Will backyard chickens become part of our “100-mile diet?”
That’s become an option for more Albertans, as cities reconsider bylaws banning the birds. Now the issue has been revived in Lethbridge, with city council being asked to allow a maximum of four hens. Students at Lethbridge College have been debating the issue as well — and they want to learn what city residents are thinking about the idea. In a few months, they’ll find out.
“The topic has really got the students critically thinking,” says political scientist Faron Ellis. “It’s something almost everyone has a conversational interest in.”
So students who are part of Ellis’ long-running Citizen Society Research Lab will be asking that question this winter. It will be part of the research facility’s annual public opinion survey of Lethbridge residents — along with questions on voting intentions, marijuana use and other social issues.
The wording of the question, Ellis says, will depend on whether council has reached a decision on the issue, or it’s still up in the air.
He points out six years ago, when some Lethbridge residents were seeking a bylaw change to allow backyard poultry, there was no suggestion that owners could allay neighbours’ concerns by raising just four hens — and no roosters. A poll taken that year showed just 4.1 per cent of the city residents polled — and five per cent in Coaldale — were strongly supportive. But 20.6 per cent in Lethbridge said they were opposed, while a further 52 per cent were “strongly opposed.”
Garden bounty to help others
Lethbridge wildlife have enjoyed some nibbles. But on Monday, volunteer gardeners harvested about 1,000 pounds of vegetables to be shared by local families and students.
For the fourth summer, seniors from the city’s Bhutanese community planted, cultivated and then dug up potatoes, squash and other vegetables in a garden at Lethbridge College. Their results of their efforts will be shared by the Lethbridge Food Bank and a parallel service run by the college students’ association.
For the seniors, “It’s a sense of giving back to the community,” says Marlene Cocken, a program manager with the Immigrant Services branch at Lethbridge Family Services.
“They have pride and passion for gardening,” she points out, learned many years ago in Asia.
Some are now 80 or older but Cocken says they’ve caught a bus to the college, day after day during the growing season. Some have also cultivated a garden at their home.
Over the summer, she says, they’ve contended with the weeds, the heat and the intruders. Ground squirrels have found their way through barriers around the garden, she adds — and deer have jumped over the fences.
Taking stand against violence
About 80 walkers came out to the YWCA’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event at the Galt Gardens Friday to raise awareness of the issues of domestic and sexual violence in the community, and to raise some much-needed funds for the YWCA’s Harbour House shelter.
“Each and every dollar which is raised at this event goes toward sexual and domestic violence programs,” explained YWCA CEO for Lethbridge and District Jennifer Lepko. “So there is a lot of Harbour House programming this goes to. It actually goes to support women and children who are fleeing violence.”
While lighthearted in spirit, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes never loses sight of those still suffering domestic or sexual violence in the community. This year, each walk participant was given a bib to wear with the number 2,049 on it — the number of women and children Harbour House had to turn away last year because IT simply did not have the facility size to shelter all of them.
“When I say turn away I mean we didn’t have a safe bed for them,” explained Lepko. “We were full, and that is really disheartening. They are running from terror and showing up at our doorstep possibly just in their pajamas, or just the clothes on their backs, and we may not have a bed for them … That’s really something we are working on — to expand our services, especially for our women’s shelter.”
Jaxan Tattrie, a first year Criminal Justice student with Lethbridge College, adorned a pair of gold pumps to take part in the walk. He admitted he wasn’t very comfortable walking in the pumps, but felt his short-term discomfort was a fair trade-off for the awareness he was helping to raise.
“I just feel it is a really great cause to help out, and I think it is an issue which definitely needs to have spotlight shined on it,” said Tattrie. “I hope today’s walk shows there are people willing to take a stand against domestic violence, and show those who commit it that it is not acceptable.”
Blackfoot flag flies at U of L
The Blackfoot Confederacy flag will now permanently fly at the University of Lethbridge.
On Thursday morning on campus, a flag raising ceremony was held with officials saying the U of L is honoured by its relationship with the local Blackfoot community and proud to be located on traditional Blackfoot territory.
“The relationship we have traditionally fostered with the Blackfoot community has taken on increased significance since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) released its historic reports and findings,” said Mike Mahon, U of L President and Vice-Chancellor, in a news release. “While we have long valued our role as leaders in creating opportunity for Indigenous populations, we recognize there is much more to be done and are eager to contribute to reconciliation efforts.”
“This is a historic occasion for the University of Lethbridge as the institution continues to work towards its commitment to the TRC’s Calls to Action and creating a safe and inclusive atmosphere on campus for Indigenous students,” said Roy Pogorzelski, director of Indigenous Student Affairs, in the release. “The raising of the Blackfoot Confederacy Flag is an ongoing territorial acknowledgement that the U of L is situated on Blackfoot territory, and is a strong step towards creating a campus of reconciliation.”