We closed the door on 2020 and opened 2021 with faith, hope and optimism. Some of us made New Year’s resolutions, some of us didn’t’ because we have learned over time that we break them so easily. However, I am sure that many of us have a new “to do” list to challenge us. Our Women’s Institutes are also looking at their “to do” list, as they try to plan programs and projects while the “new normal” has not been reached.
Year of Peace & Truth
The United Nations has named 2021 the International Year of Peace and Truth. Thought has been given to what the Women’s Institutes can do to mark this year. In thinking about this I remembered something I had read some time ago and had kept. It reads:
“There shall be peace on earth, but not until each child shall daily eat his fill;
Go warmly clad against the winter wind and learn his lessons with a tranquil mind;
And thus released from hunger, fear and need Regardless of his colour, race or creed,
Look upwards, smiling to the skies, his faith in man reflected in his eyes”.
I know that our Women’s Institutes have done so much, and continue to see the needs in their communities and respond to those needs. But the statistics of the number of children who live in poverty in Canada and around the world should indicate to us that our help is needed more than ever,
“The Truths We Hold”
I am reading Vice President Kamala Harris’ book “The Truths We Hold”. In the Preface she writes, "one of the most important ingredients in a relationship of trust is that we speak truth. It matters what we say. What we mean. The value we put on our words – and what they are worth to others…We need to speak truth." She goes on to write about the many problems or challenges facing the American people. Many of them we share in Canada -racism, sexism, homophobia and much more. She stresses the importance of us acknowledging the situations, and difficult as it might be, speak the truth and try to bring about change. Our Women’s Institutes can be a voice speaking the truth about what is happening in our communities and being voices for change.
Mary Stewart Collect
And then in all these musings about peace and truth I come back to the Mary Stewart Collect. If we truly live that we have come a long way in living in the International Year for Peace and Truth.
- Mary Stewart Collect -
Keep us O Lord from pettiness; let us be large in thought, in word and deed
Let us be done with fault finding and leave off self-seeking
May we put away all pretence and meet each other face to face,
Without self-pity and without prejudice
May we never be hasty in judgment and always generous
Let us take time for all things:
Make us grow calm, serene, and gentle
Teach us to put into action our better impulses straight forward and unafraid
Grant that we may realize that it is the little things that create differences;
That in the big things of life we are one
And may we strive to touch and know the great human heart common to us all,
And O Lord, God, let us not forget to be kind.
Ellen McLean has been an active WI member for close to seventy years. Throughout those years, she served in many roles including President of the Women's Institutes of Nova Scotia, President of the Federated Women's Institutes of Canada (FWIC) and President of the Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW). Testimony to her excellent leadership and service, Ellen received an honorary doctorate degree from St. Francis Xavier University, been inducted to the Canadian Agricultural Hall of Fame, received the Order of Canada as well as being the first recipient of the Adelaide Hunter Hoodless Women of the Year Award.