My family came to Canada over 40 years ago, and in that time, my parents and my aunt and uncle built a very rich, and full life for our big, beautiful family.
When I went to India last March for the first time in 20 years, I had a glimpse into the traditions and history of my family. I got a taste of where I came from.
Seeing the photos of my great, great grandparents on the walls, and having my grand uncle share their stories with me in the home our family lived in for 100+ years moved me in a way I've never experienced before. I come from a great, proud, and incredible history. Filled with so much richness, conflict, hope, and passion.
That's why today is such a proud day for me.
On my flight to Edmonton this morning, I watched a film I've been so looking forward to seeing, Woman In Gold. It's a film about Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) reclaiming the beautiful Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (or Woman in Gold) painted by Gustav Klimt, from the Austrian government. The painting is of her aunt, and was stolen by the Nazi's during The Holocaust. She was taking back and honouring her family's legacy.
This film impacted me so deeply. In part because I watched it today, the day Dream, Girl was written about in the Ottawa Citizen and the day I am heading home for some well-needed rest.
My first trip alone was to Vienna, Austria when I was 17. I was going for a conference, but remember secretly booking my flight a few days early to explore the city alone. I was definitely a rebellious kid, and this action led to two of my favourite days ever.
I went to see the gorgeous art of Vienna, I stumbled upon the most beautiful Opera House where I watched my first opera alone, I lounged in an open square, and I fell in love with the most stunning painting.
Dur Kuss (The Kiss) by Klimt is a painting that was on the cover of my journal for the first two years of university. It is the painting that I have a print hanging of in my home, gifted to me by my best friend. It is the ultimate expression of passion, love, fullness, and beauty I have ever seen or known. Those days in Vienna, I fell in love with Klimt, I also fell in love with my independence and freedom.
I wouldn't have been able to make that trip without my parents' support, and I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing without my family's love, and continued support both financial and otherwise.
So when I see that article in the Ottawa Citizen sharing my story and our mission, I can't help but let the tears flow.
There is a scene in the film where Ryan Reynold's character is watching, in Vienna, a performance of the music composed by his grandfather. There is so much pride and joy in his eyes, witnessing the power of his family's legacy.
This is what I feel today, an immeasurable pride that I can honour my family's sacrifices and hard work through my own work. I am here to serve the world, and I have the privilege of doing it for my parents, for my grandparents, and for the family that is yet to come.
It's not often I get to proclaim my love for my family to the world, so today I'm taking the opportunity. Thank you to every person who lived, fully, who sacrificed for what they thought was best, and for being committed to our collective legacy.
Maria's father said the following to her in the film before she had to leave him to escape Vienna under the Nazi rule:
"We were not rich people when we came to Austria. We worked hard. We did everything we could to contribute and belong. And we are proud of that... I ask you one thing Maria, remember us."
Let the tears flow. And let us work hard to remember and honour all those who helped us get to this place.