Sooke is one amazing community. I came here just over eight years ago as a reporter and was then appointed editor. I always thought my stay here would be a few years and then I would be off to another gig in another town or city. Somewhere bigger, brighter and more trendy.
As it turned out, that has not been the case. Most of it has been my choice. Sure, there have been times when I was getting a bit bored with the same old, same old, and who wouldn’t. Sooke is not my home town, I wasn’t born here or have the history so many others have.
But, I have embraced this community for a variety of reasons. Some of them are because of the quality of rural life I enjoy at my waterfront home, other reasons are because of the incredible artists who grace and make the area a more beautiful place. They draw their inspiration from the region and I draw my inspiration from them. And one can’t forget about the natural beauty which embraces me every time I look around. I have the best of both worlds. Victoria is a scant 45 minutes away and I can get my city hit whenever I choose and I get nature at its best in Sooke.
But the biggest reason includes the great friends I have made and the general community of involved and passionate people who choose to live here as well. They volunteer and do for others without looking for a pat on the back. They do it because they care.
One thing cemented my thoughts about Sooke. Most people are aware that the Sooke News Mirror office building burned on July 31. Fire razed four other business premises as well.
Sooke has some of the kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever met. It is a community that looks after its own and doesn’t necessarily call for help from anywhere else, People just respond. Like the firefighters who went above and beyond the call of duty to help save our computers by covering them with tarps while the fire blazed away. No one knew the fire would take over and result in total destruction of the building. They even helped the day after the fire to help us recover what we could and they didn’t have to.
While doing my job and taking photos of the fire, hugs, condolences, coffee and kind thoughts were given out freely and without any expectation of anything in return. That’s community. It was just such caring actions that made me not just a reporter but a victim of the fire.
I am stoic and can take a lot, but the simple offer of coffee from Wendy Milne got me and I was overcome with emotion. I realized I was a part of this community not just an observer.
Anyone who has been involved in a fire knows how the flames take everything. No discrimination, no picking out what to burn, just all of it. That’s the hard part. We can all replace things, but we can’t replace people and I learned a big lesson through those flames and that is that community and people matter. What I found was a community full of people with big hearts and as a consequence my heart has been opened up as well. Appreciation and respect for the people who make up the community of Sooke is a lesson learned.
Thank you Sooke for showing me your true nature.
Pirjo Raits is the editor of the Sooke News Mirror