Start of this journey
I find it fitting that my goal of cycling across Canada which took just under four years to complete ended during the Canada 150 commemorations. In those four years I have experienced significant personal changes.
I started my ride across Canada on September 28 in 2013 in Victoria. Victoria is the starting point or end point of the Trans-Canada highway. That was a one day ride that I did with one of my colleagues.
On June 26 in 2017 I continued that journey with Sea to Sea. That part of my ride went on for 64 more days. This part included about 80 other cyclists who rode parts of the journey and about 50 other riders who rode all the way to Halifax.
On August 30, the day after arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia I continued the journey for 5 more days. This part of the ride included 2 other cyclists who rode along to St.John’s, Newfoundland ending at Cape Spear, the most eastern point in Canada, on September 3, 2017.
Finishing in Newfoundland was a fitting way to end the cross Canada journey through all ten provinces during the Canada 150 year. Even though Newfoundland came late, joining Confederation in 1949, this makes the cross Canada ride complete.
This is not meant to overlook the 3 territories, Yukon, North West and Nunavut. Cycling through them would be a whole new level of cycling. There isn’t a continuous road connecting the three territories.
Crossing Canada at some point from the southern border to the Arctic Ocean is possible now that the Yukon Territory has completed a highway to the north coast.
Tasting a thin slice
Having crossed Canada from West to east only represents a thin slice of an amazing country with such diversity in terrain and more significant a diversity in people.
As a country with two official languages, that simply doesn’t do justice to the multitude of languages spoken in Canada.
There are quite a number of different languages spoken by the various First Nations communities in Canada who have lived on this land from time immemorial (as one Nation in Nova Scotia identifies themselves). Only one province in Canada, namely New Brunswick has a beginning sense of inclusiveness by being officially bi-lingual. In my understanding, of the territories, Nunavut is the only territory that operates with two official languages.
My language experience in Newfoundland is even more unique in that they speak English but have unusual variations of it. The variation includes expressions that most people from away would simply not understand. Also, depending on which part of Newfoundland one is from words are spoken differently, adding letters or omitting letters when it is spoken.
Identity is key
Language gives a community a unifying identity. Language is a key factor in capturing a culture and a people.
My sense has always been that when people are comfortable with their identity they have a greater acceptance and appreciation of other groups, cultures and diversity of view points. Those are important qualities for people to be able to live at peace with each other.
Canada is a confederation. A confederation only works when people choose to work together and value what others have to offer.
Even though my journey across Canada has been a very thin slice it has raised my appreciation for this country I call home and want to see the diversity within unity thrive by learning from each other.
Stories breathe life
The most effective way we learn from each other is by listening to each other’s stories.
In my journey across Canada I heard an interesting comment about sharing stories.
Within one of the cultures in Canada, they do not want a story electronically recorded. The reason being that a story is something alive. You lose it when you try to capture it.
It is only in the telling that a story stays alive. Each time a story is shared the ambiance where it is shared, the mood of the group in receiving the story, the intent of the story teller in sharing it and many other factors is different each time a story is shared. With each telling the story comes alive.
I want to live in a country where each community, each ethnic group or nation is proud to keep their stories alive. They might be stories of celebrations or of pain. In sharing a story one is sharing a sense of hope for themselves, their community or their country. Sharing stories is what I believe would make the Canada 150 celebrations successful.
What stories will you share about the community you identify with?