The People Make the City
By Chris Brainerd
It is very possible to look at Edmonton and simply see the sports teams with their championship legacies. It is also possible to only see West Edmonton Mall, the river valley, and all the festivals. But those who only see these things are missing the most important aspect of the city – the people.
The thing I like most about Edmonton is the people. Edmontonians are some of the kindest, most generous people I have ever met. I have been to other cities in Canada, and I did not find the people to be nearly as friendly as they are in Edmonton. I grew up in a town just outside the city and again, those people, while friendly, did not even come close to the people of Edmonton. Going down the street, people are always smiling and saying hello. Walk into a bar or coffee shop and you make instant friends.
Being in a wheelchair, I have at times had trouble with travelling around the city; each time I found myself in such trouble, there was also someone there to help me out. For example, when I have gotten stuck in the snow – this happens a lot with our terrible Alberta winters – someone was always there, willing to help me out. For example, last winter I was going past the university. It was dark outside and the snow was fairly deep. I was completely stuck and there were not many people around. Across the street, a car stopped and a young man ran across traffic to help me out. He not only helped me out of the snow I was stuck in at the moment, he actually pushed me the final 2 blocks to my apartment building. When I thanked him for his help, the man just said, "We all need help sometimes, God bless," and walked back to his car.
This is just a simply personal story; there are other examples of Edmontonians showing generosity. Edmonton's Raise a Reader Program was able to collect more than $16,000; these funds will go toward ensuring children learn to read. Also, when Edmonton families are the victims of fire, there are people willing to donate food, clothing, blankets, and money. It makes me feel good to live in a city where people are so selfless.
This generosity extends beyond giving to our fellow Edmontonians. In response to the recent tropical storm and typhoon in the Philippines, 280 boxes of food, clothing, and toiletries were gathered from Edmonton, and surrounding areas. And that was in just 2 weeks!
So, when you think about Edmonton, look beyond the surface. Look deeper, look at the people living here. They are the ones who make this city so great. Anyone can see the obvious things, the mall, the sports, the festivals, the crappy weather. Digging deeper, you will see that there is so much more to this fantastic city.