I have now lived in this city for 25 of my 26 years. I developed who I am within this city, and the biggest part of that is my love for the natural world.
My dad took me and my brother out to Big Lake on the bike trails since before we could walk, and I remember when one could go out to the observation pier for a moment of silence. No more.
Now, the surrounding wetlands have been razed for yet another unsightly suburb, leaving the White Spruce Forest and Lois Hole Provincial Park as the last bastions of a once functioning and connected ecosystem. At least there's still that, some might say. This is only a small manifestation of a deeply troubling line of thought in Alberta that has haunted me for as long as I've been alive: as long as we're making money, who cares about the natural world?
I did my due years in university in an environmental studies degree to see if I could be part of the solution, and found that it is not just our policies that need to change. It is our hearts and minds. COVID has hit this province hard, driving us to rock bottom financially. I understand that, and my heart is with those struggling to make ends meet right now. But as anyone who has struggled will know, rock bottom is at least a solid foundation on which to build anew. Now is not the time to ram through more dubiously legal pipelines, but to finally diversify, and end Alberta's twisted dependence on the volatile and now-failing oil industry.
I urge our leaders to ensure that there is still a naturally beautiful province for our subsequent generations to enjoy and prosper in. As a young person looking at the prospects for the future, it is extremely hard to have hope right now that we can enjoy the same quality of life as our parents did. But with just a few prescient choices, such as a shift towards renewable energy, we might just stand a chance. This is a historical moment, and for one, I think we should embrace it as much as we can and ensure hope for the future.
Ciara Fraser, St. Albert