It takes a village.
When my daughter learned she had been selected as one of the 2018 Top 50 Under 50 in our community, this is what I said to her.
My daughter grew up in Fort McMurray. I always knew her future would likely take her away from this community, and so it has as she studies engineering in the sunny and warm community of Kelowna. But while she has left Fort McMurray, it has never left her.
When she first started university, she was asked to deliver a speech to the incoming students who were recipients of major scholarships. When she told me the focus of her speech, I recall feeling such pride; her speech was not about her accomplishments or her plans of future career success.
Instead she spoke about her excitement over what she hoped to be able to contribute to her new community.
And I have no doubt that is because she grew up here, a place that prides itself on contribution – to our national economy, to our social profits, to philanthropy in general and to each other.
When she was named one of the Top 50 Under 50, I knew she would see it as an honour – and a challenge. After all, we can sit on our accolades or we can build on them, choosing to continue to strive to achieve more; and not just for ourselves but for the benefit of others, including the communities in which we reside.
I am pleased to say she is very active in her university community; she serves on the executive of several student organizations while continuing to pursue her degree, because she knows life is about more than jobs and degrees and personal success.
Life is about service to others.
Fort McMurray, the honour my daughter received isn’t hers alone. It belongs to all of you, as you are the village that raised her. It belongs to the Fort McMurray Public School District and Beacon Hill School and Ecole McTavish and Westwood; it belongs to the Fort McMurray SPCA and the Wood Buffalo Food Bank and the Centre of Hope; it belongs to the Westwood GSA; it belongs to all the adults and kids who touched her life when she was growing up and who contributed to who she has become.
And yes, I am proud of my daughter. But I am also proud of Fort McMurray, the kind of place that raises kids like mine and so many more, who take what they learned about contributing in their home town and use that knowledge as a launch pad to contribute to the world.
And yes, I am so proud that when she is asked about her home town, she proudly says she grew up in Fort McMurray. As her path takes her to other places, she and the children like her who grew up here serve as the best kind of ambassadors.
It takes a village. And like my daughter, I am so glad her village has been Fort McMurray.