A letter from Cariboo

A crew member fights one of the numerous aggressive wildfires in the Cariboo Fire Centre. -BC Wildfire Service Image

By George Emery, resident of Williams Lake, the Cariboo Regional District, British Columbia 

There is something I have noticed during this crisis we are experiencing here in the Cariboo. I would like to share it. Before we got into this situation, life carried on pretty normal for most of us. We got up, went to work, did our thing and complained. We called each other names, went through the ‘this is yours and this is mine’, ‘those people are no good, send them home!’, ‘why don’t you all just go back where you came from?’, ‘you’ll get your pipeline over my dead body’, ‘this politician is no good, mine is better’, ‘your god sucks while mine is good’… Remember all that?

Life was pretty normal at least to our way of thinking….it is the way it was. That was a week ago. We focused on the things about ourselves that made us different.

And then crisis struck…..and a week later most of that is gone. It just doesn’t have the same importance anymore. It’s been replaced with other things. Things that bring people together….fighting in some cases for our homes, our lives, the things we all have that are important to us.

Now we hear, ‘how can I help?’, ‘what can I do?’, ‘we’ll feed you, shelter you and give you a sense of safety’. We have felt sorrow at their losses, their situations. We see the uncertainty in the faces we meet. What will tomorrow bring? Will my home be safe? Will my children be safe? Will we survive? And it hasn’t been just here that the sorrow has been felt. It’s been from everywhere across the country from one end to the other. People have been instilled with a sense of helplessness in not being able to do more. Yet they have done their part. Trucks with supplies have arrived from everywhere…..firefighters have come from countless places….aid has come from the world. All of a sudden, we have become one…..one with each other. None of those differences matter anymore.

From the ashes, smoke and destruction….there has been one thing that has shone far brighter than the glow of the fires….this country is shining with the far brighter light of compassion and empathy. It is shining with the things that we have in common….our humanity.

About George Emery:

I live and work in Williams Lake and have lived there since 2007. I woke up one morning and made an observation of what was happening around me without judgement. Then I just shared it.

A note from HazNet: On July 19th, 2017 the government of British Columbia extended the state of emergency for two more weeks. In one of the hardest hit areas, the Cariboo Regional District, reportedly 41 homes have been destroyed and more than 35,000 residents on about 13,000 parcels of land are under either evacuation orders or alerts.

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