Wood Buffalo unites culture on the daily

From the Editor’s Desk

By DAWN BOOTH, Managing Editor of Connect Weekly

Fort McMurray’s alive with multiculturalism and it’s celebrated with many hosted events throughout the year.

Most recent, I have been able to embrace a few of the showcased get-togethers by donning a hijab at Fort McMurray’s third annual World Hijab Day on January 31 and trying on a gele –  and traditional Nigerian attire – at the 2016 Multicultural Expo on February 13.

I left these two particular events feeling educated and grateful because I believe I’m living the best of both worlds in Fort McMurray – small town and big city.

The small Ontario town I grew up in had a population of 1,200 people. The majority of residents shared the same race and the diversity was among religious views, which was evident with the 12 churches spread throughout the village. It was – and still is – a quiet and friendly place.

The Pikwakanagan reserve was close-by and my parents took me frequently to visit their friends, who were a part of the Algonquin First Nation tribe. I enjoyed seeing their artistic craftsmanship created from animal hides and they often cooked up venison for us.

I was intrigued. Discovering new cultures had become important to me. I wanted to travel the world to see and learn more.

With my parents being raised Torontonians, they made it evident to me that people are people and I should treat others the way I want to be treated. They didn’t tell me things were this way, or that. They looked at everyone as equals and never made assumptions or negative remarks on a person based on their ethnicity.

Most importantly, it means we are setting differences aside to celebrate the one thing we all have in common – being human.

Having extended family in Toronto, I was able to escape to the big city often. As I grew older, I realized that I didn’t have to travel far to ‘see’ the world. The culture was in Toronto, and I was able to engage in more of it when I moved there, later in life. But within the metropolis, I was missing my hometown feel.

This is why I say Fort McMurray has it all.

It has the big city diversity and small town community pride. Here, I can walk into a place and start talking with someone and they actually chat back. Where in Toronto, I recall many times travelling the TTC and people were less engaged, too busy to carry a conversation.

Today, when out in our city, it’s uplifting to see residents collaborating cultures. To me, it means people are diluting racial prejudice. It means people are diminishing ignorance.

Most importantly, it means we are setting differences aside to celebrate the one thing we all have in common – being human. And in that, we genuinely understand each other (or try to) because we are all living together in the same community, under the same Northern Alberta sky.

-Connect Weekly-