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This is not a topic that is going to win me fans here. However, this needs to be said.
I am an eco-advocate, recycler, thrift-store shopper, believer in treading ever so gently on our gorgeous Earth. I also happen to love a great deal of humans, as I imagine you do too.
I live in Alberta, where a great many (as in, my neighbor, my boyfriend, people in my family—and in my neighbor’s family, and his neighbor’s family) are employed in some way by the oil and gas sector. If you live here, someone close to you is involved, in some way, in oil and gas.
I understand and respect the concerns for the environment. I am not not negating this in anyway. I’m not even going to approach that topic here—that is a whole other piece entirely.
I want the advocates, the bleeding hearts, the protestors, to remember something—something that you may not realize when it isn’t your dad losing his job, or your brother facing unemployment who has just had a new baby, or your mother, sister or best friend.
Maybe you think you wouldn’t be friends with people involved in the oil and gas industry…give your head a shake. I’m not saying that we don’t need to make huge changes. I’m not saying that I don’t agree with your ideas, your values, your willingness to change our fundamental way of fueling our lives.
You need to remember there are human lives at stake here. Acknowledge them. Acknowledge the fact that we are a province where many employees are waking up in terror right now. Is today the day I lose my job? Will it be tomorrow? How will I support my family? Where do I turn?
Many of the people here in Alberta came from our eastern provinces desperately looking for a break. The oilfield is all they know. They may not have finished high school. Is it their fault that they jumped into an industry promising them jobs and freedom? How many of you reading this bought fuel today? Yes, we need alternate resources.
Yes, we need change. Yes, the earth is suffering.
But please, for the love of whatever is holy to you, stop forgetting about the people. The families.
The abject terror that is in the hearts of many every day right now. While we are on our passionate crusades to save the planet, we must remember that it isn’t that simple.
Nothing is black and white.
Just stop, today, for a moment and turn your perspective from “no, no, no” to oil, and try to imagine waking up this morning, leaving your three children in bed and going to work, wondering if today is the day you lose your job and eventually your mortgage.
Make your signs, and attend your protests. These are important. But in taking these steps to save the environment, remember what you can do to help the people that are suffering from these job-losses—awareness, kindness, compassion, to start. If you can—reach out to local food banks, soup kitchens— these resources will be more in demand than ever.
In Alberta alone, there has been an estimated 19, 500 direct and indirect job losses due to the oilfield cutbacks.
Remember these people, today.
Author: Keeley Milne
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Author’s Own