Day 46 — A fitting end…

Tonight is our last night in Ottawa. Tomorrow we return to London in a mere fraction of the time it took us to get here. It’s going to be a really surreal experience watching the past two months literally roll past me on the other side of the window, in reverse, over the course of 7 hours. I can only assume it will be something like when I use to put in the time to watch a movie on VHS and then rewind it back to the beginning, undoing the progress of the past two hours in mere seconds. I guess it will be a good opportunity to sit back and reflect on what I have seen and done…or at the very least, read over my thesis again, which I have to defend on Monday.

Ugh. Back to normal life.

I had ambitions to start today off with a bang and do a bit of sight seeing around Ottawa before heading over to Parliament for our meeting, but sleepy heads prevailed and I spent most of the morning snoozing. I’m still trying to get caught up on sleep and energy lost over the trip and to be honest it will probably be another few weeks before I’m back to normal. I hate to admit it, my mom probably won’t let me forget this, but it was really draining on the road, constantly “going” and rarely taking time to relax. Even when I wasn’t drive, I was almost always up to something, whether it be writing letters, making phone calls, meeting with people, or simply trying to find a cozy place to grab an hour nap.

Although it took a bit longer than I care to admit, I finally got moving and got some work done before heading out for Parliament Hill. Once again it was rainy…I swear it is never sunny in this city! I’ve been told it’s normally quite nice: I’m beginning to worry the people of Ottawa may think I brought this weather with me. I promise, it’s not me! I usually bring nice weather!

So we arrived at Parliament Hill and it was quite the sight. From the road, you really can’t drink in just how epic the Peace Tower really is–it is unbelievable up close and personal. Because of the near-constant flow of tourists (mostly school students), we got to use a special “Parliament Business” door and look like big important people on our way in, however this did not prevent us from having to go through security, which I can say was significantly stricter than security at Queens Park but not as bad as an airport. After getting through the pat downs and metal detectors (which are fun to go through in wheelchairs) we were escorted over to another security/information desk where we were given our passes and directed to Minister Fletcher’s office. Our meeting with Minister Fletcher went quite well and we agreed on quite a few things. It was really interesting hearing about what the Conservative Government is up to right now, especially in terms of disability. I was really happy with how everything went and even got a set of Minister Fletcher collectible cards. Oh yes, Minister Fletcher has a set of baseball-esque trading cards. They are pretty hilarious–I totally love them. It’s a hilarious idea for sure and speaks to how friendly and personable Minister Fletcher genuinely is. I’m excited to see where our discussion today will lead and look forward to working with Minister Fletcher in the future.

As the trip is winding to an end, I received some tremendous news tonight. After working through a very long Annual General Meeting, I was officially nominated and elected to sit on the Citizens with Disabilities Ontario’s (CWD-O) Board of Directors (link here). This is one of the largest disability advocacy groups in Ontario and are in the process of becoming the Ontario branch of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities–one of the most successful disability advocacy groups in the world. I’m really excited to begin working with this organization and can’t wait to lend some of my expertise as one of the directors of this proud and productive organization.

The slogan I have been using during this trip is “Together we can get people moving.” Fittingly, the slogan of the CWD-O is “Together we are stronger,” something I couldn’t agree with more.

So on a trip based on getting people together, on bringing people together, and getting people engaged, I cannot think of a more fitting end than by actively getting involved with a coalition of disability advocates to work together for change.

Working together to get people moving.

Tomorrow, we arrive in London. Saturday we have our welcome home party. I promise to upload the final video blog sometime before dinner on Saturday (the internet is pretty shakey in this hotel).

Can’t wait to see you London, I miss you like mad.

– Jeff

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