These wise words come from Aaron Paquette, the author, keynote speaker, and artist, commissioned to do the mural at the Grandin LRT station in Edmonton.
Aaron grew up in a poor family. His parents had little but did the best they could. His stepfather, whom Aaron lovingly refers to as his hero, carried a lot of hurt from being abused by his parents as a child. At the age of five he ended up in the hospital, brain damaged and unable to speak or read for most of his life. He started to speak as a teenager but his words came out as a stutter. He was often made fun of and became an angry person spending most of his time working out. When people made fun of him, instead of using words, he started using his fists. This got him in trouble and even landed him in jail. Despite his shortcomings, Aaron’s mother fell in love with his charm, and they eventually married. Aaron grew to love him as a father.
As the love grew, it became dangerous for the family. Aaron’s father learned early in life that anyone who loves you would eventually hurt you. This reality scared him and abuse soon set in. Whenever his mother tried to leave, she would be faced with threats directed toward the kids. Aaron’s older brother was hurt so badly it ended his sports career. They grew up in an atmosphere of fear.
Aaron became a bitter young man, easily triggered and filled with anger and resentment. “Anything I saw made me mad and reinforced my anger.” It stayed with him for many years until he came to the realization it was something acquired, something he did not want to pass down to his kids. The pain and anger came from his dad, who inherited it from his parents, who in turn inherited it from residential school. “It kept jumping down each generation. I had to choose whether to stay angry or try to figure it out.” Healing took some time.
Aaron was depressed and suicidal, not knowing the path to his future. He even attempted to jump off of the high level bridge in Edmonton, after a series of unfortunate events. “No one told us when we were young, you got a good future, and this is how you get there. There were no resources. Not like we have today.”
Aaron’s life took another turn when he received a phone call from his father whom he had out off. He called to apologize. He was working secretly with a specialist for many years, learning how to read and write, and had a letter he wanted to read to Aaron. The learning process was life changing. He transitioned into a gentle and kind man, sorry for his past mistakes. This opened Aarons eyes to see that “people are wrong in thinking we are born the way we are, and life is the way it is, and that’s it.“ We are able to change. His dad started life messed up emotionally and physically, but learned how to transform his mind, and it changed his life.
Aaron expresses himself through paint. It has taught him to see beauty in everything. “Each person has their own story, their own challenges, and strength. Sometimes we don’t see our own strength, but others see it, and that’s the gift we give to each other.”
One thing that holds us back is staring at a screen. “Next time you look at that screen, ask yourself what side you want to be on. Do you want to look at the amazing thing happening in the world? Or do you want to be that amazing thing happening in the world? Do you want to be that person with the amazing life impacting people in a profound and meaningful way?” You have to decide.
We are at war. What we are at war with is bad ideas. Ideas that make us feel like we are not important, human beings don’t matter. Only money matters. Ideas like water and resources are unlimited. This war benefits from us not having a voice. It’s a war of ideas that can only be defeated with better ideas. We need to be aware of what’s going on, and do things to protect our water, land, and resources. It can only change if we do something about it. We have to know that we have a voice, we have rights, and power to make a difference.
If we aren’t writing our story someone else is going to write it for us. If we are not living our dreams, someone else is going to dream for us. You don’t want that, because if someone is doing it for us it’s not going to be in our best interest, but theirs.
Whatever your goals are, multiply them. Make it huge, go for it and don’t stop.
The creator created us out of a thought and gave us thoughts and words to express them. We are able to create and make thoughts real. Everything that was created in this world started as a thought. If you want to have a great life, think great thoughts. It’s with thoughts we make our life. Whatever you think, conceive, believe, whether good or bad, if you speak it, you make it real.
Whether you know it or not, you have something to give to the world, a gift and maybe you don’t know what it is yet, but you have a gift to give. The world would have you believe that you can’t do anything important, that you are not worth it, you are one small person, and you can’t make a difference. These are bad ideas. You need to face those ideas with better thoughts. Don’t wait for a later time. Make who you are right now great and your life will be more than you ever imagined.