Sunday, December 10, 2023

Still standing

Pontiac is a busy place on Canada Day weekend with all kinds of community events taking place from Sheenboro to Shawville, Calumet to Quyon, and many points beyond and in between. Any one of them would be a shining example of what can be achieved through vision, commitment, volunteerism, community spirit, leadership and, just as important, followership.
Take Danford Lake, for example. On Saturday, the town opened its splash pad, just the latest in a long series of improvements to the Henry Heeney Memorial Park project, with many more still to come. Warden Jane Toller and MNA André Fortin were on hand to congratulate the organizers, and what a great gang of enthusiastic community-builders they are. The municipal council and public works staff were out in full force, all in their Alleyn and Cawood T-shirts, carrying heavy objects, answering questions, directing traffic, checking the sound system and doing the myriad things that need doing to make an event like this a success.
Leading the effort were the municipality’s hard-working and ever-cheerful Director General, Isabelle Cardinal, and Special Projects Coordinator, Sheila Emon. Neither will be happy to be singled out here for praise as, in good Pontiac fashion, they will insist that it is a team effort and that there are many with whom any praise must be shared.
And they would be quite right, given all the people who dug deep to help make Saturday’s event a success. Even Mayor Carl Mayer, not one for sitting on stages and giving speeches, would much rather be in his comfort zone, doing his part as he so often does as just one of the volunteers selling 50/50 tickets.
Seeing the pride of accomplishment of this small, rural Quebec community making good things happen despite all kinds of odds was a bit like watching an episode of the popular TV show Still Standing. On a self-described heart-warming journey to find humour in the unlikeliest of places, how would host Jonny Harris be able to resist commenting on the fact that Mayor Mayer has been elected three times. “Well, of course he has!” you could imagine Harris proclaiming. “Why would you bother making anybody else Mayor when you’ve already got a guy called Mayer? Keep it simple, I say.”
Multiply the Danford Lake experience times 20 and you have an idea of what the Pontiac is about. There are leaders and followers, visionaries and volunteers in every one of our communities. Multiply that by a few thousand and you begin to get a sense of the country we live in.
Some say Canada is broken. They clearly don’t get out enough. On the contrary, for all its flaws, Canada provides us with all the preconditions for greatness anyone could reasonably hope for on this good Earth.
Canada Day gives us all a chance to experience something good about the amazing possibilities of life here, to reconnect with the idea that it is really all in our hands, and to recommit to doing something extraordinary with that opportunity, something worthy of the privilege.

Charles Dickson