For those of you that pay any sort of attention to current events in Alberta, whether through Facebook, Twitter or even news outlets themselves I am sure you’ve heard about Jane Fonda’s visit to Fort McMurray.
Let’s start by getting to know Jane Fonda on a personal level, because in order to understand the issue, you must understand the person. Jane Fonda is a famous American actress, making her first debut on Broadway in the 1960’s. Fonda is also a political activist and writer, and has received numerous awards for both lifetime achievements and for achievements throughout her acting career. Although her peak of fame was years before any of us would really know who she was, she is still adamant in her support for First Nations and the phasing out of the oil sands, which is why we as students, and Albertans, know her so well today.
Tuesday, January 10th 2017, was the day that Jane Fonda visited Fort McMurray, Alberta. Saying there were mixed emotions about the visit would be an understatement, as most of the residents of Fort McMurray were not pleased. On Jane Fonda’s part, her visit was to “learn about the impact of oil sands development on First Nations and support their opposition to pipelines that would export bitumen to the United States or overseas”(CBC, 2016). After her ironic helicopter tour of the oil sands in Fort McMurray, Fonda met with a number of environmentalists and indigenous leaders.
Even if she came with good intentions, Fort McMurray residents felt that Jane Fonda showed little to no understanding of the Oil Sands, while also being biased to its practices, especially since she was brought in by the environmental organization, Greenpeace.
Regardless of the amount of people that disagree with Jane Fonda’s take on the Alberta Oil Sands, the main issue is the concept of understanding. Of course, if you are passionate about something, you need to make your voice and your opinion heard. But in retrospect, in order to have a complete understanding of an issue, you have to be able to look at both sides and understand why the opposing side holds the opinion that they do, and be able to listen to both sides with an open mind. This is not just important in the case of Jane Fonda and the Alberta Oil Sands, but it is important in life in general – there is nothing worse than talking about an issue with someone that won’t even hear you out. The best thing you can do, especially as a celebrity, is come with knowledge, open mindedness, and an understanding of both sides of the issue. We can only hope that more involvement surrounding the Alberta Oil Sands will lead to positive changes that will not only benefit the environment, but also the people that depend on their jobs in the oil and gas industry.
Knowledge is power, and a voice for change is better than no voice at all.