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Alberta

Volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area (BBBS) is a local branch and accredited member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada Federation, established in 1994 to provide the youngest members of our city with access to life changing mentorship relationships.  

Children and youth may experience childhood adversity through a number of individual or compounding societal barriers, such as family violence, mental health struggles, poverty, substance abuse or identity challenges. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area caters to these young Calgarians by connecting them with volunteer mentors who can form “strong one-to-one relationships with their mentees that express care, challenge growth, provide support, share power, and expand possibilities.”

A foundational element of the organization is reflected in the creation of intentional matches, meaning mentors are not simply assigned on a first-come-first-serve basis. BBBS takes a number of variables into account when assigning a mentor to a waiting child, including shared experience, likes and dislikes, proximity, and more. Working hard to ensure compatibility prior to assigning matches is a great way to increase the likelihood of a successful, beneficial relationship between mentor and mentee.

“We really want to see these matches succeed,” says Jennifer Booth, Manager of Communications and Stakeholder Relations at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, “if we weren’t as intentional and selective as we are, we wouldn’t see the success in these relationships that we do.”
The minimum time commitment when signing on to be a mentor with the organization is one year. According to Booth, many of the matches that originate in the BBBS program carry on well past the one-year mark as organic, mutually beneficial relationships beyond the parameters of the organization.

In the Community Mentorship program, relationships are built through shared activities and time spent together. “Bigs” can take their “Littles” to the zoo or the park, they can do a hike together, cook or bake, shoot hoops at the court, or even just sit down together to relax and talk. Over the course of a year, the relationship develops a level of trust and confidence that the child or youth mentee can benefit from significantly
“For children who have one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs),” says Booth, “working with a caring mentor can really enhance their social and emotional competencies.” Emotional competencies include things like social awareness, self-awareness, responsible decision-making and relationship skills. These are developmental benchmarks that may have been negatively impacted by different ACEs in the child’s life, and stand to benefit from an intentional, healthy relationship with a mentor at BBBS.  

In addition to their standard community and school mentorship programs, BBBS introduced the PRISM program in 2018. Standing for Pride, Respect, Identity, Safety, Mentoring, PRISM connects mentors with young individuals from the LGBTQ2S+ community. These relationships are built on a shared understanding of the unique adversities faced by members of the same community, and strive to support young people in the celebration of their own, unique identities. 

Currently, there are between 250 and 300 children and youth at Big Brother Big Sisters of Calgary and Area, who may wait up to three years for a pairing. This is a result of gaps in volunteer positions, as well as the organization’s commitment to intentional matches. “We’re really hoping to achieve a sustainable momentum,” says Booth. While the organization is always seeking an increase in mentors in general, currently, they are specifically short in numbers for male-identifying volunteers, she says. 

For more information on Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area and how to apply as a volunteer, visit https://bbbscalgary.ca. To learn more about the PRISM program, visit https://bbbscalgary.ca/prism/

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

Sergei Bobrovsky has 40-save shutout as Florida Panthers rout Edmonton Oilers 6-0

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EDMONTON — Sergei Bobrovsky made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season as the Florida Panthers defeated the ice-cold Edmonton Oilers 6-0 on Thursday.

Aleksander Barkov scored two goals and added an assist for the Panthers (27-8-5), who improved to 9-1-1 in their last 11 games.

Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair, Sam Bennett and Owen Tippett also scored for Florida.

Mikko Koskinen stopped 22 shots as the Oilers (18-16-2) lost their seventh straight.

Edmonton has a 2-11-2 record in its last 15 games.

There was no scoring in the first period despite Edmonton peppering Bobrovsky with 17 shots.

Koskinen made seven saves in the Edmonton net in the opening frame.

Florida got on the board first, scoring a power-play goal about five-and-a-half minutes into the second period. Sam Reinhart chipped a puck over splayed Oilers defender Darnell Nurse to Barkov, who fired home his 16th of the season. The Oilers have now allowed the first goal of the game in 23 of their last 27 games.

Verhaeghe was left alone in front of the net and unleashed a bullet to the top corner for his 14th goal of the season near the midway point of the game to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead.

Edmonton outshot Florida 29-13 through 40 minutes.

Barkov added to Florida’s lead seven minutes into the third when his long shot found its way through a screen.

The Panthers made it 4-0 with a power-play goal with four minutes left in the final period as Duclair swatted a loose puck into a wide open net for his 17th of the campaign.

Just over a minute later the Panthers got another power-play goal as Bennett sent a backhand shot off the post and in for his 17th as well.

Edmonton’s end-of-game collapse saw the Panthers score their third goal in 2:36 as Tippett notched his fifth.

Florida plays the third game of a five-stop road trip in Vancouver on Friday, while the Oilers remain home to welcome the Calgary Flames on Saturday.

Notes: Florida is now 20-0 when leading after the second period… The Oilers have scored two goals or less in 10 of their last 15 games… Missing from the Florida lineup were Patric Hornqvist (upper body) and Gustav Forsling (COVID)… Out for the Oilers were Mike Smith (thumb) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (lower body), as well as Zach Hyman, Kyle Turris and Stuart Skinner (COVID)… With two goalies out for Edmonton, Ilya Konovalov was brought up from the taxi squad to serve as backup to Koskinen.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

Kenney says he was unaware until this week of justice minister's call to police chief

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EDMONTON — Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he didn’t know until this week that his justice minister had called Edmonton’s police chief 10 months earlier about a traffic ticket.

“I do recall at some point last year hearing that minister (Kaycee) Madu had gotten a ticket (and) had paid for it,” Kenney told a news conference Thursday.

“I got fully briefed on all of this, including about the call and the details, on Monday afternoon following media inquiries.

“Shortly thereafter, I called minister Madu to ask what happened from his perspective and why he made this call. I expressed my serious disappointment that he would have done this.”

These were Kenney’s first public comments on the matter since tweeting out late Monday that Madu was being relieved of his justice responsibilities pending an investigation.

Kenney said he plans to hire a third party to determine if there was interference in the administration of justice. 

He said the government is drafting terms of reference for the review and has contacted former judges to oversee it. 

Critics, including the Opposition NDP, have said the investigation is unnecessary given that all the principals involved, including Madu, agree he made the call to Chief Dale McFee last March.

They said that even though Madu did not try to have McFee cancel the ticket, making such a call violates parliamentary tradition that cabinet ministers don’t intervene directly in the judicial system in matters in which they have a personal stake.

NDP justice critic Irfan Sabir said Kenney has no choice but to fire Madu from his justice post.

Madu has not spoken publicly on the issue, but put out a series of statements this week on social media.

In them, he stressed he did not call the chief to cancel the ticket — a point McFee corroborates — but said he wanted, and received, assurances from McFee that he wasn’t being targeted for the ticket because he is Black or because he was in a high-profile government job.

Kenney, asked by reporters why he hasn’t fired Madu, said the issue is not clear cut. He noted that Madu did not ask for his ticket to be rescinded but did raise concerns about issues such as racial profiling.

“I was not on this call,” said Kenney.

“I think given the issues that have been raised, it is appropriate to allow for a little bit of time for an investigation from somebody with legal training who is impartial to provide me with advice on whether this constituted an effort to interfere with the independent administration of justice.”

Madu, the United Conservatives’ only legislature member in Edmonton, had been justice minister since August 2020. He is serving his first term in the legislature.

On the morning of March 10, he was ticketed for distracted driving for being on a cellphone while behind the wheel in a school zone. He paid the $300 ticket soon after but not before reaching out to McFee. 

This issue did not become public until media reports Monday.

Madu, in his statements, has also disagreed with the ticket. He said his phone was in his pocket at the time.

That prompted an angry response Wednesday from Staff Sgt. Mike Elliott, head of the Edmonton Police Association, which represents rank and file officers.

Elliott, on Twitter, questioned Madu’s fitness for the justice job.

“I personally know the member who issued the ticket, and to make an erroneous assumption he was surveilling you is shameful and preposterous,” wrote Elliott.

He said that even if Madu believed he was being unfairly treated, there is a complaint process that should be followed that doesn’t include a direct line to the chief of police.

“The audacity and arrogance is very clear and you are not deserving to be the minister of justice, who is supposed to represent all citizens in a fair and impartial manner.”

Madu’s case is the latest in a string of changes to Kenney’s cabinet in just over a year.

In November, Devin Dreeshen quit as agriculture minister amid concerns over his conduct and drinking. 

In September, Tyler Shandro left the health portfolio. Kenney said Shandro asked for the change, citing the gruelling fight against COVID-19 as a factor.

Leela Aheer, the minister for culture, multiculturalism and the status of women, was turfed in July from cabinet after she publicly criticized Kenney for breaking COVID-19 health rules by having a patio dinner outside his temporary penthouse office.

Aheer’s portfolio was carved up and distributed to others. Kenney denied the decision was political payback.

And just over a year ago, in January 2021, Tracy Allard resigned as municipal affairs minister after public outrage over a Christmas holiday trip she took to Hawaii. The trip happened at the same time the government was urging Albertans to stay home and isolate to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2022.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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