“What do you love about Fort McMurray?” The voice of a fellow passenger breaks the white noise surrounding me as I wait for my flight to be called near gate 45. I smile and think for a moment, wanting to give just the right answer.
It could be that this is where I have predominantly raised my family. All three children graduated high school here, two of my children have attended College here and my granddaughter is now starting kindergarten here. My children have been blessed with riches that cannot be measured including opportunities to travel, learn and live fuller lives because of their experiences here.
Or maybe it’s because I have had the opportunity to work in both a high school and in postsecondary education leading and mentoring students. I have seen and experienced first-hand the passionate teachers and educational staff who genuinely care about what is best for children and families in our community. In my new role with United Way I am able to continue making a difference in our community supported by a strong team and dedicated volunteers.
Perhaps it is the amenities such as our world class facility, Mac Donald Island which includes Shell Place. The Redpoll Centre is an example of possibilities that could easily rival any other space for social profit agencies. The water parks, the many sports and recreation fields and facilities all add to my quality of life.
Of course, I love the galas, the festivals, the community events. From horseback riding to walking one of the beautiful trails there are so many different ways to spend my free time. (Well that is when I am not busy volunteering with Keyano Theatre, Safe Community Wood Buffalo or Leadership Wood Buffalo.
…and the people. I have friends who are from all over the world: Scotland, Portugal, Philippines, Jamaica, United States, Somalia, Kenya, Moldova, Atlantic Canada on and on. My friends work in industry, in not for profit agencies, in education and in offices across the city. Once, at a local event, I admired one gal’s necklace and she took it off and gave it to me – right there. She said, “you should have this”. We have been friends ever since.
I think maybe it’s because of Eagle Ridge Nest, where my granddaughter attends licensed quality child care with caring, dedicated professionals. Gosh, there are so many places that address the needs of our citizens; The Centre of Hope, Justin Slade Youth Foundation and Salvation Army Community Services to name a few.
“What do you love about Fort McMurray?” I look at the fellow traveller and smile. I proudly respond “I love Fort McMurray, because it is my home”.