It was, to be quite honest, one of the highlights of my year.
The invitation to speak to a Grade Four class about blogging and writing was a delightful offer, but the time I spent with those bright young students quite likely did more for me than it did for them. It was inspirational, in fact, seeing their enthusiasm and answering their questions. Their wisdom, so young and pure, shone through as they shared their thoughts about writing and telling stories. At the end of my talk I offered that if they blogged again in their class blog I would share it here on my blog, and so today I am doing exactly that.
This little student blog is the brainchild of their teacher, Ms. Tebay, and it is an outlet for not only creativity but the sharing of life stories, just as I do in this blog. Their most recent set of posts is all about how they and their families came to live in Alberta, and since I have never really shared my own story of my arrival here I thought I would do so today.
Twelve years ago I was living in a small town in northwestern Ontario called Cochenour. We had been there for five years, and it is where the Intrepid Junior Blogger was born, in a hospital in nearby Red Lake. It is a lovely place, surrounded by trees and lakes and wildlife. It was a very different experience for me, life in a small town, as I had grown up in Saskatoon and spent some years living in Toronto. The Intrepid Junior Blogger's father, an engineer by profession, had always had an interest in working in the oilsands, and so when the opportunity came and the job offer arrived we accepted it - and I came to Fort McMurray having never seen it before, my first glimpses of it on the taxi ride from the airport.
Things have changed over twelve years, to be certain. The IJB has grown, and this is her hometown, even though she was not born here. My ex-husband chose to move to Calgary just over a year ago, and I chose to remain here, in the place that long ago went from being a new adventure to being, quite simply, home. I fell in love with this place, and the people, and the potential. I found a sense of belonging, a community and an ability to contribute to making this a better place that others would want to call home, too.
That is the story of how I became an Albertan, and recently chose to remain one. It is my Alberta story.
In April the 4L Class at Westview School has been blogging their own Alberta stories. I have read every single entry - in fact I have read every entry the students have blogged, delighted by their imagination and enthusiasm and sheer pleasure in writing.
Today, with the permission of their teacher, I am sharing their blog with my readers, in the hopes that you too will read their entries and perhaps leave them some words of encouragement as they explore the world of writing and blogging, a world that has given me so much and made my own world grow so much larger. To say I am fond of these students is an understatement, as I am far beyond fond. The time I have spent with them is time I treasure, because it reminded me of the potential of our youth, the charming honesty of nine year olds, and why this community matters so much to me.
Fort McMurray matters because it is filled with people like the 4L Warriors, students who reminded me why making this a better place matters, and of the responsibility we as adults bear to make sure this place is a wonderful place to call home.
Today I am delighted to virtually introduce you to the Grade 4L class at Westview School - I hope you enjoy their entries as much as I do, and I hope you too are reminded of the reason we work to build this community. It is, after all, because of young people just like these ones, and ones I am so very honoured to count among my friends.