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Our geography should not be taken for granted

While I was a student at Thompson Rivers University, a geography teacher started his class with the statement “Canada is geography.” A simple statement, but very true. So much of our history has depended on our landscape. The first settlers arrived for timber and furs offered by the land. The vast distances of the country made settlement a challenge, and it still is in some areas. The history of the railway, which connects our landscapes, is one of the most well-known histories among Canadians.

As a culture, Canadians have a much stronger understanding of space and distance than other nationalities. Throughout our history, the vast distances of this country have challenged us, and today, they are simply a part of the way we live. Most nationalities would think it was crazy to drive for a whole day just to visit Vancouver or Edmonton. Many people in other countries simply do not travel to the extent that Canadians do. At first we had to travel these great distances out of necessity, but today, we often do so for pleasure. Because our culture has simply adjusted to our unique geography over the years, we often tend to take our geography for granted. We don’t realize how special it really is, or how much it impacts our lives.

The naming of Mount John Diefenbaker is exciting news. As Valemount residents, we live among the most beautiful landscapes in Canada, and possibly the world. The fact that we have set aside the Premier Range, in which to honour Canadian Prime Ministers, is a feature that will forever affect the future of our little community.

Every country needs beacons of its heritage. The United States has the Statue of Liberty, France the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, and England, Big Ben, but here in Canada, we don’t need the man-made monuments for our grand and impressive heritage. Nature has given us something even better. In a country that “is geography”, is there a better way to honour our historic leaders than by naming our most spectacular geographic features after them?

As a community, we should embrace the Premier Range for what it is: a hallmark of Canadian history and identity. We should share the glories of the range with the world, and educate locals and visitors alike on the history those snow-capped peaks represent. This mountain range provides a world of opportunity to our community. Already we have received exposure across Canada, particularly in Saskatchewan, Diefenbaker’s home province, as a result of the recent naming. Other Canadians obviously care about what these mountains represent. Let’s not allow ourselves to take this piece of geography for granted. Let’s work as a community to celebrate the Premier Range and build it into a ‘premier’ Canadian destination.

Amanda Wilkinson

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