The ups and downs of cross-country moving

I’ve always been curious: always wanting to know whatever it is I don’t know, see what I haven’t yet seen, do what I haven’t yet done. It’s part of the reason why I chose the career path I have. That said, I never anticipated that desire for adventure, insatiable curiosity and love of news would lead to as many moves as it has over the past 5 years…

Since January 2010, I’ve lived or worked in five cities. Five cities in almost 5 years. This is not something I’d planned for–at all…and yet I have no regrets.

My first move–to Newfoundland–is still the most memorable. I remember packing two suitcases and venturing off to a province I’d only ever read about. When the plane landed that night in January 2010, I couldn’t see a thing out the window for the fog (pea soup is how the locals described it). My boss at the time (a woman I both respect and will never forget) picked me up from the airport and drove me to the B&B where I’d be staying until I found an apartment. She was the only person I knew–not just at CBC NL, but in the entire province.

Over the course of the next 2.5 years, St. John’s became my home; the people I met there, my family. I still believe it’s the best move I ever made.

After that came a short stint in Edmonton, followed by a longer stay in Calgary–a city I never thought I’d love, but can’t seem to get enough of (except when it snows. I’ve had enough of that). There’s something about life in Calgary–life in western Canada that’s grown on me…

Regardless of what part of the country I’ve found myself in, there’s one thing that’s always been the same: Canadians are indeed a friendly bunch. Despite having moved to cities where I haven’t known a soul, I’ve never felt alone: I’ve had more orphan Thanksgivings/Christmases/New Years with complete strangers than anyone should have! Over the past five years, my birthday has never gone uncelebrated (one year, my friends bought me three cakes. Three cakes!). Gifts from friends in NL always appear in my mailbox come Christmas time. And there are still regular phone calls with my cross-country network of friends to discuss work, stories, news (and, of course, all the other “important topics” women in their 30s talk about).

Now, there are only a few things I dislike about all this moving. Chief among them? Packing. It gets easier the more you do it, but it will never be fun. You wanna know what else isn’t fun? Unpacking. The only thing that trumps both of those torturous tasks is having to say goodbye. That never gets easier.

That said, I always look forward to what comes after the ‘goodbye’: the ups and downs of a new city, a new adventure. For someone as curious as me, the change and challenge that comes with a new city has made my cross-country moving all worthwhile.

My other full-time job

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My sisters will *never* leave Toronto–much like Oprah, this is one thing I know for sure. They, like so many other Torontonians see no need to leave the big smoke…and I’ve given up trying to change their minds.

Up until 2010, the three of us (+ Mom) all shared the same home. My sisters (one older, one younger) know me better than anyone else–making them perfect roommates. While I knew I was ready to ditch TO, I wasn’t ready for the experience of life away from them: no older sister to make me dinner, no younger sister to make me laugh and (most importantly) no sisters to borrow clothes, shoes–ANYTHING–from.

However, I think I underestimated just how much absence makes the heart grow fonder. In our time apart, we’ve exchanged thousands of text messages, countless emails, lengthy (expensive) phone calls and mailed gifts (but for some reason, we’ve never Skyped or Facetimed. Weird). While there have been missed Christmases and Birthdays, I don’t feel as though I’ve missed anything at all. In fact, we have grown closer…

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The three of us have always been close. We’re close in age and are also about the same size, making for an excessive amount of wardrobe sharing (a ridiculous amount, as far as Mom was concerned. When we were teens, Mom refused to fold our laundry because she never knew who owned what). Of course there were the typical sibling fights–my younger sister and I used to fight like cat/dog growing up. Up until she came I along, I had it made: my chances of being the baby of the family were looking pretty good…  Together, we would drive our older sister bananas–back then, it was our raison d’etre.

These two months in Kitchener mark the first time I’ve lived within driving distance of my family in nearly 5 years. I’m confident I won’t spend the rest of my life/career working in Ontario–there are just too many other cities to see, places to live. Plus, I do sincerely miss life in other parts of the country–I had a blast living out east and I very much loved life out west.

I’ve decided I don’t need to live in Toronto (there, I said it) because I will always have three perfectly good reasons to visit. My Mom and sisters will always be here (or in the GTA). So, until the day I leave Ontario again, I’ll trade the phone calls and text messages for lunch dates and sleepovers (you are never too old for sleepovers. Never.). Through the years, I’ve often said sisterhood is a full-time job. It’s also the best job I’ll ever have.

Re-discovering Ontario

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Growing up in Toronto/GTA is like existing in a bubble: everything you need is here, so why bother looking anywhere else? Having grown up in this world, I’m all too familiar with the downsides of ‘bubble-living’ and the narrow-minded city dwellers that kind of lifestyle produces. Its a big part of the reason why I was so keen on leaving Ontario to pursue my career in this industry.

It wasn’t until I left Toronto/GTA and made my way to other parts of the country–particularly western Canada–that I realized just how much Canadians *dislike* (hate is just so strong a word) Toronto (hereafter referred to as the ‘Centre of the Universe’). However, that feeling is also alive and well within the province too.

I have a number of friends/colleagues who proudly call Toronto home–and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Yet, this week, I also caught up with some of my girlfriends from University who happily call smaller, lesser known Ontario towns, home–Fergus, for example–and are just as happy as my city-dwelling friends. It’s worth noting that these country converts have also lived and worked in Toronto–they know very well what they’re leaving behind…

…The same things I was also all too eager to ditch back in 2010: unbearable traffic, a stressful commute, smog, an un-affordable housing market and, to be honest, a city that had begun to feel just a bit tired.

Being close to ‘The Centre of Universe’ means I’m closer to my family–and that’s a nice feeling–but I’ve only been back to Toronto 3 times in 2 months. In that time, I’ve noticed traffic has gotten worse, the commute even more stressful…and the people less patient. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

So, perhaps this return to Ontario is a chance to re-discover my home province–you know, see how the rest of the universe is living. My University girlfriends have given me a list of events that I *must* attend and I plan on taking them all in (suggestion are welcome!). The countdown to the Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games 2015 has already begun.

 

Nadia

Questions for Toronto’s future mayor

 

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Toronto hasn’t been home for me for the last few years, still I always keep an eye on the city’s municipal elections–particularly, the candidates vying for Toronto’s top job. Mayoral races in the city are always exciting: closely watched, hard fought and full of surprises. This year has been no exception.

There are just two months to go before Torontonians will choose their next mayor–October 27, 2014, to be exact. I’ve been poking around, asking friends of mine whether or not they’ve made up their minds. The short answer: some have, but many haven’t. I’ve had friends tell me they’re ready for change–that the city’s current leadership (Mayor Rob Ford) is overdue for removal. On the flipside, I’ve had friends tell me there’s nothing wrong with the status quo.

I also have friends who are still on the fence enjoying the view… 

…And over the last few days and weeks, there’s been lots too see: accusations of ‘dirty politics’ between candidates, dust-ups at other mayoral debates. The candidates have discussed heritage preservation and the all important topic of transit.

Also ahead on the agenda: diversity. Mayoral Debate

This week (Friday, August 29), the Diversity Advancement Network will host it’s own mayoral debate. I’m told the three leading candidates in the race–Olivia Chow, Rob Ford and John Tory–will all be there, along with Dewitt Lee, one of the mayoral long shots. I should point out that while she is on the poster, Karen Stintz won’t be there as she’s dropped out of the race.

Last week, I was contacted by Paul Ade with the DAN to help them come up with a few questions. As a voter, I think debates are key in helping people make up their minds. As a reporter, debates are exciting to cover… but are always a challenge: there are always more questions than there is time.

Still, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this debate. In addition to questions I have, I canvassed my Facebook friends for questions they also would like to have answered. Here are the 5 that made the list:

 
  1. TRANSPORTATION: What is your plan for transportation across the GTA? Will other municipalities play ball with Metrolinx? More importantly, for any of your proposed plans, how will it be paid for?
  2. YOUTH: What are your plans to help at risk youths in vulnerable communities?
  3. COMMUNITY AND POLICING: How will you work with law enforcement in Toronto to foster an open and healthy relationship between the city’s many diverse groups and Police?
  4. LEADERSHIP: The city of Toronto hasn’t always had a mayor who reflects the entire city. In the past, mayors have appealed to voters in the suburbs, but not in the inner-city–and vice versa. What makes you a leader whom all Torontonians should support?
  5. OFFICE OF THE MAYOR: Over the last few years, the office of the mayor has suffered a few blows to its reputation. While Toronto remains a well liked and popular city, it hasn’t always been cast in the best light. What will you do to bolster this city’s reputation?

So, what do you think–anything missing? There’s still time to get a few more questions in.

 

Nadia

Off-Air Adventure: (finally) meeting Catherine of Kaela Kay

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Twitter is an amazing thing.

Last summer, I came across Catherine Addai on the Twitterverse. She was promoting her new line, Kaela Kay, on social media…and I was smitten at first click.

Off-camera, I love wearing prints, bold jewelry and statement pieces, but those fashion choices often don’t work well in my day-to-day world of news. So, when the opportunity presents itself–events, functions at the station or just socially–I dig out those pieces that reflect another side of my personal style.

So, last summer when looking for something to wear to the Black Gold Awards in Calgary, a piece by Kaela Kay seemed like a great idea…and it was.

This week, after more than a year of interacting via social media, I finally got the chance to meet Catherine. In her humble basement studio we chatted (for 90 minutes!) about everything from fashion, to life on-air, life off-air and about the joys (and sometimes challenges) of being a Black woman in Canada. It was great.

Very much looking forward to this fashionable friendship.

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