Posted on Dec 1, 2017

Health and holiday needs

By Annie McKitrick, MLA for Sherwood Park

During Constituency Week, as it happened, I spent a large part of my time focusing on education. It was a privilege last week to speak at two University of Alberta convocations. At the fall convocations for faculties as diverse as education, medicine, science and arts, I was pleased to note a large number of Sherwood Park residents graduating with bachelors or graduate degrees. While I did not have the opportunity to meet all of the new graduates, I would like to extend my congratulations and best wishes for your future employment to all of you.

Pine Street School hosted a Citizenship Ceremony last week. Every Citizenship Ceremony I attend reminds me of the time I took the oath of allegiance and the opportunities I have had as a Canadian. Each ceremony also provides the opportunity for Canadians to take the oath as well, and I appreciated seeing Grade 6 students taking the oath and thinking about what it means to be a Canadian. The Pine Street students prepared cards for each new Canadian and gave them flowers. Thank you to Pine Street School for giving the opportunity to students to experience an in-person social studies lesson about citizenship.

Parents Empowering Parents (PEP) held a very successful forum on the proposed cannabis legislation. Thank you to PEP for their leadership in informing parents and the community on this issue. A one-page fact sheet was given out. If anyone is interested, the fact sheet can be found at: www.alberta.ca/assets/documents/cannabis-framework-highlights.pdf or by contacting my office.

On Nov. 21, the Legislative Assembly held its annual Holodomor ceremony. Strathcona County has strong ties to the Ukrainian community. This yearly remembrance of the famine experienced by Ukrainians as a result of Joseph Stalin’s policies is a reminder of the need to fight against totalitarianism. Ceremonies held at the legislature, like the one recognizing Holodomor, are open to the public and are scheduled months in advance. Visit the assembly website at www.assembly.ab.ca for a schedule of upcoming events.

I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a warm and heartfelt thank you to Health Minister and Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman who spent the day with us in the community this week. Together, we had the opportunity to learn about the wonderful work Elk Island Public and Catholic Schools are doing in collaboration with Family and Community Services and the Health Ministry to support the mental health needs of their students, staff and families. We also met up with Mayor Rod Frank and councillors Bill Tonita and Robert Parks, who joined us for a visit with staff and residents at Capital Care Strathcona. I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to share our wonderful community with the minister - especially the group of constituents and care providers who met with us to discuss their experiences with the health care system.

Holiday needs

The Strathcona County Christmas Bureau is up and running and needs your help. Please consider buying toys and other gifts to donate to the Christmas Bureau. Information on how you can support them can be found at www.strathconachristmasbureau.com.

The Christmas and holiday season can be a lonely time for many. Trinity Baptist Church is holding a Blue Christmas Service on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. I attended a service like this at a time when my family was on the other side of the world, and found it to be a healing place. I urge you to set aside time in this busy season to engage in mindfulness and self-care  whenever possible - whether that involves engaging with community or family, finding a spiritual connection or physical outlet, or simply taking a moment to take a deep breath and regroup.

First published Dec. 1, 2017, in the Sherwood Park News