Last week, SMS had the privilege of having Captain Cheryl C. Major, CD present to the girls at our Remembrance Day Assembly.  She is a great role model for our girls as well as a parent and an enthusiastic ambassador for our school!  She talked about the importance of Remembrance Day, even more so now that there are no veterans left from World War One and the number of war veterans from World War Two is dwindling quickly.  How do you go about honouring those in the past who gave up so much to secure our freedoms today?  How will we keep their stories alive and provide relevance to those folks who have not been asked to serve their country or who have not experienced the “fallout” of war first-hand?  How do we exercise everyday democracy and develop the citizenship needed to thrive in a pluralistic society? Her culminating comments to the girls emphasized the importance of gratitude in recognition of those who served during wartime  and who made significant sacrifices allowing us to enjoy so many privileges today. She also highlighted the involvement of the armed forces closer to home in helping communities during a disaster such as  Fort McMurray this past summer; in peacekeeping efforts around the world; and being ready to protect Canada should the need arise.  Clearly the efforts of these individuals (past and present) are an absolute example of “paying it forward” without expectations or personal acknowledgement.

In anticipation of Canada’s 150th birthday and in recognition of Remembrance Day, I just finished reading David Johnston’s book entitled:  The Idea of Canada – Letters to a Nation.  In his book, he talks about the values, historical moments, and aspirations that have made Canada unique – a country admired by people around the world for our peace giving involvement and our commitment to inclusion and diversity.  Johnston also talks about the importance of public service and the need to encourage our young people to consider this a desirable career path and an honourable way to create a better future for our communities – both local and abroad.

Individuals pursuing public service rely on a set of principles and values – values espoused in our Strategic Plan including honesty, integrity, service, global-mindedness, leadership, and courage – and are driven by a spur to action that extends beyond their personal needs to serve a greater purpose.  This is made more challenging by globalization with world affairs having a profound impact on our interactions, decisions, and responses to what is happening elsewhere. For public servants, accomplishment is measured by other people’s successes and by improving the quality of life for those less fortunate.

Balancing the needs of the many is a complex task, and requires people to seek long-term solutions to short-term problems, to have the willingness to listen to a myriad of perspectives, and to make difficult decisions knowing there is a delicate connection to those you serve. People who are committed to public service do not have to be elected to public office or hold prestigious titles – the only criteria is that these individuals want to make a real difference to those around them.  These individuals strive to create a collaborative problem-solving culture where everyone is accountable to address challenges and prepare for the future together.

At SMS, we strive to help our girls achieve their dreams but also to see their roles as builders of community and democracy.  We want them to find ways to make contributions, small or great, and to be educated about what is going on around us.  We want them to be inquisitive about the world, and to find joy from giving and not just taking. We want them to develop the ability to acquire, analyze, and apply relevant knowledge.  By realizing the potential of our girls, we believe we will enrich the lives of others beyond our community.  The opportunities for us to contribute are truly endless; by encouraging our girls to “pay it forward” to the next generation, we are reinforcing the relevance of today’s sacrifices in building tomorrow’s possibilities.

“You cannot attain what you do not pursue.”
 Clay Pearson
“If you forget the past, you are doomed to repeat it.”

The Idea of Canada:  Letters to a Nation.  David Johnston. 2016
Samara’s Democracy 360 Talk. Act. Lead.