I attended and participated in a conference to plan Canada’s 150th birthday back in 2011 in Ottawa where ideas and brainstorming were welcomed by all sorts of different people. It was an exhilarating and inspiring experience for me. One that left me hyped for Canada Day 2017 for six years. There was no way I wasn’t going to be downtown to experience it.
During the centennial birthday (Expo ’67), people celebrated in vastly different, eclectic and intriguing ways. At the conference, I got to hear people share their stories about their experiences in 1967, and it left this almost magical feeling to grow inside me. A common question for people who were around for that first big birthday was: “Where were you for Expo ’67? Or Canada’s 100th birthday?”
Even back then (in 2011), I could already imagine people asking where I was on the 150th birthday. I was that excited. I wanted to be a part of history so badly. Living in the nation’s capital, I was determined to be downtown for the festivities. Typically, I love being downtown Ottawa on Canada Day. The crowd, the energy, the red and white, the music, the performers, the buskers, the food…it’s all so perfect.
It was time to make plans to go downtown. Thankfully, my husband was also thrilled about the idea of going downtown. We moved to the country (rural Quebec) about two years ago now to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and we have enjoyed our quiet existence a lot. There are times, however, when we really want to be immersed in urban excitement. We used to live downtown and go to Canada Day in the city regularly.
This year being 2017, there were fears everywhere about terrorist attacks. Everywhere I went, people were telling me that I was crazy for going downtown. They were afraid of a terrorist attack on that day with that crowd, and were planning to stay locked in their homes. There was so much hype about the dangers that I think a lot of people forgot about the spirit of the day. This was to be the 150th birthday celebration of – what I believe is – the greatest country in the world. I’m biased of course.
I refused to be afraid.
My husband expressed a bit of fear the day before Canada Day, saying that he was afraid that something would happen. I reminded him that we want to be a part of history. We want to be able to say that we were downtown Ottawa on the 150th birthday.
We refused to be afraid.
We walked through Major’s Hill Park, the Byward Market, in front of and inside of Rideau Centre, on Sparks Street, near the National Arts Centre where Prince Charles and Camilla were guests. We didn’t let fear control us, and we had the joy of experiencing the day as we initially wanted to.
I don’t believe that life is meant to be hidden from. I believe that it’s meant to be lived. And I believe that by hiding away in the safety of my home, I would be missing out on all the amazing things that bring me joy on a daily basis. I want to be alive. I want to experience the world. I will not let fear keep me from that.
Happy Canada 150! And to anyone who missed out on the big day because of fear: I hope that you focus less on the negativity and reasons to be afraid and more on the need for experiences and life. Get out there and live!