James Miller

James Miller

It’s unbelievable that mayors in Sicamous and Revelstoke are having to make official statements letting Albertans know they’re welcome in their towns.

That should go without saying.

But, as people’s emotions are still fragile as we enter the next phase of COVID-19 drama, a few are taking their anger and frustrations out on Albertans.

There have been multiple cases of cars being keyed and vandalized because they have Alberta plates. Some have found profanity-laced notes under their windshield wiper. Others are simply told to stay home.

An acquaintance of mine said his parents from Edmonton don’t want to visit this summer because their car has Alberta licence plates.

This is all disappointing. The topic on everyone’s mind for the past two weeks has been racism and prejudice. We should be inclusive to all ... including people from Wild Rose Country.

Alberta’s resources have benefitted our entire country. When young people in Eastern Canada were unable to find work there, where did they head?

Where would we be as a country without Corb Lund? Who could stoners idolize if there wasn’t Tommy Chong? We all enjoyed, arguably, the greatest hockey dynasty ever ... the Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s.

Vancouver’s most-beloved hockey player, Trevor Linden, is from Medicine Hat.

I understand paranoia about Americans entering the country. The pandemic is still out of control. I’d have no issue welcoming a New Zealander here.

On a personal note, before arriving in the Okanagan I was the editor at two weekly newspapers in Alberta. It was two of the best years of my life. People were kind and welcoming. I was a transplant, coming there from Eastern Canada. In many ways, I was a fish out of water, but the locals welcomed me with open arms. Strangers invited me into their homes. You could show up at a party uninvited. Nobody ever made me feel like an outsider. Albertans, I found, were extremely generous. I still have face-to-face contact with many of the friends I met there.

When Canada heard about COVID-19 for the first time, some believed it was entering Canada through Vancouver. There were never stories about British Columbians being shunned in Alberta.

Now that things have settled somewhat, perhaps we can all return the same courtesy.

Canada is one nation and it includes the Prairie provinces, Quebec and the north.

With our tourist and hospitality industry facing a sharp decline without American or international visitors this summer — not to mention the absence of festivals — we will rely on British Columbians doing staycations and Albertans to come as they always have in the past.

If they are sick or have COVID-19 symptoms, they should stay home like everybody else. If they’re healthy and follow social-distance guidelines, feel free to visit the valley.

If any Albertans happen to be reading this column online, you’re welcome here. I’d be happy to show you around.

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TIDBITS

Thank you Moyra Baxter and four of her fellow Central Okanagan School District trustees for their continued support of LGBTQ2 youth ... North Vancouver and Vernon have joined Penticton in allowing booze on public beaches and select parks ... I will miss reading Dermod Travis’s “Integrity BC” columns. He died this month at age 60. His well-researched columns held the powerful accountable ... Breaking news: I’m taking advantage of self-isolation to grow a beard. I’m told I look like a professor — not the one from “Gilligan’s Island.”

James Miller is managing editor of The Penticton Herald. To contact the writer: james.miller@ok.bc.ca.