I spent the month working on some very special projects. Some very heavy projects with a lot of meaning and a lot of shame, guilt and grief attached.

I spent a lot of time listening and a lot of time crying. And when it was over – my part, for now – I had to recover from it. I needed to feel peaceful again.

On Friday I picked up my baby girl, some sushi and we put on our pyjamas and fell asleep together. On Saturday I tried to get up and get going but ended up back in bed napping for most of the afternoon.  On Sunday I knew I needed to get out of the house, but I didn’t know where to go. I needed something. So, I started driving.

And when I got in the car I knew that I was driving through the Ottawa Valley, watching the beautiful fall colours go by, on my way to visit my Dad.

It’s the third or fourth time I’ve been out there to talk to him. I don’t know what draws me there. I certainly never anticipated visiting my father’s grave regularly. I had no idea I would talk to him. I had no idea I would need to.

I was driving the car, thinking of what to do with myself, how to be more peaceful, what direction I should head, and it became surprisingly clear.

Maybe I just need to express my needs and wants to someone who will just be there listening. Maybe I need to give myself what my father always provided me in life – the unvarnished truth.

Maybe I just needed the beauty and serenity of my Ottawa Valley.




The past month has been quite something for me. I have had the opportunity to do work I wouldn’t have imagined even three months ago. I have met beautiful people and been a part of something really, truly special.

First there was the Moose Hide Campaign event – an event for a movement to get men across Canada – Indigenous and non-Indigenous men – to talk about the role that they play in ending violence against women.

I spent the day at the event and there were many great speakers who said many great things but what struck me was the hope, the optimism and the respect for women I felt in the room. Women being referred to as the cradle of life, beautiful words about the resilience of women and how powerful they are. And one thought that I cannot get out of my head is how beautiful the ceremony I got to witness is, and I can’t help but wonder how someone like me once saw this and decided it had to be destroyed.

I never learned about residential schools in school. I don’t even remember when I first heard about them. I think I had heard the term but had no idea what that really meant. I had no idea that it was something that was still going on even when I was in high school – the last one closed in 1996.

I had no idea until I was an adult that people like me were stealing children from their homes and families and stripping them of their identities.

A couple of months ago I had never heard of Chanie Wenjack. Now I’ve met his family, I’ve read about his life. Now I understand that they took kids my daughter’s age away from their homes and their parents and made life so bad that they would run away – trying to walk 600 kms.

Now I know there is an 87-year-old mother in northern Ontario who still doesn’t understand why her 12-year-old son died alone by the side of the railroad tracks and that I don’t have any answer for her.

Now I have been in a room filled with over 2,000 people that has gone completely silent as a sister cries.

Now I am learning everything I should have been taught in school.

And I have talked to my daughter and told her that it was people like us who did this. We tried to destroy culture and language and it was wrong, and it’s up to us to do what we can to make it better. I have showed her how much my heart hurts when I think of her being taken away from me, coming back and not having her language any more, being told that her culture is bad and wrong.

I want to give her a window into what I never knew so that we can try to make the pain of it all go away. Because it hurts all of us.

Last week I sat with an elder and listened. She gave me peace. I sat on ceremony and I felt calm. I listened to a very wise man speak and I felt moved to action. I can’t quite grasp all of the things that have happened to me, around me, all the things I have been a small part of over the past month.

My child will know. My child will listen, she will witness, she will act.


October 10th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Ottawa | Parenting - (Comments Off on #MFO16)

My daughter has reached an age where she still has many questions, but she is exhausting the ones I can actually answer. This is why I’ve started using outside sources and calling in favours. Last year I planned on taking her to Ottawa’s Maker Faire but things didn’t work out (I think we all ended up sick) but this year it’s on the list again, because the makers at Maker Faire can expose her to a bunch of cool stuff that I never could.

I told her there will be inventors and computer scientists and artists. And when she wasn’t sure after that, I told her BB-8 is going to be there.

Though she’s nervous about the crowds we could find ourselves in, I fully expect to be following her around as she exclaims “cool!” and learns all about new and different ways art, technology and creativity intertwine.

What will she love most about Maker Faire? The fact that she’ll be invited to touch, feel and play with a lot of the cool things she sees there. And also that some of the makers are not that much older than her.

I anticipate that she will be inspired, and when we get back home she’ll want to make a few things on her own. Hopefully I will also be inspired, because crafty, artistic me hasn’t had time to come out and play recently. And there’s an exhibitor called Tint and Twist who seems to sell geek-inspired yarn to knit with. I’m just saying.

You can find more information on the event, which takes place at the Aberdeen Pavillion on October 15 and 16, here and tweet about your trip to the event using @MakerFaireOtt and hashtag #MFO16. You can also win tickets through their Twitter account or Facebook page.

Any excuse to see my friend K-9

Any excuse to see my friend K-9

About the Event

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth—a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, and a celebration of the Maker Movement.  It’s a place where people show what they are making, and share what they are learning.

Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.

The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA and in 2015 celebrated its tenth annual show with some 1100 makers and 145,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire New York, the other flagship event, has grown in four years to 600+ makers and 80,000 attendees.  Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Orlando, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Silver Spring, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Hannover, Oslo, Trondheim, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Newcastle (UK), Shenzhen and now Ottawa are the home of larger-scale, “featured” Maker Faires and over 120 community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world.



Good lord

October 5th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting - (Comments Off on Good lord)

Last Friday was Orange Shirt Day and Joe and I have both talked to the kid about the significance of that, about Indigenous peoples and their history at the hands of people like us. It’s not an easy conversation, but it’s so important and I hate that there were all these terrible things that I didn’t know about until I was much older. I am very thankful to now be actively working to help reconciliation in my day to day job.

And as we were talking about these children losing their culture and being taken away from their families and the difficulty that has caused for generations, she turns to me and she asks “Is God real?”

The pause to end all pauses.

I knew that someday we would need to talk about this, Joe and I talked about it, we had ideas of how she was to be raised. And then comes this question at a moment when I was talking about something else so big and hard. And there we were.

And all I could tell her is that I don’t know. I have tried to discern what I believe and I just don’t know.

And then she told me that she does think God is real, that she talks to God – and now knows the word prayer – but that when she thinks of God it is a lady god. And now she knows the word goddess.

I told her that there are many different religions and many different beliefs. That Daddy and I wanted her to figure that out for herself but we will answer her questions as best we can, or find people to answer questions.

And then she went to bed and I called my mother-in-law and then my mother and then talked to Joe because this kid thinks such big thoughts and I’m not quite sure what to do with her.

But now I know, and ever we go forward.


Guilt and the working mother

October 1st, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on Guilt and the working mother)

I cried in the car on the way home today. Part of it was stress getting to me. Part of it was frustration. There was confusing and a bit of self pity. But mostly it was the mom part of me.


Because before I became a mother I never really understood. I didn’t know what these motherly emotions were going to feel like. How they overcome you. That sometimes I can burst into tears just looking at her because I love her so much I can’t contain it. That sometimes all I want is to be left alone, but then I miss her when she’s not there.

That one day you have to just put her on a school bus and let it drive away without knowing exactly what she’s doing all day and with whom.

And that one day you’ll be in your office working and realize you’ve missed a phone call from the school and when you dial in for the message you hear that your child is hurt. And you missed the phone call.

I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in a house with just one parent, but even though I knew her father was on his way to get her, and even though I knew she’d be fine and he’d be with her and I had work that had to get done, every fibre of my being was desperate to be the one.

Because it has usually been me. Because when I shut myself in a quite room to worry and cry a bit at work, my mom was the person that I called.

And you know what? Her first instinct was to go to my daughter too.

Because moms.

It’s not that I don’t trust my husband to take the best care of her and make her feel safe and loved and comfortable. It’s not that I think moms are always better than dads and the whole parenting thing. This is about me wanting to be there – to remind her that I will always be there. That I have always been ready to be there. Because she is the best piece of me.

Because I may not always have the right answers and I may not always be able to check my temper, and I may not always give her what she wants, but I will always, always give her what she needs.


Acceptance stage

September 28th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on Acceptance stage)
With apologies to my sister

With apologies to my sister

This morning my car smelled like apples. This is because last night when I got home I left an apple core in the cup holder.

And thus begins my realization of just how much like my father I am.

I have known, I think, my whole life. Uncomfortably so. But I’m starting to think the secret is accepting this fact and just bloody well going with it.

There are things about my father that were obviously strengths and I have to remove my discomfort from sharing those traits. I have to embrace it.

There is strength there, and smarts, and wit. Well… puns.

I am stubborn, this I know, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I am often direct. I can be exacting.

All of these things I can put to good use. But may my car never been the storage container he drove around.


September 27th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Health | Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on Golden)

You know what I have been appreciating more than ever before lately? Silence.

Usually I am the type of person who likes to have some background noise. I throw on some music or re-watch a TV show while I’m getting things done. I play the radio or podcasts in my car. I walk with earphones.

But now I’ve gone to work in a communal office space. It’s great, there are a lot of advantages and when you need to put on headphones to drown everyone else out no one cares.

But then I get home and my kid has five hundred million things she has to tell me all at once. 

She’s got language skills, this kid, and she knows how to use them.

And some nights when Joe is out or has something else to do – nights when I would normally put on a show he would never watch – I find myself just sitting in silence.

It’s nice. It’s calm. It allows me to collect my thoughts and piece things together. It’s a new thing for me – me who hates the general idea of meditation.

It gives me a chance to breathe deeply.

Tonight after dinner we had an entire conversation eith Marvin here. He teaches physics at Oxford.

This is the beginning

September 23rd, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Personal - (Comments Off on This is the beginning)

It’s been almost a month since I started back at work and I’m still tired, my face is breaking out, the commute is still rough, and every day, at least once a day, I feel like a complete idiot.

But last week I did the Army Run 5k. I wasn’t sure how it would go, and the first kilometre or so I thought I was going to have to quit. And then I didn’t. And the end was fantastic. Because I finished, I even jogged over the finish line. And it makes me feel really good about the next 5k I’m doing in 9 days.


I believe that if I hadn’t started working, walking a few blocks every morning and again every evening, walking up four flights of stairs to get to the street from my car and up three flights every time I go up to my office, then I wouldn’t have managed that 5k as well as I did.

My feeling like an idiot is made slightly better by the fact that my daughter is being taken care of. She loves school, still, and my husband and I our managing outside school hours with the help of a neighbour mom who has opened her home for us. It is made better by the people I now have the chance to work with and their reassurance that simple mistakes and learning do not make me an idiot.

This has been a hard transition made easier by the community around me. Make harder by my own self-doubt and nasty inner workings.

The first kilometre is rough, and the next one will be a bit better and when I cross the finish line it will feel so good that I’ll be ready for the next one.

In the name of love

September 9th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal | Women's Issues - (Comments Off on In the name of love)

The other day at the park, after her first day back at school, the kid was fly around the monkey bars and talking a mile a minute. She was showing me her tricks and demonstrating her strength and also telling me how good she is and how she taught one of her friends a better way to do the monkey bars too.


And I had this instinct. This unfortunate instinct that I squashed down.

I almost told her not to be so cocky. I almost suggested that her friends won’t like it if she’s so confident.

What a stupid thing to think.

This kid is strong. She’s strong and she’s been practicing for years. She’s been doing gymnastics and working hard at it since before she could walk. She practiced the monkey bars over and over again until the day she finally got all the way around. I remember that day and her smile was so big I almost cried, as she ran towards me telling me “I did it!”

She’s worked hard and practiced and why would I take that away from her, ever? Why shouldn’t she be confident about something she can do well?

And if she were a boy, would I have had this whole conversation in my head? No, probably not.

This kid is an athlete. She loves to exercise, she loves to run and stretch and bounce and play. When Daddy asked her if she did anything fun at gymnastics today she declared her love of burpies. Nobody loves burpies.

She’s an athlete and for the rest of her life people will tell her she’s too confident, they’ll place her behind the men in her sport, they’ll say she’s not dedicated because she likes fashion.

I will not be one of those people.

Grade 1

September 8th, 2016 | Posted by Amy Boughner in Parenting | Personal - (Comments Off on Grade 1)

The kid has started Grade 1…

Stereotypical first day pic

Stereotypical first day pic

This seems big and important to me not only because it’s an actual numbered grade, but also because I remember Grade 1. I remember a lot about Grade 1, while I only remember snippets of kindergarten – like the little red-headed boy who threw up in front of the playhouse and the janitor had to come and clean it up.

(Sidebar – the playhouse that I had in my kindergarten classroom? My Gramps built it the year my sister was in SK. He built it for the school. Just because. And it was still there years later when I went to pick up a kid I was supposed to babysit).

I remember that we knew my teacher’s name before I started school, but she was knew so my mom didn’t know anything about her. Her name was Mme. Piché and she had short, very dark hair and big glasses. I remember that she always always spoke to us in French unless there was something very important that she needed us to understand, and then she would tell us in English, and we knew that it was important because she was telling us in English.

I remember that I sat next to a little boy with a rat tail, but I don’t remember his actually name.

I remember that we wrote get well cards for my friend Molly when she went away for an operation. I remember that Molly was kind and gentle and friendly and that I wasn’t surprised at all when we reconnected on Facebook and I found out that she’s a nurse.

I remember M. Leduc came in to teach us gym. I remember this vividly even though my sister says it can’t be true because she had M. Leduc later for French and he was in no way a gym teacher. And I remember Mr. Louks, who I still think might have been the best principal ever. Though Mr. Dagenais would be a close second.

I remember my math workbook – an actual book that you wrote in that the school gave us – had a polar bear and a light blue cover. I have no idea why that detail has stuck with me for so long. I started Grade 1 almost 30 years ago.

I know that I loved Grade 1. I think it’s probably because in junior kindergarten I was new to school, and in senior kindergarten I was new to French, but in Grade 1 I could start just being in school. And I had my own teacher, not one that had taught my sister before me. Mme. Piché. I picture her with her short dark hair and her great big glasses and she’s always kind and smiling, and she’s always wearing a white jacket and a bright blue shirt.

They say you can never go back. I can but it won’t be the same since the renovated the entire school after I graduated Grade 8. But every time I’m in the neighbourhood I see parents of people I went to school with, though none of my teachers are at the school any more. And Mme. Piché? I think she was just there for that one year with us. But I remember her.

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