Elliot Lake shows us what it means to be Canadian

It is difficult to put thoughts together about Canada Day as Elliot Lake reels from the collapsed roof at the Algo Mall.  While emergency crews worked, the country waited with baited breath and Canada Day was about the furthest thing from anyone’s mind.   Still, throughout the north and across the country there will be celebrations.   At the very least we can say that amidst the tragedy of the past week, much of what is good about Canada has shone through.

At the centre of it all, the community has come together in grief and the spotlight has shone on Elliot Lake showcasing a tight-knit and caring place.  As news teams told the story of the emergency they also told the story of the city.   More Canadians learned about Elliot Lake in the last week than anyone would have ever guessed.  Across the country, people came forward to tell of their connection to the town, to send their best wishes, and share their prayers with fellow Canadians in their time of need. 

It speaks to the caring nature of Canadians.  The messages of support were greatly appreciated as was the way that people in the community took care of each other during the crisis.  Businesses and volunteers made sure to take care of the emergency workers, by providing the food and water they needed to carry on.  That kindness was extended to the many onlookers who could not tear themselves away from the scene as their needs were also attended to in a gracious manner.  It was Canadian kindness and caring at its very best.

It can’t be understated how hard everybody worked as the crisis unfolded.  From the volunteers and service agencies right up to the front line workers in the emergency crews, the concentrated effort and singular goal was unflinching.   The town officials and business leaders have been consumed with the details of the emergency response, as well as anticipating what will be needed in the weeks and months ahead.  The selflessness on display as people pushed themselves to unknown limits is also what we like to think of as being very Canadian.

This weekend, as the country celebrates our national holiday, the story of how Elliot Lake came together in a time of crisis is taking its place among the other iconic moments that create the long narrative that is Canada.  It will share the company of stories like the tragedy of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the inspirational legacy of Terry Fox and will come to help define what it is to be Canadian.