Updated: Nov 4, 2020
When I was 5 years old I first came to Banff on a small Toyota Camry that my dad still treasures to this day. I think because it reminds him so much of his younger days and conjures up emotions of his youth — a part of him that he still jokes about here and there. I would like to think that it reminds him of the country that welcomed him in his younger and more pivotal years ; the path that he started to build for his family in this new society was what began on this journey in Banff. I believe that there is always a strong attachment to the places that you have been because they remind you of the person that you are today and the person that you have become.
When I was 15 years old, I went to Banff for the second time. Today, on my 20 year reunion with Banff since my first time, I want to acknowledge my coming of age and along with it-the rocky mountains that have always stabilized me, revitalized me and given strength throughout the years. Banff will always remain in my heart as one of those places that have resisted the testament of time.These 20 years have shaped my worldview, my values and solidified the way that I govern and live my life. In my younger and more vulnerable years, I was more easily susceptible to lofty ideals and ideas that the mass media propagated which I believed that society and a person should adhere to. However, for me, politics has always been a matter of governance, however the root of politics always starts with family. Today I cherish the importance of the respect that we treat our family, our friends and those closest to us; that respect dictates how we govern and ultimately how we treat our most vulnerable citizens in society. The growing pains of these twenty years for me have solidified my values and shown me the importance of valuing the insignificant elements in life, especially the time that we cannot relive, no matter how badly we want to. My dad still recalls carrying the 5 - year old me on his shoulders and the picture in our photo-book attests to the small Pikachu that I treasured on my first trip to Banff. I look at that picture and vaguely remember my 5-year old self, rather half-heartedly. My mom recalls that I was always crazy, beginning when I was very little. She would always tell me that I inherited more of my father’s craziness than her calmness in demeanour. I giggle inside but I secretly wonder : maybe that's why I always feel a strong sense of nostalgia when I travel the Icefields Parkway and glance at the receding Athabasca Glacier. It reminds me of yesterday, of today and what will be tomorrow. The scenery is still as majestic as I last went; sweeping mountains and emerald green lakes encapsulate and melt away all my problems. There will always be a special place in my heart for the Rocky Mountains that have shaped me — stabilized me — and adjusted with me to the changes in life.
People say that every time that you travel to a place you better understand it — its history, it's origins, what makes it stand out among the rest. Banff is one of quintessential Canadian parks, full of natural landscapes and abundant wildlife roaming about. Some people would even say that Banff is a symbol of Canada in its entirety — it's peacefulness, calmness and vast openness and that if you have never been to Banff, you have yet to truly experience Canada. At Lake Louise, hike the Plain of Six Glaciers trail from the bottom of Lake Louise to witness small avalanches during the early summer months from the Teahouse above. An hour away, take the Sulphur Mountain Gondola in the city of Banff to see mountain formations older than you can imagine. When I first traveled to Banff 20 years ago, the Sulphur Mountain Gondola was without the steel installed fence that you see today, and the mountains in the background of that old-greyish Polaroid photo almost seem out of place.
From Banff, travel to Jasper along one of most eye-dropping highways in world — the Ice fields Highway. Along the road to Spirit Island and Malign Canyon, watch out for frequent sightings of black bears feeding on delicious berries the summer months. At Spirit Island, don’t miss the chance to take that award-winning photo of Spirit Island that was made famous as a display in Grand Central station in New York.
From your rearview mirror, you might get lucky and have the opportunity to watch Elk and mountain goats cross the highway like I did on this trip — a spectacular sight. Maybe one day you will also see that reflection of yourself through that review mirror, and you will catch a glimpse of yourself, of your 5 year old self, like I did, and wonder : How did the years go by? It is at that moment that you will probably realize that, our life-human life in particular is insignificant compared to the life of the mountains, and that no matter what happens, no matter how life changes for you, life will go on, and we can only hope that the people who are with us throughout our journey see us through the important moments in life and that we treasure every opportunity that we are given. Every time we travel we take a risk out of our comfort zone, knowing perfectly well that life is not what we expect and that it has no obligation to give us what we want.
The road ahead may be filled with up and downs, but we can always count on the rocky mountains to bring us a sense of peace through the turbulent times, a sense of belonging during times of uncertainty, and bring us down to earth in times of happiness. Banff, my 10 year reunion has been nothing but extraordinary. I hope to celebrate every decade with you — the happiness, the sorrow and the growth in the everlasting rocky mountains.
Plain of Six Glaciers