I want to talk to you about a story.

Silver Dollar

Let’s begin with this silver Canadian dollar. A dollar is a dollar they say, but ever wonder what it is really worth? Everything. This dollar was given to me by my father and means everything to me. We arrived in Canada in 1985 and were on welfare. Our whole apartment was furnished with discarded pieces of furniture nobody wanted. It was not easy for my father who was in his 50’s and didn’t speak the language to find work, but he managed. Illegal work. The kind where you get paid under the table, and the government can’t collect their dues.

My dad never made excuses and worked hard his entire life and so when I went to sleep, he he went to make donuts for people in a sweaty little donut factory with very little ventilation.

The first time he got paid, we went to the bank bought himself this silver dollar. The first dollar he ever made in Canada. He kept it in his pocket to remind himself of why he left the country he loved so much and why it matter to work so hard for the people you love.

One Dollar Bill

When I about thirteen years old, my first year in Canada, living at 10 Grenoble Drive, near Don Mills and Eglinton, by the Ontario Science Centre. We didn’t have any money. We were on welfare so money for candy or a bag of potato chips was in my future. But I would go down to Gerry’s Variety Store and politely look at all the candy that was available for sale. I would take in their bright colours and imagine what they would taste like if I could afford them, and then I would leave. One day the owner did something unusual. He didn’t chase me out, a kid who would come in every day, look but never buy. Instead he did something magical. He hired me and that is where I earned my first dollar.

Here it is.

I saved that dollar and kept it so that I would never forget the meaning of hard work and the sacrifices my father and mother made coming to Canada.


That reminds me of something that happened to me last fall. I was heading North of Cobourg towards Baltimore, when I saw a farmer on a side road, dejected, sitting in front of his broken down truck full of fruits and vegetables he must have been taking to the market. I turned around, stopped and asked him if he needed help. He accepted my help.

The truck was beyond repair and so I drove him back to his farm which wasn’t far away.

I was curious about who he was and so he told me a little bit about himself. His name was Jack. He had lived in the Northumberland area for many years. His family was very poor, but one day he went to the market and traded in the only cow his family owned for a bag of these magic beans. He planted those beans and one of them sprouted so high that it rose beyond the clouds. He climbed up that bean stalk and up beyond the clouds he discovered a mean giant who was continuously stealing from the whole community. He grabbed the golden goose and hurriedly climbed down as fast as he could. But the giant pursued him and when he was at the bottom, he chopped down the beanstalk and the giant fell to the ground with a giant crash and died. He made a huge impression in the ground.

I know what you’re thinking.

Is this really a silver dollar?

A story.

Yes, it is, but more importantly I want to talk to you about a story. Not the ones that I just told you but about the ones you keep telling yourself.

No. That is not the first dollar ever made, but my father and mother gave me everything they could and so that might as well be the fist dollar he ever made. No. That is not the first dollar ever made, and it won’t be my last. No. I really didn’t meet a farmer named Jack who traded in his cow for some magic beans.

But let’s talk about the most important story.

The story you tell yourself that you cannot do something, and that you’re not good enough to do anything. The story that its too late, or that there’s no point.

That’s really the point of all of this and the most important story of all.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

What do you tell yourself when no-one is watching?

Our lives are nothing but made up stories, filled with fact and fiction, and they are indistinguishable. And if after a while we can no longer tell the difference should we make up a story we would like to be, instead of acting a story of how others want us to be.

I dare you to go home and begin telling your story. Write a good one. One where you are the hero, because you are.


Delivered on March 19th, 2019

Toastmasters International Meeting in Cobourg – Cobourg Toastmasters

Contest Speech – Area 46 Level (Second Place)