Friday, October 24, 2014

Our Home and Native Land

The topic I write about the most often is, without a doubt, home. My small cottage, the family and friends that come to visit, the things I create, and the beauty that surrounds me, these are the things I like to focus on when I sit down and compose a blog post. But somehow today it just doesn't feel right to blog about what I've been knitting, or the great new recipe I just tried, or any other lighthearted topic. The fall colours that surround me right now are beyond beautiful, but putting in a beautiful picture when it has been a week of ugliness here in our country also doesn't seem appropriate. Such things will have to be saved for next time.

Today I want to talk about another home. Canada's national anthem starts with these two lines:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!

For me, Canada is my adopted home. I moved here when I was twenty-three years old. I had met Jay, a Canadian from Vancouver, while I was attending the University of Idaho. He was there to work on his master's degree in fisheries, and I was finishing up my degree in mathematics. After completing our studies we decided the best place of us to be in terms of employment was Canada, so I became a very reluctant immigrant.

By reluctant I mean I was sure I already lived in the best place in the world. If you have that mindset it's rather hard to resign oneself to settling for what you perceive to be second best. I was an American through and through. It wasn't that I didn't like Canada. I did. But it most definitely didn't feel like home.

Then slowly as the years went by I noticed a shift. I found myself cheering for the Canadians over the Americans during the Olympics, especially during hockey games. When I would cross the border back into Canada after visiting my parents' farm in Idaho I started to have a feeling of being home again. I began to think of distance in terms of kilometres, and temperature in terms of Celsius. I had a daughter with extreme medical needs and realized what a gift we have in our Canadian medical system.

It wasn't that I had stopped caring about the country of my birth. It was a case of starting to love the country I was living in. The end result of this slow transformation was me applying for and being granted Canadian citizenship while we were living in Kamloops.

It has been a rough week in this country I love. But in the midst of the darkness there have been many patches of light. We live in a world where the term hero is both overused and inappropriately used. But there are still true heroes. People who rise up to do extraordinary things, brave things, in a time of crisis. I encourage you to click on this link to hear a tribute to an incredibly brave man. Thank you Kevin Vickers for your service to your country.

This link will take you to the story of another hero. You might want to grab a tissue before you read it. From this day forward every time I hear the expression "you are so loved" I will remember this woman. Thank you Barbara Winters for your service to your country.

I started this post with the first two lines from our national anthem. I'd like to finish it with the first two lines from this article in the Globe and Mail.

"I was never prouder of my country than I was Wednesday. I learned that we are a pretty cool people in a crisis."



22 comments:

  1. What is so silencing, from this side of the border, is the degree of shock and mourning your second country is going through from one such terrible murder. It surely puts it in our faces how numb and immune we are to all the gun violence in the US -- one man shot? That's just a Tuesday at 9:07 in the US! In fact, aren't we lucky today....only one! How appalling.

    I am so sorry for the two tragic murders, and absolutely loved the article about Barbara Winters and her care and compassion in that terrible moment. Many heroes that day.

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  2. You can indeed grow to love a country that is not your own...and the reaction of Canadians to this appalling crime has been so dignified that people the world over will see why native or adopted Canadians are so proud of their society.

    That poor young man...the regiment, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was my father's regiment in Scotland...the photographs of that uniform took me up short.

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  3. My sentiments exactly, I am also a Canadian by choice and love this wild mountain valley and country I choose to live in.

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  4. Kristie, thank you so much for this post and the links. I am still finding it hard to think about what happened on Wednesday. I grew up in Ottawa and my husband and I lived there for many years before he retired from the CF so the whole thing seemed doubly shocking to us. I'm touched by the support of our military by the Canadian public. -- Ruth

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  5. ETA Watching news footage of the lockdown in downtown Ottawa, I was struck by the courtesy and calm demonstrated by police officers as they marshalled pedestrians to and fro, asking (not telling) them to move in certain directions and always with a "please" and "thank you". Talk about grace under pressure! I think the public owes them a huge debt of gratitude for their professionalism and efficiency in a very tense situation. -- Ruth

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  6. Thank you Kristie, beautifully written and eloquent post. We are still in state of semi shock here still. I feel so badly for both the loss of the two servicemen as well as for the families of all involved. It is hard to understand where such anger and violence comes from. I was especially proud of Mr Harper Mr Mulcair and Mr Trudeau and the rest of the House of Commons yesterday. mr Vickers was back at work with such a calm quiet dignity. We are very lucky to live in such a great country.

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  7. Thank you Kristie, for putting into words what we all feel. You can be so proud of your adopted country. In the tragic events we see grace under pressure, courage and dignity. Thank you for the link to the Barbara Winters story, which is very moving.

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  8. Hi Kristie, I'm Anne and I just popped over from Thistle Bear. I just wanted to say that I have been thinking much about your country and the recent events that have happened and how sad and unsettling it must be for you all. I live downunder and while we are a long way from you and the U.S., the thought that something similar might happen here one day is very real. Take care.
    Anne xx

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  9. I'm always torn by wanting to avoid the sensationalist news about these events and yet wanting to witness the humanity involved. This one brought tears to my eyes. As did Lori's comment at the top. Living in the beauty I do, in the freedom I do, with the rights and privileges I have; I am eternally grateful to be Canadian.

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  10. I echo the words of the always wise Helen Devries. The whole world is impressed with the dignity that Canada has displayed through this crisis. A meaningful post, Kristie, thank you.

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  11. A post that you have written so well. Such a sad time.

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  12. O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

    I've always been proud to be a neighbor. What happened in Ottawa was shocking and sad to us as well. We have gotten numb to most violence, but not all. 500 murders in Chicago? Okay. 2 terrorist attacks at Fort Hood? Sure. But the murder of an unarmed Canadian soldier IN Canada hits a fresh nerve. I hope it never happens again.

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  13. I haven't really got any words that say better what you and the previous commenters have said already. My thoughts are with you all.
    I feel very much like you about my own adopted country, Scotland. At first there was a reluctance to be here, then acceptance that life was ok and now a deep love for this small place on the map. I have not applied for citizenship because I already have dual Nationality and I would be reluctant to give either up, if I had to. x

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  14. Thank to for sharing this Kristie and my thoughts are with you all at this time. God bless. P x

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  15. I'm sorry for what happened there. I think it says a lot that Canada is suffering so much after one death, given what happens over here. I think Canada is a very interesting country and I've always enjoyed knowing more about it. We spent half the school year studying Canada in fifth grade; the other half of the year was spent studying Mexico. I think this is a great curriculum and I wish they still used it. I loved learning about Canada. We had to learn the national anthem and I still remember all the words. It's a beautiful song. I'm glad you feel so assimilated there. My husband's aunt lived for decades in Montreal, though she is American. She went to school at McGill and got married there and stayed because that's where her husband was from. She is a very peaceful, gentle person and I have often thought that maybe it was life in Canada that made her that way.

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  16. Thank you for your honest thoughts and the links to the excellent articles. I hope (and believe) that these awful events will not lead to an over-reaction in security.

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  17. My Mother was a Canadian citizen, are both her parents were born in Canada so I feel a slight affiliation with the country. I think Canada is so much more relaxed than we are here in the US. The news this week here even in Florida has been about that brave guard and the horrid happenings there. But what was pointed out was the tremendously respectful way the whole incident was handled in the press, no fear mongering, no obsessive news about it. Simply the facts and a great deal about the bravery of that young man.
    So I have a soft spot in my heart for Canada, plus it is the birth place of Ryan Reynolds who I adore.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  18. Sending my love - I don't have words to express what I want to say, but you have me in tears xxx

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  19. a lovely post about a lovely country. My husband is from Canada and his family reside there. I think we are all saddened by the violence.

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  20. Great post Kristie. Your adopted country is an amazing place. Did I ever tell you that I had planned to emigrate to Canada after I qualified but I met Ted and it never happened?

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  21. Such a good post, Kristie, and I appreciate those links as I missed the news about it here because of the move. The article from the Globe and Mail particularly impressed me as I compare it with the kind of coverage our press and broadcast media would be likely to give a similar event here. You can rightly be very proud of your adopted country.

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