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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

JOHN FELSTED -- Canadians are resilient, strong, and never more so than when we unite in a time of crisis

Deadly rail disaster in Lac-Mégantic

When people see a crisis, disaster, or tragedy that could as easily happen in their community, they act. Tens of thousands of people step up to lend a helping hand, or offer condolences or donations as needed. They are Canada at its very finest.

We tend to take for granted how caring, generous and loving our neighbours are.

The current coronavirus crisis has made us realize how much we depend on our neighbours, friends, relatives, and even those we encounter in our day to day interactions. Collectively, they are an integral part of our lives. 

Most of us have a favourite barber, hair stylist, coffee shop and so on. It is not the space that attracts us, it is the personalities of the people we tune into.

We change gears when someone falls victim to accident, illness or injury. We are caring, compassionate and try to help if we can. There is a bit of the Good Samaritan built into our psyche. It is never more evident that how we respond to events far removed from us. The recent horror in Nova Scotia is an example.

Our first responders, fire, police and paramedics all rushed to the scene of reported gunfire with no idea of what risks might confront them. That is what they do, and why they are held in such high esteem. 

They confront chaos directly and work diligently until order is restored. The dead are respectfully removed and the injured are comforted and taken for medial treatment as fires are extinguished to keep others safe. Their efforts are inspiring.

As details become known, people across the nation took note and began looking for ways to help. 

Events in and around Portapique, N.S. are staggering in magnitude. The numbers who are left grieving are incredible. We have no way to relate to or understand pure evil, but we can and have shown our compassion as we can relate to those who grieve.

That is the core of Canada, the what and who we are as a society. The list of other incidents that have evoked a national response is awfully long. Besides Portapique, over the past two decades incidents that have tweaked our consciences and compassion include:

  • 2000 - Pine Lake tornado in Alberta
  • 2003 - SARS outbreak, Toronto
  • 2003 - McLure fire
  • 2008 - Listeriosis outbreak
  • 2009 - Cougar Helicopter Crash, Newfoundland
  • 2011 - Air Crash, Resolute Bay
  • 2011 - Claresholm highway massacre
  • 2011 - Slave Lake Wildfire
  • 2012 - Highway Crash, Perth, Ontario
  • 2013 - Lac-Mégantic rail disaster, Quebec
  • 2014 - L'Isle-Verte nursing home fire, Quebec
  • 2015 - Legionnaire's disease outbreak, Ontario
  • 2016 - Wildfires, Ft. McMurray, Alberta.
  • 2017 - British Columbia wildfires
  • 2018 - Eastern Canada heat wave
  • 2018 - Humboldt Broncos bus crash
  • 2018 - Toronto van attack
  • 2019 - Markham home massacre

The current Coronavirus / COVID-19 crisis and community response has been stellar. We grumble but heed advice from health care experts, isolate, stay home and social distance to protect others as well as ourselves. It has been a remarkable exercise in social discipline.

We cannot be made to stay home but we can be persuaded to do so for the common good – at least for a reasonable period. It highlights our compassion for others. We do not want to witness preventable illnesses and deaths.

Canadians are resilient, strong, and never more so than when we unite in a time of crisis. Despite our commitment to contain a virus, our humanity, instincts and ingenuity have found ways to reach out to friends and neighbours in distress.

That is the Canada I love and respect.

John Feldsted ... is a political commentator, consultant, and strategist.  He makes his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba


  1. I guess you omitted the Toronto Danforth shootings of 2018 because only two people plus the shooter died and only 13 others were wounded? To me the intent in that event was not much different from Portapique.
    Also I could quibble with Megantic being in the list because it was negligence more than malice.
    Nonetheless yes the message must be that we need to be better at loving one another which of course is one of the two fundamental commandments in The Bible (Luke 10:27 and Matthew 22:37-40) to first Love God then second to Love your neighbour.


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