As the last week of the year unfolds and we head into 2015, I’m reminded of a lot of things from this past year. One of the big things that I think back on is the tragic events of October 22nd in Ottawa, when a lone gunman shot and killed 24 year old Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial before storming the Houses of Parliament. It was an act of terror that had been felt in this country in this manner. In a separate attack, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was also killed.
There was such an outpouring of hope and condolences after this attack. And it came from one of the places one doesn’t often think of. The world of sports.
On October 22nd, the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs were to play in Ottawa. After the attacks, the game was postponed. But that night, in Pittsburg, the Canadian National Anthem was sung before the game between the Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. Two American teams, on American soil, and the crowd belting out Oh Canada in support of something that affected this entire country.
The first game to be played in Ottawa after the shooting wasn’t a hockey game, it was a football game between the Ottawa RedBlacks and the Montreal Alouettes. There was no soloist, and members of both teams along with volunteers held the edges of the Canadian flag as the crowd sung the national anthem.
And finally, when the Ottawa Senators got back on the ice on their home turf, they hosted the New Jersey Devils, and one last tribute, which was joined by the home crowds in Toronto and Montreal.
Through the culture of sports, we were able to honour two fallen soldiers that were a part of the Canadian Armed Forces, and attempt to heal as a country. This attack wasn’t huge, such as what happened in 2001 in New York, but it still had a shocking and terrible loss of life.
It is hoped that something like this will never happen again, that we grow stronger and defend our friends and family in this country, no matter who they are or where they came from. Everyone came to Canada for a reason, everyone lives in this country for a reason. I would hope that an attack such as this only makes us stronger and more unified in our love and friendship of our neighbours throughout this country.