Sunday, July 04, 2021

Happy Canada Day


This post is a little late, as the weekend got away from me.

The artwork pictured above hangs in the front hallway of my house, a memory of my late father. My father was an avid outdoorsman, who spend many a weekend up in the Lytton and Lillooet area fishing it's many lakes for Rainbow and Dolly Varden trout.

So the story as I know it goes like this...

The artwork above is an oar/paddle carving of a salmon/eagle. It's carver is unknown to me, (there is a signature on the back, but I had never thought of having it researched) who lived in the Lytton-Lillooet area. 

It was on one hot summer day, during a weekend, some 35ish years ago. My father was driving the lonely dirt roads of the Lytton-Lillooet region to his favourite fishing spots. During his drive, my father came across a stranded car facing the opposite direction. I suspect most people, minding their own business would just drive by. That wasn't my father, a mechanic, he would often find himself pulling over to assist stranded motorists. The story, as I remember it, was that the stranded vehicle had overheated, caused by a blown radiator hose. A common enough problem, remedied quite simply at a shop was made ever so much more complex at the side of the road. While not a complete fix, my father managed to sufficiently repair the vehicle enough so as it's driver was no longer stranded and could safely make his way to the town garage. 

The vehicles driver was an indigenous artist from the region, who, in a token of appreciation offered my father the oar/paddle as thanks. Regretfully mentioning that the artwork had little to no value as it was an unfinished piece, something he was currently working on. 

I know my father wouldn't have wanted any momentary reward, and was probably hesitant to accept the artwork and did so more out of respect, to the artist.

I am so proud of the man I had as a father, even though we seldom saw eye to eye, he bestowed a great deal of wisdom in me. As an Italian immigrant, my father fell in love with Canada and it's inspiring beauty. It's forests which provide us with clean air, the melting mountain snow which provide us fresh water that fill our lakes and rivers, perfect for trout fishing. My father went on to become a Canadian citizen, put down roots, and has been placed to rest, in his new home...Canada. My father taught me that being Canadian meant respecting wildlife, nature, and your fellow man, values many of us born here take for granted. He taught me to treat people, as I want to be treated, and to always look out for those less fortunate. He taught me to always do my best, and have patience for those who weren't as capable.

I choose to celebrate Canada Day this year, not because I am insensitive to the hurt felt by our fellow indigenous brothers and sisters, but because of the bonds formed. In light of mistakes we may have found in our past, we as a nation are far from perfect, but we can always strive to be better.

Because we are Canadian.

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