Where were they taken in the Americas and Canada? Then, of course, I started drilling down at much more specific things. Looking at letters, diaries and first-person accounts by men and women, African and European, that describe their interactions with the slave trade or slavery. I read slave narratives and documents such as the Book of Negroes ledger. Some of the research was looking at primary materials, not just published books and articles. And then, research involved interviewing experts who knew more about specific things than I can ever know. Another part of the research, a fourth part, involved going to the places where the novel is set, that would include Shelburne and Halifax. I did many trips to Shelburne and Halifax to visualize the story and where it would unfold. Research relating specifically to Nova Scotia involved going to the Black Loyalist Heritage Society many times to look at their documents. In fact, it was at the Black Loyalist Heritage Society that I first saw a copy of the Book of Negroes. That’s in Birchtown, Nova Scotia near Shelburne. Interviewing people who knew about it, meeting members of that Society, looking at their documentation, walking the streets of Shelburne and Halifax trying to reimagine the story that I was creating. Those were some of the forms of research that I conducted in Nova Scotia.

LB: How much did you fictionalize the narrative when representing historical events like the Shelburne riots?

LH: I fictionalized them a lot. It’s first and foremost a novel. I gave myself every liberty to play with or exaggerate or contort minor details for the purposes of dramatic effect. I didn’t make what I would consider to be any major deviations from my understanding of the grand lines of the transatlantic slave trade. But I was happy to make all sorts of little changes to improve the drama of the story. For example, no woman, no African woman, no woman at all helped to write the Book of Negroes. The ledger was written by an assistant to the Deputy Quartermaster in the British Navy. I had Aminata write the document because it made for a great story. I was happy to change that little bit of history because it improved the quality of the story. As for Nova Scotia, I moved the date of the Shelburne riots slightly because it was more convenient for me to move them. I think I changed the date by a year. I don’t think that’s very significant in the overall scheme of things to move the riots by a year or so to suit the purposes of the novel. I had some people killed in the Shelburne riots, also for dramatic effect. I don’t know personally, factually, I don’t know 100% that anybody was killed in the Shelburne riots. I took the liberty of writing that into the story without knowing that it actually happened. There are lots of little details that I changed, but nothing that I would consider to be profoundly significant.

Every novelist has their own notion of how closely they want to stick to historical accuracy. Not every book has the same answer. Some books may require you to stick very, very close to the truth and not even change the weather on a certain date in 1783; Other books allow you some latitude. I thought that my reader would go with me if I made small adjustments as long as I acknowledged them in the back of the book. For a keen reader, a reader can see where I’ve bent history a little bit to suit the novel. As long as I was clear about what I was doing and saying when I changed things a little bit, I felt free to use my role as a novelist to make the best story I could. Let’s face it, the facts are supposed to serve the story. So, you use the facts, and play with them, and maybe modify them a bit in order to create a good story. 

Photographer: Jenn Priddle

Photographer: Jenn Priddle

CC: During your research, what did you discover about the Mi’kmaq people and their relations with the Black Loyalists?

LH: I didn’t discover much. I know the Mi’kmaq people were around. For example, this is outside the scope of the novel, but I know that the first black person to be documented in Canada was a guy named Mathieu de Costa. Mathieu de Costa was employed by Samuel de Champlain to act as an interpreter between the French and the Mi’kmaq people in Nouvelle France, New France, which is now, of course, Nova Scotia. We know factually that this first black person in Canada was free and working as an interpreter between the French and the Mi’kmaq. The Mi’kmaq, as you know, don’t enter merely into the story. I don’t want to claim anything that goes beyond the reach of the story. It was already a huge stretch for me to write the novel, and the novel doesn’t really explore the experiences of the Mi’kmaq people in Nova Scotia or their interactions with the Black Loyalists. That would be a great story, and perhaps you or somebody else should write that one.

CM: Few Canadian authors, one of them being Alistair MacLeod, have a clear sense of the story’s conclusion before they put pen to paper. Did you know how your story would end before you wrote it?

LH: I thought I knew how my story would end before I wrote it. I like to think I know how things are going to end when I start to write. I like to think that I’m sort of standing on the mountain top and looking at another mountain top in the distance. My job is to walk from the mountain I’m standing on to the mountain top I see in the far distance. But the distance between the two is in a valley covered by fog and mist. I have no idea how I’m going to walk through that valley, but I’m heading to that other mountain top. I don’t quite know how I’m going to get there, but that’s where I’m heading. That’s how I like to feel when I start. It’s a bit of an illusion. It’s a bit of self-deception to make me feel comfortable because really, I don’t know what I’m doing. The proof is that you see huge changes between my first drafts and my tenth draft. I like to think I know what I’m doing. I don’t really know what I’m doing, and I write to find out. Yes, I try to have an idea of where I’m going, and I write towards that imagined ending, but it always changes.

RT: Is there historical or fictional content you wanted to include in the book but did not end up publishing?

LH: Oh, yeah! There’s tons of stuff. Usually I come up with a very messy, very long, first draft which might be twice as long as the finished product. Part of the process of rewriting and editing myself is to strip out everything that’s not essential to what I think is the core of the story. Part of being a good writer, an experienced writer, is to cut fat, and cut fat, and cut fat until you get to the very bone of your story without any fat around it. You really want to focus on the core of your story, and not get too loused with other things. There are other things that I didn’t write about that I might have liked to write about or that I did have written about and have them cut out. For example, there is reference to Aminata and other people working on an indigo plantation in St. Helena Island, South Carolina. Those references to indigo and to working in the indigo plantations were probably five times longer with five times more information in the first draft. I decided that it was too laborious, too much detail that sort of killed the momentum of the story. So, I reduced the amount of details massively. I cut it down by 80% in terms of how much I write. I wrote much more about New York City, what happened between George Washington and Sir Guy Carleton, and the movement of the loyalists out of New York City into Nova Scotia. I wrote much more about historical details than I ended up using. Again, because I was concerned that I was providing so much detail that it was going to kill the momentum of the story.

Every time I write, I end up hacking out things that I decide I just can’t use because they’re in the way of the story. That is what writers do. Part of the discipline of being an artist is to have the courage and vision to say no. Even though I love this page or chapter, if it doesn’t really serve its purpose, it’s got to go. We have an expression it’s kind or rude and violent, but writers like to talk about this hacking out as “Killing your babies” because we love those pieces so much that we don’t want to get rid of them. It feels like we’re “killing our babies” and I know it’s an awful expression, but that’s a term writers use so you might hear that again someday. 

RC: Which part of the novel did you find most difficult to write?

LH: I’m going to interpret difficult as most emotionally painful. There are different kinds of difficulty. There’s creative, technical, and emotional difficulty. I’m going to focus on the issue of emotional difficulty, and say the hardest part was the first hundred pages when Aminata’s life ends as she knows it in West Africa. She is stolen from her village and sees her parents die. She is stripped of her clothes and made to walk to the ocean. That was by far the hardest, most difficult part for me to write. That, and of course what happened on the slave vessel. It was very hard. But let’s face it, it’s not a happy story. I didn’t want to sugarcoat history. I didn’t want to make an incredibly awful and violent, harmful segment of history seem like some sweet happy story. To me, that would be an insult to humanity and what we’ve been through. I wanted to write about it honestly, without sugarcoating it or making it look all happy. But at the same time, I couldn’t make it so painful that people would stop reading. I couldn’t make it such a bitter pill that nobody would want to open the book. When you’re writing about very sad or tragic things, you have to find ways to let shine some light on the story. You have to find something to give the reader some hope. We need hope to get up in the morning. We also need hope to turn the pages of a book. We hope that our lives will be better one day, if our lives are not so good now. We hope that whatever awful things are happening to a character on page 10 maybe will be better by page 50. You need to give the reader hope if you’re writing a very sad story, which I was doing. What was the hardest part for you to read?

RC: The hardest part for me to read was her encounter with Robinson Appleby.

LH: The encounter with Robinson Appleby was very hard. There’s something interesting about when Robinson Appleby shaves her head to punish her. I feel that in that moment she gained some emotional power over him. He thinks he’s going to destroy her by shaving her head to humiliate her, but he doesn’t destroy her. She walks away and basically, it’s just hair. Her attitude is you can’t destroy me, it’s just hair. I feel that in some subtle way, that moment of silence and of oppression actually allows Aminata to rise above him. Maybe not in sheer physical power, but she rises above him in their relationship. She transcends that moment. I didn’t write that scene in order to discourage the reader. I wrote that scene to show Aminata in a subtle way gaining power over Robinson Appleby. That scene gave me some hope about her own courage and resilience. That was my favorite scene in the mini-series, but I had to fight really hard to have it kept. It almost got pulled out of the mini-series. I was very partial to that scene so I’m glad it stayed in. 

LW: Who or what inspired the mood of the conclusion?

LH: I’ve never been asked who or what influenced the development of the conclusion. I guess it was my own personal longing. Basically, Aminata’s been to hell and back about five times and she keeps surviving. She’s lost just about everything one can lose in this life short of being murdered herself. I wanted to give her something beautiful. I wanted to give her a happy moment. I wanted to reunite her with her daughter, and I felt like she deserved that after everything she’s been through. Some people I’ve met don’t like that ending, they find it a little too sweet for their liking. I felt that it was realistic historically. If her daughter was stolen from her and ended up in London, they would probably meet again because London had a small black community. Everybody knew everybody in the black community in London. If they ended up there together, I believe they would find each other. They did end up there together, as did many Black Loyalists. I guess I was motivated by a desire mostly within myself, not by a certain person, to give her a moment of happiness. Also, there is a slave narrative by Olaudah Equiano. He wrote a slave narrative which was published in London around the time Aminata is going to parliament. I was influenced a little bit by his resilience and his movements all around the world. The slave narrative he wrote was one of the first and most famous slave narratives of all, that influenced my ideas for her ending too. 

EW: Was there a specific reason why you decided not to mention who May’s husband was at the end?

LH: Yes, he wasn’t important. One of the things that novelists have to do over and over is ask themselves: What am I going to write about? What am I not going to write about? I was focused on Aminata and her reunion with May at the end. I was focused on Aminata’s life and the things that happen to her. May’s husband wasn’t really in any way central or important to the story. I wanted to show that May had a husband and was probably going to have a child. I wanted to show the notion of continuity in the life of Aminata after she dies. It wasn’t really important to that story who her husband was. That would be a very concrete example of a pretty hard decision on my part about what I would and what I would not write about. Already, it’s a very long novel. I wouldn’t have had my editor too happy if I kept going on. I’m being a bit playful, but my editor would not have been too happy, and I wouldn’t have been too happy either, if I kept going on tangents that were removed from the core of the story. 

PK: Did you face adversity growing up? 

LH: Sure, I did. Few people in this world get to grow up and live and die without adversity. At the very least, they’re going to die. I think, to be clear because I don’t want to sing the blues and complain, I had a very fortunate and privileged life. My parents loved me. I loved my parents. I was raised with enough food and shelter. I had a good education. Most of all, I have the incredible fortune to do what I love to do in life. Not everybody gets to do what they love to do. Not everybody even finds what they love to do. I’m not going to sit here and complain about what a hard life I’ve had because I need to answer your question with the beginning part which is that I’ve had a very, very fortunate life. Have I met with adversity? Of course. Who hasn’t? I was called racial slurs from time to time when I was a child. I certainly knew that I faced moments of racial hostility or discrimination here and there in various encounters of my early life especially. For sure I’ve met with some moments of adversity. Also, it was very, very hard to start getting published and to begin my career as a published writer. It’s not easy to get going in the arts and make a life at it. You're going to meet with a lot of rejection and sometimes downright hostility. People will often say no. One of the things that is important is not to take somebody else’s no as a reflection of you. It’s a reflection of them. If someone is being hateful towards you, whether it’s sexism, racism, any other form of hostility or oppression, it’s not a reflection of you. It’s a reflection of them and their character flaws. You have to dig down and find the strength to keep going and not to be destroyed by other people’s negativity. Artists and others have to be resilient and need a thick skin not to be discouraged when people say no, when people don’t like who they are or what they’re doing. Have I faced moments of adversity in my life? Yes, I have. I don’t think I have faced any more adversity than any of you will face or than any other average person faces. 

PK: What kept you going forward in your profession as an author? 

LH: What kept me going is passion. You don’t become an author unless you’re just passionate about it. There’s so much insecurity. Will you be paid? Will you make any money? Will you be published? Will anybody read you? You have to labor for years with great insecurity about the outcome of your work. So, the only thing that keeps you going is passion. You have to want it so bad that you’re willing to deal with and put up with all that insecurity. Any normal person would have the brains to say, "Forget that. I’m going to be a dentist, stock broker, bus driver or a teacher. At least I know I’ll get a salary and I’ll be able to take care of myself." Most ordinary people wouldn’t put up with the insecurity of being an artist. The thing that carries you through those years of insecurity is passion. You have to really be burning with desire to be a painter, dancer, violinist, film maker or a novelist. Without that desire, it just won’t happen. Frankly, you shouldn’t do it unless you’re burning with desire. 

JP&KT: What challenges did you encounter and overcome in writing a character from childhood to womanhood?

LH: It was a big challenge because I was writing in the voice of a woman and I was writing a whole life. I wasn’t just writing about a year in somebody’s life, but I was trying to cover her whole life from earliest childhood to deathbed. In the course of her life, as you know, she moves in six key locations: West Africa, rural and urban places in South Carolina, New York City, Nova Scotia, Sierra Leone, and London. There are a lot of places in which to locate our novel and a lot of sections of life to write about. It’s not easy to create a life on the page and to imagine a whole life. My biggest challenge was trying to understand a woman’s whole life and then finding a way to represent that in just under five hundred pages. 

MS: The narrator begins sentences with conjunctions and writes one-word sentences. What is the function of this narration style?

LH: You sound like a grade five teacher, that’s funny. That’s a good question. When you are in grade three, four, or five, you learn all the rules about how you are supposed to write. You’re not supposed to start a sentence with the word “and” or “but”. You’re not supposed to write a one-word sentence. You’re supposed to use lots of adverbs and adjectives and be all hyperbolic or fancy with your language and prove that you have a big vocabulary. You learn all of this stuff when you’re going to school and they’re good things to learn because you’re learning how to use the English language on paper. Then when you start to write fiction, you have to unlearn every rule. Throw them out. There are rules that don’t apply to the creation of fiction, at least they don’t apply very fully. And then you have to learn to bend and use language in ways that suit the purposes of your story. One of the things that novelists do is to approximate human speech. Human speech isn’t always perfect or clear. Sometimes people do start sentences with conjunctions. Sometimes people do utter one-word sentences. I’m not too worried about the rules of grammar as long as the grammar that I employ suits the purposes of the novel. If I use an unclear sentence and the grammar was confusing the reader, of course I’d want to fix that, or my editor would tell me to fix it. If I’m bending the rules of grammar intentionally in order to capture a voice and the sound of a voice that moves with a kind of lyricism and character, then I’m happy to bend any rule of grammar as long as it suits the novel. That’s probably not what grade five teachers would want to hear when they’re teaching you how to write.

Every novelist must learn to throw out all of the teachings and learn to write all over again. For example, when you go to school and you’re little, you’re told that every story has a beginning, middle and an end. That’s complete nonsense. First of all, it’s not true that every story has a beginning, middle and an end. Some stories end at the beginning or conclude somewhere else. Not every story moves chronologically. Not every story works in that way. As you noticed, I began my story at the ending of her life. I also end the story at the ending of her life. I didn’t follow the rule that every story has a beginning, middle and end because it’s too basic for what the novelist is trying to accomplish. You have to create your own set of rules and be clear. Communicate effectively with the reader. Use grammar to do that, and then bend the rules of grammar when you need to bend them. 

TM: How did you come up with imagery for all the different settings?

Photographer: Jenn Priddle

Photographer: Jenn Priddle

LH: It’s really hard to write about a place, isn’t it? Let’s think about the ways you might write about a place and the kind of images you might use. It might be the image of a tree or nature. It might be the image of sound. What is Aminata hearing? What kind of language is being used around her? It might be the image of history, the social or historical setting of the place. There are so many ways to construct a scene. Every time I set a scene or had a place where Aminata was going to be, I had to find a way to make that place seem real to the reader. Some of it might be how Aminata thinks and feels. When she’s stuck on Sullivan’s Island off the coast of South Carolina waiting to be sold into slavery she sees her breath and she thinks her face is on fire. She’s never seen her breath before since she’s never been to a place where the air is that cold. She thinks that she’s on fire, but she’s not. She’s just seeing her breath because it’s so cold. That’s a kind of imagery. I didn’t try to describe Sullivan’s Island by describing the kind of trees there were. I was more interested in describing the way she sees her own breath. To me, that was more interesting than describing an oak tree. Part of the decision about creating setting is what kind of detail will be most interesting. You know you can’t use five thousand details or the reader will be bored and fall asleep. Pick a few details for each place. Details that you hope will capture the imagination in the eye of the reader. It’s very hard to create a scene. You have to use a few details. Not too many, but not too few. Not too detailed, but enough detail that you give the reader something to hang on to. Preferably something surprising and unexpected. One of the hardest challenges in writing is to create a memorable scene in a place that seems real, and decide what ingredients you will use to make that place real. Will it be sound? Will it be nature? Will it be politics? Will it be blood? What do you use to make a place come off the page and seem real? That’s one of the hardest challenges in writing. Of course, not every scene has the same answer. Not every scene should have the same answer. If you took the same approach with every scene, the novel would soon be very boring and seem formulaic. It has to feel natural and it has to be evolving. You can’t just be doing the same thing. You need to have a lot of tools in your bag and you have to keep pulling out different tools in order to create those scenes.

LF&MM: Who inspired you to write the hilarious and strong character Georgia?

LH: Aminata is going to have a lot of problems in her life. She’s going to have a lot of suffering. She also needs a little love. She needs some people in her corner. Some people who will prop her up, help her and take care of her. She lost one mother while she is still very young. She is barely pubescent when she arrives as a girl almost dead in South Carolina. She needs somebody to take care of her. Basically, she needs a second mother. Georgia fills that role. Aminata is going to meet terrible people like Robinson Appleby, but she also needs to meet loving people to balance off her story and keep her alive. I have to be very careful to add enough beauty and hope in support of the novel that the reader would keep reading and Aminata would keep wanting to live. I imagine some of my own African American women in my own family, their voices and how strong they were. They didn’t put up with nonsense. They were determined, focused and fiercely loyal to the people they loved. Georgia treats Aminata like her own daughter. I think she’s a really great character because Aminata needs some good people in her corner. 

KT: What role do you think literature plays in activism for racial inclusion and human rights? 

LH: Not every book has to do the same thing. Some books will have nothing whatsoever to do with those issues and that’s okay. There’s room in this world for every book imaginable just like there’s room in this world for every person imaginable. Not every person is going to do the same thing in their life. Not every book should be asked to do the same either. I guess I would play with the question a little bit and rephrase it so that I can answer it because I don’t think there’s a uniform answer for every book. What am I trying to do in these areas with my literature? What I am trying to do is ask my readers to stop and think about the humanity of people whose humanity is often neglected, forgotten, denied or swept under the rug. We have forgotten, denied or ignored the plight of African peoples in the diaspora, including Canada. Unfortunately, Canadians still don’t know very much about black history. They know more about African American history than they do about African Canadian history, and that’s a problem for me. I guess I want to illuminate forgotten corners of Canadian history. I want to get people to think about people whose humanity might have been denied or forgotten such as people who were enslaved or people who became refugees. I want to give readers cause to rethink unexamined assumptions and to imagine their own history and their own people more deeply. 

EM: What social change do you envision in Canada and the rest of the world for the year 2020?

LH: Your guess is as good as mine. Unfortunately, two years before Donald Trump was elected, if you had said on national television that Donald Trump would be the next president in the United States, you would have been laughed at out of the room. Also, two years before Barrack Obama was elected president, no one would have believed you either if you said that Barrack Obama would have been the first black president of the United States. Nobody would have believed you because everybody assumed that Hillary Clinton would be the next president or that she would be the democratic candidate for the presidential elections. I’m only saying that because honestly, I do not know what is going to happen in 2020. It’s so hard to tell. Are we going to shift towards hatred? Are we going to shift towards being a more inclusive, loving and generous society that believes in equality of all human beings? I hope that we’re going to move towards a place of more generosity of spirit. We have much abundance of evil and hatred in the world today and I worry about that. It could be that hatred is on the rise for a little while before evil is vanquished and love gets the better hand. I don’t know where we’ll be in two years, I really don’t. I worry about the rise of intolerance towards undocumented refugees and other refugees in the world. I worry about people wanting to solidify their own wealth to the exclusion of others who are poor. I worry about nations becoming entrenched in their enmity, hatred and violence towards each other. I’m just not sure where we’re going. 

I encourage every one of you and myself to do everything we can in our lives to be just and kind, to insist on fairness and equality for all, to stand up against and oppose injustice, and to fight in our own ways. In our own backyards, in our schools, in our neighborhoods and our places of worship, to fight for what we know is right wherever we can. That really is the best we can do. We cannot let up. We are at risk of seeing democracy perverted. We are at risk of letting hatred ascend as it did in Nazi Germany. It is important to remember that Hitler was a democratically elected leader of Germany and we see what became of Hitler. We have to go to the poles and vote. Exercise our values and insist on a political leadership in Canada, in our cities, our provinces, our country, and around the world that reflects our own values. If we let up, then we will let others dominate and assert values inimical to ours. I do have faith in humanity, and I do believe that we will rise up against hatred. But, it seems to swing around over time and right now is a pretty dark time if you look at the world. 

There are many people who are doing fantastic things. People who are taking sometimes great risk around the world and in Canada to assert their freedom and human justice on the treatment and respect for all, across lines of gender, race, orientation, ableism and everything. There are people who show incredible vision in encouraging young people and older people. Without them and that kind of effort, we would be lost. Also, our politically elected leaders are sometimes influenced from the margins and when the margins become loud, vocal and insistent, when history is on their side, eventually leaders will listen. We need people jumping up and down, causing commotion and fighting for what they believe and what they know is right. Eventually, the rightness of their cause will seep through and affect decisions made by political leaders of Canada and the world. 

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