• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 01
Image by

This woman is not an island

As a child, I liked to draw islands. I would draw the ragged outline, eaten away by the buffeting sea. I would populate it with trees and flowers and lakes and mountains and people and sometimes monsters and sometimes hidden treasure. I would carefully colour it in. My map of a new world.

I never felt myself to be wholly of this tiny island where I grew up. My DNA test shows that I am 30% of this place but that ancestry dates back over 150 years. My forefathers and mothers with that DNA left this island to forge their way on a new continent, Turtle Island, in pursuit of the dream of freedom and fortune. I am 49% of a land with many tiny islands in the midst of lakes, covered with trees. I just happened to be born on this island.

Now I wonder what world we are creating on this tiny island. “No man is an island,” wrote John Donne. In June 2016, I wore a T-shirt with the words “No man is an island. No country by itself.”

In all of the discussion of the last three years, this seems to me to be the discussion that we have been missing. One of identity. Are we islanders in the literal sense? Do we want as individuals and a country to be an island? Or do we have a bigger sense of self? Do we want to have connections with people in our communities, local and global?

“Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

I grew up on this tiny island. I feel it shrinking around me. Shrink-wrapping me.

We need to get out our colouring pens and redraw the map. And not mistake the map for the territory.