Kindness changes lives

I had a beautiful drive home to Prince George from Smithers recently after attending the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. The new Smithers Chamber Manager, Sheena Miller, planned an amazing event and fundraiser. I was swept up into an exciting evening of networking, fun and entertainment as the Smithers businesses community celebrated, supported and recognized one another. I am so grateful to have been embraced by such a wonderful community of people.

This trip reminded me of my early years in Prince George when I would regularly drive through the Bulkley Valley for my work with a book company. The last time I had traveled to Smithers was about 20 years ago in November.

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I distinctly remember freezing cold subzero temperatures and three feet of snow. I had to take the Greyhound for that trip because the roads were so bad. But there was a major hitch. The bus pickup time to get back home to Prince George was 2 a.m. out front of the 7-Eleven, that was of course closed at that hour, situated right on Highway 16.

The problem was that I could not afford a second night at the Capri Hotel, who very kindly allowed me to hang out in their banquet room until it was time to head out into the night. I admit it, I was scared. Scared of falling asleep and missing the bus, or freezing to death because the bus didn't come, or worst of all, getting abducted off the side of Highway 16. Thankfully the wind chill trek across the field and highway was successful and the bus arrived on schedule. Six hours later, I was safely in Prince George with a bus load full of other weary travelers. It is hard to believe that Greyhound is gone and that mid November is now a balmy 6 C at this latitude.

So much has changed in 20 years.

I sometimes question why I have received so much opportunity over the past 20 years. Why did doors fling open and lucky breaks appear? Why has so much kindness has been given to me here in Prince George? Yes, I gave, but there has to be more to it. Does being white with parents that had the means to insist on a university education factor in? I hope not, but if so, I have to wonder, what if a person doesn't have that?

We have no choice where we are born or who we are born to. One's race, colour, socioeconomic position and social status is not something we choose when we arrive in this world. What if someone is raised in abusive and traumatic circumstances that creates terrible suffering and deep emotional scars? What if a person only knows dysfunction starting from their first memories? What if someone is exposed to substance abuse and the strong hold of addiction early in life? What if an individual cannot access medical support for mental illness challenges?

A special artist and friend advised me in a conversation of late that every single person matters and is on their own journey.

Don't judge; love them where they are.

Use your power to create and build.

Kindness and compassion win.

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