Building on reintegration

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While winter did return for one last grasp over the weekend, spring is already in bloom for Parkland Restorative Justice.

The faith-based charitable organization is hosting its second annual Spring Banquet in the Woods to help raise funds for their two main programs, which help inmates at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary reintegrate back into the community upon release.

Aboriginal Order of Canada Recipient Jorgina Sunn is scheduled to be the guest speaker for this year’s event, which has organizers pleased and excited.

“She’s a very dynamic and engaging speaker, and she’s a musician as well,” Parkland Restorative Justice director Heather Driedger explained. “Not only does she have a talent for sharing her story, she’s very captivating in terms of presenting her narrative.”

Sunn is a former gang-member herself. She spent several years living homeless on the streets of Calgary, before being convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to six-months in a healing lodge.

These days, Sunn lives in Saskatoon, where she helps people trying to escape from the gang lifestyle.

Driedger said Sunn is an ideal guest to speak about the challenges faced by inmates trying to leave their old life behind.

For the rest of this story, please see the April 18 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Army education

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It’s almost the end of the lunch hour at Robin Cameron Education Complex, and that means school is nearly back in session.

However, for the 12 students in the Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) Co-op program, that means something different than notebooks, pencils and erasers. On this day, it means marching around the Beardy’s and Okemasis First Nation looking for points on a map.

Under grey, windy skies, and the watchful eye of five different instructors, students are walking up and down the road leading out of the school parking lot, getting used to counting off paces. Soon they’ll be back in the classroom, but instead of adding sums and taking notes, they’ll be pouring over local maps and marking points with a compass.

It’s as close to being in the army as the instructors can make it. For three days a week, students march, do pushups and receive lectures on everything from wilderness survival to ethics and military law.

“We try to keep everything as similar as possible because we want to maintain that standard, no matter who you’re teaching,” says 2nd Lt. Evan Brockman, the BMQ course officer. “They’re going to get the same level of training, no matter where they are.”

For the rest of this story, please see the April 15 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Forging an identity

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After a successful introduction one year ago, the YWCA Regional Newcomer Centre identification clinics are set to return for another year.

The organization held three such clinics in 2016, serving as many as 150 people on each occasion.

Newcomer Centre settlement councillor Kyle Bender said they always knew there was a need in the community for such clinics, but even they were surprised by the demand.

“We realized that it was a barrier that a lot of people faced, but it was something that you could only speculate about,” Bender said. “Then, when we held the clinics last year, we realized that the demand was definitely there. There are lots of people out there would could definitely use access to a birth certificate, for whatever reason, or access to photo ID.”

Things will be a little bit different this year to help organizers and administrators cope with demand. The first free clinic on April 19 will be capped at 80 people per event, with assistance coming on a first come, first serve basis.

Bender said things were a little chaotic in 2016, but that shouldn’t be the case this year.

“We just couldn’t manage the numbers,” he explained. “What we do is we put a limit on it. We do 80 birth certificates per clinic. That way we keep it manageable.”

For the rest of this story, please see the April 15 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Playing with fire

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Safety instructors are looking to give Prince Albert educators and firefighting personnel some insight into how children view fire safety, and some tips for increasing their awareness.

On April 27, instructors will be in the city offering the Play Safe! Be Safe! workshop, which aims to help people understand the challenges that come up when discussing fire safety with children.

Workshop organizers say it’s an important issue that’s commonly misunderstood.

“Sometimes we think that children are basically little adults, so we can just tell them, ‘don’t touch fire. It can hurt you. It’s dangerous. You need to stay away,” program trainer Molly Clifford explained. “They know that it’s something that they shouldn’t do, like so many of the rules that parents give them, but they don’t really know why.”

Clifford is a former Director of Fire Administration with the Rochester Fire Department in New York, where she worked on fire prevention programs, code enforcement and community outreach. She started teaching Play Safe! Be Safe! workshops roughly 20 years ago, and said many children are naturally curious about fire. However, they don’t really understand the danger.

For the rest of this story, please see the April 12 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Clarification: This workshop is open to childhood educators and fire service personnel only. Members of the public are not able to register.

Cooking up a storm

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A pair of Birch Hills students will be representing Saskatchewan on the national stage after taking home top spot in the cooking and baking competitions at the Provincial Trade Skills Competition in Saskatoon on April 8.

Grade 10 student Kendall Shore and Grade 11 student Megan Evans took home first place honours thanks to their culinary skills, which earned them a spot at the national competition in Winnipeg.

Winning was a surreal moment for the two students.

“We were so excited, and we were so excited for each other because we’ve been through all of this together,” said Shore, who won the cooking category. “It was like an overwhelming feeling of excitement.”

“I was really sacred before (the decision),” chuckled Evans, who took first place in the baking category. “I was freaking out, then when I won I was just really excited.”

Both students had to prepare a specific set of dishes within an allotted amount of time before being judged on the finished product.

For the rest of this story, please see the April 12 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Tourism award an unexpected honour

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Country at the Creek organizers didn’t intend to win awards when they founded the music festival six years ago, so last week’s honour came as a bit of a surprise.

On April 5, the annual festival, which takes place at the Ness Creek site near Big River, was named the 2016 Community Event of the Year at the Saskatchewan Tourism Gala in Saskatoon.

For event coordinator Jeanette Wicinksi-Dunn, it was a long way from where they started.

“I wasn’t even sure the festival would go six years when it started,” she remembered during an interview on Monday. “It was just six people sitting around a table one night talking about everything else that happens out at the Ness Creek site, and the other festivals that were going on at the time. Somebody just suggested that maybe a country music festival should get started.”

Wicinski-Dunn said they were in a start of disbelief when they’re name was called. Although Country at the Creek has received several nominations in the past, this was the first year they made the cut for the final three. She said they were just happy to be there, and never expected to come home with the award.

“We were up against some tough competition,” Wicinski-Dunn said. “It was just very exciting.”

“An honour to be honoured”

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When Dr. David Stevens first came to Saskatchewan, the first things he noticed were the community spirit and the topography.

After spending roughly a year-in-half in Saskatoon, Stevens moved to Prince Albert in 1990, where he’s been here ever since. It was a bit a change from his home in the United Kingdom, but one he looked forward to.

“It was very, very positive,” Stevens said when asked about his initial impression. “Obviously very different from the scenery … in England. It’s completely flat here, very different, so that took a little bit of getting used to.”

As an eye, ear and throat specialist, Stevens found plenty of work in Prince Albert, which was one of several things that compelled him to stay. Filling a vital role in the community gave him a sense of fulfillment, which helped keep him in the city until his retirement in 2015.

“There was a need here,” he explained. “If you’re needed then you’re much more inclined to stay and provide a service, rather than be one of 25 different people.”

For the rest of this story, please see the April 11 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

City looking for transit feedback

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The City of Prince Albert is looking to generate discussion as it moves forward with a plan to make transit ridership more appealing.

On Wednesday, April 25, the city will host a public consultation with local residents to hear what’s working and what’s not.

“Just talking to people about transit is always beneficial” said the city’s transportation manager, Keri Sapsford. “You get to hear the good things and the bad things, and you’re not just getting complaints … you would get normally on a day-to-day basis. You’re actually getting a full picture.”

In particular, the city is looking for feedback on its rush hour service, known as the 15th street shuttle. City statistics show the route is underused by the public, and past city councils have considered putting it on the chopping block on more than one occasion.

“Right now it accounts for our lowest ridership,” Sapsford explained. “We have options to either modify it or remove it.”

For the rest of this story, please see the April 8 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Reader revolt

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Gail Anderson was stunned when she first heard the provincial government was cutting roughly $4.8 million in regional and city library funding.

Anderson has spent nearly 30 years working in the provincial library system, the last 14 of which where as acquisitions manager at the Wapiti Regional Library Office. For her, the announcement was a bit puzzling.

“It’s so hard to believe that they would take a system like this and cut it so drastically, not knowing the ramifications of it,” she explained. “You cut everything that much, you’re going to have branch closures (and) you’re going to have layoffs.”

Anderson said she’s had a rewarding experience working in Saskatchewan Libraries, but now she’s concerned about the future. On Friday, she was one of more than 75 people who gathered in front of Prince Albert Carlton MLA Joe Hargrave’s office protesting the government’s decision to cut funding for libraries across the province.

“We’re wishing we were here for a better reason, but we’re trying to make a statement to the present government, and to the local MLA, that we’re not happy about the recent drastic cuts,” she said.

For the rest of this story, please see the April 8 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.

Bringing a little JOY to life

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Local partnership aims to kick start new Prince Albert seniors program

A pair of Prince Albert organizations are partnering together to create a new program that will ideally help seniors struggling with loneliness and depression.

The Heart of Seniors church and the New Horizon for Seniors Program have secured funding to start up Just Older Youth (JOY), with the goal of helping seniors become more active in the community.

“We need to come up with programs that will break the cycle of isolation, to talk about isolation, loneliness and depression within seniors, and we need ways and means to deal with that,” Heart of Seniors pastor John Fryters said.

The two groups received a federal grant to start up the program, which will officially begin operation in May. The program will focus on independent seniors who live outside nursing homes and retirement residences, although all our welcome.

For the rest of this story, please see the April 7 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.