Once again, we have heard concerns from our local business members that Steinbach will be the location for a protest that intends to challenge current government restrictions. While I find activities like this one disheartening, especially at a time when our communities are fatigued and exhausted after a long year, I also think it is necessary that a response be offered. I often hear “freedom” being invoked in relation to protests like this one, and while I am incredibly grateful for the freedom that we have in our country, I also think that there is responsibility attached to honouring the freedom that we enjoy. Simply put, we must use discernment in how we exercise our freedom, and I suggest that it is our responsibility to exercise our freedom in productive ways.
Having the freedom to protest does not therefore mean that we ought to do it. Perhaps our freedom ought to be used to unify our community, to support each other and to help those struggling during this time. Perhaps our freedom ought to be used to engage our leaders in dialogue on policy as we all endeavour to find our way on a journey for which there is no map. Perhaps our freedom ought to be used to build our resilience, to preserve our hope, and to protect our future. When I consider Steinbach, I see our community and our leaders doing all these things. When I consider Steinbach, I see a community with incredible heart, character, and integrity - a community that I am proud to call ‘home.
In considering the upcoming rally, I see an event that presents the opposite reflection of the values we hold as a community. To the leaders of the rally, I urge you to reconsider holding this event. There is no productive next step to an event like this. To the potential attendees of this event, may I also ask you to reconsider your involvement. Our freedom is much too precious to be used carelessly.
I am grateful to our business community for their perseverance in facing the challenges of the year. I am thankful for a community who continues to show their support and build each other up. I am thankful for our business and municipal leaders who continue to advocate in support of the health of our community and the health of our local businesses. This is the Steinbach that we reflect every day. This is the reflection that matters.