I have lived in Alberta for about 5 years now and in the little while that I have been here, I have been told by other Calgarians that this economic downtown in the province of Alberta is worse than that experienced in 2008-2009.
Although I have never worked in the oil & gas industry, I can feel the ripple effect of these changes in the city of Calgary. Alberta is known for its prosperity and job opportunities. I know that was a deciding factor for my move here 5 years ago. It’s a place where new grads with minimal “real life” work experience can start sculpting their resume and building their careers without having to wait for people to retire for a position to be open for them. It’s a place where experienced professional can come and gain competitive wages and develop their skills even further. I like living in Calgary. I like the mountains, the hiking, the church community, the Chinook’s in the winter…although I can do without the short summers. Ontario is my home, but Alberta is my home away from home.
However, there has been a “change in the air” so to speak. When I take the train to work every day it seems like there are less and less people on it, nobody is smiling and the downtown core is not bustling as it used to be. People are in despair, and understandably so as unemployment rates have almost doubled from 4% to 8% in just under a year and a half with the hardest hit sector being oil & gas, construction, mining and no sign of it slowing down. Everyone is affected.
So how do you remain joyful in times of such great uncertainty?
I don’t have the answer to that, but I can will share with you what works for me. A spirit of gratitude and putting things into perspective. Every morning and night, I take the time to be grateful not only for my job, but for my health and family. I am thankful for getting to live in this beautiful country where social services exist for all Canadians who need it. It is not a perfect system (that’s a completely different discussion I don’t want to get into), but for those who really need it, it’s a big help. Applications for EI have sky rocketed in Alberta along with people using food banks and shelters. But people are out there helping others (with their time, resources and money) and that is always a good thing to see.
Remaining in a spirit of gratitude and joy in the wake of all this gloom and doom is a challenge, I will be the first to admit. But I think life has its cycles. There will be good seasons and there will be bad ones. I have been laid off before but I have also been promoted. I have lost loved ones, but I have also gained new ones. The key is not to let our circumstances dictate our feelings. I am still a work in progress in this area, but I am trying each day, are you?
Take away: Be an encouragement to someone today, and find ways to build people up.