When I moved from Canada to the UK in 2010, I was sure that what I would miss most (besides my family, friends and the Rockies of course!) would be Tim Hortons' coffee and their annual Roll up the Rim to Win promotion. Boy, was I wrong. It only took a few short weeks for me to realise that what I missed most were Canadians themselves.
The Canadian spirit is like no other. It's something that stands out to people – some love it, some don't know what to make of it. I remember being told by a close friend of mine here in London that when she first met me, she didn't like me. I was too happy and nice, she said. And how could it possibly have been sincere? No one is like that all the time to strangers for no reason – wrong, Canadians are.
Today is Canada Day, one of my favourite days of the year, and I thought it fitting to write a lil' sumn about my peeps back home. I skipped my post last week because although I had written it, I couldn't bring myself to post it. Why? Because it was about hair. My hometown, Calgary, Alberta was flooding. Some lost their lives. Others were being taken to hospital. People's homes were being destroyed, their lives turned upside down. And here I am blessed not only with food and a warm home, but so much more that I have the luxury of sitting here and pondering the meaning of life. I could not write about hair.
But I couldn't write about the flood either. It was too close to my heart. I felt shocked, paralysed, completely unable to process what was happening and even more stunned that I was too far away to even do anything to help. I've been trying to swallow the enormity of what happened there and last week's missing post was my moment of silence for all the people experiencing loss in the city I'll always call home. I still haven't fully wrapped my head around it but what I can say now is that however much heartache is caused by natural disasters like this one, nothing else brings out a community's spirit in the same way.
At a time when we're increasingly rushing back and forth, focusing on our career ambitions, our material progress, and finding less and less time for the people and things that really matter, nothing stops us in our tracks, unearths our hearts, and pulls us together quite like a flood, hurricane or even an act of terrorism.
Calgary has been overwhelmed with heartwarming stories of compassion among strangers who are spending days and nights cleaning up their city and picking up the pieces of their neighbours' broken homes. When 600 formal volunteers were called for last week, 3000 showed up. The Calgarian spirit has risen above the destruction and shone brighter than anyone could have hoped for, showing the world the beauty of what it means to be Calgarian, but also, I think, made every Canadian, both at home and abroad, exceptionally proud.