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Likes being a Canadian girl, loves being a northern Canadian one

The generosity and commitment of the men and women who live and work in our region is staggering.

Last week I spoke with an oil and gas company employee as he was getting ready to fly out to his camp job. We were discussing Fort McMurray and how the community managed to evacuate so many thousands of people with no injuries reported (during the initial evacuation, tragically there were two young people who lost their lives in a car accident). He said (matter of factly), “most of those men and women are oilfield workers and they are highly trained in emergency drills.”

He was correct. The hours and hours of training, the tailgate meetings, the safety drills, the PPE that is worn and at the ready, and the “we do what we need to do” mindset of many of the residents of Fort McMurray was a game changer. Had it not been for the vocation of most of these individuals, the story might have been different, devastatingly so.

I use the word vocation for a reason. Some folks have a “job,” others have a vocation. Many of the men and women who work in the energy sector consider it a vocation and they are darn proud of what they do and what they are capable of doing.

They proved that these past few weeks.

You know who else proved that? The farmers, water truck operators, logging operators, and oil and gas companies in Northeast B.C. who stepped up big time as fires licked at homes and property in our region. No panic, just preparation and action. The generosity and commitment of the men and women who live and work in our region is staggering: calls were made, phones were answered and equipment was sent immediately with no hesitation.

This is the Northern way—it is a genetic code that is activated in many of us living in the North. Selfless and generous, caring and giving; We look after our own.

We also look after those around us.

As a little girl growing up in Northern Alberta, I remember when my father suffered a massive heart attack and was unable to complete harvest. Friends and neighbours interrupted their harvest and came over en masse to finish ours. Combines and grain trucks working until the wee hours to ensure that our crops were cleared before theirs.

I like being a Canadian girl, but I love being a Northern Canadian girl—I love being a part of a community that does not know the meaning of the word “no.”

I love being a part of a community that comes back time and time again and says, “what else can we do?”

Northern Strong. Always.

Judy Kucharuk is a lover of sarcasm, witty people and footnotes. You can follow her blog at or catch her on CBC Radio Daybreak North where she shares her “Peace of Mind.” Follow her on twitter @judylaine