Alberta Health Services has launched a new $1.4-million initiative to help improve Indigenous patient outcomes and create better cultural bridges between the health-care system and Indigenous communities.
The three-year research project is intended to be an “engine for change,” said Kienan Williams, assistant scientific director for the Population, Public and Indigenous Health Strategic Clinical Network.
“We will be identifying how some of the experiences (for Indigenous people) are structurally different,” he said. “There are known barriers and policies that have been identified. This is the work and the research which will be undertaken (over the next three years). The co-design aspect is understanding what those experiences are and understanding the patient voices, and bringing in the policies in the health system to change that.
As part of the initiative, the AHS South Zone will be adding two Indigenous “Navigator” positions who will work with local stakeholders to find better ways for Indigenous people to move through the health-care system.
“The goal is actually to build a model for how we work together — a co-designed model that will set the tone for how we work together,” said AHS South Chief Zone Officer Katherine Chubbs, who will co-lead the study. “We see the relationships we build through this are going to be very influential in how people feel walking into our buildings. It will inform us about our clients and on what they find difficult in our system, and through those conversations, and building the relationships we are, everyone is learning.”
Closure plans in works
Programs at the downtown YMCA will be cut at month’s end, as contractors complete work on its new facility.
All fitness classes and swimming programs will close on Feb. 28, officials say, along with evening child-minding, “TGIF” and “Y Kids” programs.
There’s been no opening date announced for the new Cor Van Raay Y, however, so it’s uncertain how long the current Stafford Drive location will remain open.
“The program reductions will allow the staff team at the YMCA to prepare for Stafford decommissioning and allow for adequate training and preparation” for the new facility, says communications director Ross Jacobs.
As of March 1, he says, hours of operation will be 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Child minding will be available from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
Areas remaining available during those hours will include the conditioning centre, weight room, sports courts, gymnasium, indoor play space and the functional fitness area.
Jacobs says the facility’s popular birthday party packages will remain available — without pool access — until the weekend before the closing date, once that’s announced.
LPS begins volunteer drive
The Lethbridge Police Service formally launched the Ambassador Watch program on Wednesday as it begins seeking a new civilian Watch manager and kicks off the drive for its first volunteers.
“We look forward to engaging volunteers from the diverse communities of Lethbridge,” said Lethbridge Police Chief Rob Davis. “This is a great opportunity for students who are not sure where they want to go with a career, a great opportunity for citizens who just want to give back, and we look forward to having the volunteers working with us.”
Davis and other members of the LPS also took the opportunity during the press conference Wednesday to give a few more details about what the program will look like when the first volunteers hit the street in late April or early May.
According to the LPS, volunteers will be required to be physically fit to cope with the amount of walking involved, be over the age of 18, be “good-natured,” and not have a criminal record. They will work closely with the new Community Peace Officers (CPOs) in the downtown core at first, and be trained in CPR/First Aid as well as situational awareness, intervention and response techniques by the LPS.
Teams of volunteers will operate seven days a week and be fitted with two-way radios for instant communication with police.
Davis revealed to reporters the colours chosen for the Watch volunteer uniforms will be red.
“We wanted those red shirts for visibility,” explained Davis. “It’s amazing when you see those red shirts or red jackets in the winter, you can’t help but see them. And you have that feeling that someone is there … This is about perception of public safety and being visible; so we have gone with red shirts.”
College lands monoliths
After 30 years of persistent lobbying, Lethbridge College finally became home to 110 priceless soil monoliths previously stored at the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Lethbridge Research Station.
During a special unveiling ceremony Tuesday at the college’s Cousins Science Centre, the soil monoliths, which were likely gathered and preserved during the 1950s and 1960s by unknown researchers at the Lethbridge station, were enthusiastically presented to the public for the first time.
“We at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada recognize the irreplaceable value of these treasures,” stated Shannon Little, associate director of Research, Development and Technology at AAFC, “and we are grateful they found a home in the halls of Lethbridge College. Here, they can be accessed by the public, by students and by instructors, and serve to educate and further reveal the mysteries of soil genesis and classification.”
The soil monoliths, however, were not pulled loose from the AAFC bureaucracy without strenuous effort by two generations of Lethbridge College staff — and in the end it still took a signed ministerial order from the Agriculture Minister in Ottawa to complete the transfer.
Police class offers diversity
The largest cadet class in recent Lethbridge Police Service history held its orientation Monday for the start of a 22-week classroom and scenario-based training delivered in partnership with the Lethbridge College School of Justice Studies.
Police recruits and Community Peace Officer recruits will train side-by-side with the 34-member class, which includes 23 Lethbridge cadets, three members from the Blood Tribe Police Service, one from the Taber Police Service, four from the Canadian Pacific Police Service, and three from the Manitoba First Nations Police Service.
This will be the first incarnation of the Lethbridge Police Service hosting a partnership with these agencies and Lethbridge College.
Jeanine Webber, Dean of the Centre for Justice and Human Services, School of Justice Studies for Lethbridge College, said the college knows that policing can be a very challenging role in the community because the complexity of policing has changed over the years. By taking a look at what competencies a police officer needs to have from the moment they start, being able to partner with the college and LPS, they are able to provide an in-depth learning experience to better prepare the cadets.
“They’re getting opportunities to be in those real-world situations that they’ll find themselves in but having the luxury of getting very valuable feedback from experienced officers that will help them to continue to learn and to grow,” said Webber.
Change coming to Exhibition
Change is coming to Exhibition Park. But the public won’t know more exact details until April 2.
New at Whoop-Up Days 2019, set for Aug. 20-24, will be:
• The StagEX (Stage-Ex) Music Festival, in its first year of a multi-year commitment. The stage will be different and the bands could be bigger acts;
• Bucking and Barrels will return in the same Canada vs. USA format, but will have an earlier start time to not interfere with a headline band timeslot;
• The annual Children’s Festival in April will not return, but will be replaced with a Family Day at Whoop-Up Days; and
• Increased security protocols, including: security checkpoints at all entry gates and more presence by Lethbridge Police Service, Lethbridge Fire and Emergency Services, and Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis.
These announcements were all made Wednesday during a media event at Exhibition Park.
For StagEx, the idea is to build a unique tourism property to attract local guests as well as visitors from all over Western Canada, says Mike Warkentin, Chief Operating Officer at Ex Park. For this, they have partnered with Trixstar Productions, Alberta-based live event and entertainment consultants who produce events, such as Big Valley Jamboree and the Soundtrack Music Festival.
“It’s obviously a very exciting moment for Exhibition Park and what it can mean for Lethbridge and the region,” Warkentin said.
Let’s Talk raises awareness
Bell Let’s Talk Day encouraged conversations across Canada about mental health, increasing awareness, reducing stigma and helping to make a difference in the lives of others facing mental illness.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) recognizes that one in five Canadians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lives.
David Gabert, communications lead and project co-ordinator for CMHA, said while Bell Let’s Talk raises awareness, it also gives a great platform across the country for people to look locally at what resources are available, and to realize they’re not alone in their struggles.
“We want to make sure that people are taking in a lot of Bell’s messages about how language matters, and how there are opportunities to educate yourself,” said Gabert. “But we also want to see it translate into action where if people need help and assistance that there are resources out there.”
This year, Bell Let’s Talk Day partnered with all post-secondary institutions in Canada and provided them with promotional gear such as toques and pins to get mental health conversations started.
As part of this social media campaign, there was roughly 215 universities across Canada which participated in Let’s Talk Day, along with more than 370 mental health initiatives on different campuses.
The University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College both participated Wednesday.
Lake ice poses danger
The City of Lethbridge and Fire & Emergency Services are reminding residents to keep their pets away from ice-covered water and on a leash when walking near shore as the ice is still deemed to be unsafe.
Once a week, the City snow/maintenance foreman assesses ice conditions in designated skating areas at Henderson, Nicholas Sheran and Chinook Lakes.
The safety of ice in Lethbridge’s lakes currently does not meet the City’s standards for public use. Weather conditions have fluctuated consistently in the last few weeks, which can change the condition, strength and stability of the ice dramatically.
Storm ponds are another danger people and their pets need to avoid because they are not monitored by the City. Water entering the ponds collect debris and is warmer in temperature which contributes to unstable and unpredictable ice conditions.
Brendon Pyne, team lead with Lethbridge Water Rescue, Fire & Emergency Services, recommends if your pet runs onto the ice to not chase after it as you can be putting yourself at risk as well.
“Keeping pets away is important just for the fact that if they fall through the ice, owners love their pets so they’re going to go after them,” said Pyne.
U of L names new chancellor
The University of Lethbridge has taken an historic leap forward by electing former Kainai Chief and Treaty 7 Grand Chief Charles Weaselhead as its 14th chancellor.
Weaselhead is the first-ever Indigenous person to hold the position of chancellor in the institution’s 52-year history.
A residential school survivor, Weaselhead has worked on numerous boards and committees including the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, Community Violence Prevention on the Blood Reserve, the First Nations Governance Centre, the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs’ Committee on Health and the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre’s Chiefs’ Senate. He was a signatory to the Alberta Protocol Agreement on Government-to-Government Relations and the Memorandum of Understanding on First Nations Education. Weaselhead is also the former chair of the Blood Tribe’s Kainaiwa Resources Inc.
U of L president and vice-chancellor Mike Mahon said the choice of a proven leader like Weaselhead to move the university forward was an inspired one.