Monday, December 15, 2014

Canadian Senate to debate assisted suicide: my reflections

A Member of Parliament (MP) in our country is pushing to make doctor-assisted suicide an election issue in 2015.

I remember taking Law 12 in high school and my friend Catherine and I were tasked with debating the case of Rodriguez v. British Columbia, a landmark case from 1993 that ruled on doctor-assisted suicide. Catherine and I studied the case and needed to be able to debate it from both sides, so we did a lot of research. As Christians we both knew what God's word says about murder and so to then have to fight for doctor-assisted suicide was a challenge.

The case touched me on a personal level because Ms. Rodriguez suffered from ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, same as my Poppa.

Fourteen years after I took Law 12 and 21 years after the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) ruled against doctor-assisted suicide, the case is once again before Canadians. The SCC heard the case of Carter v. Canada on October 15. Watch a video update from some friends which gives reflections on the SCC hearing.

On December 1, the National Post published an article titled "Senate bill ensures assisted suicide will be an issue in 2015 federal election". One quote stood out to me above the rest (emphasis mine):

“My mother had asked me to kill her a number of times,” [Senator] Nancy Ruth said in an interview, recalling how the elderly woman suffered in the last period of her life. Her mother died at age 90. “I said, ‘You let me know when,’ but she never did, which always interested me.”

Senator Ruth is the lead senator on MP Fletcher's bill.

Perhaps, Senator Ruth, the reason your mother never carried through on her wishes and asked you to kill her is because she didn't actually want to die. I don't pretend to know what Senator Ruth's mother wanted, I never met her.

But I do know what it's like to feel like you've got nowhere to turn and it would be easier to just end it all. I know because I have been there on more than one occasion. I struggled with deep depression and twice I took steps to end my own life.

I know because I watched my father's life ebb away due to cancer. Thankfully he received beautiful care from trained palliative nurses and healthcare staff, instead of an injection.

Papi and me. This was taken 7 years after my last intense struggle with depression and 2 years before my Papi passed away. So thankful we had so many beautiful memories.

I know because pain causes us to think and say many things.

I would like Senator Ruth, MP Fletcher and others advocating for assisted suicide, know that most people are looking for help and not suicide. Sometimes when we are in the depths of despair we do and say things that, if in a different state of mind, would either never occur to us - or would never be something we act upon.

Death is final. Instead of giving people a reason to end their lives, why not give people a reason to live their life?

Note: if you or someone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, anxiety, depression or feelings of deep sadness that you can't seem to shake - I encourage you strongly, seek help. There is hope, there is help, there will be sunshine once again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Engagement Pictures

Here are a few photos from the very talented Andrew Jake of Cannon Fire Photography. Thanks Jake for the fun evening, we're looking forward to having you capture our wedding day!

In front of our house. There's a horse barn back there, poor lonely horse barn. ;)

Laughter is inevitable with this man, I hope we laugh our way through life.

This is from the balcony off the master bedroom which overlooks the pond.

Thanks for trekking through the bush for this shot, Jake!

Jake: okay Duane, whisper something to her.

Duane: Jake looks funny. (for the record, I don't think you do, Jake)

M is for mawwiage. Mawwiage. Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew today. (coming soon!)

I think this is my favourite picture from the whole set. Joy.

Duane likes to pick me wildflowers. :)

25 more days.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My positive pro-life experience

This was written at the end of the conference, it just took me some time to post it to my blog.

Two nights ago I finally made it to the east coast of our beautiful country, landing in Charlottetown on Wednesday evening – a dream come true. My Nanna is from PEI and I’ve long wished to visit, but I never could have imagined what would eventually bring me here.

A conference titled “Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution” and touted as the “first international abortion conference of its kind” was held at the University of Prince Edward Island on August 7 and 8, 2014 and I attended. I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty certain I was the only pro-life person registered for the conference.

I want to focus on one of the themes that I heard repeated, and counter it with my personal story, or ‘narrative’ as was the common term at the conference. The speakers would often talk about the necessity of actively listening to a woman’s narrative and seeking to understand her perspective surrounding her abortion experience. Although it wasn’t always said, it was understood that if abortion activists would take the time to listen to these women (and men) and their abortion stories, they would be succeeding where pro-lifers have failed.

I kept hearing that if only given a chance to think logically and rationally, and removed from their home of origin, a person raised in a radical or fundamentalist Christian home would obviously conclude that abortion is a necessary component of women’s healthcare and the religious rhetoric they were raised with would logically be forgotten. Although I would not consider my upbringing or current religious life to have been, or be, radical or fundamentalist in nature, I got the impression from the other delegates that if they knew what outlandish things I believed, I would be labeled as a fundamentalist – the idea that I could dare to believe in the creation story as outlined in Genesis, or believing the Bible has authority in my life were themes that were laughed at in one presentation, I squirmed a bit in my seat as I looked around a room of 30+ people who thought my perspective had no value because I believe in Biblical authority.

Interestingly, at the outset of the conference we were told this was a safe place for open dialogue, although it became evident that the only viewpoints they would receive were ones that aligned with their way of thinking.

I propose using their framework to tell my narrative. I had a positive pro-life upbringing and I don’t regret it. As a child I was taught about the value of human life – from the time a woman was pregnant until that person died, they were a person deserving of human dignity and worth. No matter what someone did, even if it was a terrible thing, we were told to not stoop to their level – whether it was being teased for having amblyopia (a non-issue now, as an adult, but was a huge deal as a child) or something more severe. I experienced quite a bit of hurt in my young life and yet I can say with gratitude that although wounded, I did not respond in a way that dehumanized the offender. For that, I am thankful to my parents. I remember attending a pro-life rally as a young girl in Vancouver with my mom – it wasn’t an angry protest and I don’t recall any graphic images, simply a time to stand in protest and pray for women in unplanned pregnancies and their unborn children. As I grew older I formed opinions about public school sex-ed curriculum, including writing a letter to the editor about teaching abstinence as part of a comprehensive curriculum. I researched abortion in Canada and the United States and plastered my walls with magazine and newspaper articles. I have had friends who have had abortions and I have had friends who became teen mothers. As an adult I have participated in the National March for Life in Ottawa as well as Life Chain events in Hamilton and London, Ontario. I have expanded my understanding of pro-life measures from beyond my Christian upbringing to include scientific arguments about the personhood of the fetus and the medical studies that show the adverse effects of abortion on a woman, physical and psychological. I was raised in a traditional Christian home with a pro-life framework, and twelve years after leaving home and continuing to form my own opinions: I am still pro-life and I do care about women, their health and the impact on abortion in our culture.

The conference gave me a lot to think about it as it relates to the abortion movement in Canada and internationally, as well as how to respond with empathy, dignity and respect to those I disagree with and finally, how to move forward with a better understanding of the goals of abortion advocates on how they intend to make abortion an accessible and normalized part of women’s healthcare.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I'm simply humbled by the number of people in my life that are excited for me. I went dress shopping with one of my bridesmaids the other night and I almost thought she was more excited than me! To be fair though, I was running on limited sleep and was feeling pretty overwhelmed. I'm back to being really excited again. But yes, I am humbled by the vast number of friends and family who love me and care for me, and to now be marrying my best friend and gaining even more friends and family (heavy emphasis on the family).

This blog will continue and I smile at the URL: trackmytravels, because as a Christian I am always traveling, until the day I will be called home - which we hope won't be for many more years. I'm excited to see what will transpire in the next years and where my travels will lead. I have 4 more months in Hamilton and then I will embark on a new adventure: Southwold with my husband.

Life is crazy. God is great. I am blessed.

a bit of our story (part 3)

Two days after the skeet-shooting and AORYA conference, I realize I have Duane's phone number and simply cannot wait for him to text me. I tried, I really did. But by about 7:30 am when he hadn't texted me, I couldn't wait any longer. After all, it had been about 33 hours since I had last seen him and my irrational "smitten" brain took over and convinced myself that if I didn't text him, he would think I wasn't interested. I'm not particularly proud of this moment, but...I can't change it. So as I got ready for work I thought about all the ways I could casually text him. By the time I got to work I knew what to say: something about Saturday that would open the door of conversation, but let him take it from there. I justified that I was merely opening the door a crack, and that I would stop there - anything after that would have to be initiated by him. So I texted him something silly along the lines of "hey, guess who has bruises on their arm from Saturday?" Slick, I know.

I don't recall what he texted back, only that he did. And so from that day, September 23 and for the next number of weeks, we were texting back and forth every single day. I wondered if this was the right way to go about things and truth be told, I don't know that I'd recommend texting that much. But, I justified, we knew each other, we'd been friends for 3 years already and it's not like I didn't know his character.

There was a group of us from AORYA planning to go to the demo derby at the Rockton World Fair on Thanksgiving weekend. The day after we began regularly texting, I posted a note about parking and shortly thereafter, a comment about not wanting to drive. I knew Duane was going and I was really hoping he'd see my comment...

Other people commented and messaged me, offering to drive or join the carpool and I (shamefully) ignored them. I just pretended I didn't see (sorry Leah and Esther!), because I really wanted Duane to offer. But he didn't. The days kept dragging on and it was getting embarrassing to not respond, because anyone who knows me, knows that I check facebook - there's no way I didn't see the offer of a ride. Finally, Duane offered to drive and would pick me up "if I wanted". Heck yes I wanted. I wanted and waited and now I was going to get a ride with Duane.

I was going on a date. Ack. What? Me? I'm going on a date. You know that feeling when you're simultaneously overjoyed and absolutely terrified of something? Yeah, that was me.

So, on October 11, 2013, Duane showed up at my house after work to drive me to the Rockton Fair. His car was SO clean (I found out later that he did that for me). Here I thought he always kept his car so immaculate...I've since learned that neither of us keep overly clean cars.

We drove out there and I was pretty sure I knew where to go, so we chatted and we took an exit off the roundabout and we chatted, and chatted, and learned all about his apprenticeship, and chatted...and saw a sign for Cambridge. Even I knew that a sign for Cambridge meant we were in the wrong place, and I'm not good with directions. We pulled over and I got Duane's GPS out of the glove box and after a lot of searching we finally came up with "Fairgrounds" and turned ourselves around. Then we laughed, a lot, about how poor my sense of direction was and we drove back quite a while until we were in the right city again and found the right exit off the roundabout, and finally made it to the fairgrounds.

We got out of the car and walked up to the front gate where we found ourselves standing in line behind his cousin Tim and his wife (and one of my dear friends), Kim. The four of us walked in together and were laughing about how we got lost, which is not too unexpected for me when I notice Kim give Tim a look - when they had just started dating (at the Rockton Fair), they also got lost on their way to the fairgrounds!

We met up with the rest of our group and although I know a few people turned their heads at the fact that Duane and I came together, it wasn't altogether unusual since we arrived with Tim & Kim.

During one of the demo derby breaks, Duane and I decided to go grab some dinner. While we were in the concession area we got to talking to some friends who commented that they saw us go the wrong way in the roundabout and instead of texting us and telling us we were going the wrong way, just let us carry on - assuming we must have known where we were going. Thanks ladies! :P Obviously, we eventually did find our way and enjoyed our first date.

My 30th birthday was the next day...tune in for the next installment ;)

Monday, June 16, 2014

a bit of our story (part 2)

After telling Duane's cousin that I wouldn't say no to Duane if he were to ask me out, I started to really think about him more. But I didn't hear from him and I figured he probably wasn't interested in someone as loud as me anyways. We're pretty opposite when it comes to our volume and ease with which we start up a conversation.

On Friday, September 20 I went to my friend Sandra's 30th birthday bash. There were a ton of people there from a bunch of different groups of friends and among the AORYA group, I saw Duane. At one point in the evening one guy sidles up to me and starts commenting about me being single and asking if I was interested in anybody. His question could be considered inappropriate considering the context of our friendship but it was awkward more than anything else since Duane was standing beside me when he asked. I gave a non-committal answer that "there might be someone I was interested in" and when he asked if the guy was there that evening I was grateful the sun had gone down and my blushing face was hidden when I said "maybe". Poor Duane! I found out quite a bit later that he wondered if he even had a chance since I probably liked another guy that was there. I still had no idea whether Duane was even interested.

A group of us from AORYA had made plans to go skeet shooting the morning after the birthday bash and Duane asked me a few times to clarify where it was. I had no idea (I'm not exactly the directions expert). Little did I know he was trying to have a conversation with me and I kept pointing him to other people. (not one of my brightest moments)

On Saturday morning we met at our friend's workshop and he supplied with all the guns, targets and ammo we wanted. Too bad I fell really sick that morning and so instead of enjoying myself and spending time with Duane, I was curled up in a ball trying to pretend like I was okay. Duane was definitely showing interest as he kept asking if I was okay and when I insisted "oh yeah, I'm fine", he would offer me the gun he was shooting and ask if I wanted to try. I did, a couple times. I finally had to give up and go home. I couldn't believe that he might be interested and I had to be sick! The rain probably didn't help me feel much better, but here are a few pics of our adventure:
Duane (isn't he handsome?!) with Caroline and Jenn.

It was a bit rainy and I was in pain, but I tried to muster a decent smile for the camera.

I took a couple pain relievers and after a short rest, was feeling much better. Then I get a text on my phone from an unknown number, and it was from Duane! We had a conference that day and he knew that I was responsible for getting the food and setting up and offered to help. I remember thinking: "Duane texted me! How did Duane get my number? Duane has MY number? How? Nevermind how, he texted me! EEEEE! Maybe he IS interested? Oh calm down, he's just being helpful. How on earth did he get my number?" I texted him back and said that would be great, but tried to not sound too giddy...but it's pretty obvious that I'm not good at keeping my emotions in check.

I picked up the groceries, drove to the conference and soon after, Duane arrived. I'm sure there were others, but at that point I was just excited to see him. I've always known that he was helpful and kind, but that day I had the privilege of watching it first-hand as he stuck by my side the whole day and offered to do whatever needed to be done. Whenever something was finished he would come back and find me (although there were at least half a dozen of us organizing the conference) and ask me "what's next" or "what else can I do". Such a kind, servant-hearted man and we were hanging out!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Dear Canadian Living

I am posting this on behalf of my dear friend Alison who believes so strongly in pro-life measures that she was willing to do more than just complain about it. Take a read below!
- niki


The following letter was written to the editor of Canadian Living magazine after an article celebrating abortion in Canada. This letter was sent 4 times, twice to the editor herself ( February 27th and March 20th), and then to another contact (on April 10th and April 30th) I was given after phoning the magazine to cancel my subscription and inquire why I had received no reply. In my April 30th e-mail I included that I would post this letter publicly if I did not receive a reply within two weeks, which lead to a prompt reply from the editor the following day.

Her reply indicated that they were “passionate about sharing stories of women with a variety of opinions (pro-choice and pro-life), experiences and causes.” I followed up by asking when an article of the pro-life persuasion would be published. I requested a reply by May 9th, and I have yet to receive one, therefore I am making this letter public, to increase the pressure on Canadian Living to follow through with publishing a piece that reflects pro-life choices and experiences of Canadian women.

Dear Jennifer Reynolds,

I was shocked to see the infographic in your “State of the Sisterhood” piece of the March edition pertaining to reproductive rights. The stats you give on maternal mortality rate are encouraging for those of us who live in developed countries, and yet reveal the hard truth that women in other parts of the world still face a huge risk when they become mothers. I find the contrast with your information on Abortion to be both misleading and lacking in equality of human rights. How can you expect me to be glad that fewer women are dying during childbirth in Canada (1 in 5200 over their lifetime), and at the same time be glad that we are killing pre-born humans at a rate of one in four pregnancies. I am glad that our medical advances are increasing women’s survival rates, yet I am deeply saddened that advances in the same field are being used for genocide of the tiniest humans (some who could otherwise grow up to be mothers themselves one day).

Your piece paints a rosy picture of abortion in Canada, implying that we are a great place to live because we’re “advanced” (both medically and socially) enough to give women access to abortion. Your piece also suggests wagging a finger at countries where abortion is illegal, regardless of circumstance. There are many negative consequences of abortion, which are too often swept under the rug in public discussion, including your magazine. Women aren’t made aware of the many physical and psychological effects abortion can produce, only to be discovered once they are experiencing them. I won’t elaborate on this point, but encourage you to visit to read more on the other negative health outcomes after abortion.

Your piece is also extremely misleading, both in the categories you created, and the way you represent your figures. By grouping together Canada and 55 other countries where there are "Few or no restrictions (gestational limits may apply)" etc. You have glossed over the fact that only three countries have NO limits whatsoever, and the other 53 countries have some limits (click here for a link to their infographic). You do not explain what those gestational limits may be, and in many Western nations, abortion is illegal after the first trimester (including: Austria, France, Germany, Denmark, Greece, Italy, Netherlands and Czech Republic). Some of these countries also include waiting periods (Netherlands, Germany), approval by a committee (Czech Republic, Denmark, UK) or mandatory counselling to try and convince the woman to continue her pregnancy (Germany).

The sad truth is that the other two countries with NO limits are North Korea and China. I hardly think anyone would say that equality with North Korea is to be desired, as they are grave violators of human rights. China as the third country with no abortion laws brings me to my argument that your figures are misleading. Instead of arranging your pie chart by number of countries with certain restrictions, you have weighted it towards percentage of world population. As China is in the same awful boat as us, and they have the largest population of any one country, this makes it seem like access to abortion is the most popular choice, when in fact more governments around this world have decided against allowing their tiniest citizens to be murdered.

In 1988 when the Supreme Court ruled on R. v. Morgentaler, they expected Canada to rewrite the laws, they even indicated it in their decision. By having zero laws it's actually contrary to human rights. Other countries have gestational limits BECAUSE it's obvious, through science, that a preborn child is actually a human (and not a clump of cells). If other countries choose to have limits it's actually empowering, because it is recognizing human rights for all people - in the womb and out. It's actually better that there are gestational limits and the fact that Canada has none is showing that it doesn't value human rights as much as it says it does.

Are women’s right important? Of course they are. But when we decide that one person’s rights are more important than another person’s rights, we don’t have universal human rights. And when life is devalued at its most innocent stage, it becomes a slippery slope to devaluing human rights whenever anyone else’s existence is an inconvenience for us. I am glad to live in Canada for many reasons. This is not one of them. I am ashamed that my country allows this genocide to continue, and I am appalled that Canadian Living flaunts this “right” as if we should be proud. I request that a piece be published in the soonest possible edition of Canadian Living presenting the other side of such a sensitive issue. I am aware that this is a very charged, emotional and political issue, but you opened the can of worms yourself, and this cannot be ignored now. Should you feel that this issue is bigger than you can handle, I can recommend someone with more knowledge and literary eloquence than myself who works to support pre-born humans in Canada. I’m sure she would love to contribute to your magazine. Her name is Niki Devereaux and she can be reached at

Thank you for taking this issue seriously. I otherwise enjoy reading your magazine, but am reconsidering my subscription pending your response,

 Alison Hyndman

 For more information and the source of my stats, please see

Friday, March 14, 2014

foster care, adoption and my heart

"He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy." - David Crowder Band (How He Loves)

Tonight I went to my friend E's house to drop off some things she lent us for the Priceless fundraiser and she invited me in for a visit. I deeply admire E and her husband A and their love for others. They express this love most tangibly and visibly to me in being foster parents. They have raised 4 children and now have 5 (I think?) grandchildren. They began fostering around 15 years ago and have had 15 children live with them, some for a short time, others, like little L, for longer. They typically get the children when they are newborn or shortly thereafter and the children may have substance dependencies through their mother or other special needs that need extra special love.

As I sat there and watched as E, and then A, cuddled little baby J, my heart wanted to simultaneously burst and melt.

You see, my Mami has always looked out for the vulnerable, the down-trodden and the "underdogs". I got that trait from her, no doubt about it.

Foster care is part of my family story. It isn't part of my personal story but it affected both of my brothers. So while I didn't personally live in a foster home or experience the stories my brothers did, foster care impacted me. My oldest brother and I grew up on two different continents, unbeknownst to each that the other existed. My other brother lived in a few different foster/youth care homes when he wasn't at home with us. I remember hearing about the women that took my brother and other youth into their homes and often wondered what life was like for him. We grew up as brother and sister, but (in my mind) with vastly different upbringings. When I went to Westview Secondary, I would walk past a home that my brother stayed in sometimes and I remember the pang of hurt wondering why he couldn't just come home and live with us. And yet although I wondered, I knew. By the time my oldest brother and I met, shortly before my 22nd birthday, I had heard from him the stories of being in foster care at a young age. I wondered why I never lived in a foster home.

Families in my church would foster children and it just seemed normal.

I heard stories of teenage girls getting pregnant and pondering abortion and I would pray and plead that they would choose life. I believed that someone had to love these babies and out of that, grew my heart for adoption.

Many adopted children also know the life of being a foster child. These children and youth need love. They need the love of friends, of mentors, but most of all, of Christ.

As Christians, we are also adopted. I am adopted by God the Father into his family, through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ. I am now a co-heir with Christ. God is my Father and I am his precious, adopted child.

I pray that one day I too, will have the privilege of caring for and loving children that so desperately need someone. If as a Christian I say that I am pro-life, I believe that I must be willing to step in the gap, to walk alongside the woman with the unplanned pregnancy and hold her hand, and when necessary, her baby. That may mean fostering, or adopting, or simply mentoring. My heart's desire is that God will give me the opportunity to pour out love on others through fostering and/or adoption.

I am humbled and grateful that the man I am dating and hope to marry, agrees. The topic of adoption came up so naturally early on in our relationship and it was such a comfort that he didn't flinch or run away, but that he embraced the idea wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.

Lord-willing, one day. And until then, my heart aches and beats for those who step in the gap, and those for whom the gap is filled. May God grant his children the courage and the compassion to take the vulnerable children into their homes and teach them of the greatest adoption story ever told: John 3:16.

He is jealous for me,
And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking.