EDMONTON SUN – JANUARY 18 – BY CAM TAIT

We’ve all had the experience, it’s safe to say: our neighbour to the east who has shown us so much kindness, so much compassion and was always there, no matter the hour, when we needed someone — anyone — the most.

We looked to them as being humble, unassuming folks, who, just by muttering their name, we felt a feeling of unconditional friendship. A neighbour’s neighbour, we told our grandchildren.

Then, one day out of the blue, they changed. Our neighbour had a new train of thought they had which, unfortunately, seem to erase the past treasured relationship we had with them in one giant stroke. Times change, we sigh in disappointment.

More alarming, each time we look out the window, over the fence into their yard, we do so with a different lens, much different from the friendly one we once so much enjoyed.

It’s that type of feeling I find myself feeling about the recent news about Saskatchewan and how, earlier this week, the news story of our province to the east not allowing vehicles with — shah: Alberta license plates — on worksites. The story is, of course, much more detailed than that and it will most certainly play out in which ever it does.

The purpose of this effort isn’t to debate the action the Saskatchewan government has taken regarding this matter. Rather, there is an observation to be made, I believe, of the relationship we’ve had with Saskatchewan over the decades.

For me, it gets personal.

If you are a regular reader of this column — and, frankly, God bless you if you are — you might remember I have deep roots in Saskatchewan. The Tait family homesteaded in the early 1900’s in Meota, Sask., a half hour drive north of North Battleford. My father and his three brothers and one sister were born there.

Meota has its greatest trump card as a body water — 10 miles long and eight miles wide, Dad proudly said — known as Jackfish Lake.

I spent summers there, but it was so much more than a summer vacation. In fact, it was an education: sharing time in the summer in Saskatchewan meant being around the farming community. Farmers, it can be safely said, epitomize community neighbours.

They always have. And while mega machines roar over fields today placing teams of horses pulling equipment, the brotherhood of farmers knows no time limits.

In the fall, I remembered how four or five farmers collectively help harvest each other’s crop. When the last load of grain is dumped in the auger and piped into a granary, they sit back and embrace what they have accomplished.

It’s a community like no other.

Saskatchewan’s reputation for is known throughout Canada. It is a template we all can — to be mindful that we all live in communities and share one another’s trials and tribulations … with the front door open and the kettle on the stove, ready to listen. And to be a neighbour.

This licence plate perdicament could last a while. But, as someone who has experienced Saskatchewan hospitality, I hope one day we can look to the east, over the fence and confidently know that it has been mended.

 

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