Romeo Dallaire demystifies full house in Cote Saint-Luc

Guest contribution by: Dr. Judy Hagshi

Cllr. Allan J. Levine, General Romeo Dallaire, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein

Cllr. Allan J. Levine, General Romeo Dallaire, Cllr. Glenn J. Nashen, Mayor Mitchell Brownstein at Dallaire’s lecture in Cote Saint-Luc on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016

It is humbling to listen to an accomplished and heroic figure talk about his vulnerabilities and demons. Today I had the fruition to hear Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire speak about his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following his experiences during the  Rwanda genocide. He described the moment he first realized that he was not “nuts” but rather was suffering from a disease as real as diabetes or hepatitis. Mr. Dallaire talked about the prosthesis that people with disabilities must use in order to get through each day and how this can apply to those with mental health issues just as legitimately as it can apply to those with physical health issues.

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While Mr. Dallaire’s actions in combat and accomplishments off the battlefield cannot be underscored, I was struck with a more mundane and provincial generalization of his pain: People all around us struggle with challenges and mental health disorders everyday. We as a society must be more accepting and understanding of people who are different and “weird” and not pre-judge any behaviour that does not meet specific outdated norms. We should not shame or belittle them because we do not know what invisible scars may be festering inside them.

The talk closed with a discussion about moving away from partisan politics to a more receptive and inclusive political system. With the upcoming 150th Birthday of Canada and the 100th Anniversary of the Battle at Vimy Ridge (which Lieutenant-General Dallaire described as the “coming of age of our democracy”) both taking place in 2017, he was hopeful that young people with their ideals and ideas would get move involved in government relations. He urged the “under 30” crowd to go out and vote because they are a demographic large enough to sway society and policy. They are also a demographic less swayed by the status quo and more likely to effectively challenge it.

Anne Lagacé Dowson & General Romeo Dallaire in conversation at CSL Public Library on Dec. 3, 2016

Anne Lagacé Dowson does a spectacular job conversing with General Romeo Dallaire at CSL Public Library on Dec. 3, 2016

 

 

Dr. Judy Hagshi is a Family Doctor specializing in perinatal care and pre-surgical screening. She graduated from The University of Toronto Medical School in 1996 followed by a residency in Family Medicine at McGill University. Dr. Hagshi is a faculty lecturer in the Department of Family Medicine and an attending physician at The Jewish General Hospital. She is married to Councillor Glenn J. Nashen and she has three children.

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