The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

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Added: Wed, 03/01/2017 - 10:08pm
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The Pontiac's rural location is often regarded as one of its major challenges. Remote communities often experience a lack of access to services coupled with unfavourable economic and employment realities. Sadly, these deficiencies are often where we focus our attention, so much so that we tend to overlook and take for granted the benefits our region has to offer. 
One of the Pontiac's major strengths is its strong sense of community and high level of social support. Our community has a rich history of coming together and supporting one another, whether it’s to raise funds for much needed medical equipment (eg. the dialysis fund, bone densitometer, etc), to protest common plights (eg. the formation of the CISSSO or paid parking at the PCH, etc), or to help out individuals and families when faced with adversity.
Take, for example, the recent house fire that left the Lepack family, a family of seven, without a home (see page 6 of the February 15 edition). Before the
firefighters had finished extinguishing the flames, the Pontiac's communities had already begun rallying together to support the family; people from all over the Pontiac arrived with food, clothing or cash donations, fundraising events were organized, a trust fund and Gofundme account were created, contact information for various resources were provided, and more. Could you expect such
a degree of community support in a big city?
This inclusive, supportive, friendliness is a powerful drawing card for rural
communities. According to one study, about 1 in five people who live in urban areas (about 20%) believe community is very important and are envious of the perceived tight-knit communities found in rural regions where “everyone knows everyone”. People migrating from cities are often looking for the feeling of belonging to a community – a feeling that isn't as strongly felt within city limits.
In addition, a sense of belonging is also good for your health. According to Statistics Canada, studies over the last 25 years have clearly determined there is a relationship between social relationships and health; those who feel supported and connected to others are less likely to suffer from both mental and physical
illness. No man is an island; no-one is self sufficient and everyone relies on others.
The Pontiac is told time and time again that it is one of the poorest MRC's in all of Quebec. There is no denying it is, when “poor” is defined in terms of average incomes, employment opportunities, and availability of infrastructure. But “poor” is a subjective word and there are so many other ways the Pontiac is rich, and so many reasons to be proud to live here. It just takes looking at our situation a bit differently to see and appreciate them.

Allyson Beauregard