Truth and Reconciliation

Yesterday, we Canadians, heard Justice Murray Sinclair’s report on the treatment faced by countless First Nations people during the era of residential schools and the systemic actions of the governments of the time against them.

The backdrop of this day, for me, was marked by an article about the insult to Sarah Hoffman, efforts to stop bill C51, Sepp Blatter and the FIFA scandal. Now at first glance, these would seem to be very separate issues, one having little to do with the other. But they are all related by the thread of our human nature. A nature that has many good qualities, but many negative ones as well.

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Alberta Election 2015

Wow! I can’t believe what I witnessed yesterday here in Alberta. Having been born and raised here, I love living here, there isn’t any other place I would rather be but the politics have been a sore point for me all of these years. The dynastic history of politics in this province never matched the varied and broad spectrum of people I have known throughout my life here.

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Headline Calendar Talk with Senior Students at the Edge School of Athletics

I was invited to give a talk to the two senior classes at the Edge School of Athletics on April 14th. My talk was based on an art project that I started back in August of 2013. This project is a modern tapestry that follows the thread of a story. The story in this case, is the daily headlines that I followed for one year. Each month of the calendar has a background image based on the dominant story of that 4 week period;

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Springbank Offstream Flood Mitigation

I attended the March 2, 2015 Springbank Community Planning Associations’ public meeting regarding the Springbank Off Stream flood mitigation proposal. The groups position was laid out by Gloria Wilkinson whose main concerns where the lack of consultation and involvement of the Springbank community who would be directly affected by this reservoir, the changing scope of the project and the lack of communication and information from the provincial government. Gloria also raised the importance of the study that involves room for the river as a resource that has not been referenced in any during the discussions so far.

Further information and frustration was voiced by Ryan Robinson whose family ranch  will be used for the dry reservoir. He is also involved with the group Don’t Damn Springbank . He spoke of finding out about this project from a report on the radio. He also spoke of the lack of information and clarity from the province.

Also in attendance were Matthew Machielse, Assistant Deputy Minister Environment and Sustainable Resource Development and Bruce MacAllister , MLA. There were also members of the Rocky View County Council in attendance, Liz Breakey and Margaret Bahcheli who voiced her concern that the budget numbers did not accurately reflect the cost of the work needed to keep Springbank Road and Hwy. 22 from flooding.

I would like to first make it clear that my interest in this project is twofold, I live in Springbank and as a federal issue in so much as the proposal leaves the community of Redwood Meadows and Bragg Creek unprotected thus involving Tsuu T’ina lands. But this issue speaks louder to me of just how we the people are being represented by the politicians who are elected to serve their communities. We entrust these representatives, whether municipal, provincial or federal, to do right by the people they serve.

A common thread to the discussions that took place was regarding the “decision making process”. Gloria spoke of having to fight to get a public meeting held in her community, Ryan spoke of his frustration with the complete lack of consultation with the land owners directly affected by this proposal and the overall feeling of many in the group that the decision is already made and the “public” input is merely lip service.

I overheard the Deputy Minister in his interview with the media explaining that this was a complicated, technical issue that was hard for people to understand. Now I don’t know about you but that was a pretty condescending remark and there were several very knowledgeable people in the room who spoke about water flow issues and the effects on dry dams, another man spoke of earthen dams and government regulations from his own experience having built a number of them in the Fort MacMurray region and another woman speaking to the need for serious geological investigations on the underlying structure beneath the dam site, who is herself a geologist. A resident of Bragg Creek voicing her support of the Maclean Creek option armed with the governments own guidelines on looking for creative recreational uses of lands involved in flood mitigation issues seemed fully capable of understanding these complicated issues.

We as the public understand that issues are complicated and technical, despite the media trying to condense every issue into a sound bite. We the public are prepared to engage with our leaders in coming up with the best solutions for these complicated issues. We the public expect that our elected officials engage with us throughout the process of decision making. We the public have to live with those decisions.

The Deputy also spoke of the damage to downtown Calgary from the previous flood being caused by the Elbow River. That is not the case, the biggest economic damage done in Calgary was from having the downtown core shut down for the better part of a week and this was caused by the Bow River waters. The damage done by the Elbow mainly affected housing and the Stampede grounds, which unfortunate and at a cost but nothing compared with the downtown costs.

I have heard from a number of people that building on flood plains in essence is the problem of those who did so and should not be paid for by the general public. Which on the surface seems like a legitimate concern but historically, human civilization always gravitated to the closest source of water. Calgary itself was founded at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers, not on Nosehill.

When asked directly to answer the very salient and intelligent questions, Matthew Machielse at no time answered with the phrase, I will take your concerns and get back to you with firm numbers. Instead he just repeated the empty phrase that all the information is online for people to investigate for themselves and several options were put forward (none of which he cared to elaborate on) and the dry reservoir was deemed the most viable. He put off questions regarding the McLean Creek with some feigned concern about environmental issues that would take a decade to fully investigate.

As a Green Party candidate, environmental issues are very important to me, but in this case, the environmental concerns were used as a weapon to deflect away from what was clearly a decision to select a convenient option. There was no regard for the environmental impact of the dry reservoir. There was no regard for the people whose lives and livelihoods would be affected by this decision. At the very least I would have expected the government to go to the landowners and ask them for their input before this option even became public and they didn’t.

My input to the discussions of the evening was with regards to the bigger water issues to be faced by Alberta and that is the diminishing water resources. Yes, there will be floods but the bigger and much more important concern and future development strategies must be with conserving, protecting and storing water for future use. I posted a story from the BBC yesterday that correlated the drought in Syria with the ensuing civil unrest .

 Striving to engage with the world in a kind and critical way.

I came across this description on a young woman’s Twitter account and it really resonated with me. First off, it precisely describes what my intention in becoming the federal candidate for the Green Party of Canada is all about.

Let me break this down for you; striving, the first word so aptly captures any endeavour. I can’t say with any certainty that I will achieve my goal, I can only strive to make it a reality. I will strive to reach out to as many members in the Foothills riding as I can. I will strive to bring forward my vision and message to as many people as I can. I can’t make other people do anything, I can only strive to bring their attention to my viewpoint.

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Springbank Off-stream Reservoir

I attended the open house in Cochrane last night laying out the proposal for the flood mitigation on the Elbow River. The plan being proposed would create a dry reservoir on the land in the northwest region of Highway #22 and Springbank Road. This would involve a 4.5 km diversion canal constructed along Highway #22 and crossing east to connect to the dry reservoir.

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Democracy needs to be exercised

You know the Conservative candidate is going to win ….

Democracy is an individual practice that we can either exercise or abstain from. So if the over 40,000 voters in the Foothills ED who didn’t vote in the past elections continue to so, we will never truly see a result that reflects the popular will.

Whomever you decide to vote for is between you and the ballot.  All parties have worthy candidates.

So ask yourself, am I going to exercise or abstain from voting in any election?

Farewell to Chief Gordon Crowchild

The Tsuu T’ina Nation said farewell to their Lifetime Chief Gordon Crowchild, doni yisdla “Gun Case” at a state funeral held at the Grey Eagle Event Centre on January 17, 2015. Chief Crowchild passed away on Monday, January 12, 2015. Leaving behind his wife of 57 years, Maria, his many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

It was an honor to attend his funeral and hear the many stories of Chief Crowchild’s life and his impact on his community, extended family and his cowboy brethren.

His community took great care to design and build his casket, draped with a Thunderbird blanket, flanked by his headdress and staff. His son standing guard ensuring his father’s safe passage through this phase of his life’s journey.