“Look To Ways Of Making That Connection”

June 21, 2015

On the occasion of Father’s Day, Minister of Public Works Craig Cannonier recalled his relationship with his own father, saying “let me urge any father who might not have a close relationship with their children to look to ways of making that connection.”

In an effort to offer perspectives on fatherhood leading up to Father’s Day, a collaborative initiative that includes Imagine Bermuda, the Family Centre, and the National Library is working to share the stories of Bermuda fathers, with Minister Cannonier one of the fathers spotlighted.

Minister Cannonier said, “As we all reflect on the up-and-coming Father’s Day, let me share that while the story of my father – Legay Cannonier – and I, had many chapters that could be described as ‘tragedy’, it ended up being a ‘success story’.

“I must explain that the story began positively. During my early years of my life, I was very close to my father. I looked up to him in many ways, especially regarding his sporting ability. He taught me the basics of sports.

“Whenever those opportunities came, I could not wait to go down to the field to see him involved in either football or cricket, be it practice or an actual game.

“I would be his main fan on the sidelines at games, cheering him on. He even played in Cup Match one year and I was immensely proud of him. (Even today, the Speaker of the House- Randy Horton – have a private joke about that, since he cleaned bowled my father that game.]

“However, when I was 7 or 8 years-old, my father took a turn for the worse. I recall over-hearing talk that he was caught up in abusing drugs, something that I did not fully understand at the time. However, I could clearly see a change in his outward behaviour around the home, occasionally.

“These episodes began to increase and become more drastic and eventually the police would attend our home from time-to-time, taking him off to St. Brendan’s Hospital. That drastic change began a period of many years being separated from my father.

“Upoun reflection, I can look back and understand that this was something of a double whammy for our family and especially a 7 year-old. In Bermuda in those times, there was a stigma attached to mental health issues in general and embarrassment about having to make use of St. Brendan’s.”

“To be sure, the abuse of drugs at that time was not seen as a matter of mental health. Add to that, the key matter of a break in this vital relationship with my father.

“Of course, especially at that young age, this was rough for me to deal with. My father had been my pride and joy and I had to come to grips with experiencing all of this. It made it especially challenging given the social stigma attached to substance abuse on the one hand and mental health issues, on the other.

“I was eventually able to address this with the help of my tight-knit extended family.

“It wasn’t until much later that I had gained a wider perspective, on my father’s situation. This lead me to an increased understanding of what contributed to my father’s ‘fall’. His father had died when he was still a student and in those circumstances my father had to leave school to work, so that he could help the family.

“He had been a good student in school and there was an expectation that he would be able to go on to college and realize his potential. In light of his family’s situation, this did not happen.

“Since he hadn’t the chance to complete secondary school, he found the job market difficult, at best. In the context of those times – just post segregation – although had performed well at school; without completing formal education, his progress was limited.

“In those circumstances, he eventually became involved in drug abuse and this had a negative impact on his mental health.

“As a youngster, in those early years, I initially felt a sense of loss with my father not being in my life. However, my uncles on both sides of my family stepped in to mentor me, since our family links were strong. This assisted in my developing a sense of self confidence to take on the various challenges that life offers.

“Through that I always maintained a feeling of love for my father, in spite of his absence.

“In my early teens, if I ran into my father, I would look to give him some money, given his circumstances. I would do this, in spite of fact that our family budget would have been challenged. One day someone must have seen me doing this and they reported to my mother that I was seen ‘giving money to people on the street’.

“To my mind as a youngster at the time, it seemed to be an example of how others may have ‘looked down at our circumstances’. However, my family instilled a sense of pride that transcended that situation and in light of that I maintained an undying regard for my father.

“It was not until much later, when my grandmother died, that the paths of my father and I joined once again. I took the opportunity to purchase my grandmother’s house. Since my father had been living with her, I offered to create a small apartment for him. As a result, we spent his last four years together- before he passed.

“We were able to catch up on time missed, with no regrets. That period of reconciliation, was great for both of us.

“So as we reflect on Father’s Day, let me urge any father who might not have a close relationship with their children to look to ways of making that connection. For any children who do not have their fathers in their lives, to do the same.

“I believe that the reconciliation of fathers and their children can be the best thing that happens for our island, Bermuda. Happy Father’s Day “

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Comments (5)

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  1. Dudley hill paget says:

    What a wonderful testimony Mr. Cannoneer. You have a great mother and a wonderful family.

  2. Very inspiring, you should be motivational speaker.

  3. Yes I says:

    Thanks for sharing that encouraging story. It takes guts to open one self to the public in such a way.

  4. Thanks for sharing…
    Many fail to acknowledge that it’s a fact, five minute of “pleasure” can become a lifetime of suffering. If not for the individual, it is often for someone / others…