If We Are To Love Our Country

By | December 18, 2015

Originally published as a column in NewsKamloops on December 11, 2015.

Then... nowI remember the first time I visited Kamloops. It was mid-summer: dusty, hot and the air was heavy. There was no ocean breeze to wrestle the heat down, but the river, slow moving and steady, was long with its row of trees a welcome refuge and an open invitation we’ve been honoring since.

Two months later our family landed here, and since that day, the river has been a faithful companion to our many adventures.

We canoed up and down the two rivers that meet forming a beautiful line separating the dark blue South Thompson from the silty northern arm, we got to see baby geese following their parents in a line that was as cute as was orderly; we saw foxes and ducks and sunsets galore, we fed gracious swans in mid-winter when the river decorates the sandy shores in icy lace ad wondered at their beauty.

We go swimming every summer night, and we walk alongside the shores in fall and winter. I met my best friend by the river and each stroll we take stopping every now and then to pick rocks and listen to the lapping sounds, reinforces not only our friendship but also my bond with the mysterious ribbon of water that carries too many stories to tell, too obvious to not see…

One of the stories was revealed this summer during our trip through the Kootenays when we happened by a small but well-appointed museum in Invermere where the boys and us adults learned more of David Thompson, the man who the First Nations knew as ‘the Star-gazer’ due to his passion for navigation, the man after which our North Thompson River was named.

We saw his writing and our eyes followed the contours of his words as he was describing the very places we go by when we visit the river. We stepped back in time and were filled with reverence for the gift of learning more of him.

David Thompson is the man who single-handedly mapped almost 50,000 miles of unchartered territory in Western Canada, a tremendous effort that was acknowledged long after his death, which unfortunately saw him poor and blind. Muriel Poulton Dunford, author of ‘North River – The Story of BC’s North Thompson Valley and Yellowhead Highway 5’ tells it all and more.

A man of high moral values and solid principles, David Thompson more than deserves to have his name gracing the rivers that have been the lifeblood of many communities since long ago. One of our homeschooling goals is to learn the history of Canada, British Columbia in particular, and focus long enough on our Thompson-Nicola region. We live here, therefore we should.

I am hoping and wanting that the boys’ love for their country and its history, young as it is if we are to refer for now to the explorers and traders (but that would be tremendously unfair), will only be enhanced as we learn of all those whose steps preceded ours.

A recent perusal through the news of the day revealed a Vogue photo shoot that features our PM and his wife. Though charming and sweet as a couple, I believe the PM’s place may not be a suitable one in a fashion magazine.

I have much admiration for people who go through ups and downs during their marriage and openly show their love for each other nonetheless, yet I could not help but feel that having such glamour imparted to our PM Justin Trudeau and his wife rather steals people’s attention from where it should go, making them focus on something that has little relevance to our present day history.

As they say, noblesse oblige. In the days of coming together as a nation to face humanitarian crises and honour promises that will help the environment worldwide, we need the sense of reverence towards our leaders and people of influence, rather than the short-lived admiration of beautiful people featured in fashion magazines.

Some may argue that love is beautiful and that is true and more, but I’d say that what we need nowadays as we are engaging on a journey led by a new PM, is respect and unflinching trust that we are to be led in the direction of mature leadership.

We need to learn of our history, we need to teach our children of it too, all of it and accurately so, dark times included, so that we can become the democratic, critical but at the same time respectful soundboard for the activities that our leaders conduct on a daily basis. A feedback loop that all democracies need in order to exist as such. Such a job requires knowledge of the past, a vision of the future and a steady arm to take us through the occasional tough present.

Our history is imbued with examples of inspirational people. Whether we learn of rivers or battles won and lost, of daring explorers who left behind so much that nowadays we take for granted, we need to never forget. We need to be able to trust that our leaders will continue to inspire us as we walk the many paths Canada opens before our eyes.

 

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