Our country is vast, spreading over thousands of kilometres of land, with more than 30 million people living within its borders.
But despite its reach, Canada is a fairly small country population-wise and when a terrible event occurs, it’s felt nationwide.
The aftermath of the tragic deaths of two Blairmore residents has rippled across the country, and has impacted not only the community where it took place, but also in the communities that surround the small Alberta town.
Candlelight vigils have taken place in areas like Fernie and Sparwood, where residents have rallied together, standing in support and in solidarity of the family and friends of Terry Blanchette and his two-year-old daughter, Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette who were incomprehensibly murdered within their community. Their lives were taken from them in a place they felt the most comfortable; in a place where they felt safe.
Even in Fernie, only 45 minutes away from where the atrocities took place, there is a feeling of unrest among residents.
People who have lived here comfortably for many years, suddenly feel the need to lock their doors at night, not sure what could be waiting around the corner. After all, if it happened there, it could happen here.
Unlike big cities, small Canadian towns share a commonality – everyone knows their neighbours; everyone is connected to each other in one way or another.
When events like this take place so close to home, it’s nearly impossible to wrap one’s head around the impact those events will have on a community, and the years it will take to deal with what happened.
While two people lost their lives, the impact of their deaths spans much further. The lives of both victims’ families, as well as the family of the accused, and anyone connected with them, have been changed forever.
Despite the tragedy – or perhaps because of it – members of the community have come together to lean on each other in a time of need. Despite the heartache and anger that’s felt over such acts of violence, there is a glimmer hope. Proof that no matter what adversities a community is faced with, there is an underlying optimism that things will be ok.