Clegg’s Corner – Words of wisdom from Tommie Smith

There are citizens who desperately try to bring about change for the better.

Then there are those who sit back and do little. Very little!

Next week, High Prairians will vote for a new council. Eleven individuals have stepped forward to contribute. This is perhaps the ultimate way you can contribute.

But it is not the only way. A citizen does not have to seek political office to bring about change. His/her actions can speak loudly. It can be as simple as attending council meetings to become informed. Only Judy Stenhouse has done that.

Or, you can pick up the phone and talk to your councillor. If enough people phone, change can be affected.

Or, you can volunteer in the community. In addition to being a former councillor, Barry Sharkawi has an extensive list of organizations he has contributed to. Ross Burgar and Aaron Klassen also have volunteer service on their record.

By volunteering, you become aware of issues the man on the street has no idea occur. It happens naturally when you try to accomplish something. The Triangle Pioneer Threshermans Association found that out recently and got socked with a $1,500 fine from Big Lakes County for not acquiring a proper permit.

This is the same county that says it supports its volunteers. It is the same council that says it wants to work with its volunteer organizations. It’s the same council that will make every excuse to support a High Prairie organization, yet not extend the same courtesy to its regional organizations and hamlets.

The Enilda and District Society for Recreation and Culture members already know this. When the M.D. of Big Lakes [now the county] lost their application for a playground grant a few years ago, EDSRC was made to pay the entire bill for a new playground. Sure, EDSRC did not re-apply, but the council seemed to take joy in socking it to them.

Frankly, EDSRC gave up. What was the point? Why ask for forgiveness from a council that says one thing and does another? EDSRC rolled over and played dead, which is exactly what the council wanted. It was a decisive, clear-cut victory over a group of volunteers they are still proud of today, or they would have surely found a way to help them.

In both cases, why did council not try to help these volunteer groups? Why not consider a warning to PTA, or at least a lesser fine than $1,500?

But the volunteers still tread on, God bless them! Many times, behind the scenes, they continue their quest to make things better.

Why! To see a politician show up at the ribbon cutting to take the credit?

No, there is a deeper meaning, a feeling of satisfaction from a job well done. A feeling of self-worth.

Or, for reasons as Tommie Smith said recently on CNN. He, of course, was the black athlete made famous with the salute at the 1967 Mexico City Olympics.

But that is what living is all about. You can’t sit there and kiss your kids, make your money. You’re responsible. You owe that challenge you had back to the people who gave it to you. And it’s up to you to make it better for others behind you because the system must grow…and people, we must stick together or we’re going to fall apart.”

One cannot help but wonder what these same councillors would have said when they previously served on volunteer boards and had their local government run roughshod over them.

Smith’s last words about growing the system and sticking together are exactly what the Big Lakes County council did not afford the Triangle PTA. For that reason, they should be ashamed.

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