An open letter to all young adults who stand up for what they believe in.

To all young adults who stand up for what they believe in,

Rainbow crosswalks have been all over the media lately. Mostly because of the decision not to paint a rainbow crosswalk near a school in a local community. At first, I found this particularly upsetting. How could anyone take such a public stand against a symbol of inclusiveness? It really bothered me. Then I realized something that made me smile. Something truly beautiful, meaningful and long lasting had happened here. And it is this: you stood up. You spoke up. You resisted. You accepted the outcome, yes, but you vowed to keep raising your voices.

Don’t let anything ever change that.

Don’t let anything discount your resolve because of your age. I’ve been privileged to travel the world with the work I do. I’ve seen children of all ages and all backgrounds and it has led me to draw 2 conclusions. Firstly, it sounds like a cliché but kids are kids. From Haiti to Nepal, they’re innocent in their joy and honesty. They’re not judgmental. They’re not racist or homophobic. Unfortunately, those beliefs are taught. They are in no way genetic.

Secondly, hope is a chameleon. It takes many forms. Throughout history, challenges of humanity often surround issues of inclusion, exclusion and diversity. Traditionally, these conflicts of conscience were hidden on the premise of defined borders of geography and political circumstances. But the world today with its rapid dissemination of ideas and the Internet replacing the courier pigeon is less defined by these borders and more defined by social-political beliefs.

As a result, how we look at each other, how we accept and love each other is more important now than ever before. We are no longer defined by where we live. We are all connected. If a child hurts in Bangladesh, the effect can be felt in Torbay. If there is social injustice in Charlotte, the effects can be felt in Bathurst.

Occasionally in life, there is a challenge, an issue that is so big, so real, you know deep down it is worth fighting for no matter the heights to climb or how far you may fall. It’s often hope versus traditional opinion, traditional tenets versus change. It’s an uphill battle against entrenched beliefs. But the fight is worth it. In fact, the path uphill is in the footsteps of many, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Malala Yousafzai. You, my friends, are in good company.

I truly believe that people are not evil and the thing with beliefs is that they are subject to change. The natural disposition is not to hate and divide. But we are up against a lack of understanding, ignorance and those who embrace both almost as a point of pride. Believe me, they are wrong.

Condemn them? No. Embrace them. Love them even more. You see that’s the very basic thing they miss about inclusiveness. It’s beautiful. It’s the embodiment of love. It is nonpartisan, unbiased hug for all.

I sat in the operating room lounge yesterday scratching my eyes after a case and looked around. Surrounding me were people of many races, religions, gender and sexual orientation. Nurses, doctors, and healthcare professionals working together, blind of some of the issues that still seem so challenging for some in our society. It can happen. It does happen every day. We just need the reminders that acceptance and inclusion are more powerful than division and exclusion… always.

So, to those fighting for equal treatment for the LBGTQ community, let me tell you there is a rainbow there already. And no one can ever erase it. It’s been painted on the collective hearts of those around you. You are changing minds. You are changing the future. Know that you are all loved. Thank you for your courage, your voice and for striving to be the future we all want to see.



Ps. BIG shout out to Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove who voted unanimously to paint two rainbow-coloured crosswalks to show support to the LBGTQ community. And to Stephenville, who voted to have crosswalks painted. This is the beauty of inclusiveness. And thanks to the youth of Springdale for helping that rainbow crosswalk stretch across the province.