Missed opportunities

I received a note recently from a Times-Herald subscriber, which read: “I have been a subscriber to the Times-Herald for some 40 years. But will not renew… as all you write about are Indians, queers and unions. I am not interested in any of them.”
It shocked me. My mind raced to corners of my life I’d sooner forget.
I wondered if this person would have unsubscribed sooner, had they known the new editor of the newspaper they have grown to hate so much is a coloured person from South Africa.
‘Coloured’ in South Africa is a race like black and white. It goes back to my parents and their parents and their parents before them. We are a multiracial group with African and European ancestry that bore almost as much of the brunt of apartheid as the black population did.
Marike de Klerk, the wife of the president who was instrumental in freeing Nelson Mandela from prison, called us a “non-people.”
These are thoughts that came to me as I read the subscriber’s note.
Was the person saying Moose Jaw is just one thing? And was I a part of it? Are the “Indians” and the “queers” not Moose Jaw or part of it?
When I first settled down in the city, I didn’t notice a lot of colour. I had married a white Canadian girl and concordantly, my social circles were white. Naturally, I have always had a sense of being “other” in Moose Jaw — it comes packaged with my race.
Then, thankfully, more immigrants and refugees started coming in.
Turns out, Moose Jaw is pretty colourful these days. It’s also gay and straight and religious and Indigenous and white and mixed-race. It’s a lot of things.
Like Moose Jaw, the Times-Herald is a lot of things, because the newspaper is a reflection of the city whose name it bears. And, even more powerfully, it is a forum where people like this former subscriber, and those who disagree with them, can respectfully engage and debate.
Facebook and Google will feed us everything we agree with and surround us with people who look and think like us. It’s that way by design. To them, we are nothing but numbers in an algorithm.
The Times-Herald is not that.
If you disagree with a story or opinion in the paper or online, like more than one reader recently did about our Omar Khadr editorial, don’t unsubscribe — write me a letter, and we will publish it.
If you don’t like the couple who is using sponsors for their wedding, don’t unsubscribe like a few did — send us a letter explaining why. If you don’t like that I placed that story on the front page, tell me. Use words. Words are powerful.
Grab the opportunity to join the dialogue. Moose Javians are varied and their voices are varied, and it does us all good to hear them.
We’ll find no common ground without this.