From My Window—I See Canada

photo 3The view from Emmashill Cottage in Woody Point, Newfoundland (where I spent the past week) is as dramatic as a Lawren Harris painting. Harris has always been my favourite of the Group of Seven. The mountains of Gros Moran National Park (really mountain roots I’ve learned) are like living, breathing creatures, gigantic sleeping dogs. They appear solid, warm, protective. Unlike the majestic Rockies of my childhood (I grew up in Alberta), they tell a different story, and harbour a unique Canadian people. No cowboys or ranchers here.


Newfoundlanders are hearty survivors, most from small towns and villages like Woody Point, Norris Point, Trout River, Rocky Harbour or the many now extinct out ports which they recall with pain after being forced to relocate by government fiat. Here is how resettlement is explained in Wikipedia:


photo 2Resettlement in Newfoundland and Labrador terms was an organized approach to centralize the population into growth areas. Three attempts of resettlement were initiated by the Government between 1954 and 1975 which resulted in the abandonment of 300 communities and nearly 30,000 people moved. Government’s attempt of resettlement has been viewed as one of the most controversial government programs of the post-Confederation Newfoundland and Labrador.


People moved, bag and baggage, even towing their small colourful wooden homes across a bay to a new location. Their hearts, their memories, their buried loved ones were left behind. But the sturdy folk of Newfoundland and Labrador carried their heritage, and continued to create art, music, and a culture of humour, warmth and humility. They kept alive the happy and the sad memories in songs which I heard everywhere throughout a Summer music week festival.


photo 4I’ve experienced Canada from the tip of the West Coast, traveling to Victoria and Prince Rupert, BC, to the East coast in Charlottetown, PEI, and to the North where I lived and worked in Igloolik, NWT (now Nunavat) for a year. I have travelled the entire TCH (TransCanada Highway), including now on the island of Newfoundland, and its remarkable what binds us as Canadians. It the friendliness and good cheer, the acceptance of diversity and change while still honouring the historic and our early British, French and native peoples’ heritages that laid the foundation for our values and culture. Many people have had “travail” and experienced loss of some magnitude, but it seems to have made us stronger. Hopefully we are bonded by a love of this country—its vastness, openness, hardiness, and its challenges.


Canada still has to do much more to create equity for all people, to provide better health, security and opportunity for our aboriginal people, and to incorporate at all levels of society those who have disabilities, but it’s a country that has such opportunities, values and humanity, that this is all possible.


Let’s all celebrate our good fortune that we live in Canada.

About modcpresident
I grew up in Calgary, where I completed a BA at the University of Calgary, then travelled and taught in Kenya and the Canadian Arctic during the heyday of Trudeaumania, hippie travel and social experimentation. I settled in Vancouver to complete a Master of Social Work degree at the University of British Columbia, and stayed another 8 years. After graduating I was a Social Planner and eventually became the Executive Director of the Social Planning and Research Council of BC. Ontario March of Dimes recruited me in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons and the 30th anniversary of the agency. It has grown from a budget of $5m in '81 to $100m in 2010. Services have expanded drafmatically. We incorporated a non profit housing corporation in 1992 and a national charity in 2001, and since 2006 the latter has operated as March of Dimes Canada. We own and operate several properties that provide accommodation and independent living services to 77 people in 4 municipalities and will add another property this year. Two other exciting non profit entities have been incorporated in my 30 years (yes, it has been 30 years!) and we expect to hold our first fundraiser in the US this year and to initiate our first service south of the border also. My role as President and CEO continues to be that of creating a vision, fulfilling the mission and developing strategic plans to meet an increasing demand for services from people with disabilities and their caregivers. This is achieved through direct service, advocacy and peer programs. On a personal note, I live with my 17 year old daughter and two cats, and enjoy their company a lot. My two adult sons are doing interesting exploration in their own lives and I am intrigued with how they are progressing. In my spare time, I have various volunteer roles on several non profit boards and committees, and enjoy creating programs for building awareness of diversity and disability. I think it has become true for me that youth is, while not "wasted on the young," something that I appreciate more with age. Adventures are physically more challenging for me now, so they have to occur in new dimensions.

4 Responses to From My Window—I See Canada

  1. ruthkapelus says:

    As an immigrant, I am grateful everyday that my parents were brave enough to move across the world, to a country where they knew nobody, so we could live in Canada.

  2. Kristy Hamilton says:

    My parents are Newfoundlanders and when we have had opportunities to go “home” its always been a pleasurable trip. I am thankful for being Canadian and having parents from the Island where family and hospitality are core values!

  3. S. Manson says:

    I have traveled to NL about 40 times. You have not lived unless you have gone ice berg hunting on top of the rock.

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