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ALBERTA Government honours 16 “Great Kids” for inspiring and changing the lives of others


From Government of Alberta

The Alberta government has awarded 16 young people the 2019 Great Kids Award for inspiring and changing the lives of others.

Click to see a photo gallery.

2019 Great Kids Award reception

The 2019 Great Kids Award recipients.

The province gives out the Great Kids Award annually to recognize and celebrate kids who accomplish great things while overcoming challenges in their life.

“I am honoured to award these inspiring young people with the 2019 Great Kids Award. Their accomplishments and positivity in the face of adversity will only serve to bring people together, build stronger communities and improve the lives of everyone around them.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services

The 2019 recipients have achieved great things, including 10-year-old Mylon McArthur from the Pheasant Rump First Nation, who took a stand against bullying and spoke out about how he was being treated by kids at his school. In a YouTube video that has been viewed over one million times, his message of understanding and anti-bullying was spread around the world.

“IBM is proud to support the Great Kids Award, which celebrates outstanding children who achieve great things. We look forward to participating in this event every year, celebrating with the winners and their loved ones, and are honoured to help recognize the 2019 Great Kids Award recipients.”

Brad Butterfield, IBM

Here are this year’s recipients:

Blaire Decker, age 8 – Fort McMurray

Blaire is a courageous and compassionate young lady achieving great things in life while facing the daily obstacles that come with being diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – a genetic connective tissue disorder. Even though she is often away from school at medical appointments in Edmonton and has to cope with integrating a wheelchair into her daily routine, she continues to be one of the top academic students in her class and a beacon of hope to others. Not only does Blaire face daily medical challenges, she and her family also suffered the trauma of losing their home to the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires. Despite everything, Blaire’s optimism, wisdom and maturity provide support and strength to others in her school. Simply put, Blaire is a friend and helpful to everyone, living life with grace and beauty.

Colby Hanson, Age 8 – St. Albert

At just 8 years of age, Colby is already described by those around him as determined, joyful, inspiring, and selfless. Throughout his life, Colby has already endured many hardships due to the multiple surgeries he has experienced from hip dysplasia. He has remained strong and encourages others through his hard work and positive attitude. Instead of focusing on what limits him, Colby goes beyond and dedicates his time and efforts to helping others at home, at school, and outside of school. At age 5, Colby took it upon himself to support the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation by gathering donations. In the past three years, he has raised over $2,000 and is determined to raise another $1,000 this year alone! Those who know Colby admire his resilience, virtue, and enjoyment of life. He truly inspires others to accept themselves and find joy in each moment.

Adian Al-Shammari, age 12 – Calgary

Adian’s journey to where she is today covers many kilometres, experiences and challenges. Originally from Iraq, Adian’s family spent time in Turkey before being granted permission to come to Canada. Since then, Adian has enthusiastically immersed herself into her new school and community. She is always challenging herself and is always open to helping others. Adian put great effort into learning English so she could communicate with her peers and staff at school. By the end of her first year, she was translating for other students and some newer families who had yet to learn English. She made an even bigger impact by starting a kindness club in her school. Through this club, Adian and her classmates wrote notes and left them on other students’ desks as random acts of kindness. Adian’s hard work and thoughtfulness have earned her the distinction of Great Kid.

So-So Chen, age 12 – Calgary

Some of the greatest leaders emerge out of a natural desire to make a difference in the world. They do this by advocating for change and in doing so become an inspiration to others. So-So is one of those leaders. As a Grade 5 student, through their journey of self-discovery, So-So created a thriving safe space by founding the first Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Club for students at Captain Nichola Goddard School. So So’s courageous activism continued when they took the GSA Club to the Werklund School of Education’s Youth Leadership Forum at the University of Calgary. This evolved into a partnership with the graduate students’ GSA at the University of Calgary. Through this partnership, they are planning a GSA Youth Conference that is projected to be one of the biggest in southern Alberta. So-So is a passionate, humble, wise and humorous advocate who is truly making a difference.

Mylon McArthur, Age 10 – Cold Lake

If you Google “Mylon McArthur”, you’ll get pages of results, including a YouTube video that has been viewed over 1 million times. At age 8, young Mylon, from Pheasant Rump First Nation, decided to take a stand against bullying and speak out about how he was being treated by kids at his school. In his healing journey, Mylon began to teach the meaning of First Nations culture and hair to others in his school. He learned to use his voice to talk with youth and adults about social injustices towards First Nations and First American people. His message of understanding and anti-bullying was spread on various networks, including American media outlets. Mylon went from being a kid who didn’t want to go to school to an active advocate with a strong message of embracing your culture and understanding its importance. Mylon’s story is used around the world to inspire kids in many communities. Today, he exemplifies courage, resilience, leadership, and determination as he continues to speak out and take action against bullying.

Maja Petrovic, Age 11 – Edmonton

Maja is an exceptional human being with a pretty simple goal: “brighten someone’s day”. As a member of her school’s leadership team, Maja is always willing to lend a hand and volunteer for worthy causes. She has helped organize and promote various kindness initiatives and activities in her school, including a cancer graffiti wall and prayers for cancer. Maja’s enthusiasm and zest for every project is contagious. Outside of school, Maja’s family has dealt with serious family illness. Through it all, she has become a source of strength and empowerment for her sister, exhibiting love and kindness at every opportunity. This strength has been an inspiration to the grown-ups in her life who are supporting their own aging parents through illness. Maja is the epitome of girl power, representing strength, kindness, perseverance and optimism – true super hero qualities.

Ava Roe, Age 12 – Paddle Prairie

Ava is described as resilient, compassionate, a leader, and an old soul. Ava is constantly challenging herself to learn new things. She spends time with community Elders and family, gaining knowledge and practicing new skills like baking, cooking, sewing, hunting and trapping. Her passion for taking on new challenges extends from her home life into her school life. Ava was elected class president and takes that role very seriously. She meets the expectations of that role with an upbeat positive attitude. Ava initiated a snack program for her school, planning bake sales to raise money to fill the snack cupboard for other students. The small and remote Métis community that Ava calls home is not without challenges. Despite that, she continues to excel and inspire others with her work ethic and enthusiasm.

Charles Ancheta, age 14 – Fort McMurray

Charles is a positive young man who brings happiness to everyone around him. But Charles’ life is not without struggles. Having immigrated to Canada from the Philippines with his family, he has experienced challenges adjusting to life in Canada. His family works very hard to make ends meet and provide opportunities. Charles uses public transportation every day to get to school where he leaves a positive mark on everyone he interacts with. Last year, after his mother gave birth to another baby boy, they both experienced serious health issues and were admitted to the hospital. Charles took a leave from school to be there for his family in Edmonton while his brother was in the hospital. Charles missed weeks of school but managed to maintain his marks, returning after a few weeks with a smile on his face. He shines a bright light on everyone he meets and that makes him pretty great.

Kyara Garnett, age 14 – Grimshaw

Resilience is defined as having “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”. There could not be a better way to describe Kyara. Even though life has not been easy for her, she has become a responsible, trustworthy and dependable “natural” leader at her school. She is frequently called upon to help around the school and is always willing and eager to assist, as evidenced in her active involvement in running the school’s theatre sound system and helping with morning announcements. Even though she has experienced trauma and persistent family struggles, Kyara is that wonderful friend who is empathetic, actively listens, gives advice, and always sees the positive. As a result, she is admired by her peers as someone who treats people with dignity and respect and will stand up for what is right. Simply put, Kyara has not let her difficult life circumstances change who she was destined to be – a great kid.

Drayden Laviolette, Age 13 – Lac La Biche

Two years ago, Drayden tragically lost his mother. Losing a parent is devastating, but Drayden demonstrated remarkable resilience. Drayden took up a leadership role at home, at school, and in his community. He holds himself tall every day and serves as a positive role model for his younger brother and other students at his school. As a full time ski leader at his school and gifted fiddle player, Drayden is always eager to help and bring joy to others. He values every opportunity and lesson to learn, whether from a teacher, friend, improvising assigned work, or through personal reflection. Drayden is making a difference in the world because he starts with himself, impacts his family, and goes on to share his gifts with everyone around him. The strand that Drayden weaves into the Kikino Metis Settlement sash will live long and strengthen the community as he grows older.

Danie Poole, Age 14 – Brooks

Danie is a shining example of perseverance, courage, and kindness. Danie has spent a number of years making the transition from female to male. He is open and honest about his journey, educating his classmates and bringing them alongside him in this transition. Danie has connected himself to organizations that have helped him learn more about what he is undergoing and how to deal with his emotions, as well as the emotions of others. He has overcome shyness and works tirelessly to experience success in his education. Danie is a tenacious young man whose work ethic is serving him well personally and educationally. He is truly a Great Kid.

Natalie Toltesi, Age 15 – Calgary

Natalie is a natural leader and she flexes her leadership muscles in a way that makes her unique. She volunteers at school and after school, and in doing so, Natalie’s passion for people shines through. She has led initiatives for students to get support or stay active, regardless of their physical challenges or struggles with success. Through her own struggles with mental wellness, Natalie has been able to relate to others, working with classmates to recognize and overcome their struggles together. She also earned the “Most Outstanding Volunteer” award from a local program where she spends time doing activities with seniors. Natalie keeps herself very busy, managing her own challenges and helping others with theirs. Her genuine interest in other people, their stories, and gifts is at the core of Natalie’s greatness.

Deyana Altahsh, age 19 – Calgary

In October 2017, at the age of 15, Deyana led her mother and two younger sisters to Canada. While she waited to flee her warn-torn country of Syria, and in preparation for her family’s new life, she began to teach herself English through movies and songs.  Arriving first in Trochu and finally settling in Calgary, Deyana has made herself a vital member of her school community. She is an active member of several clubs and activities at her school including the Italian Club, Rotary Club, Mental Health Project, Social Justice Club, and choir. She is also a peer member for newcomers and provides academic tutoring for others. Even with all of this, Deyana made her own education a priority. She is an honour roll student and dreams of going to Oxford or Harvard. She consistently displays enthusiasm for every learning opportunity that comes her way. She is described as “an amazing asset to our province and country” and “an awesome example for her fellow classmates, family members and friends”. That is why Deyana was selected to be a Great Kid.

Korcin Brown, age 17 – Edmonton

In 2014, Korcin was involved in a motor vehicle collision, losing his father and suffering life-threatening injuries that left him paralyzed. Korcin was confined to a hospital bed after the incident and was believed to be bedridden indefinitely. But Korcin defied the odds. He slowly improved to the point where he no longer needs help eating or with other daily tasks. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Korcin’s outgoing personality, delightful sense of humour and dedication to improvement overshadow any doubt about his abilities. Korcin is not only dedicated to his personal development, but also to his community. As a member of the Louis Bull First Nation, Korcin often attends ceremonies and events, including sweat lodges and pow wows. He enjoys participating in these events, especially as a member of one of the drumming groups. Korcin continues to beat the odds and is an inspiration to those around him.

Luis Fonseca, age 18 – Brooks

Exceptional athlete, valiant leader and family provider are just some of the words used to describe Luis. At 12 years of age, Luis and his father came to Canada from Colombia to reunite with his mother in pursuit of a better life. If being a newcomer and not knowing English wasn’t daunting enough, Luis found himself thrust into an adult role when his father moved back to Colombia. His determination and persistence to succeed never wavered. By age 15, he had learned English, was excelling academically and athletically while providing ongoing translation support for his mother, and working 35-40 hours per week to support his family. The responsibilities Luis has undertaken since coming to Canada have been nothing short of extraordinary. Luis graduated high school this year and will be attending Lethbridge College in a Criminal Justice program. His goal is to become a police officer in hopes of giving back to Canada.

Caleb Lea, Age 17 – Brooks

At the young age of 17, Caleb has demonstrated remarkable resilience and strength of character in the face of life’s challenges. When his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Caleb was already struggling in school and his teachers were concerned about him. Caleb surprised them all when he decided to turn things around and “make his father proud.” Caleb now advocates and encourages his peers in uplifting and non-judgmental ways. His tenacity lifted him out of a dark period in his life and he uses his experiences to motivate himself and those around him. Caleb can often be found mentoring other students with attendance issues and will call or pick them up to make sure they get to school. His quiet strength and grace allow him to connect with others and his determination is helping him to excel in his schoolwork as he seeks greater heights.

The Alberta government’s partnership with organizations, including IBM and Fantasyland Hotel, helps recognize and celebrate Alberta’s young people for doing great things in their communities.

Since its inception, the Great Kids Award has been presented to 304 children aged five to 18. Winners are chosen by an awards selection committee of community representatives and event partners.


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Open letter to Canadians opposing Canadian pipelines and oilsands



Demian Newman is President of  Newman Sales and Marketing Inc. based in Calgary. 

Dear fellow Canadians,

I’m writing this as an open letter to every Canadian who has protested the Canadian oil and gas industry. I’m writing this to ask – what if you win? What if you succeed and completely shut down Canada’s oil and gas industry? What happens next?

Obviously, if you’ve ever marched, protested or argued against Canadian pipelines or Oilsands, you must believe that you are financially insulated from the hundreds of billions this industry puts into the Canadian economy. Or you are OK with the crushing blow to the Canadian economy, because your heartfelt belief is that the Canadian oil and gas industry is so environmentally bad for the planet.

These are the people I desperately want to have a conversation with.

I write this letter, not as a Calgarian, Albertan, or even as a Canadian. But I write this as a human being. A human being with two young children, and one who doesn’t go a day without being concerned about how we’re leaving this planet.

So, let’s say that all the anti-Canadian pipeline and oilsands campaigns finally crippled this industry, to a point it can’t rebound. Which feels like a real possibility these days. But what is not just a possibility, but a reality, is that Canadians without their own oil and gas industry would still consume the same amount of energy.

And as Canadians continue to consume 1.5 million barrels of oil per day, the amount we need to import from foreign countries would rise from the current 56%, to 100%. And as completely confused as I already am that we currently import 850,000+ barrels of oil per day, while having the 4th largest reserves in the world. I have absolutely no idea how anyone can think importing an additional 650,000 barrels a day is better for Canada or the environment?

Let’s start with where it’s coming from, with Canada importing 61% from the US, 12% from Saudi Arabia, 6% from Azerbaijan, 5% from Norway, and 4% from Nigeria. I’m going to skip past each of these countries environmental, safety, employee and human rights track records, as there’s no point defacing them when Canada’s oil and gas industry is the world leader in all of these. And I’ll expand on this later, but I thought for arguments sake, we can pretend all these countries have the same standards as Canada.

How could it possibly be more environmentally positive to drill oil in the Middle East, pipeline it to their ports, tanker it 10,000+kms across the ocean, and then deliver it to Canada? Remembering that we have it right here.

So, you’ve won, and there’s no more of what you believe is “dirty oil”. And now we’re importing an additional 650,000 barrels a day into Canada. Let’s not forget, that the 5% of the world’s oil production which Canada currently produces daily, would need to be replaced, or prices would inflate and everyone across the globe would have to pay more at the pumps. And more for the 1,000’s of items manufactured from oil.

But don’t worry about the extra cost, as no other country has an anti oil industry campaign against them, that has stopped or slowed them down like Canada has. And with technology getting better every day, Canada’s 5% worldwide production amounts will be easily replaced.

And let’s go full circle to the Canadian’s protesting new Canadian pipeline projects. If we eliminate our own industry, and we’re importing 650,000 extra barrels of oil daily, we’ll have no other choice but to build new pipelines and facilities to bring this additional oil from the US pipelines and foreign tankers.

So, wouldn’t that be an ironic punch in the face. Where Canadians protesting Canadian owned and operated pipelines, end up shutting down all the investment it takes to move Canadian resources through Canadian pipelines. Just so we are forced to build pipelines and facilities to move more foreign oil into Canada.

And I mentioned that we’d pretend all countries have the same environmental requirements and standards when exploring and developing their natural resources. But it isn’t even close.

You can Google articles with examples of Canada’s environmental standards in this industry, versus any other country. But instead, do yourself a favour and ask someone who’s worked in Canada’s oilpatch, and around the world. Every one of them has countless stories of horrendous environmental issues abroad, which haven’t been allowed in Canada in 30+years (or ever).

So, let’s look at what Canada’s environmental standards are for this industry. And by that, I mean you should go look it up. Don’t take my word for it, but find some reputable publications and factual documents, and not someone’s rambling blog.

Look it up, and please let me know if I’m wrong. Because as much as I needed to write this letter, to get a few things off my chest. I also wrote it, as I believe everyone needs to do better at having a conversation about climate change, the environment, and our responsibility to all do better.

So, I welcome the opposing opinion, as I don’t know why this topic has become a name calling divisive shouting match, where no one will listen to the other side.

But while I have you here, I did want to throw out a couple specific projects, and how protesting them doesn’t make any environmental sense to me. One is Energy East, and the other is BC LNG. The first one is dead, but my fingers are crossed that it can be revived. The second is still approved, for now.

If you look at a map of Canadian pipelines, there is no major pipeline going from Alberta to the east coast of Canada. This means that almost every drop of gas in every vehicle east of Winnipeg is from refined foreign oil. The amount of oil that would’ve travelled on the Energy East pipeline is almost the same amount of oil that we import from Saudi Arabia every day (roughly 100,000 barrels a day).

But what if we didn’t protest Energy East, and instead told the Premier of Quebec that he cannot block a national pipeline. Eastern Canadians would’ve paid (at a minimum) $10-$15 less per barrel than they are currently paying for Canadian oil versus foreign oil. But there was also the billions (not millions, but billions) in revenue that each province would receive from this pipeline running oil through their province.

And I know we’re focusing on the environment, and not the financial benefits of Canada’s oil and gas industry. But, the trick with clean energy and technology, is that it takes money to develop and get to market. So I could be wrong, but I’m almost certain that not one oil company would’ve been upset if Quebec hadn’t killed this pipeline, but instead, took their multi billions a year in revenue from it, and invested all of it into new clean energy technology.

Another thing I encourage you to Google, is the amount of new clean energy technology that has been developed by, and for, Canada’s oil and gas industry.

So, Energy East would’ve taken the amount of Canadian oil, which they are already buying from foreign countries, while generating a ton of money for Canada/Canadians. And then that money could’ve been invested into renewable green energy development. But, Climate Change is a world wide problem, not just a Canadian one. So, as crazy as this might sound, I do believe that BC building facilities to ship Canadian liquid natural gas (LNG) to the world, could have an incredibly positive carbon emissions net benefit.

Currently, China alone has over 700 super coal plants. Just one of them emitting almost as much CO2 as the entire Canadian Oilsands (this is easy to look up). So, what if we could help China get their energy from Natural Gas instead of Coal, as it’s WAY better for the environment. (Side note – also look up Natural Gas and its carbon footprint, as I find very few people realize that it has been unfairly lumped in as a dirty fossil fuel).

And very quickly, I would like to address how we got here in the first place. Why is the perception of Canada’s oil and gas industry so bad across the rest of Canada?

The industry really must start by looking inward, as it has done a very poor job of promoting itself and the strides it’s made over the years. And it can still improve. As can all of us individually.

Because who outside of the industry knows that the Oilsands greenhouse gas emissions have dropped 29% since 2000. Or that a barrel of oil sent from the Oilsands to a refinery on the US Golf Coast has a smaller carbon foot print than a barrel of oil traveling from an oil well in California (it’s small difference, but it’s still better).

And to understand why it’s tough for this industry to promote itself – it is Canadian after all, which explains a lot about its uncomfortable feelings towards self-promotion. And I’ve met a ton of extremely intelligent and thoughtful engineers, geologists, accountants, and tradespeople in this industry, but I’ve never met a Public Relations person – and if there is one, they are very underfunded.

Who is not underfunded, are the groups who make an extraordinary amount of money from Canada not being able to get its natural resources to other customers (the US is our biggest customer at 99%, which is a percentage no business can survive with). And you can’t blame these people for making money off Canada’s inability to build pipelines. But, how they’ve done it, by spending hundreds of millions on PR campaigns to smear Canada’s industry, and pitting us against each other, is beyond is infuriating.

If you only look up one item, please do some research on how openly organizations have been about making donations in the name of the environment, which only target one country’s oil industry. This has made a lot of headlines lately, but I’ve read national Canadian media articles investigating this as far back as 2010.

In conclusion, I would like to point out that I tried my best to use as few statistics as possible, as I’ve seen arguments get derailed with debates on stats. As if the $80 million that Canada losses every day due to no pipeline capacity, is any different if its $40 million or $100 million. It’s a lot of millions, that have turned into billions. And it’s costing hundreds of thousands of good hardworking Canadians financial hardship.

And if it saves the environment, and the planet, then there certainly is an argument for it. But if it’s not helping at all, and potentially harming the planet. Then everyone needs to get educated on all the facts and start to talk to each other about a real solution. And get our industries, politicians, and every Canadian on board with a solution that works.

And please, please, please, don’t take your information from this subject off some rogue website, that’s for or against my stance. Take the time to get your facts from vetted and fact checked publications.

No one should get their facts from a nameless person shouting on the internet. So, my name is Demian Newman, and the two kids I’m leaving this planet to are Olivia and Liam. And both of them need to grow up in a country which is thriving as a world leader, both economically and environmentally – as anything less would be un-Canadian.


Demian Newman

p.s. If you don’t have time to look up information on everything I’ve mentioned above. Here are a few links:

This first one is on personal energy use and personal accountability. Fun fact: If each of us does a better job to minimize our individual carbon footprint, the industries selling it won’t need to produce as much. Scary fact: literally every economist has said we will use more energy each and every year. This article does a good job expanding on that.,linkedin

Newman Sales and Marketing Inc is a full service sales and marketing firm representing independently owned and operated oilfield service companies. 

Originally published January 2019

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Police looking for suspects after Central Alberta armed robbery



From Olds RCMP

Olds RCMP Investigate Armed Robbery in Torrington

On October 16th, 2019 at approximately 9:30 PM, Olds RCMP responded to an armed robbery at the Torrington Hotel.
Two subjects, a male and a female, pulled up to the hotel in an older white pickup truck described as possibly a Ford F150.  The male suspect entered the hotel bar and pointed a long barrel firearm at the staff member and ordered him not to move.  There were no other people in the bar at the time.  The female then entered the hotel and both suspects went behind the counter and stole the till containing cash.  They then exited the bar and fled westbound in the truck on Highway 27.  There were no injuries as a result of this incident.

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The male suspect s described as being 5’5″ to 5’6″ tall, lager build and wearing a red balaclava, black sweater, black pants, brown boots and a dark hat with white emblem.  The female suspect is described as being approximately 5’0″ tall, thin build, and wearing a striped back pack, dark pants, knee high dark boots, dark grey jacket, white belaclava and a black ball cap with white symbol.
Police are continuing their investigation and are requesting anyone with information regarding this matter to contact the Olds RCMP at 403-556-3323 or should you wish to remain anonymous, you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or by Internet at
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october, 2019

tue15oct(oct 15)8:22 pmmon28(oct 28)8:22 pmQuest for Gratitude 5 Day Challenge8:22 pm - 8:22 pm (28)

fri25oct6:00 pm9:00 pmRed Deer River Naturalists Banquet/Speaker Night6:00 pm - 9:00 pm MST Event Organized By: Red Deer River Naturalists

sat26oct10:00 am12:00 pmRed Deer River Naturalists Bird Focus Group Walk10:00 am - 12:00 pm MST Maskepetoon Park Event Organized By: Red Deer River Naturalists

tue29oct(oct 29)1:00 amsun03nov(nov 3)1:00 amCanadian Finals Rodeo1:00 am - (november 3) 1:00 am Westerner Park, 4847A-19 Street