This coming Friday is Canada Day and as I sat down to write this blog looking for Canada Day activities for kids to suggest to you, I came across this video and news story:
Mother cries after posting photo of three-year-old daughter practicing mass shooting lockdown drill
When I first saw that headline, I didn’t believe it was for real. But it was.
It’s a video of this mom’s 3-year-old little girl practicing what to do if her preschool was targeted by a mass shooter… and it went viral.
And when I watched it, just like the little girl’s mom, my heart sank.
Much as parents may try to instill a sense of safety and trust in their children when schools and preschools have children practicing hiding in bathroom cubicles so they don’t get shot, it undermines that effort.
The message is clear – you are not safe- this is a real possibility- some seriously mentally ill person or political extremist may very well come into your sweet little preschool and try to shoot you.
What a message to live with.
After doing more reading I learned that lockdown drills are becoming commonplace in American schools and preschools because mass shootings really are a threat in the US and are becoming an epidemic.
As a kid growing up in the Cold War in the US, I experienced similar drills.
We routinely practiced “duck and cover” where we had to quickly drop to our knees and curl up into as small a ball as we could and hide under our desks. This was supposed to protect us from a nuclear bomb… really?
We also had air raid drills where we had to file silently into the school hallways, sit with our backs against the wall and maintain absolute silence – in case we were under attack by the former Soviet Union.
Did this impact my generation? You bet.
Every unusual sound in the sky, every news story of increasing tensions between the West and the Soviet Union sent ripples of fear through us. When the Cuban missile crisis came, we all thought it was going to be the end of the world – really!!!
Having grown up with those experiences, I know what it’s like to be taught that you are never really safe. Drills and lockdown practices are designed to teach children that there is danger everywhere.
At least here in Canada, we do not have such drills, because we don’t have a culture that worships guns and allows anyone to easily purchase military assault weapons over the counter.
We do have our problems for sure. And we do not have a perfect country – no one does.
There are things that don’t feel safe to us – the growing climate crisis, economic uncertainty, housing affordability, BPA in plastics, toxins in our food, violence against women (and don’t forget those small parts in toys!)
But our children (unless they are in an abusive home) are not living in fear of someone “out there” trying to kill them.
My heart goes out to American parents (many of my blog subscribers are from the US) and to parents all over the world who are trying to protect their children and keep them safe in harsh and violent environments.
Every human being’s life is forever impacted by where we happen to be born. Sometimes people who are born in very challenging environments are able to escape and immigrate to safer places. Many people are unable to do that.
Canada is a country of many First Nations people and many many immigrants from close to 200 countries. I feel blessed and lucky to be one of those immigrants and to be a Canadian citizen. My children were born and raised in Canada and appreciate that it is a gift to live here.
With all the problems we have, we still somehow are able to make it work and that is cause for celebration.
So if you are living in Canada, enjoy and celebrate Canada Day and appreciate that…
We don’t have to have lockdowns drills for our children, our rate of gun deaths is very low (could be better) and that we have free medical care, the Canada Child Tax Credit, one year paid maternity leave, a commitment to multiculturalism and bilingualism, a commitment to redressing the wrongs done to First Nations people, our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the CBC (our publicly funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), a fundamental decency, and a tendency to say “sorry” even if someone else bumps into us.
These are just some of the things to celebrate and teach your children to appreciate.
Here’s a list of some cool things to do with your kids for Canada Day:
Don’t forget the local fireworks!
Happy Canada Day to all!
PS: and to my American friends, have a fun, safe, enjoyable 4th of July!!!!
(image credit: Jean Vaillancourt)