Crying, sobbing, practically bawling. A week ago, we didn’t know each others names, now we can’t seem to say goodbye.
The Steel wheels abruptly hit the concrete, the feeling of being lifted, and pushed down by gravity has ended. We arrived in Ottawa. With tingling feet and cramped legs, I stand up and walk towards the narrow walkway, hearing the clicks of the overhead bins. Groggily making my way to the carousals, I glance up and see a pearling white sign reading ‘Encounters with Canada’. We drive on an unpaved bumpy road, the driver racing past clumps of trees, and rolling hills.
Arriving at The Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre we are greeted by a buzzing crowd of teenagers from around Canada. Although it is almost 1am, we are wide awake from seeing 140 brand new faces. We get on another bus in the morning, and head towards parliament. Entering the grand foyer, we find our tour guide and learn about the history of parliament. The building isn’t crowded, because it’s Labor Day, we enter the library, that was saved from a fire in 1916, and is the oldest part of parliament. When you walk in, there is an entirely different feeling from the rest of the building. There are plenty of hand-carved details, and a grand statue of Queen Victoria in the centre, perfectly contrasting the room. We went to the Canadian to visit the exhibits. There was an arctic exhibit, and it started with glacier shaped pieces of ice, and had projections of arctic wildlife on the shimmery ice. The rest of this exhibit was about the lifestyle of Canadians who live in the north. We moved on, and found ourselves in the insect’s exhibit. There were beautiful butterflies carefully pinned on boards, and put in breathtaking formations. Looking at them made any anxieties go away instantly. They came rushing back when we walked a few steps further and saw huge bugs, and spiders. Some of my new friends freaked out, and were practically sprinting away. Others were trying to take pictures without dropping their cameras in fear. We didn’t spend very much time in that area. The next evening, we went to the Canadian Museum Of History, and I could spend all day just looking at the ceiling. It is four different tones, representing the four seasons, it’s extremely complicated, and every sign and stroke means something. Besides the seasons, the quadrants mean something else. The yellow quadrant, is about a time when the first nations people were in harmony with nature. It is also about Columbus arriving in 1492, which changed the life of first nations forever. The blue quadrant, signifies the weakness of Native culture, because of Europeans taking over. The red quadrant, is about revival, and optimism. The final quadrant, the white quadrant, shows healing, and new self-respect, returning harmony. After being mesmerized by the ceiling, we walk inside the first hallway, and its rows of mirrored walls, with different parts of Canadian history engraved on it. Walking further into the hallway, there were miniature sculptures of famous figures in Canadian history, so we made goofy faces at the caricatures.
On our last full day in Ottawa, we went to the Northern Lights show at parliament. It was a projection against the parliament building, showing Canadian history, everything from first nations, to women’s rights. It was a rainy night, but we had an amazing time anyways, laughing, and taking lots of pictures. Before the show, I didn’t have any options on if I think I’m a Canadian, or if I’m proud to be a Canadian. but afterwards, I couldn’t be prouder.
Saying goodbye to some of the greatest friends I had ever made was difficult. At the start of this experience, I didn’t think I would leave crying and wishing that we lived within 10 minutes of each other, but by the end, all I could think of is the memories that will last a lifetime I made.