“It was raining on Parliament Hill as Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau signed the Proclamation of the Constitution Act on April 17, 1982. Marks left by the raindrops as they smudged the ink can still be seen as physical reminders of the rich history of the act.”
More than ever, I am proud to be Canadian today. As the second deposit of the Canada Emergency Care Benefit has reached my bank account, today bears a deeper meaning on many levels for me.
The quote above is taken from the Library and Archives Canada website, and I remember the rain that day. I was 9 years old and had gone to my ballet teacher’s house after school to rehearse for my role as Cinderella in our upcoming recital. I was called home early, and recall skipping through the puddles and around the worms bathing in the wet of the sidewalks. I’ve always loved the rain.
My father had left the house that morning to take pictures of the Queen, as history was being made on Parliament Hill. He didn’t make it far before a cardiac arrhythmia stopped his heart.
I had to piece it together for myself because I didn’t quite understand what my mother meant when she said he “collapsed at the wheel”. The days following were full of ceremony and logistics. There was a lot of emotion, but not much expression of it.
My mother immediately began working long hours to support three kids. I didn’t know anything different, and did not immediately feel damaged by the tragedy of these losses. I learned how to navigate the tangible aspects of life quickly. I became what those who knew me described as, strong and independent (qualities I am now trying to outgrow), and by the time I left home, I knew how to stretch a dollar.
This day, 38 years ago, shaped my life of today in so many ways. There is sadness for all the things that were missed, but also so much gratitude for the ways in which life has prepared me for this time of chaotic stillness.
The father of our current Prime Minister laid the foundation for the funding that so many of us are relying on right now.
I have never in my life used social assistance, and in my gratitude, I cannot wait to start giving back.