The best job ever?
Imagine getting to travel to all corners of a province, meet the friendliest people, take in one-of-a-kind events and share the experience with the world, all while being paid. For the second year, the province of Saskatchewan’s ministries of Parks, Culture and Sport; Economy; and Agriculture and Tourism Saskatchewan choose one person to do just that. This year, the lucky Saskatchewanderer is 27-year-old Ashlyn George.
When George first applied to be the Saskatchewanderer in December, she was in Madagascar, and when she found out that she had been selected, she had just finished a Safari in Kruger National Park in South Africa. George has travelled to every continent except Antarctica, but now she’s on the real trip of a lifetime as the 2015 Saskatchewanderer. She started her adventure in January and will be taking in all Saskatchewan has to offer for a full year. We caught up with George while she was in Saskatoon, just as she finished snowmobiling in Hudson Bay and before heading to Regina to do some outdoor winter biking. She tells us what it’s like to have the best job in Saskatchewan.
Q. What was your first thought when you found out you got the job?
A. “Oh my goodness!” I was alone in a shuttle coming back from a safari and I was headed back to Johannesburg. I was just going through my phone … I didn’t even realize I had received the email. As I started reading it, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness! I have just gotten the job!’ It was an incredible moment and I sat in the vehicle for a minute or two, taking it all in. I had a really good data plan, so I Skyped my parents.
Q. You’ve travelled the world for the last few years. What made you excited to travel the province you are from?
A. It’s interesting because Saskatchewan is actually larger than some of the countries I’ve travelled through. The amount of land we have means we have very diverse topography. That means there are a lot of really cool things to see and explore if you’re just looking at it from a nature perspective. But, there’s also a lot of diversity within the culture and people of Saskatchewan. I think it’s really cool to see the cultures we’ve built in every corner of the province. It’s kind of like a little piece of the world back at home as there are all these really great local businesses. Restaurants are a perfect example – people starting up amazing restaurants with ethnic, multicultural food. We get that at home without having to travel the world.
Q. Where has the job taken you so far?
A. I’ve done a couple of things since starting my travels in the beginning of February. I’ve done a tour of Great Western Brewery in Saskatoon. I attended the Beer Bacon Bands Festival in Regina – it was a new event they put on this year, so that was really fun to go to. And then I spent the last four days in Hudson Bay, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
Q. What’s been the best adventure so far?
A. I spent the most time in Hudson Bay. I was blown away by how beautiful the area was. I’ve never been up there before; I was really surprised by it. I was snowmobiling on the trails, and that in itself was amazing, but, I also happened to be connected with some of the most warm and welcoming people I’ve ever met. It’s not always about the places you see, but the people you see those places with, and Saskatchewan has some of the friendliest people around.
Q. Is there a place you are most looking forward to going or an activity you are most excited about doing?
A. It’s hard to point out one thing specifically. I’m an outdoors adventure type of girl, so anything that gets me outside; that can be biking, fishing, camping, hiking trails. I’m just really looking forward to the outdoors aspect of Saskatchewan in any season!
George is always looking for new places to go, people to meet and activities to try. She’s also interested in learning about different industries, businesses and jobs in Saskatchewan. You can follow her adventures and send ideas to her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @saskatchewanderer.
*This interview has been condensed for brevity.
Saskatchewanderer photo by Dale Tidy.
Angelina Irinici is an award-winning journalist from Saskatoon, Sask. She recently moved back to her home city and is working as a television reporter. She is a graduate of Ryerson University’s journalism school. You can find her on Twitter at @angelinairinici.