The 1990s were a period of tremendous change. Seemingly overnight, a global environment
emerged through trade liberalization, international mobility and communications, and
technological advancement. It is in this global environment that western Canadians must
learn to live and grow. But to do so, we first need to know who we are and where we
stand on the national and international stage. What are the West's current economic and
demographic strengths? What are our weaknesses? What can we learn from recent social and
economic trends that will help us to plan the course ahead?
Just what is the West?
To begin to address these questions we first must agree on what it
means to be a western Canadian. In many
cases, the West is an identity that has shifting and even elusive
boundaries-sometimes it expands to include the northern territories, and sometimes it contracts
to embrace only individual provinces. For our purposes, however, the West will be defined as the provinces
of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.
The West of today is not the same as that of years gone by. It is a region of great economic and political importance to
the national community with strong urban centres and a diversified
population has also changed, infused with a variety of ethnic backgrounds, cultures and
skill sets, and an array of generational perspectives and priorities.
Excerpts reprinted from Robert Roach and Loleen
Berdahl, State of the West: Western Canadian Demographic and
Economic Trends(Calgary: Canada West Foundation: 2001),
with permission from the Canada
This digital collection was
produced with financial assistance from Canada's Digital
Collections initiative, Industry Canada.