Banners haven’t yet been put up to welcome her home, but many in Sylvan Lake are letting out a sigh of relief after hearing the news this week that freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout has been freed.
Originally from Sylvan Lake, the 28-year-old was taken hostage in Somalia 15 months ago and held in captivity until Wednesday.
Hearing she was greeted by her mother Lorinda Stewart in Nairobi, Kenya, on Thursday morning put many people in a positive mood.
“I’m really happy for the family,” said Bettilee Halisky, the owner of Arayah’s salon in Sylvan Lake. Stewart has dropped into the salon, while visiting the area from B.C., where she now lives.
Halisky said as soon as anything comes on the radio about Lindhout everyone at the salon gets really quiet to listen.
“Being a mother myself I couldn’t imagine it,” said Jenny Callsen, a stylist at Arayah’s. She said she has never been away from her eight-year-old daughter. She said Lindhout being kidnapped is something only seen in movies. She said it’s hard to believe it has happened to someone in real life, especially someone known in the community.
Ruth Petersen was helping at her daughter’s clothing store named Made U Look, along 50 Street in Sylvan Lake, on Thursday. She was just reading the news about Lindhout’s release in the paper. She has one granddaughter Pauline studying journalism in Calgary and another named Nicole studying to be a photographer in Vancouver. Both of them have shown interest in going into volatile parts of the planet.
Petersen said she’s not going to let them go. “They’ve talked about it and they think it’s exciting, but in the wrong way,” she said.
The lunchtime crowd at A&W along Lakeshore Drive were pleased with Lindhout’s release. Some said it was a pity that the ransom had to be paid.
Doreen Watson was having lunch with her husband of 57 years Don. The couple has a cottage in Sylvan Lake and were preparing for a Grey Cup weekend party with friends.
“I was thrilled she was released,” said Doreen, who has been watching the story. She said it was unfortunate that so much money had to be raised in order to free the young reporter.
Don said he thinks the government should put pressure on groups that do this sort of thing, but recognizes that it can be challenging to do so.