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Happy Holidays!
Please note that CPRA will be closed from December 23-January 2, inclusive.

Dear CPRA Community,

If your eyes are on this message, there is a good chance you contribute to the parks and recreation sector in Canada. Your effort makes a difference in the lives of millions. Connecting Canadians to nature and helping them build vibrant communities by providing the opportunity to participate in physical, social, intellectual, creative, and spiritual pursuits enhances our collective wellbeing. Thank you for the work you do!

With any luck, you are preparing for well-earned downtime with friends and family. Amid the rush to relax, you may also be contemplating the deeper meaning of the season of light. What I love about this time of year are the rich traditions being celebrated which can sometimes be obscured by wrapping paper, shopping bags, and parking lot traffic jams.

Take Chanukah, for example. Did you know that the word Chanukah is Hebrew for “dedication” and the festival commemorates the re-dedication of the Jewish Temple, among the most important symbols of Jewish community and unity? This beautiful tradition gives me energy to re-dedicate myself to my community, to our important work.

Kwanzaa is distinguished by the seven principles that animate this time of learning, family, and celebration. All seven principles contain wisdom, but my favourite is Ujima, which means collective work and responsibility…to build and maintain our community together and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together. Beautiful!

It recalls wisdom expressed by Lilla Watson, a visual artist, activist and academic working in the field of Women’s issues and Aboriginal epistemology that was brought to my attention earlier this year by our friends at Canadian Women & Sport during a webinar about engaging women in active living:

    “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

I take this to mean that our common humanity is what unites us in our struggles and in our achievements. Profound!

And of course, Christmas, at once the most widely celebrated holiday and the one whose animating idea is most obscured by modern culture. From Christmas, I receive a message of salvation achieved through humility, sacrifice, and dedication to one another so together we can achieve collective redemption and everlasting peace. Imagine!

Whatever tradition you celebrate, please accept the warmest wishes for this season of light.

Happy Holidays from all of us at CPRA!

Martin Sampson
Canadian Parks and Recreation Association