“Supporter Spotlight” features Canadians with a passion for Canada’s Natural Resource sector. Our spotlight this month is Victoria and Ken Wallace, geologists from Calgary. They are passionate about not only the earth, but also supporting Canada's natural resource industries and the families who work in them.
Canada Action: Victoria and Ken Wallace! Thank you so much for taking the time today. You’re both geologists located in Calgary. Tell me more about your background and yourselves and how you ended up in geology.
Victoria: (Laughs) Where do you start?! It’s such a complicated journey! When I went to University, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and ended up taking a whole bunch of different courses. I took a course called “Rocks for jocks” which is a geology class for non-science majors and I was blown away that you could do geology as a profession. I’ve always loved rocks and nature and I started being really interested in knowing more about the earth. That’s how I got into Geology! I really like it because I am super passionate about learning and love the geoscience discipline in general. After completing my Masters, I got an internship at an oil & gas company where I actually met Ken. I’ve worked in the oil & gas sector as a geologist since then.
Ken: Well I have a bit of a different story since most geologists end up discovering geology because they don’t like the program they’re in. I grew up in Ottawa and when the time came to decide on a program, I sat down and realized that the University of Ottawa offered geology and that geologists studied the earth. I thought - I like volcanoes, and earthquakes and I think those things are cool, so I signed up for it! After U of O, I went to the University of Alberta and got exposed to the petroleum industry and realized there were so many opportunities in Alberta. I got hired by one of the major companies in Alberta and that’s how I got into geology! I have since become an exploration geologist and joined a company in Northern BC and do gold exploration.
Canada Action: Why do you think natural resource development is important for Canada?
Ken: First and foremost, our country is built on the development of natural resources. This is Canada’s strongest asset and what we do best. We have a huge country with everything we need. I do concede that we can always make room for improvements, but this is what made us and will continue to make us such a great country. Our standard of living is based on the prosperity generated from the responsible development of our resources. Everything we have, whether it’s our vehicles, our houses, our electronics, the food in the grocery stores, the lumber used to build our houses - all of that got here because of natural resources. Now - I do realize that all those products don’t all come from Canada, but they could come from Canada if we go in that direction and we choose to do so responsibly. And if we take that responsibility rather than outsource to other countries, the money that is paid to the workers will eventually come back to society through taxes, royalties etc. We can have everything we want all whilst doing it sustainably and responsibly.
Victoria: It’s just so hard because I think that the fact that humans exist - and this might sound extreme - but our very existence - we’re going to make an impact on the planet. No matter whether we live off-grid, in the bush or an urbanized city. You are making an impact regardless of where or how you live. I definitely believe there are ways we can develop, just like Ken said, sustainably and responsibly, but still have the economic benefits for individuals, families and everyone who needs the help. And I don’t think so many people really realize how blessed Canada really is. And there aren’t many places in the world that have everything. I just don’t think a lot of people understand what it takes to have the life that we have.
Canada Action: Why do you think all Canadians should care about Canadian natural resource development? Is there any kind of message that you want to tell Canadians reading this?
Victoria: I think that for me, the simplest answer is that if we want to maintain our high quality of life, high living standards and our high life expectancy, the development of natural resources is crucial to keep all of those standards. I don’t think that we can only rely on any one source of energy. We need the energy mix. We need oil & gas, hydro, nuclear, wind; we need it all and to do what’s best for every region. When we tie this back to Covid, and you think on how quickly we were able to get a vaccine. It’s because of this building of knowledge that we’ve gained over the past 100+ years that we’ve been able to accomplish something like that so quickly. I think that the development of natural resources has helped that along the way. When you look at the science labs and the medical field, they all heavily rely on petrochemicals and single use plastics. Whether it’s for gloves or IV bags or even masks. I hope people realize that most of the fibres from those masks are from the BC forestry industry along with other man-made materials. People are so used to saying “I love this and I’m going to go and get it”. But everything in your house, whether it’s your computer, clothes, anything… it all stems down to some kind of natural resource.
Ken: Everything that Victoria said plus, given the Canadian framework,we shouldn’t be outsourcing this responsibility of producing these items to other countries who may not do it the same way we would do it on an environmental and human rights level.
Canada Action: What do you say to people who say that the environment is getting ruined?
Ken: There will always be a vocal minority that you can’t reason with, but still, you have to remind yourself that a large number of people are open to hearing the good that comes with this industry. I concede that mistakes have been made and accidents have happened, but with the determination of continuous improvement we can always strive to be better. Victoria and I are not “develop at all costs” people. We are very much about developing with consideration for the environment so that we can have the lowest impact and have the best chance of returning the land to what it was like before.
Victoria: I think that because Canada has such great regulations, the industry always tries to get better and better. Even just in the past 10 years, we have really reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and it’s truly amazing how quickly these advancements are happening.
Ken: People forget we used to have conversations about acid rain and depletion of the ozone - we’ve made a lot of progress!
Canada Action: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Ken: Yes. We first heard of Canada Action rallies early on but we started getting interested in them because I got laid off and was struggling to get back in the industry. I kept wondering why it was such a challenge and why so many people were against our industry.
Victoria: Yes - and one problem we recognized, is that there’s always an “us versus them” narrative. Industry vs the environment. And it’s not. They are so intertwined. We have a lot more common ground with people than people realize. And if everyone would listen to one another and be open to have that discussion, that is the only way things are going to get better. At the end of the day we still need energy and we still need natural resources. The only way we can move forward is by having those conversations and listening to one another.
Canada Action: Victoria, Ken, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time today.
Victoria & Ken Wallace: Thank you!
Do you know someone who works hard for Canada’s Natural Resource sector and should be featured in our “Supporter Spotlight” segment? Tag us @canadaaction with the hashtag #inthespotlight with your nominees!
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