(January 20, 2017 )

Written by Deb Goodfellow

I grew up on Victoria Avenue East, one block away from the south entrance to park Circle, a park dedicated to brave young men within the community who made the supreme sacrifice in service to our country and the democratic principles on which they stand.  As a child, I can remember standing on the side of the cenotaph at the centre of the park and running my fingers in the grooves that held the letters encasing the names which they were engraved into the granite, until I could learn to read; my eyes carefully looking at each letter as I etched the names within my memory.

Years later as a banker and then a Realtor within the community, names would bring me back to that list in my mind – and I would wonder if the person before me had been the father, grand-mother, sister or friend.  A recent display at Kildonan Place Mall in the fall of 2016 displayed names of those who had fallen, along with their pictures – and now I could put a face to each name.  As a sixty-something year old with a family of my own and young nieces and nephews who were older than many of these young men – these children; I could not even imagine the magnitude and horror of it all.

I heard my mother’s stories about losing friends, including a fiancé who stepped on a landmine and was killed.  I had an uncle who served in the war and although he had to draw on unthinkable courage to survive, he could not bring himself to talk about it upon his return.  I recently watched the movie, Hacksaw Ridge, to remind myself of my blessings.

Perhaps it was these early experiences that contributed to my intuitive and highly sensitive nature.  I am no different than anyone else.

In this momentous year of celebration, may we all reflect on the sacrifices of these brave men and women and generations of Canadians who have made life better for us all.  Let us never take it for granted and “lest we never forget.”

150 years ago, at the site of the Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences, the Fathers of Confederation worked on a visionary project – to create a lasting democracy.  Our home province of Manitoba was the fifth province to join Confederation in 1870.  It will take all of us to ensure that our democracy remains lasting as we approach the dawn of an uncertain future.

Every day we find more reasons to be grateful – and each day we are faced with new challenges.  It reminds us that we should not take this peaceful, ordered and democratic nation of ours for granted.  We have rights, privileges, opportunities and freedoms that millions of people on our precious planet can only dream of – and hope and pray to one day experience.  We are living the dream.

Our Canadian national Anthem draws me in to a few lines that speak to my heart in this moment, releasing the sentiments that I am trying to convey:

From Far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee;

It is with great pride and gratitude that we join in our Country’s 150th birthday Celebration.  As a gift to Canada…let’s all do our best to make a difference in the lives of our fellow Canadians, and our beloved Canada…and stand on guard for thee to ensure that our descendants can enjoy Canada, glorious and free…forever and ever.  Amen.