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Students at cole Barrie Wilson Elementary School in Red Deer are embracing the holiday spirit to help a fellow student battling leukemia.
This week, students are selling Candy Grams for 25 cents in support of Grade 1 student Lewis Cano and his family.
Kindergarten teacher Kim Baile says the students felt it would be nice to do something special for Lewis during the Christmas season.
“The Kindergarten kids for their project-based learning assignment have made all of these Candy Grams,” explains Baile. “We asked the student population if they would purchase them. We thought it would be a nice thing for them to do to give their friends and family members a little note that said, ‘To You, From Me’, and ‘Have A Merry Christmas.'”
Lewis, who is 6-years-old, was diagnosed with leukemia in August and has spent much of his time since then at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.
“He’s not able to stay in Ronald McDonald House, so they stay at his grandmother’s house which is an hour from Calgary. So we’re hoping that maybe the money could go towards gas between there and Calgary and between here and Calgary. It’s a lot for a single mom,” says Baile.
If all the Candy Grams are sold, Baile says they will raise about $800.
She hopes the experience of selling them helps her students better understand what a volunteer is and why it’s important to be a volunteer in your community.
“Our school has done a lot of service projects,” explains Baile. “The Kindergarten kids were also responsible for the food drive this past October through Farm Credit Canada (FCC), and so they saw what it was like to help others. They’re learning about the value of money, they’re sorting all the money, they’re learning that there’s someone in our school that needs a little bit of extra help at Christmas time and I just want them to be kind and caring.”
Baile describes Lewis himself as an extremely kind and caring student, in addition to being very quiet.
“He’s not sure about all of this attention, but he’s handling it in stride,” says Baile. “It was a pleasure to have him in my class the whole year. He had two little friends that followed him around all the time and he was always kind and caring. It just goes to show what kind of heart he has and he wants everyone to feel welcome and included, so any little thing that we can do for him would be nice.”
Baile says she’s very proud of her students and the support they’ve received from their peers.
“As soon as I asked them if they wanted to do it, they did and they’ve never complained.”
Candy Grams can be purchased at cole Barrie Wilson Elementary School between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. daily through Dec. 13.
To make an online donation, a GoFundMe campaign has been launched to assist the Cano family. Roughly $3,600 of the campaign’s $10,000 goal has already been raised.
Leah Kennedy helped families and small children deal with malnutrition and other chronic health issues facing the African nation.
Leah Kennedy is a surgical nurse who normally works out of Unit 24 at Red Deer Regional Hospital.
This year, however, the 27-year-old had the opportunity of a lifetime to go on a four-month mission to the Republic of Chad.
Kennedy went to Chad working with Doctors Without Borders – an independent, neutral organization that provides life-saving medical care to the people that need it most in more than 70 countries.
Her role included support for nine different health posts during the country’s “Hunger Gap” season – a period from roughly June and July or October to November where heavy rains make many roads unusable and health care difficult to access.
Kennedy became eligible for the opportunity after recently earning her Diploma in Tropical Nursing in Liverpool, England.
“That’s where I gained more skills really to work in this line of care,” she explains. “After that, I graduated and had the confidence to apply to Doctors Without Borders since the beginning of this year and was successful. I had put my availability date for August, and so in the summer when I was in Tofino, I got a call from Doctors Without Borders.”
Kennedy says a language barrier made it difficult getting started upon arriving in Chad.
“It’s a French-speaking colony, so luckily I have some French immersion background but people were great and helped me out,” says Kennedy. “It’s also Arabic as well, so there’s really no English, but I got through it.”
Kennedy worked 12-14 hour days, six days a week, on an emergency malnutrition project while dealing with malaria and a measles epidemic.
“I was working with children that are severely malnourished between the ages of six months and five-years-old,” she recalls. “I was in charge of a team of national staff and we were located in nine health centres within the capital. Altogether I think we admitted over 8,000 children to the program and we would weigh them, we would do an arm circumference and we would see if they were gaining weight or not.”
Kennedy says each child would also receive a health consultation, along with she calls a “plumpy nut.”
“It’s a ready-to-use therapeutic food you give to the kids. You give them a week’s supply and if they eat it, they actually gain weight quite quickly. So you can see kids getting quite a bit healthier in a short period of time which is really great.”
However, for the kids in need of more than what the plumpy nut could offer, Kennedy says transportation to the hospital was necessary.
“We were hiring local taxi drivers with these motor bikes to take the mother and child to the hospital and back,” adds Kennedy. “It was all free. It’s free health care at the clinic and at the hospital, so that’s what my four months kind of looked like.”
Kennedy, who graduated in 2014 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree through Red Deer College, reveals it was a family member that inspired her career choice.
“I actually had an uncle that worked in the humanitarian-aid sector,” she explains. “Unfortunately, though, the same year that I was born, he passed away, he had contracted HIV – AIDS. It was my father that went to Africa to care for him when he was sick and when he passed away, my father came home and it was just a very open, honest conversation within my family, and I think it was just values that were instilled in me from a very young age that I wanted to help people.”
Kennedy says her experience in Chad was a good reminder that most of the world doesn’t live as well as we do here in Canada.
“We’re really lucky to have just the basic needs that we have, including health care,” she exclaims. “Sure, the weight times at the hospital are long and it can be really frustrating, but at least it’s there and it’s set up and it’s functioning right? I’m just really thankful for the system that we have in place, so many people in the world don’t have access to the basic needs like food, medication, vaccinations and other simple medical treatments.”
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There are few things more Canadian than skating on a frozen sheet of water, laughing with friends, playing a game of shinny, and warming up with a mug of hot chocolate. That experience is worth sharing, especially with youth who are new to Canada! That is why Central Alberta Refugee Effort and the City of Red Deer have once again teamed up to organize three days of skating for over 50 newcomer youth.
This year marks our Seventh year of the ‘Learn to Skate’ program. The program is offered free of charge to immigrant youth and all equipment is provided for them. In addition to learning basic skating skills, students will also have an opportunity to try hockey.
C.A.R.E would like to thank everyone who has helped make this event possible: The City of Red Deer, RCMP, Red Deer Pond Hockey, St. John Ambulance, Riverside Meadows Community Association, Lindsay Thurber High School & many more community volunteers.
About the ‘Learn to Skate’ event
The ‘Learn to Skate’ event was started in 2012 at the request of a newcomer student who really wanted to learn how to skate. Many immigrant youth feel too embarrassed to attempt skating with their Canadian peers and this program gives them the space and time to practice with other youth who are also only beginning to learn. Each year the youth express how thankful they are to have been given the opportunity and how much fun they had.
About the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (C.A.R.E)
C.A.R.E is an immigrant settlement agency based in Red Deer, Alberta. For over 35 years. C.A.R.E has supported the successful settlement of all newcomers to Canada by providing a variety of services and programs. Our office is located at #202, 5000 Gaetz Ave, Red Deer and more information is available online at www.immigrant-centre.ca
‘Learn to Skate’ event plan
On January 2, our event program will include a beginner skating lesson and time to practice. (1-3 p.m. at Servus Arena)
On January 3, the youth will have the opportunity to practice skating outdoors at Bower Ponds (1-3 p.m.). Several volunteers will also be skating around and offering a helping hand.
On January 4, the youth will continue to practice skating and Red Deer Pond hockey will be teaching hockey basics and organizing a game of shinny for those who are interested (1-3 p.m. at the Riverside Meadows outdoor rink at 6021 57 Ave.)
Students at Assiniboine Community College in Brandon, Manitoba and the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Alberta are the 2019 recipients of the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group Prairie Equity Scholarships.
Desiree Brightnose is a second year student in the Interactive Media Arts Program at Assiniboine. During her first year, Desiree developed a love for broadcasting that motivated her to volunteer for campus and community stations, work for local commercial radio stations and develop her own podcast.
A member of Manitoba’s Chemawawin Cree Nation, Desiree has also been an instructor at a camp for Indigenous youth media, as well as a Cultural Peer Mentor helping Indigenous students at Assiniboine with information and support. This ties in with her desire to create a path for future Indigenous students in the broadcast industry.
“Our communities hold so much talent”, says Desiree, “even though a lack of acknowledgment and resources contribute to underrepresentation in the world of broadcast.”
The faculty at Assiniboine Community College think Desiree Brightnose has what it takes to succeed, noting her academic and personal strength, her great leadership skills and her willingness to provide support and assistance to her fellow students.
Our second winner is Shelby Emro, a second year radio student in the RTBN program at SAIT in Calgary. Shelby got hooked on radio during a visit to SAIT, and has developed a passion for audio production, having already completed a Digital Audio Certificate program.
Shelby has a long volunteer resume, including the National Music Centre, Beakerhead (an art, science and engineering education festival), and Otafest (Calgary’s premiere Japanese animation festival). Her favourite volunteering stint was facilitating a radio class at a conference this spring, helping grade nine girls explore career choices.
“It warmed my heart to work with and be around these girls”, says Shelby, “…once they got to ‘experience’ radio with me, I could see a spark in their eyes ignite. I felt so proud.”
Her instructors say Shelby Emro is passionate about broadcasting, calling her dynamic, professional and mature, and adding that she is an all star student who is at the very top of her class.
The Equity Scholarship was instituted in 2009 to address the shortage of broadcasters from four under-represented groups; Aboriginal Peoples, Persons with Disabilities, Members of Visible Minorities, and Women. The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group believes that by supporting the career development of these groups in broadcasting on the Prairies, the industry will access an untapped pool of potentially talented employees, encourage diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, enhance relationships with local communities, and broaden the advertiser and audience base.
Desiree Brightnose and Shelby Emro have each received $2000 to assist them in pursuing their education and career goals.
The scholarship initiative is supported by the following stations of the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group:
101.5 Today Radio, Calgary
Wild 95.3 FM, Calgary
Big West Country 92.9 FM, Drayton Valley
102.3 NOW! radio, Edmonton
Up! 99.3 FM, Edmonton
Big Country 93.1 FM, Grande Prairie
Q99 FM, Grande Prairie
Country 95.5 FM, Lethbridge
B-93.3 FM, Lethbridge
Saskatchewan Country CJNS, Meadow Lake
CHAT 94.5 FM, Medicine Hat
CHAT Television, Medicine Hat
MY96 FM, Medicine Hat
CJVR FM, Melfort
Beach Radio 750, Melfort
Q98 FM, North Battleford
Saskatchewan Country CJNB, North Battleford
93.3 The Rock FM, North Battleford
XFM, Prince Albert
Saskatchewan Country CKBI, Prince Albert
Power 99 FM, Prince Albert
BIG 105.5 FM, Red Deer
106.7 The Drive FM, Red Deer
B94 FM, Rocky Mountain House
XM 105 FM, Whitecourt
QX 104, Winnipeg
94-3 The Drive, Winnipeg
NOTE: rdnewsNOW is also owned and operated by the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.
Central Albertans are encouraged to take time Friday to honour those who have experienced gender- based violence.
It’s been 30 years since the tragic mass shooting at cole Polytechnique de Montral on Dec. 6, 1989, that saw the lives of 14 young women violently cut short by an armed man.
The senseless act of targeted violence shook the nation and led Parliament to designate December 6 as the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women.
Local vigils are planned to mark the anniversary and raise awareness of the role we all play in creating a culture of respect and taking meaningful action to ensure that similar tragedies like the one in Montreal never happen again.
The vigils will take place at Red Deer City Hall from 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., and at the Lacombe Memorial Centre from 6:15 p.m. – 7:15 p.m.
They will feature guest speakers and are a partnership between the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES). Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC), and Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC).
CASASC executive director Patricia Arango says it’s an opportunity to remember all women killed because of their gender.
“We need to keep bringing people together to remember and reflect on what is happening,” says Arango. “We need to keep involving the community in this kind of reflection and create an awareness everywhere and every day that its possible. My interest is to make sure that people understand it happens in other places, but also in Red Deer.”
Arango hopes events like these help people be more sensitive to and aware of gender-based violence.
“Sexual assault crimes against women are preventable,” says Arango. “We need to work together to protect each other, and respect each other. Then one day we can see less and less crime against women.”
Arango says statistics indicate more than 63,000 Canadian women report gender-based violence each year.
Every Albertan has the right to be treated fairly when receiving public services. Otherwise, you can turn to the Alberta Ombudsman for help.
The Alberta Ombudsman is an independent Officer of the Legislative Assembly that responds to complaints of unfair treatment by provincial government authorities, municipalities, the Patient Concerns Resolution Process of Alberta Health Services, health professions and other designated professional organizations.
Marianne Ryan is in her second year Alberta Ombudsman. She visited the Red Deer Remand Centre on Tuesday as part of six-week tour of the province’s corrections facilities.
“For whatever reasons, we do get a lot of complaints from people who are incarcerated. So when the corrections officials make their decisions we want to help them make sure that they are being fair,” she explained.
Ryan says her office works to find the balance between not being an advocate and finding the right path forward. She also says they’ve been working hard lately to make more Albertans aware of what it is they do.
“Part of it is the name. ‘Ombudsman’ doesn’t really say what we do. So we’re trying to get the word out about what we do and help people,” she said.
“We sell ourselves as the ‘last resort.’ If you have gone through all avenues of appeal in a particular area and you still don’t feel you’ve been treated fairly in an administrative process, you can come to us.”
The Alberta Ombudsman office, which has been around since 1967, had its busiest year ever in 2018 in receiving around 5,000 complaints. About 1,500 of them were within the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction, while the others were referred elsewhere for assistance.
“It could be because of the economic downturn. It may be because we’ve been really robust in our outreach. The more people know about it, the more complaints go up” Ryan speculated.
“Quite often we will spend hours helping people because they may be from vulnerable areas (of the population) – they may be seniors, people with special needs – that need that extra help. We will take the time to get them on the right path.”
The Alberta Ombudsman can make recommendations to appropriate provincial ministries for changes they feel are necessary. They also have the ability to use what’s called an “Own Motion” if a trend or pattern has been found of issues with administrative fairness of a program or department. An example of this came last year following a review of the province’s Mental Health Review Panels.
“We made nine recommendations to the previous Minister of Health, and she accepted all nine. It was almost a year to review and come up with those recommendations.”
Ryan, who had a 35-year career with the RCMP, feels the Ombudsman role has been a good fit for her personally because she gets to continue serving the public.
“I looked into it and thought I would really find this work interesting, because I wasn’t really ready to hit the golf course four days a week,” she joked.
The fact that all municipalities in Alberta are now under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman also appealed to her.
“Let’s say someone has a complaint here in Red Deer, and it has to do with water drainage from their property, that there has been some regrading done to their neighbour’s property, and city inspectors have come out and said there’s no issue. You’re still frustrated and have made your complaint and gone through that process, you can come to us now and we’ll take a look at it.”
Ryan says her office received 461 complaints regarding municipalities last year and feels that number will expand as word gets out about the Alberta Ombudsman now having jurisdiction over them.
Ryan also serves at the province’s Public Interest Commissioner dealing with public servants.
“If you are in the public service or a government ministry, and you see something that we’ll call a wrongdoing, we’ll protect your identity and we’ll investigate. And if you lose your job because someone thinks you are whistleblowing, we can also investigate that.”
Overall, Ryan notes that about two-thirds of all decisions reviewed by her office last year were made fairly.
“People do treat people fairly. But sometimes people just want that independent body saying ‘Yeah, I was treated fairly. I may not be happy with the decision, but I was treated fairly.'”
You can contact Ryan’s office by visiting www.ombudsman.ab.ca or following @AB_ombudsman on Twitter.
It’s no secret that the past few weeks have been tumultuous for Ron MacLean.
His 34-year on-air partnership with Don Cherry came to a sudden end following Cherry’s controversial comments that led to him being fired from Hockey Night in Canada and Coach’s Corner.
MacLean received his own share of criticism from those who were disappointed with his handling of the incident. It’s been quite a learning experience for the 59-year-old Red Deer native.
“Obviously, it’s been kind of a horrible few weeks,” he said. “You can certainly look at the education we’re all receiving. The opportunity to think about things is never a bad thing.
Chantel Hebert (a CBC political pundit) said that if anything rings true in politics it’s that watershed events take on a life of their own and control over them moves quickly beyond the grasp of those who set them in motion.”
MacLean says that through it all, it’s been fascinating to see the power of social media and the ability for everyone to have a voice.
“It’s not beyond my experience to be in the crosshairs of major stories, but it’s definitely a bit beyond my education. So the best thing to do is sit back and keep listening.”
MacLean says he’s grateful, especially given the events of these past few weeks, to be coming home this weekend for the latest Rogers Hometown Hockey tour stop.
“Red Deer taught me a lot about all these things. Wayne Barry (former radio programming director) taught me to let the guests be the star. Right from the get-go, I was given schooling in understanding that whenever you have confused times, it’s usually a clash of ignorance.”
The goal of Rogers Hometown Hockey, MacLean says, is to celebrate the roots of the game and the people in hockey who’ve had a positive influence on others.
“My hockey mentors were Cec Swanson and Wynne Dempster, these were fantastic humans (where) at the heart of their ethos was a kind of kindness and teaching that superseded winning,” he recalls fondly.
“Dave Manning was the same way with the Optimist Chiefs. And even our women’s game was really powerful when I was a boy growing up in the 70s. To see Wendy Wittchen, who was Terry Wittchen’s sister, he was Brian Sutter’s ‘second in command’ on the Red Deer Rustlers. (He was) a great hockey player, but Wendy was better.
“It’s a great feeling to come home and sort of feel the shelter of all the goodness that was in hockey in the city.”
MacLean will be in Red Deer on Sunday to host the live national TV broadcast (4 p.m.) for the NHL game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens.
“We just love shining a light on the people who are the backbone of the game. Whether it’s a devout fan, a penalty box attendant or public address announcer, so many people are the backbone.”
More on the full list of Rogers Hometown Hockey festivities can be found here.
Red Deer & District Community Foundation and RBC Foundation have handed out a total of $45,000 to support three youth led initiatives in Central Alberta in the amount of $15,000 each.
The announcement was made Thursday afternoon at the Penhold Multiplex.
“We were so excited about the opportunity to create an event that will be more inclusive for all families,” said Tatyanna Stoesz a student leader of Art & Soul for Everyone in Sylvan Lake. “A huge thank you goes to the Red Deer & District Community Foundation and the RBC Foundation for giving students like us the chance to make our vision become a reality.”
The three recipients were Penhold Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) for Adult Preparedness, C.A.R.E. Immigrant Youth Program (SNAP) for a Diversity Retreat and HJ Cody High School for Art & Soul for Everyone (relaxed inclusion performances). Details regarding each initiative are found below.
As a part of the RBC Future Launch Community Challenge, grants like this one are being made to youth-led projects in 150 small and medium sized communities across Canada. The goal of the program is to shift the power to young leaders making positive social or environmental change in their communities, while gaining valuable skills and experience.
“Young people are not future leaders – they are leading social and environmental change right now. We are honoured to play a role in the bold change that youth are leading across the country through this national initiative with RBC,” says Andrew Chunilall, CEO of Community Foundations of Canada.
“RBC is committed to the power, vision and potential of youth, and the important role they play in their communities,” said Ron Sauve, RBC Regional Vice President. “We are thrilled to see the results of this important partnership with the CFC helping make a difference in communities across Canada.”
About the recipients:
Penhold Youth Advisory Committee (YAC) – Adult Preparedness
This group made up of students in grades 10 – 12, have recognized a gap in practical life skills between the time they are residing in their guardian homes to when they are living on their own and taking care of themselves. They will be using the $15,000 RBC Future Launch Community Challenge grant to facilitate workshops that focus on skills such as developing self-confidence, public speaking, cooking basics, budgeting for groceries, nutrition, basic first aid, basic vehicle maintenance, self-care techniques and art skills. The intent of these workshops is to provide youth with a wide range of skills for their lifetime ‘toolbox’.
C.A.R.E. Immigrant Youth Program (SNAP) – Diversity Retreat
Youth from four partnering organizations (C.A.R.E., Youth HQ, Urban Aboriginal Voices Society and Lindsey Thurber High School Leadership) will be participating in a three day workshop to combine their unique and diverse backgrounds to promote learning, relationship building and eliminating stereotypes. This workshop will not only increase cross-cultural awareness, dialogues and interactions among the youth, but will provide a platform for our immigrant youth to grow and be better positioned to act as influencers and leaders in Central Alberta. It will also increase the knowledge of reconciliation and restoration among indigenous peoples. Students will be able to step into society, share their knowledge and support other youth led projects that contribute to eliminating stereotypes.
HJ Cody High School – Art & Soul for Everyone
Students between the grades of 9 – 12 will develop performances that are designed for audience members who would benefit from a more relaxed sensory experience including, but not limited to, patrons with Autism Spectrum Disorder, dementia, hearing or vision impairment, sensory processing disorder, physical limitations or learning disabilities. By creating a space that all patrons can be comfortable within, families who are often unable to attend theatre productions will now be able to attend as an entire family units. Not only will the students be opening the doors of theatrical inclusion within their own school, but they are planning on providing mentorship to neighbouring schools and communities within Central Alberta to make relaxed performances the new norm.