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Alberta

You are NOT alone! Text4Hope aims to help Albertans shoot down the Covid-19 Blues

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Are you self-isolated or quarantined? Are you feeling anxiety, stress, angst, depressed or struggling through this COVID-19 crisis? Alberta Health Services (ASH) has launched a new daily, no cost mental health and wellness text-based service called, Text4Hope.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, talks about the launch of the new mental health program Text4Hope at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton Photo Courtesy / AHS

“Connection is so vitally important to our mental health and well-being,” said Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health as she explained the free program, “aims to help provide encouragement and hope to Albertans.” Continuing, “Text4Hope sends subscribers (a daily) text message of support and encouragement, to ease stress or anxiety.” All an Albertan has to do to sign-up for this platform, “Is texted, Covid- 19 hope, to 393939 to subscribe.” Hinshaw said, “In return, they will receive text messages on healthy thinking or actions to help manage their mood.”

Dr. Vincent Agyapong, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta & AHS’s Edmonton Zone Clinical Section Chief for Community Mental Health, created a similar outlet for people during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires, said “One of the biggest benefits to Text4Hope is that it offers immediate support when experiencing stress and anxiety.”

Dr. Vincent Agyapong, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta & AHS’s Edmonton Zone Clinical Section Chief for Community Mental Health created the platform Text4Hope. Photo Courtesy/Department of Psychiatry U of A

No community-based Alberta-wide project like this can come together this fast without the generous financial support of numerous organizations, helping ASH make Text4Hope possible include; the Mental Health Foundation, the University Hospital Foundation, Calgary Health Trust, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation   and the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. 

The initiative cost four dollars per-person to run through this three-month project and is budgeted for 2-million-dollars right now. Donations are being accepted by all of the non-profit partners that have put up in advance to make Text4Hope possible.

While this program provides a free, evidence-based one-way text communication and is a helpful option for people in self-isolation, or quarantined and those in remote locations around the province, Dr. Agyapong stressed, “The program isn’t intended to replace (face to face) therapies or interventions but is rather another added support to someone’s overall care plan.”

All of Alberta Health Services mental health support lines and web resources remain operational during this time. For details and links for the services available in your health region across Alberta, visit this link; “Help in Tough Times

Dr. Hinshaw added that the “program is an additional resource to help us find encouragement and strength as we navigate the day-to-day challenges of a new normal.”

Stay home plea from a healthy Canadian shocked to be a victim of COVID

Alberta

World Cup super-G called off in Lake Louise because of too much snow

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LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — A World Cup men’s super-G race was cancelled Sunday in Lake Louise, Alta.

It was the second race called off because of too much snow. Friday’s downhill was also cancelled.

Matthias Mayer of Austria won Saturday’s downhill at the ski resort west of Calgary in Banff National Park.

The cancelled downhill in Canada has been added to the program for the next World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colo., starting Friday.

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

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

'For the greater good:' Indigenous financial advisor works to empower others

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CALGARY — It’s often said that every name tells a story. 

For Theodora Warrior, that couldn’t be more true.

“My name doesn’t lie,” says Warrior, a Blackfoot member of the Piikani Nation in southern Alberta. “The purpose of a warrior is not meant for battle. They are meant for protection and sacrifice for all for the greater good.”

Warrior is the first Indigenous financial facilitator for Momentum, a Calgary charity dedicated to community economic development.

Jeff Loomis, executive director of Momentum, says it’s committed to having a role in reconciliation with Indigenous communities and bringing Warrior onboard ensures a culturally relevant and supportive environment to aid in financial reconciliation.

Warrior views her job as one that empowers others, particularly Indigenous families such her own who experienced poverty as a result of the residential school system. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report says the schools amounted to cultural genocide, stripping Indigenous people of their language and customs, and has led to chronic unemployment, poverty, poor housing, substance abuse, family violence and ill health.

About two years ago, Warrior attended a money management workshop hosted by Momentum, similar to one she now teaches, and was asked to write down a vision for her future.

She had lost everything — her house, job and belongings. She says it was a cycle she had repeated for years, from housed to homeless, employed to jobless, hopeful to disheartened.

Her vision on a piece of paper, now tucked away in a safe spot, listed 17 goals, including having a two-bedroom apartment, a healthier mental state, being debt-free with savings and having a steady job. 

Most of those dreams came true.

Warrior is now bringing the program that helped change her life to other Indigenous people in Alberta communities. She calls the workshop series Money Moccasins.

“Financial wellness is a lifelong journey,” says Warrior. “Walking barefoot can make the trip more difficult. Moccasins are very sturdy and strong.”

Thinking about the workshop she attended, Warrior says the information was helpful but the facilitator, who was white, lacked an understanding of unique barriers faced by Indigenous people.

The facilitator talked about spending $200 on plants, almost the same amount Warrior had received monthly on welfare.

“It had nothing to do with where we come from, what we really encounter, what we have to work with,” says Warrior.

Warrior’s mother and grandmother attended residential schools. 

As a child, she remembers living in apartments with cockroaches, using food banks and moving frequently, both on and off reserve. Her mother, who has three university degrees, often worked multiple jobs. 

Warrior says she believes the repercussions of the residential school system left her mom struggling to find financial stability.

As Warrior became an adult, she also had trouble staying afloat.

There were months when she had money from working in the trucking or hydrovac industries. At one point, she had a five-bedroom house and was financing a new vehicle.

But, she says, everything fell apart in about nine months when a friend moved out without paying their share of the bills and work opportunities disappeared.

When looking for a place to live, she says she faced encounters with landlords who hurled racist and prejudicial comments. Sometimes she left showings in tears.

Warrior says she stayed in women’s shelters and slept in empty apartments.

“I’ve been through it all,” she says. “Homeless. Hitchhiking. Food banks. Relying on the kindness of strangers … the depression that comes with it, domestic violence, alcoholism, addiction.”

She says she openly shares her experiences now with those in Money Moccasins. She remembers one participant who laughed when Warrior told the class she was in bankruptcy.

“‘Who better to learn from than somebody who’s been there?’ Warrior recalls telling the woman. “Being open and vulnerable with them like that drops their guard.”

Warrior keeps a constant reminder of how far she’s come at her desk. Her computer screensaver shows Warrior looking into the distance with her sprawling First Nation behind her.

The photo was taken the day before she lost her driver’s licence for drinking. Shortly after that, in 2019, she attended her first class at Momentum and got a job with the charity.

She describes her Money Moccasins program, which started this year and explores assets, budgeting, banking, credit and consumerism, as generation changing.

“In this Western world, money is life. In our world, water is life,” says Warrior.

“This course, these classes, they give you something to hold that water. They show you that you can save your water, that your water is meant to be saved for the next generation.”

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

Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press

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