The Canada I Celebrate

IMG_20150701_084349I have mixed feelings about Canada’s big 150th. I’ve been struggling to put into words why I don’t feel as patriotic as I normally do around this time and I think I’ve read enough thoughts from people I respect and admire to feel confident to try to express my own opinions here.


The Canada I do not celebrate

I do not celebrate the Canada that is spending obscene amounts celebrating itself while many of its people are without basic human rights like clean drinking water.

I do not celebrate the reality that many Canadians are still unaware of the plight of our Indigenous community. I do not celebrate the fact that there is still a need to fight for reconciliation, awareness of the MMIW, and resources to combat the youth suicide crisis.

I do not celebrate the false sense of pride we have for being a tolerant nation when Islamophobia is present, hate crimes are rising, and ignorant (and racist) people demand white doctors.

However…

I DO celebrate the Canada that welcomed my parents

My father came to Canada in the 70s seeking more opportunities for himself and his future family. Over the course of a few decades, he moved from humble beginnings washing dishes, to owning multiple successful restaurants. He and my mom worked hard to create a more than comfortable life for their family and enabled us to have what they did not.

I DO celebrate the Canada that welcomes others

I’m proud of Canada doing its part to welcome Syrian refugees when others closed their borders. I celebrate the fact that two friends became permanent residents this year, and I most definitely celebrate the Canada that welcomed the most important man in my life and his wonderful family almost 20 years ago.

I DO celebrate Canada’s physical beauty

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel in a few provinces and have witnessed first-hand just how incredibly beautiful this country is. And although I do not celebrate the cost of flights within Canada, I celebrate the fact that I have seen so much, yet still have so much to see.

I DO celebrate the abundance of great Canadian music

Oh man…this could be a whole other blog post.

I DO celebrate the Canada that is inclusive

Although we have our issues (as mentioned above), I still do believe that as a whole, we are an inclusive nation. We celebrate diversity, are tolerant to different beliefs, and show it by standing up for those who are marginalized.

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Proud to call this my workplace – June 2017

 


I realize after writing this that despite a number of things that make me feel angry, guilty, and less than willing to celebrate, I am still incredibly grateful to live in Canada. It is the place I am quite proud to call home. My only hope is that the good continues to outweigh the bad, and that we can look forward to more progress with each birthday to come.

 

 

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The Value in Being Uncomfortable

 

Unease. Awkwardness. Two words that inspire pits to form in many a stomach. Who wants to feel that way? We avoid those feelings as best we can in life, and yet, I’ve come to embrace them (at least in one area of my life).

I’ve come to realise that when it comes to teaching, there can be value in being uncomfortable. 60406796

For one, going outside of your own comfort zone can inspire others to do the same. I’ve learned from many fellow teachers who constantly take risks and try new things. They may not realise it, but their willingness to try new things with their students inspires me almost every single day. Had I not spoken to a colleague who had just tried it, I would have never sat and written a blog post in class while my students did the same (and wouldn’t be doing it here, again).

I’ve also come to learn that there is great reward in taking risks. There have been times where I’ve decided to stray from my usual lessons or assignments and try something new. Those days can go one of two ways: they could go very smoothly, and remind me that some great work can come out of trying something new, or they can go horribly wrong. What is the worst that could happen, though? Yes, I might look a bit silly in front of my students, or the assignment might have to be scrapped because it didn’t go the way I thought it would. In the end, though, I’ve come away from these experiences having learned something. If the risk went well, the payoff was likely an increase in student engagement and hopefully learning. If it flopped, well, they likely saw me work around it and move on.

It’s not always easy, though. I’m not usually comfortable enough to try new things in courses I’m unfamiliar with. The best I can do is to continue in the courses I’m most comfortable ‘playing’ in, and hope that it translates into ways to change up those other, more unfamiliar courses as well.

So the next time you’re sitting next to a colleague who seems to be doing something interesting, don’t be afraid to say, “Hey, what’s that?” as it might be the perfect starting point for your jump into the uncomfortable.

Pleasant Surprises

When I was in high school, I was told I should start to think about what I would do as a chosen career. At the time, I had a keen interest in drama. It was my favourite course, by a long shot, and over the five years I spent in those classes, I developed a love of acting, and eventually an idea in my head that one day I’d do it for a living. 

Grade 11 drama class – We have a student teacher and she’s telling us about her experiences in post-secondary. We ask a lot of questions – after all, we are all like-minded kids. Who takes Grade 11 Drama unless they are passionate about it? Something odd happens during this class. Her description of studying theatre in university completely turns me off of doing the same. She turns my plans upside down. Who wants to study theatre history? I just want to act, I don’t want to know who the famous Greek playwrights were. Decision made. Or so I think.

First year of university – I’m an undecided major. I figure I’ll take a bunch of different courses to see if something jumps out at me. Nothing does. Eventually, I realize I know exactly what I want to do, and I apply to a few theatre programs. My parents are not exactly impressed but luckily, they are supportive. The next year I am doing the first of two things I never thought I’d do: I’m studying theatre.

Third year – I come to the conclusion that theatre life is not for me. I do not think acting is a viable career for me and I know I don’t want to be working part-time to support myself while I struggle through audition after audition. I decide to try something out – I considered being a teacher once, why not give it a shot? I enroll in the appropriate courses for my fourth year, apply to teacher’s college, and am pleasantly surprised when I get in. Cool.

Teacher’s college – Hey, this is pretty great. I could do this. I’ll use my theatre experience and be a great drama teacher. English is my second teachable subject; it’s more of a challenge. In my practice teaching placements, I struggle and secretly hope I’ll never have to teach it.

Supply teaching: years 1-5 – It’s a tough market for teachers; too many of us, and not nearly enough jobs. I’m a supply teacher, working very consistently, thrown into a number of different classrooms. You name it, I’ve ‘taught’ it at this point. The funny thing is, there are far more English jobs than Drama. The funnier thing? I’m starting to like it.

16 October 2016 – I’m currently sitting at the computer in my English classroom. My students sit in front of me, Chromebooks in front of them, writing their own blog posts. This post is projected on the screen – the hope that they can see that the writing process isn’t always smooth (a great idea ‘borrowed’ from a respected colleague). I, the theatre major, am in my eighth year of teaching, predominantly English (and loving it) with a dash of Visual and Dramatic Arts.


For some people, a chosen career path is clear from a young age. I often envied those people. For others, like myself, it’s a constantly shifting role. What I’ve come to realize over the years is that the path you choose isn’t always the one you anticipate; in fact, it can downright surprise you.

 

8 August 2011 – Alberta, Canada

July 2016 note: Back in 2011 a friend and I decided to do a tour of some of Western Canada before going to a friend’s wedding in Alberta. We started in BC and made our way through it and Alberta. This is one entry part-way through that trip. Happy Canada Day 🙂


 

This morning we got picked up by our new tour guide. She took us to our first stop, Lake Minnewanka followed soon after by Two Jack Lake – both beautiful (much like everything out here). Jen and I took a couple of fun jumping pics and then we headed to one of my favourites: Lake Louise. Absolutely stunning; the water an awesome shade of turquoise. We headed up the mountain for a two-hour hike to see Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes where we stopped to eat lunch. After our hike back down we checked out the Fairmont Hotel and I took some pictures of the beautiful poppies for mom (her favourite flower).

Next was Crowfoot Glacier, then Bow Lake (which is fed by Bow Glacier) – both very impressive. After that we stopped at Mistaya Canon which was magnificent (I’m running out of adjectives for these gorgeous places). Mistaya Canon is a spot where the constant flow of water has eroded the rock which flowed over, creating a canyon. Words can’t really do these places justice so I’m taking lots of pictures.

We eventually arrived at our hostel for the night – HI-Rampart Creek. It’s a rustic wilderness hostel which I was a bit concerned about (seriously, no hot water?), but it turns out it’s pretty great. We made a coconut curry chicken for dinner and then sat around the campfire where Jen and I taught the others some old Canadian camp songs. They seemed to enjoy “Great Big Moose”.

I’m having such a fantastic time. I love meeting new people – the majority of the people on this trip are not Canadian. Everyone’s so nice and friendly and they keep asking Jen and I questions about Canada or telling us how beautiful it is here (which I’ve only recently realized myself seeing it firsthand). It’s such a cool feeling being a tourist in my own country. I can’t wait to see the rest of it.

30 July 2012 – London, England

June 2016 note: I’ve always written journals and especially detailed ones while travelling. I’m currently debating whether or not to publish my travel journals on my upcoming trip to South-East Asia but figured I’d test the waters first with some past journals. I figure it’s a fun way to share my journey while keeping my own notes like I usually do. Let’s see how this goes!


Hello London! My new travel buddy Steph and I flew here last night and arrived in London at 7:30am UK time. We only slept about an hour on the plane and had an hour-long nap early so we’re pretty beat. Here’s a quick recap of our day:

We met the Aubry family at 10:30am in Trafalgar Square. We enjoyed a coffee while they went on a walking tour and told us we should go to somewhere called Canada House when it opened at 11am. We quickly learned that Canada House is the Canadian Embassy which has been converted into a place where family and friends of Canadian Olympic athletes can hang out. It is also incredibleFREE EVERYTHING: drinks, snacks and hot meals twice a day (we went at noon for lunch). They stored our luggage and we were excited to see they had laptops set up for free Internet use. They offer hair stylists and makeup application for anyone who wants it (!) and gave us goody bags. It’s absolutely amazing and totally unexpected. The coolest part is that everyone is decked out in Canada gear and is watching live events on a bunch of big screens. Our dear Olympian friend pulled through big time. Thanks Chels!

So after lunch we did a hop on/hop off tour with the family which was really nice. We saw a lot of major sights from the comfort of the bus (because of our exhaustion). The plan is to see everything ‘up close’ over the coming days. After a short nap, Steph and I headed to Canada House to watch the game and had a couple of beers to celebrate as Team Canada won! We then decided to go to a Canadian pub called Maple Leaf Pub (fitting) where expats and other Canadian visitors hang out. We met some like-minded people, had a pint and came back to our perfect little apartment.

It’s been an incredible and surreal journey so far and this is only the beginning. I’m so excited about this trip. Grateful for Chelsea, the Aubry family and their generosity.

GO TEAM CANADA!

Quick Reminder: It’s Okay to Fail

I do my my best thinking while lying in bed. And by thinking I mean stressing. Last night when I couldn’t sleep, I kept thinking about all of the things that are currently giving me stress. One of those was the fact that I had failed. One of my new years vows was “to do at least one really creative project”. On January 1st I started another 365 photo project and I anticipated that being the aforementioned creative project. Well, not even halfway through, I let it slide. It was something that was becoming a chore and it just wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it’d be. I failed. Of course that one thing snowballed into a reminder of the multitude of unfinished things in my life (I’m a master at starting things but not seeing them through) and I almost reached “cold-sweat” territory. Ugh.

The nice thing is that when I woke up I had completely forgotten about all that late-night anxiety and realized I had a few other items on that new years list. Looking at the list now, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of sticking to most items. And here’s the thing: even though that one creative project failed, I realized that I have another on the horizon that I’m really excited about. So if anything, this is a simple reminder to myself that it’s okay to fail. Not only is it okay, but it’s important to reflect on how that failure can be turned into something positive. Now if only my late-night self could remember that…

I’m Still Going

I know, it’s been a while since I posted. I have fallen behind and to be quite honest have not always taken a photo every day. With that said, I’m still committed to the project and continue to take every one even if it’s a day or two (or five) late. Here are a few of the latest (all taken with VSCO Cam app on my phone).

155 - Outdoors
155 – Outdoors
157 - Layers
157 – Layers
160 - Where I Stand
160 – Where I Stand
162 - Favourite Colour
162 – Favourite Colour
165 - Yellow
165 – Yellow
167 - A Vegetable
167 – A Vegetable
169 - Protected
169 – Protected
170 - Flowers
170 – Flowers
172 - Perspective
172 – Perspective