As we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, we are reminded of the pioneering spirit our country was built on. The citizens of Fort St. John embody that spirit. In a gorgeous landscape of vast wheat fields and boreal forest, these northern pioneers work hard for their families, for the economy, and for Canada. They work with tremendous energy — in the energy sector. 

From a distance, it is easy to feel conflicted about this industry being so active in such a pristine natural landscape, but for the people who live and work there — there is no contradiction at all.

Kelowna native Kyle Hedican is proud of his work as a mobile crane operator in Fort St. John’s energy industry. It was a job opportunity that attracted him to the city originally, but it was the city itself that made him, his wife Annika, and their two children stay. “A few months after arriving, I knew I needed to move my family up here and make it permanent,” he says. “Fort St. John is a beautiful place to raise my kids. There are lots of opportunities for my kids to thrive with activities such as hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, and quadding, in addition to a vast amount of sports.”

Kyle is fiercely protective of Fort St. John’s natural environment, understanding that it is his children’s inheritance. He remains confident that the industry he is a part of shares that conviction and is operating responsibly with it in mind. “I do not see my job affecting the beauty of this province and one would only need to see it to understand that,” he says. “The industry takes great care in the protection of the environment around us. The water is not contaminated, the air is not polluted, and I eat fish out of the lakes.”

Annika agrees, and she gets frustrated with the shape that discourse, especially on social media, sometimes takes regarding the energy industry. “People misunderstand what actually happens up here,” she says. “People up here rely on this industry. It’s how we feed our families. But we also want to keep our province just as gorgeous as it is.”

The simple fact is that our society still relies heavily on oil and gas to function. But it is the people who live and work in communities like Fort St. John who have the most invested in ensuring that the industry exists in harmony with the natural environment. “I think the biggest misconception is that the people in this industry don’t care about the environment,” he says. “It is quite the opposite.”