In a recent interview, Carina Francis asked me what advice I would give to myself 24 years ago when I first drove into Fort McMurray. I don't exactly remember what I said, but it boiled down to "I wouldn't". Everything that happened, both good and bad, brought me to today. With that truth, I wouldn't change a single thing. I had to have the experience things the way I did to learn the things that I did and make the many decisions that formed my life.
I've heard from several people that I've had a profound affect on their lives, intended or otherwise. Alan Roberts, Director of Keyano Theatre and Arts Centre, jokingly said that he blames me for a lot. We travelled many miles together with interPLAY, Keyano Theatre and other community adventures. I expressed my gratitude to him and to Keyano Theatre for the gifts they have given to our sons. The experiences they had in shows like Les Mis, Christmas Carol, and Spoon River Anthology were fundamental in their development as theatre artists and human beings. My connection to Keyano Theatre also enabled meeting Heather, the love of my life.
In her spontaneous words at yesterday's gathering, she recounted our blind date - arranged by then Keyano Theatre House Manager Susan Chase - where we closed down Kaffe On King, then went to Moxies and a long walk on MacDonald Island. We've essentially been together ever since. That was April 11, 2001.
We were grateful and proud that both Dylan and Ben were able to join us and that they both shared heartfelt thoughts about leaving this place they have called home their entire lives. They are processing this significant shift in our lives in their own ways, as are Heather and I.
It was so kind that Tany Yao, our MLA, was able to drop by and say a few words. While he made a generous comment about my constant presence at public events, his dedication to community and to being present is becoming legendary.
Thanks again to Kiran and to Cedars Bakery for hosting such a lovely farewell.
(my thanks to Kiran for taking all the pictures)