Faces of Fort McMurray

What is the real story of Fort McMurray?  Why do people come here on the two-year plan and stay for a lifetime (or, at least much of their working life)?  We've tried to articulate the answers to these questions with the BIG SPIRIT campaign, attempting, through a marketing platform, to bring into focus why this place is so special.  The Faces of Fort McMurray project is a slightly different approach, of getting the people who live and work here to tell their stories.  The authenticity is riveting.  They tell it like it is and it is powerful.

Did you know that Fort McMurray has a marine history?  Long before oil sands development, our rivers were a transportation gateway to the north.  Longtime resident Jack "Torchy" Peden describes why there is a marine park being developed along Prairie Loop Boulevard and why it's a piece of history that deserves to be celebrated.

Fort McMurray is a family town, a place where young couples come to start a family.  We make a lot of babies here, and each and every month the maternity ward at our local hospital provides care to expectant mothers and their anxious partners and families.  How many babies are born here every month?  What is it like being a nurse on one of the busiest maternity wards in the country?  Jennifer King provides a touching perspective on her choice of staying in Fort McMurray, even though she could go anywhere in the world.

We are two weeks away from enjoying the annual rodeo in Fort McMurray.  Yes, we have a rodeo, and yes we have horses.  Part of the reason that this is surprising, if you've never been here, is that there is little to no discernible farmland in the area. But Joe Lafond, who came here from Saskatchewan to work as a welder at Syncrude, carved out a ranching life and runs a local rodeo that annually attracts thousands of residents.

The Faces of Fort McMurray all have different stories.  Some were born here, many others came from points across the country and globe. But they all share something in common:  an understanding and appreciation that this place is unique, that it provides unparalleled opportunity, that it has a rich history, that it is the place they call home.


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