‘Ottawa’ Capital Voices: ‘This is a Special Time of Year’
In anticipation of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebrations, the Citizen’s Bruce Deachman has been out in search of Ottawans — 150 of them — to learn their stories of life and death, hope and love, the extraordinary and the everyday. We’ll share one person’s story every day until Canada Day.
“Today is a bit of a funny day. My wife is in Toronto, attending a memorial for one of the founders of the architecture practice that we work with. A great man — Ted Teshima. So we both couldn’t go; one of us had to stay behind with the kids.
“It was a beautiful drive on the way here, and I kind of thought that even though I’m not there at the memorial, we would come up here and I would think of his spirit. That’s probably where most of our spirits end up, somewhere in nature.
“Also there’s that desire just to get these kids away from home, away from their comforts and tablets and just say, ‘Listen, we’re going to do this. This is a special time of year; it doesn’t happen a lot,’ and make sure that we take advantage of these moments while they’re there. Generally we like to think that way, but especially today, with this memorial of life and thinking about these special times that really define us, that you really have to go grab.
“So after a lot of convincing, I got them out of the house. And it’s funny how, once you leave your comfort, you start to look around you and appreciate the things you’re unfamiliar with.
“And this place, this view, is the epitome to me of why it is that we’re in Ottawa. We travel the world, and I’ve spent the past few years working on projects abroad and have been offered a lot of jobs abroad. It’s exciting work, with new things in international cities, great money, but I’m still here in Ottawa, and this is one of the moments where I know why I’m here: because of the proximity to nature and the ability to just disconnect and put things in perspective. This is exactly one of the reasons why I love Ottawa.”
— Mohammed al Riffai, with Sopheya and Yasseen. King Mountain, Gatineau Park, Oct. 23, 2016.