This past year has been difficult. Many of us carry the pain and trauma of the ongoing war that unfolded so viscerally before us. Watching my dear friend Helen Shumilova move from shock, grief and anger into incredible strength to support Ukranian newcomers has been inspiring and heartbreaking.
Hearing of the killing of innocent young people at the hands of a cruel and heartless regime in Iran has also been difficult. At the same time, seeing the Iranian community come together to stand in solidarity with women in their home country has been awe inspiring.
We see through both situations that pain and difficulty can give birth to tremendous strength, hope and resilience.
I think about my own journey and the years I spent in struggle, depression, and anxiety, unsure if I had something to contribute to this world. And then winning the elections to become a city councillor, something I never imagined before 2018. My own story and life have been birthed out of my own share of difficulty and pain.
As I look forward to the year ahead, I am deeply grateful for every person that has been part of my journey.
The 25+ mentors who have prayed with me, cried with me, comforted me, helped me find peace when I stood in a storm, and guided me towards healing even before I knew I needed it.
My friends in Taiwan (who call themselves LCMM), who were the first community I brought together to try and change the world.
The many faith communities that have sowed into my heart a sense of identity and belonging and guided me in my spiritual journey.
The sisterhood of moms built through North York Moms where I found my voice, and vision that we are stronger when we are connected. I have never felt alone in my parenting journey because of each of the moms I have met along the way.
The leadership team of the Willowdale Church Coalition who have become dear friends and have prayed with me as I pondered each big leap of faith since our friendship began.
My beautiful team at NeighbourLink North York who dared to dream incredible dreams with me for our community and are now taking the organization to new heights.
The hundreds of volunteers and donors who stood behind and beside me in my campaign, believing I can bring a different voice to City Hall.
My parents who courageously came to Canada overcoming many obstacles from growing up in poverty and providing a foundation for my sister and I to pursue our dreams.
My dear sister who has always been an anchor of support through every high and low of my journey. No matter the dream or failure, she has always shown up, including our shared grief of losing our mom to ALS.
And I cannot forget my dear husband who has always believed in greater things for me even when I did not have the dream for myself.
I am the sum of the love and support of so many people and that is my wish for every person I meet - that they too can be held and supported with love. It is the fuel we all need to give us courage to face the difficulties of life. For me, this love also includes love from God - an eternal anchor that I will certainly need in the year ahead.
I look at the many challenges that need to be solved in our world and dare to dream that I might make a difference. Not because I am particularly gifted or knowledgeable. But one thing I know I am good at - bringing people together to believe in something greater than themselves. If we are unhappy with the way the world is moving, the only thing that can change things is if we work together.
I look forward to 2023 with great hope because I believe in the strength of our connected community. Happy New Year to every person who is part of my community - both near and far. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. I pray we can all experience a much needed refreshing of hope and joy in the new year, especially for those who have had a difficult 2022. I also pray for peace in our world.