I stand here looking from these timber planks to the dark horizon, the hollow winds whistling through the trees. The once warm colourful sky casted down shadows; the little light that radiated from the moon and stars had only darkened these barren tracks. The only feeling left was the chill that ran down my spine as I continued my daily stroll.
Someone once told me, “we each have a role in this world and it all depends on what you wish to do with it”. A single step can change everything you do, and once you take this step you can’t go back. It doesn’t matter what race you are, what you believe in, or what you look like. Your role is based on your dreams, ambitions, but most of all, your initiative; an act or an opportunity for success, change, and making a difference. At least, that’s what I learned.
I balanced myself on the metal track taking one step closer to an unpredictable journey. These cold steel metal rails that once carried several trolleys back and forth, out of crowded cities into desolate lands towards a foreign destination, were now abandoned and forgotten. These rails carried people, cargo, blood, tears, stories, hopes, and dreams, but it all seemed forgotten. Now, it is about each person; our greed for personal recognition. A new philosophy where the past is in the past, and shall forever be that way.
I had only hoped to clear my mind from the turmoil that ran through my veins. Typically, assignments and the conversations afterwards never did cause such frustrations; however, in this case, it did. How did diversity shape Canada’s history and play an important role in Canadian society, today? That was the question that I had to answer for my anthropology class, but it was also the reason that I walk these tracks today.
I remember the murmurs from my classmates when they heard about this assignment. They called out current events, people who were important in sports, entertainment, or just an easy topic. It didn’t seem like anyone cared about the original people that shaped our land. We are all blinded by our greedy accomplishments, ignorance, and pride. We cast away the history of people who sacrificed their lives for their freedom, individuality, and acknowledgement of being human.
The barren, cracked land brought dust on this empty wasteland. A wasteland that carried history in Canada. The tracks where I now stand are now an unused trail. The Canadian Pacific Railway caused thousands of Chinese immigrants to risk their lives for the sake of sending money back to their homes. The thought of losing a husband, father, son, and brother to ensure the survival of their families are only mere images brought to my mind.
These tracks that stretch across the landscape of our country were once deemed historically significant because they were important trade routes. Yet, that was all that we, the new generation, remembered. For most of us, they aren’t of any importance today; especially since their construction occurred almost 130 years ago. However, these trails gave us the diversity that we now have today. Without the Canadian Pacific Railway, most immigrants would have remained on Canada’s east and west coasts. Our country as a whole would not be as diverse as it is now.
Vibrations radiate through my body. The light steps that carried me to these tracks are rooted to the cold steel platform. I peer up at the endless sky and then back to the horizon where the tracks continue. A sudden rush of wind brushes my skin. A low blowing horn sounds, coal continues to burn, leaving a curtain of black smog hanging over the landscape. The ground vibrates beneath my feet and the sudden conversations of families surround me. Each compartment carries families of different origins and mixed cultures, smiling and enjoying their travels.
Another sensation rushed through my body. Sounds and scents disappear as I find myself standing on the track. A small smirk is plastered on my pale skin. These bars were the platform of Canada’s history, and the beginning of our struggles to become the nation that we are today. Canada’s history is filled with our accomplishments enriched by our diversity, and the immigrant’s hopes to be identified as a Canadian.
Someone once told me, “we each have a role in this world and it all depends on what you wish to do with your journey”. In Canada, each person shapes their history and plays an important role in our society due to our different ethnicity, cultures, and beliefs. Sure, every person that had been on that railway had a role in spreading their culture across Canada and creating the diversity that is here today. However, the future is in our hands. One single step can change everything, and once you take this step you can’t go back. We become the new tracks that spread across Canada, and these unchangeable tracks become Canada’s history. Who knows, maybe I might have an important role in Canada’s history too.