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While I sit on the train returning from our Nation’s Capital, Ottawa, I can’t help but to think that the ambient noise of sandwich wrappers opening, washroom doors slamming, and people sneezing shouldn’t be bothering me (because believe me, it normally bothers me). Why you may ask? Well because I am on a comfortable trainwhile many of my colleagues from across Canada and the US are riding bikes from Ottawa to Washington, braving the weather, exhaustion and missing their families in order to make remarkable changes!

First responders have been preparing to embark on a 1538 km, 15 day journey for quite some time now, and they officially took the first pedal toward Washington, DC this morning. With Canada’s Parliament Building as the back drop of their pre-race group photo, riders cheered and prepared for the road ahead. MP Kevin Flynn, MP Cheri Dinovo, and other instrumental government leaders in the creation and passing of Ontario’s Bill 163: Supporting our First Responder’s Bill, were on hand to share their support and pride in everyone participating both in the ride and behind the scenes.

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The Capital to Capital Ride was founded by Ottawa paramedic Norm Robillard and New York State EMT Ken Martin, after they met on other fundraising and awareness rides. The ride’s goal is to raise awareness with regards to the mental health of first responders across both countries. I was so fortunate to have participated as a guest speaker in the pre-ride Symposium held at the Ottawa Police Association yesterday.
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I had never been to Ottawa before, and every person I told I was going said that it was so beautiful, and they were right! Not only did I enjoy the beautiful spring weather on  Parliament Hill, I was given a personal tour of the spectacular Parliament Building by my local MP and fellow mental health advocate, John Brassard (Barrie-Innisfil) . I think he was just as excited to give me the tour as I was to partake in it, and I can’t blame him for a second. The magical energy of the history of our County that radiates through every room is palpable! And having the opportunity to behind the scenes with MP Brassard raised the experience to a whole other level. The pin on his suit lapel signifies that he is an MP, and allows him 24 access to the building.

I learned about the history of the ‘Red Chamber’ and saw the bullet holes in the wall form the shooting that took place a few years back. The art work and architecture was breathtaking! I could have spent an entire week admiring the work that must have taken countless hours to create!

My favourite room by far was The Parliament Library. Being a book lover myself, I had goosebumps when I walked into the sunbeam filled room of pure history and craftsmanship. Every wooden carving lining the circular walls hand made and unique from the next. Even more remarkable was learning that this room was the only room that survived a massive fire in February, 1916 because its iron doors were closed. Can you even imagine the devastation if all of Canada’s historical documents were destroyed? How powerfully symbolic it was that regardless of if the fire was arson or not (they still do not know to this day), nothing could destroy our County’s heritage! Like I said…goosebumps!

To top it all off, I was finally able to meet Caribou, Prince George MP Todd Doherty, who has created the Federal PTSD Bill C-211 of which I support and look forward to helping move through to law as one of its stakeholders. He’s a genuinely amazing person and advocate for first responders!

On a quick side-note, my presentation went very well, and even though I travelled alone, a ‘friend’ showed up while I was speaking. A tiny spider crawled across the podium while I stood there and shared my story of hope and recovery. If you are familiar with my blog, you know that they are everywhere I go, reminding me to stay strong and remember the times I spent staring out the hospital window, watching them spin their web because there nothing else left for me to do. Looking back now, I can see how they were my first ‘mindfulness’ friends, and seeing one yesterday grounded me quite well as I looked away from my speech and shared that part of my story.

Life is beautiful. ❤

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