Five Years of Your McMurray Magazine
There is a stack of them in my house. Copies of it have travelled all over the country and likely around the world, as I have a tendency to hand them out to visitors to our community so they can grasp a fuller understanding of the oil sands, Fort McMurray and the place I call home. And now, as Your McMurray Magazine celebrates five years, I pause to reflect on why a publication such as this one still has such tremendous importance and impact.
The reality is that since this magazine began publication five years ago, this community has seen significant change and upheaval. From economic uncertainty to an unprecedented natural disaster, Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region have ridden a unique roller coaster of highs and lows. Through it all, journalists came to our community to try to capture the tale, but in truth the only way to really tell the story of Fort McMurray is by living it first; and those who author the articles in this publication have done exactly this.
By the people, for the people and from the people; for five years, Your McMurray Magazine has given writers like me the opportunity to not only tell the stories of our community, but to explore even deeper into the heart of this region. From assignment to assignment, I have only found myself falling deeper into love, respect and admiration for those who have chosen to make this place their home as I spoke to them of their work, their hobbies and their passions.
From the time when it seemed our major problem would be how to accommodate the anticipated influx of new residents, straining our infrastructure and capacity, to the time when the entire city emptied for weeks and resembled nothing so much as a wild-west ghost town, Your McMurray Magazine has been here to chronicle the stories. And as it did, it managed to share a new narrative with the world, not one of dirty oil, crime or greed, but rather of a community built on opportunity and potential by people inspired to do more, reach higher and create, innovate and work as hard as hell to achieve their goals.
Why does Your McMurray Magazine matter? Because these stories matter, these tales of average people accomplishing decidedly un-average things. In a community that has been painted by a tar-covered brush as being nothing but industry and oil, Your McMurray Magazine has stood as a counter-narrative to that absurdly limited view, and has showcased the wonder and joy that is Fort McMurray to the world.
Having a magazine owned by locals, staffed by locals and with content created by local writers and photographers lends a depth and intensity to the stories that would be impossible for any outsider to ever capture; and for five years this magazine has managed to capture Fort McMurray, the highs, the lows and the people. One can only hope it will continue to do so for many years to come, celebrating the place where the northern lights dance, the boreal forest grows, the rivers flow and where we proudly call home.