As Sooke and the rest of Canada watched as a cascade of fire consumed Fort McMurray, the question echoed ever so loudly in everyone’s heads: could this be real?
With more than 88,000 people scattered and 2,400 buildings razed, Canada is trying to recover.
And tragic as it may be, there is something far more powerful that rose from those ashes: the human spirit. Just as thousands of cars drove through what appeared to be the hot swirling depths of hell, something hung in the mind of each driver: fight for life, for your loved ones.
Now, as burning embers cool, comes the other side of human nature: love and compassion.
Reports of people buying a store-load of water or food for everyone, or complete strangers offering up their fuel, their vehicles, even their homes to those who lost everything.
That’s the wonderful paradox here. Canadians came together as a nation to aid their people in a time when it was all deemed lost to the flames. Everything from Gofundme accounts, to donation boxes and dozens of other ways to help sprouted within days; donate a dollar, donate some water, perhaps a fire truck or two.
With hundreds of locals employed over the years in the oil sands, Sooke pulled its own weight too, from bottle drives, to garage sales, to car washes, to individual donations, the money came out of the woodwork.
The Fort McMurray wildfire wounded Canada, but she’s still standing strong thanks to the superglue made by friends and family, strangers and neighbours, by Albertans, British Columbians, Ontarians, and everybody else.
This was not a tragedy, but a an example of the primal unity of human nature in the face of the unsympathetic wrath of Mother Nature. Alberta will need time to recover, but she can do it if we all continue to stand by her, whether you’re from Sooke, Vancouver, Toronto, or Ottawa.
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