by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent
Gloria Sichkaryk said she wanted to do something for Canada 150 but was not sure what.
After seeing and hearing the commercials of the Participation 150, she knew she could not do all the activities.
Finally, she decided, and with her little red notebook in hand she started in the spring of 2017 and went on a mission to collect 150 names and get to meet 150 new people for Canada 150.
She started with pickleball at the Rendez-Vous Centre, and by coincidence, on Nov. 2 she collected her last name at pickleball as well.
“Kind of cool [that] it began and ended with pickle ball,” Sichkaryk said. “It went into a whole circle, around Canada, China, and Europe and ended up back here again. I have someone who is really famous and someone who made me very emotional and cry and proud to be Canadian, and someone that made me very humble. All of those experiences were something I never thought would happen. It has been a real journey.”
Names collected were from Morinville, Sturgeon County, Bon Accord, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan., Canmore, China, a Tibetan monk and many others.
Sichkaryk said at first she just collected the names but then expanded to include tidbits of information on the person. When it started snowballing, she thought of getting pictures of people. She would go weeks and weeks without collecting names, then would convince herself she had better get on with it.
Each entry tells a story. One is Bruno Lietz whom she met at pickleball. He was her former Grade 9 teacher from Namao School. She had not seen him in more than 50 years, and now her former homeroom teacher and Physical Eucationd teacher is teaching her pickleball.
Entry number 116 is Yang Jide of China. Sichkaryk said he is one of the surviving farmers who discovered the Terracotta Warriors while digging a well in 1974.
While digging, the farmers found bits of clay and Jide did not know it at the time, but it was the top of one of the statues head. He took it to be evaluated and it went from there.
“So I met a man who had a piece of history in his hand and you start thinking. My gosh,” Sichkaryk said.
Another entry took place at the Dollar Tree in Morinville where a gentleman was buying helium balloons. A lady in the lineup at the till offered to do a balloon bouquet for him as she had just taken balloon decorating classes. She said she did it to make herself feel good. She was from Cache Creek and they had lost everything in the huge fire, had been evacuated, and ended up in Morinville. She was buying the essentials of toothpaste, toothbrush soap, etc. The guy ahead paid it forward for her and the lady hugged him. They cried, so did the cashier and so did Sichkaryk.
When she coached a ball game for her grandson that otherwise would have been cancelled, she got all of their names as well.
Her humbling experience was at Namao Centre when two people walked in and the one was walking behind with their hand on the shoulder of the one ahead. She realized the person was blind. They looked like they could be homeless, at the very least living in a shelter. Sichkaryk said they looked like they were struggling economically. The man was trying to order and had a speech impediment and finally had to get a paper and pencil and tried to write in stick-like fashion the word hot chocolate. The couple sat beside Sichkaryk.
“This was my wakeup call,” Sichkaryk said, adding she was thinking to move and not sit there, then told herself not to be a snob and smarten up. “The devil and the angel.”
So Sichkaryk smiled and said hello. On the couple’s tray was a free coupon for a coffee. The man offered the coupon and motioned for Sichkaryk to have it. He did sign language in the hand of the lady with him. Sichkaryk said she felt guilty for passing judgement.
“This gave me a wakeup call to be thankful for what I have and not be judgmental on someone who appears outwardly not to have advantages that I have had,” she said.
With the names and stories collected, Sichkaryk said she does not know what she will do with her list. Some of her friends have suggested she should write a book on her experience. “It is satisfaction,” she said. “I did not know sometimes if I was going to actually do it. It is definitely something, a goal, not a major one but a goal anyway.”