Explaining Alberta

I’ve often been asked by people here where in Canada I’m from. I usually say something along the lines of “Mani-uh-well, I’ve lived in Toront-uh-I was in Edmon-uh-now-Calgary-Alberta. It’s near the mountains.”

Surprisingly, I often get the response, “Well, of course it’s near the mountains. It’s Canada!” Apparently we’re one big mountain range.

(Speaking of geographic confusion, a new Cuban man in my French group came over today after class was over and wanted to shake hands to show there were “no hard feelings” despite the fact that I was American. I threw my hands up into the air and shrieked “CANADIAN!” I think he was still confused, especially by the severity of my reaction. I’m used to getting mistaken for an American and I don’t usually react that badly, but somehow when a trade embargo and a whole lot of political history is involved, I get a wee bit hysterical.)

Anyway, I’ve taken to bringing a newspaper to class to read in case I’m finished an assignment and bored. Today, I flipped open the centre spread in Le Monde, and saw a two-page photograph of the oilsands as part of a feature about climate change.

I decided to share this with the class. “Look!” I exclaimed. “It’s my home province!” Everyone who hasn’t been bombarded by these images for the past two years was understandably aghast. I finally managed to make it clear that I don’t actually live in the oilsands, but it’s really hard to get the argument, “Yes, it’s an environmental catastrophe, but it’s also one of the driving economic forces in the entire country,” across clearly in French.

It’s always interesting to see issues with a fresh perspective. And make people realize that Canada is full of both mountains AND difficult-to-extract petrol reserves.

Oh, and I passed my exam! I’m moving up a level starting next week. Hopefully that will mean less newspaper time in class …


One response to “Explaining Alberta

  1. Love it! I’ve always gotten 2 rxns from Europeans: either, “Canada? Yes, I’ve heard a bit about Edmonton … ” and then proceed to tell me more about the city than I ever knew, or: “Canada? I have a cousin who lives in Toronto … do you know him?” You and your mom look like sisters, I swear! Keep having fun (my gosh, it’s almost half over, isn’t it?)

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