To the editor:
When I was 4 my family moved to Coronach and we remained there until I was 14. My mother owned the fabric store and my father worked at the Power Plant as many fathers did. We were an average Coronach family, except perhaps for the astronomy dome that was built on the top of our house that on a clear night enable us to see the planets and the stars. This was my father’s dream - always looking beyond what he had around him and dreaming big.
I consider these to be very formative years of my life, and I also dreamt big. I was inspired by the landscapes and the people that surrounded me and began expressing that through writing and other ways of telling stories. I always aimed high in my career goals, but unlike my father, I never looked to do it beyond the solid ground that I called home. Though our life lead us away from Coronach, I always sought to remain close to the prairie skies that I fell in love with in my youth.
Many years have passed since then and I’m proud to say that I have created over 140 hours of broadcast television that have aired in over 175 countries around the world. I have been responsible for interviews with Hurricane Carter, Astronaut John Glenn, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, as well as countless other celebrities, and I shared the stage with Former Canadian Ambassador Ken Taylor at a Symposium discussing some of my documentary work. I have also had the pleasure of telling many Saskatchewan stories including tales of the Regina Cyclone, Moose Jaw Air Crash, Shell Lake Massacre and 100 years of Roughrider Football. I have received many awards and honors including a Gemini Nomination in 2005, and I have been able to do it all from my current home in Regina, Saskatchewan.
My dream is now coming to an end with the Government of Saskatchewan’s firm position on refundable tax credits. This is a complicated financing tool for film, television and digital media that is difficult to explain, but it is the standard by which media is created all around the world. Not only does every other province in Canada have a refundable program, but even the country of Abu Dhabi in recent weeks announced that they would be offering this to film companies. To suggest business can be done differently in this one relatively tiny jurisdiction of Canada is like suggesting that a football team in Saskatchewan should start playing the game using baseball’s rules and still be able to successfully compete in the Grey Cup. The rest of the world is not only making fun of us right now as being “backwoods” and “unknowledgable” for suggesting a non-refundable credit, but they are also making it clear that they are not willing to take the risk on investing their money in a system that has historically already been proven to fail. The government’s decision and unwillingness to listen to arguments and reconsider, effectively removes Saskatchewan from the list of locations that media companies are able to do business. The industry in Saskatchewan, the exposure that our programs were able to bring to the province, the job opportunities for young people, the investment dollars, and thousands of people including myself will all be lost to this province and relocated to any other place in Canada. It makes me extremely sad to see Saskatchewan fall like this - I truly believed that anything was possible here.
But worse for me is the fact that with us will go the dreams of small town kids like myself, who didn’t grow up looking to the stars and beyond, but who saw the prairies as a place with roots and a future. For an estimated cost of $8M government dollars per year, this industry returned six times that amount to the provincial economy, 70% of which were investment dollars brought from out of province. That is the cost and the subsequent pay off of supporting the dreams of our province’s citizens and youth. I ask the people of Coronach with kids who dream like I did, in a year where the budget contains over $500M in new spending and a $90M surplus, why can Saskatchewan not afford to support the people who want to build futures and invest here rather than leave the province behind as so many chose to do a decade ago? Why is Saskatchewan not able to offer what every other province in Canada has to our people? Why does this government not value the economic impact that film brings to rural communities like Rouleau, Dundurn, Indian Head and others in any way?
I don’t know the answers, and I don’t understand why our government has decided to do this, but I do have this one last Saskatchewan story I can share before I leave. Its about a girl from Coronach, SK who will leave her heart behind when her prairie story ends. I hope you will help me share this last story, and the story of what is being done to so many dreams and families in our province right now, with the people of Coronach through the publishing of this letter.
Nova (Herman) Alberts
Former Coronach Resident