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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Ann

the underbelly (holid-yay musings)

Whenever somewhere new, I can't help but wonder what the experience of being a social worker in that community would be; what social issues are prevalent. You can take the social worker out of the office, but not remove the love of social work from the girl, apparently. On my recent holid-yay (calling it that will never get old), my crew adventured around Banff, Alberta, which of course, is known worldwide for it's access to majestic mountain scenery, phenomenal tourist experiences, and nature immersion. The internet tells me Banff has a population of under 10,000, and sees upwards of 4 million visitors annually.

My wonderings about what social issues were prevalent there were answered by a fantastic exhibit at The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Drawn on a massive window, a mountain range held quotes from research done by artist Elise Findlay, showcasing some of the struggle experienced in Banff by both residents and tourists; themes of sexualized violence, addiction, domestic violence, loneliness, isolation, addiction, and mental health concerns. I was enthralled by each sentiment expressed, and perplexed by the juxtaposition that statements of heartache decorating mountain range created.

My reflexive conclusion is that anything/anyone can be attractive & flashy externally but pulse a destructive nature internally. Yin & Yang, I suppose. What possesses light must also possess darkness. What exists within is what matters most.

While the realization that those majestic mountains I love so much don't magically erase social issues is a bit disheartening, I suppose my appreciation for nature spots such as Banff only deepens due to awareness of what people experience there. Resilience and perseverance endure, as does my belief in the goodness of people to heal and treat each other with lovingkindness.

Blessings to the artist activist Elise Findlay, the Canadian Rockies & to you as well,


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