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Opinion

The Role of City Councillor

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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CITIZENS OF RED DEER

As a candidate for city council, I believe it’s time to take a look at what a city councillor is and what they stand for.

A city councillor is not a representative of any special-interest group. They are not elected into office to pursue their own agenda. A city councillor is a Public Servant. They are elected into office to serve the public interests. They are hired by you, the people of the city, to do the best job they can to steer the city in the direction that the majority of the citizens wish to see it go.

One citizen is once again pushing for a ward system in Red Deer. This issue was voted on in the 2013 election, and an overwhelming majority of the people said they didn’t want such a system of representation. After speaking with many people as to why they voted against wards, the common consensus I am hearing is that they felt that in a city the size of Red Deer they were concerned that a ward system would stop progress because we would have one area of town voting against another area, instead of councillors looking at the city as a whole. Now this same person is saying we should hold another vote on the same issue. So far I have only heard a few residents even bring this up. Electing 8 councillors who would support a ward system does not mean a ward system will happen. An issue like this still needs to be put to a vote by the people.

Candidates that are promising to “fix the problems we face” are not fully understanding the position they are running for. This is not a presidential position, where you sign an executive order and the issue becomes law. We as candidates are hoping to hear from you the citizens as to what you want us to do, and then do it to the best of our abilities. You, the voters, are the boss; we, the candidates, are the employees.

I have some thoughts myself as a private citizen as to what I would like to see Red Deer achieve over the next 4 years, and farther into the future. However, I am not under the illusion that by being elected to office I will be able to push my own agenda through. Rather, I would hope that when the people of Red Deer identify an issue that they would like to see addressed, I might have an idea on a way to address it that would meet the approval of the majority of the people, and be done in a way that is both time- and cost-effective.

Please let me know any comments you may have regarding this issue. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Jim Kristinson
Candidate for City Council


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Opinion

Is Lethbridge population 100,129 larger than Red Deer population 99,832?

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Red Deer’s latest census in 2016 showed that our population shrank from 100,807 in 2015 to 99,832 or by 975 residents. We have not done a census since 2016, because it is costly and needs growth to justify undertaking the expense of a census.
Lethbridge’s census of 2016 showed that their population grew from 94,804 in 2015 to 96,828 or by 2024 residents, a growth of 2.3%. 2018’s census for Lethbridge showed a population of 99,769 a growth of 1.7% over 2017 or 1571 new residents.
Let us optimistically assume that Red Deer has halted it’s outward migration of residents, without any indications or proof, and that our population has stabilized at 99,832. This is the population number that is currently being used by planners in budgeting etc.
Let us pessimistically assume then that Lethbridge maintains it’s slowest growth of 1.7% or 4 new residents per day. The latest census was done in the spring and announced in June so if we say 90 days have passed and Lethbridge only grew by 4 residents per day or 360 new residents, then, to give them a current population of 100,129 today.
So is Lethbridge, now Alberta’s third largest city? Will we find this out next June?


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Community

LOCAL MOM AND SON: EMPOWERING CHILDREN THROUGH KNOWLEDGE OF MENTAL HEALTH & ADDICTION

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Yesterday was the last day of Suicide Awareness Week. It was also my brothers birthday. But for me, like millions of others around the world it doesn’t end this month or this week or on September 15th. How I see the world and the people in it was forever changed just after 3 am on March 18, 2012.

I see you. I see the ones so ashamed and scared to speak the truth. I see trauma. I see secrets. I see family members fighting and blaming. I often see doctors and therapists looking in the wrong direction. I see our loved ones dying. I see love. I see hope. Mostly I see love and hope.

I come from a long line of alcoholics, which is now known as substance use disorder (SUD). I say this with complete love and respect for my loved ones, and even though no one discussed this within my family, from the time I was a 5-year-old child it was impossible to ignore as I could see the devastation, heartbreak, and struggle with my own two eyes.

However, what wasn’t so obvious was that mental illness also ran in our family. Anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder was, and continues to be, a well-kept family secret.

But silence and secrets perpetuate an unhealthy environment of shame. I know, because I was that little girl once, the one who overheard secret whispers. And although no one told me directly, the message was loud and clear, “Addiction and mental illness are shameful, you don’t ask questions; you look the other way and you hide them at all costs.”

We need to begin the conversation in our own homes. No one will ever find the courage to seek help or speak publicly if we can’t even speak about these topics privately in our own families.

My son, Ryan, started struggling with severe anxiety in Grade 1. With no explanation, advice, or whisper from my family that this might be a non-obvious kind of illness — something that is sometimes called an “invisible illness.” His dad and I were left on our own for months trying to maneuver our way through what was causing his panic attacks and tears. At appointment after appointment, while poking and prodding Ryan, and carrying out countless blood tests and medical exams, doctors assured us there was nothing wrong with him physically.

I was tortured. What is happening with my little boy? How can I make this better for him?

With no other explanation at the time, I was convinced that he must have been sexually abused at school. I was so relieved to find out eventually that I was wrong. I can’t help but think about how much time, effort, and unnecessary trauma we caused our young son. Had we known earlier about the mental illness in our family tree, we might have all walked an easier path.

Years later, we lost that much-loved member of our family — a sweet, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken man — to alcohol addiction and mental illness. My younger brother, Brett, Ryan’s uncle, lost his brave battle in March 2012. He was 39. I watched helplessly as shame and discomfort stopped him from talking about his feelings, broke down his spirit, and made him feel that the situation was hopeless.

And it wasn’t hopeless.

I was raised in the 1970s. It wouldn’t have been a reasonable expectation to have these open discussions back then, and I accept that. But I can’t help wondering if things might have turned out differently for my brother if we had worked through some of our early childhood trauma in our adult lives.

But we can’t go back; life is about moving forward. My perspective is that I am blessed and proud to be part of a changing world where we are encouraged to speak openly and honestly about our experiences, including addiction and mental health. And I believe that encouragement starts with young children.

Years later, Ryan and I were reminded once again that life has unexpected challenges and doesn’t always go as planned.

On June 3rd, 2017, I had a mental health breakdown that landed me in the hospital.

One day I was myself; the next day I wasn’t. During the next twelve months, I came to understand firsthand what it is like to wrestle with thoughts and feelings you can’t control, thoughts that plague your mind every waking moment as I fought my way through fear, anxiety and clinical depression.

Since my son was a little boy, I tried to do things differently than how it was done in my family when I was a child. Ryan and I have always talked about things openly, ever since that first experience when he was 6 years old. We discussed understanding his feelings and anxiety, and later addiction and the dangers of self-medicating with alcohol. We did that all so that he is aware not only of himself, but has empathy and compassion for others; you never know what someone else is going through.

I have two young nieces who were only 6 and 13 when their beloved Uncle Brett died. Unlike other family members of mine, I have spoken to my nieces openly and truthfully ever since that very day. As they grow up, I talk about the topic more in-depth, being sensitive to how old they are at the time; always with honesty, love, and without shame.

My niece Kaddi is now 12 she graduated last year from the sixth grade. The class had to do an oral report on a topic that meant something to them, and she chose alcoholism. She is as comfortable speaking about it as she is with the knowledge that her grandmother passed away from breast cancer before she was born. I was overwhelmed with pride and thought to myself, “I hope that teacher knows how amazing and brave that little girl is.”

Her sister, Payton, is now 19. She has a big bold tattoo on her left arm of bear paws bearing Brett’s name. When people ask what it means, she answers kindly, lovingly, and honestly, “That is my uncle who struggled with alcoholism and died by suicide.”

When we talk honestly and openly to our children, they can grow up to have no stigma or judgment toward those struggling through addiction and/or mental illness. These young children will not only grow up to be more aware but to be more empathetic, kind, caring, and compassionate as they maneuver their way in this world and lead others to be more kind and caring too.

I am proud to see those qualities in my son; he is no longer a child, but a 25-year-old man. It should not go unnoticed that one of the traits I am most proud of is his desire to challenge himself and come out of his comfort zone. As he is typically more reserved and has a quiet personality. His commitment to help others by being a positive role model not only to young boys but to grown men is admired. He knows that it does not make us weak to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help. We could use more people like him in this world, as his quiet demeanor means he listens and sometimes that is all someone needs, someone to listen.

We both know how blessed we are every minute of every day, and that some people aren’t so fortunate for a variety of reasons, including possibly not having the loving support of friends and family. It is important to both my son and I to give back and to use our experiences to bring people together, to give them strength to speak their truth.

I am proud to stand beside my son, sharing our story and speaking without shame.

May we all have the courage to open our eyes and our hearts a little wider. Not this week. Not today. But everyday.

Jodee Prouse and her son Ryan are advocates to help eliminate the shame and stigma surrounding mental illness and addiction. Jodee is the author of the powerful memoir, The Sun is Gone: A Sister Lost in Secrets, Shame and Addiction and How I Broke Free. To contact them for a speaking engagement from a loving family perspective on mental health, addiction, childhood trauma and other topics email- jodeeprouse@gmail.com


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september, 2018

wed30may - 26sepmay 303:30 pmsep 26ATB Financial Downtown Market(may 30) 3:30 pm - (september 26) 6:30 pm

tue25sep - 28sep 257:00 amsep 28AUMA Convention & AMSC Trade Show7:00 am - 5:00 pm (28)

thu27sepAll DaySocial Media CentralRoll up your sleeves and get SOCIAL(All Day: thursday)

sat29sep8:30 am- 3:00 pmBoard Leadership Central Alberta Conference8:30 am - 3:00 pm

sat29sep11:00 am- 12:00 pmMeet Author Ruth Ohi!11:00 am - 12:00 pm

sat29sep3:00 pm- 5:00 pmFred Penner: A free family performance3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

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sun30sep11:00 am- 4:30 pmWith This Ring Bridal Gala11:00 am - 4:30 pm

sun30sep2:00 pm- 4:00 pmPresentation by Dr. Doris Jeanne MacKinnon: Metis Pioneers2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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