Seattle hearts Canada
American drives 7000 kilometers to thank people of Gander
It took him 16 years and over 7000 kilometers of driving, but Mark Ufkes has finally made it to Gander.
Ufkes, who lives in Seattle, WA, arrived in town last week and met with Mayor Claude Elliott to share his gratitude for the role that Gander played during 9-11.
“It was such a great statement of true humanitarianism,” said Ufkes.
Ufkes has been contemplating a road trip to Gander for years but following a recent car accident, he decided it was time. He left his home in Seattle weeks ago.
“9-11 was such a difficult time for the American people. When the people of Canada were so generous and supportive, it was a wonderful example of humanity. It’s why the American people remember the story,” he said.
Ufkes explained that although he wasn’t directly affected, he was touched by the compassion that Ganderites showed for complete strangers throughout 9-11.
That, in itself, merited a trip. During his meeting with the mayor, Ufkes shared a number of gifts, including American wine, chocolates and confectionary.
As a final token of appreciation, Ufkes, who’s a Scoutmaster, presented Elliott with an honorary neckerchief.
For Ufkes, the passing of the neckerchief was symbolic.
“Scouting, to me, represents that we have way more in common than we have differences,” he said.
Ufkes had the opportunity to explore Gander a bit and was moved by the generosity of the townspeople.
“Every person I’ve talked to in Gander is proud for the right reasons,” he said.
Furthermore, Ufkes noted that Americans could learn from Ganderites and Canadians in general.
“Their sense of who they are isn’t threatened by the differences that people have. I found Canadians to be nonjudgmental,” said Ufkes. “I can say I’ve never met a Canadian I don’t like.”
Ufkes isn’t shy about his affection for Canadians; he’s plastered, in great red letters, a friendly note across the side of his car.
Seattle hearts Canada.
Mark Ufkes, from Seattle, WA, drove 7000 kilometers to meet Mayor Claude Elliott and thank him for Gander’s contributions during 9-11.