Lethbridge residents gathered throughout the city to partake in one of two major Remembrance Day Ceremonies Nov. 11 as they paid their respects to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and continue to serve our country.
The first ceremony took place at Exhibition Park in the morning as hundreds of people gathered in the pavilion to witness all of the different representations and collectively show their respects. The second Remembrance Day Ceremony took place in front of the Cenotaph downtown where hundreds of people were able to honour the fallen victims and read the names of the local soldiers who fought for Canada’s freedom.
“There are two ceremonies, one at the Exhibition Park which is usually a little bit longer, and one at the Cenotaph,” says Michael Cormican, president of Lethbridge Legion.
“It has been going on for years, over a century now to help remind us of the dangers and evils of war. It is all about peace, everyone wants peace but unfortunately things don’t always work out that way and lives are involved. So it is honouring our veterans, honouring the fallen especially, and those that came back.”
More singles using food banks
Too many hungry children are depending on Canada’s food banks.
But in Lethbridge and across the nation, the agencies are reporting single adults earning the minimum wage are even more likely to rely on food banks to get by month to month.
Nearly 50 per cent of Interfaith Food Bank clients are Lethbridge-area women or men living alone, reports Danielle McIntyre, its executive director. The number was 49 per cent last March, when Lethbridge and hundreds of communities across Canada provided a report on their situation.
Poverty remains the reason so many Canadians come to the food banks, national figures show.
“Despite signs of an improving economy, we’re still seeing more than a million visits to food banks across Canada every single month,” McIntyre says.
The Interfaith, one of several food banks in the city, recorded 3,833 visits during the March reporting period. It’s one of 4,934 organizations across Canada — 711 of them in Alberta — represented in this year’s National Hunger Count.
With today’s cost of living, McIntyre says for many a minimum-wage income can’t cover the costs of housing, transportation and all the basics. While many people living alone know how to cook, they can’t always afford buying the groceries.
One in four people using food banks in Alberta are employed or were recently employed, she adds — the highest level in the country.
But adults living alone are often seniors or people with disabilities, she notes.
It’s “people with disabilities and seniors on fixed incomes who are most vulnerable to rising food and housing prices,” McIntyre says.
Across Canada, the report says, children are “over-represented in food bank use” compared to the overall population. While 34.1 per cent of those relying on food banks nationally are children, they represent 19.4 per cent of the population.
Locally, McIntyre says close to 40 per cent of residents depending on food banks are children.
Funding bypasses city
Alberta’s new highways budget provides $4.4 billion to build and repair highways across the province. But there’s not one project identified for southern Alberta in budget details released Tuesday, Nov. 12.
Ring roads in Calgary and Edmonton will account for $2.9 billion of that amount, officials say. Another $104 million will be spent widening an Edmonton bypass route through Devon.
“More than $1.5 billion is allocated to maintaining the condition of Alberta’s existing highways and bridges to extend their lifespan and support safe and efficient travel,” said Calgary MLA Ric McIver, the transportation minister.
Contacted Tuesday, the minister’s office was unable to respond with details about maintenance projects in the Lethbridge or Medicine Hat regions.
There was also no information related to the pre-election promise to replace the eastbound Highway 3 bridge into Lethbridge, now about 70 years old. During a campaign stop in Lethbridge, then-Opposition Leader Jason Kenney agreed to honour the NDP government’s plan to replace the aging structure.
With regard to major transportation corridors, the transportation minister was more positive.
Those funded projects, McIver said, “will increase safety for all drivers and support major trade corridors to improve travel for commercial carriers in key industries.”
There was no mention of the Canamex highway corridor through Lethbridge, however. A previous Conservative government designated a Highway 3 bypass route north of the city and purchased land for the projected right-of-way in preparation for the increasing volume of north-south trade.
And the budget release said nothing about twinning Highway 3 between Taber and Medicine Hat, despite the route’s growing importance as one of the nation’s “food corridors.”
Flag honours Metis
Lethbridge’s Métis history and the legacy of Louis Riel were commemorated with a special flagraising event held at city hall last Wednesday.
“Today is a day when we do honour the legacy of the Métis people, who were part of the original founders of the City of Lethbridge,” stated Mayor Chris Spearman. “It’s important to continue to tell that story to future generations.”
Métis Nation Local 2003 Elder Alice Bissonette acknowledged the legacy of Louis Riel, who was hanged in Regina by the Government of Canada for treason and sedition on Nov. 16, 1885 after leading an armed rebellion, is a complex one to grapple with for some Canadians, despite him being the founding father of Manitoba. But for the Métis, she said, he is a vital figure who inspired a people to assert their identity, culture and rights in the face of encroaching colonialism directed at them by the Canadian government of the day.
“It’s important he is recognized for all of the things he did for our people,” she said. “Even up until the day he died, he had a strong faith behind him. He had that strong conviction behind him. He planted the seed for the Métis people to re-emerge. And that seed has grown over the years since his death, and it is our hope it will keep growing.”
“It is important because we want this (Métis) legacy to carry on,” Bissonette added. “We want our youth to carry it on. We want our youth to remember it in the now so that it won’t be lost in the future. It’s important to teach our children so they can teach their children.”
As part of the festivities on Wednesday, two members of the community, Perry Stein and Judy Sept, were honoured with special Métis sashes for their work on behalf of Métis Local 2003 and in the broader community at large.
Police drop Myke on suspect
A man trying to run away from police earlier this week sustained some bite wounds, but not from the chasing officers.
Police went to a residence in the 600 block of 4 Street South last Tuesday after they learned a man was breaching a no-contact order stemming from a previous charge of criminal harassment. The man refused to comply with police directions, and instead slammed the door on the officers and barricaded himself inside to avoid arrest.
Officers with the Critical Incident Response Team were deployed, and just before 5 a.m. the following day the man exited the home and attempted to run from police. That’s when Myke went into action.
The police service dog went after, and caught, the fleeing suspect, and during a search — by officers, not Myke — a knife was seized. The man was transported to hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening bites and later released into police custody.
Kris Allyn Peterson, 41, is charged with breach of an undertaking and resisting a peace officer. As of Wednesday Peterson was in custody pending a judicial interim release hearing.
Ceremony honours sacrifice
The Freemasons of Lethbridge welcomed the community to the Masonic Hall last Sunday evening to pay their respects to the fallen men and women in wars for their annual Vacant Chair Ceremony.
The ceremony is of remembrance for those who paid the supreme sacrifice and never returned. Whether that supreme sacrifice was made in times of war, peace-keeping missions or daily law enforcement, their sacrifice for future generations to live in peace was honoured.
“The Vacant Chair Ceremony started in Australia and New Zealand after the First World War, the Battle of Gallipoli, there were tremendous losses and they went back and created this ceremony in about 1922,” says Gerald Waldern, past Grand Master. “We have been doing this since 2000 and it was to honour that brother that didn’t come back and that is what the vacant chair represents. With the Second World War, Korean War, and peace-keeping missions, that hasn’t changed anything, so that is our way to honour and respect that individual that didn’t come back.”
The annual Vacant Chair Ceremony in Lethbridge has been an important part of the Remembrance Day ceremonies, without being directly attached to the cenotaph, welcoming everyone to pay their respects and remember the sacrifices made.
“It is very important,” says Don Graham, past Grand Master and Director of Service. “It impresses upon citizens that there are remembrance services that aren’t necessarily connected with the Cenotaph and it also shows the participation of the various folks here in town, including members of the unit that is here.”
Portrait program returns
A group of local professional photographers are returning for another year of giving free, high-quality family portraits to people in Lethbridge who, for a variety of reasons might not be able to afford a family photo this holiday season.
The Help-Portrait program gives individuals and families in need a chance to get a memory captured this holiday season from the collective professional creativity of more than 40 volunteers.
“Every year the impact of this event touches the hearts of the whole city and we can’t wait to help more people this year,” says Steven Layton, event director. “We have reached out to a number of community organizations to help us with Help-Portrait and we are confident that the people who can benefit from this experience will be able to take advantage of it.”
Help-Portrait is a worldwide movement that started in 2008 and has evolved into a massive program giving out more than 381,000 portraits by over 75,000 photographers in 67 countries. Last year in Lethbridge, the program was able to help give 133 families a portrait to take home and enjoy.
Help Portrait Lethbridge will take place Saturday, Dec. 7, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Fleetwood Bawden Elementary School, 1222 9 Ave. South. For more information on the event, visit help-portrait.com.
Skaters prepare for World Cup
Lethbridge will be representing Canada on the world stage as six local teen skaters will compete for Canada at the Junior Roller Derby Association (JRDA) World Cup in 2020. Along with the players, two Lethbridge Roller Derby Guild coaches will be supporting the skaters on the bench.
The first JRDA World Cup took place in 2015 with only three nations participating. In 2018, the event featured teams from Canada, Australia, Great Britain, Europe and United States, where Canada took home bronze. The 2020 event will see even more countries and hopefully a higher place for Canada.
“To have six skaters from our league on national rosters is an amazing accomplishment,” says Caroline Reimer, head coach of Lethbridge Roller Derby Guild and coach for Team Canada open division. “The kids have worked so hard leading to this moment and we couldn’t be prouder.”
Jennifer Davis joins Reimer as a coach with the Canadian Open Division team and says the process of selecting the team from candidates all across the country was an adventure, but the team they have put together is good and she is proud of all of the members, locally and nationally.
Campaign to lift seniors spirits
Two campaigns are joining forces for the fifth year to help bring Christmas cheer to senior homes in Lethbridge through gifts for seniors feeling lonely over the holidays. AgeCare Columbia and London Drugs Lethbridge have teamed up for the Christmas to Remember and Stocking Stuffers for Seniors initiatives to bring cheer to socially isolated seniors. With support from local organizations, schools, churches and volunteers, the joint donation drive aims to surpass the 500 gift donations delivered last year.
“It is really important because a lot of seniors don’t have family, don’t have friends in and around Lethbridge and it is important that they are thought about around Christmas time, to let them know that people really do love and admire them,” says Matejah Kovacs, administrator, AgeCare Columbia. “With the Christmas to Remember, it is a way to bring some joy to the seniors and it’s about giving and not about receiving, and we give to these people that really need it and really deserve it.”
According to Statistics Canada, as many as 1.4 million elderly Canadians report feeling lonely, and when seniors are lonely or isolated, it can significantly compromise their mental and physical health. The holidays are a time when families and friends connect with each other, and for seniors living alone, this time of year can be especially difficult for them. Kovacs says the gifts go a long way in lifting the spirits of the seniors and they are thankful for the warm-hearted individuals who go out of their way to make a difference in their lives.
Library pleased with funding
Alberta’s new budget contained good news for the province’s community libraries.
While it called for cuts to a variety of public services, the budget maintained last year’s $37 million in support of libraries and related services.
“We’re very pleased that they recognized the importance of public libraries,” says Terra Plato, chief executive officer of the Lethbridge Public Library.
“We’ll receive the same dollar amount,” about $500,000. The balance of the local library system’s budget is covered by the City of Lethbridge.
Lethbridge and Chinook Arch library operations also benefit from government-provided services included in that $37 million, Plato pointed out.
“This funding will allow libraries to continue delivering important library services to Albertans, including job-seeking assistance, language-learning, and support for people with print disabilities,” Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu said, in announcing his budget allocation.
“Our libraries are vital community and learning hubs that support local programs while bringing families and neighbours together. Libraries are essential to our strong quality of life in Alberta and I am proud to support them.”
Alberta has more than 320 local libraries, officials say, with at least 1.4 million Albertans holding a library card. More than 21 million physical and virtual visits are recorded by Alberta libraries every year.
CPOs hit the streets
Lethbridge’s first nine Community Peace Officers have officially gone solo and are now deployed on the street after completing their 16 weeks of field training paired with Lethbridge Police Service officers.
“We have nine good people who are going to make a huge difference in the community,” said Sgt. Mike Williamson, commander of the LPS Downtown Policing Unit. “Ultimately, they all want to become police officers at some point. They are very well trained, very knowledgeable and very good with the community. I am very excited to have them out here.”
CPO Raelene Austin undertook her first solo downtown patrol duties on Thursday. She said she was excited to get started in her work to help out the community.
“Community engagement is a huge part of a police department,” she said. “So getting to know the businesses, getting to know the concerns of the businesses, and having authorities to be able to deal with that — shoplifting, theft under, mischief, property crimes — those are some of the biggest calls you get in the downtown area. I have full authority to deal that with those so my position is extremely important in order investigate and prevent those from happening further.”
Funding for bridge path
Well, Lethbridge got something out of the recent provincial budget after all, but its not a new bridge on Highway 3 or a supportive housing facility to help those going through drug recovery or a new school on the over-crowded westside: it’s funding for an upgraded pedestrian-bike path across the Scenic Drive bridge over Highway 3.
The office of Minister of Transportation Brooklyn Elhard confirmed funding for the crossing upgrade is in this year’s provincial budget.
Mayor Chris Spearman was grateful to receive the funding, and hoped even more funding announcements for Lethbridge from the province would be forthcoming over the next few months.
“There are a number of things that were in process when we had the provincial election, and then a (provincial) budget had been passed,” explained Spearman. “Now the details of that are just being released; so we are hoping funding might come forward that had previously been announced, and there will be confirmations of additional funding coming to the City of Lethbridge.”
Biophysical Society started
Biophysics is the science that looks at the physical properties of biological molecules and how they interact.
As Tyler Mrozowich explains, it’s become an important element of health sciences research — involved in everything from drug delivery and vaccine development to personalized medicine.
Excited about its potential, students at the University of Lethbridge have linked with their counterparts at the University of Montana in Missoula to form an international Biophysical Society. It’s also the first at a university in Western Canada.
The cross-border partnership is facilitated by one of the chapter sponsors, U of L professor Borries Demeler, who is cross-appointed at the University of Montana.
“We wanted to create a partnership between these two universities and a way for biophysics students to communicate with each other,” says Mrozowich.
It could help them talk about their research, the techniques they have available at each university, and how each technique could help the students in their research.
Blackfoot classes popular
The Galt Museum & Archives has seen a positive response to the Blackfoot language classes offered during the past year and they has started a new set of classes.
The Galt has partnered with Blackfoot language expert Julius Delaney to provide the classes to the community. Delaney also created a language curriculum with the Kainai Board of Education and the Galt says his expertise is valuable to the people taking the language classes.
“One of the invaluable parts of hosting Blackfoot language classes as a museum is the learning of culture, history, respect and appreciation as part of learning a language,” says Susan Burrows-Johnson, executive director and CEO at the Galt.
During the past sessions, the Galt has seen dozens of participants attending and learning the different conversational phrases in Blackfoot. Galt representatives say the classes not only teach the participants the language, but also about the culture, as it is a major part in understanding the language.
The classes will be held every Thursday evening from Nov. 14 to Jan. 23, except for Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Attendees do not have to register for the sessions and the cost to attend the classes is included in admission to the museum, with annual pass holders being able to participate for free.
The University of Lethbridge is looking for people interested in becoming a TEDx presenter, as the post-secondary institution is set to present its first TEDx event on Jan. 25. In a news release last week, U of L officials said they are looking for candidates to apply to be a speaker or performer addressing the theme of “I Am Still Learning.” The U of L is inviting anyone to submit a talk idea consistent with this theme.
“This is our first opportunity to present a TEDx event and we’re thrilled to begin planning for what promises to be an amazing day,” said Kathleen Massey, the university’s associate vice-president (students), in the release. “We will be looking to present a diverse group of speakers who can really stretch the envelope on our theme and spark some great conversations. The U of L has long been a driver of ideas and lifelong learning in southern Alberta and TEDx is another way to engage discussion in our community.”
Those interested in applying to present at TEDxUleth must submit an application form by today. Shortlisted candidates will be notified by Nov. 25 that they are invited for auditions.
Toy library planned
A new toy library will soon open to serve westside families. Its collection will include toys made by companies committed to best manufacturing practices
And the additional feature at the Crossings Branch library has received a kick-start grant from FortisAlberta.
“We are so thankful to FortisAlberta and their generous financial support aiding in the purchase of sustainably made toys for the new toy library,” says Sarah Head, the manager of branch services for the Lethbridge Public Library.
“As west Lethbridge continues to grow, we are thrilled to be able to offer more options to the children and families of Lethbridge that use the Crossings Branch.”
The $1,400 grant is one of many the electrical distribution company is making to Alberta businesses, schools and libraries that are working to reduce energy consumption and minimize the province’s carbon footprint.
“This grant for sustainable toys will ensure many children enjoy new and exciting toys while avoiding the plastic waste that comes with new toy packaging and delivery,” says Kari Hyde, the company’s supervisor of customer experience and energy efficiency.
Library technician Emily Lumley says the plan is to select toys made using environmentally responsible materials, such as softwood and recycled plastic.