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Dawna Friesen: The Gander of 9/11 reminds us that good places still exist

Click to play video: '‘At the end of the day, we’re neighbours’: Freeland acknowledges 9/11 anniversary as NAFTA talks resume'
‘At the end of the day, we’re neighbours’: Freeland acknowledges 9/11 anniversary as NAFTA talks resume
Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland arrived in Washington, DC for more NAFTA talks on Tuesday. She expressed solidarity with the U.S. on the 17th anniversary of 9/11 and noted the importance of neighbors "helping each other when they need help." – Sep 11, 2018

If you’re like me, you’re hungry for stories that reflect the ways we humans are connected and share common ground.

How we can rise to the occasion, summon the best parts of ourselves, and solve problems using the deeper values that sometimes lay hidden within us — those types of stories. Kindness, honesty, bravery, humility and understanding.

READ MORE: New documentary looks at real people behind hit musical ‘Come from Away’

Countless people found themselves summoning those traits in the aftermath of 9/11. Through the unimaginable horror and grief of that day emerged strength.

And it’s no surprise to me that the story of what the people in Gander, N.L., and the surrounding towns did in the days after 9/11 has become such a smash hit on Broadway.

Click to play video: 'Canadian play about Newfoundland town’s 9/11 legacy wins Tony for musical direction'
Canadian play about Newfoundland town’s 9/11 legacy wins Tony for musical direction

WATCH: Canadian play about Newfoundland town’s 9/11 legacy wins Tony for musical direction

Locals called them the “plane people,” and when 38 jetliners delivered them to their doorstep, and Newfoundlanders did what they do. They welcomed them, fed them, and opened their homes to them. They put their own lives on hold to help a group of strangers. They did for them what we would like done to us. It was a selfless act, with no payback expected or desired.

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I happen to love Newfoundland and for two decades have been going there most every year for at least a short visit, so you could say I am a bit biased. I am a farm kid from Manitoba by origin, yet there is something intangible about Newfoundland that keeps drawing me back. I don’t want to over-romanticize the place, but I do think there’s something we can learn from the popularity of the musical Come from Away.

READ MORE: From Gander to Broadway, the journey of Come from Away

We’re living through such tumultuous times, where division and political rancour is rampant, and anger and fear of others is being stoked for political gain. Values that used to feel durable now seem flexible. Leaders play to our worst fears, sow division, and even facts and truth are up for debate.

There’s a hunger to believe a place exists, where openness and friendliness are the hallmarks, where the basic goodness of humanity is reaffirmed. As we commemorate the victims on this anniversary of 9/11, it’s a good time to pause for a moment and reflect on the moment we are living in, the kind of society we’re building for the next generation, and the leadership we choose to get us there.

Dawna Friesen is the anchor of Global National.

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