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I find myself contemplating this message from a very strange place. As we approach the turn of the year, I am conscious of what our experience of 2020 tells us about how much we can, and cannot, control in this complicated and interconnected world. In the face of this reality, it feels awkward indeed to simply say “have a joyous Christmas season”, or “health and prosperity in 2021”; that’s for the folks at Hallmark.
Perhaps the greatest lesson from 2020 is about how intricately interconnected we are; and how small oversights on the part of a few can quickly grow to become problematic for everyone. As this isn’t our first such reality check, of course, can I voice the hope that perhaps we might learn the lesson this time? And how surreal was it when we discovered who the really important people in our global lives are ... and how invisible they become when times are good. Will you treat the cleaner, the delivery driver, or the grocery clerk with the same respect, empathy and grace 18 months from now? I hope so ...
And we had evidence of the true good that is in most people, in the dramatic and world-wide response to the legacy of systemic racism. Let us not be blind to the fact that so many others still face repression, -isms and -phobias. One of us will not change the world, but each of us can call out prejudice and ill-treatment when we see it. Do not be that person who walked past inappropriate behaviour today, leaving it to become the new acceptable standard for tomorrow.
So, as we approach the solstice and the lengthening of days, I ask you to step back from the rush and noise to reflect on a year filled with both challenges and victories – yours, mine, the world’s. Protests, epidemics, political ineptitude, malevolence and malfeasance will continue, and we will not fix things as fast as we wish we could, but if we all strive for “better” each day, we will surely change things in a positive direction. We are all one world, one human race and, if we pull together, we can aspire to a future of racial equity and social justice, resiliency and promise, health and happiness.
Each day that you get up, show up and don’t give up, you forge positive beliefs in yourself and outcomes for your community. I know that each and every one of you is deeply committed to the achievement of something greater, and that each of your contributions matter. Thankyou for the enormous good that you do, and never let anyone tell you otherwise.
Do not forget 2020 as we leave it behind, but go forward enriched by what the trials and challenges of the past 365 days have taught us of ourselves and of each other. Look after yourselves and each other, relax and recuperate; there is still much for us to do.
Captain Mark Eldridge (RCN, retired) is the founding director of ONYX. Seeing an opportunity to return the value of 37 years of experience as a naval officer back into his community, he undertook to establish a small cadre of expert counsellors and advisors under the rubric of ONYX Community Services, to offer support in a community with unique requirements.
ONYX Community Services was established on December 8th 2016, under the provisions of the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, with a mission of helping people to regain control of their lives and return to fully-contributing membership in the community.
In a time when it seems that governments are increasingly downloading the fundamental responsibility for doing good deeds in the community to the charitable sector, ONYX remains committed to our principal service lines:
Reintegration Support services to clients in conflict with the law, which assist them in their return to the community. Our team of specialists will guide clients through individualized programs to ensure successful recovery and reform.
Counselling and Psychotherapy by certified counsellors in one-on-one counselling, to assist clients with a wide variety of mental health challenges.
Addictions Counselling by qualified staff and counsellors, working within a customized treatment program for each client.
Ankle Bracelet Monitoring systems, powered by S.T.O.P, LLP,, offer 24/7 GPS monitoring and access to a wide variety of included services which facilitate bail and reintegration.
Having turned over the watch to an outstanding new Board in 2018, Mark is pleased to follow the development of ONYX: present where the need is great, open to all those in difficulty, and networked with other agencies to ensure that there are services to support the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our community.