Time to start my next adventure, after 40 hours in Dryden it was back to the Winnipeg Airport. What would YWG be without a #BearShot with my brother from another mother!
I am honoured to be one of 4 CIC Air officer selected to travel internationally this summer as part of the International Air Cadet Exchange. I will be travelling to the United Kingdom with 23 of Canada’s finest young people.
To start our exchange the selected cadets from sea to sea to sea who have been selected to travel to the US, Belgium, Netherlands, France and the U.K. gather in Ottawa for a visit of the capital region.
Not only does it acclimitize the cadets and gives them a chance to come together, it also reminds them of what it means to be Canadian. In our 2.5 days to tour the capital they squeezed in a lot of activities to get us ready for the rigorous days we’ll experience on the exchange.
On top of briefings and meetings, laundry and packing some of the highlights of our tour in Ottawa include a Visit of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum , Haunted walk of Ottawa (Ghosts and the Gallows Tour), The Northern Lights on Parliament Hill, Changing of the Guard, Visit of the Canadian War Museum (CWM), Supreme Court of Canada and Parliament, Imax Film: LIVING IN THE AGE OF AIRPLANES, Visit of Laurier House, and Visit of The Diefenbunker.
Canada Aviation and Space Museum
This was a great starting place for air cadets. Our guide took us through the history of flight from the silver dart to WW1, bush pilots, WW2, the Cold War and beyond. I think as Canadians we forget our involvement as a leader in the aviation industry from it’s start right through to the space race and our current contributions to all forms of flight.
Haunted walk of Ottawa (Ghosts and the Gallows Tour)
I’ve done a few ghost walks; Venice, Edinbourgh, a Jack the Ripper Walk in London. This walk started out just as great as any other. A story about our long history, a story about the assaination of one of our MPs and continued to revisit this story as we went along. A great experience.
The Northern Lights on Parliament Hill
A light show like no other that transforms an iconic building for all Canadians into a great psychedelic history lesson! Before it started The flag blowing on top of the Peace Tower was standing out straight, and was illuminated, and it was a great moment of pride to see so many people gathering under it. The show was phenomenal and gave us a lot to think about focusing on Five books that tell the history of our country. The show ended with O Canada, and slowly people 1by1 started to stand and started to sing. By the end all 7000 people who were in attendance were standing and singing. I think this was an awesome experience for the cadets, and reminded them of what it means to be proud, what it means to be Canadian.
Changing of the Guard
Great to see some amazing drill. The cadets had front row seats on Parlinent Hill and again this gave them something to be proud of, we also get to see a changing of the guard in the UK so it’ll be interesting to compare and contrast.
It is remarkable to see these young men and women in their ceremonial uniforms regardless of the heat and weather, performing this ceremony every day of the summer.
Visit of the Canadian War Museum
I don’t know what to say. Well there are two things I often think about war;
1). War is ugly
2). I am really annoyed with how war is ‘glamorized’ and ‘glorified’ for many young people, because war is ugly.
Don’t get me wrong I am extremely proud of our military, and it’s long outstanding history, and I am extremely humbled by the sacrifices made for my life.
The first gallery I went into had a lot of colourful cartoon comics depicting stories of various war hero’s. This played into the glamour and glory. Kids play all sort of war games, we are desensitized to how serious and ugly was truly is and I felt these comics helped add to that type of mentality, don’t get me wrong, we shouldn’t be scaring kids either but I think there are better ways to teach our children about the travesties of war.
The rest of the galleries were really well done and told Canada’s story of war from the Pre-European contact through to current deployments and engagements. Through all of this I was reminded of the ugliness of war. With only two hours to visit there was not time to read, watch and listen to everything on display, but I definitely got the sense of the exhibits. By the start of WWII I was pretty numb, both mentally and physically, by the end I definitely was numb.
As much as we have a proud history, we also have a few smears that should make us equally ashamed. Just one of these stories I’d like to highlight is during the Japanese Internment of WW2; Mr. Masumi Mitsui was a decorated WW1 hero who received a medal of bravery fighting for his country; Canada. However, during WW2 he along with all Japanese living on the west coast were treated as threats, and he and the rest of Japanese Canadians were treated worse than any criminal during the later half of the war.
Feeling numb and emotionally exhausted, but also proud and humbled with shame, I could help but remember that War is ugly. It’ll be interesting to see how this will be depicted in the UK.
Supreme Court of Canada
This was such a fun experience. The cadets were first taken into the Federal Court of Appeals where we learnt about the judicial system in Canada and it’s importance. We then had a mock trial where the cadets acted as judge, jury, prosecution, defence, accused and victim. It was a lot of fun. We moved into the Judges Gallery for a stronger history of the Judges who sit on the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court itself. The architecture of the building and it’s interior are as remarkable as the truth and justice statures that flank the outside of the building.
Our tour of Parlinent Hill was unfortunately cut short due to our wait for security and the back log of tours. None the less it was an honour to be in the foundation of our country, the building where prime ministers, their parties, and the rest of the members of parliment sit and have for so many years discussing and developing, reading and passing the bills that have formed the laws that make this such a great country to call home.
Our tour included the House of Commons, the Library of Parliment, and the Senate amongst other areas.
A highlight included getting to see and pass under this stain glassed window a gift to her majesty on Her Diamond Jubilee.
Imax Film: LIVING IN THE AGE OF AIRPLANES
A great film for these soon to be world travelers. I am fortunate to travel so much and to fly so often. I try to be gracious to all those I encounter when travelling, especially in airports. It is truly remarkable that we can fly, that within hours we can be half way across the world, and I always try to remember how fortunate we are, the science and brilliance behind flight, and the wonder and awe that it actually works. This film helped demonstrate some of that to these cadets.
It is hard to fathom life without planes, not just for travel, but also the goods they move and other services that they provide. It is hard to believe that 107 years ago was when we had our first powered flight in Canada, and now we fly so much that we take it for granted and often become annoyed or angry with inconveniences we encounter along the way.
Knowing this, it doesn’t matter where I go, or how much I travel, I am always just as excited and gracious to come home; even if just for a short time. The world is a wonderful place full of history, intrigue and mystery and as much as travel will continue to increase it is important to remember that “there is no place like home”!
Visit of Laurier House
I didn’t know what to expect from this but it was awesome! Laurier House was the home of Sir Wilfred Laurier and William Lyon Mackenzie King; two Prime Ministers. It was interesting to hear stories of these two. Laurier, was not well off but had some very well off supporters. King had grandiose ideas and had renovated the house into the opulent abode it is today. Many thing original from his day. It sounds like King was a very wise but eccentric person; wood work with Ontario White Pine sent to Scotland to be carved and stained before returning to Canada to be installed, his crystal ball on his mother’s piano, and his dark room where he held his seances. During war time he decided it was best to work from home, he was the first Prime Minister to have security details, he developed old age pension, employment insurance and welfare systems that have been changed very much since his time.
I think that is really what this portion of the exchange is about, giving us time to learn and confirm or Canadian identity.
Visit of The Diefenbunker
From the wise but eccentric King to Diefenbaker and the bunker he built to help protect Canada’s sovereignty and government in the event of a nuclear attack during the Cold War. This is a well preserved museum that allows you to experience a nuclear bunker. Instead of the threat of war it more focused on the novelty and ingenuity of the structure. It was a fun visit for our last tour in the capital.
I spent a decent amount of time in the Provincial Bunker in CFB Shilo in 1997 so for me it was a little reminiscent but also allowed me to compare/contrast a federal bunker vs the provincial bunker, and allowed me to see the areas I couldn’t see while staying in the Shilo bunker as I lacked the need and classification clearance to gain me access to those areas.
All in all a fun tour. But it is funny how tired the cadets are considering we haven’t even started our international travel and exchange.
Anyone who knows me well knows I like to have fun and take some selfies; Although most of this kind of thing I like to share on snapchat, here are a few more.
It has been an awesome time in the Capital, we have come together as a group and I am looking forward to continuing to explore our history as Canadians as we move back to our Mother Country, the U.K. as well as continuing to an instil a love for travel.
I am not sure how much I’ll get to send updates while across the pond, but know that I’ll try my best and if not will when I get back.
Wish us luck and bon voyage!