The town of Lac-Mégantic is preparing for a sad and difficult commemoration this Sunday.
A year ago, a runaway train exploded in the town center, levelling most of the buildings and killing 47 people.
This is the final instalment of our special five-part series in which CJAD 800 News has been bringing you stories about what has been happening in the town and with its residents over the past year.
TODAY: The town's pastor on dealing with the grief of residents and looking to the future
Parish priest Steve Lemay of Ste-Agnès Church said it was a long period of mourning for families of the victims, with funerals only beginning last August and ending in November after the long search through the rubble for bodies. And it's been even longer, he added, for families of the seven victims whose remains could not be identified by the coroner who only recently released the remains so the families can now complete their duties and bury their loved ones.
"Closing that chapter is an important part of the mourning process," Lemay said.
The church has set up an exhibit of local art, poetry, postcards of the old town center and abstract symbols commemorating the lives of the victims and the town before and after the tragedy. Lemay said they wanted to show how residents had all the reasons to give up but they chose to carry on.
"To show that if Lac-Mégantic residents can get back on their feet, (others) can also have a reason to hope and to carry on in the face of hardship," Lemay said.
Lemay said his parish's biggest contribution was to lend an ear and offer support to those in need and that they continue to do so nearly a year later.
"Our challenge together is to commemorate and deal with events that are not yet in the past."