By Alison Neuman
My family has lived on a farm since they immigrated to Canada in 1901, living on land that surrounds them with freedom, education for their children, and a farming community that provides sustenance and more importantly, embraces them in their town. Edmonton is more than my home; it is a place that has nourished many a settler’s past and continues to provide opportunities for growth.
Growing up, my family reaped the benefits of being planted in a serene agricultural setting—a setting of raising crops and livestock, spending long days in the field, and being greeted by a large prairie sky and endless possibilities. In the spring and summer, the farm gave this city child a chance to experience small yellow chicks, farm cream on freshly picked raspberries, and the obstacles of sloughs and gophers as I learned to drive. My family enjoyed the benefits of the energizing urban landscape with trades and businesses. A landscape in our own neighborhood with gardens, barbeques and back alleys where I learned to ride my first bike.
During the summer of 1987, residents were taking advantage of the warm July day and were unaware that, in a few hours, their lives would be changed forever. Black clouds rolled into the city and intense lightening lit up the sky. Hail and strong winds made it known to all: this would be like no typical summer storm. A tornado mercilessly chose a path and caused destruction as it departed. As Black Friday uprooted lives and left people picking up the pieces trying to figure out where to go next, something amazing happened. Rather than rip the city apart, the storm brought out the best in people. People lucky to escape damage were touched by fellow residents’ stories and perfect strangers started giving money and their time, dropping off clothes, furniture, and food…anything they could give to rebuild the lives forever changed by the malicious storm. As a teenager, being a witness to the altruistic spirit of the city, made me proud to call Edmonton home.
While the farm has given way to the Anthony Henday and now helps visitors and residents navigate their way, this is still our home. Just like any healthy city, Edmonton has grown over the years, but that spirit of helping and taking care of each other continues today. I cannot imagine wanting to live or build my business anywhere else. Edmontonians make our city a great place for current and future generations to establish roots.