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#MyCanada – What I Love About Canada

I was recently tagged by @turnipseedtravel to be part of the #MyCanada bloggers’ roulette, and I’m happy that I get a chance to contribute.

The concept is that Canadian bloggers write a post about why they love Canada, and what they think travelers should do when they visit Canada.

This exercise has given me the opportunity to really think about what Canada means to me. My job involves quite a bit of travelling around Canada, and it’s been nice to think about what this means. Rather than wish I was travelling abroad, this is a good chance for me to look at all that I get to do here.


As you can see on this map, I have been lucky enough to travel across Canada. I’ve done this more than once – I’ve flown, driven and trained from end to end.

Coming to Canada for the first time, or living in Canada and wondering where to staycation? Here are some favourites!

1. Take the train or drive where you’re going

I’ve taken the train from Vancouver to Ottawa, and from Ottawa to Halifax. I’ve also driven from Halifax to Ottawa, and from Ottawa to Vancouver. The train and the highway take different routes, so they both allow you to see different things. I feel like I’m the only one who thinks this, but my favourite part of the cross-country journey has always been the prairies. On my latest drive across, it took me forever to get from Winnipeg to Regina, because I kept stopping to take pictures.




2. The East Coast

By far, the East Coast is my favourite region in Canada. Rough atlantic ocean, mild winters, and the friendliest people you will ever meet. The towns are small and colourful, and there is so much to see everywhere you turn. In Nova Scotia, make sure to check out Halifax (my #1 city in Canada), Lunenburg and Wolfville (where I hope to live one day). And if you’re in NS, you need – need! – to make the trip up to Prince Edward Island!

Cavendish Beach, PEI


Peggy’s Cove, NS


Halifax, NS 


Confederation Bridge, from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island

3. Québec and Ontario

This is where I’m from, and it’s always harder to identify great things about your hometown. I have two favourites around the Capital region – walking around parliament, which offers amazing views of the river and Gatineau, and a drive through Gatineau Park to go to Champlain Lookout. When I first started driving, this is where I would go whenever I could. Toronto is also worth checking out – a lot of people don’t love Toronto, but I actually do. If you have time, you can walk everywhere, and it really doesn’t feel busy for a big city, more like a lot of little neighbourhoods all stuck together. Our region is also renowned for beautiful fall colours. If ever you are around in the fall, make sure to check out the forests. Ontario is also bordered to the South by the Great Lakes. I really feel like these are underrated. I drove by Lake Superior on my way across in October, and it was really incredible.

Champlain Lookout, Gatineau, Qc

Somewhere in Ontario, in the fallp1020800Toronto, On 

Lake Superior, Ontariop1020812

4. The ‘middle’

For those of you who don’t know, the ‘middle’ is Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Yes, I love the Prairies. I think that they’re beautiful. Unfortunately, I have yet to fall in love with any of the cities there. I’m going back to Saskatoon next week, and Winnipeg in April, maybe that’ll help. In the meantime, if you’re in this area, I’m going to invite you to check out McNally Robinson, Canada’s biggest independent bookstore. It’s actually the best.

Calgary, AB563267_10152558059625693_1729776396_n


Winnipeg, Manitoba


5. The West

And we’ve reached the other end of Canada! I am lucky to call this place home at the moment, but I don’t see myself living here forever. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy – and invite you to enjoy – the immense beauty of this place. Go see the mountains – walk, bike, or fly across. Spend time outside, by the ocean. Go into the forest, see the giant trees. And Vancouver really is a beautiful, beautiful city.

Gibsons, BC


Vancouver, BC305024_10152077999235693_755427681_n

I want to thank Vanessa for inviting me to take this journey across Canada! Every time I think about everywhere I’ve been, I think about how lucky I am that I’ve gotten to see all of these places. You should to, when you get the chance!

At this point, there is no one for me to tag, but I am hoping that my buddy Christie will take up the subject on her blog – she’s from the Prairies, and I’d love to hear about the part of Canada that I know the least. I also want you guys to check out this guy. If these pictures don’t make you want to go to Canada, or take up hiking, or photography, nothing ever will!


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Kendra – One Woman’s Quest for Everyday Adventures

We’ve almost reached the end of our HERstory blog posts! Today’s post is written by Kendra. Kendra was my supervisor when I worked with Katimavik, and it’s really difficult to describe her, but I’m going to try. Everyone who meets her loves her instantly. She’s got an amazing amount of positive energy. She always tries to see the best in every situation. I’m sure that things make her angry, but I’ve never seen that side of her. Whenever I face a challenging situation, or I’m mad, or upset, my first instinct is to think “What would Kendra do? How would she react?” And I try to channel Kendra’s positivity into my reactions.

1.    If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?

One Woman’s Quest for Everyday Adventures

2.    Where are you from? How has where you’re from shaped your life?

I am from Hampton, New Brunswick- the home of John Peters Humphrey, one of the principal drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  I grew up with teachers who valued this human rights heritage.  These teachers introduced us, their students, to concepts of oppression, diversity, and marginalisation.  They taught us to be both passionate and compassionate and they encouraged us to engage in our communities.  Today, I facilitate youth leadership programs that encourage community participation and learning through service.

3.    Where do you live? How has where you live shaped your life?

I live in Charlottetown, PEI.  This is a province full of individuals who, like my grandfather who lived here all his life, appreciate every little thing.  They see blessings in everyday occurrences.  This is the kind of person I want to be. This is the kind of life I want to live.

4.    What is your greatest achievement?

This summer I hiked for one month in Vermont.  This was not the ideal hike for a person that didn’t do any training and who was not physically ready.  I was completely unprepared.  But I did it.  And I kept doing it.  My body hated me for a while, but it came around in the end. This was my greatest achievement to date. To make a commitment that I knew would really hurt. And it did. And it was the best thing I could have done for myself at the time.

5.    What is your greatest regret? Or what is your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is that I will not learn to lean on others. I worry that I will become too independent.  I worry that I will not ask for help. I worry that I will think that I do not need help.  I worry that this will prevent me from having real, rich, reciprocal relationships with others.

6.    What would you tell a young girl who is struggling with something like her identity, bullying, not fitting in, etc.?

Many people do not know who they are or what their passion could possibly be. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find answers to these questions, just keep moving forward. Find something that appeals to you and do it.  Do it unashamedly.  In participating in something that interests you, you will build the person you want to be and you will attract the kind of people you want as part of your community.

7.    What’s next?

What’s next, you ask? Well, these days, I am focusing on short term planning only.  I think that we need to do that sometimes.  We need to think in terms of five days and maybe five weeks, but not five months or five years.  We need to take a break from long-term plans.

So, for me, the next five days will bring a trip to my local butcher, a snowshoeing adventure with a friend, and a hot chocolate at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday.  Doing these little everyday things and appreciating them for what they are and what they bring to my life makes me feel rich.  Very rich indeed.

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I wanted to tell a story

This week, I was invited to be a guest blogger for a blogging carnival run by a canadian organization called kickaction.ca. Kickaction is an online community of young women acting for social change across Canada.

There were three themes to choose from, and I decided to go with HERstory. Check out their website to read everyone else’s contributions over the next three weeks. Below is my original text, and in the coming days, I will be posting more of these directly on here.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

I wanted to tell a story, HER story to be exact. I spent some time thinking about who would make a good storyteller, which woman would want to share her life with us. It wasn’t long before I realized we all have a story, so I decided to make this a Canadian HERstory. During my cross-country meanderings, I asked women from British Columbia to Newfoundland to answer a series of questions.

The whole purpose of this post is to show that we all have deep and varied histories, but we all have similar struggles and dreams. The original plan was to come up with a blog post that synthesized all of their stories into one, a Canadian HERstory of sorts. It turns out that ultimately, these stories are too rich, these experiences too varied, and these ladies too insightful, to be reduced to one tale. I’ve decided to merge the answers into one voice for the purpose of this blog post, and it broke my heart to have to shorten these answers – these women are genius. Make sure to check out my own blog in the coming days, as I will be posting each woman’s individual HERstory at WHERESALEX.WORDPRESS.COM

1. Where are you from, and how has it shaped your life?

Newfoundland. Ontario. Somalia. Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Northern France. Saskatchewan. Québec. New Brunswick. Prince Edward Island. British Columbia. Not really “from” anywhere.

How can where you’re from not shape your life?! You are the sum of your experiences. And experiences depend a lot on where you live.

At the age of 19, I left all I knew and moved to Québec to learn French and start MY life. I became independent at an early age. I have always felt a little ‘different’. This has helped me stay strong during tough times.

The places my parents and I come from shaped my life in many ways. To be honest, I struggle with the Canadian identity.

I grew up in an isolated French community where people had to fight not only for survival but also for services. Transpires in everything that I do and am. I’m a fighter.

I was born in Northern France, in a city where unemployment, immigration and alcoholism are sky rocketing, and it gave me only one goal in life, get out of it… And I did!

I am from a province full of individuals who appreciate every little thing.  They see blessings in everyday occurrences.  This is the kind of person I want to be. This is the kind of life I want to live.

2.     What is your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement to date is remaining positive and curious about life despite the hardships I have encountered.

Graduating university. I really didn’t think I was gonna make it through.

Great is living your life to the best of your abilities and, in the process, not ever willfully doing something to hurt another person. Humans aren’t perfect and spending a life trying to achieve perfection is futile. Just do the best you can and be honest with others and yourself.

My children! (Interesting – every responder who has kids has named their kids as their greatest achievement)

Being able to get away from really toxic family history and making a better life for myself.

I’m 28! Give me a break! I’m only starting to figure out life… And you’re asking me what my greatest achievement is? I don’t like this question! Living in itself is an achievement. Putting one foot in front of the other. Not giving up. Fighting. Being out there. Trying to figure out what to do with one’s life. I guess that’s what I’ve achieved so far!

The fact that I’ve been married to my husband for over 31 years.

This summer I hiked for one month in Vermont. I was completely unprepared.  But I did it.  And I kept doing it.

3.     What is your greatest regret?

My greatest regret is forgetting to put myself first.

That I started smoking cigarettes when I was 16 and have struggled with quitting, so far unsuccessful after many attempts, for most of my life.

I no longer believe in mistakes. Everyone takes a different route to get to their ultimate destination.

I’m learning now that one of the hardest things anyone can ever face is making the decision to try harder or walk away.

Although I try my hardest to live without regret, I definitely give myself a mental kick in the pants every once and a while for not spending more quality time with my father. I imagine almost every person who loses a parent feels that way.

Greatest regret? I have no regrets. There are some things that I’d probably do differently if I’d known then what I know now, of course. Regrets are negative energy that pull you back. What many people carry as regrets, I try to learn from and move forward.

4.     What would you tell a young girl who is struggling with something like her identity, bullying, not fitting in, etc.?

Believe in yourself. That is the starting point. This is the best advice I can give. It’s not always easy, but if you can get up in the morning, say these words and believe them, all will be okay. Don’t let others put you down or make you feel worthless because they are wrong.

Be what you want to be, and go where you want to go. If doing so means certain people will stop caring about you, good! You’ll find real friends along the way, trust me.

Be strong. I know that it’s not easy, but so many beautiful things are in your future. Find someone you trust, and talk to them. It’ll take time for you to find who you are, be patient and gentle with yourself. You have more to offer than you will ever know.

My mother said it to me, and I will say it to you now that I am 60: do not waste your precious, vital, young energy worrying about how you look! Adjusting your unique look, personality, interests to fit in with how others think you should be, just makes you an anonymous sheep in the flock. Stay true to yourself. The world needs those individuals who know who they are and appreciate their unique individuality.

I wish I could give kids a handbook on how to survive bullying, but you really can’t survive it without others’ help. My only advice to everyone who faces bullying is to stand your ground. It is hard and it might feel like a mountain, but please, be strong. It was never your fault, and don’t feel like you brought this on yourself. You exist outside of a small classroom; so don’t feel like it is the end of your journey. The journey has just begun.

Boy, do we all want to fit it. We all want to be normal. Skinny. Beautiful. Smart. Lovable. Perfect. Truth is, we’re all flawed. Because we’re all human. With time, you learn to choose where you want to fit in. What you are willing to compromise to fit in. You choose your friends more wisely. And you slowly learn to accept that you can’t please everyone.

You’re beautiful just the way you are. Surround yourself with nice people and positive people that see the real you.

Find an activity where it’s hard to lie to yourself, where you feel so much like yourself, you can’t pretend to be anyone else. If you need to know who you are, if you need to figure out where you are going, if you need to make a decision or come to terms with something, put yourself in your own “lie-less” situation and there is no other option than to let the truth come to the surface.

I know it probably seems unbearable right now, and that it will take forever, but it will pass. Growing older is the best thing that happens to mankind.

Many people do not know who they are or what their passion could possibly be. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find answers to these questions, just keep moving forward. Find something that appeals to you and do it.  Do it unashamedly.

You are beautiful and perfect. Try to be brave and don’t let other people make you feel bad about yourself. Things will get better, they did for me. Make the best choices you can, based on what you know and feel and try not to regret those choices in the future.

With the risk of sounding cliche/like your mother, it really does get better.

You already are a person, important and unique. Be who you are, truly, and you will become an amazing woman. Respect who others are also, and do not judge. DO NOT tolerate injustice done to you or to others. Speak up for others.