Winter 2017 finds me in beautiful, snowy Brandon, Manitoba as the Stanley Knowles Distinguished Visiting Professor in Public Policy. What can I say? It's my dream gig: thinking about and conducting research on policy, social justice, equity and music, plus teaching ethnomusicology and performing.
I'm grateful to Pat Carrabré for thinking of me, and for putting my name forward to the university as a candidate for this position. It's an honour to hold this residency - created in the memory of MP Stanley Knowles, who advocated for social justice through his career in public service. Along with Tommy Douglas, (another BU graduate!), he created the CPP and helped create many of the social programs Canadians now take for granted. The institutionalization of these programs paved the way for Canadians to pursue social justice and equity as national ideals. And now, it is my turn to work towards doing the same for music and the arts.
Ah! But what about the cold? Yes, the mildest day I've experienced was my first day here last week. It was -13C; and it has been much, much colder since. But I love it!! The crunch of the snow under my feet, and the immediacy of my body remembering to walk angled forward with heels heavy so as not to slip. The silvery snowflakes settling for mere seconds on my cold skin before evaporating. The bright sun and brilliant blue sky. I am transported back to the carefree days of my youth in Calgary and the morning walks to school (especially the 3 km walk to high school when I missed the bus, which happened often - and subconsciously, perhaps purposefully, so that I could indulge in sinking my feet into snowdrifts up to my knees while watching the sun rise). And to be in a small place? After years of long winter commutes on Toronto's subways, buses and streetcars, it is a relief to be in place where nothing I need is further than the eye can see.