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Author: William Cockerell

William Cockerell attained his journalism degree from Concordia University and started his first journalism role at Shootin' the Breeze in 2022.
Christmas lights on metal tree outlines of Windy Slopes Health Foundation's Trees of Hope Campaign in Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek Trees of Hope campaign is on

As the holiday season approaches, Windy Slopes Health Foundation has launched its 33rd annual Trees of Hope fundraising campaign.

The campaign runs each year to provide equipment or programs to enhance patient care at Pincher Creek Health Centre.

After consulting trustees and the site manager, Tracey Correia, the foundation’s project this year is to help in the renovation process of the palliative care family room.

“For family and friends of those who are in palliative care, it is important to have a welcoming space to refresh, get some work done, or to gather as a family during a stressful time. It improves the ability to provide support to the patient,” says Michelle Visser, administrator with Windy Slopes.

The room is slated for a new paint job, flooring, furniture and more, which is not a cheap undertaking. Funds raised from the campaign will go directly toward the upgrades, and Windy Slopes has set this year’s fundraising goal at $25,000.

The 2022 Trees of Hope campaign raised money for projects centred around pediatric and neonatal patients. Windy Slopes had a fundraising goal of $27,000 and raised over $31,000.

The foundation purchased a Broselow pediatric cart and Lifepak 15, which was considered a great asset to the pediatric unit at the local health centre.

 

Solar panel on ad for Riteline Electric in Pincher Creek

 

“With any funds raised, whether through Trees of Hope, in memoriam, or general donations, we are dedicated to enhancing patient care, supporting priority equipment and program needs,” says Michelle.

“We use donations made to the foundation wisely and with much consultation.”

To make a donation, you can visit the Windy Slopes website at windyslopes.ca, send an e-Transfer to the foundation at windyslopespc@gmail.com or mail a cheque to PO Box 2554, Pincher Creek, AB, T0K 1W0. You may also drop off donations in person at the health centre.

On behalf of Windy Slopes Health Foundation, thank you to those who provide their support in enhancing patient care for Pincher Creek and area.

 

Wedding banquet view of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Purple circle with three raised haised hands

Pincher Creek Legion seeks board members

Pincher Creek Legion Branch 43 will be hosting its AGM on Dec. 10, where members will gather to elect new officers and install them into the executive committee. Up to 12 Legion members can be elected to fill positions on the executive board, and the branch hopes that a few younger members will step up and take on a role.

“We really are looking for some new blood, some new people, some new ideas, somebody that’s willing to give us some hours,” says Maggie Christians, branch president.

According to Maggie, many of the current members of the branch’s executive committee have been a part of the Legion for a long time now. With that being said, she claims that it has become difficult to come up with fresh ideas, and hopes newer faces can help mitigate the problem.

There are currently eight Legion members in an executive position, leaving four vacancies to fill. Members interested in joining the executive committee are expected to have been members in good standing for at least a year.

Positions such as president and vice-president are roles reserved for those who, on top of being a Legion member, have a year’s experience on the committee.

 

Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

Legion members can be nominated for any of the positions, whether vacant or not, provided they are in attendance at the AGM and meet the prerequisites.

While the meeting will focus largely on electing new members of the branch’s executive committee, there will also be briefings regarding where Legion funds were allocated in the last year, and what can be expected in the year to come.

Maggie encourages any member of the local Legion to come out, vote and listen in on the meeting, regardless of whether you have intentions of running for a position.

Those who are currently not affiliated with the branch who wish to become members can head over to www.pinchercreeklegion.com/home to join for a $50 annual fee. New members will not be able to vote in the upcoming election, but are welcome to attend the meeting.

 

Red and black angus bulls on poster for Blades Angus Bull Sale

 

 

Rhonda Oczkowski – woman with shoulder-length brown hair wearing black and white plaid jacket and black pants – holds two pair of cross-country skis

Free lending of skis and snowshoes in Pincher Creek

Pincher Creek’s recreation office and municipal library are once again offering residents the chance to borrow snowshoes and cross-country skis free of charge through their lending program.

The program is intended as a cost-effective way for community members to get outside and get active this winter.

The idea took shape five years ago when Rhonda Oczkowski, Pincher Creek’s recreation programmer, applied for the Choose Well grant. With the funds, the original pairs of snowshoes and cross-country skis were purchased, and since then, the inventory has continued to grow annually with the popularity of the initiative.

“We wanted to make sure that this program is accessible to everyone, so the program is free and available for anyone to come in and borrow equipment,” says Rhonda.

Prior to last year, the recreation department and library struggled with accommodating everyone that was interested in taking advantage of the loan pool. Adult-sized cross-country skis in particular were often unavailable due to the limited number of sets.

To navigate this issue, the recreation office and library partnered with Syncline Castle Trails Association, also known as SCaT, to expand upon the lending program, while promoting the Syncline Trail Network.

With money acquired through the Return to Play grant, SCaT was able to purchase and donate 30 pairs of adult cross-country skis and poles to the program, along with 45 pairs of adult-sized boots. According to Rhonda, the association has made an additional donation of skis and skiing equipment this year to fill sizing holes found in the lending initiative last year.

 

Camille Kalveram, young professional woman with long blonde hair, on Vision Credit Union ad

 

“Last year, we were running out of larger ski boots and equipment for adults, so now we’ve filled that gap and I think we’ve covered our bases in terms of sizing,” she says.

While the hope is to avoid a lack of equipment to lend out, Rhonda notes that the issue of not having enough equipment does suggest that the program is a popular one that is getting residents outdoors and active.

To borrow equipment, you need to either have a library card or sign up at the library for an equipment rental card. A library membership costs $10, while the equipment rental card is free of charge. Once you have one of the cards, you can simply head to the library, identify what size of equipment you need, rent it and be on your way.

Once you’ve rented the equipment, you may hold onto it for up to one week before returning it to the library.

Previously, there was no need for a library membership or rental card. The change was made to alleviate the manual work library staff had to do to keep tabs on rentals.

According to Rhonda, the recreation department has a few exciting plans coming up regarding skiing and snowshoeing, including pop-up lessons for novices and guided snowshoe/cross country skiing tours. Those interested are encouraged to keep an eye on Pincher Creek recreation’s Facebook page for updates and information.

For more information about the lending program, you can contact the library at 403-627-3813 or by email.

 

 

 

Ace of spades card on ad for Chase the Ace at the Pincher Creek Legion

 

Empty desk with three books and pencil stack on it and blackboard in the background

Holocaust education to become mandatory for Alberta students

From Jan. 30, 1933, to May 8, 1945, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime led a systemic, state-sponsored genocide of six million Jews in Europe. Commonly referred to as the Holocaust, it represents one of the darkest times in human history.

In a move to ensure that students learn of the horrors of the Holocaust, the provincial government announced it is working to make Holocaust education a mandatory component of its new social studies curriculum.

“I firmly believe we must do everything possible to combat rising antisemitism and educate young Albertans about the horrors of the Holocaust,” says Demetrios Nicolaides, minister of education, via government press release.

“Ensuring all students learn from one of history’s darkest chapters will help us confront hate and prevent similar atrocities from occurring.”

Through the current K-12 social studies curriculum, students are taught about groups of people who have been historically or presently persecuted.

While the Holocaust is a mandatory topic for senior high social studies, Alberta Education is reviewing what grades should be taught about it, and how to keep teachings age-appropriate.

“Coming to an understanding of the origins and horror of the Holocaust helps Alberta students to better understand the need to respect, affirm and defend the lives, dignity and rights of all persons,” says Jason Schilling, Alberta Teachers’ Association president, via press release.

 

Indoor and outdoor view of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

As it looks to develop and set curriculum standards, Alberta Education is working with educators, education partners and specialists to develop the new K-12 social studies curriculum. Additionally, Alberta Education will work with Jewish communities and organizations, including the Calgary Jewish Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, to best identify how to develop the new curriculum.

“Creating an anti-racist society starts at the school-age level, and Holocaust education is an important tool in helping our students learn about the underlying ramifications of prejudice, racism and stereotyping,” says Adam Silver, CEO of the Calgary Jewish Foundation, via press release.

This announcement comes in the wake of a rise in antisemitism in Canada and across the world amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. With antisemitism on the rise, local educators see this as an opportunity to combat hate.

“The teaching of historical events such as the Holocaust provides students with an opportunity to learn how the dark actions of some can have long lasting implications for many,” says Bryan Burns, principal of Matthew Halton High School.

“Through exploring the historical legacies of the Holocaust with the use of resources such as first-hand survival stories, students can equip themselves with tools to combat hatred, racism and prejudice.”

Alberta Education will begin public engagement early next year, where Albertans will be able to provide their input on key learnings within the K-12 social studies curriculum. Additionally, they will be able to view a draft of the new K-6 social studies curriculum and provide further feedback.

This announcement follows a decision in October from British Columbia Premier David Eby and the B.C. government to make Holocaust education mandatory for high school students.

 

Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta
 

 

Pincher Creek Chamber of Commerce notice of annual general meeting on brightly coloured background

Joseph Robinson – a young man with short dark hair wearing a light purple suit and tie – demonstrates a handheld magnifier.

Visual aids presented by Eschenbach Optiks

Joseph Robinson, Pacific northwest territory manager with Eschenbach Optiks, demonstrates both a handheld and desktop video magnifier during an information session  Nov. 14 at Huddlestun Senior Centre in Pincher Creek. Joseph also showcased a wide variety of other devices for visual assistance, including stand magnifiers, spectacle magnifiers and telescopes.

Organized by Dr. Laura Chisholm, the Pincher-Cowley Roaring Lions and Eschenbach Optiks, the session was intended as a way for locals to get a first-hand look at some of the many visual aids on the market to help those experiencing vision loss or impairment. Locals were able to try the devices, while Joseph and Laura answered the questions of those interested in improving their vision or mitigating vision loss.

 

We got your bumps and bruises covered advertisement for Osa Remedy'sRx in Pincher Creek

 

 

Legion’s poppy campaign supports local veterans

Each year, from the last Friday of October until Nov. 11, people across the country wear a poppy in honour of our nation’s veterans. The poppy serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made to protect the freedoms we enjoy today, ensuring we never forget.

To coincide with the lead-up to Remembrance Day, Legions nationwide conduct local poppy campaigns, a program carried out annually to raise money in support of veterans.

Campaign funds are held in trust at the branch level to support veterans and their families within the community. This support could come in many forms, including food, clothing, shelter, medical assistance and more.

“Any money raised from the poppy campaign goes towards supporting our local veterans, anything from hospital stay expenses, to medical equipment being put in their home, basically anything that they would require,” says Angie Moen, who chairs Pincher Creek’s poppy campaign.

According to Dick Burnham, Pincher Creek’s branch service officer, in the past year, the local Legion has assisted veterans with the installation of medical equipment, medical research programs for veterans and Veterans of the Caribbean in need.

Residents have certainly taken notice of the wonderful services provided by the Legion to local veterans. Pincher Creek businesses have traditional poppy boxes in their establishments, Legion volunteers set up poppy tables for donations and citizens have made individual contributions. It’s evident that this program is one that could not work without community support.

 

Pump bottles of colourful, natural soaps on ad for Lynden House Market in Pincher Creek

 

“It’s very important to get this kind of support from the community because the funds are directly used in cases of need for veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP,” says Dick.

“The support has been amazing,” says Angie. “This is my first year doing this and I’m very proud of this community and the support they’ve provided.”

If you wish to donate to the Pincher Creek Legion’s poppy fund, you can send an e-Transfer to Poppy Fund or mail a cheque to Pincher Creek Legion Branch 43, PO Box 131, Pincher Creek, AB, T0K 1W0.

As a registered charity, the fund can issue tax-deductible receipts, upon request, for donations of $25 or more.

“The poppy fund comes to the nation’s attention in November — but you can donate, anytime, locally at your Legion branch to support veterans and remembrance in your community,” says Dick.

Veterans in need of financial assistance are encouraged to contact their local Legion today. You do not need to be a member to seek help. For veterans in Pincher Creek, call the branch at 403-627-4024.

 

Information for the Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund

 

You're in good hands – animated ad for National Newspaper Week
Line of students passing along a field at the base of a mountain with burned trees at the base.

Canyon students learn significance of Waterton Lakes National Park

On Oct. 18, schools across Canada celebrated Take Me Outside Day, dedicated to making time to head outdoors and learn beyond the confines of a classroom.

Here in Pincher Creek, Canyon School embraced the opportunity by taking Grade 6 students on a field trip to Waterton Lakes National Park. Students learned not only of the ecological importance of the land, but also of its importance to the Niitsitapi, the Blackfoot people. 

“It’s all part of LRSD’s place-based learning initiative, getting the kids outside to get a better understanding of the area that they grew up in, and learn to respect this land,” says Derek Shackleford, a Grade 6 teacher at Canyon School.

According to Derek, this out-of-school opportunity allows students to learn more about the land from numerous perspectives and encourages them to respect the lands they call home. 

To help facilitate this place-based learning, students and teachers were joined by volunteers Kim Pearson, Parks Canada’s nature legacy scientist, and Jesse Plain Eagle, a Blackfoot knowledge keeper.

The pair spoke to the importance of the land from different perspectives, educating students as they toured several notable locations within the park, including the Hay Barn, Linnet Lake and Red Rock Canyon.

Kim provided students with an understanding of Waterton in the context of being a national park and how it is unique compared to other places. She spoke of how the park is situated on land where the mountains and prairies meet very suddenly, creating a recipe for diverse plants and animals to thrive.

 

Pig roast at wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.

 

“I was really happy to have the opportunity to join the kids and help them understand the importance of this place,” she says.

“It’s such a unique place in the world, and an important place from an ecological perspective with its unique geography, which helps to create a habitat for a huge diversity of plants and animals.”

In addition to her efforts to teach students about the land’s significance, Kim also made her way around to help students identify plants for their tree and forest unit assignments. 

Jesse, on the other hand, was instrumental in providing knowledge of Waterton’s significance to the Blackfoot people. Jesse gave a Blackfoot perspective on some of the plants native to Waterton, as well as describing the traditional uses of the land.

Additionally, Jesse talked about how Waterton pertains to Blackfoot people in regard to their ceremonies, such as the beaver ceremony, which was started in the area.

Growing up, Jesse felt that his culture and history were stifled, as he never got to talk about it or learn about it in school. He saw this as an opportunity to spread the knowledge he wishes he had learned in school, while making sure to not overshare out of respect for his people.

“I think it’s important to share our culture, our history, and provide that awareness, because we all live in Blackfoot territory and a lot of kids still don’t know that because for so long, all that knowledge and information wasn’t shared,” Jesse says. 

 

 

Now working as an education assistant in Brocket, Jesse is providing knowledge to youth that he never thought he could share.

Between the teachings of Jesse, Kim, teachers and volunteers, students were thrilled to experience this unique learning opportunity. 

“It was great to come to Waterton. I really enjoyed taking pictures of nature, but also enjoyed learning about how we can impact the land,” says Rowan Hancock, a sixth-grade student from Canyon.

“It’s cool that our teachers decided to take us out and do this fun field trip in Waterton,” says Solen Pearson-Taylor, who also attends Canyon. “It’s meant a lot to me to learn about Blackfoot culture, because it’s not talked about enough and it’s important for everyone to learn more about it.” 

Derek hopes that at the end of the day, the trip provided students with a better understanding of where they live and why they need to respect the land.

“The more awareness kids have of their surroundings, the more respect they have for that place, the more they’re going to want to protect that place and be a bigger part of it in their adulthood,” he says.

 

 

Log cabin at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek

Museum looks for a win-win with new fundraiser

Established in 1966, Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village was created to preserve southwestern Alberta’s vast pioneer heritage. Thanks to the efforts of staff and volunteers alike, the museum has grown to feature over 30 buildings and more than 30,000 artifacts.

Most of the buildings found in the pioneer village are authentic and restored, but maintaining these structures isn’t cheap. The museum has elected to run a progressive 50-50 fundraiser to support its continued efforts to preserve the region’s vibrant history.

“There’s plenty of grants to construct buildings, but there aren’t a lot of granting or funding opportunities for building repairs, especially if it’s a heritage building,” says office administrator Janelle Harris.

“We have limited access to funding, so it falls on us to keep these buildings in good condition and preserve them for generations to come. If we don’t, who will?”

Janelle says the goal is to raise $20,000 for repairs. 

“The community has always supported us, and this is just another way of doing so while having a chance to maybe help yourself at the same time, so we hope that everybody buys a ticket.” 

The lucky winner will be drawn Dec. 3, when KBPV hosts its 11th annual Largest Christmas Cookie Sale in Pincher Creek History.

One of the museum’s major fundraisers, the sale offers over 1,000 dozen cookies, along with pies, tarts, breads, squares and more for those looking for delicious, homemade Christmas treats.

People interested in supporting heritage conservation can visit the museum’s website at www.kootenaibrown.ca to purchase 50-50 tickets. You can also phone the museum and Janelle can take a credit card for ticket purchase.

Available to those 18 and over, each ticket is $5, and there is no limit to the number an individual can purchase.

 

 

 

Farley Wuth, man with long grey beard and sideburns, dark-rimmed glasses and brown bowler hat, holds a cup of coffee.

Join Farley Wuth for Coffee with the Curator

If you’ve ever met Farley Wuth, curator of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek, you know he’s the closest thing you’ll find to a human encyclopedia on the history of southwestern Alberta.

Farley has been a wealth of knowledge in his role for just over 25 years, and now people have the opportunity to sit down with him and pick his brain, while sharing their own recollections of the region’s history.

The first Coffee With Our Curator event, a series of informal discussions with Farley about a plethora of local historical topics, was held Sept. 12 at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village. Each month, the museum will host one of these sit-down conversations, featuring a new topic every session.

According to Farley, these discussions are meant to be a two-way dialogue between himself and participants eager to learn about local history and share their own knowledge and recollections.

“It’s a new way of engaging the public in local history, getting them to come to the museum and get them thinking about these topics,” he says.

The first session revolved around the region’s early explorers and how they shaped the land. Two sets of explorers were discussed — official and unofficial. 

 

 

Official explorers consisted mostly of men sent by the Canadian or British governments to identify the agricultural potential of the West. Unofficial explorers are those who came on their own, with Farley referring to them as “renegade frontiersmen.” 

The discussion group also explored how the land’s Indigenous Peoples ensured the survival of these men. 

This conversation will be followed up each month with a new topic to ensure that conversations stay fresh. Topics include early Pincher Creek pioneers, railway settlements, early ranchers of the area and more. 

The hope is that these informal yet informative dialogues will increase public interest in local history while fostering recollections that can provide insights into the area’s past.

The series will run until May, before taking a break for the summer. If the program proves popular enough, the plan is for Coffee With Our Curator to return in the fall of 2024. 

Regardless of what the future holds, Farley is thrilled for this opportunity to sit down with locals and engage them about the early history of Pincher Creek and surrounding areas.

“I always find it very exciting to have discussions with local residents, descendants of the pioneers and people who have come more recently and are finding out what their interests are in the local history,” he says. 

Each monthly sit-down will run from 1 to 3 p.m. and will be hosted in Pioneer Place at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village. The gatherings are free to attend.

Visit the Kootenai Brown website for dates, topics and additional info.

Any questions can be directed to KBPV by phone at 403-627-3684 or by email.

 

 

Two women, Carol Fitzpatrick and Barb Patterson, stand behind a table of used books.

Good reads for a good cause

Local readers look forward to the twice-yearly used book sales hosted by the Society of the Friends of the Pincher Creek Library, and this fall’s sale provided books for all ages and interests.

Volunteers manned tables at Ranchland Mall from Oct. 4 to 6, raising funds to support the needs and projects of Pincher Creek and District Municipal Library.

Folks had the opportunity to sift through a wide range of books, made up of community donations and old library books, and grab what they’d like in exchange for a donation.

“Their support means the world to us, and we feel appreciated and loved, thanks to an organization that has helped us for such a long time now,” says Samantha Bonwick, the library’s outreach co-ordinator.

“They really do a lot for the library and are always there for us. We can’t thank them enough.”

For over 30 years, this charitable organization, made up entirely of volunteers, has assisted the library. Typically, funds have been used to purchase such items as computers, shelving, furnishings, e-readers and, of course, new books.

“The library can’t fundraise for itself, so we kind of act as the fundraising arm of the library,” says Karen Graham, a Friends of the Library volunteer. 

“What we do is we try to provide some extras. Maybe they need some children’s books, maybe they need some books for low-level readers or e-readers for people with poor eyesight, so that’s what we try to provide.”

 

 

In the past, the group has donated to other libraries in times of need. In 2013 it gave $1,000 to the High River Library following flooding, and in 2011 it gave support to the Slave Lake library after a wildfire ravaged the community.

Friends of the Library also tries to hire youth groups to assist them with setting up the sale and taking it down as another way of supporting the overall community. This year, the Matthew Halton grad class was recruited and received financial compensation for their assistance. Many of the unsold books are packed up by the students and put away until the next sale.

Not all of the books are packed away, as some will be going to the town’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church will send encyclopedias, children’s books, book series and more to children and teachers in Belize, a developing country on the northeastern coast of Central America, in support of children’s education.

“The church approached us a few years ago and asked if they could have a few children’s books to give to kids, and we’ve been able to provide them with more over the years as we learned what kinds of books they like to give children,” Karen says.

“We’re happy to help. We have lots of books to share.”

Friends of the Library will host its next used book sale May 8 to 10.

The organization is always happy to accept new volunteers and encourages those interested in doing so to contact the library.

 

 

 

Communities in Bloom awards silver, Pincher Creek’s highest ranking to date

Following its participation in this year’s Communities in Bloom challenge in the Circle of Excellence – Evaluated category, the Town of Pincher Creek has received a rating of five blooms – silver.

Communities in Bloom, a Canadian non-profit organization, uses a multi-tiered competitive evaluation process to help municipalities cultivate community strength and encourage continuous improvements.  

In July, CIB-trained volunteer judges Colleen Stockford and Larry Hall travelled to Pincher Creek to assess the town based on a variety of criteria. This included community appearance, environmental action, heritage conservation, tree management, landscape and plant and floral designs.

Communities are evaluated using a “bloom” rating, determined by the total score of the evaluation, and are ranked from one bloom to five blooms. Given that the town scored five blooms as a national/international competitor, Pincher Creek also received the silver rating, one of four exclusive levels.

Based on the town’s rating, Pincher Creek scored somewhere between 87 and 89.9 per cent on its evaluation.

In addition to the town’s overall rating, Pincher Creek was given a special mention for its Wayfinding Signage, which really caught the attention of judges. In their joint evaluation, Larry and Colleen expressed how they felt that the signs are “not only practical and informative, but also provide a unity to the community.” 

Rhonda Oczkowski, the town’s recreation programmer and CIB committee member, played a large role in ensuring the town was prepared for the challenge. She feels the community should be proud, as this is the first time Pincher Creek has received the silver rating, the town’s highest score to date.

“We did very well, especially after a five-year hiatus, but the judges did give us a lot of things to consider going forward as to what we could do to continue to improve,” she says.

Results were released Sunday during CIB’s 2023 national/international symposium and awards ceremony in Fort McMurray. For a complete list of results, head over to www.communitiesinbloom.ca.

Junior firefighter Ruan Peterson drops a firehose from a balcony.

Firefighting opportunities for Pincher Creek teens

Pincher Creek Emergency Services is offering students in grades 10 and up the opportunity to begin pursuing a career in emergency services through its junior firefighting program.

Students work toward acquiring their National Fire Protection Association 1001 Level 1 and 2 certifications, which identify the minimum job performance requirements for firefighters. 

They are also educated in hazardous-materials operations, designed to teach future first responders how to handle such materials and weapons of mass destruction.

“We are hoping to offer students interested in emergency services a chance to try it before investing their time and money,” says Lt. Matthew Peterson of PCES.

“This program, along with some real-life experience on calls, will offer students an advantage in the job market.”

Students attend practices every second and fourth Thursday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m.. The curriculum features a mix of both theoretical and practical learning, with most sessions taking place at the Pincher Creek fire hall. 

 

 

Students will join the rest of the department to learn firefighting theory, which is everything from fire behaviour to building construction. They also learn the necessary hands-on skills required to tend to an emergency situation.

According to Matthew, while the majority of instruction and testing will be held in Pincher Creek, there will be the odd trip to “burn houses” out of town to practice live scenarios.

Students are not expected to finish the program by a set date. They can take three years if they prefer to take their time, or the department can assist older students in fast-tracking their way toward obtaining their certifications, which is more intense. 

The department is still working out the cost for a student to take the program, but Matthew suspects parents may only need to cover the $150 textbook fee. He adds that if a student really wants to participate but can’t because of cost, the department will look to find a way to make it work.

While no start date for the program has been released yet, Matthew will be visiting Matthew Halton High School, St. Michael’s School and Livingstone School to gauge student interest. 

For more information about the program or to schedule an orientation session, contact Matthew at 403-563-9197. Students will have to attend an orientation session with a parent or legal guardian to go over expectations and learn more about the courses.

 

 

 

 

 

Logo of FireSmart Canada with white text and yellow fire image on navy blue background.

Be FireSmart: Reduce home wildfire risks

Each year, wildfires blaze across the province, burning through thousands of acres of land. As they become a more frequent occurrence across the country, it’s important for Canadians to know what to do when faced with uncontrollable wildfires near their homes.

Alberta’s FireSmart program aims to give Albertans the knowledge to do so.

FireSmart is designed to help people implement preventive and mitigative measures to reduce the threat of wildfires to their communities and personal property.

The program provides a wide range of tips and guiding principles for individuals and families alike to make their property FireSmart.

Below are a few helpful program measures to reduce the risks of wildfires to your home.

 

 

Yard and landscaping

FireSmart breaks the yard down into three home ignition zones. The immediate zone is zero to 1.5 metres away from your home, the intermediate zone is 1.5 to 10 metres away and the extended zone is 10 to 30 metres away.

For starters, homeowners should ensure their yard features a 1.5-metre non-combustible surface along the outside of the house. This could be in the form of mineral soil, rock or concrete. 

The immediate zone should also be free of any sort of dry debris, such as leaves or needles. The idea is to have zero flammable materials along the immediate perimeter of the structure.  

Homeowners are also encouraged to make smart choices when it comes to vegetation management, especially in the immediate and intermediate zones. In particular, the program suggests that people consciously select fire-resistant plants to increase the odds of their home surviving a wildfire.

Fire-resistant plants typically have moist, supple leaves, accumulate minimal dead vegetation, and have a low amount of a water-like sap or resin.

It’s important to avoid highly flammable plants in the immediate and intermediate zones. These plants are defined as having aromatic leaves or needles leading to the accumulation of fine, dry, dead material. They contain resin or oils and have loose, papery or flaky bark.

Plants to avoid include cedar, pine and spruce trees, juniper bushes and tall grasses.

Lawns within 10 metres of a house should have grass no more than 10 centimetres in height. This will reduce the likelihood of your grass burning intensely.

Implementing the aforementioned FireSmart principles into your yard work can heavily reduce the risk of wildfire, with the measures within 10 metres of your home having the largest impact. 

In the extended zone, thinning and pruning evergreen trees reduces fire hazard. Branches, needles and dry grass may accumulate in this zone, so make sure to regularly tidy up this debris to remove potential surface fuels. 

 

 

Protecting your home

The FireSmart Begins at Home Guide lists a number of proactive home improvement measures one can take to reduce the risk of their home being set ablaze. 

People are encouraged to remove any combustible material from atop or underneath their decks. This may include leaves, pine needles, dead plants and other forms of debris, which can act as kindling for an approaching wildfire. This could also mean patio furniture, toys and decorations.

Cleaning the gutters and rooftop of leaves and debris is also a vital part of ensuring your home’s safety.

Homeowners can consider making a few home improvements to decrease wildfire risks. Embers can blow up to two kilometres ahead of a wildfire, so it’s important to take measures with this in mind to keep them out of your living space.

FireSmart recommends adding non-combustible three-millimetre screens to external vents, excluding dryer vents, to keep embers out. Doors leading into your home should be fire-rated and have a good seal, and single-pane windows should be replaced with more fire-resistant tempered or thermal windows.

Roofs and siding should be made of materials that offer fire resistance. Metal, asphalt, clay and composite rubber tiles offer superior fire resistance to untreated wood. Stucco, metal, brick, concrete or fibre cement siding are recommended over untreated wood or vinyl siding, which offers little fire protection.

The guide also recommends giving other structures on your property, such as sheds and outbuildings, the same considerations that you do with your living space to best prepare your property.

 

 

Evacuation plan

Lastly, if you don’t have one already, have an evacuation plan in place. 

The measures noted above are intended to limit the risks of wildfires; however, they are not foolproof. In the event that a wildfire is closing in on your home, it is important to have a plan to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones.

To learn more about Alberta’s FireSmart program, or to download the FireSmart Begins at Home Guide, visit firesmartalberta.ca. General inquiries about the program can be directed to info@firesmartalberta.ca.

 

 

 

Joe Betteridge, man with short grey hair and wearing a burgundy golf shirt.

Whispering Winds congratulates Joe Betteridge for 10 years of service

Last month, Whispering Winds Village recognized maintenance worker Joe Betteridge for his 10 years of service at the Pincher Creek retirement community. Known for his compassion and kindness toward residents and staff alike, Joe is invariably keen on helping wherever he can. 

“He just means everything to us, and we are very lucky to have him as part of our team,” says Eileen Woolf, community manager at Whispering Winds.

Joe is the village’s Swiss army knife, capable of fixing just about any mechanical issue staff or residents are facing, whether it’s a broken vacuum, a faulty fridge, or really any other appliance. According to Eileen, Joe is the kind of person who is hard-pressed to say no when someone needs help, even if this gets him in trouble from time to time.

His dedication to supporting the retirement community does not go unnoticed, and is part of the reason Eileen feels the village has the best staff amongst Golden Life retirement communities.

“He’s a ‘MacGyver.’ He can fix things that I would normally have to call someone in to fix. He’s so well rounded, great with staff and with residents, and we can’t thank him enough for everything he does,” she says.

Whispering Winds extends its gratitude to Joe and thanks him for his service. Congratulations, Joe!

 

 

Joe Betteridge, man with short grey hair and wearing a burgundy golf shirt, holds a 10-year service certificate

 

 

Young boy accepts certificate and sits on the knee of a bear mascot dressed as a doctor.

Local youth receives Hero Award

Many readers will recall that this summer, seven-year-old Rylan Williams of Pincher Creek raised over $5,000 for the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation through his Hair Raising Fundraiser.

Rylan grew his hair out for over two years to donate to Wigs for Kids B.C., and ran his fundraising campaign through the Kids Helping Kids program to coincide with the hair donation.

To honour Rylan and the many other children who raised money through the program, the foundation hosted its annual Kids Helping Kids celebration at Calaway Park in Calgary on Sept. 24. 

At the time, Rylan was blissfully unaware that he was to be presented with one of five 2023 Hero Awards by the ACHF. The award recognizes kids who go above and beyond in raising money for the foundation. 

“I found out that Rylan was going to win the award a month before. They said I could let him know or keep it a surprise, so I decided to keep it a surprise for him,” says Candice Williams, Rylan’s mother. 

“Rylan was very surprised and excited when they announced him as the fifth recipient of the Hero Award.”

 

 

The festivities began in the early afternoon with an awards ceremony, where the foundation announced that Kids Helping Kids fundraisers had raised a grand total of over $400,000 this year.

“I was feeling really happy because I worked really hard, and I was so happy for all we did to help people, and it is just a great memory with the children’s hospital,” Rylan says.

“I was just bursting with excitement.”

After the ceremony, the kids and their families were treated to a barbecue lunch before enjoying the rest of the fall day in the park. Candice says Rylan repeatedly called it “the best day ever.”

Candice extends her heartfelt gratitude to all of the people of Pincher Creek who helped and supported Rylan during this fundraiser journey.

“It has been such an amazing adventure and experience for Rylan to do this,” she says, “and it would have been impossible without everyone.”

 

 

Learn more:

Article – Two year’s worth of hair going to Wigs for Kids

 

Young boy accepts certificate and sits on the knee of a bear mascot dressed as a doctor.

Every Child Matters billboard unveiled by Piikani Child and Family Services

To coincide with this year’s National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, Piikani Child and Family Services unveiled a new billboard proclaiming a powerful message: EVERY CHILD MATTERS.

Located near the Piikani Travel Centre along Highway 3, the billboard was officially revealed during a touching event last Friday.

The new sign is dedicated to all Piikani Nation members who were impacted by residential schools, and reaffirms the message to every child in the community that they matter.

“When the 94 Calls to Action came out, it was really evident that Piikani needed to have some sort of acknowledgement, a way to let everyone know that we are part of Blackfoot territory and we were affected by residential schools,” says Mary Plain Eagle, child intervention manager with PCFS.

Mary is a third-generation survivor of residential schools, as she, along with her parents and grandparents, experienced the hardships many Indigenous people know all too well.

The unfortunate reality is that Mary is not an outlier. Many members of the Piikani Nation are multi-generational survivors of institutions where children were stripped of their freedoms, their cultures and their identities.

Many who endured residential school life were present for the unveiling, which featured heartfelt speeches from elders Peter Strikes With A Gun and Herman Many Guns, Piikani Nation Chief Troy Knowlton and the executive director of PCFS, Kelly Provost.

 

 

They spoke to the horrors of residential schools, of colonization, but also of the need to heal and rise above these hardships.

“This sign not only symbolizes our healing process, but it also signifies our ability to move forward with our loyalty to our way of life,” Mary says.

According to her, this initiative was first proposed to former Piikani chief Stan Grier and council, all of whom were on board with the idea.

Earlier this year, Grier was replaced by Chief Knowlton, and so the initiative was brought forth once more to the new chief and council, who were absolutely for it, as well.

“I just feel like it’s been a long time coming,” Mary says.

“Thirty years ago, you would never have heard this sort of acknowledgement for children that were in residential school, and now as time goes on, we’re starting to hear more about it and are acknowledging what happened.”

Following the event, spectators gathered at a teepee set up outside the Piikani Travel Centre, where folks received complimentary merchandise and a free lunch.

On behalf of the PCFS, Mary extends gratitude to the North Stone drum group, Wade Plain Eagle and crew for the sign structure, Little Miss Piikani Alyson Red Young Man, the PCFS staff and everyone else who made this possible.

 

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Text: Communities coming together in a spirit of reconciliation and hope because every child matters. Orange t-shirt marking Orange Shirt Day.

Local Truth and Reconciliation commemorations

In Canada, Sept. 30 is recognized as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. This is a day honouring Indigenous children who experienced the horrors of residential schools, and the families affected.

Communities and organizations host activities across the country to commemorate this painful history and spread awareness of the lasting impacts still endured by survivors and their families to this day.

Throughout the southwestern Alberta region, many groups are hosting events over the next few days in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Piikani Child and Family Services

For starters, Piikani Child and Family Services is hosting a Day of Truth and Reconciliation event at Piikani Travel Centre on Friday, Sept. 29, from 10 a.m. until noon. 

The group will unveil a new billboard sign for Piikani Child and Family Services, while also honouring Every Child Matters and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The event will feature a blessing, speakers, elders and a free lunch. Everyone is welcome.

 

 

Peigan Ponokamiitatopii

A few hours later, Peigan Ponokamiitatopii, an equine-assisted learning organization, is hosting a Truth and Reconciliation youth event from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Fort Macleod ag building. 

Youth are invited to sign up for an afternoon of learning all about Blackfoot culture, language, games, food and more.

“My goal with this event is to invite any youth to come and participate, especially non-native youth, to see what we’re all about,” says Julia Lowe, owner of Peigan Ponokamiitatopii.

“The whole idea is to get people together to learn about the Blackfoot ways.”

To sign up for this free event, call or text Julia at 403-339-4048.

 

 

Smudging and blessing with Peter Strikes With A Gun

Later the same evening, Pincher Creek United Church will host a smudge and blessing with elder Peter Strikes with a Gun, beginning at 5 p.m. in its parking lot. 

Smudging is a cultural ceremony practised by many Indigenous peoples in Canada, typically involving prayer and the burning of sacred medicines. 

This, like many other Indigenous traditions, was repressed and frowned upon within residential schools, so it is important to embrace this long-standing practice in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. 

Swing by the church to learn from the words of this Piikani elder, and stick around afterwards for fry bread, refreshments and more.

Calling My Spirit Back

Community members are also welcome to join the English family from Oct. 2 to 4 for their sixth annual Calling My Spirit Back healing walk for justice and awareness for the lives in Treaty 7 and globally.

The walk will begin with a pipe ceremony at the English estate in Brocket at 4 a.m. on Oct. 2, before leaving for a nearly 200-kilometre walk to Calgary. The walk concludes at Olympic Plaza, where the group will join the 20th Sisters in Spirit Vigil.

For details, contact Natawowowkii (Stephanie) English at English398@gmail.com.

 

 

Kairos Blanket Exercise

Lastly, Pincher Creek United Church is hosting a Kairos Blanket Exercise with Rev. Tony Snow, a United Church minister and member of the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, on Oct. 2 at 11 a.m.

The Blanket Exercise was developed by elders and keepers of knowledge to help illustrate the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canadian history. Everyone is welcome to learn about Indigenous experiences of colonization.

Registration is requested for the exercise. To register, email pcucoffice@gmail.com or call 403-627-3734.

Take time to reflect

These are just a few of the local events, so be sure to keep an eye out for additional activities geared toward the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Every Child Matters movement. 

If you can’t make it to any of the events, be sure to take a moment on Sept. 30 to learn more about the history of residential schools and reflect upon it. This online link provides information: bit.ly/3EVz12G.

 

 

Related story: Dave Friesen’s relentless pursuit of justice at Lower Post IRS

Dr. Laura Chisholm – woman with long, straight, reddish-blonde hair, of Pincher Creek Eye Clinic

Seeing good in the world

There are those who talk about doing good and nothing ever comes of it, there are those who do good and need to boast, and then there are people like Dr. Laura Chisholm. If you’ve encountered Laura, you will know she is an individual who selflessly acts in the best interests of others without a mention of it from her.

Many Pincher Creek residents would recognize Laura as their optometrist, others know her in a different capacity, but anyone who is familiar with her is aware of her kind soul and giving nature.

This month, Dr. Chisholm is celebrating her 10-year anniversary working at Pincher Creek Eye Clinic. To mark the occasion, she is doing something very on-brand — giving.

She will be donating a portion of her September sales to Fighting Blindness Canada, a non-profit organization that raises money and awareness to support Canadians who suffer from blindness. To date, the group has contributed over $40 million for sight-saving research.

“The hardest part of this job is telling people that they have something wrong with their eyes, that they won’t be able to see like they used to and nothing can really be done about it,” Laura says.

“This charity works on research into new cures for these problems that otherwise don’t have a cure.”

Beyond her kind nature, Laura has a personal connection to vision quality. A genetic eye condition runs in her family, providing a unique personal perspective on the importance of sight.

“I have watched so many people struggle with vision loss and fluctuation of vision. In my family, it’s been a tough struggle, so I wanted to help prevent vision loss from happening,” she says.

 

 

Laura has been asked many times why she didn’t pursue ophthalmology, as her family was often taken care of by ophthalmologists. She felt, though, that this wasn’t the best way she could help people with their vision.

“I wanted to be more on the front lines to catch things early, or give people tools ahead of time to try and help prevent this vision loss from happening,” she says.

According to office manager Chelsey Olson, Laura’s sentiments only reinforce what everyone at the eye clinic already knew about the kind-hearted optometrist.

“Her patients just adore her. She’s so highly sought after and everyone wants to see Dr. Chisholm, and I think it’s because she’s so giving and compassionate. She spends so much time on her patients because she actually cares so much,” Chelsey says.

“She has spent several nights after hours, her own personal time, advocating for patients, researching options for patients and bringing her findings to them, and they’ll have no clue she was even doing it.”

Laura began working alongside Dr. Bart Anderson, previous owner of the clinic, joining the practice straight out of the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry and Vision Science.

 

 

She speaks highly of Bart’s influence on her career and the way she handles patients, and of what his teachings meant to her.

“He is a very compassionate, caring man. His guidance was invaluable as I was arriving in a new community, and helping me establish myself as a new practitioner,” she says.

Eventually, Bart sold the clinic to his son, Dr. Dave Anderson. Laura notes her gratitude toward Dave as well, citing how the new ideas and treatments he’s brought to the table have provided her priceless knowledge to support her patients.

Dave, on the other hand, expresses that Laura’s charitable intentions are “totally par for the course for her.”

“She’s just someone who provides care, and I don’t just mean great eye care, I mean just care in general. She just has such a huge heart and just loves everybody,” he says.

“She’d give the shirt off her back to help someone, and I think that goes a long way with our patients. Everybody who comes into our clinic feels her kindness and love and concern. She’s just an amazing person to work with.”

Dr. Chisholm extends her gratitude to her supportive team at the clinic, who “make coming to work a joy” for the giving optometrist, and her patients for their support during her 10 years at Pincher Creek Eye Clinic. 

Felicia White, woman with dark hair pulled back and sunglasses on her head, holds a black puppy while standing with an adult dressed in a brown dog costume.

Get ready to Raise the Woof with Pincher Creek Humane Society

Pincher Creek Humane Society invites members of the community to join them for a standup comedy show fundraiser and dinner on Friday, Sept. 29, at Pincher Creek Community Hall.

This adults-only comedy night features special guest comedians Dave Nystrom and Adam Ruby.

Dave is a Canadian comedian from Thunder Bay, best known for his work on CTV’s Comedy Now! and the CBC political comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes. 

Adam, on the other hand, is a high-energy comedian who is highly regarded for his storytelling. He has made a name for himself within the Calgary comedy scene, having performed in the YYC Comedy Festival, as well as being a regular at the Comedy Cave.

The animal shelter is hosting the event in the hopes of raising money to offset mounting expenses, in addition to funding new spay-and-neuter programs.

“As a non-profit, we only get so much funding. It’s not enough when compared to the cost of running the shelter,” says Felicia White, manager of the shelter.

“I would say that even a healthy cat that comes in is easily going to cost us $200 for the vetting, the original health check, the vaccines, the spay or neuter procedure, etc.”

In recent months, the non-profit has been slammed by veterinary bills and other expenses, stemming from an increase in the number of animals being dropped off at the shelter.

Felicia says this has been a particularly bad year in terms of the number of dogs dropped off at the shelter. As it stands, the shelter is at maximum capacity for dogs.

 

 

The hope is that this show draws locals and succeeds in raising enough money to help the shelter recover funds and get through to next year without worrying about a lack of resources.

“We just need to raise money. The board, the staff, we’re all trying to find different ways to bring in that income to help our animals, but we can only do so much and we need support from the community,” Felicia says. 

The shelter is seeking support from local companies, individuals and organizations, and there are a number of ways you can help. Individual tickets can be purchased through the shelter for $65, or companies can spoil their staff by purchasing a table of eight for $450.

Businesses and individuals can also sponsor the event through either monetary or silent auction items. There are six levels of sponsorship, ranging from “High Paw” to “All 4 Paws In,” with any sort of sponsorship being recognized through the shelter’s social media pages.

If those options don’t work for you, you can still support the shelter by purchasing a 50-50 ticket for the humane society’s online raffle. Anyone in Alberta can purchase a ticket, with the winner’s name being drawn the night of the show.

Assuming the shelter sells out its 50-50 raffle, the lucky winner would walk away with $10,000.

“We want to sell out, we want that engagement with the community and we want this to be a night to remember,” Felicia says.

So far, ticket sales have been slow for tables, and our local branch of the SPCA is imploring residents and businesses alike to come out and support a worthy cause.

Tickets can be purchased at Pincher Creek Humane Society, by contacting Felicia at 403-563-0095 or by contacting Kelly Lepine at 403-563-9428.