I was all set with my editor’s message for April. It was to be a celebration of sorts. With Covid restrictions lifting, I was looking forward to a springier season, with the reopening of Leaside’s vibrant patio scene and the reappearance of greenscape everywhere.
Plus, April is the month that features one of my favourite days – Earth Day, on April 22nd. I’ve been “celebrating” Earth Day for a very long time, since the days when Earth Day featured more a playbill of entertainment, like poets and singers in “this land is your land” mode, than exhortations to do something concrete for the planet before it’s too late.
I was also going to highlight some of the enviro-themed content in this issue of Leaside Life. Like Susan Scandiffio’s profile of Indigenous leader Tobie Loukes, who, through her teaching, is bringing kids to a deeper understanding of Indigenous culture, history, and appreciation of earth’s bounty. I was also planning to highlight Glenn Asano’s profile of Leasider Tim Short, who wrote to us: “I am a resident of South Leaside and am very interested in the environment and the steps our society needs to take in order to get a better handle on our future. … Sometimes I feel like the environment is in a losing battle, but there are signs that things may be changing.”
But then world events overtook us, and my mood, along with the mood of Canadians everywhere, shifted to Ukraine and the latest chapter in our dark history. But, one bright spot: already, there are efforts to welcome refugees who need support.
Just over five years ago, we wrote about the work of the Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office (TNO), which helped find homes and jobs for hundreds of Syrian refugees. Once again, TNO is mobilizing. According to CEO Ahmed Hussein, TNO will be working closely with the government to sponsor and settle Ukrainian refugees. TNO coordinates efforts to help the refugees with their paper work, employment, and other official matters. The biggest part of their work at the outset will be finding shelter for the mostly women and children who have to flee the violence. Leasiders may be called upon to open your homes and your hearts.
Answer that call if you can. Read on in this issue to learn more.