Today the Regina Leader-Post and the Vancouver Province published an op-ed I wrote on the search for political leaders in Saskatchewan. In the piece, I used Martin Luther King’s quote about the moral arc of the universe being long but bending toward justice. Then I urge readers to ask who among the people vying for leadership in the province have the potential to bring us back to that moral arc in the age of climate change and reconciliation.
I believe the answer to that question points to Ryan Meili alone.
No one else has the sustained sense of direction and a vision of how to create, step by step, the necessary economic and social changes on a scale much longer than the four-year electoral cycle. No one else has what it will take to inspire the next generation and shift the political conversation in this province towards wellbeing and equality for many years to come.
That kind of compass work requires listening to young voices, to the indigenous, settler, and newcomer people who are embracing the challenges of climate change, social inequity, and de-colonization with heart and game-changing social skills few of us over fifty can fathom. Meili has spent more than a decade listening to young people and leading this social movement in the province. I have seen the results in my own children, in their enthusiasm for his ideas and the possibilities they contain.
Six years ago my son came home on a break from his first year of medical school talking about “the social determinants of health” and someone called Ryan. We watched him in the next year transition from a boy with great potential to a man with purpose. A young doctor committed to serving socially marginalized populations, he was recently accepted into the HIV Fellowship at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. In due time he hopes to return to the province to do his part in the transformation underway.
It is impossible to fully express the scope and diversity of that new enthusiasm for social transformation but some of its ingredients seem to be:
- a belief that greater equality improves everyone’s lives;
- that the causes of crime, addiction, domestic violence, poor health, and many other social issues are upstream where policy and economic systems foster inequity, environmental degradation, and unemployment, while cutting support for education, early childhood development, good housing, and nutrition;
- that all people in power must wake up to the complex intersections between class, race, sexual orientation and gender that form the coordinates of privilege and disprivilege where each of us live;
- and that reconciliation is a journey that will take us well beyond residential schools to the de-colonization of Canada.