I am a very proud Canadian.  I love my country.  I know that I am not alone.  I stood on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on July 1st, 1996 and sang O Canada with about 150,000 other proud Canadians.  Ottawa is my favourite city and I was proud to take my daughters there last summer so they could feel the electricity and pride of nation that exists in our capital city.  I lived there in the as a child in the 60’s, the Trudeau years and I met my husband Jim there at a political convention.  I love Ottawa, the city and the idea and the country that it has governed.

My dad spent more than 30 years in the Canadian Navy in all of its iterations over that time frame.  We lived in Halifax and Ottawa and Edmonton. He also served with the Blue Berets, the UN Peace Keepers, in the Middle East.  I learned many lessons from my dad; how to be a gentle leader, how to stand at attention, to be respectful of the Queen and my country and to appreciate the fact that people die in the name of our country.  I am not sure that I understood the meaning of “the ultimate sacrifice” the first time I heard it.  I was very young.  I knew, however, that my grandfather had made that sacrifice in World War II and was buried at Groesbeck, near Nijmegen in the Netherlands. One of my proudest Canadian daughter moments was watching my dad stand back and salute his father’s grave when we visited it together in 2000. Another was watching him on the big screen as the videographer focused on him in the crowd standing very tall and at attention while they played O Canada at my graduation when I received my doctorate.

Canada is home and the idea of Canada as a peaceful nation where two European cultures came together and made peace with each other and eventually with the First Nations here has been a source of pride for me.  I loved reading “Reflections of a Siamese Twin” by Jonathon Ralston Saul, my favourite Canadian Philosopher.  From a young age I was interested in my country.  It was important for me to learn French and understand First Nation and Métis cultures.  When I was young we visited Quebec often.  My grandmother lived in Montreal and for reasons I never quite understood she never really learned how to speak French.  I felt that it feel to me to come to Alberta and become a French as a Second Language teacher to rectify or balance that somehow.  I also studied and taught Canadian History and French English Relations in Canada and took Alberta students to Quebec so that they could learn about our country. 

When the referendum in 95 was so close and no one else in Alberta seemed to care, I ran for Parliament in the 97 election.  Someone had to make sure that Quebec stayed in Canada.  I didn’t think I could do it alone but I had to do something.  I lost that election and the one in 2006 but I did make sure that Albertans in rural Alberta who supported my vision of Canada, a united, peaceful Canada, had a place to put their vote.

Last summer, months after I had accepted the nomination to run again in a federal election, I had a serious talk with my friend and colleague from Ghana.  He, himself, had been a politician there.  His own ideas of how to serve his country had changed as a result of his experience in parliament. He made good arguments for me to leave the political scene and become focused on PULSE.  He argued that I could serve my country better as an ambassador for peaceful conversations all over the world and especially in Canada.  The two prime ministers with whom I had run for election and other countrymen, like Stephen Lewis, had devoted at least some of their political energies toward the African Continent.  Why couldn’t I?  He reminded me of how he had used the PULSE Discovery to settle long standing disputes between warring tribes in Ghana and how, with support and focus we could make a difference in other areas of the world as well.

Those arguments convinced me that maybe if I were to focus on a campaign to have people all over the world learn about the PULSE Discovery as a peaceful way to reach sustainable resolution, even in difficult situations, that I would contribute to the Canadian reputation as Peace Makers and Peace Keepers.  World Peace – One Conversation at a Time is a mantra you hear often at the PULSE Institute.  Contribution to my country and its reputation in the world is important to me.  I knew there were many ways to contribute to Canada and had chosen teaching and politics at the municipal, provincial and federal levels as the way for me to do that.  He was suggesting another way. I took him seriously.  So for this past year I have been away from politics and focusing on PULSE.  A book, video and 30 PULSE Professionals trained.  It is amazing what you can accomplish with focus.  Politics is never far from my heart.  I heard a politician say recently “Politics is a conversation”.  He is right and there are times when I miss the conversation and the protocol and the ceremony that contribute to our identity as Canadians. I am committed to continuing to contribute as best I can as the Peace Maker from Canada when I travel in the US and Africa over this next year.  My goal is to contribute and to make you all proud of this Canadian as she continues her campaign, not for political office but for PULSE – World Peace – One Conversation at a Time.

How are you contributing to your country??  Happy Canada Day