From Quebec to Maine: A thank you for standing with Lac-Megantic

Social workers wait outside Sainte-Agnes Church to see if there are residents in need of counselling in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec on Friday, July 12, 2013. Police erected an 8-foot fence blocking from view what was once a downtown core of restaurants, bars and shops — but which now resembles a blackened warzone after a train pulling 72 cars of crude oil jumped the track and exploded into flames on July 6.
CHRISTINNE MUSCHI | REUTERS
Social workers wait outside Sainte-Agnes Church to see if there are residents in need of counselling in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec on Friday, July 12, 2013. Police erected an 8-foot fence blocking from view what was once a downtown core of restaurants, bars and shops — but which now resembles a blackened warzone after a train pulling 72 cars of crude oil jumped the track and exploded into flames on July 6.
By Carolle de Ste-Croix, Special to the BDN
Posted July 14, 2013, at 9:18 a.m.

When I was 11 years old, cable television finally arrived in northern New Brunswick. My world opened up immensely. Not only did I learn to speak English (though I understood a fair bit), but I became aware and grew to love the state of Maine through the voice of Eddie Driscoll on WLBZ TV and from Stacey’s Jamboree. I still pronounce “Brewer” as “Brewher.” I guess I can thank Eddie for that.

I learned about the people from this place that was very close to me geographically, that had many similarities, yet was different in a variety of ways. I learned about places like Millinocket, Penobscot, Bar Harbor, Ellsworth and Hancock by watching the news every evening. I even won a highly competitive trivia game once because I was the only person who knew the name of the capital of Maine. I have Augusta to thank for the Moosehead Beer backpack hanging in my closet that was the prize that evening.

Through my parents’ television in my hometown of Dalhousie, I learned to love Maine. When I think of the United States, I think of Maine.

I travel to Maine every year with my children. It’s where we vacation and enjoy a fair amount of our shopping. Going to Bangor is always a highly anticipated treat for my family. The first thing we do when we get to Houlton is head for Grammy’s Country Inn and Restaurant in Linneus, and, yes, it feels a bit like going home.

I know that many of you have been watching the unfolding tragedy in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec. A runaway train owned by the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway destroyed the picturesque town of Lac-Megantic last Saturday morning — 10 miles from the Maine border.

As the train carrying crude oil barreled through, it derailed and ignited in the middle of the downtown, killing dozens of people. Some were in their 20s and 30s, leaving young children to mourn their loss. Lac-Megantic looks like a bombed-out war zone.

Thursday night, I was watching the CTV National News and receiving the latest details on the catastrophe in Lac-Megantic. When the newscaster reported on a resolution passed by the Maine Legislature, I broke down in tears for the first time since the explosion.

Through the sponsorship of House Majority Leader Seth Berry, the Maine Legislature passed a joint resolution this week stating that that the people of Maine stand with their northern neighbors. Berry also declared, “Aujourd’hui, nous sommes tous des citoyens de Lac-Megantic.” (Today, we are all citizens of Lac-Megantic). I want to thank Gov. Paul LePage and all of the members of the Legislature for passing this resolution.

This simple and thoughtful gesture has made news throughout Canada. It has touched many of us. It’s what everyone was talking about this morning at the Tim Hortons. For the people of Quebec and Franco-Canadians, the fact that Berry’s statement was partially in French was so very touching. On news reports, we have watched the people of Lac-Megantic struggle to find the words in both French and English to describe their pain.

Your words have helped them and have comforted a province and country reeling from this tragedy. Merci.

Aujourd’hui, je suis une citoyenne du Maine. J’en suis tres fiere. (Today, I am a citizen of Maine. I am very proud.)

Carolle de Ste-Croix was raised surrounded by the beautiful Appalachian mountains in Restigouche County and is now the director of alumni relations at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, where she lives with her two daughters.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/07/14/opinion/contributors/from-canada-to-maine-a-thank-you-for-standing-with-lac-megantic/ printed on September 18, 2014