Well, we've made it to Ontario, which means we have covered 4 provinces, and have 2 to go. Who would have thought that nearly half the trip would be spent in these last two provinces, and primarily Ontario? This is not to complain, however - I think many of our Ontarian team members are excited and happy to be back in our home province, myself included. We are happy to have lakes, trees and rocky hills surrounding every turn in the road, and for those of us who are or have attended Our Lady Seat of Wisdom in Barry's Bay, ON, it feels like home. It is incredible how fast and dramatically the landscape changes as soon as one crosses the border into northwestern Ontario from Manitoba. Manitoba has trees, certainly, but the Ontario border dramatically brings the Canadian Shield with it. Unfortunately, it has also brought a plethora of mosquitos and black flies with it as well. Something else for us to offer up…though the sheer number of them does make for a good laugh when one looks at the interior roof of our minivan after a night shift, where our swatting walkers create a suspended graveyard for the mosquitos. The front grille on our white Dodge minivan doesn't fare much better…makes for a good laugh from onlookers when we pull into a gas station after night shift! Some of them have actually congratulated us for getting so many of the bloodsuckers.
This trip has not been without its interesting run-ins, and many of them have been very inspirational. One of the most memorable occurred in Winnipeg, when I was driving with two other teammates to our host family. We were sitting at a red light when a pristine '68 Impala convertible pulled up beside us. I had my window down, so I commented to the dude that he had a nice ride. I wasn’t expecting much conversation to happen after that, but he asked what we had written on the other side of our van (Walk Across Canada) so I told him we were doing a pro-life walk. "Pro-life?" He asks in a slightly elevated tone. The light had since turned green, but he kept pace with our van. "As in not pro-choice?!," he continued. Great, I thought. Here comes a verbal tirade. Turns out to be quite the opposite. "I'm adopted," he says, "and if it wasn't for people like you, I might not be around today." We carried on a conversation between our cars for about a kilometre down a busy Winnipeg street. Once again, it's these experiences that help boost our morale when it seems like most are against us.
Another thing that is encouarging, and reminds us of just how great of an undertaking this trip is, has been talking with those who don't agree with our cause. This might sound strange, but some of the most inspiring encounters have been with those who vehemently oppose our cause, but deeply and truly respect us for standing up for the pro-life cause. First of all, I actually prefer it when people take a confrontational stance when we tell them we are walking for the pro-life cause. It is annoying to tell people our cause, and, when you can tell that they are pro-choice, they still just ignore the issue and half-heartedly wish us luck on our journey. None of that! I know that I am probably guilty of the same crime with standing up for my faith, but you can tell that these people just do not care, which, as I have discussed previously, is typical Canadian apathy and is slowly rotting this country away. On the other hand, I have gotten into some heated discussions with pro-choicers I have met along the way, and at the end of each of those conversations, they still congratulate us on our mission to walk across the country. And the difference here is that they truly mean it, and you can tell. I have been thinking that this is where this walk can truly make a change in the hearts of Canadians. If we can get people to respect us for what we are doing, then they are much more likely to consider our cause or mission with at least a more positive eye than beforehand. And if we can do that in the hearts of enough people, then who knows how many hearts can be changed on this walk?
We are currently in Marathon, ON, and heading towards Sault Ste. Marie. Though we spent this past weekend in "The Soo", the distance between the northwestern Ontario border with Manitoba and Sault Ste. Marie is definitely the longest and most isolated stretch of this walk. It is beautiful country, but we need to make it to more populated southern/central Ontario in order to be in cities large enough to host our weekend visits. Though this stretch is isolated, we have still managed to receive great support! In the span of a couple of days last week, we met two different individuals who were members of the Thunder Bay Right to Life group, who were both previously unaware of our walk, but we very impressed to see us and our mission. Another man, Doug, was driving home to Mission, BC from his holidays in Cape Breton, and happened to know a couple of my close friends and had walked with last year's Crossroads team for a few days. Small world! It is hard to believe we only have 4 weeks left before we finish off, but I'm sure our witnesses and interesting experiences will only increase as we get closer to the final and most populated stretch of our walk.
Thanks for reading, and we'll try to keep you posted!