As I reached my teen years I was in the era of Prime Minister Elliot Trudeau. I grew up believing in bilingualism. I grew up adjusting to the metric system. I grew up believing that Canada was a world leader in peace keeping because it was. I learned all the statistics about Canada's involvements in the two world wars and of Newfoundland's involvement in these same. I grew up curious about Canada and eager to see something of it. In my final year of high school My knowledge of Canada grew from experiences that changed my life. There were two events: my participation in my high school's play The Miracle Worker and my participation in the Rotary Club's public speaking contest. Both of these were frightening and daunting for me. Chuck Furey, my grade 11 high school teacher, believed I could do these things and so I made the huge effort and succeeded with his help. With the play I traveled with my fellow students and saw more of Newfoundland. It was as exciting as going into space for me. I had to buy two towels at the Avalon Mall, never having traveled before I did not think to pack any, and I still have their remnants as rags and think of this when I use them. Incredibly I won the public speaking contest and won a trip to Ottawa called "Adventure in Canadian Citizenship. I was so excited and overwhelmed at the same time. I met so many young people from all over the country. We were only five students from Newfoundland and how awe-struck I was to be one of them and to see and have a tour of the Parliament buildings, visit the Governor General's House ( Ed Shreyer himself greeted us), visit an embassy ( mine was Equador), eat dinner at the Chateau Laurier ( an true castle in my mind) and have something from each region of Canada. From NL we had petits fours (not a Newfoundland dish but I loved the name) and I think there were cloudberries involved, but we call them bakeapples so I was bewildered at the time. At any rate my life long interest in Canada and in politics was assured.
|The five Newfoundlanders on our adventure in citizenship. I am the furthest to the right.|
At my high school graduation our local MP, a friend of my teacher Chuck Furey, Brian Tobin spoke as our guest speaker. For all of us this was somebody famous. That is my Canada where a small group of high school graduates are important enough for a local MP to come and speak to them about what the future might hold for them.
|That is me giving the valedictory speech. Brian Tobin is immediately in front of me.|
At some point in my post secondary studies I visited Ottawa and saw Chuck, who was now the assistant to Brian Tobin, in his office there. I never got over the feeling of feeling important to be visiting someone on Parliament Hill. Just at the beginning of the month I was in Ottawa and took another tour of the Parliament buildings. That same feeling remained of being awed and proud at the same time to be a Canadian. In between these two visits I visited with my daughters and husband because I feel it is so important for each Canadian to see the seat of where so much of our country's history, present and future happened and will happen. This middle tour we did with a francophone guide and the latest with an anglophone guide. I love that Canada is bilingual. I was ever so proud to be able to speak both official languages and to share this with my daughters and husband and most recently with my son-in-law ( and wee grandson :Canadian in training already).