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Oilsands Banquet VIII Celebrates 85 Years of Aviation History in Wood Buffalo

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On October 16, 2014 representatives of industry, government and the community gathered to honour 85 years of aviation history in the Wood Buffalo region at the Oilsands Banquet VIII. Over 400 guests enjoyed the fine dining atmosphere at the Sawridge Inn while listening to keynote speeches from notable guests such as Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake, President and CEO of the Fort McMurray Airport Authority Scott Clements and President and CEO of Westjet Gregg Saretsky.

The primary goal of the Oilsands Banquet is to honour an organization doing important work in the region. Organizations that have been honoured in previous years include the Oil Sands Discovery Centre, Athabasca Tribal Council, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo and Keyano College Foundation.

“It was an honor to be featured at this year’s Oil Sands Banquet. The support that the community has provided us over the years has been incredible and Thursday night was no different, said Scott Clements, President & CEO of the Fort McMurray Airport Authority. “We are very excited about the future for the Airport Authority and the positive impacts we will have on the community for years to come.”

During the course of the evening’s events artworks by local artist Keller-Rempp were presented to the Fort McMurray Airport Authority.

Also on display were pastel artworks from artist David Ball featuring Punch Dickins and Wop May, well known names in local aviation history for their roles in the development of aviation in the Wood Buffalo region.

Philip Enarson, President of Westbrier Communications and producer of the annual Oilsands Banquet, said of the success of the event: “A measure of the success of an event is the lingering factor after the event is officially closed. The more time attendees linger in conversation with friends and key business associates the greater the success of the event. A large percentage of the 400 plus attendees of Oilsands Banquet V111 lingered late into the evening.”

The evening also included the unveiling of the current issue of Northern Stars, a custom publication created as a companion to the event, as well as a ‘special guest’ in the form of the Trans-Canada (McKee) Trophy. The trophy has a strong connection to the Wood Buffalo region through Punch Dickins, who was the recipient of the trophy in 1928 and Wop May who received the recognition in 1929.

The Fort McMurray International Airport has garnered significant local, provincial and national attention in the last year with the June 9 opening of the new $258-million airport terminal. The terminal, five times larger than the previous terminal, will have accommodated 1.33 million passengers by the end of 2014. The Fort McMurray International Air Show, held May 31-June 1, celebrated the opening of the new terminal and treated thousands of community members to a showcase of the best of aviation, continuing the proud legacy of aviation history in a region where air accessibility has proven vital to community quality of life and industry success and growth.

Photography by Joey Podlubny Photography


A freelance writer, blogger and professional communicator who is passionate about her child, her work, her pets, her community and the power of words, Theresa Wells believes perfection in life is achieved when she is surrounded by amazing people, fantastic stories, cold gin and really hot shoes.