Please leave our healing community alone

Dear Editor,

Re: Letter from Corinne Blanchette, Observer March 10

Quietly people have grieved in our community, for the child, youth, teenager, and elderly person whom passing here hurt. As people we extend our arms in compassion to uphold hurting families, and embrace them as they walk the process of agonizing and seemingly unbearable pain.  We have welcomed them into our homes, our business’, our community events, our churches. Some have extended social knowledge and gently made referrals to funded programs that through wonderful places like community services there are professional people that quietly listen,  while privately the healing tears drop. Some in support and love place a flower or teddy bear publicly, and our municipal workers, emotionally affected simply “allow”. Support, compassion, empathy, and love is what the Agassiz-Harrison community has been about for a great many decades, and we can thank our community ancestors, elders and seniors for setting this loving historical foundation stone.

Many years ago, I was a peacekeeper, now older veteran. A passing, regardless of circumstance does cause pain and sadness. The emotional implications reverberate from the person standing in close proximity, to those standing far off, to the leadership many kilometres away. Our humanness does not allow us to feel, and not to grieve. I was only a private all those years ago, but it was never lost on me after someone died that I was not the person who had to pick up the phone and make the call to the fearful wife, child, mother, father, grandparent, that their beloved one had passed. That was a manger’s responsibility: there is honour and strength in carrying such an experience into the future.

There are many people who put themselves forward in public service to save lives, a consideration in the career choice for those on emergency services. Their experience is layered with emotional response, and compressed into active and horrific circumstances, almost daily. They immediately find themselves in the middle of life and death decisions, panic stricken and emotionally distraught people, all the while knowing whether their life saving attempts are successful or not, they have to ensure the core safety and security of the scene, so that investigators can find “truth”. Time is of the essence in crisis, however the resolution also takes time… slow, methodical, calculated, patient, articulate documented and evidence-based time. Any other approach would be unlawful and disrespectful to those who passed during the incident, and the family members do require fair judicial closure, again, the truth.

Within our community there is not a dividing line between business owners and those that make the choice to work for them. Capital investment in a small community such as ours is based on teamwork and creating positive lives for families.

Using the passing of a member of our community, with the targeted intention to draw a hateful and disrespectful proverbial line in the sand, with normal grieving people on one side, and then willfully pushing community stakeholders like the newspaper, business owners, managers, community services, the police, ambulance, and workplace investigators on the other side, is by any stretch reprehensible, in its hatred and targeted anger, which could only infuse conflict and unfairness for everyone involved.

Ms. Blanchette, flash-point tactics to bring local awareness for some unionism April 28th date, remains inappropriate and disrespectful. Please leave our healing community alone.

Shane Wallace Firlotte, BSW.

Agassiz