Pamela Wallin Speech at Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan
Meadow Lake Progress
Posted By Jennifer Blake
Senator and former journalist, diplomat, entrepreneur, Wallin was the guest of honour at the dinner. She spoke to the large number of people in attendance following the meal and words from MP Rob Clarke.
Wallin grew up in small-town Saskatchewan, a point she brought up in her speech, which mentioned how being from a small place shapes who you are. “I think we learned some important lessons about life in these places,” she said. “You have to be able to accommodate and get along with people when you live in a small town. It really teaches us tolerance and accommodation.”
Senator Wallin spoke with some humour and some poignancy. She spoke about Saskatchewan with fondness. “I remember when I first moved to Toronto I was really depressed and unhappy for the first year,” she said. “What I figured out shortly was that I hadn’t seen a sunset for a year. Our geography is very much instilled in us. But it’s the people here who are really quite extraordinary. It’s unbelievable what’s happened in this place in the last 100 years.”
Wallin said there is a lot going for small-town (or small-city) Saskatchewan and places like Meadow Lake have very bright futures.
“When you see our young mayors and our young cabinet ministers and our young Members of Parliament, we are very lucky in this province to have people like that who will take up the mantle of public office,” she said, referring to La Ronge mayor Thomas Sierzycki, MLA and cabinet minister Jeremy Harrison and MP Rob Clarke, all in attendance that evening.
“Rob was here today making an announcement for part of the stimulus program that the government has been involved with.
“I think what we’ve done is tried to be really focused about what we’re doing. As part of the international community we all have to respond to the crisis that’s underway.”
She added that funding like that announced on Saturday goes towards communities where it is needed most to improve and stimulate the economy, but that it is important for small towns to never lose sight of what they once were.
“Our small towns and communities are a little fewer and farther between and technology and all the demographics of the economies are taking their tole on small town life,” Wallin said.
“But I’m so pleased, even in the last couple of days in the places I’ve been to see everybody really working together in these communities.”
She continued on, saying that Saskatchewan should be proud to be a “have” province, out performing the national average for growth.
“I’m very proud of not only what we’ve got and where we’re headed but how we are getting there,” she said.
Senator Wallin told stories of inspiration, stories of her own experiences in Afghanistan, in New York City following 9-11, working with Premier Brad Wall and being an ambassador for the province she is so proud to say she came from.
“There’s a generosity, a spirit in this province and I guess I’m one of the lucky ones because I have spent so much time living in other places, far flung, and you truly appreciate it when you come back,” she said.
“You feel it and you see it. Because this generosity, this spirit that we have, that was just as important as every drop of oil that we’ve got or every crop of canola or anything else that we’ve got here. We can’t lose sight of our vision for this place, because it helps us realize the dream for our whole country.”
In her concluding words, Wallin spoke about the potential that still exists for this province.
“We’ve got so much going for us today,” she said.
“The work ethic in this province is amazing. Only we can make this province what it should be. Rich in resources is God-given, nature’s gift to us. What we do with that gift is what sets up apart as individuals and as a province. Our biggest advantage has been our communities and our families.
“My mother and father taught me I think life’s most important lesson. What they said was that with character comes genius. You can be the smartest person in the room but if you’re not kind, if you’re not decent, if you’re not fair, if you’re not generous when it’s tough to be so, then all the brains in the world are for naught.”
Wallin was treated with a standing ovation when she was finished speaking, and the crowd was left with a sense of hope for the future.