By Korie Marshall

Is it bad to be new? I certainly hope not, because if it was, no one would ever do anything. I admire someone who has the guts to try something no one’s ever done before, or to do something differently than it’s been done before.

I had thought Amal Asfour of GITC was reluctant to talk to me, but after finally reaching her this weekend, I can see she has been through a lot in her life. She seems very passionate to help give others the opportunities she has had by becoming a Canadian citizen. I remember, even as a young child, feeling that I was lucky to be born in Canada, although I didn’t exactly understand why. I know many of my ancestors struggled to get to “the new world”, and struggled to survive once they got here, but they hoped to give their family a better life, and many of them did. But it was really inspiring to hear Asfour talk about how proud she is to be Canadian, and what it meant to her to be told “Welcome to Canada; know your rights and duties.”

Being born Canadian, I have the luxury of taking my rights and duties for granted. Actually, I take them for granted less and less, because the more I learn about politics and the way things in our society work, the more I appreciate the work of those who came before me, and the work of those who want to maintain our rights. Societies like pre-war Germany and present-day North Korea don’t happen overnight, although to the rest of the world, it might seem like they did.

Asfour says she survived the Iraq/Kuwait war before applying for Canadian citizenship for herself and her family. She says she knows what people in the Middle East have gone through, and she wants to both help them and give back to Canada, by helping us develop our communities. Why shouldn’t Valemount be one of those communities?

Her company is new, but I don’t hold that against her. If there is confusion around its history, maybe it has come from a misunderstanding of language, and her desire to show that she herself has experience, and can do what she says she is going to do. Maybe it is a good example of how complicated the nuances of the English language are, or one of the cultural difficulties we might expect when we welcome newcomers.

If she can bring residents, and create some successful businesses that employ locals as well as the investors she brings – sounds good to me. If she is coming across some hurtles she didn’t expect – I guess we’ve all been there, and I hope she can persevere. If she has come across competition and underhanded moves by her competitors before, I can sympathize with her desire to protect herself, but I also appreciate the work Village Council and staff has done to protect us.

It is still early in Asfour’s plans, but I see the potential, and I know there is local interest. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.