Q+A with Natalie Fraser

Natalie, still smiling at the end of her first half marathon in 2011.

Natalie Fraser is 29 years old, originally from Sydney, and now living in Ottawa. She’s training for her first marathon and trying to fundraise $5000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, motivated by her friend’s son Liam who was diagnosed with Leukemia last year. She is blogging about her training at Nataliedoes42k, where you can read about what it’s like to train for a marathon, and where you can also donate money to help her out.

The marathon is on October 14th, 2012.

1. What’s your age? (Or age range – sometimes I say I’m a “twentysomething”, or you can say whatever you’re comfortable with.)

I just turned 29!

2. CB born and raised? Or transplant? (Plus whatever biographical details you feel like giving like education background, employment background, hobbies, family, etc).

I was born in Cape Breton, and lived in Sydney my whole life. My dad’s family is from Ashby and my mom’s the Pier. I went to StFX for undergrad, took a year off to travel, then moved to Ottawa for my Masters program, got a job, met some great friends, fell in love with the city and stayed.

3. “What are you up to these days?” I.e. what do you do for a living, what are you working on, are you a student, in the workforce, etc?

I’ve done a million things since I came to Ottawa – worked on Parliament Hill, worked in the private sector, did some consulting work, but eventually found my way to policy work in the government.

Natalie and Charlene, the woman she guides and trains.

I also do volunteer work – twice a week I run with a fully blind lady and I am training her for her first 10k!

4. Tell us about the “Nataliedoes42k” project. What’s it like to take on this project?

I like to keep my hands full and my free time occupied with interesting things that keep me busy. The last two years had me traveling monthly for my job, and since that has let up, it was time for me to take on a new project to keep me busy for 2012.

A marathon has always been on my bucket list, but while I was traveling I found it hard to get in the hours of running every week to get up in distance. In January, I was moping around the house wondering what to do with my free time this year (no big projects, no work travel), and I realized … this would be the year of my first marathon! I wanted to tie it into something important to me, and I thought of my friend’s son (Liam) who was diagnosed with Leukemia last year.

So, I decided to join Team in Training, which gives you coaching and support while you train for your race and you fundraise for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada. I am committed to fundraising $4200 and hope to beat that and reach $5000. I will be running for Liam the day of my race.

I am both excited and scared for the challenge of the running and the fundraising. I’ve done a half marathon before, but a full marathon (42.2kms) is in a league of its own. It is both mentally and physically challenging, considering the commitment and the life changes to get up to the distance. Besides that the fundraising is a whole other challenge in itself!

A lot of people have done amazing things for me in my life, both big and small. I feel like we all have to give back to our community while we can, and pay it forward, because you really never know when you’ll need help. I hope to make my friend Christine, her son, and her whole family proud, and I hope to inspire other people to take on what they love and do something to help others.

5. What are the things you do whenever you come back to CB, that are “musts”?

So many! First, a few days of family visits, walking my parent’s dog and seeing friends. I have to eat Paul’s pizza burgers, Kenny’s pizza and have a Schooner. I need to see the ocean and walk along Charlotte St. and the boardwalk. We have a group of Cape Breton friends here in Ottawa, so bringing back Paul’s pizza burgers, Schooner, Glen Breton and Dave’s hot sauce (you can’t get any of these in Ontario!) is an important part of any trip home.

Natalie and her “better half,” Brett.

6. What is a typical “day in the life” for you?

Life is pretty great and simple! I get up at 6am and laze around the house, listen to the radio and read the news during breakfast. I walk to work around 7:30, which is always a highlight of my day. Grab a coffee, get up to date on emails and begin the day!

My job involves dealing with the regions and port communities, so I spend a lot of the day on the phone working with stakeholders, which I love. I have got to work with people in all corners of the country and some international partners, which is fulfilling, exciting and a great learning experience.

I walk home again from work and usually spend the first half an hour home decompressing and sharing the day’s events with my better half, also a Cape Bretoner. Then it is time for a run or yoga, eating, watching a movie and early to bed (9pm). There are also so many cool things happening here all the time; recently I went at 11:30 pm to the National Art Gallery for a 24 hour showing of “The Clock” and the room was filled on a work night!

The whole canal/Parliament area is so beautiful and the beauty of it hasn’t gotten old to me yet, so some nights include just walking downtown and trying out new restaurants.

7. When you’re traveling and you chat with people about CB, what is their reaction or response?

I’ve definitely met people that have no idea where Cape Breton is! It always surprises me. Everyone else tells me they LOVE the island, that they think Maritimers are so nice, they ask if I can play the fiddle (no), or they tell me they hope to go there someday.

8. Do you see yourself ever living in Cape Breton again? If you do want to live here again, pretend for a minute that you have a magic wand and could change anything about the island to make it so that you would be able to live here. What would those changes be?

It is hard to say right now. I would love to be closer to my parents as they get older and see my niece and nephew grow up. Cape Breton is calm, peaceful and beautiful. However, the reason most of my friends have left the island is the shortage of jobs in our fields.

Some changes that would need to happen… definitely more young people involved in municipal and provincial politics to modernize the political beliefs and priorities. I would like to see more cultural diversity – restaurants, museums and community groups that diversify what is available on the island.

For now, I am focused on doing what I can to be involved and contribute to Cape Breton, in any way I can. I’ll continue supporting local artists, musicians, businesses and people doing awesome things in Cape Breton (like “Dream Big Cape Breton”!).

9. Swimming – ocean or river?

Without a doubt – ocean! I miss it in the summer when its 45 degrees in Ottawa and there is no swimming water in sight.

10. What are some neat, community-oriented things that you have seen in your travels, that you think young people living in Cape Breton should know about, and could possibly implement here?

I worked next door to a small NGO called “Youth Health Organization” that used all forms of the arts to teach and educate young people about sexual health, healthy living and making positive choices.

A friend of mine started his own business and grows vegetables in people’s backyards all over the city. You can buy veggies that he grows and get them delivered to your house!

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2 Responses to Q+A with Natalie Fraser

  1. Pingback: Dream Big Cape Breton Q & A « nataliedoes42k

  2. Interviews are always fun. Nice to meet the cast of character in your world!

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