Country Cankerworm to Big City Butterfly: My Transformation Story

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The two photos on the left were taken of me in the late summer and fall of 2016, just months before I moved to U.K. The photos to the right were taken in the first half of 2018, during my second year of living in London.

About one and a half years apart, these two sets of photos are light years different. I’m sure you can see the physical differences, but let me explain a bit more about why I feel the woman in the left-hand photos is almost a completely different person to the woman in the right-hand photos.

In 2016 when the first two photos were taken, I was so, so lost. I think I hid it well because I did have the joy of friendships in my life, but if you could see my vibrations at the time, they would have been slow, sad, and grey. I felt left behind, limited, and unworthy of basically anything other than dreariness. I don’t know how or where this came from, other than my heart was off from the path I was supposed to be on.

It felt like a year of letdowns. My uncle, who I felt was a symbol of unconditional and limitless love, died and I was left alone in the dark when this happened. My post-secondary education was complete and I needed to adjust to life in a post-grad world where I didn’t have school friends at the ready. My parents split up in a way that made me feel like I was also a part of this separation, and with all this combined, I felt like there was no facet in life in which I could succeed.

I was immensely unhappy, isolated, and rejected. I had daydreams of moving far, far away and living life in a foreign country where everything was different, bizarre, and new. These thoughts were my wildest dreams, but eventually I gave into them. Somehow I plucked up enough courage to believe in myself and allow myself to start this new journey.

Even then, it was rocky. I would lie awake at night crying, praying my visa application would be accepted and everything would work out. The day I received approval from the British government isn’t the most important day of my life — that would be the day I packed my bags and left — and it wasn’t really even the beginning of this journey, but it was a sign and a push from the Universe that everything would be okay.

Over the past year and half, I’ve learned to trust the Universe and myself, and to stick to my guns. I’ve learned that good things happen as soon as I decide they will. I’ve learned to trust myself and that my heart is my strongest companion. BUT, I’ve also learned it’s okay to trust people, even though it can be a risk.

See, the thing about me that people don’t often understand is that I am more introverted than I seem. YES, I love meeting new people, I love hearing their stories, and I love making connections, BUT I also feel overwhelmed at parties, I feel washed out spending time in groups, I crave solid alone time, I function best when travelling solo, and I sometimes feel uncomfortable when people show me affection, whether they’re taking consideration of my time or trying to give me a hug when I’m crying. Taking this big journey and moving halfway across the world has helped me to understand these qualities in myself and to realize that even though I’m a friendly person, that doesn’t mean I have to be “on” all the time or giving my energy to people who feed off of it. It’s okay that I need to be quiet or solitary, but at the same time, I don’t need to adopt a life of isolation in order to feel strong, as that’s another tendency I have.

When I feel alone, I become spiteful and take on a very “fuck you” attitude. I become resentful and jealous of people who are surrounded by love and friendship and almost feel the need to prove that I’m strong enough to endure without any support or help.

But that’s not the point of life, is it? We’re not supposed to merely endure. We’re supposed to heal, grow, learn, and love. Since I left home, that’s what I’ve been doing. It’s not always easy, but (almost) everyday I’m taking little steps to break past my conceived limits.

The biggest limit I’ve broken free from is the idea of small towns. Because of some experiences I had as a child, I’ve always felt it was necessary to limit myself to rural communities. I think there is a special type of camaraderie and closeness in small towns, however I took this feeling to the extreme and told myself that I needed the comfort of a tight community because I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, or tough enough to live in an urban area. As a result, I wore resentment on my sleeve at the idea of being a city kid.

I will always love cattle and talking about corn crops, but since I moved to London (population eight million) I’ve learned that’s not the only side of my personality. I have lived in small towns before, but that doesn’t mean I am small. This realization and the non-judgemental vibe of London have freed me so indescribably.

Today I stand before you a confident and spirited young woman, as evidenced by the right-hand photos above. I’m wacky, silly, crazy, and rather odd, but in a way that is the most “me” I’ve ever been. I put time, effort, and thought into my clothing, using fashion to express myself through ice cream cone sundresses and sparkly Doc Martens. I take on hobbies that are good for my heart. I surround myself with people I genuinely want in my life rather than who’s convenient or available. I speak my mind (well, I’ve never really had a problem with that) and I don’t feel guilty about issues that are not my own.

I’m still working toward the woman I want to be and I’m still raising my vibrations and my hopes, but I’m so happy to be where I am today.

So to all the sad, lost, and self-deprecating souls out there: you’re not alone. There is soooo much love out there in the Universe for you, and no matter who you are or who you have been, you deserve that love fully and completely. Whatever your wildest dreams are, they will come true if you just believe in them. And if you ever need a sign from the Universe, well just give me a call, and we’ll do an angel card reading and hit you with some divine realness.



Pain, love, and hospital hallways


(L-R) My dad, my Uncle Pinky, and my Uncle Robbie together at Christmas in 2014.

Holidays in our house were usually marked by unusual things. One Thanksgiving my mom stepped in a pumpkin pie. (But we ate it anyway — there was a tea towel overtop.)

One Halloween when we lived in Saskatchewan, we drove to all the way to Manitoba to go trick-or-treating because that’s where the rest of our family was.

And I remember an Easter when I was about eight years old, my Uncle Robbie was allowed to stay over and he stayed up the whole night giggling and peeing his pants.

Robbie would’ve been about 46 at the time.


As I made my way up to the fifth floor of the Victoria Hospital, my dad and I smiled at each other and joked about some of the notices posted on the elevator walls.

I was glad he was smiling because it kept me from crying. I hate crying and my dad is the last person I want to witness it.

I’ve never disliked a hospital before, but this one did not feel nice — then again, I’ve only been to a few. The ceilings were low and almost made me feel claustrophobic. The whole place felt dirty, even though I knew — and could smell­ — it was sanitary.

It felt so sad.

When I walked into Robbie’s room, my heart sank even further to see the tubes fixed to his face. He cried out when he saw my dad walk up from behind the curtain next to his bed. He reached out and took my dad’s hand.

My dad said hello and talked to Robbie for a second before taking off his jacket and putting it on the end of the bed.

Robbie made some more shrieks and gurgles.

“I’m just putting my jacket down here, is that okay?” Dad said.

“Yeah,” Robbie said with a nod.

Dad pulled a chair over and sat down next to the bed. Robbie grabbed his hand again and held it for a bit, but he fidgeted so much that his grip didn’t last long.

Dad’s brow furrowed as he examined the feeding tube attached to Robbie’s nose and we listened to the gurgling sound in silence each time he breathed. Then Robbie started telling some type of story, and my dad relaxed and smiled, asking him more questions. I noticed a few hairs sticking up from dad’s head, not in an unkempt way, but like he’d been outside playing in the wind for too long.

I’ve never seen my dad go so quickly from looking like an old man to a little boy. I’ve also never seen Robbie that chatty, other than the time he wet the bed at Easter.

But when I say chatty, I should clarify: I’ve never really been able to understand what Robbie says because he doesn’t fully know how to talk.

Robbie was born a healthy baby boy, but as a toddler, he got really sick. My dad’s not sure, but I think he once said it was meningitis and scarlet fever back to back.

I don’t know what Robbie’s handicap is, other than he has brain damage. Since I’ve known him, Robbie hasn’t walked or talked properly. He lives in a wheelchair and drools a lot and eats with a special spoon that my dad welded.

My dad said as a kid, Robbie used to walk to the bus and run as best he could with the other children, and it wasn’t until his late 20s when episodes of seizures put him in a wheelchair permanently.


Robbie tells us a story as he lies in his hospital bed, January 2015.

But there in the Victoria Hospital, his wheelchair wasn’t around.

Robbie lay in his hospital bed, hair slicked in the direction he’d been sleeping and hands folded on his stomach while his eyes darted around like a goldfish.

I asked Robbie where his tools were. We all laughed together, but I don’t know if he understood. I think he was mostly laughing because my dad and I were. Like his brothers, he loves to have tools and gadgets. Old cell phones and tape measures, I think, are his favourite. He also loves trains and Cheezies and eating in general.

I guess his love of food is the reason he’s in the hospital.

Robbie eats with, shall we say, spirit. By that I mean, he wolfs down his food as fast as humanly possible — a true trait of any MacLean. We often say that MacLeans “inhale” their food, and for Robbie this is true. He eats so quickly that he’s actually gotten food into his lungs. About a year ago, the nurses at his home in St. Amant looked into giving him a feeding tube to prevent anymore food from blocking his ability to breathe.

My dad talked to me about this at the time.

“It’s about quality of life,” he said. “Eating is one of the few things he really enjoys, and if you take that away from him…”

He and my Uncle Pinky wrote a letter to Robbie’s doctors saying they didn’t want him to have a feeding tube, they wanted Robbie to enjoy the years he had left.

We all knew this decision would shorten Robbie’s life span, but I didn’t know it could be shortened so quickly.

Robbie’s been in the hospital for a couple of weeks now because of pneumonia. He also had a lung collapse.

I knew this was coming. I thought I could understand it, but there’s no choice when it comes to quality of life anymore. Robbie has to have surgery for a permanent feeding tube.

He’s starting to get better. I thought this was great news, until my dad sent me a photo about a week and a half ago.

There were breathing tubes and feeding tubes and bandages, and Robbie’s face was swollen and unhappy — and this was already when he was doing better. I spent the entire night crying as quietly as I could because I didn’t want my roommate to hear me.

How would you explain to Robbie what’s going on? When he reaches up to pull out the tubes, how do you explain that his life literally depends on them? How do you tell him he’ll never be able to taste Cheezies again? How do you tell him he won’t need that special spoon or plate guard? How do you tell him that soon he’ll be home, safe and sound, but that his meals will be pumped directly into his stomach?

You don’t. You just tell him another joke and hope he laughs. Hope he rolls his head back and exposes his badly decaying teeth and cries out in laughter.

Robbie has the best laugh in the world. That’s what I love most about him.

For days I’ve been walking around, internally reminding myself he’d never saved anybody’s life or changed the world or contributed as a taxpayer in society — fabricated thoughts I’d fed myself in an attempt to numb the emotion and cut off the sadness. But they weren’t strong enough lies to anesthetize my heart, only enough to sedate my sorrow, because when I think of his laughter, it reminds me that he did contribute to society and he changed my world.

From the outside, he looks like a slouching, drooling old man. But he’s gentle and kind, and to me, he’s a reminder that people who are different need love and give love as much as anyone else. His laugh reminds me to be happy. It reminds me there are good, uncorrupted things in this world, and sometimes you need to forget about your stresses in order to remember that.

And the look on his face when my dad walked into that hospital room reminds me he gets lonely, too. He’s not just another patient in another ward in some group home. He loves his brothers, family, and friends the same way any “normal” person would.

And for that matter, he is normal. So he can’t go to the bathroom on his own or make his own meals — that’s how he is. For him, it’s normal to speak in gibberish and slowly kick his wheelchair toward the snack table where he’ll probably stick his fingers in all the appetizers.

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, healthy or handicapped, young or old — we’re all people, and nothing makes us superior to our peers, other than how we treat each other.

Maybe Robbie won’t be around for many more Easters or Thanksgivings or Christmases and we’ll miss the sound of his laughter at family gatherings, but I think the greatest thing of which Robbie will always remind me — whether that’s in memory or reality — is that no matter what time of year or life, everyone needs love.

So please excuse me as I sneak off to other rooms so no one sees me tear up. Forgive me if maybe I don’t want to talk as much as usual. Walking through the halls of the hospital away from his room, seeing all the other patients in wheelchairs who rolled themselves out to the doorway just to see anyone who passes by, reminds me that like Robbie, they don’t want to be here, either. They want to be home. Or they want to see the people who care about them — they want love. We all want love, and we all need to give it.

What’s wrong with country music? This.

I was watching the video for Brett Eldredge’s Don’t Ya when I distinctly remember feeling disgust. I was watching some skinny, brown-haired, cut-off jean-wearing generic girl strut around in her cowboy boots while Eldredge tried to pick her up at a party.

Okay, like I’ve seen this 4,523,684 times before. Why I am watching this and how is this different than any other Luke Bryan/Jason Aldean/Justin Moore/Thomas Rhett song?

It’s not. Welcome to bro country.

As a country music fan, I hear people criticize the genre all the time and say it’s all the same. The thing about country music is it’s a lifestyle. So yeah, all the songs may be about mudding and drinking and hunting and being a redneck, but the reason people love it is because they live it.

That being said, I don’t know many girls who “shakes her money maker like her college major was twisting and tearing up Friday nights.” And you’re right, your truck would look a helluva lot better with me up in it, but I’d rather drive my own, thanks.

From Taste of Country’s top 40 rankings for January, there are only three female solo artists, while there are 30 male solo artists. This week on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, out of the 25 spots, there is one female solo artist. And right now on iTunes, there are no female solo artists in the top 10 country songs.

This is where Maddie and Tae’s girl in a country song comes into play (literally, because I can’t stop playing it). Their song has dropped a bit in the charts now, but it’s certified gold and reached number one on Billboard’s US Country Airplay chart in December.

From the first time my sister showed me the video, I identified with it. I can’t express how much I am sick of the typical girl in every country song—how sick I am of bro country. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still love mudding and stuff, but it’s sad that country music in the 21st century has evolved into bro country. It’s really been the devolution of creativity and originality. Like, hey boys! Want to be a top 40 country artist? Okay: trucks, beer, pick-up line, and the perfect, easiest girl ever. Got it? You’re certified gold.

Maddie and Tae address this in their song—perfectly and rightly so. And in today’s world of country music, we don’t have the Shanias or Jo-Dees or Faiths or Trishas or Martinas that we used to. Nowadays, unless you’re a die-hard country fan (like myself), there’s only Carrie and Miranda, and possibly Kacey, depending on how hip you are.

This probably wasn’t an intentional move by male artists, but it’s like bro country has taken away the female voice and shut her up with a shot gun seat and a pair of cut-off jeans.

I was reading an article on the Chicago Tribune’s website in which they interviewed Brian Kelley of Florida Georgia Line. The article (which is now conveniently gone) was pretty stupid because it said that Maddie and Tae’s song was obviously written about Florida Georgia Line, but they actually reference about 10 different male artists.

The Trib asked Kelley about Girl in a Country Song, and at first he said he wasn’t really familiar with the tune, but then Kelley said, “All I’m gonna say about that is, I don’t know one girl who doesn’t want to be a girl in a country song. That’s all I’m gonna say to you. That’s it.”

Um, I’m sorry, are you a young woman? Do you know what it feels like to have the image of this perfect girl shoved down your throat? Thanks, bro, for your contribution to society.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love FGL, but it’s naïve and ignorant of anybody to ignore the message behind what Maddie and Tae are saying. I want to assure you country music isn’t dead. Real music still exists, so I’m going to give you a bit of a reading list.

First, I’ve tooted this horn before, but Livy Jeanne. She isn’t so die-hard country, but she’s got sass (plus she’s Canadian). Wrong Side of the Dirt is basically a you-mess-with-me-I’ll-mess-up song, and it’s fantastic.


Numba two: Sunny Sweeney. She’s got some new stuff, but the tune that’s got a place in my heart that I want to share with you is From a Table Away. It’s a song from the perspective of a woman who’s knowingly seeing a married man–but don’t judge. It’s got a good story with a strong female protagonist.


Three: Jess Moskaluke. (Another Canadian!) Cheap Wine and Cigarettes is my personal fave, and you’ve probably heard it on the radio, but Hit and Run and Used are also great.


Fourth of all we have Kira Isabella. Such a sweet girl, and I actually got to interview her about her latest album, including her single Quarterback. This is a must-listen. It’s a song about rape, and while that’s a heavy topic, it’s something that needs to be addressed in mainstream music. It’s not something that should be swept under the rug. Getting back to the voice of female artists, this girl has got message.


Fifthly, a girl who’s crossed over a bit but grew up in Nashville (although she’s technically from South Africa): Nikki Williams. She’s got some song-writing creds on a few tracks you might know, but she also had a song featured on the Country Strong soundtrack. And it is beautiful. I do a horrible cover in my apartment pretty much any day of the week because the song is so pretty.


Honorable mention: I don’t want to lump all male country artists together because I still love them. So real quick, I’m gonna pass some Sam Hunt onto you. I’m not really hip to his style, but his music is great, even though it crosses over a bit. I am in love with Take Your Time and you should be too.


These are only six songs on my playlist, and I don’t want to mislead you—I totally jam out to FGL and Jason and Luke, but I still think my backwoods music shouldn’t be backwards. If you’ve got a favourite female artist, I’d love to know. Let’s promote the ladies, let’s promote our voices!

The end.

“It is all about crime scenes, interviews, and interrogations, played out against a backdrop of flawed humanity.”

This is the second last sentence in the book, penned by Lieutenant Terry McLarney. Though these aren’t Simon’s words, they truly capture this book in one sentence.

It was interesting to see this whole book to come together for the end.

First of all, I loved the little Christmas carol included at the beginning of chapter ten, and the description of the little tree ornaments the detectives made later in the chapter.

Most of all, I loved how Simon wrapped everything up. I think his return to the Latonya Wallace case was much needed. Although, now I no longer wonder who killed Latonya Wallace. I wonder what happened to Tom Pellegrini’s sanity.

Earlier in the book, Simon described him as this hard-working homicide rookie. At one point I remember him saying that Landsman preferred working with Pellegrini than other detectives.

But by the end of the book, Pellegrini is still obsessed with Latonya’s death, which I think is understandable, but he is sacrificing attention to other cases.

Then, Simon goes into detail about Pellegrini during interrogations. Pellegrini focuses on this textbook technique, and that one, and how this method should work. But none of these methods or techniques work—it’s Landsman running on a homicide detective’s instinct to “pull the trigger” that cracks the suspects.

So while I think it was necessary and literarily appropriate to complete the arc of the story with the ambiguous ending that Latonya’s killer was never found, I don’t think the message was about open or cold cases.

To me, the Latonya Wallace storyline spoke more to the regression of a detective. Maybe Pellegrini is doing fine now, but the way things ended in the novel, and the way Simon mentioned in one of his afterwords that Pellegrini went back to the Fish Man shortly before his death, makes me believe the Pellegrini will never get past this case.

I absolutely loved this book. I think David Simon is an excellent writer and perfectly captured each detective—not that I’d know any of them to think otherwise.

This was an interesting piece of journalism that I think would have been quite interesting, even fun, to write. It surprised me to discover he was so young when he wrote the book. It also surprised me that I enjoyed his style of writing so much. It seems like it would be too flowery, but it was the perfect description.

For only the second time in short life, I have thoroughly enjoyed a book I was forced to read for class.

TV versus reality

Every single chapter so far in David Simon’s Homicide has been jam-packed and long. Chapter nine is no exception at all.

I’m almost curious as to how Simon decided to split up his chapters. To me, there seems to be no rhyme or reason. If he’d pulled the chapter markers out completely, the story would essentially be the same.

Chapter nine starts off with the introduction of Andrea Perry, then moves to the courthouse which segues into the end of the Lena Lucas case with Frazier’s trial, then moves back to Tom Pellegrini who is still forging onward in the Latonya Wallace murder, then the chapter travels to Waltemeyer’s newest case, then goes back to Edgerton and Andrea Perry, and then finally goes into detail about the last words of dying men.

That’s a lot of ideas in one chapter. Not to mention the themes that are brought up, including race, prejudice, privacy, the life of a detective—it’s a lot to think about, as is in every chapter the Simon has written thus far.

I’m going to stick with one idea for my response, which has briefly come up in some other posts I’ve written: television.

I’m going to take you to page 522, when Simon is describing how rare and beautiful it would be if Andrea Perry’s murderer could be connected to Latonya Wallace’s death. Then he says, “But, as usual, poetic justice has no place here.”

If anything’s been made clear in this book, it’s that poetic justice doesn’t exist. And no matter how great the Law & Order theme song is, that’s not real.

I appreciate having read this book because I think it’s truly eye opening to see what real crime is like.

I mean, even without the inside knowledge of Homicide, you can tell that shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Blue Bloods are sometimes far-fetched. But it’s sad to see that TV almost ruins real cases, in a sense.

Simon describes the way that juries want hard proof with a smoking gun and eye witnesses and the word of God, himself, to prove a case. But that’s just not the way things are.

“To provide, in real life, the utter certainty about crime and culpability that pervades television is impossible. Nor is it easy to rid a juror of such expectations, although veteran prosecutors never lack for trying,” Simon writes.

Simon also describes how defendants are weeded out during trial and how many of them will not see jail time or end up with reduced charges.

With the idea of juries wanting a TV-verdict compared to the proof of how many defendants don’t get convicted, I feel like it’s hard to miss the correlation there.

It makes me think of journalism and the Internet. Internet demands that news be immediate and constantly up to date, but sometimes this can interfere with accuracy. I recall even CNN making mistakes with stories on Twitter. It’s something that will happen because consumers demand journalism to be immediate and watered-down due to how fast the Internet is.

After reading this chapter, I understand TV gives people the unreal expectation that a trial should be perfect. And after reading about how much time, effort, and sanity the detectives put into making each case, it’s almost frustrating that a jury could let someone off because the evidence wasn’t just so.

Simon describes Doan, the prosecutor, talking to his jury.

“‘This is not television,’ he assures the jury. ‘Unlike TV shows, motive is not an element of the crime of first-degree murder. You don’t know exactly why it happened. It’s something you would like to know, it’s something the person trying the case would like to know, but it’s not necessary to know it to prove the crime.’”

I think it would be interesting to compare the juries of 1985 Baltimore to today. Today there are countless crime and police shows on TV tainting the minds of the public.

And I understand the point that it’s better for a hundred guilty people to go free that have one innocent person serve jail time. I understand the jury needs to be careful, but this book gives an interesting perspective on the justice system. All that hard work goes into a case—all those hours detectives spend not with family, but with dead bodies, bullets, and blood, it’s hard to think that the cases are moot when their killer isn’t convicted.

Oh, the humanity!

Humanity versus sanity.

It’s been the clear conflict throughout David Simon’s Homicide. It’s the struggle between solving cases and not being unnerved with the thought that each victim is a real person with real struggles and a real family.

Sure, the detectives show less empathy for certain cases, but each homicide is still enough for the detectives to joke almost constantly. Picture Garvey and Kincaid dancing around their office about a death that will be a dunker. Picture Landsman shouting out a car window, cracking jokes at a hooker after coming off the scene of a dead yo bleeding out onto the street.

Chapter eight so clearly addressed this with the introduction of the morgue—or Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

It was interesting to me that the morgue is the place that unnerves most detectives—everything there is scientific. The victim becomes a number in the system, presented as evidence. Yet the detectives don’t bat an eye at the emotional crime scene, where a person, who lived shortly ago, still bears traces like clothes and pocket change to show that they were real and didn’t get a second chance.

Perhaps the morgue is affirmation of just that: the body on the table is no longer Maureen or Lynn’s son, it’s an empty cavity scoured for pieces of hope.

Yet the morbidity is juxtaposed with practical jokes and detectives and cutters sharing cigarettes and cracking beers. The morgue is, or I suppose was, almost a social gathering despite the dead bodies.

This is what I mean, though. The detectives have this sick, twisted sense of humour and enjoyment because of their sick, twisted job.

There’s a passage on page 411 that perfectly describes the simplicity and complexity of it.

“It is a philosophy unto itself, a religion worthy of its own rites and rituals. Yea, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we are breathing and laughing and sipping coffee from a Styrofoam cup, while you are stripped bare and emptied of vital pieces. We are wearing blue and brown and arguing with the attendant about last night’s Orioles game, insisting that the Birds can’t win without another RBI man in the lineup. Your clothes are torn and soaked with blood and you are refreshingly free of all opinion. We are contemplating a late breakfast on company time; you are having the contents of your stomach examined.”

Perhaps making jokes about the dead is the only way to remind yourself that you’re not one of them.

But the case of a detective’s humanity extends beyond making light of depressing situations.

Look at Tom Pellegrini. It’s been eight months since Latonya Wallace was murdered, but he won’t let it go. This case stole his heart because she was a little girl: innocent and undeserving of her fate. While he still pours his soul into this case, he’s lost his humanity toward other cases.

He’s become so obsessed with this little girl, whose case will seemingly go unsolved, that he puts almost no attention into other murders that could be solved.

The emotion, or rather emotion that must be guarded, seems so complex. As I was sitting at home reading Homicide this weekend, my dad made the comment that he didn’t understand how cops could handle being surrounded by death the way the homicide unit is.

Truth is, I can’t either. For as many jokes the detectives make, it’s got to wear on them after a while, the way it did with Fahlteich.

It’s a dirty job, and someone’s got to do it, but I don’t understand how.

Remembering through photographs

Today is the most important day of the year: Remembrance Day.

If you don’t wear a uniform, it’s the day you wear your Sunday best to the legion or other Remembrance Day service to show your respect for those who do, or did, wear a uniform. Usually I go to the service in Morden with my family, but now living in Winnipeg, this was the first year I went to a Remembrance Day service without my dad, whose father I think of when I wear my poppy.

Last year, I shared a story about my grandfather, who fought in the Second World War. This year I’m sharing a story through photographs about people I don’t know, but have equal respect for.

This year I went with my sister and some friends to a service in St. James, which started at Bruce Park, and then moved to the Royal Canadian Legion, St. James Branch Number 4, following a march down Portage Avenue.

On the bus from Legion No. 4 to Bruce Park, so people could gather for the march into the service.

These two men are on the bus from St. James Legion No. 4 to Bruce Park where people gathered for the service.

A few faded felt poppies sit on the ledge of the cenotaph at Bruce Park before the service starts.

A few faded felt poppies sit on the ledge of the cenotaph at Bruce Park before the service starts.

Bagpipers march in to start the Remembrance Day service at Bruce Park.

Bagpipers march in to start the Remembrance Day service at Bruce Park.

The colour party raises the flags for Last Post.

The colour party raises the flags for Last Post.

Even the young ones are involved in the service, with the Girl Guides joining the march down Portage Avenue towards the St. James Legion No. 4.

Even the young ones are involved in the service, with the Girl Guides joining the march down Portage Avenue toward the St. James Legion No. 4.

Private Karlie Walsh from Moose Jaw talked to me about why she joined the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Private Karlie Walsh from Moose Jaw talked to me about why she joined the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The ceremony is over for this Nov. 11, but the cenotaph always remains here to represent those who serve or have served our country.

The ceremony is over for this Nov. 11, but the cenotaph always remains here to represent those who serve or have served our country.