Imagine for a moment if the lights went dim on Canada's energy sector. The impact would be immediately visible — not only in regards to significant job loss but also through a deterioration in the quality of life we have all come to enjoy. This is why the community of Fort St. John, BC, is billing itself as the energy capital of the province and is working to improve energy literacy, so Canadians can develop a greater appreciation and understanding of the energy sector.

Strong industry, thriving innovation

"Everyone should be vocal about supporting the oil and gas sector because we all use energy," says Lori Ackerman, the Mayor of Fort St. John. "No jurisdiction creates everything needed to survive; this is the movement of every consumer good. Think about the material in your jacket: if it's waterproof, it's made from the modern miracle of hydrocarbons," she says.

"Many people [...] aren’t aware that oil and gas companies are continually working to reduce their impact on the environment."
– Lori Ackerman, Fort St. John Mayor

Even renewable sources of energy that many may feel are far removed from traditional energy industries, such as wind farms or solar panels, rely on petroleum products to develop the infrastructure required. "Those blades on wind turbines aren't made from bamboo," Ackerman quips.

Innovation requires investment, so when the energy sector is thriving, there is greater investment available which allows innovation to thrive too. This makes the industry more efficient, more effective, and more environmentally-friendly by helping it to operate with a lighter footprint.

"For many people, the energy sector is out of sight, out of mind, so they aren't aware that oil and gas companies are continually working to reduce their impact on the environment," says Ackerman. One example is the use of horizontal drilling to minimize the environmental impact of the industry. "It's not the same industry it was 40 years ago — innovation happening in the oil and gas sector is something we tend not to celebrate, but it's very positive."

Clean energy from Canada is good for the world

In turn, energy companies also help to build strong communities across Canada. Ackerman notes that young people in Fort St. John have excelled in science fairs because of the close relationship between local schools and industry. "It's a huge benefit for our community because the professional associations are active in mentoring our students," says Ackerman.

Consumers elsewhere in the world don't have the same access to clean fuels that we do in Canada. "Some countries are using coal to create energy, but we can help them create cleaner energy by providing them with natural gas that is extracted with high environmental standards," says Ackerman. "I am proud of how the energy sector in Canada is setting high standards while working closely with communities like ours on social issues."