The most interesting person I have met, on my travels, was William from Iqaluit. We met in 1996, when I skipped my high school graduation to go sailing in Ireland, with a youth program; Atlantic Challenge. 29 youth from all over Canada met for the first time, on my birthday, in Ontario and then travelled to Schull, Ireland to live and train for a month in close quarters. The town was tiny and you quickly became familiar with the locals; no one more than Will.
He offered to play the organ during a Sunday church service soon after we arrived. I still have the program from the service. Here is how they described Will:
“The organist this morning is William, one of a group of young Canadians here for three weeks
for the Atlantic Challenge, and training for leadership. William is an Inuit, from the far north of Canada,
and normally engaged in hunting caribou and whales (in permitted numbers). Our thanks to him for
agreeing to play.”
Will was the brightest light. You could often see him going off on his own, on his bike, into town to socialize, waving to anyone he passed. It was a tragedy when his life was taken from him in this very fashion. We we nearing the end of our time in Schull when a car hit him, as he was biking to town. He wasn’t wearing a helmet and I’ll never know why since it was mandatory. Will was in a coma while we continued to train, then compete in Bantry Bay, all of us thinking of him while we pushed ourselves harder than usual, wishing he was there.
Will is the second from the left in he back row. We hiked to the top of this hill outside of Schull, Ireland.
Will passed away shortly after. He never got the chance to meet all the teams from the other countries or experience the rest of Ireland but I don’t think he missed out on anything. It’s everyone else who missed out on meeting him, on sharing his joy of life.
Every time I see a sailboat, or hear anything of Ireland, I think of him. Every time I ride my bike, or tell my children to put on their helmets, I think of him. I fell in love with travelling a long time before him, but afterwards, I vowed to live my life a little brighter, to really enjoy every sunset, every flower, every person I’d meet as I travelled. To allow the light from people everywhere to seep into me like a ray of sunshine. Will was that sunshine for one month of my life and that is why is he is the most interesting person I have met travelling!