Letters: Walking to support Chilliwack

Readers encouraged to stand by Chilliwack despite its recent challenges be proud to live here, writer says.

It is said that bad news travels faster than good news, and that people are 11 times more likely to share a poor experience with others than a positive one. We have witnessed the spreading of bad news like wildfire after some negative incidents have occurred in the downtown core of Chilliwack over the past few weeks. Social media has been a powerful conduit for people’s opinions, and accusations for who is to blame have been rampant.

Like any city, Chilliwack is not without some questionable characters and incidents of crime. I have lived in the downtown area for most of my life, and while I recognize that we have challenges, what I know to be true above all else is this: Chilliwack is full of beautiful people. It is filled with people with kind hearts, who are generous, creative, hard-working and loyal. I have witnessed someone stopping their car to give a ride to a family struggling to carry their groceries home. I have witnessed people bringing in their neighbour’s garbage cans so that they are not blown away during the workday. Over and over again I have seen evidence that Chilliwack is filled with people who help in any way that they can to put a sense of good back into this community. This city is filled with people who care about their families, about their neighbours, their community and the breath-taking valley that they live in.

I am an avid hiker, and recently was enjoying a beautiful walk up a popular local trail. When I returned I was dismayed to find that my car had been broken into and my hiking gear and wallet had been stolen. The wallet had contained my son’s saved up birthday money, adding to the sadness of the incident. When I shared my experience on Facebook, dozens of people commented with encouraging comments, and shortly thereafter someone started a GoFundMe campaign. Within a couple of days over $600 was raised to help with the costs of replacing what had been taken. Many of these donors were members of our community that I had never even met. While something terrible had happened, the collective goodness and kindness of others in our community was the overriding experience that I was left with.

How I choose to view our community is something that I decide upon each day. Can I truly look at one event and write off our entire City’s infrastructure, saying that the police are not doing their jobs, that the politicians should be doing more, and that Chilliwack is full of crime? Or will I take a moment to grieve what was lost (valuable, but not irreplaceable) and then focus on how people rallied around to support me during that unsettling time? I personally have found that for any incident of crime, or an unjust action, there are endless amounts of kind gestures pouring goodness back into our community.

We live in Chilliwack because we love it here. Sometimes it seems that there are too many negative experiences in a row, and one can get overwhelmed and lose perspective. We can give into fear and negativity and begin to stereotype. We pull away from the community and begin to put ourselves first. I do not believe this is the way to create positive change. Louise L. Hay says, “If I want to live in a peaceful world, then it is up to me to make sure that I am a peaceful person. No matter how others behave, I keep peace in my heart. I declare peace in the midst of chaos or madness. I surround all difficult situations with peace and love.”

I encourage readers to stand by Chilliwack despite its recent challenges! Hold your head high; be proud to live here and remind yourself that this is a good place!

A group of citizens who feel this way are planning a Walk for Peace on Friday, May 20th at 7pm commencing in Salish Plaza and we invite you and your families to join us. Let’s remind ourselves and other residents of the downtown core that Chilliwack is a place filled with incredible people who want nothing but the best for their neighbours as we walk together in peace through our downtown core. Let’s replace negativity with positivity! Despite the long hours of daylight, we will carry candles to symbolize the light we each bring to our community, and enjoy some inspirational quotes and speeches.

Please visit facebook.com/ChilliwackWalkforPeace to stay tuned for more details!

Emily Sayward