Building and/or Re-Building

There is a big blue Alberta flag that flies proudly in front of my house. There aren’t too many around, so this one seems to stand out. The big blue skies, snow-capped mountains, rolling hills, rushing rivers and vast wheat fields … such resilient history; much uncharted potential.

Our ebbs and flows, peaks and valleys, booms and busts have always challenged us … while our obstinance, optimism, defiance and tenacity have continually defined us. Through drought, flood, tornado, avalanche, blizzard, epidemic, landslide, hail, beetle and wildfire … we have always survived, always carried on … always will.

What I love about this province is that when disaster happens, we respond as if it was family and we pitch in to help as best we can. Firefighters head to Slave Lake to combat the flames while volunteers flock to Calgary to help clean up – each a unique act of kindness; all defining moments that unite our province.

Amidst endless effort to pit north against south and urban against rural, these unforeseen events and heartwarming responses are often the things that bring us closer together as Albertans. They allow us to build the Alberta brand – one of resilience, generosity, compassion, and collective responsibility – and they force us to drive through crisis while never losing sight of the provincial vision.

Over the past 30 days, southern Alberta has been devastated by one of these unforeseen events, and both the government and the people of Alberta have responded with the utmost resolve and compassion. An unbelievable outpouring of support … or actually … an unprecedented outpouring of support. So unprecedented, in fact, that it has changed the provincial vision and discourse from “Building Alberta” to “Re-Building Southern Alberta” which unfortunately now has the potential to undo the very things that have brought us closer together.

In times when the government is reacting with as much foresight and grace as possible, it is important that we respond as opposed to react … or over-react … to the fear that all focus has now shifted to the south. Our elected officials are tasked with governing the whole province, and in times of unforeseen crisis they know the importance of building the economic engine in the north while they figure out the policies and programs needed to help re-build the south.

As the headlines, blogs, talk-shows and tweets start to take shots at our provincial leaders who have worked relentlessly to restore the fundamentals, I hope all Albertans take a moment to appreciate our history of hardship and resilience, and our brand that is grounded in empathy and survival.