1. Vote Liberal (or anything other than Conservative).
In all seriousness, when I was seven years old, my friend’s mother, who was driving me home, stopped the car and made me walk the last kilometer because she “doesn’t drive home Socialists.” I can’t remember what I said, but it was obviously enough to morph me in her eyes from little kid to little Lenin.
We might have progressive, hip, smart mayors in our cities these days (go Nenshi!) but Alberta is still a conservative place. Politics run deep in Alberta, and if you want to make friends you might want to watch what you say, or risk being labelled a lefty pinko, Marxist eco-fascist.
2. Make a gay cowboy comment.
Alberta is where they filmed Brokeback Mountain, and I’m proud of it. Homophobia isn’t funny, and I’m stoked that the beautiful landscape of Alberta helped to tell a story that revealed the lives of people who have lived with discrimination for so long. But unless the Albertan you’re talking to is actually a gay cowboy, you shouldn’t imply that they are (even if they’re wearing chaps).
3. Complain about Alberta.
Maybe it’s our working class roots, but it’s written in our Albertan DNA to find anything new scary, to believe that anybody who does well is “getting too big for their britches,” and to constantly moan about the weather. But if you’re not from here you’re definitely not allowed to join in on the complaining. The only thing we want to hear is that Alberta is the best, and if it wasn’t for this place you’d be destitute and living with a bunch of moose on the streets of St. John’s.
4. Ask us where we’re from.
It’s the boomtown curse. People come from all over the world to Alberta because, quite frankly, we’re where it’s at. We have mountains, chinooks, and enough money that we can all have one of those Scrooge McDuck money pools in our basements if we want to. But, believe it or not, some of us were born in this province and we’re tired of getting asked how long we’ve lived here, or where our accent is from.
5. Hate on country music.
I don’t like most country music, but I understand it has its place. There are those days when your woman leaves you, your truck breaks down, you drank too much whiskey, you didn’t catch any fish, and your grandpa’s old tractor is the only thing keeping you sane. I get it, and though those moments can be few and far between, it’s part of our cultural heritage here in Alberta to embrace those times by reliving them through saccharine cheeseball songs. Now get off our backs about it.
6. Drive a car.
There is not a lot of love on the roads here. If you’re not going 20 over the limit, anyone driving in a truck behind you will automatically hate you. They’ll rip past you in a school zone and wave their fist out the window screaming obscenities. They’ll curse you, your mother, and wish a pox on your whole family…and then they’ll stop to tow the next car they see struggling to make it out of a snowbank, because even when Albertans are acting like giant assholes, deep down they’re still really nice people.
7. Call us rednecks.
The hardest part of being an Albertan in this world is having to deal with people’s misconception that we’re all drooling rednecks. When we’re visiting other places around the world, people treat us like a bunch of hayseeds. Sure, some of us like big trucks and farming, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be erudite and cosmopolitan as well. All we want is to be seen as the people we are, not our stereotype.
8. Move to/from Vancouver.
Vancouver is a beautiful city. It has the ocean and mountains, and it’s basically a tropical paradise compared to Alberta. But if you’re going to leave us behind and move there, good riddance! And if you’re from there, bite your tongue. Albertans are sick and tired of hearing about how much better it is to be rained on nine months out of the year and forget what the sun looks like behind the omnipresent clouds.
The truth of it is that both Vancouver and Alberta are beautiful places with their own merits, but we’re not going to go on about it all day, so neither should you.
9. Insult our cities.
The mountains are beautiful, and most people visiting Alberta are here to see them. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to insult Calgary or Edmonton by calling them boring. All cities are boring if you only spend 10 minutes there on your way somewhere else. You wouldn’t insult LA just because it has a lame airport (and it does), so don’t insult someone else’s home unless you actually gave it a chance.