Have a Heart Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day! A time for expressing love. It brings back delightful childhood memories of cutting out little paper sweetheart cards and writing names on them for my class party… and hoping that I receive just as many in return.

Every child should experience these happy memories. While this year may be a bit different for children who are attending online classes, I’m sure there will be many virtual celebrations. I have certainly seen paper hearts taped on windows in my neighbourhood.

Sadly, there are many children in Canada that don’t have the same positive experiences at school. This year I want to bring awareness to this situation, so we can show these kids love too.

Please take a few minutes to watch End the Gap and hear what these awesome kids and their teachers have to say.

I encourage you to also read the February 4, 2021 article Cindy Blackstock Is Still Fighting for Indigenous Kids to see that this problem has been going on for a very long time with little resolution.

First Nations children should not have to fight for basic services all other Canadians take for granted. We need to ensure these students have the same chance to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and feel proud of their culture.

Reconciliation is everyone’s responsibility.

Find out more about what you can do on the Have a Heart Day website. Also consider supporting organizations such as Books With Wings and The Ballantyne Project (#weseeyou).

Let’s do what we can to show these children we care.

Make Giving Count

The Christmas season is fast approaching and people who celebrate the holidays are trying to find ways to make it meaningful when so much is different. We are a resilient lot though, and it’s wonderful to see how people are finding creative ways to make it work.

Rather than focusing on what we can’t do, many are finding things they can do. Video calls with family are replacing large gatherings. Intimate phone calls with friends in place of parties. Connecting with neighbours from a safe distance.

I recently discovered other ways to make Christmas more meaningful this year. In fact, it is making this season one of the most heartfelt in years simply by making giving count.

I have shopped at Amazon in the past and still do for things that I truly can’t get anywhere else. The difference this year is that I am doing whatever I can to shop locally – preferably at mom and pop shops – before even looking at big retailers. I am also finding creative ways to support charities and causes that I am passionate about.

It takes a bit more effort. But wow, is it worth it!

For one thing, you can find truly unique gifts when you look in smaller stores and seek out local artists or entrepreneurs. Many gifts are handmade, high quality and at reasonable prices.

When you buy something from a small business, you see the heartfelt gratitude in their eyes and hear it in their voices. You can feel good knowing your purchase will help them stay open during unstable times. There is no better feeling of community.

Yes, you may have to pay a few dollars more to shop local (they just don’t have the huge customer base to set lower prices) but it shows you truly care about the people and businesses in your community. That says something. Remember, those same small businesses also support your local economy including donating to your kid’s sports teams, charity silent auctions, etc.

This season, you may also want to consider giving to a local charity as a gift for the hard to buy for person. Local food banks are truly hurting this year and need our support as do so many other charities. And if you have a cause, movement or activity that you are passionate about, find ways to support them at Christmas too.

If you read my posts, you will know that my passions are being eco-friendly and the Truth and Reconciliation movement in Canada. I consider both in my gift giving.

By buying gifts locally I am reducing packaging and travel emissions and, therefore, reducing my buying footprint.

I want to support local Indigenous crafts people and was delighted to find a wood turning artist from Ta’an Kwach’an First Nations (Yukon) living in my city! I found the perfect gift in my price range and now have a new connection and business that I will continue to support.

Charity wise, this year myself and a group of other women went together to purchase gifts for over 20 Indigenous girls (ages 10 to 18) who attend a non-profit organization for girls living in poverty and/or other challenging circumstances. In addition, I will support the local adopt-a-family and toy donations in my city.

Giving a gift that matters is so simple and can truly make a difference this holiday season and all year through. I hope I have inspired you to give it a go. If you do, I would love to hear your story!

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