I guess that the nearly ten years I spent living in Southern Ontario allowed me to romanticize who and what Sault Ste. Marie is. This is not to say that all my illusions have been dismissed, but certainly some have.
I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, the majority of that time in the far (Dacey Rd. area) East End of Sault Ste. Marie. In my time I attended St. Hubert’s, M.J. Dacey, Pinewood & White Pines. I had friends spanning the entire city until I moved in 1999. I moved because there was, at the time, a lack of economic opportunities available – not because I wanted to leave the city.
My first stop was Toronto, the multi-cultural mega-opolis. In the four years I spent there, I had the opportunity to mesh with different cultures – which was of course fantastic. I did, however, yearn for home as I missed the unique blend of cultures and environment that comprised Sault Ste. Marie. I would speak at lengths of the beauty of the city, and the amazing people I knew here.
I later moved to Whitby, ON, where I worked as a teacher in a WSIB related school. Here I met some of the most bigoted individuals I had ever met. This (and of course some other personal reasons) eventually ground on me and left me on the move back home. The Sault Ste. Marie of my youth, however, was no longer there.
Moving back to Sault Ste. Marie has been an enlightening experience. I had told many people of the harmony that I had experienced between those from Garden River, Rankin, Batchewana and Sault Ste. Marie. I went as far as to say that relations between native groups and so called “white” Canadians were fantastic. My own naivité lead me to believe that there was something special about Sault Ste. Marie – that isolation had allowed the culture to grow in a way different from the rest of Ontario. I have to say that I no longer hold fast to this statement.
What I have found moving back, is that many individuals here (as well as everywhere else) are interested in complaining about whatever they find available that day. That on forums, many individuals appear to want to do nothing more than instigate petty, childish fights and promote hatred. People complain there is nothing to do, but when an event is held (even if free) it is next to impossible to get enough people to attend to keep the event viable.
Perhaps some of this disillusionment comes from my own learning about Sault Ste. Marie, what it has been, and what it could be again. I enjoy reading about “downtown revitalization” wherein individuals suggest we take on a model used in larger cities for downtown planning. I also enjoy those who ask why the Station Mall took over the waterfront (not bothering to look into the fact that the waterfront land used for the Station Mall was man made for that specific project). Watch for the individuals who complain about the lack of stores downtown while they are on there way to WalMart.
The truth is, that as Saultites, the majority do not seem to want to get involved any farther than a loose complaint. They still support (not everyone) businesses (such as WalMart, Futureshop, etc) that contributed to the death of downtown. Perhaps the people who have decided that it’s important to protest abortion (and by extension Canadians’ rights), could put their skills to better use by protesting City Hall for selling out our business community. Maybe they could picket at WalMart for the thousands of children that work for them in foreign countries so that we can buy 12 pairs of socks for $9.99.
Why do the overwhelming majority of Saultites simply not care.
I do. I care about the future of Sault Ste. Marie. I care about who and what we are. I care about art & literature created in Sault Ste. Marie that will stand the test of time – unlike the score at the local Greyhound game (no offense Greyhounds – you are not the problem). It’s time for Sault Ste. Marie to get its priorities straight. It’s time to think about the future, our common mixed culture, and the fact that we represent over 10,000 years of human habitation in this area. Does that not count for something?