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OPINION: Respectful discussions around South Shuswap incorporation encouraged

Guest column by Karen Brown
Karen Brown is concerned discussions around the proposed incorporation of the South Shuswap will lead to heightened tensions within the community. (Google maps)

One of my greatest joys as a Canadian is our country’s people.

On the world stage, we are admired for being a nation filled with kindness and respect and we are friendly.

We come from such diverse and different backgrounds, all influenced by a number of things as we grow – our family values, our culture, our religion and the people we choose to surround ourselves with. All of these influencers create a Canadian mosaic of citizens with differing viewpoints and opinions. Aren’t we lucky to live in a country and in a time where we are free to express those varying viewpoints? Certainly, but here’s the point I’d like to make today.

One of my greatest concerns is the polarization on some of these views and the ways in which we choose to express our opinions.

Sadly, we’ve turned to publicly shaming or intimidating others who have a differing view from our own.

It’s commendable for people to have passion and conviction behind their opinions, but the way in which these views are expressed are increasingly unkind and disrespectful.

As a society, I’m concerned we are becoming rather mean and this worries me, especially during such a vulnerable time. The COVID-19 pandemic and its lingering effects on peoples’ families, businesses and communities is astounding.

Who thought we’d still be dealing with this almost two years later?

It’s playing on people’s dispositions and the effects are starting to show. I’ve noticed a disturbing trend on social media where some feel it’s OK to lash out.

Using their keyboards, thereby alleviating the need to meet face-to-face, they feel free to attack their fellow citizens, their community leaders and others who may have a differing view.

Opposing viewpoints is healthy and fosters better decision-making.

It keeps us balanced as a society.

Electoral Area C (South Shuswap) is exploring a change in governance model and one of the options being explored is incorporation.

I anticipate this is going to be a strongly debated topic in our community. And yes, my concern is it could become a heated point of contention between families, neighbours, friends and acquaintances.

To that end, I have a request to make of all who live in the South Shuswap. Please remind yourselves that when all is said and done, regardless of the outcome of any impending referendum on the matter, we will return to being friends and neighbours.

In the name of community, can we all agree to exercise kindness and respect and go into this with an open mind? I encourage you to educate yourself on the facts of incorporation by following the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s incorporation study website: Sorrento-Blind Bay Incorporation Study.

Karen Brown is the executive director for the South Shuswap Chamber of Commerce and an administrator for the Arts Council for the South Shuswap.