Olivia Chow Celebrates Humanitarian Efforts of El Salvadorean-Canadian Community
September 28, 2012
TORONTO – Every year, volunteers collect clothing, food, medical and school supplies and drive them El Salvador in old school buses- that’s the Caravan of Hope. Read Olivia’s remarks at a celebration of this enormous humanitarian effort with the El Salvadorean community. Read her speech below.
Señoras y señores – muchas gracias – I join you in welcoming our esteemed visitors from El Salvador. And I thank the Caravan of Hope and everyone in the Salvadorean community — and the whole Latin- Canadian community, and Latinas Voces — for inviting me to share in this celebration. It is a celebration of the strength of hope, and of our shared humanity.
And most of all, I thank you for the work you are doing, in bringing comfort, through the caravan of hope, to so many in despair, so many in need. The work you are doing is so important – and so necessary. Our universal struggle for social justice. It is an honor and a privilege to be here with you.
The Caravan of Hope is such an important solidarity initiative – you have done so much to support l disaster relief and reconstruction.
You have also done so much to support the development of public health care. It is very inspiring that you have been able to provide El Salvador with so many essential things like ambulances and hospital beds, to support public health care. I salute you – this is a struggle we share.
Tommy Douglas was the Founder of the New Democratic Party – and he was the father of Canadian public health care. Protecting public healthcare has always been at the heart of New Democrats – it was a major cause for our late leader, Jack Layton – and for me.
In Canada, where we have so much, we must constantly remember the struggle. We must constantly work to protect our basic human rights – and the right of everyone to universal public health care. And we must reach out in solidarity to those who have so much less.
We are together in this struggle. El Salvador has been through so much pain in its past – we hope for more joy in the future.
I have read a little of the great poet from your country – from El Salvador — Roque Dalton — a beautiful poet. And I was very moved by one of his beautiful poems.
It is called – in Spanish “Como tu” and in our language – “Like you”.
To me, it is almost like a prayer – a very spiritual poem – and one which demonstrates more clearly than anything `Jack Layton`s last message to Canadians — that love is better than anger, hope is better than fear, optimism is better than despair – and our common humanity binds us all in solidarity. So permit me to read this poem.
I, like you
Love love, life, the sweet delight
Of things, the blue
Landscape of January days.
Also, my blood bubbles over
Laughing through my eyes
Which have known the rush of tears.
I believe the world is beautiful,
That poetry is, like bread, for everyone.
And that my veins don`t end in me
But in the unanimous blood
Of those who struggle for life,
Countryside and bread,
Poetry for everyone”
What a wonderful message for us all – what a wonderful, hopeful message for the Caravan of hope.
Poetry for everyone, bread for everyone – healthcare for everyone, justice for everyone, hope, optimism and love for everyone. For everyone – together. Solidarity, together. Together, we can change the world. Together, we will change the world. Thank you all.