Thoughts on the One Year Mark

Wow, how time flies. I can’t believe that about a year ago (Sept. 16, 2011 to be exact) I drove into this province and into Brandon with my dad and my U-haul, parked it up at my friends place on “Bannock Bay” and stayed there until I could move into my new place, way on the other side of town. I was off on a new adventure and I was questioning it the whole time.

I remember in August 2011, when I wrote my closest friends an ESSAY about how I was moving, and how I loved them, and how I couldn’t believe I was leaving them…but that we are all going to go in our separate directions at some point in life, and that I may be back in Ontario at some point – as we sometimes wanted to live the dream of living beside each other, and raising our children together, and making them marry each other.

I wondered what I was doing. I was a little impulsive. Manitoba held my heart since I was 18 years old, ever since coming up to Boissevain to work at a camp that summer. But sometimes, summers are so different than the rest of the year, right? Either way, I moved here. And I knew I had to. One of my best friends said, “Sheri, you need to go, or else you will regret it and always say ‘What if?'” And she was right.

I thought finding a good job wouldn’t be too hard. It was hard. I succeeded eventually, then things fell apart. And here I am, still looking for that opportunity. I know it will come, I just hope it comes sooner than later. If anyone sees a girl living in a ditch anytime soon, you’ll know it’s me!

So sometimes, I look back on this year and I ask, “What in the world? Has this turned into the biggest failure of my life? Did I do the right thing?” And then sometimes, I miss the city. Like, a real city. I miss sirens. I miss people. I miss crazy people. I miss people going the speed limit, or a little more. I miss independent coffee shops, and a snobby arts and culture scene.

Through thinking all of this though, I realized that moving to Brandon just opened up more doors and opportunities for me in the long run. I realized that if I had stayed in Hamilton after school for a few years, I would have easily settled down there. Get a dog. Another cat. Buy a house. Stick with my stable job. By moving here, I realized that those things probably won’t happen, because Brandon isn’t my total comfort zone, unlike Hamilton. Hamilton was my “Under the Bridge” city, thank you very much Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was there when I had nothing else. Brandon certainly isn’t that, and that’s not to say anything bad about this small town city. I know that by being here, I’m going to eventually go somewhere else, while looking back on my time here fondly, even though it’s been a struggle.

Throughout this past year, I have gained new friends. I have had the greatest and sometimes life altering experiences with them. I have been able to reconnect with friends from the past. I have been able to take care of people I love the most. I have learned patience and humility. I have learned to rely on others. I have learned a little more about what I want in life. I learned about my love for bunnies (I am The Mother of Rabbits, as my friend says). I have learned that Ontario is not the center of the universe. I have learned that I really love trees and rocks, and that I actually miss them dearly. I have learned that I really like warmer weather and don’t know if I can handle the winter that’s coming up – but know that I will survive, because I’m from Manitoba now. I have learned that I am content here, for the most part.

Most of all, I have learned that life doesn’t always go as planned, but wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you will learn and grow and eventually conquer. So I can say that I’m thankful that I moved here, despite it not being perfect. I can’t wait to see more of Manitoba, and see where life takes me from this one year mark. Thanks, Manitoba!

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Manitoba is teaching me…

…how to be taken care of.

I’m one heck of an independent spirit and I generally don’t like people doing things for me. I don’t like asking for help either. And yet, the past few months have shown me how good people are in this province and how much of a family I do actually have here. I’ve been unemployed for awhile now, and I just can’t believe how much people have taken care of me during this time! I know things would be slightly different if I were in the same situation in Ontario (not because my friends aren’t amazing – but because we’d probably all be broke together, living a struggling post university career life)

But really, here, in the land of the friendly, they have taken care of me. Whether it’s buying a coffee for me, or a meal. Or giving me the leftovers from awesome Man-family meals, or filling up my gas tank (thank you to my real ‘rents and my Manitoba ‘rents!) Then there’s just the positive vibes going out for me, the prayers (this is Mennonite country), the thoughts, the searching the web ceaselessly for potential jobs. People that don’t even know me have given concern to me, and they 100% have my back.

I’m just not used to this kind of love and care! Friggin’ Manitoba, you rip my heart out sometimes. I feel so grateful for the incredible people that I have in my life (even if I apparently don’t know them, but they got my back), and although during times like these, I miss my people back “home”, I don’t think I would want to be anywhere else right now.

Thanks, Manitoba, for teaching me how to be cared for.

Louis Riel Day? A Brief History.

I support statutory holidays, even if I don’t know anything about them. Ontario has Family Day, some weird put together holiday just to get another stat holiday for the year. Now here in Manitoba, it’s Louis Riel Day. I’ve heard of this man here and there in the classroom, but don’t know much, to be honest. In fact, I’ve heard from a lot of Manitoban’s that they don’t even know that much about him. I decided to brush up on my history today and learn all about the man who gives us a well appreciated statutory holiday.

THE MAN: Louis David Riel, born October 22, 1844, near modern day Winnipeg. He was from a prominent Metis family, and was interested in the priesthood during his younger years, and attended a seminary in Montreal before his father’s death in 1864. After that, he was less interested and became a little rebellious and was asked to leave the seminary. He returned to the Red River Settlement in 1868. Riel was described as a fine scholar and gifted student, but a little odd and moody.

THE ACT: Things were getting messy here in Manitoba, or what would be known as Manitoba eventually. There were “eastern” interests and the influx of Anglo’s in the area increased tensions and anxieties among the First Nations and Metis people. Needless to say, stuff happened to create lots of unrest and Riel wasn’t putting up with it. Riel and others seized Fort Garry. They created a provisional government, and were so not letting Canada take authority over them and the land without any discussions.

Many people, even Anglo’s, were in support of Riel and what he and others were doing. However, the “pro-Canadians” were plotting against the provisional government during this time and in the end, one of them, Thomas Scott, was executed by firing squad. Lovely.

Then, the provisional government made their way to Ottawa in March of 1870. These talks between the provisional government and MacDonald led to the Manitoba Act, which created the province of Manitoba as a part of Canada.

THE AFTERMATH: There was a bounty on Riel’s head. Awesome, right? So, he had to flee. This was the effective end to the Rebellion. Riel fled to the States. But just because he was there, didn’t mean that his popularity disappeared. Even though he wasn’t even in Canada during election time for the Manitoba seat in Parliament, Riel was elected. Of course, that didn’t exactly work out and he was kicked out when he showed up in Ottawa.

The following years were interesting for Riel, with visions from God, and questionable actions like tearing his clothes off all the time. His mental state was certainly questioned at the time.

THE RETURN: Riel, with the request from others, mobilized another rebellion-type action in Saskatchewan (or, what was the North West Territories). He tried the peaceful way, but of course that didn’t work out. Things got violent and the government certainly wasn’t pleased. More troops were sent this way, and in the end, Riel surrendered.

We all know what happened after that. Things were looking down, and Riel was hanged for treason on November 16, 1885.

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It’s so incredibly interesting that Manitoba chooses to celebrate Louis Riel. Certainly during his life, he was despised by the majority of Anglo-Canadians and was considered insane by most, and some to this day think he was a nutjob. And of course, he was executed in the end for his actions, yet remains to be the prominent founder of Manitoba. Oh Manitoba, how you intrigue me. In the end, I will gladly take a day off in Riel’s honour. And I mean, how cool is it to be a part of a province where the prominent founder was as hardcore and awesome as Riel?

Things I Have Learned So Far

This is my month end report. I’ve been living in Manitoba for about a month and a half, and here you’ll find a compilation of things I have learned so far.

1. If there is any construction going on at the Superstore, the world stops.

2. Even if it’s not winter yet, many Manitoban’s will dress like it is.

3. People drive slow here.

4. People always think they have the right of way while crossing any street, anywhere.

5. No one says “dinner” in regards to supper. It’s more a lunch thing here, and it’s a little weird to me.

6. My health “card” won’t be a card. It will be a piece of paper. I was shocked when I learned this, but it will be okay. I’ve accepted it.

7. Laundry detergent is a lot more expensive here than in Ontario.

8. Gas is a lot cheaper here than in Ontario.

9. The weather is actually warmer to me than it appears. Less moisture in the air means that I am warmer in general. When it’s 8 degrees out, it actually feels like 13-14 degrees to me. It’s a wonderful thing.

10. Although I sometimes feel like I’m in in the middle of nowhere, and a little lost and lonely sometimes, I haven’t and will not regret my move to Brandon, Manitoba. Ever.