Hadfield lands at Winterfest

photo by Kayano Waite

Chris Hadfield before The Sky is the Limit event at Durham College

The lights were dimmed in the school gym, with rows of students and locals hanging on to the words of the first Canadian to walk in space.

“Using the time you have now to prepare for the probable things that are going to go wrong in your life,”, Chris Hadfield said. “To me, that’s the very essence of success.”

This was the message former colonel and astronaut Hadfield, who was one of the highlights of the Winterfest event held at Durham College and UOIT.

The first Canadian commander of the International Space Station was the focus of the Winterfest event, The Sky is the Limit.

Hadfield spoke on his life in and out of space as well as his hopes for others to achieve their best.

Hadfield’s son Evan, who works alongside his father, said the advice given is applicable to anyone’s average goals in life, not just those interested in a particular field.

“He doesn’t necessarily teach about space,” the younger Hadfield said. “He uses space as an example of how you should live your everyday life.”

Talib Ali, president of the UOIT Engineering Student Society, met with Hadfield before the event, and gave him engineering coveralls. According to Ali, coveralls are traditional for engineering students.

Hadfield graduated from mechanical engineering at Royal Military College in Kingston in 1982. Due to the dress code at the college, Hadfield did not wear these during his time there.

Ali said Hadfield was surprised by the gesture. “He was really excited by it, and we were grateful that he accepted our gift.”

Mechanical engineering student Dustin Curry was one of the last people in line, but didn’t mind the wait.

“This is probably the closest I’m going to get to space,” Curry said jokingly.

Curry said his takeaway from the night was for the audience to not settle for less in life.

It was not only students who got a lot out of Hadfield’s words.

Abdul Hameed, a former army Colonel and electrical engineer in Pakistan, was also there to meet Hadfield.

Hameed heard about Hadfield’s appearance from his son who attends UOIT. Hameed, who has followed the space program from childhood, said it was a “rare” moment for him to get to hear the thoughts of Hadfield, who he called a proud Canadian.

Hameed attended the event with his daughter and thought Hadfield’s words were important for younger people there to hear.

“There will be failures, there will be challenges in life,” Hameed said. “They should not despair of any moment that comes”.