MY VIEW: A tale of two towns

Opinion Apr 07, 2016 by Julia Lovett-Squires Flamborough Review

I am a northern girl. As I approach my first full year in the world of journalism, and after some cross-country traveling, I have found one thing: the people in every northern community seem to be the same. Not that there aren’t some differences – you can definitely tell a New Brunswicker from a British Columbian.

Northerners tend to be a close-knit group of people who support each other – mainly out of necessity. East coasters are a proud people who honour their heritage. And if there is one thing east coasters are famous for, it’s their parties; during the summer, that’s what they do. Literally every weekend is filled with festivals to celebrate the diverse cultures of the Irish, Scottish, Acadian and Mi’kmaq who founded the communities on the mighty Miramichi River.

While the people and the communities may have differences, they have plenty of similarities, too. Both are blue-collar towns built on the resource industry. Miramichi’s economy is based on mining, fishing and forestry; Fort St. John survives on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), oil and a mega dam project in the early stages of construction. Both communities have gone through hard times; plants closed out east, pipelines and oil wells dried up out west.

Due to the locations of each town, both in the northeast region, they seem to get the short end of the stick whenever the provincial government decides to make a decision. Out west, there was endless commentary from the locals on how the north always seems to get stuck with ‘make-work’ projects that don’t do the communities any good and often destroy the land.

FSJ, for example, is home to what will be the third dam on the Peace River. Once constructed, it will flood 83 kilometers of agricultural land along with the homes and land of residents and First Nations communities. While I was there, I heard stories about how even though other rivers could support a dam in the southern part of the province, they chose the location because they thought northerners wouldn’t make as much of a fuss. How wrong they were to assume that. When they broke dirt on the multi-billion dollar project last October, landowners and First Nations groups came together to fight for their land, their rights and their culture.

As an outsider, it was interesting to see the community’s perspective on the project. I don’t want to give the impression that there isn’t any support at all for the dam; some support it mainly because of the employment opportunities it would offer out of work residents. However, the group who is fighting what is becoming a ‘David versus Goliath’ situation has garnered national attention. Amnesty International and environmentalist, David Suzuki, have gotten involved.

It’s the ultimate catch-22. While both Miramichi and Fort St. John are in need of employment, the industry is failing them and the jobs that are available are either harmful to the communities, short term or seasonal.

During the time I spent in both towns over this past year, I grew connected to the people and the issues that affect them. When you immerse yourself in work and in the community, it becomes yours, in a way. You may be an outsider but soon enough, you become a member; you begin to say, “I’m from here,” regardless of whether or not it’s permanent.

MY VIEW: A tale of two towns

Opinion Apr 07, 2016 by Julia Lovett-Squires Flamborough Review

I am a northern girl. As I approach my first full year in the world of journalism, and after some cross-country traveling, I have found one thing: the people in every northern community seem to be the same. Not that there aren’t some differences – you can definitely tell a New Brunswicker from a British Columbian.

Northerners tend to be a close-knit group of people who support each other – mainly out of necessity. East coasters are a proud people who honour their heritage. And if there is one thing east coasters are famous for, it’s their parties; during the summer, that’s what they do. Literally every weekend is filled with festivals to celebrate the diverse cultures of the Irish, Scottish, Acadian and Mi’kmaq who founded the communities on the mighty Miramichi River.

While the people and the communities may have differences, they have plenty of similarities, too. Both are blue-collar towns built on the resource industry. Miramichi’s economy is based on mining, fishing and forestry; Fort St. John survives on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), oil and a mega dam project in the early stages of construction. Both communities have gone through hard times; plants closed out east, pipelines and oil wells dried up out west.

Due to the locations of each town, both in the northeast region, they seem to get the short end of the stick whenever the provincial government decides to make a decision. Out west, there was endless commentary from the locals on how the north always seems to get stuck with ‘make-work’ projects that don’t do the communities any good and often destroy the land.

FSJ, for example, is home to what will be the third dam on the Peace River. Once constructed, it will flood 83 kilometers of agricultural land along with the homes and land of residents and First Nations communities. While I was there, I heard stories about how even though other rivers could support a dam in the southern part of the province, they chose the location because they thought northerners wouldn’t make as much of a fuss. How wrong they were to assume that. When they broke dirt on the multi-billion dollar project last October, landowners and First Nations groups came together to fight for their land, their rights and their culture.

As an outsider, it was interesting to see the community’s perspective on the project. I don’t want to give the impression that there isn’t any support at all for the dam; some support it mainly because of the employment opportunities it would offer out of work residents. However, the group who is fighting what is becoming a ‘David versus Goliath’ situation has garnered national attention. Amnesty International and environmentalist, David Suzuki, have gotten involved.

It’s the ultimate catch-22. While both Miramichi and Fort St. John are in need of employment, the industry is failing them and the jobs that are available are either harmful to the communities, short term or seasonal.

During the time I spent in both towns over this past year, I grew connected to the people and the issues that affect them. When you immerse yourself in work and in the community, it becomes yours, in a way. You may be an outsider but soon enough, you become a member; you begin to say, “I’m from here,” regardless of whether or not it’s permanent.

MY VIEW: A tale of two towns

Opinion Apr 07, 2016 by Julia Lovett-Squires Flamborough Review

I am a northern girl. As I approach my first full year in the world of journalism, and after some cross-country traveling, I have found one thing: the people in every northern community seem to be the same. Not that there aren’t some differences – you can definitely tell a New Brunswicker from a British Columbian.

Northerners tend to be a close-knit group of people who support each other – mainly out of necessity. East coasters are a proud people who honour their heritage. And if there is one thing east coasters are famous for, it’s their parties; during the summer, that’s what they do. Literally every weekend is filled with festivals to celebrate the diverse cultures of the Irish, Scottish, Acadian and Mi’kmaq who founded the communities on the mighty Miramichi River.

While the people and the communities may have differences, they have plenty of similarities, too. Both are blue-collar towns built on the resource industry. Miramichi’s economy is based on mining, fishing and forestry; Fort St. John survives on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), oil and a mega dam project in the early stages of construction. Both communities have gone through hard times; plants closed out east, pipelines and oil wells dried up out west.

Due to the locations of each town, both in the northeast region, they seem to get the short end of the stick whenever the provincial government decides to make a decision. Out west, there was endless commentary from the locals on how the north always seems to get stuck with ‘make-work’ projects that don’t do the communities any good and often destroy the land.

FSJ, for example, is home to what will be the third dam on the Peace River. Once constructed, it will flood 83 kilometers of agricultural land along with the homes and land of residents and First Nations communities. While I was there, I heard stories about how even though other rivers could support a dam in the southern part of the province, they chose the location because they thought northerners wouldn’t make as much of a fuss. How wrong they were to assume that. When they broke dirt on the multi-billion dollar project last October, landowners and First Nations groups came together to fight for their land, their rights and their culture.

As an outsider, it was interesting to see the community’s perspective on the project. I don’t want to give the impression that there isn’t any support at all for the dam; some support it mainly because of the employment opportunities it would offer out of work residents. However, the group who is fighting what is becoming a ‘David versus Goliath’ situation has garnered national attention. Amnesty International and environmentalist, David Suzuki, have gotten involved.

It’s the ultimate catch-22. While both Miramichi and Fort St. John are in need of employment, the industry is failing them and the jobs that are available are either harmful to the communities, short term or seasonal.

During the time I spent in both towns over this past year, I grew connected to the people and the issues that affect them. When you immerse yourself in work and in the community, it becomes yours, in a way. You may be an outsider but soon enough, you become a member; you begin to say, “I’m from here,” regardless of whether or not it’s permanent.