December 2021 Volume 4 Issue 5

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Volume 4 Issue 5 • December 2021

published by ZX Media Corporation

Clean Resources

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Innovation is shaping Alberta’s healthy future. Alberta Innovates accelerates research and innovation in the health sector to address pressing challenges. Data-enabled technologies are advancing the development of patient-focused clinical solutions and new models of care that will form the foundation of a more affordable, accessible and high-quality healthcare system for all Albertans.

We provide opportunities and programs that support activities focused on enhancing the effectiveness of the health system, improving health outcomes and ensuring advances from research translate into technologies, tools and policies for better health.

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Mental Illness Does NOT Discriminate.

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Subscribe for your free issue of Community Now! at Copyright 2019 ZX Media Corporation, Calgary Alberta Canada Community Now! Magazine Copyright 2018, published by ZX Media Corporation. Volume 4 Issue 5 | December 2021 All rights reserved. This magazine or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher and writer.

This grassroots magazine is a platform for, about and by the community.


Mental Illness does NOT discriminate …


It does not care what size pants you wear It does not care about the colour of your hair Mental Illness doesn’t care if you are rich or poor It doesn’t keep a score Mental Illness does not judge you by your age It is not a craze or the latest rage Mental Illness is REAL It’s something we all feel Mental Illness is everywhere And is in no way fair Mental Illness is here to stay Unless we work together to find a way Together we can stand We need to listen and learn How to help those around us Not in exchange or for a return Mental Illness is in our homes, workplaces and schools It’s become a social media frenzy And it has no rules But Together we can unite We can stand up to this and we can fight One day at a time, moment by moment Remove the stigma, survive Mental Illness Together we will build Mental Wellness. Community \\ 4


One Person, One Word at a Time

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ― Lao Tzu

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I am a seventy year old white guy…my world has been designed, governed, measured, evaluated and enforced through an old white guy’s perspective…my interactions with women, marginalized minority people, 40, 19, 11 year old people of various faiths has pointed out to me that I have benefited from a privileged unencumbered access to a very good life, that was built with me in mind…that has been my ‘norm’…not so for everyone. It is long past time to change the narrative on how we recognize and appreciate each other… we all have differences but we are all connected as children of this earth. It is time to refashion our world by being open to the diversity of perspectives specifically offered by women, by people of different religious faiths, by people of various races and sexual orientation and the needs and interests of all of those younger than me. Mental and physical health is important to all of us and those we love, we should recognize that it is important to everyone and we should all have equal access to care… We need to ensure that we all have opportunity for economic prosperity and that equality is inclusive regardless of sex, race, religious faith or sexual orientation. We should all want this…we all deserve this… we can be better for it. We need to show we have the will to change. Dave Malden

If we change the narrative, change will happen

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Our Systems were created in history and as they grew to do what was needed, they became broken with so many needs in so many lives and places.

Marilyn Dyck

CHANGING THE NARRATIVE… is the job of individual people … not an imposed strategy … but a coming together in who we are and how we think so far … changes forward do not happen without listening to others and coming to understand their thinking …

We would all agree that there are so many things in our world that need to be different. We watch political processes in many places all over the world that become more about getting elected and having power than about caring and planning about the issues that face the lives and well-being all citizens equally.

Technology has reframed our realities, but not the same for everyone or everywhere. We often cannot understand each other or see how we can relate or be helpful to grow a society for all. We have become so connected that we struggle to know ourselves as individual persons.

Capitalism has become a way to serve only where money is operative.

Agriculture has become estranged from equalized production as necessary for the needs of humanity, in order to qualify for, (i.e. afford), participation in its own industry. Costs of doing business have spiralled. Tragically, the original Mission to produce enough food for everyone everywhere this has been robbed.

One person at a time is our only way to achieve change. 8 // Community Now!

As we think about our own beliefs and perspectives, we can assess if/how they fit our own values and concerns.

What we discover when we listen to people who think differently from us is that there is a magic in listening to

Is there any way some of what I am doing or saying is not shared by my family, friends or neighbors? Over a coffee, a barbeque, a drink, we can just LISTEN to other people. As we listen we begin to really hear where others are coming from … And WHY.

understand. The person who disagrees with my perspective is the same as me in so many ways that we share way more ‘same’ than ‘different’. And as we find our perspectives coming together we can see new ideas and ways of seeing emerge! That feels like magic.

Understanding emerges when we trust ourselves to listen and not talk. The words that make us angry become sentences about why people think the way they do, and as we learn from each other, suggestions for different words / language, and new possibilities replace our anger with insight. We can see things in a new way. And now we share solidarity.

J K Rowling wrote: “We do not need magic To change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have power to imagine better.”

We stay who we are and they stay who they are, but our minds can now talk with each other. Solidarity builds as we LISTEN. Our fear dissipates as HOPE grows.

The choice to walk a path toward CHANGE is SOLITARY. Ghandi lived a long time in his world and he observed: “one book one pen one child and one teacher can change the world.” The power of ONE is lived out again and again.

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The Superpower Project Rewriting the Narrative Blaise Hunter | Human Rights Consultant | Heroine

Everyone in this world is an author—the writer of their own life. What stories are we telling ourselves each day? Are they Fact or Fiction? Do they Heal or Hurt us?

E Like me, you can change the course of your narrative just by committing to the process. 10 // Community Now!

very single day we pick up a mental pen and compose a storyline of how each scene will playout. Our physical lives then respond to what is birthed in our minds. We often can’t change the things from the past, but we do have the influence to alter the course of our present and future selves. The Superpower Project is about highlighting various challenges or “kryptonites” facing people and helping us neutralize their effect on us. A deadly kyrptonite facing us these days is we don’t even realize we control the final edit.

We are the master of our thoughts, the director of our stories, and the leading role of our lives. But when we give power over to our thoughts and emotions, we end up becoming just an extra in our very own script. How can we ensure this doesn’t happen? How can we turn an adopted drama into an inspiring true story? We just need to change the narrative. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is that simple. Our personal narratives are the stories we tell about ourselves. Many are a product life experiences—the way we grew up, our traumas, the decisions we’ve made, and the trajectories our lives have taken. Many are also from the lens of various filters we see ourselves, the world, and others in. The personal narrative is a matrix. We are the creators of our own reality. So, if we can tap into writing a positive spin even on a negative situation, we create a healthy life rather than a toxic one. Most of the time we are subjective rather than objective, but this isn’t healthy. I was pretty good at allowing my imagination to get the best of me and I would continually buy into a fictious storyline. This never served me well. Habitually we feed into these plots but, there is no evidence to support our feelings. Time and time again the story I created was completely opposite to reality. The key to this entire process is to become a referee of your own thoughts and then put on the detective hat in each situation. I literally picture a loud whistle blowing and that provokes me to halt the best-seller fiction writing. I pause the scene and then enter a series of questions to navigate through the set and take control of the narrative. No longer am I a victim of my story. We all experience hardships and crappy days. No one is immune to setbacks and tragedies but how do some people stay happy amongst the problem? I believe they have learned how to be Pulitzer

Prize worthy writers. Those people don’t escape life’s obstacles, they just change the headline. I started rewriting my story in 2017. I woke up one day and realized I didn’t like the person I had become nor the path I was on. I was full of sadness, anger, resentment, depression, anxiety, and lacked zeal for my own life. It was like a lightbulb finally turned on, “If I don’t like my life, then maybe I should take steps to change it.” Each day since then I make a conscious choice to examine the plotlines happening in my day and work towards injecting love, joy, peace, and hope into my personal narrative. This has transformed my world. It has taken commitment and I haven’t always gotten it right, but I give myself an ‘A’ for effort. I see the incredible mental strength I have developed, and I notice the positive results. The shift didn’t happen overnight and I’m still in the middle of my story but there is a sweet tone and empowering pitch to the collection of scenes in my life. What kind of vibration does your story give off? Like me, you can change the course of your narrative just by committing to the process. Each time you face a situation where someone is rude, when you engage in conflict, when you’re deeply hurt, when something bad happens, when you are triggered, or when you mess up, blow the whistle, hit pause, and follow these steps: • Take some deep breaths and count to 15 • Ask yourself if I have all the facts, or do I need more information? • Is this narrative healthy or harmful? • Is this true or is my matrix playing tricks on me? (continued on next page) Community \\ 11

(continued from page 11...) • Is this a “them” issue or am I being triggered here? (sometimes it is one or the other, or both) • How can I de-escalate this situation rather than fuel it? • Am I contributing to this issue, if so, take ownership and apologize • Take more deep breaths • Remind yourself to not buy into fictitious scenarios, we don’t do that anymore • Our brains don’t like “I don’t know” but usually we have little answers in that moment • It’s better to continue the pause rather than write fiction narratives • Tell yourself “I’m ok” “I am safe” and “I don’t need to deflect by projecting anger” • Use language like “when you say that, I feel ….” Or “I am being triggered right now; I will get back to you” • Say to yourself “I am the writer of this story” “I choose a healthy plot” By following these series of tasks and queries, we change the direction of our thoughts. We channel them into a positive passageway which transforms the narrative. We become the lead of our life. Changing the storyline is all about swapping out the filter, shaping the bigger picture, and designing your identity. Re-remembering the past is about discovering grace and forgiveness, altering your view of reality, and altering your view of yourself. We are the keepers of our story. We have final editing power. Be a wise writer today. For more information about the Heroine Movement visit 12 // Community Now!

TAKE THE DAY 4 Annual Mental Health Event th

BLAISE HUNTER Blaise is an author, 2020 Influencer Award winner at the Canadian Women of Inspiration Awards, international speaker, podcast host, fertility expert, certified human rights advocate, Mother of Purpose, and Breaker of Chains. She tackles the realities of issues women face from low confidence and lack of identity to social injustices. Blaise’s mission is to inspire women to love themselves and breathe their passion like fire through her Heroine Movement. Her quest is to help women unleash the power of vulnerability to become their own heroes. It is time to pick up our miscarried dreams and birth our destiny.

CRYSTAL PHILLIPS My love for neuroscience research developed after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2005. I found therapies that promoted healthy thinking, healthy eating and healthy moving to be most the most effective form of treatment for myself, allowing me to live a healthy and active life, drug free. My personal success is what inspired me to create the Branch Out Neurological Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising funds to donate to research of complementary and alternative treatments for neurological disorders.


Jade and Kathy are two inspirational community members who always try to make the community a better place to live. They will share their journey of mental illness to mental wellness. The road travelled is not always smooth and will focus on how the family played a significant part in their story. “By sharing our story, we hope to inspire others suffering in silence.” - Jade Alberts

FABIAN WARNER To say 2019 tested me is an understatement. The entirety of the year was full of trauma, loss, panic attacks and they seemed to flow one after another. However, I believe you choose your reaction to adversity. I chose to use those moments as fuel to begin shaping my impact on the world, beginning with MenzLeague. We have no professional credentials, and we don’t claim to be experts by any means. What we hope to do with this community and movement is to bring in as many experts and professionals that we can who meet the Menzleague vision and start to help men move the dial.

DEREK HILL The idea of men sharing real stories and becoming vulnerable with each other and in all aspects of life, spoke to me on so many levels. And here we are, with a live and vibrant community of men striving to become better. This is for my mother, my sister, cousins, friends, ex-girlfriends and every woman in between. Men can be better and we hope to facilitate even the slightest growth within. I am not a psychologist, nor a doctor or a mental health professional. But I am an advocate and one with a strong passion to make this world a better place. I can truly say that this called to me, spoke to me and resonated within. I will promise to do everything in my power to make @menzleague, the most effective and proficient space for men to come and improve in.

CHARMAINE HAMMOND & MICHAEL MANKOWSKI Charmaine is the Executive Producer of the movie Back Home Again, a professional speaker and bestselling author on collaboration, resilience and conflict resolution Michael is the Writer/Director of Back Home Again and operator of Alien Kow formerly known as Wood Buffalo Productions, an Alberta, Canada based award winning production house.

CYNTHIA HAMILTON URQUHART I joined the RCMP only eleven years after women officers were first accepted into the organization. I served for over 25 years in five different provinces. In 2013, two years after my retirement, I was diagnosed with PTSD. I am using my experience to educate and advocate for First Responder mental health care. I have presented at a CIMVHR (Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research) conference in Toronto, a Trauma Workshop at the Sheldon Chumir Health Center in Calgary and at the First Responder Suicide Awareness Conference in Calgary in 2019. I am a recipient of the Women of Inspiration 2019 - Unsung Hero Award and was recently featured, along with the collective voices of over 100 other women, in the Women of Inspiration - Women Driving Change book.

TARA ADAMS I founded Abridge Consulting based on a simple, but not easy goal - to get more people, more help, sooner. I believe we can all learn how to be a bridge between people struggling with their mental health and getting them the support, they need and deserve. I work with organizations and teams who are ready to invest in their people, culture and bottom line. With a strong background in learning and facilitation for workplace mental health, I spent several years as a Corporate Wellness Manager. During that time, I championed workplace mental health and overall employee total health for 6,000 employees by building enterprise-wide strategies for mental, physical, emotional, and financial wellness.

JOANNE NEWEDUK innovator, Joanne Neweduk, truly walks the talk. A dedicated oncology nurse who boldly began her own personal journey to self-discovery. Now, an acclaimed facilitator, engaging podcast host, and stress management coach, who nurtures others to holistic health using a unique blend of healing practices. A devoted humanitarian and contributing author of several award-winning bestsellers Having already established Calgary’s Fabulous at 50, a thriving community of women engaged in education, socialization, and self-celebration, Joanne now is making a positive difference in many more lives as the owner and creative director for the Fabulous at 50 venture worldwide.

KRISTA MALDEN Krista is a mom, drummer, community connector and founder of CN! Magazine. She is a UN SHEInnovator, WOI 2020 Cultural Ambassador National Award winner, and Storyteller. Krista knows “it takes a village” and will continue to repeat that until everyone gets it!

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Telling It Like It is Featuring Derek Hill and Fabian Warner, Founders of MenzLeague his friends even knew he was sick. The loss

Please share the story of why you founded MenzLeague? Derek - MenzLeague. What a concept, and I am so proud and happy to be a part of this movement. When my best friend came to me, shared his story and explained this concept, something inside of me lit right up. The idea of men sharing real stories and becoming vulnerable with each other spoke to me, most likely because I have lived to see the massive value in what the idea can do. Pulling from experiencing my own hardships in life, I have come to realize that men don’t have to attack life alone. I tried that, and suffered because of it. We often try to lift the load of life on our own, and there is no need, as I can promise that men all over the world struggle with the same realities. This is for my mother, my sister, cousins, friends, ex-wife, ex-girlfriends and every woman in between. Men can be better, we can be honest and we can be vulnerable. And by doing so, our health, our relationships and our future start to look alot brighter. Fabian - To say 2019 tested me is an understatement.The entirety of the year was full of truly impactful moments riddled with loss and regret which seemed to flow one after another. It started with the sudden passing of a close friend to cancer, not a single one of 18 // Community Now!

continued with another good friend who had some complications with drugs. Near the end of the year while I was moving out of my home as I was going through a divorce my uncle suddenly passed away. I like to pride myself on being a logical person in control of my emotions and I thought I had handled the grief and loss and digested it but it wasn’t until I was dropping to the ground in public with what felt like a heart attack that I knew something was wrong and I needed some support. After discussing my personal struggles with a professional I discovered it was panic attacks that had taken hold of my life. However, I believe you choose your reaction to adversity. I chose to use those moments as fuel to begin shaping my impact on the world, beginning with MenzLeague. If I was struggling with loss, and regret how many other men were struggling. I owed it to myself and the men I lost in 2019 to live the rest of my life trying to maximize my life, to become a better man. Why are men struggling and having a hard time coming forward? Derek - Ego, upbringing, the sense that men are supposed to be superhuman and take on any battle life throws your way. Some may be ashamed or embarrassed. What every single of these men don’t realize is that they are

not alone. Men all around them have gone through similar struggles and it is ok to talk about it. Fabian - the stereotype of what it means to be a man. We have spent our whole lives being told what a real man looks like! What the desired man acts like! What the cool guy talks, moves and flirts like. We are constantly told and shown not to show emotion and to man up and never show weakness. Because of this it’s never been desired or celebrated for a Man to be emotional or to share his perceived weaknesses. What are some of the benefits of belonging to MenzLeague? Derek - I personally believe that the main benefit from menzleague is the community. The feeling when you share a story and get the monkey off your back. The feeling when you share a secret that has been holding you back. The feeling you get when you can look at life with a clear vision. When Men can focus on their mental health, and become a better version of themselves, everybody benefits. Fabian - the biggest benefit of menzleague is that it starts to combat what men have been struggling with. By creating safe spaces for men to become vulnerable, by celebrating, encouraging and fostering a community of like minded men. The amount of weight lifted off a man’s shoulders once he’s able to shed the load of guilt, shame, suffering that he may be walking around with can never be understated. What is next for MenzLeague? Derek - I love this question! We have spent the better part of a year and a half building our platform and our brand. Menzleague

is ready to become the premier platform for men to start to take control of their lives and improving their mental health. Whether it is through our online community, our in person community, at work or at the doctors office, Menzleague will be there with you along the way to ensure you feel comfortable starting the process. Fabian - I think the beautiful thing about MenzLeague is we are always looking for what’s next. New and creative ways to connect with men. With the COVID-19 pandemic MenzLeague was primarily a web based membership, I think the next Chapter for MenzLeague is our in person events and fostering of our community. If you had one piece of advice for a man struggling with any issue, what would it be? Derek - This is simple. Find a friend and talk about it. When the conversation is over, make sure you make note of the euphoria you’re experiencing. Embrace that moment. Then reach out to Menzleague to join a community of men who have gone through the exact same steps and are striving to become the best version of themselves they can be. Fabian - You’re not alone. On this journey of creating MenzLeague, talking & meeting with so many people Men and Women where this concept has not just been accepted but it’s been rejoiced. Men have been waiting a long time for an outlet that allows them the space to share their emotions.I can honestly say that while we as men suffer in silence the commonality of wanting to be better, wanting to evolve exists and we can’t give up. It might not happen overnight but the want is there, we just need to continue to foster the space.

You Are Not Your Story

Sarah Hawco, CPA CA, LLM, CIRP, Q. Arb., CFE


e all have a story, a history if you will. We have lived a life that has seen failures and successes, trauma and triumph. Often times that history becomes a narrative in our head, it becomes our identity. So much so that we subconsciously seek out validation of that story, to the detriment of growth. It becomes the inherent bias that colours our sense of self. I am a survivor, I am weak, I am resilient, I am winner, I am a loser, I am a fixer, I am broken. But you are bigger than your story. If your identity and self-worth, or lack thereof, is wrapped up in events that happened to you, or accomplishments, or titles, what are you when those are long past or no longer relevant? At what point does your story no longer serve you? Resiliency I have been called resilient many times. Courageous and inspiring even. But to earn that 20 // Community Now!

identity I had to endure great suffering and overcome it. Similarly, my children have been called resilient. Children are often called resilient when they witness or encounter challenging times or transitions. And indeed, they have. Dr. Zach Bush, MD spoke about this on Rich Roll’s podcast (episode 456). He posited that if one identifies themselves as resilient, one will continue to seek out what they need to be just that: pain, trauma, difficulty; because if they were to find ease and success they would have to abandon their identity. So resilient is something I was when it was required, but it is not who I am. It can’t be. The Fixer A fixer is often well intentioned. Fixers want to help, nurture, take care of things, prevent others from feeling pain or discomfort. Dr. Bush also spoke about this, saying he had (continued on page 22)

(continued from page 20...) identified as a fixer, both in his professional life and outside of it. Many of us are fixers, sure that we can make things better and bearing the weight of that burden, whatever it may be. But if one’s source of validation is being someone who fixes things, the only way to keep feeding that narrative is to seek out brokenness time and again. To keep looking for the figurative birds with broken wings. Well that can create a complicated loop. What happens when you can’t fix the broken thing? Then who are you? You Are Not What Happened to You Some people have endured unthinkable harms and challenges which surely impact how they see and interact with the world. But those are events and circumstances that happened TO them, it is not WHO they are. If the narrative in your head is that you are a victim, what you are telling yourself and the world, is that you are helpless, incapable… unworthy. You will keep seeking reaffirmation of that very thing blocking your ability to move forward.

This holds for the “winners” too. Their narrative is that of a champion, a winner, someone who refuses to fail. This all sounds positive, no? But what happens when he or she does fail? Who are they then? The narrative can also be sourced from harms one has put upon another, perceived or otherwise. We have all made mistakes, some more serious than others. Made terrible decisions or uttered words we regret. If your story is one of failure or laziness, or of one not worthy of forgiveness, where is there space to invite in success or redemption? Let Your Past Inform You, Not Define You None of this is to say that one shouldn’t be resilient, or helpful, or courageous, or successful. These are great things! Letting go of one’s story does not dismiss one’s past. Nor does it mean that failures and mistakes won’t happen, of course they will. It is to say that, your past is meant to inform you, not define you. So abandon your story, allow yourself to grow and evolve and continue to become.


Helping you find the perfect community. 518 9 Ave SE Calgary T2G 0S1 phone: 403.815.0429 email:

Call today and let us find your dream home in the perfect community.

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Building More Than a House Heidi Walter, Safe Haven Foundation, Program Development Officer


wenty-five years ago, Calgarians Karen and John Sherbut, founded the Safe Haven Foundation of Canada. It was established based on a personal passion and commitment to provide a loving and supportive home for homeless and at-risk girls, as Karen had once been. Their Haven’s Way® program, the first of its kind in Canada, opened in Calgary in November 2000. This is an innovative, long-term supportive housing program that assists girls who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. They are between the ages of 14 to 24, do not have child welfare status, and have a focus and commitment to completing their education. They have experienced considerable housing instability, alongside additional risks such as mental health, physical and sexual abuse, violence, neglect, addictions, trauma, family conflict, violence, and sexual exploitation. (continued on next page) Community \\ 23

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‘Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey’ is a 2016 pan-Canadian survey sharing the disturbing realities of our youth and their experience living with mental health. We learnt that 85.4% of youth experiencing homelessness were living with a mental health crisis. We learnt that 42% of homeless youth had reported at least one suicide attempt. And 35.2% of homeless youth experience at least one drug overdose requiring hospitalization. The study also showed us the strong relationship between mental health and homelessness. “Housing status and mental health are inherently linked, and that both are connected to broader structural conditions such as poverty. When a young person faces challenges to accessing secure, adequate, and appropriate housing, they are more likely to face mental health challenges and experience greater difficulty accessing timely, high-quality mental healthcare”. Schwan, Kaitlin* In addition, many studies have shown us that particular groups of youth are more likely to experience homelessness; women, those who identify with the 2SLGBTQ+ community and Indigenous youth. In addition, these groups of youth are more likely to become homeless at an earlier age, as well as have several episodes of homelessness. – Homeless Hub* * ‘Mental Health Care for Homeless Youth: A Demand for Action and Equity’ It is for these reasons that Haven’s Way offers housing and supports to youth as young as 14. We understand that housing offers stability and structure and the access to supports removes the barriers that youth that experience homelessness face so they can begin to 24 // Community Now!

focus on their overall health, well-being, and healing journey. The youth that enter Haven’s Way have all experienced or been exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s). These are negative, stressful, traumatizing events that occur before the age of 18 that, if not mitigated, will develop behaviors, patterns and extremely unhealthy coping strategies that will impact adult life and will eventually compromise overall health and life span. These traumatic events are ones such as abuse, loss of a parent, incarceration, witnessing a mother being abused and extreme substance usage in the family home which all worsen the mental health of youth experiencing homelessness. Youth at Haven’s Way have high ACE scores as they come from families that have experienced more than one of these. Our youth are resilient and have a desire to rebuild and heal. Haven’s Way gives them a space and safe environment to do this.

We have an opportunity and responsibility to provide our youth with the supports and resources to help them heal from the abuse, learn from their experiences, and allow them to dream about their future and conquer their personal goals. We provide access to a variety of mental health supports that encompass counselling, connectedness, being physically active, the opportunity to learn new skills, community reciprocity and mindfulness, paired with an environment that is safe and promotes healing and growth. We understand that the needs and supports the youth and their families require evolve. Because of this we must adapt with them, we respect and acknowledge that they are the experts, and their voice is imperative when it comes to enhancing service delivery. As part of our overall commitment to learning as a program and a Foundation, we seek feedback every quarter from the youth and their families. Through this feedback they can

share what their experiences have been like and what adjustments to program design we should make. From feedback over the last year, we have learnt that all the young women in the program define therapeutic supports and healing in their own diverse and unique ways. Some reach to more conventional avenues like clinical supports, others are seeking supports to access art therapy and equine therapy. And some have a desire to explore and connect with their culture in more traditional means, i.e. with Knowledge Keepers and Elders. The youth have also shared the importance of connecting with nature and exercise which promotes mental health and healing. Today, in Haven’s Way, 100% of our youth are working on their mental health, and we have dedicated relationships with therapists and

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(continued from page 25...) counsellors that support them. The reason we have multiple options for the youth is so they can have choice in who they see and want to share their story with. Recently we introduced Equine Assisted Learning into our program as another mental health support choice and is being very well-received by the youth who are participating in this program. There is a pressing need to ensure Calgary’s most vulnerable youth experience barrier-free and continuous access to mental health, education and supports throughout their youth. In August alone, there were just over 100 youth, aged 24 or under, unable to find housing supports. And those are just the ones we know about. What this tells us is that the need is great. Safe Haven Foundation is helping to address this need with their newest initiative Haven’s Harbour. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2022, Haven’s Harbour will provide affordable housing and supports to nine additional youth in our community who want to continue post-secondary education, but do not have the means to do so. The overall goal is creating space and time for youth to make the

dual transition from homelessness to housed, from adolescent to adulthood, while being in a supportive environment where they can grow and reach their goals at the own individual pace. The youth will come to Haven’s Harbour through Haven’s Way and other like-minded programs and will be at a stage where they will not need intensive case management. Youth will have access to mental health resources and will be able to practice the life skills learned within a much-needed safety net of affordable housing. Being supported in this way will greatly improve their chances to reach their educational and personal goals and create a future of stability. The addition of Haven’s Harbour will also mean that youth will spend less time in Haven’s Way programming as they have the option to move on to another safe and supportive housing option. The important added benefit of this is that space will become available sooner in the Haven’s Way homes for additional younger girls in the community. These youth will be able to access the much-needed wrap around supports to begin their journey of healing and ensure they never experience homelessness again.

Learning it’s More than Changing Where a Young Person Sleeps Kaitlin O’Grady


e know one of the best ways to advocate and empower youth is to meet them where they are at. What does this mean for a street-entrenched young person? It means taking the time to educate yourself about street life. The Doorway has learned to view ‘street’ as a culture. ‘On the street’ is a belief system. It’s a way of viewing yourself and a way of relating to the world. It has specific values and beliefs that are different from mainstream society. When we make decisions and judgments rooted in only our own values and beliefs, we can misjudge situations. When we consider culture, we choose to set aside our own personal beliefs and cultural biases. It’s like supporting a youth from another country, you study their culture to understand their actions, behaviors and thinking. Power and Control We know power and control are valued on the streets and valued by street-dependent youth, because they have felt powerless most of their lives. Carl Deline one of our founders when speaking about young people on the street said, “the human ability to survive nourishes

a personal sense of power.” Unfortunately, we know the codes and conduct of the street often lead many young people back to wrestling with powerlessness all over again. “Prey or be preyed” a young lady once shared. How do you avoid being preyed upon? Act tough, take no crap, speak loud and vulgar, create a street persona and hide your kindness as well as your belongings. Assume everybody wants something from you so trust no one and you won’t get burned. It is no wonder street entrenched young people come wrapped in armor and defense mechanisms. As supporting adults, we need to prove ourselves, sometimes over and over. We need to prove we are trustworthy and prove we are safe. Once you begin to earn their trust it’s very special to get to know the real person behind the persona. Sometimes their real beliefs and values are strong, and we get to be the person they speak genuinely with. Sometimes we need to give the young person permission to try out new beliefs, values, and behaviors because they haven’t had the opportunity to find themselves, (continued on next page) Community \\ 27

(continued from page 27...) they’ve been too busy protecting themselves. When they are upset, it is critical to listen for their feelings. Their insults and profanities have protected them on the street, and it is important they don’t deter them from being supported. If we accept them for who they are they can feel in control and if we believe in who they can be they will feel empowered. Time There are so many reasons appointments and future commitments don’t work for street entrenched young people. They often do not have access to the time and it can be unsafe for them to leave their peers or street family. Additionally, the street runs 24/7 and a lot happens in a day so several days or a couple weeks can feel much longer to them and make it is easy to forget a future event or give up on it. Keep your commitments timely and try to remember one of our principles; life is such that things do not always work, when living in survival things are often done out of necessity not by choice. Survival People on the street spend a significant amount of time focused on meeting their daily needs, which can include food, water, shelter, safety, warmth, love, and we know it also can include addictions. Regardless of what you think about drug use, can you put

your own opinions to the side and again focus on the feelings? How would it feel to not be able to afford or obtain something you need? How would it feel to fear being sick when you didn’t have a home to go back to? How would it feel to live on guard for years, to not know where your next meal is coming from, to never really know who you can trust, to get burned by so called friends repeatedly because they too are just trying to survive. Really consider feeling invisible because people don’t look at you or avoid you. Education over assumption Educating ourselves about street culture helped The Doorway better understand the overall needs of street-entrenched young people and better understand solutions. The Doorway refers to young people as ‘street-entrenched’ or ‘on the street’ rather than ‘homeless’ because when we hear the term ‘homeless youth’ we automatically think the solution is housing. Street brings culture into the frame and helps us see the necessary changes beyond an economic change. Where the young person sleeps does need to change, and how the young person views the world and themselves also needs to change. If you’d like to learn more about street culture we encourage you to read the book ‘Street Culture’ by JT Fest and subscribe to our mailing list ( to receive quotes, stories and blog posts directly from young people at The Doorway.

Where the young person sleeps does need to change, and how the young person views the world and themselves 28 // Community Now!

also needs to change.

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Community \\ 29

Changing the Narrative Dakshima Haputhanthri

As a young girl, I knew I was different than other girls. I was not drawn to playing with dolls or to use make up and dress up. I played cricket, which was very popular in the south Asian continent at the time, like Baseball to North America, especially after Sri Lanka winning the 1996, world cricket championship. I never had a boyfriend, was never interested in one, which made my friends in high school bit cynical towards me. They were making plans about their future, with their boyfriends, who would going to be their future husbands, all I wanted to do was study well and get good grades. My whole childhood and young adulthood were full of questions, questions I did not have answers to. I began to think there was something wrong with me. There was no one 30 // Community Now!

to ask questions, although I had such loving parents and extended family, I could not go against the unspoken rule, a girl must study well and marry well to a man of course. In hindsight, in couple of my past relationships, with women in Sri Lanka, I was their deepest secret. Of course, there was no future for us. Amorous Relationships with the same sex was a penal offence, even to this day in Sri Lanka. It was one of many things I learnt as a law student and of course with a heavy heart. Ending relationships and being left alone were the only constant thing in my life. I resorted to self-harm and at one time, to a failed suicide attempt. During my last serious relationship with a Sri Lankan woman, I remember telling her that I am willing to marry a man and to keep the façade, if I could be with her and in retrospect all I can do is to feel sorry for my old self. There was no way of coming out. It

would bring shame to my family, I would be shunned by my community and I would have to go through a social death. A Couple of months ago, I completed five years in Canada. I landed as an economic migrant, planning to get my ex- girlfriend here and start a new life. I left everything I ever had, my family, my career, my community, the person I loved. I booked a flight to Canada and decided to disappear, forever. I am not much of a risk taker but that was my greatest gamble. Just to be with someone I loved. Canada was not the greener pasture at first. I was suffering from homesickness, I lacked social support, I did not know whom to trust, my mental health was at an all-time low, I did not have coping skills to manage my traumatic triggers. I did not feel comfortable asking for support, from settlement agencies. Or from mainstream LGBTQ community especially because they did not look like me or speak like me. Would they understand me? I had my doubts. There is a huge taboo around mental health in immigrant communities and I was one of them. I wanted to be resilient, fight this fight and to win. I did not know where to start. Time and time again, I was retraumatized, in different ways. Needless to say, my long-distanced relationship ended. I started my fourth degree, a degree of Social Work, at University of Calgary. One day I was able to talk to one of the lovely professors, Dr. Liza Lorenzetti and she sat down and listened to me. I cried and explained and paused. After listening for hours, she gave me a warm hug. I felt at least one person understood me. I felt safe. I came out in her class, months after. I cannot remember what I did but all I remember is

students coming and congratulating me. Some did not look at me properly, I think I made them feel awkward. I felt I was reclaiming myself. I felt relieved. With that feeling, I tried coming out to my mother, who was living back home in Sri Lanka. I felt saddened when she was crying out loud for months. In retrospect, I feel that she was grieving for myself and for her, for me, as I chose a path that was not going to be easy and for her because she has to face our community, she has to face the society I escaped, narrowly. I think over time, she realized that her love for me, matters, more than anything else. When I came out to my father, he took it to his heart and I think I broke him. Being the eldest, responsible one in the family, I have brought shame to him. I never thought it was possible for me to find love, settle down and feel that sense of safety ever in my life. A love only belong to me, without sharing or being a footnote in someone else’s story. I am happy to say that I have found that and more. I have come out so many times ever since and now I do not do that anymore. I just want to live like anybody else in the society, minding my own business, being with someone I love. I do not seek special treatments. Just letting be myself, without cynicisms or judgments. Just as a simple soul, who would like to create safe spaces and community spirit in the society we all live in. Dakshima is a lawyer turned a Social Worker residing in Calgary. She is passionate about creating safety for the LGBTQ2S+ Community, Diversity Equity and Inclusion and Mental health Advocacy. As her way of giving back to the community, she volunteers with many organizations either as a board member or as an advisor, City of Calgary, Calgary Police Services, University Of Calgary Faculty of Social Work are some of the places she volunteers. Dakshima can be contacted via her website Community \\ 31

A Retrospective


Chris Edwards


s I entered my late

thirties a few years back, life felt stagnant. Sure, I wasn’t starving, things were going good at work. But as I peered curiously into the forest of my soul, I saw only shade and no trees. Not so much darkness, not an abyss. Just the greyness of mediocrity. Unfulfilled. Soon after, I embarked on a voyage into a world of deep and rich hues that rekindled the passions lost since onset of adulthood. When I was six, I had a sparkling new BMX from Canadian Tire. But I couldn’t ride it. Didn’t know how. Kids would ask at school 32 // Community Now!

where this new bike was. I told them it had been stolen. At last I learned how to ride, the last person in my grade. Who knew that one day cycling would be my rebirth. For others, they may seek peace in art, adventure on white-water, or invent technology that changes the world. For me, I was saved by 12 gears and the hum of tire rolling on pavement. 150km is a long ride. Even for a seasoned veteran. But it is the perfect distance. It starts with anticipation and nervousness. Then the pain begins as the heart begins to push the oxygen down into your calves. You leave the world behind as the body and mind begin to charge. The road ahead becomes shorter as you speed to your objective. The

body relaxes, the mind becomes free. Colours become more vibrant. Then you come to the end, not yearning for more, but just satisfied. Like having finished a perfectly sized ale on a cool autumn night. You start off fast, out of a gun, but you slow quickly. It’s going to be a long day. Can you make it? How horrible will you feel? Would it be wrong to quit now? It’s just so far. But I can do it. Right? The wiser you become the less you know. That statement resonates through so many facets of the human condition. What are we really made of? How far can we push ourselves? Why push our ourselves? Why incur pain? Is it not meant to identify harm? Perhaps this is something that really makes us human. It could be why we are able to grow in so many different ways for years upon years. It could be exactly what feeds our curiosity to push our boundaries. The pain that stops us is just a small fence that when climbed, frees us into a lush pasture. During the first stretch of a 150km ride, the adrenalin of the start wears off quickly. Pain electrifies through the nerves as your legs come to grips with what is happening. 10km in and your mind tells you to stop. Time barely moves. Mental barriers begin popping up left and right. But then they stop popping up. They start dissipating. One by one, they go as the pain subsides. You realize it is no longer easy to turn back, as you are 30km then 40km in. And you learned. You just did something. The hardest part is done? Perhaps. You just grew a little bit. As we enter a journey, we exit another. And sometimes the journey we leave is our real saviour. Often, we get stuck in places, in ruts. How do we get out? Can we get out? Now

consider if these ruts are larger in scale. Large enough to hold most of our lives. And we can’t really leave forever….but we can leave for a while. No ties are severed, no bridges burned. We just leave to somewhere that makes us happy. Is this somewhere where we can find peace? Not answers, just a sanctuary? Having overcome the pain, the first stretch of a ride leads to the mind to begin to lose tension. 40km down, but also 40km away from life. Stress begins to ooze out of the body. The grip on the bars loosens. For just a little while, life shifts to an even pace. Time begins to speed up. No surges, no roller coaster. No commute. You just settle on in. You find your happy place, and you start looking around and realizing you’ve been staring at your tire for 90 minutes. Ideas begin to drip ever so slightly, just like an old leaky faucet. Freedom is a great thing. But why is it so hard to find? Why do allow ourselves to not be free? Perhaps freedom is but an ideal, a dream to reach for but not actually attainable. And in that it becomes an obstacle, too hard to reach, so why try. But like a horse that smells the barn, it sucks us in once we get a whiff. It becomes addictive as you push harder to reach it, and bringing some pain, but the type we have learned to ignore. Excitement. Adventure. The unknown ahead begins to appear. You’re settled in. Cruising and the freedom fills your body. A sub-journey almost begins. You stop noticing your body. The sounds of the gears changing begin to sink into the background as the mind focuses on what is ahead. What is around the next bend? Instead of worrying about climbing the next

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(continued from page 34...)

(continued from page 33...) hill, you begin to yearn to see what is after the next hill. What is hidden from view, awaiting discovery? An old house with its own story passes by and you wonder what stories does it have to tell. The 60km mark passes, but you don’t notice. Free on the open road Okay, I guess we’re doing this. You get into a rhythm. It always starts out hard, but everything is loose and you are in the zone. Still full of energy, muscle memory has taken over, and your mind is now free to wonder.

34 // Community Now!

People speak of hitting your peak or being in your prime. I used to think that way. And hey, there is nothing wrong with using climbing a mountain as a metaphor for life. But it feels to me like it symbolizes that we hit our objective at some point and the rest leaves nothing to be achieved. That scared me. And I don’t think it has to be that way. Going through my middle passage in life, I really want to keep pushing. Viewing it as all downhill is a choice. Yet again another small fence. Halfway through the ride. There is plenty of riding to go, but it feels so good and it feels

like gravity is now pulling you ahead. It doesn’t get physically easier, and you’ll start to tire, but this is the point where finishing will be shorter than turning back. Time starts flying and kilometres starting clicking away. All those mental barriers that were trying to stop you from getting to this halfway point are distant memories, as distant as all those difficulties I had learning to ride my bike all those years ago. Now the fun starts. The world is so noisy and distracting sometimes. You don’t realize it until it is actually quiet. At that point, maybe you realize the noise almost suppresses part of your mind. It’s like it just keeps a part of your brain busy. When the real magic starts flowing, it just feels like a release. Like all of the ideas that have been forming and developing were somehow restricted from getting to a place where you could think about them. Does the mind run like a bureaucracy? Sorry, this idea cannot be processed for 4-6 weeks until we catch up on the backlog. Perhaps an exaggeration, but nonetheless there is something going in that

complex contraption that is just waiting to come out. So you’re 80km in, and you don’t notice. There is too much stuff going on. Your pace is good, you are not thinking of anything bike related. Just moving forward. Stress has left the mind, and you’re free to think in depth about all the things you haven’t had time to ponder. Lightbulbs start appearing above your head. The hamster wheel is flying! 90km gone, the magical century make of a 100km is reached. The unsorted files in your head are now becoming sorted and clarity ensues. I love hitting the halfway point. Fatigue hasn’t set in yet, and you are just in a nice spot. You feel confident and ready to ride forever. Mind liberated, this is when all my best ideas materialize. Stress has an end point. Maybe some will argue, but at some point, energy levels are restored, and freshness can return. Is this true

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(continued from page 35...) for everyone? Well, I’m not sure. I suppose at some point everyone flatlines. This is really a peaceful period. A time to reflect on what you have been through and maybe even to “live in the etre” for a bit. Enjoy the day to day experience of life. The smalls things, the things that make you happy. Why can’t we find this more often? Makes you wonder. Maybe life just doesn’t work that way. Maybe it’s just the price of progress. But from time to time, it’s a good place to be. 30km left to go. The day is coming to an end. I’ve been through pain today, happiness, thoughtfulness, pride. Time to just soak it up. I honestly have nothing left to think about. Everything is sorted. Files put away. The desk is clean. I’m loving looking at the trees. Every kilometre is now a pleasure. The body is feeling tired, but I’m just too much in a happy spot to notice. Every tree, house, horse, car that goes by shares in my journey. It has been a pleasure. Coming to the end of any journey can be sad. It can also be a relief! There are some many facets you go through during something like that. You still have to finish. Everything we go through changes who we are a little bit. And going full circle just makes it mean that much more. It gives you a chance to look back and reflect about how you’ve changed. How you’ve grown. What you’ve overcome. And many of things come at the end. When you need to dig deep, and find that last little piece of courage inside of your soul. It is your last source of fortitude. It has been a great ride. So much has happened, but now it is time to end. 10km left. New spots are starting to hurt every minute. You can feel the salt crystallized on your face. But what is left Is nothing. I went through this 36 // Community Now!

before, at the beginning of the day. But now it is almost over. You dig. Keep pushing. I have gears, so there is no need to quit. Just think of the finish and the feelings that will soak in. Here comes the line. It’s over. Time for a beer. The feeling when you finish a ride is very unique. When you finish a run, you feel the endorphins vibrating through your body. Same as after a game of hockey or a day out on the cross-country skis. When you finish a big ride, the endorphins are long gone. You just want to sit down and put your feet up. There you have it. A 150km journey of emotions and growth. In many respects, you can relate a journey like this to any other. You have to push, you have to overcome. You have ups and downs. You really learn about yourself. You can be 85 and there is still so much of that left to do. With that, maybe you can find some peace from time to time. We pressure ourselves so much with anxieties, but we can remember, we can get through it. I have learned so much from cycling and from what a long ride does for me. I got my fire back. I feel young again. I’m not afraid to try to news things. Compared to doing sports when I was young, it’s just so enriching. I understand now where why limits are and where I can do better. I understand that with mental clarity takes work and maintenance. Treat it like you would treat anything fine and it will show you a world that you never knew you had inside of you. When I look back into that forest of my soul, where I saw only shade, I now see all the different trees. Big ones, small ones. Tall, short, twisted, fallen. They were always there I just didn’t see them.

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Humans have evolved by taking risks. Is it true that most human actions can be conceptualized as containing an element of risk

1. Your first step - you risk falling down

2. Trying new food - you risk it tasting unpleasant

3. Riding a bicycle - you risk falling over and injuring yourself

4. Getting pulled up a cable by your tribe

These quotes have helped me find myself and #LiveLifeFully “The phoenix must burn to emerge.” - Janet Fitch "Everything you want is on the other side of #fear." - Jack Canfield Living fearless means exploring new things. Over the past 5 years I have taken up hiking in the beautiful #Alberta #RockyMountains “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use #failure that often leads to greater success. I've met people who don't want to try for fear of failing.” - J.K. Rowling That's right you have a choice. I agree it can be hard. But know it can be done. 38 // Community Now!

Reflections: 2 Years of Sobriety Hafiz Mitha


n November 1st, 2021 I celebrated 2 years of being sober. I struggled to write this because I didn’t want it to be a congratulatory or ego-stroking post, but rather one that sheds light on the society that we live in, the battle within ourselves and the choices we make as we navigate life. After sitting on this, mulling it over, here is what I came up with as some observations and learnings along the way: 1. Just because you don’t drink, doesn’t mean you are healthy. Well-being consists of many facets - what we eat, what we drink, what media we consume, whom we surround ourselves with. The overarching change of the environment and intentional living is where the true benefits are. 2. Drinking and other substances simply numb. Getting to the bottom of why we feel a certain way is really important. I have been seeing a counselor for the last 2 years and am proud of that fact. The truth is that most of our wiring is from the ages of 0-7 and much of “growing up” is trying to make sense of it and doing the work to untangle some of those wires. Like anything worthwhile, it will take time and consistency is key. This leads to my next point, 3. We are what we continuously do. I definitely have self-sabotaging tendencies, mostly because I overthink situations instead of just being in them presently. What helped me (and something that I have really struggled to keep consistent) is meditating, slowing it down, journaling and reflection exercises. 4. You will be triggered. There are opportunities everywhere to fall into old patterns. Someone pisses you off, you lose a big deal, a romantic relationship falls apart. Life can be

tough - it will continue to be so. Reframing these opportunities as ones to learn from and seeing things in an iterative manner vs one of the absolutes is really the key and something that I am working on. The choices we make today become consequences that we deal with tomorrow. If you are struggling with any sort of mental health, find help and stick to it. There is no silver bullet to any of this - you simply have to do the work. The days when you feel like you have it figured out are the days that I need to double down and stick to the process. When I was at my peak “peace” state, I was meditating every day, working out, expressing gratitude, eating clean and doing acts of service. My goal is to get back to that. If you haven’t read The Dip by Set Godin, I highly recommend it. Essentially, your mindset when you start something new should be that you know you will suck at it. Eventually, you will get better but understanding that it is hard, it is supposed to be hard, and it will get easier will help you get through those really tough moments of doubt and insecurity. Anticipating the dip helps to get through it. I hope that whatever you are going through, you find the will to keep fighting. It is a worthwhile pursuit - don’t give up. Community \\ 39

Tame The Monster Inside

Al Del Degan


here is a monster inside of you, there

is one inside of all of us actually. It leads us down the wrong path, for the wrong reasons. Very few understand this monster and what it is capable of because it hides in plain sight. Only other people around you can recognize it when it is awake and doing its nasty work. No, this is not the script for a horror movie, I am talking about the human ego. We all have one, and for the most part it isn’t the worst thing ever. In fact, it can drive us to do good things. One result of those good things is praise, and that can feel good. Our 40 // Community Now!

ego monster thrives on praise though. The problem comes when we begin to crave it. We mistake the good feeling it gives us as something we need to get more of. Almost like an addiction, and I suspect some people do get addicted. I am not a psychologist, nor do I have any formal training in the human mind. I am, however, a very good observer of people, and have always been thoughtful as I have travelled through life. These are some of the observations, learnings and hypotheses that I have discovered in my journey. Now to be clear, I am no better than you but my monster used to be much bigger and stronger than it is these days. When I was in my late twenties, I thought I was working hard to

achieve my goals in life. Done school, got a good job, a nice car, a house, a family. Then I wanted a better job, more pay, a nicer car, and some fancy toys to prove to myself that I achieved success in my life. I was always comparing myself to other people that I went to school with, as well as my friends. Each new career opportunity that I came across had to have the right job title so I could look at my business card and be proud of my accomplishment. I always had an opinion, and everyone was entitled to it. I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about it now. I am not sure if it has something to do with age, or maybe I was just so easily defeated that my ego no longer had its power. Not to get into it here, but I went through some tough shit. These days I sometimes get an inkling of that old beast, but it is quickly silenced when I think back to how little it served me. In fact it was a lot more trouble than it was worth. You see I realized that my mental, and ultimately my physical health was being seriously affected by that monster. Ego shows up in various ways like envy, fear, jealousy, pride, insecurity, the need to be a part of something, cognitive bias, and arrogance. Many people blame others for everything that happens to them, instead of taking responsibility for their own actions, which were the main contributors. Also hypocrisy is another form, where you criticize other people for the same, or similar things that you have done yourself. The beast has taken over. What can we do to conquer this beast inside us? How do we even know if it’s a problem? What can happen if we don’t balance ourselves so we can receive the benefits that our ego does provide? I believe that the most important thing that we can do is to slow down and think more. We should try our best at the end of each day to think back and examine

what points our ego could have been directing our behavior. What things did we do, or say to people that were in our own best interest, and what affect did they have on others. Don’t get me wrong, there is no value in becoming a pushover that never stands up for yourself. Simply think about which situations did being strong and assertive benefit you, but were maybe not so great for someone else. I have found that over the past few years, when I do these self checks and thought experiments, I realize sometimes that past conversations may have been taken differently than I intended. On multiple occasions I have gone back to people later and let them know that I may have been a bit more passionate than I intended. I tell them that I want them to know I value their opinion and I hope I didn’t make them feel bad. This has always made my relationships with people stronger, and builds mutual trust and respect. Alternatively, not considering things like that when I was younger caused my relationships to deteriorate, sometimes beyond repair. It is easy to say “I don’t care what other people think” or “I know I am right, and that person just won’t admit that they don’t know what they are talking about.” That is the monster inside in its full glory, doing what it does best. When you blame others for things that happen to you, rather than being accountable for your own actions, that’s beast mode! When you feel insecure that you are not knowledgeable enough, not good looking enough, too fat, too thin, too poor, that’s beast mode! Go forward, starting now, to focus on being confident, but not arrogant. Be strong, but not overbearing. Believe in yourself, but stay humble. Listen to others before you talk, and share your opinion when the time is right, but never force it upon others. This new you is going to be amazing, trust me. Community \\ 41

Mental Health, Naturally

Susanne Heaton


n May of 2021, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) produced a report stating that 77% of Canadian adults reported feeling “‘worried or anxious, bored, stressed, lonely or isolated and sad.” We are now 6 months later from this study, still dealing with all the fallout from Covid and getting ready for the stressors of the holiday season. Excessive stress can rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems. “Mental health is something we can protect, not just something we can lose,” states Margaret Eaton, National CEO of (CMHA). But what steps can we take to protect our mental health and decrease our stress levels, naturally? The answer is literally waiting right out your front door! Nature exposure has been scientifically proven to decrease stress and improve your mental health and overall well-being. 42 // Community Now!

Proven Benefits of Being in Nature: 1. Decreases Depression and Anxiety –A well-known research study at Duke University showed that going for a brisk 30-minute walk three times/week is as effective as taking antidepressants to improve your mood. 2. Boosts Creativity and Productivity - There was a study done in Japan with office workers who were faced with a difficult problem to solve. One group of employees stayed in the office, while the other group went out into nature to work on the problem. The group that went out into nature came up with a more creative and cost-effective solution than those that stayed in the office. 3. Increases Immunity - There are chemicals in trees and plants that are given off called phytoncides. When we go for walks or runs out in nature, we inhale these chemicals which

help to boost our immune system. So not only are we receiving the benefit of exercise, but we are also boosting our immune system at the same time. 4. Increases Attention - In Richard Louv’s book, Last Child Left in the Woods, he talks about a young boy whose parents realized that their hyperactive son seemed to calm down when they took him outdoors to be in nature. So, they let nature become his teacher and took him to forests, oceans, rivers, and streams. This young boy grew up to be Ansel Adams who was a world-renowned photographer and environmentalist. 5. Decreases Various Diseases - A joint study done by Women’s Health and the Nature Conservancy of Canada discovered that women who spent 3 hours/week outdoors, decreased their blood pressure, lowered their chance of diabetes and also decreased their risk of breast cancer. Why does nature increase our well-being? Our brains are incredible processors, BUT, they do get fatigued. Fatigue results in loss of performance and creative ideas as well as more mistakes. David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Utah, states that the prefrontal cortex which is the part of the brain which dictates how we act and make decisions, needs to take a break and relax, just like an overworked muscle. His research found that cognitive skills do improve with prolonged exposure to the outdoors. In fact, being in nature activates the same area of the brain that is engaged when we daydream or have introspective thoughts.

What effect does technology have on our well-being? The use of technology and multimedia has been shown to disrupt the area of our brain that has introspective thinking, which highlights the importance of getting outdoors. The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need to achieve a natural balance. A report released PRIOR to COVID by Alcon, stated the average Canadian adult spends nearly 11 hours of screen time/day. The CMHA study in May 2021 found that screen time had increased by 57%. That is not surprising with all the zoom and online calls for work, family and friends. The brain has to work harder during Zoom meetings to read social cues, so Zoom fatigue is a real thing! Our brain health and overall well-being suffer when we don’t spend enough time in nature. Suggestions for increasing your nature time: Now it is more important than ever to make nature walks/immersion part of your daily routine. A report done by Ipsos and the Nature Conservancy in Feb of 2021, found that Canadians value nature more now than ever. Over 85% have stated that access to nature was important in maintaining their mental health. When you cannot physically get out in nature there are a few things that you can do to help decrease your stress levels naturally: 1. Look at trees out of your work or home office – a range of research indicates that just looking at trees increases your mental well-being.

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(continued from page 43...) 2. Bring the outdoors in. When you cannot get to your favourite place in nature, have a photo of it beside your office desk. A study by Environmental Science and Technology found that people who looked at pictures of nature decreased their stress levels more than those who looked at manmade pictures. 3. Bring plants into your office space indoor plants not only purify the air, but have calming effects on your mood, stress levels and blood pressure. When you can get outside, you don’t have to be in a remote location, you can find nature right out your own front door. Suggestions for making the most of your time in nature: 1. Slow Down and be curious – While going out for a walk, look at nature with the awe and wonder of a child. Prepare to be amazed at what you see. One split second of awe takes us outside of focusing on ourselves and instead seeing how we are part of something much bigger which in turn makes us more compassionate. Your awe may lead you to want to know the names of the plants and trees that you walk by. There is an incredible free app called: PlantNet which you can download onto your phone or computer. https:// For bird identification, there is the Merlin App: 2. Utilize all your senses – What are you seeing, hearing, smelling, sensing, touching and even tasting when you are

44 // Community Now!

walking. Utilizing all your senses helps you to become mindful in the moment. This is what Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) is all about. It was researched in Japan back in 1980’s by two doctors who wanted to test how taking people out of the concrete jungle into the forest affected their stress levels. They took saliva tests for cortisol levels (stress levels) before and after and found significant drops. The idea is not to go on a vigorous hike, but to slow down

you increase your chances of meeting that goal to 95%. Here is to you getting your daily dose of Vitamin “N” – Nature. Happy trails to you! *************************************************** Do you need extra help to get off the couch and get your body moving out your front door every day? Start your New Year off on the right foot by signing up for one of the monthly ONLINE Wild About Nature Chal-

and take in everything around you.

lenges and reach your 10,000 steps in a fun and mindful way! Let's get WILD together!

3. Accountability - Find an accountability partner to check in with to ensure you are reaching your goal for the time you want to spend in nature. By simply telling someone that you are striving to reach a goal, you are 65% more likely to achieve it. If you check in regularly with that partner,

Susanne Heaton Motivated by Nature






MAKES PRACTICING FUN SCHOOL OF ROCK | Calgary 2707-17th AVE SW, Calgary, AB (587) 353-7625




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Photo by: DanSun Photo Art

Extraordinary People Living Extraordinary Lives Cynthia Hamilton Urquhart


wo years ago, I was asked to present at the First Responder Suicide Awareness Conference in Calgary, Alberta. The purpose of the conference was to provide a safe space for those of us impacted by Operational Stress Injuries, with hopes of reducing the stigma around mental health, addiction and reaching out for help. As a retired police officer (RCMP), having been diagnosed with and treated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, it was felt that I had much to offer. I accepted the request but was frustrated when a week later I was still struggling with finalizing the topic. I thought perhaps a different environment would inspire me, so I got up from my desk, took my pen and paper, and walked into the family room. I turned on the radio, sat down and stared at the trees outside the window. A few minutes later, the inspiration came, but from the most unexpected place. The radio. 46 // Community Now!

The DJ was talking about celebrities. He discussed how they were "...just ordinary people that lived extraordinary lives..." He continued by saying "they go places and do things most of us could never imagine." That got me thinking. If celebrities were "ordinary people living extraordinary lives," why wouldn't First Responders be considered in the same light? Don't we go places and do things other people can't imagine? I couldn't help but focus on the word "extraordinary”, so I turned to a couple of dictionaries for clarification: "going beyond what is usual; exceptional to a very marked extent; special, strange or unexpected. I decided the DJ was right, many celebrities could be described as living extraordinary lives, but I couldn't help but think so do First Responders, for very different reasons and with much less fanfare. We don't seek

attention, focus on ourselves, or look for praise. Instead, we run in when others run out, put the lives of others before our own, and are exposed to things most people don't ever want to think about. We tend to the injured, put out fires and remove the dead from unimaginable scenes. We are threatened, assaulted, injured, and killed, because of our desire to keep our communities safe. We are critical thinkers, problem solvers, and care givers, protecting the public from whatever comes their way. We are passionate, resilient, ambitious and have high expectations of ourselves. We do it because we care, and we are committed to making a difference. In fact, you could also say, that just by the nature of the jobs we have chosen, we are "extraordinary people." It doesn't mean we are better than anyone else, it just means that we are different. Very different. We have chosen a job that does not make for an easy life. As First Responders, we need to understand that what we do is different, "unusual", and "exceptional to a marked extent." It is extraordinary. And because we live these extraordinary lives, we can expect to have extraordinary struggles, and we can expect to carry extraordinary burdens, resulting in the need for extraordinary care. Our jobs are dangerous, extremely stressful, and we make life and death decisions. The pressure for perfection is unrelenting as failure is not an option. We absorb the pain and carry the trauma of the people we help, leaving little room for the tragedies and traumas in our own lives. We suffer in silence, and our families suffer in silence, shut down by the stigma of asking for help. Helping others is what we do. Helping ourselves, not so much.

employees, and in fact, mental health struggles were considered a sign of weakness. We need to change that conversation and recognize that asking for help is a sign of strength. We need to remember we are more than just our jobs. We have families. We are wives and husbands, sons and daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles. We laugh and cry and love. We are not invincible, or unbreakable. We need to give ourselves permission to be human and we need our communities to remember we are human. Our mental health struggles are complicated, inconvenient, and expensive, but they need to be addressed. You can't continue to ignore the people that care for you without dire consequences. If you want those of us keeping your communities safe to be healthy, as a community you need to know that we are cared for, so we can continue to do the work we love to do. Mandatory overtime, staff shortages, and lack of access to appropriate mental health care is not working. Our systems are breaking and so are the people that work within them. Community members, next time you see a First Responder please take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary work we do; the sacrifices we make and the risks we take to be there when you need us. To all the First Responders and their Families, next time you walk by a mirror, stop, take a moment, look at the reflection looking back at you, acknowledge that what you do is far from ordinary, and remember you are "Extraordinary People Living Extraordinary Lives."

Historically, First Responder professions have not valued the mental health of their Community \\ 47



rior to the pandemic, it was rare to talk about Workplace Mental Health. How quickly times have changed! Today, there's so much attention and awareness on our daily mental health at work. Conversations that acknowledge our challenges in sustaining positive mental health at work are now a common, daily occurrence.

to take a step back and to turn our attention on the importance of positive workplace mental health. And it goes without saying that the sheer absence of not addressing positive mental health at work will continue to impact levels of ENGAGEMENT, PERFORMANCE & CONNECTION in significant ways. Keep on reading!

No one is immune to the many mental health challenges that all of us are facing during this global pandemic, and this includes myself. Living through a pandemic has changed our perspective on life, on what’s truly important, and what we are no longer willing to tolerate in the workplace. There's no denying the fact that we've all had to find our way through continuous change and we've all had to adapt.

Whether you or I have been directly impacted by COVID or not, the ramifications of the pandemic have changed everyone's thinking about mental health, mental well being, mental wellness, and mental health optimisim at work.

To compound matters, when we examine the amount of stress this pandemic has caused for all of us, at work and in life, it stands to reason 48 // Community Now!

Check this out. Recently, over a 7 day period I had conversations with five experts in today's world of work on a variety of topics. Each one of the experts that I spoke to provided their insights as to THE MENTAL

HEALTH IMPACT OF COVID-19. Here is a list of the TOP 10 INSIGHTS that I gathered from my conversations. The list itself is in no particular order of priority. Also, reflect upon how each of these insights affects levels of ENGAGEMENT, PERFORMANCE & CONNECTION as noted on my website. 1. Strong vax/anti vax polarization. Hard to move people to the middle. This i n cludes Sophistication Bias: We don’t trust that simple will work. 2. People are challenged to establish physical and psychological boundaries. 3. Seeing a lot of sadness and depression that is leading to more stress. 4. With stress, people are making poor decisions and quitting their jobs, thinking the stress will go away. But it does not. 5. Feeling isolated. Languishing. Mental fog. 6. Whole thing feels weird. 7. Employers having a hard time getting people in work mode. Lack of motivation. 8. We are not playing, not having enough fun. 9. We have “the hamster wheel” of anxiety spinning in our heads. 10. The Great Resignation is a real thing. So, where do we go from here? Neither you nor I can fully appreciate the toll that Covid-19 has taken on our colleagues at work, friends, family and so many others. Does this mean we stand idle and turn away? Of course not. My best advice?

A. EVERYTHING STARTS WITH A CONVERSATION. This is exactly why Powerful Play Experiences is The Only Team Re-Building & Fun At Work Business That Is Opening The Conversation About The Importance Of Positive Mental Health At Work...Home l Office l Hybrid. As an Avid Mental Health Champion, people have come to know me as someone who is comfortable starting a conversation about my own personal story of living with and managing depression & anxiety. My bigger goal? To be a role model for men everywhere who really need to get comfortable with starting their conversations about their daily mental health and get the help and support they need. All of us can START CONVERSATIONS. This simple act of starting a conversation is a clear demonstration that “WE CARE”. Life has taught me that when we show WE CARE, the likelihood of moving others and ourselves to a much better place, a much happier place, increases! And when we go to a place of showing that WE CARE, it's equally as good for our overall mental health, mental well being and the mental wellness of others. My biggest fear? When leaders of influence put up barriers that get in the way of both STARTING A CONVERSATION & WE CARE. Here's an abbreviated list of 5 Barriers from my official list of 9 Barriers. 1. I don't think it's my job to help someone who is experiencing some sort of mental health problem. After all, people are hired to do a job. My job is not to take care of someone's mental health problems.

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CONVERSATION. Get ready to start documenting all the positive changes that you see happening. My next best advice? B. PLAY-BASED WORKSHOP EXPERIENCES. Online & In Person Play-Based Workshop Experiences are designed to generate authentic conversations and get people talking about positive workplace mental health. And why Play-Based?

(continued from page 49...) 2. I don't have time. Heavy workloads, busy schedules, limited resources make it very difficult to think about putting yet another important item on my plate, especially a framework for workplace psychological health and safety. 3. I don't want to start anything here in the office unless the leadership of the company is committed to mental health in the workplace. After all, I don't want to be seen as someone who is doing more for my staff than the company expects me to do. 4. I don't have any money in the budget for managing workplace mental health issues. 5. I don't need to address someone's very personal mental health problems in the workplace. It's personal. Not professional. Attention All Leaders!! The challenge is on to build a work culture on the foundation that EVERYTHING STARTS WITH A 50 // Community Now!

1. In Person & Online PLAY-BASED WORKSHOP EXPERIENCES are a great remedy for anyone experiencing mental health challenges. Play frees the soul from sadness, stress, anxiety. It then opens space for plenty of fun and a much needed dose of happy & good energy to step-in. People then feel safe & comfortable to start conversations, tell their stories & feel much better. 2. Google "Serious research about the benefits of play for adults”. Example - Stuart Brown, Psychiatrist & Founder of the National Institute for Play, states that even a small amount of Play can boost our productivity and happiness. We can therefore conclude that Play is vital to our positive mental health. 3. Play invites no judgment. Play invites complete acceptance. • Play allows us to lean into vulnerability in a safe space. • Play breaks down barriers to hard conversations. • Play shifts our perspective & opens our minds to learn more about ourselves.

• Play. It's Just Plain Fun!! The number one principle that all participants can expect in Play-Based Workshop Experiences? “FREEDOM TO PLAY YOUR WAY!” This is how I responded to Jen Easaw, Professional Colleague in the Field of Career Development when she brought forward a poignant perspective: “Robert. You facilitate workplace workshop experiences on mental health where we are all expected to participate and possibly share stuff with work colleagues. This makes me feel anxious and has the potential to make others feel anxious. At least, this is the picture I have created in my own mind about what would be involved.” So. Let's begin to wrap things up. • Fact: “Work to be done” requires positive mental health - positive workplace mental health. • Fact: At the end of the day, if you're raising positive workplace mental health levels,

how could this not spill over into productivity? How could this not spill over into shifting the relationships between everyone at work at home? How could this not result in more happy at work at home? • Robert's Top 5 Indicators of Positive Workplace Mental Health: 1. People’s ENERGY passionately shows up each and every day. This motivates collaboration and commitment. 2. People’s RESPECT in the workplace supports the exchange of open and honest communication. 3. People’s SKILLS & EXPERIENCES result in the courage to embrace ongoing workplace changes. 4. People’s WORK SATISFACTION is abundant while plenty of Happy At Work is very much apparent. 5. CONNECTIONS with one another are obviously authentic, transparent and inspire trust.

$22.49 Festive Special, Limited time only Montana’s BBQ and Bar Expires Dec 31 2021 Community \\ 51


eterans Memorial Gardens & Interpretive Centre is the premiere “footprint” project of the Canadian Motorcycle Tourism Association (CMTA) It is located at 10121-93 St in the City of Grande Prairie and was founded in 2017. Veterans Memorial Gardens & Interpretive Centre brings together our rich military history and the stories of service and sacrifice in a way that makes learning, exploring & remembering an experience for all who enter. Our half-acre interpretive centre is home to the Afghanistan War Monument, Memorial Panels with biographies of Fallen Soldiers from our Region, Military Murals of trench art and themed pocket-gardens. It is a place of Remembrance. Comrades, families and loved ones along with the citizens of our region, can commemorate and celebrate the lives of our soldiers who became veterans, and the ones who were killed in action. Because there is much to learn from our past, we created a place that encourages “Connecting the Dots” of past with present and future. By design, our facility serves as a multi-purpose “commons” for citizens and youth. It’s purpose is to enable individuals and groups to engage in a wide variety of activities, events and programs, while immersed in tributes and remembrance highlighting the military history of Northwestern Alberta.

Before we broke ground, we built a partnership with the Hillside Neighbourhood Association and the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre on as many projects as it was practical. We regularly seek guidance from our Community Social Development manager with the City of Grande Prairie, Angela Sutherland, and are actively engaged with our city council. We know that the fastest and best way to bring people into our space so they can “Connect the Dots” is by offering programs, events and services that our community really needs and will want to use or attend. Public spaces are the glue to our communities: they enable a feeling of belonging, of social cohesion and encourage our sense of collective identity. Our gardens feature walkways with sidewalks that are 9'6" wide. This design feature was part of our long-term vision to expand the space's serviceability to include more weeks on the calendar, and a greater variety of uses/service for the community. In consultation with city staff and elected officials, we reviewed our physical space and agreed on the ways, means and opportunity to fully enhance the utilization of our gardens while adhering to public health guidance and retaining the spirit and beauty of our gardens. • It was agreed that we would seek funding to create a Pop-Up Community Market

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HELP US BUILD the ‘O Canada’ Walkway!

Donate $50 to help us build the ‘O Canada’ Walkway at Veterans Memorial Gardens & Interpretive Centre

You will receive a Certificate of Gratitude from us and a plaque created to commemorate your soldier will be placed in the ‘O Canada’ Walkway. Donate $100 and you will get a copy of the commemorative plaque mailed to you along with your certificate. To learn more visit our website:

Veterans Memorial Gardens + Interpretive Centre is a unique urban space on 1/2 Acre of land close to dowtown Grande Prairie: • • • • • • • • • • •

8 interpretive, companion planted gardens 700 lineal feet of sidewalks that are 9’6” wide with 100+ soldiers story panels A purposefully designed space for photos for weddings, anniversaries etc. 10 Victory Gardens for community gardening 500 ft deck prep kitchen commercial kitchen/concession 4 restrooms, 2 accessible 1,000 sq ft meeting room, wheelchair ramp and wheelchair lift. Audio Visual Equipment + MORE!

Thank a serving soldier ~ Honour a veteran ~ Remember the fallen

A Commemorative Garden Connecting Community With gratitude to our key sponsors and all sponsors:

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(continued from page 52...) • It was determined that we could accommodate 15 10x10 pavilions for physically distanced events that could be quickly set-up / stowed as-and-when needed. However, after seeing that system in action, it has been determined that the modular pergola that does not require “guy rope” is far more desirable a system. The modular pergolas offer sails that protect against the harmful effects of the sun, lower the temperature underneath them and one can add sails to the side of the pergola for privacy and to slow the wind down as it enters the space. • Our facility is in the process of getting a facelift thanks to a patio revitalization and a cultural spaces grant. We have also been able to improve accessibility to the facility with a covered wheelchair ramp and an electric lift.

• We raised the front of our building by 6 feet to accommodate a 4’ x 40’ wide mural/sign with solar lighting to make that sign pop at night. HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED: This project has a 10 year road map with many incredible opportunities for you to get involved. From volunteering to sponsoring events, naming opportunities + showcase opportunities, this multifaceted project offers many ways for you to engage with us! Email Renee Charbonneau, Executive Director of the CMTA and project lead for Veterans Memorial Gardens & Interpretive Centre at or call her at 780-933-0182 she’d be thrilled to speak with you. Visit our websites:

Key-Angels is a unique financing platform that connects single parent and zero parent families access to buying their first home. By connecting them to people who have Qualifying room, so they can buy their first Home while renting the other units. #ittakesavillage. Why we wanted to do this is we want to bring families together and reduce anxiety\stress and improve mental wellness. Our mission is to provide investment with a purpose. Which also helps single parent and zero parent families buy their first home, which would be an income home as they live in one unit and gain stability.

Purpose: To provide access, and solve the housing crisis Our Value is providing single parent and zero parent families the ability to grow and succeed in their lives. They will have a roof over their head, stability, and the opportunity to access their first home!! Which is great for YOU the investor, great for them, and great for the Community. 54 // Community Now!

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” - Paulo Coelho

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Changes to the Family Legal System Trish Guise


ictims of abuse are encouraged to seek support. When they seek help from a Domestic Abuse organization, their experience is validated. They are told they have done nothing wrong; the abuse is not their fault; they do not deserve it and they deserve to be protected. However, if they end up in Family Court, the Court often does not see them as victims. The Court may attach blame or even say “it takes two to tango”. This leaves victims feeling disillusioned, confused, blamed, and unprotected. Instead of providing protection, some abuse victims are given parenting orders requiring them to co-parent with their abuser, and children who have been hurt by an abusive parent have been forced to reunify with and spend time with that parent. In these instances, it is rare for an order to be given for the abuser to seek help to stop the abuse and even more rare for such an order to be given prior to being reunited with the children. This is all 56 // Community Now!

in direct opposition to what victims are told when they seek help from domestic violence agencies and it only serves to perpetuate and compound the affects of the abuse. On a grand scale the biggest void in the family legal system is the lack of trauma-informed and coercive control informed processes. Lawyers and judges are trained in the law, not in psycho-social aspects such as abuse, coercive control, post separation abuse, attachment theory and brain science. Most of the issues that arise in family law are rooted in psychology not law. It is imperative that lawyers and judges become astute at understanding the psycho-social roots of family law issues. When systems intended to support do not treat the signs of coercive control appropriately, victims are retraumatized, harming them more than the original abuser did. 1 System Must Become Trauma-Informed & Coercive Control Informed

Coercive control is patterned behavior that is intended to dominate a person and illicit full compliance from them. Canada's Divorce Act now addresses coercive control by stating that judges must determine if coercive control is present when determining the best interests of a child.2 The problem is that when not properly trained to recognize coercive control, the signs can be difficult to distinguish. Additionally, whom the actual offender is can also be difficult to ascertain. As

What training has been put into place to support the initiatives behind protecting family law victims from coercive control? According to the Court of Queens Bench of Alberta website, continuing education initiatives are offered both internally by the Court, and externally primarily by the National Judicial Institute (NJI). Each year, judges have at least two weeks in the court schedule solely for judicial education.3 Despite the claims of the Canadian Judicial Council that “in the in-

a result of their traumatized state, victims do not usually present well in court. They appear emotional, unstable, unhinged and as such are often deemed to be the aggressor in the situation. Meanwhile, the coercive controller typically presents as charismatic, reasonable, stable, and well put together because they have not been traumatized.

terest of transparency to the Canadian Public, the Council regularly publishes a list of courses, seminars and other events during the last fiscal year”4, it is difficult to find the training initiatives available and it is unknown if any training on coercive control is yet available for judges.

Coercive control is insidious, nuanced and at times, subtle. It is not evidenced by a black eye or bruised skin. Coercive control results in the slow erosion of a person’s confidence, self worth, identity and freedom to think and act. Without appropriate training family law and mental health practitioners are left to rely on their own subjective perceptions and instincts when trying to determine whether abuse has occurred. For example: Parent A routinely scrutinizes and micromanages the parenting decisions and abilities of Parent B. Without adequate knowledge of coercive control and how it presents itself, a legal or mental health professional runs the risk of labelling this behavior as involved and caring parenting. Misconstruing this abuse can lead to decisions being made that force Parent B to coparent with Parent A which will only serve to continue the coercive control and abuse.

Track & Monitor Cases to Determine Efficacy of Rulings & Interventions How do Judges know if their rulings are having a positive effect on families if there isn’t a tracking or monitoring system to see how the family is faring after their time in court. If the family legal system is takes its job of protecting the “best interest of the child” seriously, it is time to initiate a measurement and tracking system to determine the efficacy of the court’s interventions. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are key indicators that highlight progress towards a goal or intended result, they are not the goals or targets themselves. They supply focus on operational improvement, create an analytical basis for decision making and help focus attention on what matters most. As Peter Drucker famously said, “What gets measured gets done.”5 The intent of KPIs is

(continued on next page) Community \\ 57

(continued from page 57...)

c) a mechanism to evaluate the efficacy of program initiatives, new laws, behavioral changes in the parties, etc.

to supply measurements to allow for better, more informed decision making, which is exactly what is needed in the Canadian family court system.

When Cases Go Horribly Wrong, Judges & Lawyers Need to Study What Went Wrong to Ensure the Same Mistakes Are Not Repeated.

In the Canadian family legal system effective KPIs would serve as a) specific markers that show progress towards the desired goal of protecting children, b) a method of measurement to track the performance of the newly enacted amendments to the Divorce Act and judges’ interpretation of it

Judicial errors are to be expected because judges are only human; no one is infallible. Justice Beverley McLachlin has stated that “…judges and juries occasionally arrive at the wrong conclusion. When this happens, we must do our best to find out why and to ensure that it does not happen again.”6 In the medical profession, Mortality and Morbidity (M&M) meetings, are conducted to review deaths as part of professional learning and have the potential to provide hospital boards with the assurance that patients are not dying because of unsafe clinical practices.7 These meetings are intended to be educational rather than punitive and they serve as a lesson for all practitioners in the field. Why doesn’t the Canadian Family Legal System have something similar in place? Encourage the Use of Supplementary Assistance in Family Legal Battles such as Divorce Coaches & Divorce Financial Planners When speaking to clients that are in the Canadian family legal system many have the same complaints. “My legal bills are so high, but nothing has been accomplished!” “Issues have been dragging on for months without resolution” “It takes weeks for my lawyer to return my messages.” “My lawyer doesn’t understand that my ex is abusing me even though we are separated.“

58 // Community Now!

Until recently, the only alternative for people who were dissatisfied or couldn’t afford a lawyer was to self-represent. Now people have the option of hiring other professionals such as Divorce & Pre-Mediation Coaches, Divorce Financial Planners, Divorce Real Estate & Mortgage agents, and Mediators to name a few. According to the American Bar Association Divorce coaching is a flexible, goal-oriented process designed to support, motivate, and guide people going through divorce to help them make the best possible decisions for their future, based on their particular interests, needs, and concerns. A Divorce & Pre-Mediation Coach’s role is one that includes guidance on strategic planning, emotional management, co-parenting issues, how to handle a high conflict ex, and preparing for mediation which includes, drafting opening statements, agendas, proposals, and agreements. We must continuously look for better, more effective ways to serve families that come in contact with the family legal system. In keeping with “the best interests of the child” it is essential that the Canadian family legal system implement appropriate trauma and coercive control training for all legal professionals, identify what the KPIs of the family legal system should be and institute a method of tracking the residual results of judicial interventions to prevent further trauma to families and to ensure families are being helped not harmed by the system. 1) 2) 3),in%20 the%20court%20schedule%20solely%20for%20judicial%20education. 4) 5) 6) 7)

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“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind.”

— Robin Williams

“The truth is you can recover.” — Vanisha Breault “Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.” — Jade Alberts

60 // Community Now!

Do you need help to get off the couch and get your body moving out your front door every day? Join one of the monthly ONLINE Wild About Nature Challenges and reach your 10,000 steps in a fun and mindful way! Let's get WILD together!

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Abridge Consulting Abridge Consulting was founded based on a simple, but not easy, goal - to get more people, more help, sooner. Abridge Consulting believes we can all learn how to be a bridge between people struggling with their mental health and getting them the support, they need and deserve. Abridge Consulting clients are organizations and teams who are ready to invest in their people, culture and bottom line. #workplacementalhealth #abridgethegap #taraisabridge Tara Adams, Abridge Consulting 403-671-9911 •

Our passion is helping you to feel better, improve your relationships, and thrive. Our approach will assist you to explore your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours to create balance in your life Our team at Your Counselling may be right for YOU!


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The Cabin Door Heather Wyard-Scott (587) 217-8499 Certified Life Coach & Energy Healer.


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How the PODCAST came to be! “After attending many in-person Rainforest Lunch Without Lunch events I realized that there are some incredible stories in Alberta's Innovation Ecosystem that most people don't know anything about. I thought that if Rainforest Alberta had a podcast, we could record these stories for everyone to enjoy and learn from. Mackenzie Bedford, who was the Community Manager for Rainforest Alberta at the time, told me to just go for it, so I did. I wanted to make sure that the podcast would have longevity, so it couldn't take too much of my time, and therefore I made it a community podcast where the hosts were community members. That way, I would just have to put the show together after the interviews were recorded by other people. I could host when I wanted to, or when we needed a show and didn't have one. The team approach would make less work for any one individual, and I think it has been a success.” – Al Del Degan


Setting Goals to Reach Your Goals; Building Habits for Incremental Growth.

Jennifer Hadley

Remember that goal you set for yourself in January? That New Year’s Resolution? It’s December… How’s it going? Did you know that over 65% of people drop their resolutions before January even ends? I’ve talked about this a lot before – the Fake News of motivation, time and energy. When all of that goes away – and it does… It absolutely does – what do you have left to ensure that your goals are met? The answer is habits. Daily habits that take the decision-making out of the equation and get you on the road to the promised land of goal achievement. (continued on next page) Community \\ 65

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Decision fatigue is a real thing people! Think about how many decisions you have to make in a day. From the moment you open your eyes until your head hits the pillow at night, you’ve made an average of 35,000 decisions in one day. Imagine how much mental strength and emotional capacity that takes from you. Now we can’t get rid of it completely, but we do have control over a few things. Building habits into our lives creates opportunities for less decision-making and more unconscious action. These are lovingly called “no-brainers”. We love no-brainers because they are things that happen without any extra decision-making requirements. Why do you think Steve Jobs wore the same thing all the time? To save from having to make one more decision in a day. This is why we make lunches and set out our clothes for the next day (theoretically) – so that in the morning, we just have to get up, get dressed, grab our lunch, and head out! Easy no-brainers! 66 // Community Now!

How do we accomplish having less decision fatigue? How do we make our lives easier? Planning. Planning. Planning. I use a simple, and very effective tool that helps prevent having to rely on motivation, time and energy and goes right into building daily habits. This is where the magic happens. I use my planner. I’ve created my own because as a recovering planner-addict, I have so many that I thought I’d use but then there’s one part I don’t like and it goes to the wayside. So, I took all of the parts of the ones I like and put them into one I love, and use every day. The point is to plan for the next three months by breaking it down monthly, and then weekly, and then daily. Taking your big goals and dissecting them into actionable steps will create daily habits that will guarantee traction for you towards them. Once you have these daily habits in place, they are less dependent on motivation, time, and energy because they become automatic no-brainers that you just do. Genius, right?

Easy steps to help you get there: Plan your top 3 goals for the next three months. Today. Don’t wait until Monday, don’t wait until January 1. If you don’t have your plan in place for January before January starts, you’re late and will be scrambling or just won’t do it. This is why most companies and businesses do their annual strategic plans in the last few months of the year – to avoid the scramble and to plan the next year properly with the time and attention it requires. Once you’ve decided on your top 3 goals, break them down. How will you achieve them? What are the steps required to get to where you want to be three months from now? If you want to run a marathon, you have to train for it. If you want to lose weight, you have to prepare for it. If you want to get a new job, you have to work towards it. Manifesting your future only goes so far… it is said that without a plan, a goal is just a dream! This is absolutely true. On Sunday evenings, I take my planner to my comfy couch spot, make some tea and get to planning. I plan out what my week is going to

look like. When I have appointments or meetings, when my kids have their activities, when I have my girls’ nights or other sacred events that are solidly scheduled in my calendar. Yes, this includes girls’ night! It’s a need for me, so I make it happen. This is where people are made to feel guilt for having a life outside of what everyone else needs from them. They’re called “guilty pleasures” but we do not have to feel an ounce of guilt about filling our lives with things that we love. So, add wine with the girls to your planners ok? I give you permission to release that guilt and love the heck out of your life without apologizing for it! Every night in my planner, I set aside some time to outline the next day. I acknowledge my successes and failures of the day, and make my plan for tomorrow. I start with 1-3 non-negotiable goals for the day. These are things that if nothing else, they will get done. No matter what. The trick is that these non-negotiables MUST be tied in some way to the overall goals you set for the three-month-period you’re in. They can NOT be something like pay the credit card bill, or register for (continued on next page)

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yoga. Those are tasks, not goals. They have to be bigger and on a higher scale. Once you’ve done that, break it down again into actionable steps. If your goal is to drink 8 glasses of water today, your actionable step tied to that would be to refill your water bottle every few hours. If your goal is to find a new job, your actionable step would be to send your resume to 10 people today. Those small things are going to be the incremental steps that will help you achieve your goals.

to prep your meals for the next day, an hour to plan for tomorrow. And an hour to spend time with your family, friends, partners. If you don’t plan for it, it will not happen. And when things don’t happen regularly, they don’t become habits, leaving you with hope, dwindling motivation, time and energy. Then of course, you have to stick to the plan. No point having a plan if you’re not going to execute it. Honour the time you set for yourself to get things done. Think of it as an ap-

pointment with someone you love and don’t want to let them down – you’re that someone, so don’t let yourself down. Keep that appointment with yourself and Now for the golden do the thing you promnugget – if you learn Every night in my planised to do. If you’re not anything from this, learn ner, I set aside some accountable to yourself, about the one thing that’s time to outline the next find someone in the same going to catapult you day. I acknowledge my boat as you and make towards success. Time them your accountability successes and failures blocking… Yup, that’s it. buddy – trust me, they I’m sure you were expectof the day, and make need you just as much as ing some sort of amazing my plan for tomorrow. you need them. Once you revolutionary solution, start to see the results but the anti-climactic recoming in, you’ll start to find that it gets easier ality of it is that time blocking is the answer and maybe even fun! Having a buddy or a to your incremental growth. I promise. Take coach along the way, makes a huge difference. your actionable steps that you’ve pulled out from your big three goals, and make an appointment with yourself to do them. Block off the time in your calendar to give yourself the opportunity to make it happen. Put your morning routine into your planner or agenda. Put your workout into your agenda, your meal times and rest times too. How many of us “forget” to eat lunch? That’s because we didn’t plan for it and then lunch time passed us by. This is dangerous! Hangry people are not good for anyone! After you set your meetings, activities, and other non-negotiables into your calendar, look at the time that’s left. You surely can find an hour to exercise. An hour 68 // Community Now!

So… It’s December – Schedule your personal strategic planning session and let’s get to work! I’d love to help you reach your goals and become the person you really want to be, so let’s chat! And if you want a copy of my planner, it’s available on my website at - use code PAYITFORWARD to get 10% off! Happy holidays to all of you. And don’t wait until January – start today. You’ll be so much farther ahead if your “one day” becomes “day one”.

"Smudging All The Time”


ada nastada (Hello to you all.. In Tsuut'ina)

My name is Xakiji (Chief) Lee Crowchild and it is my honour to be asked to write an article for: Community Now! Magazine. I am the former sitting Chief for Tsuut'ina Nation and have called Tsuut'ina home all my life. I grew up with a loving grandparent family with my parents, uncles, aunties, cousins and other relatives always there to support me in my life journey. Most have passed on now but the richness of story and principles have guided my life and I am here to share as much of that as I can with you. The challenge of: "What to write" has been in my mind for quite awhile and was perplexed to say the least. But with the help from people who know These suggestions came forward" • How acknowledgment of the past plays a role in reshaping community • The Importance of connection within community and how it plays a role in mental health

• What do we need to do better • What does community mean to you I decided to relate this story to you to create context for future articles. Smudging all the time "My nephew said we are still slaves to the master." "What do you mean?" "I have done all that has been asked of me in trying to follow this Red Road but it is hard to keep the focus." "I pray all the time... Praying for better times... praying for the people,.... praying for justice to be served but it feels helpless and the prayers seem hopeless". "I try to smudge to put me in a better frame of mind but the thoughts are still the same when I walk out to the world to take on the day." "I have listened to your words and advice carefully uncle but I just want to give in and start to hate the world all over again. Those White People have done us wrong and they continue to take from us all of what we have left... (continued on next page) Community \\ 69

Xakiji (Chief) Lee Crowchild

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What more is there?" I sat and thought in silence for a long time as my nephews sat around the fire they had built to watch the day surrender itself to the evening. All that could be heard was the frogs singing their songs in the distance and the dogs barking every once in awhile at some thing they saw in the distance that only their ears can hear. The fire crackled and one nephew threw another log into the fire. They sat and stared at the fire and gently smoked their cigarettes.

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The night was clear and the stars led the way to the milky way and the star blanket woman who waited there for the next person to pass as she continued to make her quilt of stars and cook her stew over her fire. "One day I will go see her" I finally said. "Who?" asked another nephew. "Star Blanket Woman" I replied She will ask me if I made relatives while I was on this good earth. Did I treat everyone as human beings and gave them the respect they deserved. I will have to answer her truthfully and say that I tried my best. That it was very hard for me to find forgiveness of the Whiteman for what they did to my

ancestors and continue to do to my not yet born relatives. That will be hard to say that I did. All I can say is I did my best. "How can you say that uncle?". Look at how they treat us and look at how they treat their own. They have no respect for anything. They kill each other over different ideas and the like to mock the people they defeat. "The Whitman slept with our women and created some us that hold the enemies blood in our veins. what am I suppose to do? I don't feel like I belong on the land because I get ridiculed by my cousins for having White blood in me. I can't help that. It is what I am." said the first nephew. "I thought practicing tradition will make me feel better but I only feel farther away from where I think I should be." "I had a brother who served in the Navy. He was Ojibway and had a white father as well. It made him angry and he tried to hide who he was by trying to fit in with the other sailors. He always visited me when it got to be too much. I would sing him a kinship song and we would sit out in the night and smoke a few cigarettes." "I invited him to come and stay with me when he finished his service. After he got out of the Navy he drank for a couple of years trying to forget what he went through and the ugliness he saw. He was really wounded. He did show up one day though. He was crying through his eyes even though he never showed it. Kunshi (Grandmother) saw it right away and cooked him up a good meal and made him a bed and he slept for 4 days only to get up to eat and shower and go back to sleep. He was very tired."

"Together, We both fasted (vision quest) up in the hills and together we tried to find the peace we were seeking so we could make it into the world. He become my brother and we cried together for the things we lost. We washed away our feelings of hate together. Hate for the unseen enemy we killed. hate for the other sailors who would mock us. calling us Chief or drunken Indians or scalp hunters. Those words were always hard to hear but they had to be dealt with in a good medicine way." "Isaugha (Grampa) and Kunshi (Granny) had ceremony for us for a good 2 years. They had to bring back our humanity" Slowly my brother came back to the world and we helped each other. He learned to love his father for what he was: His father. Even though his dad passed away he found the place to love him again. He stopped being mad at his mother for marrying a Whiteman and realized that she really did love her husband for who he was. One day we were working outside the house. It was early fall and he was in deep thought for a few days before. He stopped brushing down his horse and turned to me. "Brother,... I want to tell you something". We have been through a lot for the past few years from when I served in the navy. I really didn't like you because you had darker skin than I did but I saw how you were treated by other sailors. I even laughed at you at the same time to try and fit in with them but I always felt guilty about it. I would come to you and try to apologize but couldn't find the words. Every

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(continued from page 71...) time you just smiled at me and we smoked cigarettes". "When I launched those missiles at the enemy I realized then that I were doing the job as best as I can and heard you when you sang death songs for the enemy. I knew then that I had a long ways to go to get back to where I think I was suppose to be". "I think I have found it now. The forgiveness... I mean.... I am asking you if you will forgive me for not telling you these things along time ago." "I just looked at him surprised by what he told me but we were brothers for such a long time that I said it was alright all along. I never thought of him of being anything less than my brother. Still I knew it was important for him to say those words." "I am going to head home now. Back to the east to see my family and work with the young men there. They are going to need me to help them just like your nephews will need you to help them soon. I have my bag already packed and am going to head out in the morning. I will come back in a few years to see you again and we will continue our journey again." The next morning he hugged Isaugha and Kunshi. Kunshi had packed him some food and hugged him for a long time. She was losing her son but she knew he had to go and fight the enemy. She cried very hard because she knew she would not see him again. Her time was getting short. Isaugha gave him a final blessing and said from this day on you will be known as "Standing Soldier". He too knew this would be the last time he would see him. 72 // Community Now!

I hugged him and said don't be gone too long. He smiled with tears and did up his navy Peacoat up tight and started walking east into the foggy morning. I sang my friend is gone song but it was hard to sing because the lump was high in my throat. "So my nephew I tell you this because you are wounded by life. You want to change things but the wounds sit like daggers in your heart. You can't change anything that is happening in the world. People will continue to hate each other and kill to justify it. "Human rights and Civil rights don't go far enough and that is where the White world is stuck." "You just have to change the things around your world that you can change. All of these challenges and hardships you have are just preparing you for the change you have always wanted" Don't lose faith in what you think is helpless and hopeless "Hoping in quiet desperation is the way that the Whitman taught us" You have to live with hope with faith in what you believe is treating people as human beings". "That is really hard" I then sat quietly and watched the fire as did everyone else. I put another log on the fire and sang a heart calling song. I think my brother will be back soon. I hope that I will be back again in another future issue and I hope you enjoyed the story. All my relatives; Xakiji Lee Crowchild

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” — Amy March, from Little Women

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