“Tonight I’m not an academic, not a scholar. I’m a story-teller; that’s what journalists do” (Shout out to Gillian’s twitter for tweeting that quote)
Last Friday night, I had the pleasure of listening to Peter Mansbridge speak at an event held in the Centre of Excellence at Glendon.
The 2014 John Holmes Memorial Lecture was titled “A Journalist’s Personal Journey on International Affairs”.The John Holmes Memorial Lectures honour the late John W. Holmes, O.C., Canadian diplomat, writer, administrator, and professor of International Relations at Glendon.
He began to tell us stories about his experience as a CBC correspondent travelling around the world, reporting on international affairs. It was truly a night of story-telling which is why I think I took so much away from the event.
When stories are told in a way that captivate your attention and that ignite a spark in your mind that continues to burn once you walk out of the doors and make your way back home, they tend to stay with you.
He spoke about exploring tunnels in Vimy Ridge earlier this month where he found etchings by Canadian soldiers. The soldiers had not only left their name and regiment, they had also drew something that represented where they came from in Canada such as boats for Quebec and maple leafs for Ontario.
He spoke about being in Sri Lanka after the tsunami and how a young child had told him in broken English that “Canada is good”. The reason, he said, is because there had been Canadian nurses who voluntarily flew into Sri Lanka after they had heard the news and were helping to provide shots for the residents in the town to prevent infection and disease in the aftermath of the tsunami.
He spoke about being in a Dutch town and witnessing a parade honouring Canadian veterans for liberating the Netherlands in the Second World War. When a colleague asked a woman why she had brought her young son to the parade, the woman had responded that she wanted her son “to know what a Canadian” is.
Peter told us that night that all of these stories tell him something that we often find hard to answer – what does it mean to be Canadian? Peter said that these stories told him that to be a Canadian means that “we care, simple”.
To be a Canadian, said Peter, means that we care not only about ourselves and our families but those that we don’t know whether they be across the street, across the country, or across the world. And he said that those outside of Canada see and recognize that this is what it means to be Canadian also.
As a recent Canadian citizen, I really enjoyed the night because it made me feel proud to be Canadian. I’ve felt proud to live in Canada for a long time but that night, I felt the pride of BEING Canadian. I think in light of recent events in Ottawa, some may feel as though the perception of Canada in international affairs is changing in a way that the Canadian public may not like or favour but Peter reminded us that night that the idea of Canada being a good and safe country is not a thing of the past.
On that note, I would like to thank Glendon and Peter Mansbridge for a phenomenal night of story-telling and Canada-loving.
You can tweet me @beckielhgl!