One of the last things I remember doing on New Year’s Eve 2016 was booking a hotel in Ottawa for the 2017 Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill.
I originally planned to stay with my youngest daughter who lives a few blocks from Parliament Hill, but she was quick to tell me her apartment would be off limits July 1 because some of the friends she went to school with in London, England, are coming to Ottawa for the festivities.
The 150th anniversary celebration of our country is an opportunity I didn’t want to miss, so I ignored the prices of the hotels I was researching and kept telling myself this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be embarrassingly patriotic with other like-minded Canadians in the nation’s capital.
I ended up paying a King’s ransom for a nice hotel, not far from the Rideau Canal, but far enough from downtown Ottawa to escape the sure-to-be raucous streets after the Parliament Hill celebrations.
In hindsight, I’m really glad I made that decision.
When I first booked this trip, I wondered how well I would fare being swallowed up in mobs of people squished together on patches of grass outside the Parliament buildings.
But these days, I wonder if I will be searching those same crowds looking for signs of would-be terrorists or unusual behavior from other revellers.
I’m ready to admit I’m scared.
When I viewed the horrendous acts of terrorism in London and Manchester in the news recently, my first thoughts were of my daughter who spent four months there last fall, studying, making friends and having a great time. She walked the London Bridge many nights and partied in Manchester, where so many young people were killed or seriously injured.
Some of those friends are coming to Ottawa for our Canada Day celebration and I can’t help but feel apprehension for all of our safety.
I believe terrorism of this nature could happen here. It’s not hard to imagine that a huge party on Parliament Hill would be the kind of celebration that would attract these types of murderers. Although I trust that Canada’s security forces will be out in full force, there’s still that tinge of apprehension threatening to dull an otherwise much-anticipated event.
And it’s not just me. Other people I know who are attending the Parliament Hill celebration are as equally apprehensive.
My daughter, too, readily admits she’s concerned about safety at the festivities around July 1 in Ottawa. The events in London and Manchester shook her up. To her, it was too close to home.
Our anxiety will not keep us away from the Hill on July 1, but you can be sure we will be on guard during the celebrations as we loudly and proudly express our love for our country while singing, O Canada!
Patricia Mills is the founding publisher of Sudbury Living magazine.