In praise of the new generation
There was a time when I felt the weight of responsibility about the health, vitality and future of our community. While I'm still passionate about those things, I feel lightened by the new generation of young leaders I see stepping forward and shaping the future of Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo.
Here are a few examples, of many, that jump to mind.
I look at what's happening in the arts and I see many amazing people and organizations moving forward without being tethered to the past. They are embracing our present and creating new, exciting, and innovative work. For a time, I was so focused on the things we had lost - arts programming at the college, Events Wood Buffalo, interPLAY, etc. - that I couldn't see the exciting future that was emerging from the ranks of the younger generation. I see it now, and it is pretty incredible.
Look at what Councillor Krista Balsom has accomplished with YMM Magazine, and all the causes and projects that she has energized with her skills, talents and boundless energy. This is a young person who has a vision and chases it every day.
I look at what Melanie Galea is doing with her Discover Fort McMurray brand and I see someone who has it figured out. She is championing local businesses, sharing her knowledge about social media, and igniting passion for this community. She is awesome.
I think of superstars like Councillor Jeff Peddle and Maxine Willocks (Chez Max) and the positivity they exude in all that they do and I feel even lighter. Their track record of making things happen and inspiring positive change is a beacon for others.
On the media side of things, I am inspired by what I'm seeing with the young crew at 91.1 The Bridge and the District Recording Studio. They are engaging the community in a consistent and meaningful way. They are also encouraging young artists to reach their potential. I also do a lot of work with Matt and Brieanna at Shaw TV, and have been super impressed with their dedication, skills and creativity.
I look at the young digital marketing phenoms at Aurakey and the exciting work they are doing to shake things up to help small businesses and I get chills. I really do. They are all over my social media feeds spreading good news for others. They had a dream and they are making it real.
I'm in awe of the many young Indigenous leaders, men and women, who are raising their voices, building great businesses, and moving forward toward a promising future in this region and country. I think of people like Ron Quintal, Nicole Bourque-Boucher, Melissa Herman, Robbie Coppard, Mitch Mercredi, Shawn McClure and so many others who are building strong businesses and organizations, writing great stories, creating beautiful art, and elevating the importance of traditional ways and historical roots.
I watch our two sons, Dylan and Ben, and the paths they are charting. They are both anchored in the arts and are developing their own strong ways of expressing themselves and collaborating with others. Their courage, dedication and creativity inspires me every day, though I probably don't tell them that often enough. I'm fiercely proud of them.
The weight I felt, the burden of responsibility I embraced, and the stress I absorbed trying to be an agent of change are gone. I am enjoying sitting back and watching the new generation fly off into the future with new ideas, unimaginable energy and the belief that anything is possible. It feels good.