First of all, let me say, it feels cool to say that It makes me think of that song that Pink sang. Of course, I think she wrote it more for George Bush but still, ‘Mr. President’ has a real official sound to it, a prominent feel, don’t you think?
Also, it feels a strange thing to say since, as a Canadian, I have never had the chance or the opportunity to say it. But I guess that’s one thing about the internet: we are free to say all things to all people. Is it more the pity, do you think, or viva la freedom of expression? Sometimes I wonder about that.
But I digress, Mr. President. I AM writing to you for a real reason, actually.
I’m writing to ask you for a job.
How crazy is that, right? I’m sure you must be thinking. It’s all right. Plenty have, and they have told me so, right to my face. After all, it’s not everyday that people accuse their government of crimes against humanity, even if, in my case, humanity refers only to myself and my family. It’s not everyday that they would be right, either…although more and more these days, they probably are.
To be fair, I must have appeared crazy. Here I was, identified by the police as a crack cocaine user with a history of prostitution and a criminal record from some place called New Market, Ontario, a place I have never even seen, going to court to fight the system for custody of my children, completely unaware that this mix-up in identity had occurred and not understanding how the courts could deny me that custody and instead place the welfare of my children in the hands of a man, my children’s father, a person I had recently separated from after becoming aware that he, himself, had developed a taste for crack cocaine and was harming other people, other people’s children…I mean, how crazy is that, right? So crazy it couldn’t possibly be true. But it is true.
You know, Mr. President, I know that things can happen, horrible things, things we could never foresee. I know that people make mistakes, none of us is perfect and the system definitely isn’t. But, you know, when most people make a mistake they apologize. They say they are so terribly sorry and maybe they even make amends. They may offer a hug, heck, maybe even take us out for lunch or buy us a cup of coffee. Something. Anything to say, “I’m sorry I hurt you.”
But, not my government.
Now, I can assure you they are aware. I’ve been writing letters to the various ministers responsible for the protection of children in my province, to the premier, the Chief Justice office on several occasions, several newspapers…I’ve even written to the Prime Minister of my country asking him to please help us, pleading, “We have lost everything and we need some help”.
Nothing. No response. Not a peep. So, I am left to believe that my government is crazy, a label they once liberally applied to me. How ironic.
So for the past 8, 9 years or so I’ve watched my eldest daughter live a nightmare resulting from the conditions she was left to grow up in, despite my best efforts to intervene. My younger daughter resided with me for at least half of these past nine years so she’s doing much better but still has some residual scarring of the heart from her trauma. My children have trust issues with the people that most of us would normally trust: police officers, judges, social workers and teachers. I think this resulted from watching all of these people support their father’s efforts at retaining custody, although he was harming them, and paid no attention to the warnings of those who knew he was. Nine years have gone by and although I have 7 years of post-secondary training I can’t seem to find a job that pays more than $13 per hour. Our television broke down last Christmas and I can’t afford to replace it. My younger daughter and I were homeless for a stretch last summer, living out of our car and although we now have housing, we haven’t much left over at the end of each month and I have to borrow to make ends meet. I make less now than I did 5 years ago.
I don’t want to live like this anymore.
So I am writing to ask you to please allow me the ability to use my talents. I have training in criminal justice and political science, sociology. I have training and understanding of psychology, human development and relationships and more recently I have gathered experience in law, particularly family law and civil litigation, including courtroom experience. I really have a lot to offer, Mr. President. I’m not asking for hand-outs: I want a job, so I can afford to raise my family and still feel some dignity at the end of each month when my children are fed, the bills are paid and maybe we can afford to see a movie.
One of the many, many social workers I’ve interacted with over these past years told me it wasn’t about me anymore, my life was basically over. I was to focus on raising my grandchildren and giving them a good life. First of all, I don’t have any grandchildren, but if I did, what could I possibly offer them in the way of a good life? I have nothing myself.
Anyways, Mr. President, I know how things work, red tape and all that. Some things are not do-able. But I know that you have overcome adversity and you stand for a lot, not only in America, but all over the world. I know that if anyone can make things happen, you can. It has taken me two weeks to write this letter, for a lot of reasons. I hope that you can at least think on it awhile.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Ms. Donna Vandekerkhove