The lesson I learned from Sheriauna

After a wonderful afternoon of speaking in front of a group of teacher candidates at York University on January 29, I got home and checked my email.  The subject line read, “Invitation from the Prime Minister”.  WHAT?!?!  I opened the email thinking it was a trick.  Nope.  It was an official email from the Office of the Prime Minister, inviting me to join Prime Minister Trudeau in the House of Commons foyer as he made an important announcement.  The announcement was scheduled for January 30 at 12:00pm in Ottawa and I was to RSVP by January 29.  I totally forgot that I had been in conversation with MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes a few weeks prior and after asking for my contact information she said nothing is guaranteed but she is looking into something and would be in touch.  

Imagine to my surprise that this invitation was in my inbox.  The time was now about 6pm and I was thinking, “how the heck am I going to get to Ottawa by 11:30am tomorrow morning?”  At first I told myself that I was not going to be able to attend.  Then I justified it by saying that I didn’t know what the invitation was really about so would it be a good use of my resources.  I replied to the email and declined the invitation and I know what you may be thinking as there have been many people who have said to me , “are you crazy?! Who turns down an invite from the Prime Minister’s office?!?”  I know, I know…it sounds absurd but I didn’t think I had any other choice.  

I shared he news with my family including my daughter, Sheriauna and she was so excited about it as they all were.  When I told her we wouldn’t be able to go she was not impressed with me at all.  She insisted that we go.  She said we could get ready and leave now and drive there; keep in mind this was now 11:30pm.  I told her no and then quietly started looking for flight and train schedules.  The airfare was not in my budget and the train would get us there late.  Again, I told her we wouldn’t be going.  This is when she gave a heartfelt plea in the form of a powerful monologue in which she got a bit emotional and basically called me out on some things, respectfully. 

Sheriauna stated that it was important that we go as we were specially invited.  She asked me how many people I knew that got invited to Parliament Hill to meet the Prime Minister?  She then went on to state that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and we could not miss it.  She was making some great points but this is where it really started to get me.  She said “Mommy, I have a vision board and so far 3 things have come true on my board, but this would be one of the top things in my life so far.  What’s the point of having a vision board if you don’t use it to focus and get what you want?!”  What she was basically saying here was “Mommy you tell me that I can dream and that anything is possible but when something actually becomes possible we don’t seize that moment?”  Hearing Sheriauna say it like that totally gave me a different perspective.  I have been teaching her to have goals, to pursue her dreams, and that she is worthy of receiving all the greatness that she receives in this world; and she has been listening! 

What I haven’t told you is that at the beginning of the year I created a roadmap which included both short and long term dreams and goals.  The instruction was to just write anything that came to mind; no limitations.  As one of my 3 month goals I wrote down “To meet the Prime Minister and his family!  Crazy right?!?  So back to the story… Here I was in this moment where I was receiving an opportunity that I had put in the universe and I was creating obstacles and doubts that could prevent me from enjoying a lived experience with one of my favourite people; my daughter.  I made a plan to wake up early (4:30 am) and drive (with the help of my Dad!)  the 3-4 hours to Ottawa and attend the event in which he declared that Canada would be recognizing the United Nations Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024).  This was an honour to be present, to meet other people of colour who are advocating for change in the Black community and Canada as a whole to create more understanding of the issues Black people face in North America and globally as well as the contributions African descendants have made for centuries in arts, science, economics, history, etc.  Sheriauna was able to attend Question Period and meet many Members of Parliament.  To sit with Prime Minister Trudeau and be able to discuss Sheriauna’s accomplishments, my book, and the message we are sharing with young readers, families and educators was invaluable.  The encouragement he gave Sheriauna as a young person who will be a part of Canada’s future is something I hope she remembers as part of her ongoing journey and continues to pursue her dreams.  

This experience taught me to believe that I am worthy of the good and greatness I receive; to doubt myself less and trust more; to know that obstacles may arise but there are ways of trying to work through or around them; and lastly that our children are our greatest teachers and they actually are listening.  When we need it the most they remind us of these lessons.