With Christmas 2018 now in our past, we can take time to reflect on time spent with family and friends during the holiday season.
I recently had the honour and privilege to represent the Province of Nova Scotia at the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Boston. Over 30,000 men, women and children attended the event at Boston Commons. I was so proud to represent you and our Province as Deputy Premier. One of the best ways to share that great experience with my constituents is through the pictures that tell a thousand words.
The Christmas tree which was cut on private lands in Oxford was magnificent, with its many lights and grandeur in Boston Commons. I had the opportunity to attend the tree cutting at the private owners’ woodlot where we were joined by students from Oxford Regional Education Centre. It was a bitter cold day, but warm toques provided by the Province of Nova Scotia and lots of hot chocolate and cookies helped keep the spirits bright. Students sang Christmas carols and watched safely as the 46 foot white spruce was cut and loaded onto a tractor trailer where it began its journey to Boston.
Once in Boston, the tree was welcomed as it has been for years by both children and adults who I found to be very knowledgeable about the Halifax Explosion and the symbol of the tree as our gift to them to say thanks.
The Explosion in the harbour on December 6, 1917, was followed by fire and a severe snowstorm which destroyed hundreds of homes and completely levelled parts of the north end of the City of Halifax. More than 2 000 men, women and children died and over 9 000 were injured. Many were blinded as they were watching the fire in the harbour where the two ships collided and at the time of the explosion windows shattered all across the city.
Within 24 hours emergency responders, fire fighters, medical personnel and others were on route from Boston to Halifax with much needed medical supplies. Since that time Nova Scotia has shown their appreciation for this immediate response by sending a Christmas tree to Boston.
Perhaps the greatest highlight, and truly in the spirit of Christmas, was a visit to Mathieu Elementary School. This school is in an underprivileged area of the city, but the warm reception from those kids told me of the love, warmth and compassion each one has in their heart. These pictures are evidence of the excitement shown by the kids who, much like the Oxford kids, were wearing Nova Scotia toques and singing Christmas carols.
In 2017 a book entitled “The Little Tree by the Sea” was published in Nova Scotia and has been distributed both here and in Boston. I was truly amazed and touched by the excellent work classroom teachers in Mathieu Elementary School had done to help educate the students of the history that binds the City of Boston with the Province of Nova Scotia.
My message to the students was simple and it would be the same message for those of us here back home. “We may not remember, but we have a responsibility to tell the story so that this great deed is not forgotten”. As adults, please take the time to tell your children and grandchildren the story of the Halifax Explosion and the love, warmth and compassion shown to us by the City of Boston is symbolized through the annual gift of this Christmas Tree.
Karen Casey, MLA