Thursday, 09 November 2017 06:28

Fox Valley, Schuler doing amazing work to help initiate the long road to healing a lot of people

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When one hears what the Saskatchewan community of Fox Valley — with a population of 330 according to the last official census — had done to help, it really is inspiring.

People squeezed into the community hall there Oct. 30 and following a roast beef benefit dinner complete with live and silent auctions, raised $150,000 for the families and firefighters who were each, in their own way, devastated by the wildfires earlier in October.
The influx of people from across southwest Saskatchewan and southeastern Alberta were generous financially to help the Hargrave and Riehl families as well as the firefighters hurt by those terrifying and devastating wildfires.
There should be and hopefully will be help for the Hargrave and Riehl families with their agriculture operations. It’s this kind of support these families will definitely need in the short term.
However, what of the longer term implications for not only those families but for those firefighters and everyone affected by this tragic disaster?
A supportive phone call to family members, an offer to help with something needed done at this time of year and down the road, all of these victims, their families and those emergency service personnel, they will need support in the coming months.
The volunteers who went out of their way to help battle the blazes can probably relay some horrifying stories as the fires were pushed along by 90 to more than 100 km/h winds.
Some of those volunteer firefighters, whether they are from a fire department or just helpful neighbours, probably have some horrifying memories.
All of these people need not only financial help but just as important, support knowing they are not alone in their healing and recovery.
Take, for example, a private gathering for a pizza supper, which in part was supported by the Link Christian Fellowship Church in Medicine Hat and held in Schuler Oct. 25.
It was a private time for many firefighters and those affected to share stories and their grief and allow the healing to begin.
That is also what is needed.
A dollar figure of $150,000 is an amazing number and organizers should be beyond proud of what they accomplished.
But like Sean Checkley, the mayor of Fox Valley told Tim Kalinowski of the Medicine Hat News, it’s not just about the financial support.
“For all the families involved, it’s just a small token of comfort for them moving forward as they look to recover from that day,” Checkley said.
He noted in a Nov. 3 Medicine Hat News story, “the money was important, but the benefit also allowed many to express their solidarity and support for all the volunteers who risk their lives to fight fires in the region, on both sides of the border ... there is no border. There may be a line on a map but when it is something like that everybody works together.”
Financial, emotional support or labour support, there is no border for these families and emergency service personnel ... and at least there is some comfort in that.
(Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with comments about this opinion piece at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor