WARNING – SPOILERS BELOW
In Season 6, Episode 9 of The Walking Dead, the town of Alexandria faces certain annihilation. The mood is dark. The town is overrun with zombies, the seemingly helpless residents trapped in their homes. At one point several weak and unprepared members of Alexandria are killed by zombies, establishing a tone of utter hopelessness.
With his son suffering a gunshot wound to the head, Rick Grimes makes a desperate last stand. He charges into the horde of zombies with a hatchet, facing impossible odds. Michonne joins him, as do small pockets of trapped Alexandria residents.
As more and more residents witness the heroics, they join in.
The most powerful moment in the episode came from the cowardly Father Gabriel. Inspired by the courage of both Ricks group and the Alexandria residents, the priest picks up a blood soaked machete and says to a small group of townspeople trapped in his church:
“We’ve been praying, together, praying that God will save our town and our prayers have been answered. God will save Alexandria because God has given us the courage to save it ourselves!”
The residents of the town unite. Together they fight off the horde of zombies and retake their town.
In the closing moments of the episode, Rick sits at his comatose son’s bedside, confessing to him that he was wrong to have given up hope. He vows to rebuild Alexandria and pass on to his son an inheritance of a better future. One that seems impossible in the horrifying circumstances that surround them.
I offer this synopsis not because there is a zombie invasion but because there is a strong parallel to what we in Western Canada, and especially Alberta, are experiencing. There is also an underlying message of hope that we can all benefit from.
There is so much justifiable negativity and, for many, the situation seems hopeless.
In Calgary, so many people have succumb to the unrelenting stream of bad news. So many of us have become like the frightened residents of Alexandria, hiding away in whatever safe little shelter we ended up in before this crisis began.
Some of us, like the weak and unprepared townspeople of Alexandria, have been swept away. Some by a lack of preparation or from poor choices made during the boom times. Some entirely due to circumstances completely out of their control.
What we need to do is make our stand. We need to realize the severity of our situation, but not be consumed by it. We need to stop being so negative. Wallowing in a hateful, angry, depressed state of denial.
Individually, we need to act quickly, decisively, and forcefully. We need to act as individuals to inspire members of our community to do the same. Only then can our unity and concerted efforts overcome the odds and make the impossible possible.
First, however, we must understand our challenge.
Much like “Rick’s group” who let their guard down after entering into Alexandria’s walls, we Westerners let our guard down during our time of prosperity. We joined the ivory towers of Canada while horrors we were not prepared for waited beyond our seemingly impermeable Canadian walls. The walls have fallen, and those horrors have now befallen us.
However, just like “Rick’s group,” in Western Canada, the very nature of where we live demands that we cannot survive without tenacity, perseverance, ingenuity, and community focus. These are our weapons to fight the zombie apocalypse that comes with being members of Canadian Confederation.
Herein is why there is hope.
Consider a play on Father Gabriel’s words:
“We’ve been praying, together, praying that God will save our province, and our prayers have been answered. God will save Alberta because God has given us the courage to save it ourselves!”
I say this as an Albertan however I believe the same holds true for all of Western Canada. (If you are not from Alberta, please refute me if I’m wrong or confirm if I’m right).
The point remains, in the West, no one on earth is going to save us.
No municipal government.
No provincial government.
Certainly not Justin Trudeau.
(I think a horde of zombies would be more helpful than Justin Trudeau.)
We in Western Canada are on our own. However each of us individually have within us the ability to save ourselves. Our history proves it.
The question is, when will we discover the courage to do so?
In Rick’s closing dialogue at the bedside of his comatose son, he tells him of his desire to show his recovered son the world he knew before the start of the zombie apocalypse.
In the same way (and for the same reason) I want to show my children the Alberta I knew before the start of our current crisis.
So to all my fellow Westerners struggling in the face of this bleak reality, I say be strong and be of good courage.
We may be on our own, but as Westerners we will make it through this – together.
We have to for the sake of our children.