Today’s Congress Highlights: Cindy Blackstock & Kevin Lamoureux

I went to this today:

Until today, I’ve only ever read Cindy Blackstock’s name in news pieces and on twitter. This morning, I was fortunate enough to attend a session where she delivered a keynote address. The strength of her voice, which I’m sure would have been just as strong without the microphone, and the power in her words demanded my full attention. She moved the audience with words, pictures, and the energy she exudes. She linked documents from 1907 to 2015. Past to present to future. She poignantly recounted a child’s experience in a residential school and hers of racism off the huckleberry fields. She exemplified and spoke about strength, joys and perseverance of Indigenous peoples. She called for everyone to cultivate and recognize moral courage.

Kevin Lamoureux also blew me away. Another person whose charisma and ability to articulate horror alongside and in relation to incredible beauty is a gift that I won’t soon forget. He emphasized that the social determinants of health such as access to education, nurturing, safety and so on, are stronger predictors than smoking. Through this and the story of a boy who had to make his own way after school to introduce himself to new foster parents, he asked us to imagine the ripple effects of situations such as these on that boy’s ability to do well on a test that week, to develop the skills he needs to do well in high school, the grades he needs to get into university and so on. He talked about the crucial links between family, love, care & nurturing, and teachers.

People were moved to tears by both speakers. Not so much by the horrible realities described in moments during these presentations, but, by the truth and power of their words -and their incredible presence. The vibration of their voices. These people are two examples of leaders, people who inspire and energize, people who can stir up the dust in others that has been allowed to settle.