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SPRING2014 Multicultural Association of
Wood Buffalo
Multicultural Stories

From Vasai to Fort McMurray
Naveen Patel

he Regional Municipality of Wood to Canada with his wife Jalpa and yearned
Buffalo is made up of nine rural com- for the company of their family. Then he
Tmunities and sitting on the largest sponsored his parents-in-law who now plan
deposit outside OPEC of oil. The promise to invite the rest of their family here from
of a bright future lures many; not only from their village Vasai, Dhabla near Mehsana,
other provinces but from countries far and Gujarat, India. He is excited about acquiring
wide. A social experiment of epic propor- Canadian citizenship.
tions: we see intelligence drawn from all cul- Naveen says he is happy or rather has
tures and nations. This community has hope adjusted to Fort McMurray, despite its bitter
and its hope is its community, its people winters. He enjoys the beauty of nature
with some of the most extraordinary stories especially the Northern Lights and says
in our midst. When we feel down and under that the natural beauty is incomparable.
the weather, we can smile and be inspired He reminisces fondly his trips to Kelowna,
by stories such as these. Victoria, Vancouver, Banff, Jasper and
I visited the family of Naveen Patel, an Calgary. He remembers his stint in Red Deer
Indian medical practitioner by profession with the mercury hovering a bit higher. I
He enjoys who is occupied with something entirely reminded him how high we were, literally
the beauty of removed from his line of work. He is on top of the world. Isn’t this the highest
employed at Suncor as a Janitor. Vasanti,
inhabited city on the planet,? he quipped
nature especially his wife is a stay-at-home grandmom and with a child-like wonder.
the Northern takes care of the hearth while his daughter When he moved here from Red Deer,
Lights and Jalpa works at Tim Hortons and son-in-law he remembers a colleague asking him, so
says that the Ashwin is Maintenance Electrical Technician you are going to Fort McMurray… for fast
making money? He reflects that money is
at CNRL. Naveen’s grandchildren Chint 10
natural beauty and Fenny 6 are happy to be schooling here an illusion. One sure has greater opportunity
is incomparable. instead of in India, though their parents here compared to any other place in Canada
He reminisces think Indian education would have done even though earnings are matched to
fondly his trips to them a world of good. expenditure. You really can’t save much,
Kelowna As the story goes, Ashwin Patel migrated he informs. The real estate costs are as

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