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By Rev. Jim Innes

I was pulled into watching the Juno Awards show because I knew it represented Canadian Music.

However, I wanted to see familiar faces and hear equally familiar music. I was at home with Anne Murray, who was only slightly removed by Nelly Furtado but way out on the left field with most other entertainers. I felt uncomfortably lost and wondered aloud (to the distraction of my friends) when the Canadian music scene had changed so significantly. I was the curmudgeon!!

One of the announcers mentioned that "the borders are coming down with more global sound," and I agree. I will admit that I was most comfortable when Anne Murray was presenting. And it struck me hard that the music being played live was to me like Rock & Roll to my grandparents.

Perhaps most significant was how the evening’s festivities were given a backbone by emphasizing racial, gender, and body awareness issues. The diversity of colour and sound was amazingly presented, upfront and centre. No one was obligated to wear a particular dress style, and some took the opportunity to be creative.

I must admit that at times, I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward about how blatantly a point was being made, either by some awkward-looking clothing or through a highly politicized or in-your-face statement or action. During those moments, I found myself being overly critical. However, I had to remind myself that people spoke plainly or acted boldly to bring about societal change and awareness.

Canada is becoming diversified by people from various races, genders, and body types, each with unique identity issues and different access levels to opportunities and resources. As a 65-year-old white male, educating myself on how to be thoughtfully inclusive is a big task. I know that I owe an apology to someone, somewhere, for some inconsiderate action.

I’m having difficulty navigating this complex new world, especially the sensitivity part, which is no news for those who know me. My daughter, for example, constantly corrects my interactions with the grandkids: “Be careful what you’re saying,” “Don’t you know you’re supposed to…”!

Being parented on how to parent by your children is weird, and overall, my list of blunders continues adding up. Most arise because I am not up to date with current trends. For example, not long ago, I was surprised to see openly gay characters on a show for young children. Before then, I had never even thought of it as an issue.

I’m embarrassed that I’m so far behind the times and that my considerations are less than ideal. Which leads me to wonder, “How many people have I offended in this article?"

There is no doubt that I have much to learn about diversity and the respect that must be given to those who are marginalized. I’ve made mistakes and must improve my sensitivities. It isn’t easy. And yet, as I see it, the journey will make me, my family, and, by extension, my community a safer place to live and grow to be the children God wishes us to be. 

Rev. Jim Innes is the rector of St. John's, Grand Bend with St. Anne's, Port Franks.