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Thursday, February 19, 2015

I am an open book.

In the last week and a half or so, I have been asked a few times who I am. And we all have the common answers like I am a mom, a wife, and a daughter. But this morning a friend challenged me to write a blog telling people a bit more about who I am. And of course, anyone who knows me, knows I always take on a challenge.

I have done these types of introductions a few times over the years, like when I started this blog, and when I started my columns with various newspapers. But I wanted this one to be different, and not too heavy a read. In other words, I wanted to have some fun with it.

The basics are I am 41, and this year I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. My hubby(as he has been known in columns over the years), is Tim Murphy, and he is currently working at Syncrude Canada here in Fort McMurray. Our oldest son, Mitchell is 17, and will be graduating this year. Nathanial is 15, and both boys go to Holy Trinity. Shayleen is going to be 6 next week, and she reminds us every day. And first and foremost in my life, I would describe myself as a mother. It took me many years to say it proudly, I can remember when I was younger and I would explain why I had decided to stay home with the boys, like it was something that had to be justified to the world. Now I say that I have been blessed to have been a stay at home mom for many years to all our kids, and I wouldn't have traded it for anything. We are foster parents here in town, and so I guess you could say I made a profession out of being a mom. It has been through my role as a foster parent, and working with other social profit groups in town that I started thinking that I wanted to get more involved on a political level so that changes could be made to some things where I saw needed improvements. But I wasn't sure how to incorporate that into our lives.

I have written about pretty much anything that has happened to us over the course of our lives, and that is why I say I am an open book. I have written about losing two of our babies, my bone marrow transplant, weight loss, our experience with a terrible car accident when Tim was hit by a drunk driver in a head on car crash, and I have written about lighter subjects like me trying out yoga, and our vacations. But the one subject I probably have written about more than any other in the last number of years is politics, and politics in relation to our community and how the decisions made by our various levels of government impact the people that live and work in Fort McMurray. So if you want to find out about any of these subjects and my views, you can google me and whatever word for the subject, or go back through the blog to get a better sense of who I am.

Mabou Harbour, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia was home until I went away to college, and then I lived outside of Sydney, in Howie Centre, then Creignish, and then our beloved Long Stretch Road outside of Port Hawkesbury before we made the moved to Fort McMurray. If you had told me eight years ago that I would be a strong, out spoken voice in Fort McMurray and running for council, I probably would have told you to get out. I didn't like upsetting people and who the hell was I to be giving my opinion on things? But over my years in Fort McMurray, and in raising our children I have learned that I have a strong voice, but I always am able to have a balanced view of various subjects.

I like to think that my upbringing in Cape Breton and my experience of living in Fort McMurray have brought me to a point in my life where I am wanting to now participate more in the decisions that are being made about our community. Fort McMurray is an exciting place to live, and there is so much potential for what we can accomplish in the next number of years. I want to be in on it. I want to be working at bringing more long term residents to Fort McMurray. I want to be part of local businesses and investors getting excited and expanding their business and creating new ones. I want to throw open the door and see the creation of a more diverse economy in Fort McMurray that will promote growth and provide more and much needed services to our region. And I want the people of Fort McMurray to feel that their municipal council is here to serve the people that call this home. During the last election I had many people say that they didn't know about various things regarding council until I was writing about them, or sharing articles on my Facebook and Twitter. I want to be part of council so that more people will feel a connection to the work that is happening with council. There has been a lot of great work done by council in the last 18 months or so. They are working towards being more transparent, but more importantly to me they have uncovered some huge issues through things like the audit and just old fashioned asking the right questions. And I want to be part of the team that continues forward with the recommendations from the audit and with being more progressive in the decisions that are being made for the region.

What else can I tell you about who I am? I love the water, I hate housecleaning, I love to cook, I love when the kids have school breaks because it means more time with them, I did palliative care work for seven years before moving here, I could eat thai food every day for the rest of my life and be happy, and I hate it when people call me "Red" in reference to my hair.

Other than that, feel free to ask me anything, and I will answer it. I didn't go into various issues that I am passionate about in Fort McMurray, but you can bet that as the campaign ramps up I will be getting more specific. I have a Facebook campaign page, it's Verna Murphy for Council-Ward 1Fort McMurray. But like I said, I am an open book, so follow me on FB, on Twitter I am @MurphyVerna and on Instagram I am FortMacMom. My campaign slogan is Passion and Progress, and as you can tell, I have a lot to be passionate about in my life, and I will bring all that to council and I believe that now more than ever Fort McMurray needs a council that will be progressive, as we continue to grow and become more diverse, both among our residents and our businesses. So if you want to support me by volunteering, donating or if you just want to sit down for a coffee to talk about our city and my bid for council, you can email me as well at: or just call me at (780)838-1782.

Friday, February 13, 2015


In all our years together, there are only a few decisions that Tim and I have made together that I almost immediately have regrets about. But today I am sitting here, having little crying jags every hour or so because we decided that the best thing for the kids was that I would stay here while he went home to Nova Scotia for his Grammie's wake and funeral.

Like many kids in Mabou, my first memories of Harriet(Grammie) was from the school. She was the secretary, but she ran the place. She knew all the kids and teachers like a mother would, and she knew when to provide advice, a listening ear, a band-aid or a scolding, and she did all that skillfully. Just like she did many things in life. She was smart, witty and she loved her family and community with a passion that was hard to deny.

The first time that I went to her house as Tim's girlfriend, she put us to work. It eventually became a little joke that I would pay my dues if I wanted to date her grandson. On our first official date we found ourselves in the quarry in Mulgrave, shovelling gravel into bags that she wanted for her flower beds. She always had a project on the go, whether it was her beautiful flower beds that were the envy of many, or making a quilt for the latest baby born into the family. All of us in the family have been left with blankets, mittens, aprons and socks that were made with her loving hands.

Harriet and I were both strong willed and strong minded women. She loved that I would argue with her when others wouldn't, and I loved her for how much she loved Tim. She loved her children, but there was something more passionate about the way she loved her grandchildren and great grandchildren. She shared all the news of what they were doing with such pride to anyone who would listen, and kept us up to date about who's cow was showing in the latest 4-H competition, or who had a new job with the same level of excitement.

But Harriet's first love, and strongest love was always for Kenny. As I sit here and think of them together again, the tears come fast. She was so heart broken when he had to go into the nursing home all those years ago, and when he passed away her grief seemed like a blanket. They fought, they laughed, they challenged each other, they were the opposites on some things, but they always remained steadfast in their love for each other.

So today I am sitting here thinking of those left behind. Her sons Clifford, Floyd, and Danford, and her daughters Ellen and Janet are all gathered at home to say their good-byes. Every single one of them are some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. They all are such giving, kind and funny people. Each has the different great qualities that their parents carried. If you were graded on how your kids turned out, then Kenny and Harriet would have gotten an A+. And their children, and grandchildren are all people that Harriet and Kenny were proud to call their family. I have been blessed to be part of the Murphy family for over 20 years. I cried when Kenny once told me he loved me like a granddaughter, because I knew how much his grandchildren meant to him.

I am also thinking of all the extended family, especially Mary Mae, Debbie, Gloria, and Lyndsey. It was not always easy being the daughter-in-law when Harriet could expect perfection for her children, lol, but she loved you all so much and told so many loving stories about all of you over the years. And to all her grandchildren, I am sending all my hugs as I know you will all be shedding some tears today and tomorrow as you say good-bye. You were her pride and joy. Of course, I saw her more with Tim then the rest over the years, but she was like a mama bear, fiercely proud and protective of all of you. Many have been sending their stories about Harriet, and while they are all nice, there is definitely a number of them that have said that you didn't mess with Harriet as far as her grandchildren were concerned. Even though her Timothy was a bit of a wild thing around Mabou in his younger days, she always knew how good his heart was and pity help the one that would say anything about him, they would be put on her bad list for life. And yes, she probably kept such a list, lol.

I wish I was home to say good-bye to say good-bye to a woman who shared so much of our life. She was there crying on our wedding day, she was the boys were born, she was there when I needed help when I got my wisdom teeth out, she was there with cookies and strawberry shortcakes on every birthday and I feel like we made a mistake in not taking the whole family home to say good-bye. It also feels wrong to just not be with the family and Tim as they say their good-byes. I love you all so much, and my heart is home with you in Cape Breton today.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

My huge, life changing announcement.

Many of you may have heard already, but I have decided to run for the vacant seat on our municipal council here in Fort McMurray for Ward One.

The number one question that I have been asked by every reporter so far, and by many others as well is why? Why have I decided to run now, and why do I want to become involved in the political life? On a personal level, the answer is easy, Shayleen is in school full time, the boys are older and it is good timing for my family for me to finally give this a try. My love of politics and being involved goes way back to my school days when I was "that kid" that loved being on student council and was even the class president our graduating year. When the boys were younger, I was the president of parent council at their school. I have always wanted to be more involved in the decisions that were being made that would impact my life and the life of my family. And now it is continuing on a slightly different path on a bigger scale.

The municipality has been live streaming not just council meetings, but also the audit and budget committee meetings, the rural development meetings, and even the administration meetings over the course of the last 18 months or more. And if you miss the meetings, you can watch them from the files online on the municipal website. This has been a huge part of my life, as I have been able to stay up to date on all the issues that affect our community. I have written extensively about the decisions that have brought us to our current state in Fort McMurray, and in the last 18 months I have found council members to be very open to all my questions. They have helped me to understand why some decisions are made the way they are, but they have also been open to discussing what I hear from talking to so many people on a daily basis. I am thinking some of the councillors might be happy if I got elected, as it would mean I would not be asking them extra questions every week.

My hope during the campaign leading up to the March 30th Election Day is that I meet every single person that I can possibly meet in Fort McMurray to hear their concerns and also their wants for our community in the coming years. I will be posting some blogs about the issues that are being talked about, and please feel free to email any questions or ideas to

Campaigns are a lot of work, but they can also be fun and a great way to meet new friends and neighbours. So if you want to get involved by volunteering, or donating we would love to have you as part of Team Murphy! You again can use the email above, or call me at (780)748-7714 or (780)838-1782. Every minute you can spare, or every dollar you can donate will go a long way towards a successful campaign and hopefully winning the seat on the 30th. I am in the process of finalizing decisions about the little details  that have to be done before things can be ordered.

I have already been overwhelmed by all the best wishes, they have made me feel like I made the right decision to run! Thanks so much, I truly believe I have the most wonderful support system in my life.