Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary By Paul Bootsma, CFFO Field Service Manager
The out-of-control forest fire around Fort McMurray, Alberta is a natural calamity that reminds us that some things are beyond our control. To see so many homes burned and such a large area of forest destroyed touches the spirit of everyone. The quick response in assisting people from Fort McMurray shows the national goodwill of Canadians. This reminds us all of the dangers of fire in any situation and also of the importance of community support in the face of a crisis.
Few have experienced the challenges of total loss of personal property that so many from Fort McMurray are now facing. They will need a lot of support over the coming months as they try to put their lives back together. Let’s encourage all levels of government to provide support and recovery assistance for the community that was devastated by fire. As Canadians we have a lot of wealth that can and should be shared with those who have lost everything in a tragedy such as this.
As debate in our federal and provincial capitals continues on issues of assisted dying, animal rights, and land owners rights, a massive fire such as the one in Alberta brings us back to the reality, which is the importance of life itself. Life is valuable. We are to protect it with all of our determination and will. God has given humankind dominion over creation, yet we know that disasters occur because we do not have total control over nature.
The province of Ontario also has its share of forest fires each year, with a yearly average of 1000 fires. There are regulations in Ontario about having fires for burning. You can find more information on the Ontario government’s website at www.ontario.ca/page/outdoor-
As the summer season approaches and we can expect periods of dryness, it is a good habit to check farmyards and buildings for potential fire hazards. This year already a number of barn fires with the loss of livestock have gained media attention. This is bringing greater expectations of accountability from insurance companies to prevent building fires. There are lessons to be learned from tragedies which should make improvements for the future.
The CFFO has been speaking a lot about stewardship in farming over the past year, but stewardship is a duty all citizens should take on. Fire is commonly used on farms but this needs to be managed well, considering the well-being of our property and that of our neighbours. We need to conduct our activities in such a way that we do all we can to prevent damage or cause negative consequences to nature.