Monthly Archives: June 2014

Hump Day: Contemplating the ties that bind, define, circle of our lives

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

June 25 marks the 34th anniversary of the passing of my paternal grandfather, Emile ‍Cormier. I was 16 when he died. Sadly, I don’t remember him that well.

I guess when you’re 16, your grandparents aren’t at the top of your priority list. You have your own friends. You’re in high school. There’s enough on your plate with growing up and deciding what you want to do with your life without hanging out with your grandparents. I think it’s natural that at that age you start to become more independent.

It’s too bad, because at some point in your 30s and 40s when you’d love to have your grandparents around to go visit and do nice things for, chances are that they’re long gone. My last grandparent died in 1986, so it’s been 28 years. When you’re 16, your focus is very much toward your friends. Spending time with the grandparents isn’t a big priority. Little do we realize at that age that maybe our priorities are messed up.

I even see that now in my own family. We see less and less of the young’uns who are off working and with their own social lives. It’s not a bad thing. I know it’s normal. But I kind of miss the days before the younger members of the family had jobs and busy social lives – you know, when they were too young to be left alone and had to go with their parents. These days, whether we see them or not depends on work shifts, social and sporting events.

My paternal grandparents Léonie and Émile Cormier. Photo taken at my parents' wedding on Sept. 29, 1962.
My paternal grandparents Léonie and Émile Cormier. Photo taken at my parents’ wedding on Sept. 29, 1962.

My grandfather had a very bad stroke in the early 1970s. I really don’t have any memory of him before that. I only remember the post-stroke grandfather who walked with a very slow shuffle and who was practically impossible to understand. He always used to talk to me when I’d be over there after school. My grandparents’ house was on Wesley Street not far from Aberdeen School, so my brother, sister and I would sometimes go there to wait for our mother to come pick us up.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand a word he said and would often ask him to repeat himself several times. The stroke had severely impaired his speech. He wasn’t easy to understand – and I even remember my grandmother having to ask him to repeat things. Eventually, though, he always asked the same questions – how old was I and what grade was I in? That was the entire breadth of our conversations.

I have older cousins who clearly remember a more vibrant man, one who worked hard and who doled out free french fries to grandchildren and other relatives who dropped by to see him when he worked at Deluxe French Fries on St. George Street in Moncton. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew him from there. He worked there for years.

Like my own father who died in 2012, my grandfather went through a long period of failing health starting with that big stroke in the early 1970s. After my grandmother died suddenly in 1979, my grandfather entered a nursing home. The day I brought my father for his last haircut at Emery’s Barber Shop on Mountain Road before entering his own special care home in 2010, he told me he remembered bringing his father for his last haircut at Emery’s in 1979 before he went into a home. It was a poignant moment, for sure. Everything seems to come full circle.

I remember my grandfather was quite a worrier. I’m not sure where that came from. Was he always like that? I don’t know. But if my family went on vacation, we had to call the minute we got home to let them know we were OK. Sometimes, the phone would ring before we even had a chance to call.

On the day he had his stroke – I believe the year may have been 1973 or 1974, we showed up at the house on Wesley Street as a family, having just returned from vacation. We hadn’t even gone home yet, I don’t think. As we arrived, my grandfather was being carried out the door by two uncles, one on each arm. I don’t think my father even got a chance to ask what was wrong before one of my uncles announced that he’d had a stroke and they were taking him right to the hospital. I’ll never forget that. It was awful.

When he died on June 25, 1980, Moncton was going through a major heat wave. It was sweltering and humid. To make matters worse, the funeral home’s air conditioning had broken down before visiting hours on June 27. The inside of the funeral home was like a furnace. The next day, June 28, it was still incredibly warm and the inside of the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Cathedral wasn’t much better during the funeral.

We see our grandparents often as children. In our teens, maybe not so much. By the time we’re settled down and in jobs and have a car and money to buy them gifts and go visit when we can, they’re usually gone. We have wonderful memories as children. I just wish they’d live longer so we can get to enjoy them more as adults, too – or even to get to know them better, if that’s the case.

I’m glad there are old family movies around that provide me with clear proof that he was once younger and more able-bodied. These old movies show him at weddings, at a family picnic at the beach and outside the home on Wesley Street with my grandmother, aunt and cousins. Laughing, smoking, teasing my cousin, drinking tea – and my favourite scene, planting a bit smooch right on my grandmother’s lips. So cute! (Editor’s note: Go to the bottom of this post to view the video.)

It’s too bad that most grandparents don’t stick around well into their grandchildren’s adult years when we can grow to appreciate them even more at another level.

(Editor’s note: The kissing starts at 1:45.)

Details released for John C. Maxwell’s Moncton events on Tuesday, Sept. 16

John C. Maxwell
John C. Maxwell

Details have been released for leadership and management expert John C. Maxwell’s visit to Moncton on Tuesday, Sept. 16. The announcement was made on Tuesday, June 24, with a number of community leaders present at Moncton City Hall.

Branded Leadership to the Max, the event is a major professional and personal development opportunity with the goal of empowering, training and inspiring citizens of all ages.

Keynote speaker for the event is John C. Maxwell, recently named the top leadership and management expert in the world by Inc. magazine. He has written more than 70 books on leadership and management, has sold more than 21 million books and has been named to Amazon.com’s Hall of Fame. His organizations have trained more than five million leaders worldwide.

“We are delighted to both support and host this special event featuring two famous people – John Maxwell and Heather Moyse – right here in Greater Moncton,” said George LeBlanc, Mayor of Moncton. “Leadership to the Max is a great opportunity for the citizens of our community to grow, to learn and to be inspired to always do their best, to be their best.”

Heather Moyse
Heather Moyse

Joining Mr. Maxwell for the event is two-time Olympic gold medallist Heather Moyse of Summerside, P.E.I.

“Leadership is critical for the advancement of our community and our region,” said Wayne McDonald, Senior Vice-President of External Relations with Irving Group of Companies, the title sponsor of the event. “J.D. Irving is happy to put our support behind this event because its goal is to build our community leaders, our future leaders, and to make us stronger. I commend the community organizations who have stepped up to the plate to make this happen.”

Leadership to the Max consists of two main events. The morning event is for students and is free of charge. More than 6,000 high school and post-secondary students are expected to attend the event with both speakers at the Moncton Coliseum. The afternoon event is a professional and personal development opportunity for community and business leaders at the Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre.

“The Province of New Brunswick is truly thrilled, as am I, to put its full support behind the Leadership to the Max event and help to provide the resources to give over 6,000 youth the opportunity to see and hear two global-class leaders,” said David Alward, Premier of New Brunswick.

“The day of leadership is truly a community event – many organizations came together to bring it to fruition,” said David Hawkins, partner at XYZ Stratégie-Communication. “A very special thank you to our title sponsor, J.D. Irving and Robert Irving in particular, Mayor LeBlanc and the City of Moncton, Pat Armour at Armour Transportation Systems, Kathleen Rayworth of Entrepreneurs’ Forum and Premier Alward and the Province of New Brunswick who were all true believers and really got this project off the ground. And of course, there would be no event without John Maxwell and his local John Maxwell Institute team led by Doug Jones.”

Leadership to the MaxOther community leaders and organizations who made this event possible include RightLane Driver Training, Trans-Canada College, Greater Moncton International Airport, Cordova, Docbraces, Ernst & Young, Clarity, Lounsbury Group and Technology Venture Corporation. Other community partners include Anglophone East School District, District scolaire francophone Sud, CBC Radio 106.1 FM, Wesleyan Celebration Centre, City of Dieppe, Founder’s Dinner, Greater Moncton Chamber of Commerce, Times & Transcript and the Town of Riverview.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to Junior Achievement New Brunswick.

Tickets for the afternoon event are $150, however an early-bird special of $99 (using promotion code EARLYBIRD) is available until Tuesday, July 15. To buy tickets or for more information, visit www.leadershiptothemax.ca.

This week’s giveaway: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

7 Habits 25th anniversaryThis week’s newsletter giveaway is the iconic personal development book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. This is one of the few books I’ve read that has made a major impact on me. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to.

Publisher’s description: “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People is a comprehensive program based on developing an awareness of how perceptions and assumptions hinder success—in business as well as personal relationships. Here’s an approach that will help broaden your way of thinking and lead to greater opportunities and effective problem solving. Be Pro-Active: Take the initiative and the responsibility to make things happen. Begin With an End in Mind: Start with a clear destination to understand where you are now, where you’re going and what you value most. Put First Things First: Manage yourself. Organize and execute around priorities. Think Win/Win: See life as a cooperative, not a comprehensive arena where success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others. Seek First to Understand: Understand then be understood to build the skills of empathetic listening that inspires openness and trust. Synergize: Apply the principles of cooperative creativity and value differences. Renewal: Preserving and enhancing your greatest asset, yourself, by renewing the physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional dimensions of your nature.”

The deadline for entries is Sunday, June 29, at noon. To enter your name in the contest, follow the instructions in this week’s newsletter. To subscribe, please fill out the form in the right-hand column of my website. The winner will be chosen by random draw.

Congratulations to Shirley Long for winning last week’s giveaway, a copy of M Is for Mountie written by Polly Horvath and illustrated by Lorna Bennett.

Hump Day: Many stepped up to the plate; a few stayed in the dugout

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial section

During the recent RCMP shooting crisis in Moncton, social media was rife with news and commentary about the issue. This, of course, is to be expected.

The community obviously stepped up to the plate in support of the RCMP. There was the touching memorial in front of the detachment on Main Street. There were numerous outstanding fundraisers which raised tens of thousands of dollars. The regimental funeral was carried nationally on live television, provincially on radio and covered extensively with breathtaking photos and detailed articles in the print media.

Many political and community leaders stepped up to the plate in our time of crisis, as well, not to mention the upper echelons of leadership in the RCMP itself. All of the above-mentioned groups displayed some sort of leadership – and the vast majority of it was quite simply outstanding. Unfortunately, however, not everyone seemed to get the memo that something major was happening and that perhaps – just perhaps – their pet project might not be at the top of everyone’s mind.

Some politicians said nothing – while others displayed an appropriate amount of horror and sympathy befitting the occasion. One prominent provincial candidate seemed more concerned with their vacation in online comments than they did with the people of Moncton, never once expressing sympathy or sending messages of condolence during the crisis. It is unfathomable that they did not know what was going on.

And some continued to promote their events.

I have to say that I shook my head at these clueless social media updates. When a crisis of epic proportions is going on – be it something similar to what happened in Moncton on June 4, a natural disaster or some other event – it goes without saying that most people not only are not paying attention to you, but they simply don’t care about your sale, your event or what have you – at least for the time being.

Many seem to do the same thing on holidays. On Good Friday, for example, I clearly remember political statements being bandied about and people selling stuff, for example. Has the Internet and social media made us completely immune to taking some time to reflect – or just take a day off – even on a statutory holiday? Is Good Friday the time to be sending out political announcements? It’s the Easter long weekend, for heaven’s sake. No one is listening. No one cares.

Knowing when the appropriate time to resume so-called normal activities after a tragedy is tricky. While it’s important to move on – as they say, ‘Life is for the living’ – it’s also important to show proper respect. In my opinion, it was appropriate for regular public events to continue taking place in Moncton on the day after the regimental funeral. Until then, the city was officially in mourning. I heard people openly wondering whether they should reschedule their event. Well, yes – not forever, but give it a few days, at least.

I realize that this is all a matter of personal taste, though. What I would deem appropriate timing, others would not. Some took to regular online activities again on the Thursday of the crisis (June 5) with the manhunt still ongoing. Thankfully, most of the city clued in.

Go on Facebook even on Christmas Day and you’ll see people posting about their businesses or pet projects, including politics. Again, can’t you give it up for a couple of days and let go? Are you that addicted to Facebook or socially unskilled that you can’t determine these things? I’m not talking about being online and wishing people the best of the season, but doing business online on Christmas Day, Good Friday or during a tragedy is just in poor taste – and I dare say that it’s also a complete waste of time.

hidingEveryone makes mistakes, for sure, but during the Moncton tragedy I have to admit that it still bothers me greatly that some people (a small number, thankfully) who promote themselves as local leaders or aspire to public office never once said anything. Was it because someone told them not to? Perhaps. Was it because they were uncomfortable or didn’t know what to say? Perhaps. Well, for one thing, you should have ignored the advice to stay silent. And for another, you may have chosen the wrong career if you can’t muster up a few words of encouragement when things go awry.

Showing humanity during a tragedy is never wrong. If someone would have given me advice to not say a word online during the crisis, I would have told them to go pound sand. I provided a number of updates on the situation and also tried to provide encouragement – as did many others. Saying nothing whatsoever, though? How could anyone remain silent at a time like this?

We hear a lot about those who stepped up to the plate – and rightfully so. There have been thousands of people in the community who have reached out to support one another. But I have to repeat that I remain bitterly disappointed that a few public figures sat on their hands and didn’t even take the time to type out a few simple words of encouragement and support to the community.

While my eyes were opened in regards to those who showed phenomenal leadership skills, they were also opened in regards to those who did very little. You learn a lot about people during a crisis. Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t.