Smoky River Regional
And so this is Christmas.
Christmas is a wonderful time of reflection and thanks. Naturally we are grateful for our family and friends, our health, and all the other things that complete our lives. One of the things I am very grateful for is my first job in Northern Alberta which brought me here almost 20 years ago and which taught me much.
Prior to moving to Falher in 2000, I had lived in Grande Prairie on a couple occasions.
My parents moved there in the late 60’s from Toronto.
My dad loved the north, the sparse population and the outdoors, and let’s just say, my momdid not. Six months later we were living in Edmonton.
Then back in the 1985, I took my first writing job working for Grande Prairie This Week as their agricultural/sports reporter. The job was an ironic one for me; I knew nothing about agriculture and just slightly more about sports. It was a great learning experience for me. I discovered the Peace country, competed in springboard diving in the Alberta Summer Games, and learned how brilliant producers, or farmers as we used to call them, are. I also learned how innovative and driven northern Albertans are.
I only stayed in Grande Prairie for four months. Honestly, having moved up from Calgary, I feared the winter months up north expecting them to be fraught with -40 degree temperatures and walls of snow.
Some 20 years later I know that not to be the case, at the very least winters are comparable to much of southern Alberta.
In my initial four months in the region I did learn a lot about life in the north. And it must have had a lasting effect for I moved back and have stayed ever since.
The thing I admire and enjoy the most about the north is large and varied, but I will reduce them to three main things.
The people. The north is filled with some of the most eccentric people I have had the pleasure to know. I have met some of the most passionate people in the north. Not everyone in the north agrees with one another, but most are equally passionate about what they believe in. They believe in hard work and commitment. They believe in working for the dollar they earn. They believe in giving all to the projects they pursue, whether that is a community project or a business venture.
People in the north believe in working together to achieve results and compromising a little to ensure the best outcomes. They believe in their family and in their friends and they believe in the future of their communities.
The land. The Smoky region is blessed with some of the best agricultural land in the world.
The products we produce is the best, not just because we say so, we have the studies to prove it. Those amazing crops, whether that is honey or oats, fescue or timothy, wheat or flax, northern producers believe in producing the best commodities.
We are also equally blessed with great forests, oil and gas, and mineral deposits that will ensure our future prosperity. Northerners are committed to sustainable development of all our commodities to the benefit of the region.
The land. I have traveled much in the world, but few places can boast of the beauty we have here in our backyard.
Our forests are majestic, our rivers are brilliant and our fields are breathtaking. Is there anything more beautiful than a canola or alfalfa field in bloom, a wheat field swaying in a summer breeze or an autumn dusk with round bales of hay resting in a field?
More importantly northerners respect their land. We understand the need for development, however, as a whole we believe in harvesting in an environmentally friendly way.
Northerners understand the need to support development in order to sustain our communities economically, but to do so in a way that preserves our environment.
This Christmas we should take time to be grateful for our family and friends, our homes and our health. Let’s also take time to be grateful for where we live. Merry Christmas.