As many of you know, yesterday was a hard day for Ottawa. For those of you who don't know, it went something like this:
Shortly before ten in the morning, a soldier guarding the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa was shot in the chest. He is confirmed to have died from his injuries later in the day.
Sergeant-At-Arms, Kevin Vickers, is the man who killed the gunman, according to the reports. I have no doubt that this man's actions were pretty damned heroic yesterday. Many MPs took to social media thanking him and his team for ensuring that the death toll was no higher than it was and that they were taken to safety quickly and efficiently.
Yesterday, I watched the CBC news live feed on my computer in shock. This sort of thing is not supposed to happen here. In Canada? In Ottawa?
It's hard to take. I'm still upset about it.
When news of Corporal Cirillo's death was announced and when they named the victim, I started to cry. I cannot imagine the grief his friends and family must be going through; to have such a promising young life cut so short and when he was doing something so seemingly safe and sacred as guarding the War Memorial in the centre of Canada's capital.
I'm still processing it all, so this post might be a little incoherent.
I went to training last night. It was part of my weekly routine, and I needed the normalcy. I only managed to train for a hour, though, before fatigue got the better of me. It's tough work, spending hours trying hard not to cry.
I am also very afraid. The thought of any accomplices doesn't scare me. It's not that I'm terrified of another attack. I'm not. I'm terrified of what our PM will do, using this as an excuse. For those of you who don't already know, I do not like our Prime Minister. I think he is sinister. I don't think he is working for the betterment of Canada and her people. I feel like he has single-handedly destroyed everything that made Canada such a wonderful place to be; that made this country, my adopted home, something I fell in love with and cherished.
I am terrified he will use today's incident to do worse.
But there are things that warm my heart and give me hope.
Ignoring the PM's posturings, New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulclair had some very moving words to say last night about what this attack attempted to do, and failed.:
"Good evening my fellow Canadians. Today the peace of our nation's capital was shattered by an act of hatred and brutality -- cowardly act designed to strike at the heart of our democracy, at the heart of who we are.
But I'm here tonight in solidarity, side-by-side with my colleagues, with our Prime Minister and with all Canadians.
This attack struck with sudden and deadly violence. It was carried out on the very ground where we come together to exchange ideas with the knowledge that whatever our differences, we will always resolve them peacefully.
It was intended to make us more fearful of our neighbours and less confident in ourselves. But it has failed. Today's events have instead only succeeded in drawing us closer, in making us stronger.
In this moment, Canadians are unified in grief and stricken with disbelief. Canada is shaken today but we shall not waver. We woke up this morning in a country blessed by love, diversity and peace and tomorrow we will do the same.
These acts were driven by hatred, but also designed to drive us to hate. They will not. We will stand up, we will stand together. We will persevere and we will prevail."
I also read a headline that said: "After the Attack, We're Still Canada." Click the link and read the article. It's a great article that more articulately says what I want to.
You see, after the attack, I've come to realise just how much I've fallen in love with this country. The Canada I know and love is kind and compassionate, level-headed and practical. It is wide swaths of pristine, untouched landscapes. It is respect; for the land and for each other.
The Canada I fell in love with is being slowly dismantled by it's current leader, but I don't believe that will last long. Canadians are peaceable, but we aren't naive or stupid. The tactics employed by the current leadership has not gone unnoticed. People joke that Canada has no national identity. That's not true. We are a country of many, from all walks of life, and are joined by the common values we share.
Perhaps one of the best examples of Canadianism is how Canada's national news, the CBC, handled the live reporting of the events that occurred in downtown Ottawa yesterday. The report was sober, conditional and the facts were given the respect they deserved. There was no sensationalism. There was no flashy graphics and epic music. There was sound reporting, delivered soberly and thoughtfully. Peter Mansbridge and the entire CBC National News team deserve credit for the spectacularly mature, even and thoughtful way in which they handled the reporting of the crisis yesterday.
I am not the only one who noticed. There are several articles floating around the interwebs praising the CBC's handling of the reporting. THIS one is my favourite.
Despite our PMs cutbacks to the CBC, they remain a fantastic, and very Canadian, channel.
Is it weird to be so proud of a television station? I don't think so. The CBC did themselves and this country credit. Well done.
The words of Tom Mulclair are another example of what is wonderful about Canada and Canadians.
I have heard people accuse Canada of cowardice. But this is far from the truth. Canada's courage is quiet. It is the courage to remain open and kind and compassionate in the face of great challenges. It is the strength to pick up and carry on, to not get carried away into imprudent action by overwrought emotion. That takes a considerable amount of strength. It is easier by far to fly off the handle than to take a deep breath and seek better solutions.
Canada doesn't scream its bravado from its rooftops, but that doesn't mean that this nation lacks bravery. Indeed, I find Canada's quiet, unassuming courage one of its best characteristics; that earthy, practical will to push on without need for constant and loud bragging. Thinking about it makes me so proud to be Canadian, and it gives me hope that we can and will pull ourselves out of this sadness in very Canadian fashion.
If any political leader is reading this for any reason whatsoever, this is what I want you to know: I love Canada. She is a nation of courageous men and women with big hearts. But what makes them courageous is not indignant blithering. What makes Canada brave, what makes me proud to be here and be Canadian, is the courage to stand up to injustice, to stand up for respect, to be kind and open and to love in a world that seems to be drowning in vile rhetoric and hatred.
I worry for this Canada under our Prime Minister.
Please, stand on guard. Protect Canada and all that has made her wonderful. Lord knows, Harper will not.
I'll leave off now, with one last shout-out. Last night during Pittsburgh's hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers they sang O Canada in solidarity with us. It was thoughtful and wonderful and thank you, Pittsburgh. You made me cry happy tears.