To West End neighbours:
I was greatly disturbed to read in the March 12 edition of The Recorder the story of unwelcoming, even threatening, anonymous letters delivered to targeted families in Burpee and Mills Township.
Without hesitation, I add my voice to the chorus of supporters who stand in solidarity with our neighbours who have been deeply hurt by these letters, saying unequivocally, “we respect and support your right to feel secure and at peace in this community, and we regret that you have been subjected to this unprecedented and unwarranted attack.”
The content of the anonymous letters cannot and must not go unchallenged. That said, I recognize, too, that the authors of the letters are expressing their own hurt. The fear of change and the sense of loss when things aren’t the way they used to be—perhaps exacerbated by the stresses of ongoing COVID restrictions—can lead to irrational, even aggressive, behaviours. And while the behaviours themselves are absolutely unacceptable, they point to an underlying pain. Therefore, being held to account needs to be balanced with being held with compassion.
The health and integrity of any community is measured by the attitudes and actions of its residents. When one comes to the aid of another, both are made stronger and richer by it. Similarly, when one is intentionally dismissed, excluded, or otherwise made to feel unwelcomed, all are diminished by it.
Our Island communities are intended to be places of inclusion, not exclusion; of freedom, not fear; of acceptance, not aggression.
Our Island communities are intended to be places for healing and restoration. Here there is room for all.
Rev. Janice Frame
Western Manitoulin Pastoral Charge
of The United Church of Canada