What do you think of when you hear the name of Fort McMurray, Alberta?
Dirty oil? Unemployment? A depressed economy? The social problems that arise from a transient population?
I think, Generosity. Hope. Giving. Community.
I was in Fort McMurray recently during the most difficult period of my life, to bury my mom. It is when you find yourself being vulnerable that you recognize when people exceed your expectations.
Fort McMurray, Alberta is a prime example of what living in a community means.
When the Nistawoyou Friendship Centre could not accommodate our request to hold my mom’s Wake, the Native Christian Fellowship Church stepped up. It was not an easy undertaking to fit in our three-day Wake, especially with my huge family. I am not sure what was already committed but they rescheduled all the existing commitments to accommodate our needs. Thank you, my niece Connie, for all your help to secure this place. At the end of the day, it was perfect.
And, when we could not secure a location for the feast, again, the Native Christian Fellowship stepped up and allowed us to hold our feast at their church. Once again, commitments had to be adjusted. Not only did the pastor accommodate our request but he also didn’t charge us a fee. All he invited was a donation. We passed a collection basket. It was not much, but we absolutely do appreciate the lengths they went to accommodate our requests. My mom didn’t even belong to this church but she was known and respected by the pastor. This is what community looks like.
When we went to Printing Unlimited L.P. to have the memorial cards printed, again, to my surprise no payment was required. Ms. Mackenzie, the Customer Service Representative, told us they do this as a service to the community … to give back. And, you would think, since this was a free service, that the job would come after paid work, but no, that is not how it worked. Our print job of 200 colour copies was actually rushed ahead of paid jobs! Also, it was printed on hard stock paper and beautifully laid out.
On Ms. Mackenzie’s business card it says “See Why Quality Makes a Difference”. Thank you to Printing Unlimited for quality “community” service.
Even in a down-spiraling economy, businesses in Fort McMurray still have enough consideration in them to give back to the community. At the end of the day, this community is not defined by dirty oil or the uncertain economic times, but by the people whose hearts are big enough to show compassion and respect to those who are coping with grief.
I am proud to say that I am from Fort McMurray, Alberta. On behalf of the entire Deranger family, please accept our heartfelt thank you to the businesses of Fort McMurray who made this process easier, including the hotels, Anderson Robert Funeral Services, Caribou Flowers, Printing Unlimited, Native Christian Fellowship, and especially the nurses at the Extended Care, Northern Lights Regional Health Centre who looked after Mama in her final years on this earth.