In Mahayana Buddhism, there is talk of the Bodhisattvas, individuals who have achieved enlightenment, but help everyone else to figure it out before moving on. Their motto might as well be, “We can ALL be happy, and here, let me help you figure that out.”
They’re the ones holding the doors open, tie your shoes so you don’t trip, and reminding you to do your homework. The true unsung heroes, whose efforts often go on unnoticed, or unthanked.
These allegedly ordinary people, who through their daily tasks, and effortless acts of kindness and grace, have made our lives a better, more fulfilling place. This article is dedicated to the mothers and fathers, sisters, and brothers that supported us throughout this journey. This is for our friends who stood by us, and the strangers that met us when no one else would.
Allow me to introduce you to the unsung heroes of 50 Marshall:
Jacqueline Drouin, twenty-two
The Story of Tanya
“Ta-ya, can I interview you?”
It’s eleven o’clock at night, and in less than seven hours I’ll be climbing on a train that’ll take me back to school, eight hours away from home. I’m tired. I’ve been staying up late the past few nights, assembling interviews with ‘innovative young people’, people who were making a difference in the world we lived in, but something was wrong.
I wasn’t satisfied with the article. I had found the ‘typical’ heroes, but I wanted something more. I wanted my hero, and after three sleepless nights I found myself waking up my older sister.
Tanya has been the only person that always stood up for me, and by my side, since the day I was born, no questions asked. Throwing bottles in my crib, offering to walk so I could have the stroller, and even punching out a guy in grade four because he wouldn’t leave her alone, Tanya has been the wall between me and all the bad this world has to offer. Like an earth-bound angel, Tanya has been more than a sister; she’s been my guardian.
“You want to interview me?” she asks, slightly shocked.
“Yup.” I replied. “I want to know what you think is important, something that all young people should know or be concerned about.” Tanya thinks over the question, and we begin to talk.
“A place to go,” she says, explaining that one things all kids need is a place where they can feel safe and welcomed. Tanya explains her plans to build a bakery near the school she attends, in one of the poorer districts in Montreal, notorious for gang fights and drugs. Tanya details the image of a bakery with tables, and flower print wallpaper, and serving cookies and milks to the clients.
“What would you call the bakery?” I ask.
“Tanya’s Place.” She replies, and I have to smile. Her wings have just grown bigger.
Claire Traynor, Twenty-two.
“There are certain people who will influence you at one point in your life; I was lucky to have known this person forever.”
Claire never made plans to attend university, and like many of her friends in high school, university was an option that never seriously crosses anyone’s mind. When her older brother, Michael, applied to university contrary to what most of his friends were doing at the time, Claire reconsidered her options.
“It never crossed my mind that Michael would go (to university), but he’s a very strong willed person, and not easily influenced by what his friends were doing. I realized my own potential through his demonstration. He went to university, and I followed two years later.”
Claire has always had a close relationship with her brother, nothing that it’s unusual to see brothers and sisters that get along as well as they do.
“There’s always one person in your life that’s really significant, and you just can’t explain the relationship with other people.” Claire says, remarking on their friendship.
“I’m really lucky to know a person like Michael,” Claire concludes, and smiles. “He’s my best friend.”
Jodie Allen, Twenty-two.
As an undergraduate in the Music Therapy Program at Laurier, one of only five universities in Canada to offer such a programme, Jodie has certain dilemmas. Namely, that few people know what Music Therapy entails.
“A simple definition of music therapy would be to describe it as the clinical use of music as a therapeutic intervention.” explains Jodie, describing a relatively new and uncharted discipline.
Part of the encouragement to remain in music therapy came from a friend’s father, who reassured her that she was on the right track.
“He said that there were different kinds of richness; doing what I was doing would achieve a richness of the heart, something most jobs don’t offer.” Explained Jodie, which was more assuring hearing that piece of advice from someone who was an accountant.
“I always questioned whether I should have gone into another field that was more traditional,” Jodie explained. “There were small doubts until I started working with clients. Now I feel very lucky to be a part of such a small field.”
Kendell Eno, Twenty-three
What Better reason than ‘Kendell’?
“I don’t know,” explains Kendell, “I don’t have any good stories.”
In my head, I know this isn’t true, or at least I don’t want it to be true. After four years of university, I asked Kendell to name at least one person who has guided her, offered her advice, or supported her in some way. She stares back at me, and looks sad.
“I can’t think of anyone.” She replies. I don’t like to see her upset, because she usually is very funny, and one of the kindest persons I know.
Even with a whole group of friends that love and care for you, maybe ‘Kendell’ is the answer. If anything, four years of university has taught this girl to look after herself, to keep her grades up for herself, and to keep on going even though she can’t always find the reason, because Kendell knows she could have something better.
“I’m waiting for something,” Kendell replies, admitting honestly that she doesn’t know exactly where’s she’s going yet, but like many students, hope that it’ll be something or somewhere good.
Katarina Tomasic, Twenty-three
Charting new Territory
“I’m the first female in my family to go away to university, to go on with education after high school.” Katty says proudly. Her parents were her first source of encouragement, offering both financial support and emotional support as she filled out university applications.
“It was a bit harder for me in my first year, because I didn’t have anyone in my family that I could emulate, or someone who could share their experiences with me,” Katty confessed, “But we were all going through the same thing in first year. That made it a bit easier.”
Katty’s little niece, Jelena, has made the choices in her life easier, as she has always wanted to work with children.
“She’s so smart,” Katty confesses, proudly talking of Jelena. As a volunteer at several local elementary schools, Katty has learned that her future’s choice of working with children will be rewarding.
“Working with kids, you get to see how smart they are, and how cute they can be. These are the important things you need to learn in life, that you can’t learn from a book.” Katty says, mentioning a long list of friends and family members that have been a source of support, laughter, and good times all throughout university.
Our unsung heroes. Thank you.