For some time a friend has been encouraging me to start blogging about life in Fort McMurray, Alberta. I suppose it's because I have lived in Fort McMurray for almost a decade now, and have gained some perspective on life here. I'm not interested in or planning on writing about the controversies surrounding the oilsands, as you can find that anywhere if you know how to google. What I want to do is write about life in this city - and yes, there is life here.
The true catalyst for me starting this blog was an incident that occurred recently in the Vancouver airport. I was returning home after a few days in Vancouver, and I started chatting with the security officer directing passengers to the various security checkpoints. He complimented me on my outfit (a red trench coat and a great hat I had bought there but couldn't pack so had no choice but to wear), and then asked to see my boarding pass. He looked at it, looked at me, and asked incredulously "What is there for anyone to do in Fort McMurray? Nobody like you lives in Fort McMurray". I looked him square in the eye and said "Well, some of us do live there, and just like me". He replied that he thought people only worked there, not lived there, and then the gentleman standing behind me in line, overhearing the conversation, commented that he was "sorry" to hear I lived in the Mac. I responded that I was not sorry, and told the security officer that while, yes, people DO work in Fort McMurray people live there as well.
It wasn't the first time I've had an exchange like this, and I doubt it will be the last. When I travel I find myself explaining, defending, or otherwise discussing my chosen home. And that is what it is - I have chosen to live here. I am not an oilsands employee or an environmental activist. I am not an apologist for the local oilsands industry or an employee of the city. I am not a publicist. I am not a real estate agent trying to sell you a house. What I am is a resident and citizen who has been here long enough to have formed some thoughts and opinions. If you work or live (or work AND live - shocking!) in Fort McMurray you may or may not agree with my thoughts, and that's fine as we all have different perspectives on the city. If you don't happen to live or work in Fort McMurray then maybe I can tell you a bit about living here - the myths, the madness, and maybe even about how some of us are makin' it. There are thousands of stories in the oilsands city - and this is just one of them.