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A fitting memorial for our lost sons and daughters


he taboo against talking about youth suicide is starting to break. After much debate, the Old Ottawa East Community Association has agreed to create a memorial recongnizing mental health issues, in memory of 18-year-old Nadia Kajouji, the Carleton University student who took her own life in April of 2008. The community association agreed to replace a makeshift memorial, created by Nadia’s family, with

something more permanent to offer support to others who struggle with mental health issues that may lead to suicide. The idea sparked much debate among members of the community association. Some worried the site would attract or even encourage suicidal people. Unfortunately out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind. In the past, far too many of us have remained fearfully quiet in the wake of the

death of one of our sons or daughters. Fears that took many forms, but boiled down to the same argument: if we talk about youth suicide it only serves to encourage others. The cracks in this tired and old argument started to show following the deaths of teens Daron Richardson, 14, in 2010 and Jamie Hubley, 15, in 2011. The parents of Daron and Jamie talked openly about their children’s struggle with mental health issues, a

problem that resonated with people across Canada. More important, it sparked discussion about what has become a national epidemic. One in five children suffer a mental health problem — but only a third of those get the help they need, according to the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa. Every one of us either know or have come into contact with a child who has mental health issues. This discussion has encouraged positive change.

It has sparked fundraisers and events raising awareness about youth mental health issues across Ottawa this summer, including the city’s Dragon Boat festival in June. The Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa has used money from recent fundraisers and donations to hire four new youth and family counsellors serving at the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre and schools among Ottawa’s four English and French school boards. On a national level, a

private member’s bill has proposed creating a national suicide prevention strategy. Canada is the only G8 nation without a national suicide prevention strategy. This is an example of how a healthy discussion about a national problem can translate into a prescriptive policy change. These positive changes have become organic memorials to the memories of Nadia, Daron, Jamie — for all our sons and daughters who lost their lives battling mental health issues. A memorial more fitting than any statue or bench we could erect in their memory.


Rejoicing in little yellow flowers CHARLES GORDON Funny Town


ittle kids understand dandelions. Look at the pretty flower, they say. Look, Mommy, I picked a pretty flower for you. Grownups with lawns don’t understand dandelions. They have lost the ability to appreciate a pretty yellow flower and they want green grass instead. Grownups don’t understand how to get rid of dandelions, except by using chemicals which are outlawed in most places. So dandelions thrive, which is great for children and not so great for grownups with lawns. Women understand dandelion strategy. They let it be known that there’s a device that picks dandelions without the picker having to stoop. Men love devices and bring one home. Women say they can’t understand how the device works. Men, showing off, say, here, let me do it. Next thing you know, men are using the dandelion device. But the experts, and there are millions of them, take a dim long-run view of the dandelion device and all other cures. They say that no strategy outside of paving the lawn works against dandelions. So here’s a radical idea. Maybe we should just come to terms with them. Let dandelions be dandelions. Rejoice in yellow flowers all over the lawn. Ancient civilizations survived without green lawns and so can we. We just have to get used to it. Croquet will be a problem, for example. Golf courses might disappear, which is too bad, although it would save millions of dollars in green fees and new wedges. True, the issue of mowing the lawn will suddenly become complicated. For a time it will seem nicer: no pushing the lawnmower

around. But then things other than dandelions will pop up and we might want to cut them, but we can’t do so without cutting the dandelions. The risk then is that the dandelions will become overwhelmed by, among other things, grass. Another problem is that dandelion season does not last forever. Modern man being what he is, he will undoubtedly attempt to extend the dandelion season, by artificial means if necessary. There will be new dandelion-stimulating chemicals, demands to ban them and that that old battle beginning again. No one said that dandelions would be a bed of roses. But don’t forget the positives, one of them being the glory of all that yellow, the other being not having to pick all that yellow. In time we might forget grass. Perhaps our museums can preserve some, so that we can remember how it looked and how silly we were to become obsessed by it. Traditionalists, those who believe that we were meant to have lawns by divine plan and that Adam and Eve found the snake in the grass when they were mowing it, will take a dim view of the new pro-dandelion approach. They will do irrational things, such as writing letters to the editor and running for city council. But there are reasons for even them to be encouraged. Because it is always possible that when we want dandelions to grow, they won’t. This follows an age-old principle of gardening, which can be stated as follows: the harder you try to make a particular plant grow, the greater the likelihood of an entirely different plant growing in its place. In other words, it is possible that the best way to get rid of dandelions is by trying to grow them. Dandelions are like that. They know when they are not wanted. They take pride in popping up the morning after the proud male has picked the lawn clean with the dandelion device. Who is to say that they will not do the reverse — a disappearing act at a precisely the moment when we want them to appear? If that theory holds true, we are faced with the grim possibility that the lawn is here to stay, and that will have to mow it again.



What is the best strategy for eliminating weeds growing in your yard?

How do you plan on spending your Victoria Day long weekend?

A) One word — pesticides, and I’m not talk-

A) It’s the first weekend of the summer sea-

ing organic.

son so I’ll be heading to the cottage.

B) One word — pesticides, and I would only

B) I’m going to be loading up on

use organic ones.

plants and soil to fill my barren garden with life.


C) I’ll follow the example of my father and my father’s father — just head outdoors and start yanking them out of the ground.

D) Weeds are just another of God’s creations

Editorial Policy

— live and let live.


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0% D) I have to work, so it’s just another 67%

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out on the town to enjoy some time in a park or take in some fireworks.

weekend for me.

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33% C) If the weather’s nice, I’ll be heading

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May 24, 2012