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Alberta

Alberta Blue Cross continues to support community organizations through COVID grant program

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Based on the continued need for support, Alberta Blue Cross has extended its popular COVID Community Roots Program into 2021.

Alberta Blue Cross received 156 applications for the program in 2020 and awarded a total of $195,000 to 45 projects in 38 different communities across Alberta. The program is now being extended to the end of June. 

More than $45,600 of this was received by 11 organizations in central Alberta, including the Boys and Girls Club of Leduc, Shine Lloydminster, Samson Youth and Sport Development, Park Valley Pool, Leduc County, Devon and two projects in Edson. Some of the funded projects include the following:

  • Louis Bull Tribe—to rebuild a community rodeo project and bring together local people to create entertainment for tribe citizens.
  • Hinton Friendship Centre—to provide outdoor equipment and additional materials for a program that helps at-risk and vulnerable youth, allowing it to continue to run throughout the pandemic.
  • Thorsby Family and Community Support Services—to support in purchasing four laptops to help make virtual workshops more accessible for families.

See a complete list of funded projects at ab.bluecross.ca/aboutus/community-roots-funded-projects.php.

To support services in rural and remote communities, the COVID Community Roots Program offers grants of up to $5,000 for grassroots, community-led initiatives serving vulnerable populations during the pandemic. “These projects are helping to support the social, mental, emotional and physical well-being of people and communities across Alberta through the pandemic,” says Brian Geislinger, vice-president of Corporate Relations, Alberta Blue Cross. “We’re so glad to be able to support these initiatives.”

As part of its $500,000 commitment to supporting communities through the impact of the pandemic and low energy prices on the provincial economy, Alberta Blue Cross created the COVID Community Roots Program in mid-2020. The program is funded through its community foundation and is administered in partnerships with the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association and Communities Choosewell, who help promote the program and review applications.

The application process for the 2021 COVID Community Roots Program open March 1. Organizations eligible to apply include non-profits, charities, municipalities, First Nations communities and Metis Settlements. Unregistered organizations may apply with a partner organization. Interested organizations can find more information and apply online at ab.bluecross.ca/aboutus/community-roots.

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Alberta

Alberta’s Walker into Hearts semifinal with 9-8 win over Manitoba’s Jones

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CALGARY — Alberta’s Laura Walker advanced to the semifinal of the Canadian women’s curling championship with a 9-8 win over Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones in Sunday’s tiebreaker game.

Walker faces defending champion Kerri Einarson in an afternoon semifinal with the winner taking on Ontario’s Rachel Homan for the championship at night.

Jones missed an attempted double takeout in the 10th end, which left Walker an open draw to score three for the win in the tiebreaker.

Manitoba and Alberta were tied for third at 9-3 after the championship round, which required a tiebreaker game to solve.

Jones, a six-time champion at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, was chasing a record seventh title.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Let ‘er buck: Study suggests horses learn from rodeo experience, grow calmer

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CALGARY — Rodeo fans love the thrill of a bronc exploding into the ring, cowboy temporarily aboard. How the horse feels about it hasn’t been so clear.

Newly published research out of the University of Calgary looks at three years of roughstock events from that city’s Stampede in an attempt to peer inside the mind of an animal about to let ‘er buck.

“I try to understand the animal’s perspective,” said Ed Pajor, a professor of veterinary medicine. “We asked the question whether or not horses find participating in the rodeo to be an adversive experience or not.”

Pajor and his co-authors — Christy Goldhawk from the University of Calgary and well-known animal behaviourist Temple Grandin — studied 116 horses in bareback, novice bareback, saddle bronc and novice saddle bronc events. They looked at animals about to be loaded into a trailer and taken to the ring. They also observed how the horses behaved while in the chute waiting to be unleashed.

Horses have all kinds of ways of showing they’re unhappy, Pajor said. They might move back and forth, chew their lips, swish their tail, defecate, roll their eyes, paw the ground, toss their head, or rear up in protest.

The researchers found that the more people were around them, the more likely the horses were to show unease. That’s probably because they spend most of their time in fields and pastures and aren’t used to the bustle, Pajor said.

The other factor that affected behaviour was experience. If it wasn’t their first rodeo, the horses were much less likely to act up.

“We didn’t see a lot of attempts to escape. We didn’t see a lot of fear-related behaviours at all,” Pajor said. “The animals were pretty calm.

“The animals that had little experience were much more reactive than the animals that had lots of experience.”

There could be different reasons for that, he suggested.

“We don’t know if that’s because they’re used to the situation or whether that’s because of learned helplessness — they realize there’s nothing they can do and just give up.”

Pajor suspects the former.

“When the cowboys came near the horses, they would certainly react and you wouldn’t really see that if it was learned helplessness.”

The researchers also noted that the horses’ bucking performance, as revealed in the score from the rodeo judges, didn’t seem to be reduced by repeated appearances as it might be if the animals had become apathetic.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the horses are having a good time, said Pajor, who’s also on the Stampede’s animal welfare advisory board. There are a couple of ways of interpreting active behaviour in the chute, he said.

“An animal might be getting excited to perform. Or an animal might be having a fear response.”

“Understanding if animals like to do something is a tricky thing to do.”

Pajor knows there are different camps when it comes to rodeos and animals.

“People have very strong opinions on the use of animals for all kinds of reasons. I think no matter what we’re going to use animals for, we really need to make sure that we treat them humanely.

“My job is to do the research to understand the animals’ perspective.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow @row1960 on Twitter

The Canadian Press

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february, 2021

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