“I live in Norfolk County but I am from Port Dover”

Writer questions purpose of changes at fire hall

This letter was sent to Norfolk’s County Manager David Cribbs with a copy to The Maple Leaf.

DEAR Mr Cribbs; I am a life long resident of Port Dover, and I work as a Community Developer for two local government non profits.
I have owned my home for over 12 years and my family owns retail property in Port Dover. I grew up working in a family business. My grandfather came to Port Dover from Slovakia, purchased a bankrupt hardware store on Main Street and turned it into the thriving Stoney’s Home Hardware that you see today.
I went away to university for undergrad, graduate, and abroad studies, but I came back to Port Dover to establish an adult life. My mother is a retired teacher having spent her entire career in Port Dover. My father is a retiree from the Port Dover Fire Department. I come from a family that has committed a great deal of our life to the well-being of the community in Port Dover.
I share all this with you in order to contextualize my letter, and render it more credibility. I am writing you because it is my understanding, and I may be incorrect because one cannot believe everything they read in print, that you have ordered the Port Dover Fire Department to make our history less prominent in the hall.
My dad created our crest. I am proud of that work and of my dad and the commitment and labour he gave to the fire service.
That crest represents Port Dover Fire and what it means to be a firefighter in a port town.
You understand us as Station 2, an out-station of Norfolk County Fire and Emergency Services, but we are Port Dover Fire.
People give up their time, risk their lives, put their family time as second, in order to give themselves as volunteer firefighters. We had so many cold meals during my childhood because my dad rushed out to a call. I sat awake in my bed for hours in the middle of the night after hearing the tones go off and heard the initial call, and I wondered if my dad was coming home.
These firefighters do all of this for little financial compensation. They do this because they love their community.
Please look up our last name. You will see that my dad was not only active in suppression but also was a Fire Safety Educator. My dad was honoured by the Fire Marshall’s office for his work.
My Uncle Jerry was a Training Officer and my Uncle Pat was a Captain. Our family gave more than just their time but they gave their hearts to that station because they love Port Dover.
I live in Ontario but that does not shape my identity. I live in Norfolk County, but I am from Port Dover, that is my town, and that is the place that drives me to be a better person. People join “Station 2” because they love Port Dover.
I also ask you to please check the books on who purchased our Thermo Imaging Camera, our boat, and our Jaws of Life. You will see it was not the municipality but the people of Port Dover.
I helped as a child on all three of those fundraisers. This is how I learned to be a Community Developer, not through University but through my grandfather’s store and the Port Dover Fire Department. I learned about how important it is for people to feel like they belong, and that they have value to contribute to their town. This is crucial for a thriving and healthy community.
I have been witness to the municipal changes that have occurred over the years. Norfolk County is a fairly new entity. I am not clear on why you would push to have us all identify with Norfolk County and what purpose that serves. To force us to erase the history of our work, our hearts, and our passion seems ludicrous and hurtful.
There are times when history should only be remembered and not celebrated, such as the confederate soldier statues in the United States. Those men enslaved and butchered people. They should not be honoured with statues. But this is not the same issue.
Please reconsider your position. I am not sure how this became an issue for a CAO to be concerned about given how busy your position must be, but please leave community to be community and for Port Dover Fire to continue working on keeping us all safe instead of arguing with bureaucrats on our right to recognize and honour the long history of volunteer firefighting in our community.

Carrie Sinkowski
Port Dover

Posted: September 21, 2017

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