• JMac

Know when to hold them, know when to fold them

I hate quitting. To me, quitting most of the time is a self-imposition of a limit on possibility.

But, sometimes, quitting is a necessity. As a way to take a stance, draw a line, and stand up for ones self.

Last night, I resigned from something that was very important to me.

I resigned my position on the London Public Library board after sixteen of my forty-eight months of service, and did not enjoy a single second of that decision. I've lost sleep and experienced panic attacks for three days related to my volunteer service with the LPL board, and this is no way to live as an unpaid volunteer.

As many Londoners know, we are in budget deliberation season at City Hall. On Thursday, business cases were presented by the London Public Library Board and Staff as suggestions of ways they could theoretically trim their budget ask to minimize the property tax increase. There was a period where citizens could weigh in to council online in regards to their feelings about these propositions. Things got ugly.

In the resulting fall-out, Councillor Kayabaga has confirmed that her comments stand; that the London Public Library board created a business case at the request of city council that was "anti poverty, anti women, anti immigrant, anti children." By making an offer to pursue alternate funding sources to save taxpayers 22 cents a year, if it so pleased council.

In the last few days, Councillor Kayabaga has endlessly retweeted messages of support for sticking to her guns and speaking her mind. These messages had come from positions as high as MPP and MP as of the point that I stopped reading them.

Councillor Kayabaga was briefly a member of the London Public Library Board of Directors. She knows the immense character of the staff, and of the board members. Its diverse representation of those younger and older, abled and differently abled, parents and single persons, immigrants and Canadians, of more and less financial means, and of diverse sexual orientations.

Councillor Kayabaga was not present for the intense deliberations leading to the creation of the business cases. She does not know what else was at risk had the wi-fi hotspots not been decided to offer the pursuit of alternate funding if it so pleased council. Councillor Kayabaga does not know what the board members personally pledged to do with regards to the hotspots, or how passionately and strongly they pledged their support in ensuring the service was offered to patrons regardless of funding source.

Councillor Kayabaga does not know the life I have lived, the path I have taken, and the efforts I undertake every single day to lift up and support those living in poverty, those with children, those who are new to Canada, and those who identify as genders other than male; and my insistence on never personally benefiting from those efforts.

I openly and wholeheartedly reject her mischaracterization of my actions. I am sad that she chooses to overlook the impact of her words on the volunteers behind the business case that was requested for consideration by the council she sits on.

I have privately asked her to consider my position and to reconsider her words. In response, she re-sent me the same public statement she issued on January 31st.

I respect Councillor Kayabaga's work as a councillor, I recognize the barriers she has overcome to reach her position. I was excited when she won her seat. I recognize my own privilege as a white man, and I admire her perseverance in the face of adversity as a single non-white bilingual mom in a white man's political world.

But I also have the choice to no longer give my time over the dinner hour one Thursday a month in which I miss dinner, playtime, homework, bath time, story time, and bedtime with my wife and three small kids just so that I can eventually become someone else's scapegoat. We are all drowning in the same pool of fighting to maximize limited resources to touch as many lives as possible. Someone put their own foot on my head to elevate their own profile, not recognizing that I too am providing the same attempts at equitable buoyancy for all in that water of life thrashing to survive.

I make this statement free of any input from LPL board or staff, a diverse and amazing collection of individuals I sincerely admire. They are aware of my resignation, but they have provided no input, authorization, or permission of my statements. I speak for myself and only myself. I love the London Public Library; I will continue to support their events, donate monthly, and attend their facilities. But I will no longer give my time to a City Council managed board just so that I can be publicly scapegoated by someone who has no idea what I actually said or did or offered to do, and did not utilize a long period of time to reach out to and clarify with prior to making the statements she did. Councillor Kayabaga never should've faced expulsion from six city council meetings for speaking her mind.

But Councillor Kayabaga also accused me of doing something anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-poverty, and anti-child.

I donate to and volunteer for Rotholme, Anova, and London Abused Women's Centre as a survivor of and witness to abuse of both myself and my mother and sister by my ex step father.

I am a dual citizen of another country and have been tormented for acting and speaking differently, even despite the colour of my skin.

I have founded and ran a non-profit organization for almost seven years that has ran thousands of free events and raised over $130,000 for women, children, immigrants, and people in poverty. I have not taken a single penny for my time in doing so.

I neither am nor do any of the things Councillor Kayabaga labelled myself and colleagues as doing, and she refuses to change her position or re-examine her words.

How she spoke is no way to speak of volunteers that her council has recruited and selected to assist city funded boards and commissions. I resign said volunteer position as of February 1st 2020, and apologize for and regret any inconvenience this resignation causes the LPL board and staff. But you have to know when to walk away, and that time is now.

Thank you to all for the opportunity, and I regret that it didn't end differently than it has.

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