Friday, May 06, 2016
How the Fort McMurray Disaster is Bringing Canadians Together
It may be small consolation to the thousands of people who have lost their homes, or their businesses, or have been forced to flee the Fort McMurray inferno.
But I have been incredibly moved by the way Canadians all over this fractious country have come together to help them.
And there couldn't be a better symbol of that unity of purpose, than what happened in the House of Commons yesterday.
When Justin Trudeau crossed the aisle to hug an emotional Rona Ambrose.
It was a classy gesture, but it only reflected what was happening all over the country.
For it's also the 100 firefighters from Ontario heading for Alberta, along with the water bombers from Quebec.
Or the volunteers in the nearby town of La Biche running a makeshift evacuation centre...
With a special place for pets...
Like that little fellow who must be wondering why he's in a cage, and what the hell is going on? But is at least in a safe place with his family.
It's also all those people in Atlantic Canada opening their hearts and wallets to help the people of a town many of them know so well.
You kind of get a sense for how things are going to go, and right from the get go, we knew this was going to have a higher impact, particularly among Atlantic Canadians,” said Bill Lawlor, Disaster Services with the Canadian Red Cross. “I mean, there’s not one of us who doesn’t know someone who is living, working, or has worked in Fort McMurray.”
It's the group of Syrian refugees in Calgary trying to help the people of Fort Mac, even though they have so little.
They’ve only been in Canada for a few months, and have little money or possessions, but a group of Syrian refugees in Calgary has launched a donation drive to help support displaced residents of Fort McMurray.
At least 30 Syrian families have donated $5 to $20 to the drive, which will help purchase toiletries, pillows and other household items for Fort McMurray residents devastated by the wildfire.
And most movingly for me, it's also the residents of the little Quebec town of Lac-Megantic doing their best to help, or return the favour.
Donations poured into Lac-Megantic from across Canada in the aftermath of the 2013 rail disaster, and now the Quebec town wants to give back by raising money for the victims of the wildfires in Fort McMurray, Alta.
"Three years ago it was our population that was struck down by tragedy, and all of Canada mobilized itself for us," he said. "Now, it's our turn to support this community."
The little town that lost so many and so much in this nightmarish inferno...
And has never really recovered.
"It's not tomorrow morning that Fort McMurray will be the same Fort McMurray as before," he said. "Maybe it will never be the same Fort McMurray."
Which should remind us that the struggle of many of the people of Fort Mac will continue long after the flames are finally extinguished...
And so our spirit of solidarity will also have to continue. Which won't be easy, because this is a fractious country.
But after what I've seen in the last three days, I feel that anything is possible,
You know it's funny, I got a call yesterday from one of my boyhood friends in Scotland. The son of a fisherman who now works on an oil rig in the North Sea.
He had seen the apocalyptic pictures on TV and wondered whether I was in any danger. Because Hamish has many talents, but geography was never one of them.
And after I stopped laughing, I told him: " No, no, I'm fine, Canada is a big country and I'm about as far away from the fire as I am from you."
And then I added "but we're all feeling bad because we're all Canadians."
Which must have sounded as stupid to him as his question sounded to me. Wot?
But it is how I feel.
We are never so big and so beautiful than when we pull together as a country, and show our solidarity for one another...
I know that spirit of solidarity is fragile, and it probably won't last.
In this sometimes grumpy country I'm always being told that nothing good ever does.
But as you know, I never believe that.
And I'm enjoying it so much, I hope it lasts forever...
Please click here to recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers.