I Stand on Guard for Thee...
On the eve of the national celebration of Canada Day, I thought I might share some personal stories and experiences of mine surrounding my beautiful country.
Everyone shows their love and support for their country in a different way. Some do great and grand things on an international stage and others do small, beautiful, vital things everyday in their own homes, but all of it shows an affection for who we are and where we come from.
Canada is The Great White North. Home of maple syrup, Tim Hortons, Hockey, and the moose. We go from islands and shores dotted with quaint fishing towns, to mighty mountains that reach the heavens, to wide, rolling plains, to the rugged north and arctic tundras. The second largest country by land mass, Canada has it all and we are proud of our diversity.
In the fall of 2005 I signed the dotted line to join the Canadian Army. I wanted to be able to help people in their most difficult moments and I wanted to serve this beautiful country of mine. I trained as a Medical Technician (Medic) and I wore the uniform proudly. In 2009-2010 I served as a Role 1 Medic in Afghanistan for seven and a half months and when I returned home I was not the same person as before.
I had PTSD that plagued my every moment, severe depression that resulted from the PSTD, and an injury to my neck that reduced feeling and movement in both of my hands as well as causing chronic pain and migraines. I was retired from the military and had to learn how to live a different, and disabled, life. It was difficult. It still is in fact. I had planned to spend my life in service to my country and now that was all gone.
But as I sit here today I am reminded of the things I still do, and can do in the future, to help support, protect, and love this great country. I make beautiful soap art that is designed to help you cope on your worst days. I reduce, reuse, and recycle to keep our world clean and healthy. I own a house, pay my taxes, and run a business that contributes to our economy. I have zero tolerance for bigotry, racism, queer-phobia, and hatred and I try to create spaces where those things cease to exist. I vote.
These may seem like lesser acts of serving and protecting Canada when compared to military service in a war zone, but they really are not. It's the little things we do as Canadians, the tiny, conscious, diverse, welcoming, friendly things we do that make the fabric of what Canada is. We are sculpted by our terrain, the harsh winters, the turbulent waters, the sweltering summers, but we also build our country by being polite, colloquial, open, diverse, accepting, and weirdly, endearingly apologetic.
Big acts matter, but the actual warp and weft of Canada is created by each of us individually contributing as best we can to a nation built of love and strength and freedom.
Canada. We stand on guard for thee. Happy Canada Day!