In 1985 I served a pastoral charge with two congregations. At the smaller of the two there was a great old guy who looked like Santa Claus might if he went on a successful weight-loss program. We enjoyed chatting and I visited him in his cottage-converted-to-home on the shore of Lake Simcoe. I mention 1985 because I stopped in one day and he picked up the front section of his newspaper. "What do you think of this?" he wanted to know. He showed me the photo of Lincoln Alexander who had just been appointed Lieutenant Governor in Ontario. I was a bit puzzled but I told him I thought it was great. I then realized he didn't share my view. He was careful with his wording, but I realized this man I admired was a racist, and it was a blow.
I suppose I was young and naiive enough not to appreciate how pervasive racism can be, and what a ground-breaking moment this was. Lincoln Alexander was a person of great integrity who modelled the ability to overcome racial prejudices. Since his appointment Canada has become more racially and ethnically diverse in terms of those who serve in these symbolic roles,which reflects our changing population. Alexander always deported himself with great dignity, even when eventually confined to a wheelchair. He was never diminished.
Last week the committee of presbytery I co-chair passed a motion asking the Canadian government to appoint a First Nations Governor General next time around, an oversight or injustice which needs to be rectified. I would like to believe that Lincoln Alexander paved the way.
Take a look at the latest Groundling blog entries.