Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Murders, Northern Workers, and Blame

I've been wanting to write this post for a few days but decided instead to focus on interPLAY because it made me happy. This next topic doesn't make me happy, people. In fact, it makes me pretty angry, and I don't get angry very often. I'm a bit like Mount Saint Helen's in that regard though - quiet for a long time, and when I blow my top, I really go - and this particular topic is of the volcano variety for me.

A few days ago an Edmonton city councillor, Kim Krushell, was speaking to the media about Edmonton's murder rate. There has been 34 murders there this year, and I truly feel for them as this is a troubling situation with no clear answers or solutions. But Ms. Krushell "suggested that the large number of workers from the north that come to Edmonton to party may be a problem". Look, people, I know who she is talking about, and so do you - she is talking about people like us, up here in Fort Mac. And frankly, I deeply resent her comment.

It is so very easy to blame "outsiders" for problems in our communities. After the riot in Vancouver I was bemused by all the claims that it wasn't locals, it was people from other places rioting - and all I can say to that is "bull". Yes, of course there were people from outside Vancouver rioting - but I'm quite certain some were Vancouver residents, too.

The same is happening right now in England, with police chiefs and politicians from every community claiming it's not their residents rioting and looting but ones from other areas. Again, no doubt some are from other places - but clearly some are from those communities, too, and trying to fob off blame on "those other people" doesn't serve anyone well.

On a scale much closer to home it's like when my kid has a friend over, and after they leave I notice a huge mess in her room that needs to be cleaned up. My kid will often exclaim "but so-and-so made the mess!". For starters I know my kid contributed to the mess, and secondly who did it doesn't really matter. It's her room, she has to live there, and now she has to clean it up. Blaming someone else is not going to clean up the mess, address the problem, or make anyone feel better about it, either.

So too it is with the murder situation in Edmonton. I resent city councillors trying to fob off their crime statistics on "northern workers". No doubt those northern workers may occasionally be involved in crime in Edmonton, but I also doubt they are primarily responsible for the current murder statistics. And in the final analysis even if they are it's immaterial, because it's still happening in Edmonton, and they need to address the problem. We have enough issues to address here in Fort Mac, and I don't think we should be asked to carry the burden of Edmonton's murder rate, too. I'd also point to our own rather low murder rate (with the exception of the sad and deeply troubling murders earlier this summer) as evidence of the dubious nature of the claim that we are some lawless people who go to Edmonton to perpetrate crime.

Look, I am really annoyed by this allegation that it is northern workers who are driving up Edmonton's murder rate. I'd like to see some statistics proving that. I'd also like to remind certain Edmonton city councillors that they derive a lot of economic benefit from us "northern workers". As I've noted before in this blog I am a shopper. I am the kind of person that makes the eyes of shopkeepers glow with delight, especially if they happen to run shoe or clothing stores. I try to do a lot of shopping here in Fort Mac but over the last decade have spent a lot of time and money shopping in Edmonton, too. Like many people I've bought clothing, electronics, and cars there. I have contributed to Edmonton's retail, restaurant, entertainment, and hotel industries. But right now I'm seriously considering heading right by Edmonton next time and straight to a city further south where shopping is also good and where perhaps "my kind" won't be seen as "northern workers" contributing to their crime statistics. I am deeply offended by a city councillor who no doubt encourages those from the north to come to her city to shop and stay and eat and enjoy - but then turns around and blames us for her city's current woes.

Look, people, I'm not blind. I'm sure there are people from the north involved in crime in Edmonton - and probably people from the south, too, and people from other provinces, and, quite likely, people with an Edmonton street address. To point to one group, though, and say that they "may be a problem", to imply that somehow it is "those other people" who are at fault - well, that doesn't earn my respect, and it shouldn't earn the respect of Edmontonians, either. I feel truly awful about the problems the community in Edmonton is experiencing right now, and they have my sympathy. Just maybe, though, it's time to stop pointing fingers north and start looking a little closer to home for the root of the problem. I'm afraid regardless of who is responsible it's just time to start cleaning up the mess. If my kid can accept that responsibility, so can a city councillor.


  1. Good article !

    Trevor from Regina

  2. Well said. Externalization of blame helps no one.

    When it comes to murder and violence it has more to do the persons state of mind, which could be emotional of chemical. Where the crime happens is rarely relevant to that person.

    The more our societies care about the bottom line and less about social help, outlets or places to feel good about yourself and cut those programs, plans, etc. the more the area will be at risk.

  3. I'm so tired of negative comments about our beautiful community. I wrote to this councillor and asked her if she has anything to back up this claim.

    From now on I will complain about every bit of negative press we get. Complain both to those who publish the news (cbc in this case) and those with the flippant rude comments that get quoted.

    I also never shop in Edmonton anymore because I do not like their attitude about Fort McMurray. Residents who have never even been here call it a "dump" or say "oh you have to live there". Enough already. They appreciate our shopping dollars but insult us the next minute.