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My City. My Country. My Ottawa.

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The events of October 22, 2014 forever changed my fellow citizens, my city of Ottawa, and my country, Canada.

As a writer, when tragedy strikes, you long to sit down and get all your feelings down on paper (or computer screen in my case).  It happens on a regular basis because, unfortunately, a lot of tragic events happen daily all around the world. Problem is, as a Blogger, I walk a fine line when writing about a tragedy.  There are many that feel that Bloggers who choose to write about something tragic, something that is making the headlines all over the world, is done to benefit the Blogger by increasing the number of “hits” on the blog.

It is for that very unsavoury reason that I usually choose not to write about tragedies.  I don’t want people coming to my blog simply because I’m writing about something tragic or sensational. Yesterday’s terrorist attack on my city, my Ottawa, where so many of my dear family and friends live, changed that way of thinking for me.

Why? Because this terrorist attack happened in “my own backyard”.  It happened in a place that is sacred and special to the citizens of Ottawa, to the citizens of Canada, and most importantly, to the brave men and women of our Canadian military.

I have stood at that very spot where Nathan Cirillo was gunned down yesterday, as I’m sure many of you have as well. My friend, Lyne, and I drove right through the exact area of the attack only a mere 12 hours before it happened.  I have trekked the same route that the gunman took from the National War Memorial over to the grounds of our beloved Parliament Hill. I have walked the same green grass that the gunman walked on and up to the doors of Centre Block.  I have spent time enjoying the amazing Canada Day festivities on this same lawn. So seeing these very places splashed all over the news from coast to coast, country to country, referencing this senseless terrorist attack,  has left me, and so many I know, feeling unnerved…and violated.

Yes violated.

How dare this man gun down an innocent soldier.  How dare this man gun down the father of an innocent child. How dare this man paralyze my city with fear, trapping thousands of fellow citizens, family and friends in their homes and offices for an entire day, not knowing what was really going on outside. How dare this man do this to my beloved country!

I guess after the fear, shock and sadness, comes anger.  Maybe that’s a good thing.  It’s the anger that will get us through this, make us stronger, make us more prepared for more challenges that we may face in the coming days, weeks and months.  It’s also this anger that will allow us to stand strong, move on, and not let what happened change this city and country we love.

As someone who is extremely active in the social media community, yesterday was a very overwhelming day for other reasons as well. This tragedy came at me from every different direction on my computer screen.  I tried hard to write some posts that I needed to, however, in all honesty, my mind just wasn’t able to focus on anything but the tragedy unfolding in my city.  I worried about friends and family, I worried about what appeared to be an ongoing manhunt for more suspects.  I worried about everything that I heard going on around my city.

I was also very concerned about something I saw happening on social media later in the afternoon once Nathan Cirillo’s name became public.  I started seeing many different photos of Nathan popping up on my screen via Twitter and Facebook.  These photos showed Nathan doing many different things, in many different settings. Usually, when someone is in the news, you don’t see so many “unique” photos of that person.  That led me to wonder where everyone was getting these photos from. Could it be Facebook, I wondered.  Yes it was.  All the photos on Nathan’s personal Facebook page were not private.  This really bothered me.  These were his private photos and now they were being splashed all over the internet, albeit by people who were innocently trying to pay tribute to him.  This was wrong.  So I have reached out to try to get the page made private, but as of yet, my efforts have not been heard. I hope it’s because his family want it that way, not because they just don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t be concerned about this. But I am.

For those of us who live in Ottawa, we are NOT naive.  We know we are (and forever will be) a huge target for those in the world, and in our own country, who wish to do Canada harm.  We know that living in the Nation’s Capital makes us the “bullseye of Canada”.  Today, we know that even more than ever before.

While we all grieve a loss of innocence in our city and our country, I cannot imagine the grief for the family and friends of Nathan Cirillo. And while we focus on the events of yesterday, we also don’t forget the tragedy that killed another brave Canadian soldier, Patrice Vincent. His family and friends must be grieving just as hard.

A heartfelt thank you to all the men and women first responders who put their lives at risk yesterday.  From everything I’ve read, they did their job, and did it well.  We should all be proud of those that help to keep the rest of us safe.  I know I am.

There is no one who did this job better than our very brave solider, Nathan Cirillo.  Thank you Nathan.  May you rest in peace.



  1. November 6, 2014

    Sarah at Journeys of The Zoo

    We are so lucky to live in a country where we rest easy at night. In huge thanks to all the people that risk their lives for our freedom. RIP Corporal Nathan Cirillo.

    Besos, Sarah

  2. October 24, 2014


    Well said Sandy. You captured it exactly how we are all feeling. I know how hard it me and I am so far away, nevermind right in the same city of the tragic event. I have visited Parliament Hill only once in my life and when I do so in the future, it will be with an even heavier heart.

    (And I think they are using Cpl. Cirillo’s pictures from his Instagram account too. It is not a private account. It is kind of unsettling to see how easily our images can be used after something like this happens.)

    • October 28, 2014


      Thanks so much, Brandy. Parliament Hill will never quite be the same again…nor will the monument. I guess that is a good thing – we’ll never forget. I’m saddened that his personal photos have been shared all over the place. I’d be pretty upset if it were my family member. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment.

  3. October 24, 2014


    Wow ….. So perfectly and eloquently articulated. You put to words exactly what so many of us feel. Well done Sandy.

    • October 24, 2014


      Oh wow…love your words, Lori <3 Thank you so much! That means a lot. Thanks for reading my post 🙂

  4. October 23, 2014

    Brenda A

    Thank you. Your chosen outlet to vent your feelings will help others work through their own thoughts.

    • October 24, 2014


      Thanks for saying so, Brenda. I sure hope so. I know it helped me to get my feelings down in a post. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  5. October 23, 2014


    Great post Sandi! I can only imagine how you feel with such a horrific act taking place in your own backyard. We live in a scary world nowadays with a lot of hatred. We already know that Canada is a target for terrorism and I imagine that the capital city is a bullseye as you stated. The only thing that we can do is not let the fear overtake us. These people want to instill fear. We can’t let them win!
    Glad that you, your family & friends are all okay.

    • October 23, 2014


      Thank you so much, Jason! I really appreciate your kind words 🙂 You are so right, we can’t let our fear overtake us. That’s why I truly hope they don’t end up changing things in our downtown core – like access to Parliament Hill. Obviously some changes will be needed, hopefully just not extreme ones.

  6. October 23, 2014

    Pam Dafoe

    Your words have touched my heart and I am sadden that we, a free country now have the likes of these terrorists killing at will because they believe that taking a life is debt re payed. My heart goes out to the families of the two soldiers who lost there lives and I pray that there soon will be an end to this senseless lost of life. Thank you to all the men and women in uniform that help to defend and protect our country as well as our first responders and medical aid.

    • October 23, 2014


      Thanks so much for your comments, Pam. I think your thoughts convey how many Canadians feel. Like you, I’m very grateful to those who are out on the front line protecting us when things like this happen. There were many, many heroes in this city yesterday. I think what may bother me most of all was that it was a fellow Canadian who did this to us 🙁

  7. October 23, 2014


    Thank you for writing this post Sandy. You articulated what so many of us felt yesterday. Sadness, shock, then anger. It is so hard to focus on anything else today and in the days to come. Many/most of us have walked those very same corridors and driven around that same area and it’s terrible to think that we can never look at them the same way again.

    • October 23, 2014


      And thank you for reading it, Fariha! It’s definitely hard to focus. I’m trying to write other posts and…it’s a struggle. You said it well. Every time I walk or drive by those areas downtown, I will forever think of what happened there. Life will go on in those places, but none of us will ever forget.

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