We should gather together as one with no labels but as one people. Freedom is for all, not just some, but all people. I felt I was misrepresented by the small piece in the paper so I went to Laura to explain why—to have a conversation. We agreed to disagree on a few things but that is perfectly okay. I was there to explain myself on the part in the paper about the bullying nature of the mandates towards the unvaccinated. The word “unvaccinated” is a singled-out label. I explained the freedom rally to me is not about Vacc vs. Unvac. It is about freedom for all people as there are vaccinated people standing beside the unvaccinated. Labels exclude—labels keep us small and definitely do not define who we are. It doesn’t describe me as a whole or the group as a whole. I am more than any label. I told her a story about how I see life. I see all the “bad” times as opportunities to learn and grow from. The mandates for example have shown me a small portion of what black people endured by not being considered part of the whole human race—as less than. They were not allowed into restaurants, hotels and functions because of a label. History repeating itself is lessons for us as a human race to learn from, to do better from and be better. It’s important to look for our similarities rather than our differences.

When you put that one word to me, you labelled me just like the black people. We must all be aware of our words, as words only take a second to say and may cause profound wounds that may take a lifetime to heal. I have written extensively on this in my book HOPE and in my second one I am just finishing. My book is to help all people as they are, be it in a seniors home, women’s shelter, halfway house, Hillside mental hospital or Indigenous place. Hope stands for the Healing Of People Everywhere. Hope is the voice of those unseen and unheard. Hope is to let go of fear, worry, anger and replace them with kindness, gratitude and love. Labels are written about extensively in Chapter 2 and how they do not define who we are. Do not judge, assume, label, blame as we will never agree on everything. Let’s agree to disagree and leave it alone. If we continue to blame and argue this only causes more conflict and separation and division. We as a group are not excluding anyone—well, maybe the disrespectful ones.

This is about all people coming together from all races, religions, and colour and respectfully sharing our voices and stories. Freedom to speak, listen and agreeing to disagree. Everyone has this right just as the black people do and the unvaccinated. This he-said-she-said game is just a waste of time as everyone feels they are right. So we can listen and take away something or nothing but all voices have the right to be heard. You don’t have to agree to believe but just listen then in return you can be heard also. Respect is a 2-way street. There is life besides COVID so instead of arguing or being in a fearful or angry state, go volunteer. I volunteer everyday, may it be with animals, seniors, homeless, fire or flood victims, disabled, children in hospitals—get out of your head and see life going on around you and count your blessings and be grateful for all you have. Change our inner dialogue to better not bitter, victors not victims, fear into faith, worry into hope, anger into love, greed into gratitude, resentment into understanding, revenge into forgiveness, judgement into acceptance and compliance into freedom. Let’s be the example for future generations as it is easier to mould strong, respectful, kind children than it is to repair broken adults. My message: be kind. COVID doesn’t discriminate. People do! Thank you Laura for the conversation even though we disagree on some things, we still could hear our voices. We are in this together, Not COVID, but life—let’s act like it.

Lois McTaggart
Valemount, BC