Energy, and the resources used to produce it, is critical to our lives. We use energy to cook and heat our homes. Hospitals use energy to make us better. Energy helps us get around, and makes sure we have a full battery on our phones and computers.

“We are a society that is hugely dependent on energy, and we are becoming even more so,” says Lori Ackerman, mayor of Fort St. John. “And we don’t realize how dependent we are until the power goes out.”

High on Ice Winter Fest | Fort St. John

Known locally as the Energetic City, Fort St. John has a young population, and is the largest city in northeastern British Columbia. It is also the regional centre for the resource sector, including oil and gas, forestry, and agriculture.

In many of Canada’s largest cities, resource development has almost become a dirty word. But Ackerman says Canadians need to be proud that we are a resource nation. “We need to change the conversation,” says Ackerman. “We have a world-class reputation for innovation in the resource sector, and the people working in the field see opportunities every day to make industry more efficient and to leave a lighter environmental footprint. They get it. They live here and it’s their backyard.”

Canada Day | Fort St. John

A history of innovation

Innovation and environmental sustainability have transformed the industry — if you walked through a mill today, it will look vastly different than it did 20 years ago. Huge investments in technology have been made to decrease waste from resource extraction, and today some of the waste is used for other purposes, creating an even cleaner industry.

To increase the understanding of the energy sector, the City of Fort St. John has been leading energy literacy tours, which in part showcase ways the sector is reducing its environmental impact. “There needs to be more dialogue. Energy literacy is important,” says Ackerman. “People need to know what’s behind their light switch or thermostat.”

Farmer's market | Fort St. John

Industry leaders from other parts of Canada, and internationally, have visited Fort St. John to learn how the resource sector works with BC’s Oil and Commission, the industry regulator, to adhere to stringent environmental standards.

According to Ackerman, there is a remarkable opportunity for BC’s tech sector to connect with all our resource industries. The collaboration would create export knowledge and technology, which would benefit not only industry but all British Columbians. Ackerman encourages those who support the energy industry, and know its importance, to speak up and start the conversation.