Directly east of Edmonton, there’s a specialized municipality named Sherwood Park. Understandably, almost no one goes to the Park unless they live there. But partially because it’s easy to do, people seem to like stereotyping it.
This is problematic because stereotypes, as a rule, are littered with hyperbole and subjectivity. Although Sherwood Park may deserve some of its stereotypes (no one can deny how homogeneous it is, and many families do boast about overflowing bank accounts), most labels have become, and probably always were, too broad for a place with 68,782 individuals as of 2015.
Mostly, it’s touted as being a rich, white suburb where white privilege knows no bounds. Its population is seen as arrogant, unapologetically conservative, rude, entitled, spoiled but ignorant of that fact, blissfully naïve, pretend gangsters, white girls, and preppy (but talented) jocks.
Urban Dictionary constructed an amusing definition out of this stereotypical shrapnel: “Sherwood Park residents only go into Edmonton to throw garbage out the window, and dump used motor oil.” Seems legit. Although I found these stereotypes to be more prevalent in high school, they’re still alive and well to a certain extent in university.
Even though I don’t think it’s wise to stereotype a whole population of people, with the Park, I can begin to see where stereotypes come from and why they begin. Sherwood Park is teeming with Park-specific, bizarre, easily-stereotyped experiences and happenings. And these happenings, if not their subsequent stereotypical smoke and mirrors, are mostly hilariously true and how I assume most stereotypes come about.
For example, it’s true someone might be from Sherwood Park if they know every black high school classmate by name (even if they never talked to them) because they were the token black kid.
They’re also most likely a Sherwood Parker if they enjoy the luxury of public transit naps on coaches or double-decker busses since they have a couple seats to themselves and they don’t have to worry about their stuff getting stolen because everyone basically owns the exact same MacBook Air and Hershel or North Face backpack anyway. Also, criminal records aren’t a conduit to professional programs.
If someone has ever been overcharged by a Northside drug dealer and they don’t know they’ve been overcharged until years later or they never find out, they’re most likely from the Park. And if someone is ever on a Southside sports team in the neighbourhood of Terwillegar, and their teammates still insist they’re the rich ones, they’re also probably from Sherwood Park.
If you look at it objectively, this is actually ironic because Sherwood Park is basically an Eastside version of Terwillegar. They’re both known for being equally, overwhelmingly white and affluent. They really only differ in geographical location and connectivity to Edmonton.
Like all stereotypes, undiluted Sherwood Park stereotypes are overly extensive, rendering them inapplicable to most of its inhabitants. People are just people wherever you go. Thankfully, most individuals eventually realize this when everyone comes together for postsecondary, and Sherwood Park’s more extreme labels of exponential arrogance and entitlement usually die a needed, natural death.
But the Sherwood Park stereotype won’t be extinct anytime soon. While these stereotypes go about their leisurely psychic atrophy, their root cause of Park-specific experiences and happenings will remain, born out of the two blanket stereotypes that can actually be applied in any large way to Sherwood Park as a whole: homogeneity and affluence. This means that Sherwood Park stereotypes will probably continue to live a safe and prosperous life, much like the inhabitants of Sherwood Park itself.
This stereotypical speculation might also be applicable to St. Albert. But I can’t speak for them, because I’m not from St. Albert — I’m from Sherwood Park.