Monday March 18, 2019
It's hard to articulate what I've been thinking about over the weekend. Much has happened in New Zealand; three days later, the country still grieves for the 50 lives lost in a senseless shooting at two mosques in Christchurch. My heart aches for the loss of these innocent lives in my homeland, especially since the city is still suffering 8 years after a devastating earthquake. I'm angry, I'm shocked and I'm full of sadness, despite being 14,000kms away. Whatever belief there was of safety is gone; we are no longer innocent to violence of this magnitude. The history of the country has changed forever. The road to recovery will take a long time; mental scars may never heal.
Our prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, spoke powerful words.
We were not a target because we are a safe harbour for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we're an enclave for extremism, we were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things, because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those that share our values, a refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.
We are a proud nation of more than 200 ethnicities, 160 languages, and amongst that diversity we share common values. And the one that we place currency on right now is our compassion and the support for the community of those directly affected by this tragedy and secondly, the strongest possible condemnation of the ideology of the people that did this.
From this darkness, we can see the true spirit of New Zealand. The outpouring of solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters after the attack, the vigils held in the major city centers, the fundraising pages, the hakas, the placards saying "aroha" and "kia kaha" - it is these images that make me proud to call myself a Kiwi.
I spent the weekend in my friend's cottage in Muskoka. It was good to get out of the city and see the beautiful white landscapes; it's still very much winter up there, despite the temperatures in Toronto rising above 0 degrees. It was a time of self-reflection and a wake-up call on what I should be doing with my life, yet I wonder if I came away with more questions than I went in with.
The past few months have gone by faster than I expected. I felt more alone in last year's winter, but this year I had lots to look forward to and I was more equipped to handle the cold. Instead of fully hibernating for three months, there's been many things to do: I went to the Toronto Light Fest in the Distillery District, we walked around Tommy Thompson Park and learned about the wildlife (and even saw two coyotes!), we chased after some frozen waterfalls in Hamilton and Niagara, and toured a maple syrup farm. I watched the super total lunar eclipse of January 2019, despite it being negative temperatures. There was karaoke and badminton and piano as well.
There has been plenty to eat too, the UbiTO foodie group went to Filipino Kamayan Feast specialist Tinuno, and the badminton crew had three buffets in the space of two weeks. I went for dinners around Chinese New Year and had hot pot and pot luck.
There's lots to look forward to over the next few months as well. I'll be off to the US for a friend's wedding near Atlanta next month. We're planning to go to Quebec City for Canada Day, and to Peru in August. Bruce Peninsula and Tobermory are also on the cards. But by far the most exciting event will be the E3 reveal of our game, and the subsequent release sometime during the year.