Pat McKenna, Executive Director for Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North
Like many Canadians, I recently watched the final concert of The Tragically Hip on a commercial-free CBC. Not only was the show emotional—I have been a big fan for 30 years—but it truly educated me as to why I love Canada. Canadians give back. Canadians truly care about their fellow human being. Instead of folding their shop after the diagnosis of Gord Downie’s terminal cancer, The Tragically Hip gathered their collective strength and gave Canadians one last tour. They unselfishly gave to their fans one more chance to experience a truly iconic Canadian band. CBC, during the most profitable advertising period of the 2016 Olympics, gave over three hours of primetime space to a band that has given Canadians so much. CBC ran the show commercial free. Millions of dollars forsaken because, as Canadians, they knew we needed the closure of this show. We, as fans of this band, are grieving the loss of their music and their friendship.
Canadians give back. We give back because we are fortunate. We embrace diversity and we champion all that is Canada. We give back because we have so much.
I travelled to the East Coast of Canada this summer, back to Nova Scotia and to Newfoundland. I discovered a few things on my travels. The first thing that I discovered (and I guess I already knew it) is that all Canadians have the propensity for niceness. We accept others with good intent. Ask for directions anywhere in Newfoundland and you will find out just exactly how amazing Canadians can be.
As many of you know, my career prior to HFH was in the corporate sector, battling with multi-national conglomerates. I was pretty good at it, but it wears you down over time. “Do more with less,” is my friend’s current battle in the corporate world. Actually, “do more with less”, is a consistent phrase you will encounter in any other employment location. Here at Habitat we get to do more with more. More volunteers, more families, more donations…more. I am thankful for my team that continues to serve. I am thankful for the ReStore staff and volunteers that continue to process the goods that allow us to make sales that allow us to build more homes and serve more families. I am thankful for our build teams and volunteers who give selflessly to ensure new homes stand that we can sell to our homeowner families.
On my vacation, people would ask me where I work. I was proud to tell them that I work for Habitat for Humanity. If they were trapped to listen, I would tell them everything we accomplished this year, and just before their eyes totally glazed over, I would let them know how it has changed my life. I would let them know how fortunate I feel. How we as Canadians have so much, yet there are still Canadians who need our help. There are people all over the world who do not have a safe decent secure home. A place where they can rest, where they can feel comfortable. A place to provide escape and solace.
Thank you to everyone at Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North for offering hope to our families. Thank you for playing a part in transforming lives. Thank you for welcoming our volunteers, for welcoming our staff and for welcoming me. I feel thankful that I am able to wake up every day and do what I do. Thank you for allowing me to exercise my right as a Canadian to change the world.