Light emerges from the darkness in trying times

The horrific train derailment in Lac Mégantic has shocked all of Canada and beyond as details and the reality of what that small town in Quebec has experienced sinks in.   Shock is turning to profound sadness and many in Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing are reminded of the period that followed the collapse of the Algo Centre Mall.

It was only a little over a year ago that residents of Elliot Lake watched in horror and disbelief as rescue efforts turned into recovery.  With nerves still raw from the experience, witnessing the events in Lac Mégantic has brought back many memories and emotions. 

With that in mind, Michael Mantha (MPP for Algoma-Manitoulin) and I wrote a letter to the Mayor and Council of Lac Mégantic expressing, on behalf of our constituents, our deepest sympathies for everyone affected and our solidarity with them as they grieve and struggle to make any sense at all of this tragedy.

We have been approached by many people who were deeply touched by the events in Lac Mégantic and felt it was important to share our story since there will be many similarities.  Most importantly we wanted to share how we learned that light emerges from the darkness in trying times.

In Elliot Lake people came to understand the random nature of tragedy and how it will test communities.  Most importantly, it is a process that reveals so much of what is good about a place, but often goes unnoticed.   How, in the midst of tragedy, we were able to see the true nature of our community rooted in a caring and compassionate population that extends well beyond the arbitrary boundaries we put on places.  

As events played out in Elliot Lake we received messages from across Canada expressing support, concern, and a desire to do something to help.  I know that similar messages are pouring in to Lac Mégantic now and will buoy spirits as one difficult day follows another.

Certainly the circumstances around this horrible tragedy leave many questions unanswered. Once the victims have received the help they need, there will be an investigation with many tough questions.   Just as we are going through in Elliot Lake, a formal and public investigation is the only way we can learn from tragedy and prevent similar catastrophes in the future.

For now we will grieve and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Lac Mégantic.