Heroes In Our Midst

As a writer, I’ve been inspired to write about events in life that matter, whether they be small or large. In today’s world, with dangers magnified by the media and some politicians around the globe, we need heroes more than ever. Thankfully, there are heroes in our midst.

I was reminded of this on a recent family visit to Toronto.

Hero Projects


Hero Projects Program

While we were there , Rob and I attended a special evening, named Hero Projects, at Waldorf Academy. Our daughter, Robyn Stevan Matamoros, a Waldorf teacher, inspired the grade 8 students to find a hero, based on Joseph Campbell‘s definition of a hero’s journey. The students not only had to find such a hero, but also write a monologue (one that they imagined the hero saying), do an art piece, write an essay, and then perform their monologues to an audience of parents, teachers and fellow students.

It was our daughter’s intent to help those young teens look outside of themselves, to see what was possible.

So, what is a hero? Wikipedia Commons defines a hero as someone,  “who in the face of danger, combats adversity through impressive feats of ingenuity, bravery, or military strength, often sacrificing his or hers own personal concerns for some greater good.”

With our news media so enamoured with celebrities and the tragedies of the day, it’s easy to forget the heroes out there, the ones who have made a difference in our lives.

The Hero Project reminded me of how many heroes there are. Our granddaughter, Mimi, chose Zitkala-Sa (1876-1938), an American indigenous woman, a Sioux writer, editor, musician, teacher, and political activist. Her accomplishments are extraordinary. Besides writing an opera, Zitkala-sa founded the National Council for American Indians.


Mimi’s Art Piece of Zitkala-Sa (multi-media (bark, pencil, paper)

Other students chose Martin Luther King, Amelia Earheart, Emily Carr, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, Jose Rizal, Desmond Tutu, Mohandas Ghandi, Rachel Carson, Ferdinand Magellan, Irena Sendler, Alan Turing, Dalai Lama, and Horatio Nelson. The range of heroes was startling, but all showed a courage and a conviction to follow their hearts despite the odds against them.

Heroes Today

As for heroes in our midst today, I admire journalist Asra Nomani, an Indian-American journalist, an activist in muslim reform and the Islamic feminist movement: Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Peace Prize winner, who after she was shot by the Taliban when she was a teenager became an activist fighting for the rights of girls everywhere to have an education; Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, who works tirelessly to help the first responders of 9/11 get the support and treatment they need from an unwilling American congress, and our Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who has shown the courage to do the right thing for many Syrian refugees, despite the loud voices of fear mongerers south of our border and in our own land. For more, see CNN’s heroes for 2015.

My Personal Heroes

As for my personal heroes, they include:

my grandmother, Lukia Mazurec, who immigrated to Canada in 1929 as a widow with four children after surviving WWI, a refugee camp, the revolution that followed and the loss of four children and her husband;

my mother, Dolly Klewchuk, who was basically illiterate but worked around the clock with my father, Peter (another hero), to ensure that I learned the values of hard work, education and respect for others;

our oldest daughter Karen Stevan, who fought through an aggressive breast cancer and still supported her son’s dreams, and is now back practicing family law, frequently representing the poor and the indigenous whose rights are often overlooked in an overtaxed justice system;

and our younger daughter, Robyn (mentioned above) who works extended hours at personal expense to inspire her students (and her daughters) to dig deep to release their talents and gain confidence in the world.

We need heroes to show us where there’s a will, there’s a way. It’s not only passion that has lead these people to accomplish what they’ve accomplished. It’s also their willingness to work hard to achieve their dreams despite the naysayers.

Who are your heroes?  Who inspires you to be all you can be

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