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Video Length: 2:15

Upbeat music plays throughout

The back of a woman’s head is seen as she looks out over a landscape with mountains in the background. Then cut to Helen sitting and giving an interview talking to the camera. There is a picture of two children in the background and a small moose stuffed toy.

Helen: I remember driving to Banff one long weekend and standing in the Cascade Gardens and looking around me and thinking ‘I’m finally ‘living’, and I thought to myself that no matter what the challenges in my childhood, I can always have control of my life from that point forward.

Helen stands next to a railing. Blue skies and a lake are in the background with expansive scenery stretching towards mountains in the distance. She brushes some hair off her face. Cut back to the interview.

Helen: My name is Helen and in 1991 I was very fortunate to go to Canada on a Working Holiday program and for the past 22 years I’ve been working as an IT Project Manager.

Cut to a view out of a car window as the car drives over a bridge.  An old photo fades into view. There is a banner saying ‘Burwood Festival ‘86’ and Laughing Clowns. In the foreground is a large ball and some children walking through the streets. Another photo of a street in Burwood fades into view – it is from a similar time period.

Helen: I grew up in the inner western suburbs of Sydney, in the 70’s and 80’s, and I came from a large family, I was the 4th eldest of 11 children, we were very poor when we were kids.

Helen flips through a photo album. There are black and white photos in the album and some baby pictures.

Helen: I always remember my mum talking to me about the Rocky Mountains, about their beauty and how one day she’d love to go and see them.

As Helen talks about the Rocky Mountains, there is a shot of a small house surrounded by large pine trees on a mountain with a waterfall in the middle of the frame. The camera zooms out to reveal large mountains. A plane is flying over a lake with large mountains in the background. The camera tracks the plane as it flies past pine trees. View of an outlook on top of a craggy mountain range with pine trees growing out of the rocks, snow covered mountains, and then an inlet with a boat and pine trees.

Helen: I have never known what drove her fascination and awe, but to hear her talking about something so majestic and so remote from our everyday struggle, it really stuck with me.

Cut to Helen driving in a car past some trees. Then back to Helen at home talking to the camera.

Helen: At 16 I was still in school and doing really well, but my home life wasn’t good and I needed to move out. So I left school, got a job, found a place to live and started living an adult life.

As Helen talks about a job, there is a close up of a plane ticket that is dated ‘12 April 1991’.

Helen: But Mum’s words still resonated with me and I really wanted to go and see the Rockies. So after four years of working fulltime, I applied for a Canadian Working Holiday.

Aerial image of the Rocky Mountains. Close up of some pamphlets from a number of different sky resorts from 1991. Helen holds a letter from her work that is titled ‘Rack-Off Helen!!” The first line says ‘Helen is leaving on Friday April 19 for Canada” and further details plans for a farewell party. The letter is dated April 11 1991.

Helen: I got a job as an Office Manager in a small Book Bindery in Kelowna where I based myself.

Helen flips through letters from 1991 including an air mail envelope. Then there are shots of Kelowna – a vineyard and a lake.

Helen: The whole Working Holiday experience gave me a newfound understanding in my own abilities and confidence within myself.

Helen looks out over the vista that she was standing in front of before. Then the video cuts to Helen sitting in front of her computer looking at a photo of her daughter and laughing. Helen and her two children are sitting on a lounge as Helen shows them a photo album with pictures of her from her time in Canada. Cut back to Helen talking to the camera.

Helen: I have since been back to Canada twice where I managed to catch up with my dear treasured friends over there.

A close up of a photo album from Helen’s time in Canada. She points to a picture of herself with some friends.

Helen: The lessons I teach my children now all stem back to what I have learned since I first posted my application for the working holiday.

Helen is walking through a bushland area and talking to her children. A close up of her daughter holding a ‘street hockey’ stick and showing it to the camera. Helen is sitting on the lounge showing her children photos of her in the snow in Canada. Helen and her children look out at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. Then they are walking through the bushland again as Helen tells a story and her children laugh..

Helen: I have faced ups and downs in my life, but the sense of self-worth, confidence and inner strength that I gained from going to Canada, has lead me through those trials and to a better place.

There is a close up shot of a stuffed toy moose sitting on a photo album. Then Helen and her children walk under an underpass and into the light. Cut to Helen walking around the tower and then to Helen telling her children a story about Canada, pointing to pictures in a photo album. Close on a slow motion shot of Helen looking out over the vista.

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Canada Down Under is an on-line portfolio of Canadian-Australian stories produced by the Consulate General of Canada in Sydney and other contributors.

Canada Down Under est un portefeuille en ligne d'histoires canado-australiennes produites par le Consulat général du Canada à Sydney et d'autres contributeurs.

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