Our Canada Day began in the wonderful home of our host Louise on the Gatineau River, just 20 minutes from the parliament buildings. Instead of rushing off to Ottawa first thing in the morning, Louise encouraged us to stay and witness the arrival of Chimeda, the paddling group that was using her beach as a portage point on their journey. “Chimeda” means "we are paddling" in Aninishinabeg. Our family was lucky enough to participate in the fourth annual reconciliation paddle to Ottawa on the 150 anniversary of our confederation. This young group of paddlers that we got to meet and help out were representing the North Wind as part of the Voyageur Brigades Society, Four Winds descending on Ottawa. What an opportunity. This assembly of youth was made up of indigenous and non-indigenous citizens that joined together to paddle the Gatineau River as a symbol of solidarity between their two communities. Jeff and Riley paddled a canoe to greet the paddlers on the water. Evan, Wyatt and I stayed on the shore to help welcome, direct and bring the boats in. What a unique and wonderful way to celebrate Canada’s 150. A united front of young people working together for their communities and for the precious waterways and the environment that we so often take for granted.
Once we were assured all the paddlers were well on their way to their next stop we headed downtown to the center of the festivities. I wish we could share our experience from parliament hill and all the events that took place in Ottawa. Truth be told, we could not get anywhere near the main attractions. We encountered a wall of people from the moment we entered the city center. You couldn’t move. We heard it was a 4 hour wait to get through security in order to set foot on parliament hill. The energy and vibe from the crowd was amazing and we will never forget it but with three young kids in tow, we made the decision to head back to Louise’s house for a swim. At least there we could watch the festivities unfold on TV.
As a family, it was not what we had envisioned for Canada Day. We were disappointed to say the least. In retrospect, our morning in Gatineau more than made up for what we missed in Ottawa. For Evan, Riley and Wyatt to be able to take part in reconciliation in action and to meet the youth that will help shape tomorrows Canada. That was priceless!