Island reminders in chilly British Columbia

Tuesday October 27, 2015 Written by Published in Virtues in Paradise

On our journey overseas, we have travelled by ferry to Cormorant Island on Alert Bay in the Pacific. It is located in British Columbia on the west coast of Canada.


It is 3km long and half a kilometre wide with a population of about 1200, most being indigenous people of the Namgis First Nation.

We are returning at the request of the Healing Centre to help the community deepen in Virtues Project strategies and life-skills.

Although the temperature is lower, we are wearing several layers, and no-one is taking a dip in the sea, in many ways this community reminds me of Cook Islanders. 

They have a deep reverence for the Creator, and their humour is totally cheeky and irreverent. This little comma in the ocean is where we gave our last workshop before moving to Aitutaki 2 ½ years ago. They asked us then, “Why is it called the Cook Islands? Because they’re good cooks?”

I told them, “You were right! They are!”

The theme of this four-day workshop is “Healing Ourselves, Healing Our World.”

Our research in the world’s sacred texts leads us to believe that all people are connected through the human spirit. We are all affected by what any one of us does, especially spiritually. A single act of courage on one side of the world can illumine the virtue of courage for others across the globe. The American Indian Code of Ethics says, “The hurt of one is the hurt of all, the honour of one is the honour of all.”

The Baha’i teachings speak of the power of unity. “The unity of the family must be sustained. The injury of one shall be considered the injury of all; the comfort of each, the comfort of all; the honor of one, the honor of all.” Romans 12:5 says “So, we, being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another.”

I truly believe there is a mysterious connection amongst all humanity. Every time we transform anger into justice or allow love to conquer resentment, every time we right a wrong, we increase the capacity for those virtues everywhere, like a wave on the ocean that moves across the world and breaks on other shores.

Each morning, we facilitated healing circles, and each afternoon I met with the counsellors of the community who are devoted to the health and safety of everyone else.

They too, need a safe place to share their stories and vent their challenges. Here are some of the Virtues Project strategies we are focusing on:

1.  To sustain your own health, to stay strong for the people you serve, you need to refill your cup with regular self-care.

Play days, “daycations,” times just for you to put your feet up or wear your pajamas all day, read, watch a funny video, or go to the beach, go out fishing, or walk - whatever refills your cup. One honest counsellor admitted that what she needs most after being with people all week is silence and solitude. I believe this goes for parents, teachers, health workers, really all of us who care for others.

 2.  Have a regular routine of reverence. Daily time to reflect, to journal, to pray, to practice gratitude by counting your blessings.

3.  Create a circle of trustworthy friends or family who GET you, who love you without judging you, can listen well, and give you positive feedback, including virtues acknowledgements.

Each evening, Dan and I walk along the shore, refilling our cups with quiet companionship. It is such a privilege to serve those who serve others. 


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