Roch Voisine

Canada Day 2012 on Parliament Hill

Incredibly, every two or three persons was determined to move in a different direction! Every one of us was trapped. Newspaper articles usually expound on the aftermath of this type of disaster but never in all my adventures had I come close to this experience.

As pressure increased behind us, I pressed into Greg unable to hold my ground.  Quickly, at his suggestion, we switched places. I was sheltered between him and Lee.

Party Canada 2012!

July 1st we happened to be in Ottawa. Happy Canada Day! So what to do, but join the crowds on Parliament Hill for entertainment and fireworks with my two grown sons, Lee and Greg. Lee was our tour guide leading the way to join tens of thousands at Canada’s 145th birthday bash.

Closer to the entertainment than we’d anticipated, we stayed rooted in one spot on the hill for three hours… swaying, clapping and cheering to eclectic music, a brilliant Canadian representation.

  • Jully Black
  • Michael Beauclerc (Ontario)
  • Simple Plan
  • Roch Voisine (New Brunswick)
  • Marie-Mai (Quebec)
  • Donny Parenteau (Saskatchewan)
  • Feist (Alberta, Juno Awards)

I especially enjoyed Marie’s powerful voice and Donny’s music, and he making an effort to speak French. Some guy (the MC?) had us repeating “I am Canadian” in French and English.

How fun it was to observe the people near me respond. A couple of Chinese gals right in front of me laughing self-consciously, but spunky, awkwardly repeated “Je suis Canadien!” I don’t have any idea how other Canada Days have been celebrated at Parliament’s front door, but this night I was tickled pink and delighted in the distinctly Canadian ambience.

Dark descended and the program closed with our national anthem. At “O Canada”, I was surprised to feel the Spirit of the Lord warm my bosom and tears flooded my eyes. I’m not usually a passionate patriot.

My heart swelled with gratitude for this sweet reminder of the glorious gift that is ours. Our magnificent country. Our legacy. Our home. Canada.

Jeopardy at the Capitol

Twenty minutes of fireworks followed-lovely. As we turned to leave, abruptly we were smothered. Something like 40 humans had filled our space, where previously there had been room for 6-8 people at most.

Two bodies squeezed in between us within a matter of seconds. Quickly, I grabbed Greg’s shirt to keep from being separated as we strove to keep pace behind Lee. At the exit, a police officer exhorted us all to go straight down the road ahead with the promise that we would be out in no time.

How too bad that no one had informed those folks occupying the streets that we were expected to travel in one direction. In the middle of the intersection, thousands of bodies jammed together and there was absolutely no budging forward.

Some people had had a long day in the summer heat. Some had strollers with infants. Some had bicycles. Some folks had added the effects of alcohol to their celebrations. We stood there looking into each other’s faces and listening to various comments. All the while the crowd behind us pushed more insistently.

We became acutely aware of the potential for instant disaster. There were rapidly increasing feelings of stress, panic, frustration and fear. And still no escape.

The struggle within me to remain calm threatened to explode. I lacked adequate air. My brain was screaming, “Let me out! Now!”

I have no doubt that every other person was feeling the same way. Eventually, our elbows winging out we proceeded to jostle and push forward rather rudely. The slight relief of a breeze-a bit of fresh air- offered a little hope and we sensed the clearing was inching closer. I like to think I would patiently put others ahead of myself- always. Sadly, this was not the case. It was every man/woman for himself-including me.

Run for Your Life

Abruptly, we were free. We did not even look back. I wish we would have. I wish I would have had the presence of mind to take a picture. But we rushed away hurrying to leave the anxiety and danger behind.

Lee strode faster than I’d ever witnessed and Greg grabbed my hand, and pulled me along as we ran to keep up. We estimated that we had been trapped in the street intersection over half an hour.

Even now, our ordeal was not over. At the bus stop, thousands were also lined up, in a hurry to leave the heart of the city. No… NOT lined up! Again jostling, pushing, butting every which way we could, to grab the first available bus.

Waiting at the edge of the curb, when our bus finally pulled in, the open doors appeared-right in front of us. Before we even took a step forward, bodies weaseled in 10-20 at a time, from both sides of us. As Lee charged forward I hurried to follow and tripped on the high step. Oh, brother! Just as quickly, behind me, protectively Greg swung his arms open wide, karate style, to stay the human flood.

I thought he said, “Give her a second”. Later he explained that someone else said that. No matter. There was space around me. I grabbed the railing and hoisted myself up, and as Greg bounced in behind me, the crowd immediately filled the void.

The end of the celebration was a whole hour ago and only a block away. Can you imagine our feelings as we finally relaxed on a wild bus ride towards home?

I marvel that we had been bound in that potentially volatile situation and escaped disaster. No one was trampled to death after all.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

After Thoughts

The sweetest aspect of this experience for me was the realization that my sons are very protective of me. That is a new awareness for me.

Always, that protective instinct had been my role in my children’s lives. I used to be the one to grab their hands to help them to safety. Across a busy road. Escaping a hooded cobra. Dangerous dogs. Shelter from the storms. Crowded fairgrounds. On the edge of cliffs. Hanging over waterfalls. At ship railings.

How very like Heavenly Father we are molded. In His image. He too is protective of each one of us. He too desires our safety, our peace, and our joy and happiness. And  He offers His guidance and His hand of protection by the power of His Holy Spirit.

“For I am with you to rescue and save you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 15:20