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MOVEUP Life and business in northern alberta’s peace region

CHOOSE YOUR OWN

Adventure

THE BUSINESS OF GIVING Philanthropy in the PEACE TAKE ONE


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GINETTE MACISAAC Carmon Creek Commissioning and Start-up Manager

As a small town girl from Cape Breton, Canada, Ginette didn’t think she’d become a citizen of the world. With a Dutch husband and children born in the Netherlands and Australia, Ginette is truly international. Over the past 17 years she’s worked and lived in the Netherlands, Singapore, Qatar, Australia and now the small town of Peace River in Alberta. In her early career Ginette spent five years offshore in the North Sea in a variety of technical and operational roles, and later helped Shell build one of the largest chemical plants in the world in Singapore. Following the arrival of her second child she wanted to go back and settle in Canada and move back into an operational role. Technology is core to her role – particularly developing new technology which can help recover oil sand deposits that are too deep for mining.

Development of this technology is key to helping recover the vast majority of this resource which is deep underground, which will ultimately help to overcome many of the challenges associated with traditional mining. She believes the oil sands will be developed in order to meet future energy needs, so sees her job as core in ensuring its developed in the right way. When she’s not at work, Ginette is a keen volleyball and soccer player. She’s currently a soccer coach for her daughter’s team and loves nothing better than to get involved in a game herself when she can.

MY JOB IS TO ENUSRE TECHNOLOGY IS DEVELOPED SO THE OIL SANDS CAN BE UTILIZED TO MEET FUTURE ENERGY NEEDS IN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY.


PEACE RIVER IS MY HOME... I was born and raised in Peace River. My family lives here and I will be raising a family of my own here someday. Access to high quality health care in our own backyard is an important consideration in choosing Peace River as a place to live and work. As a Shell employee, I am grateful to be part of an organization that values the importance of the health of our community so much that in 2013, it invested $625,000 in two local care facilities; the Rotary House and in the Designated Supportive Living Complex. Together, these developments represent an important step toward ensuring that our local health care system is equipped to deliver quality care for our families. Jenna Strachan Community Affairs Representative, Peace River

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Table of Contents 16

Networking in the North The power of relationships in the Peace

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GPRC Alumni Profile: The Honey Cowboy Checking in with Grimshaw’s country star after school

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Help! I need to write a business plan You have a great business idea. Now what?

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Choose your own Adventure This summer, have your Peace, your way.

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Welcome to Paradise McLennan’s Kimiwan Bird Walk is a bird watcher’s utopia

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Profiling generous philanthropists in the Peace

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The Business of Giving

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COUNTY OF

Northern Lights www.countyofnorthernlights.com

ALBERTA’S NORTHERN PEACE REGION

Spring/Summer 2014 | Volume III Northern Lights

PUBLISHERS

Tormaigh Van Slyke //tormaigh@pcpublishing.ca Jenelle Lizotte //jenelle@thevaultmag.net Clear Hills

EDITOR

Northern Sunrise

Jenelle Lizotte //jenelle@thevaultmag.net LAYOUT DESIGN

Aimie Williams Tormaigh Van Slyke //vanslyketormaigh1@gmail.com Jenelle Lizotte //jenelle@thevaultmag.net

Fairview

Peace

PEACE RIVER Smoky River

AD DESIGN

Aimie Williams AD SALES

Tormaigh Van Slyke //sales@pcpublishing.ca Kari Quinney //kari@pcpublishing.ca PHOTOGRAPHY

Leah Wood Photography, Cover Photography by Paul Lavoie, Bill Dehaan, Tormaigh Van Slyke, Chris Zwick, Julian Melnycky

Edmonton

WRITERS

Jenelle Lizotte, Tormaigh Van Slyke, Lydia Zilahy, Mary Warren, Dan Dibbelt, Laura Gloor, Chris Black, Lisa Hollis, Community Futures Staff Move Up is published by Plato’s Cave Publishing. No content herein can be reproduced without written consent of the publisher. 12,000 copies printed Move Up is 100 per cent funded by advertising dollars.

Calgary

PREDA

PEACE REGION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ALLIANCE

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Letter from the Editor

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lberta’s North Peace Region is the best place on Earth to live. We’ve carved out a paradise for ourselves here and we’re very excited to share it with you.

summer here in the Peace Region. There’s something for everyone. From enjoying the great outdoors to taking in a concert to developing your golf swing—it’s all within your reach here this summer. Our summers offer long, warm days—with only a few hours of darkness. Experience the warmth of the sun on your face, the bountiful yellow fields of canola, the chance to encounter local wildlife and the ability to choose your own adventure.

We take pride in our communities and we take care of each other. This attitude was the inspiration for this issue’s feature: Philanthropy in the Peace. We profiled five local generous businesses and individuals, who believe that this is the best place on Earth Can you imagine how to live and work and play. incredible it is to live here? Speaking of play, this Experience the wide, issue’s sub-feature offers a open, bountiful spaces for multitude of ideas for your

yourself—we’re resource rich in more ways than one. Realize the expansive, endless potential of your lifestyle here—as grand or as easygoing as you like it. With a strong economy and so many ways to secure your livelihood, it’s your little slice of opportunity. Appreciate the peace of mind of safe rural living with the convenience and service of urban amenities. Enjoy your Peace, your way. Pioneer your future. Venture north. Move up.

Jenelle Lizotte Editor

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Making the

CONNECTION BY LYDIA ZILAHY

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hen northern Alberta comes to mind, many will close their eyes and imagine the skies that stretch on forever, the whispering fields of canola and the wildlife spotted in these vast swathes of yellow. What often gets missed in this picture is how people connect over these wide open spaces. Northern Albertans are mavericks at networking, creating venues that are the grand evolution of what goes on in local coffee shops. For Sherry Crawford, bandmates with Dana Blayone of No Limitz and organizer of the Women in the North Conference, there is a common theme that runs through all the networking events. “To get anywhere, whether writing songs or in business, it’s all about relationships. It is having those conversations one at a time with the people who can help you, and when you bring all those people together in one room, you have the means to take your next step,” said Crawford. Crawford has seen the power of networking through the success

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of the yearly SongRise Music Conference and Showcase, formerly the Peace Region Music Industry Conference Showcase, she hosts with Blayone.

because Pilot Audio Recording Services has a mobile recording studio. It enables artists in more rural areas that aren’t able to travel to record,” said Crawford.

For Canadian Country Music Award nominee Tenille, the conference introduced her to contacts who invited her to Nashville, kicking off her career.

Crawford herself is symbolic of many woman of the north, who are almost a phenomenon unto themselves. Without the connections made so easily in larger centres, women in business have had to become more creative than their urban counterparts.

Tenille explained just how important the conference was for her. “It was the first place I learned to co-write. I received a lot of mentorship, such as recording a demo with Duane Steele. I went on tour with a delegate from that conference—if you have not registered, hurry up! It is such an amazing opportunity right here in the Peace Country.” Speakers this year include Duane Steele, Juno nominee Earl Pereira, Executive Director of Alberta Music Chris Winters and specialists in the field. Crawford highlighted another important speaker, Josh Gwilliam. “We have had so many people go on to record with Josh Gwilliam

As Crawford succinctly put it, “Let’s face it, it is hard to be a woman in business—we need icons and mentors to give us confidence to do what we dream of doing.” Keynote speakers of the Women in the North Conference this year included none other than past talk show host and helicopter pilot, Dini Petty. The conference showcases women from various walks in life from a six-year-old entrepreneur to the editor of Alberta Venture, Ruth Kelly. Crawford recognizes the value of the conference.


“It is a confidence booster and it’s a place to meet new people and form relationships for advancement. The conference has actually led directly to employment for me,” said Crawford.

Credit: Photogaphy by Lori

Stemming from a need communicated by industry itself, The Peace Oil Sands Conference is now in its third year and brings together professionals from one of the most prominent industries in northern Alberta. For Mathieu Bergeron, Economic Development Officer and Project Coordinator for Northern Sunrise County, “the biggest thing with the Peace Oil Sands Conference is it’s one of the only times that people in the oil industry have to get together and talk shop. This is a good venue

Photography Credit: Photography by Lori

to bring all levels—from the big bosses to the workers—together to talk about development and how the region is moving forward. It is a place to provide facts and it sets the stage in real life, not just the rumour mill.” Last year, the conference drew over 230 participants; this year, roughly 300 are anticipated with an additional 750 people attending the bus tour and trade show. The conference is organized by a regional Economic Development network, which Bergeron is part of. Collectively, the network has worked with industry to fill a gap and they are more than willing to work on others.

If other industries had a similar desire, it would be great to organize other industry-specific networking events,” said Bergeron. From music to industry, the networks in northern Alberta have proven to be strong, by connecting people over great distances, simplifying challenges, setting the stage for success and creating relationships that have advanced dreams.

“This project was a good collaboration for us as a network to come together and help industry.

Participants having fun and learning at the SongRise Music Conference and Showcase

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GRANDE PRAIRIE REGIONAL COLLEGE ALUMNI PROFILE

”The Honey Cowboy” BRENDAN DICKSON BY LISA HOLLIS

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veryone has a personal passion. From visual arts to athletics to literature, the possibilities are endless. Brendan Dickson has a dual—and unusual— passion: music and bees! Growing up on a bee farm just outside of Grimshaw, Brendan has been surrounded by bees all his life. This made the decision of what to do after high school easy. Having completed GPRC’s preemployment General Mechanic course in 2011—“a course that frequently comes in handy on the bee farm,” according to Brendan—Brendan took the next step and enrolled in GPRC’s newly resurrected Commercial Beekeeping program.

Photography Credit: Tormaigh Van Slyke

“I grew up on a bee farm, so the opportunity for me to do it was there. But, I also like it because it’s a good job for me; I like being outside and doing different jobs all the time. Throughout the year, you do so many different things, and then in the wintertime, you can do something totally different, whatever you want. Most jobs don’t give you that chance,” said Brendan. This winter Brendan is “doing something different,” working in Edmonton at the John Deere Dealership, but he is looking forward to March when he will get back to tending 3,000 hives alongside his brother, father and business partner. While he admits that “the honey is probably the best part,” he also holds the

little workers in very high esteem. “They’re pretty amazing creatures. The more you learn about them, the more you realize how incredible they are in so many things they do, the way they behave, the way they work as a group and do everything in the dark,” said Brendan. Brendan has combined his love of bees with his second love—music! Adopting the stage persona “The Honey Cowboy,” he has “a couple songs about honey and bees,” but sings on a wide variety of topics. His debut album Unpasteurized can be heard on his website and is available for download on iTunes. In 2013, it was his good fortune to play at PeaceFest, a local music festival, and lately he has been busy playing various fundraisers and social gatherings. “Playing at beekeeper meetings has been successful for me as well,” said Brendan. While Brendan has seemingly found his niche quite easily, he cautions that beekeeping is a lot of hard work. And while GPRC’s program is top notch, for those who may be interested in following a similar path he advises to “learn a bit on your own before committing to the yearlong course, so you know what you’re getting into.” For more information or to hear The Honey Cowboy’s music, visit his website HoneyCowboy.com

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COMMUNITY BUILDING THROUGH BROADCASTING

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ou don’t have to look too far beyond the Dunvegan Bridge or dig much deeper than Henry Fuller Davis to discover the Peace Region has abundance of stuff to do. As the General Manager of the Peace River based radio stations YL Country and KIX FM, I am reminded daily there are a tremendous number of activities and organizations that exist here. Our stations, and our staff, participate in hundreds of these events annually, either actively, or as sponsors. Why? Because, it makes the Peace Region a better place. I have no doubt that our business peers echo the very same sentiment. I was immersed into this way of thinking over 20 years ago when I began my career at Peace River Broadcasting, and started volunteering my time in local theatre, sporting events, trade shows and concerts. But, back then, I didn’t understand the impact of what I was doing. My eyes were truly opened during the inaugural PeaceFest, back in the summer of 1997—a two day concert series with accompanying daytime activities, planned as a flood relief benefit for affected businesses. Actually, my eyes were opened a few months before that, with the flood itself—a flood that devastated much of downtown Peace River and saw many more homes and businesses evacuated. I vividly recall that very day as station staff. Wading through ankle deep water, we grabbed what equipment we could from the station and efficiently set up temporary broadcast headquarters at our transmitter.

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Photography Submitted

COLUMN CHRIS BLACK

Vehicles lined the hills above the flood plane in every direction, all of them pulled over; everyone was tuned in to our station eager for information. When we were forced to pull the plug for a mere 20 minutes to complete the transition, an awkward silence took over and seemed to last an eternity. When we returned to air with one mic and a rotary dial phone, I realized, in that moment, who we are, what we mean and the role we play in the community. We are ground zero for information. Our importance is paramount. I saw with clarity the great power we possess, the responsibility that came with it, and how it could be used. From that one fateful day came PeaceFest, an event that we proudly continue to support to this day. I saw its birth, and I know why it matters. And while I may not know the history of every event and organization with whom our stations partner, I know we can contribute towards their success. So, whether it’s building a pool or a health care facility, raising money for cancer research, supporting amateur theatre companies or helping that local band climb the ladder to Nashville, we will continue to use our voice to help because it makes the Peace Region a better place.


Experiencing the splendour of the Northern Lights will take your breath away, and when you’re looking for more than just a place to do business, let this be the place to spread your wings and soar.

This place is for you.

COUNTY OF

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o, you’ve got a brilliant business idea that will take the market by storm. The only thing standing in your way is accessing the cash you need to seize the opportunity. Your lender says you need a comprehensive business plan. No need to panic. The professional staff at Community Futures Peace Country can help guide you through the process.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A brief synopsis of your entire business plan that highlights key points. Sometimes this is the only section that a lender will read, so it has to be enticing, but at the same time it needs to provide the reader with a clear understanding of the business.

MARKET RESEARCH Who are your customers and why do they want what you are selling? In other words, identify the demographic you are targeting and prove there is a demand for your product or service through the research and statistics you have gathered.

Writing a business plan doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or wearisome task. It can be a rewarding and satisfying experience. Think of your business plan as a “story” that proves to you, above anyone else, your business will be successful.

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION How is your business organized and what does it do? Explain what your business does in simple terms. Limit the use of industry jargon as the reader may not have the same degree of technical knowledge you do.

MARKETING STRATEGY Who are your competitors and how will your customers find you? Identify the competition in your area, demonstrate how your product is different from the competition and describe the methods you will use to reach your customers.

There are no hard and fast rules on how to tell the “story” of your business, but business plans usually include the following sections:

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! P L E H

I Need to Write a Business Plan

MANAGEMENT TEAM The who’s who of your business. The reader of your business plan will want to know if you and your team have the skills to deliver on the financial goals you have set out for your business. BUSINESS OPERATIONS Where will your business be located and why you chose that location? This section can also include descriptions of any system controls or quality controls that will be used in the day-to-day operation of your business.

FINANCIAL FORECASTS After being intrigued by reading the Executive Summary, lenders will typically turn their attention to the Financial Forecasts. This is probably the most important section of the business plan, as it must prove the potential viability of your business idea. Your projected revenues and expenses need to be realistic and clearly supported throughout the business plan. Typically, these forecasts will cover a three year time frame, demonstrating where the business is now and where it is going in the future.

In summary, your business plan should be a clear and concise story, anchored in fact and evidence. Aim to have plenty of white space rather than endless amounts of text. Make use of tables, graphs and pictures of products, bullet points and clearly labeled headings. One final tip, a well written business plan should take approximately 15 minutes to read. If writing a business plan is in your future, Community Futures Peace Country is ready to help!

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LEE-ANNE WOODS

RELOCATION STORIES milk run, you’re gone for at least an hour. There was no such thing as going to the store and being back within 20 minutes. Another thing I really noticed is there was really no sense of community—at least not like here. My neighbour was a stranger to me. What is your favourite thing about living in the Peace Region? I love walking my dog along the river. There are paved pathways all along the river for walking, biking and rollerblading. It is just so beautiful and breathtaking. I also love that Peace River has live theatre productions, as well as smaller musical venues. Everything is just that much more intimate here, and it’s so easy to get involved with town happenings if you want. I love that there are little farm towns all around us too. What is your favourite wildlife encounter since moving here? The deer like to run through my yard. That is something you never see in the city.

Photography Submitted

What is your ideal Sunday in the Peace Region?

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ee-Anne Woods is a local resident of the Peace Region, but in 2005 she left in exchange for a more urban lifestyle. Woods, however, found the city paled in comparison to the Peace Region and she returned again in 2010. Having experienced both city life, and life in the Peace Region, she found the Peace Region to be more friendly, homey and beautiful with several opportunities within the community. We caught up with her and asked what brought her back and why she still stays today. What brought you back to the Peace? I drank the water! There is an old native legend that says, “Drink the water of the Peace River and you will return.” But in all seriousness, I moved back from the city because I got tired of living a very fast paced and stressful life. I longed to be a part of the Peace River community again. How does the Peace Region differ from other areas you lived? Life is so different here—so calming to me.

The people are friendly and it has a small town feel to it, even though it is a bigger town. The community here is wonderful and there are so many different kinds of opportunities. I can’t believe how much it has evolved and grown since I moved away and came back. What keeps you in the Peace Region? I feel an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort here. The geological beauty of the Peace River valley just takes my breath away every summer. I just can’t believe how lucky I feel to be in such a beautiful town. And there are plenty of opportunities to move up the corporate ladder here, and so much potential for new businesses. Did you have any “culture shock” moments after moving away? What about when you moved back? Indeed! I couldn’t believe how different the city was from here. So many more people and so fast paced. It was a constant fight to go anywhere because you’re always fighting traffic and long line ups. Even for a quick

There are so many things: sitting on a bench along the river path; enjoying a good book; rollerblading or jogging along the river; having a cup of premium coffee at Java Domain; going to a good movie at the River City Cinema; checking out the Peace River Municipal Library; and shopping at the Riverdrive Mall. What is your ideal night out/date night in the Peace Region? Going to a dinner theatre production by the Peace Players, or going to the underground Music Society to listen to live music or going to the Rock & Bowl to have a night of bowling. How many kilometres are on your vehicle? A lot! I like to tour all around and see the country side. What is your favourite summer activity in the Peace? PeaceFest is a lot of fun and a very popular event. It’s an annual music festival that offers live music and a town fair. In the past, we’ve had Sam Roberts, Lee Aaron and Fefe Dobson. Spring/S ummer 2014

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RELOCATION STORIES

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herry Hilton and her family moved to Peace River from London, Ontario, in 2011, and has since become the manager of River City Cinema in Peace River. Hilton and her husband came in search of job opportunities, but they have found so much more in the area. With her position at the local movie theater, she has taken the opportunity to do charity work and contribute back to the community she now calls home. What brought you to the Peace? The reason we chose to move to Peace River was for jobs and we have family here.

We could see that the economy was getting worse and worse in Ontario and decided that it was best to sell off our property, pack up the truck and head out west. My husband arrived here six weeks before my son and I. He had a job right away. I stayed behind to close up my real estate business and take care of the sale of our house. How does the Peace Region differ from where you are originally from? The first thing I said to my husband when I arrived in Peace River was, “Where are the trees?” You might find that strange, but where I’m from there are so many maple trees, oak trees and ash trees. I truly found the landscape sparse. The second thing, and my most favourite, is that I am no longer surrounded by asphalt, concrete, high rises, smog and an unsettling crime rate. Back home I kept my house locked 24/7. We had motion sensors for the lights, a burglar alarm and a surveillance camera mounted on the house. I wouldn’t let my son walk off our

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city street without one of us. Now, my son is able to explore the town, go to the library (one of his favourite places) and shop at the mall without us having to worry that he will be approached by a drug dealer, prostitute or have his belongings stolen from him. That, in itself, is pure heaven! What keeps you in the Peace Region? The number one reason that I stay in the Peace Region is employment and the opportunities that this area offers for future business ventures and investments. The second reason that I stay here is, again, due to the sense of safety. Overall, the people here love their community, keep the arts alive in this town, lend a hand to those in need and are charitable, friendly and caring. What is your favourite thing about living in the Peace Region? My favourite thing about living in the Peace Region is my job. I have never been so happy at a job as I am at River City Cinema. Through this job I have been able to open our doors to help several charitable groups in the community and have met so many wonderful citizens of the Peace Region. I just love meeting and greeting everyone as they come through the door and I absolutely love seeing a little one when they experience the movie theatre for the first time. It’s so much fun to see the excitement on their faces. What is your favourite wildlife encounter since moving here? My favourite wildlife encounter since moving here is the black bear that came to check out my son and I, the second summer we lived here. At the time, we were still renting an apartment and my son and I had gone out onto the balcony to enjoy the night air. No sooner did we get out there when a bear saw us and decided to cross the street and check us out. We still laugh about it today.

Photography Submitted

I had a real estate business back home, but my husband had been out of a good job for the past two years. Sure, he was able to pick up work, but most of the manufacturing jobs had either dried up or were being run by temp agencies that paid awful wages and offered poor work conditions. For a man with four college diplomas, job options were slim to none.

SHERRY HILTON

What is your ideal Sunday in the Peace Region? My ideal Sunday in the Peace Region is simply staying at home, sleeping in, opening the drapes and enjoying the view from my living room windows. I live right along the Peace River and the view of Misery Mountain, along with the river, is absolutely breathtaking when the sun breaks out over the hills. What is your ideal night out/date night in the Peace Region? Believe it or not, my ideal night out/date is heading out with my husband to “The Mac” on Main Street in Peace River. We used to do dinner and a movie but after taking over running the movie theatre, here, I get to see movies all of the time so the experience is different. Unfortunately, the chance to get out for the evening with my husband is not often enough but, the few times that we have been able to go out, we have truly enjoyed ourselves playing pool, having a few drinks, and enjoying the company of the staff and patrons at “The Mac.”


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CHOOSE YOUR OWN

Adventure Your Peace, your way.

Photography Credits: Julian Melnycky (Dock), Chris Zwick (Pow Wow), Tormaigh Van Slyke (12’ Davis & Horseback)

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Adventure

Festivals Matta Fest

Historic Dunvegan Park ~ May 4, 2014 This year will be the 15th annual Matta Fest, a free outdoor celebration of spring and Mother Earth. The festival is held in the Dunvegan Historic Park, rain or shine, on the first Sunday in May. This festival features various artisan vendors, food vendors, belly dancers, tai chi, drum circles, hoopers, jugglers and other performance art demonstrations. The opening ceremony begins at 11am and the festival is capped off at 4pm with the dancing of the Maypole. Bring your instruments and help welcome spring this May 4th.

Aboriginal Gathering

& Pow Wow Peace River Ag Grounds ~ June 14 & 15, 2014 This year will mark the 19th Annual Aboriginal Gathering and the 11th Annual Pow Wow in Peace River. This June 14th and 15th at the Peace River Ag Grounds enjoy a hand drum competition, a jigging and fiddling contest, children’s crafts, display and craft tables, hand games, a concession, tiny tot prizes, a graduation ceremony and a soup and bannock feast on Saturday. Free on-site camping! PeaceRiverAIC.com

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Adventure Falher Honey Festival Downtown Falher ~ June 20 - 22, 2014 Falher, the “Honey Capital of Canada,” is proud to pay homage to their honey industry by hosting the Falher Honey Festival in downtown Falher. This year’s festivities will take place June 20-22nd. This festival has everything: live bee beard demonstrations, live entertainment, Honeybee Parade, Children’s games, street market, BEEsball Tournament, beer gardens and more! Facebook: Falher Honey Festival

PeaceFest 12’ Davis Events Park, Peace River ~ July 11 & 12, 2014 PeaceFest originally started as a fundraiser after a flood ravaged 40% of the businesses in downtown Peace River. Now in its 17th year, PeaceFest is a two-day music festival held on the second weekend in July in the breath-taking 12’ Davis Events Park with a free family fair held in Riverfront Park on Saturday. Past performers have included Blue Rodeo, Wide Mouth Mason, Bif Naked, Matthew Good and Sam Roberts Band. Amazing vendors, food, beer gardens, corporate area and ATM are available on site. PeaceFest.com

Summer’s End Festival Downtown Fairview ~ August 23, 2014 Located in the “Heart of the Peace,” Fairview’s Summer’s End Festival has something for everyone. With various demonstrations, children’s entertainment, bouncy castles, food vendors, live music, local dance groups, an open air market, art in the park, a street dance, a 5-10km walk/run, beer gardens, and more, the Summer’s End Festival will keep you entertained all day long. This year’s festival will take place August 23rd. Fairview.ca Photography Credits: Chris Zwick (Matta Fest, Pow Wow), Bill Dehaan (Bee), PeaceFest, Tormaigh Van Slyke (Summer’s End)

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Adventure

Rodeos Harmon Valley Pro Rodeo Harmon Valley Ag Grounds ~ July 12 & 13, 2014

The Harmon Valley Pro Rodeo is northern Alberta’s premier professional rodeo. The festivities begin at 1pm daily. This rodeo features major rodeo events including bullriding, steer riding, team roping and more. Enjoy the pancake breakfasts, beer gardens, supper, a dance and children’s activities.

Fairview Amateur Rodeo Waterhole Grounds ~ July 19 & 20, 2014

The three-day Fairview Amateur Rodeo features WRA rodeo events, local team roping, barrel roping and more. Enjoy the parade, dance, beer gardens and on-site concession.

Battle River Rodeo Battle River Ag Grounds ~ July 25 - 27, 2014

This rodeo features a kick off barbeque, a parade, flat races, chuck wagon races, chariot races, team riding, bull riding, Miss Manning Rodeo and more. The Demolition Derby on Sunday features prizes for first, second and third place, as well a consolation prize and a prize for “best decorated”. A midway, food vendors and beer garden are on-site with plenty of free camping available as well.

North Peace Stampede North Peace Stampede Grounds ~ August 1 - 3, 2014

The North Peace Stampede is one of the region’s oldest professional rodeos. This rodeo features bull riding, chuck wagons, a demolition derby, camping, food booths, beer gardens and a midway with thrilling rides!

Recreation Photography: Tormaigh Van Slyke

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Photography: Paul Lavoie

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Canoeing

Horseback Riding


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Adventure

Golf Mighty Peace Golf Course

Heart River Golf Course

Near Peace River, AB

Near Nampa, AB

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18-hole Driving range Tournaments Pro shop Practice facility Licensed bistro

MightyPeaceGolf.com

9-hole Clubhouse Pro Shop Driving range Camping – 15 serviced lots Leagues Tournaments

HeartRiverGolf.com

The Creek Golf Course

Fairview Golf Course

Condy Meadows Golf Course

Near Grimshaw, AB

Near Fairview, AB

Near Manning, AB

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9-hole Practice Facilities Creek Side Grill Pro Shop Mens and ladies league nights Camping available

GolfTheCreek.com

Fishing

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9-hole Fully-licensed club house Pro shop Rentals Driving range Free camping (if golfing)

FairviewGolfClub.com

Hiking

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9-hole Golf carts Kitchen facilities Well-stocked Pro Shop 17 full-service campsites 8 non-serviced campsites

Manning.GovOffice.Com

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Did You Know? In summer, our days are longer. It’s true. In fact, the Peace Region gets more than one whole hour of extra daylight during the summer solstice when compared to Calgary, Alberta. That’s more than 17.5 total hours of sun in one day. It’s just one more reason to make the move up here for the summer.

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KARRIE ANNE JACOBSON

RELOCATION STORIES

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arrie Anne Jacobson moved to Manning, which is in the County of Northern Lights, from Sooke, British Columbia, with her husband so they could provide a better life for their new family. For ten years she worked for the Peace River School Division as a teacher’s assistant. Today, she works as a lodge attendant at North Peace Housing Foundation. Here is what Karrie has to say about the Peace Region. What brought you to the Peace? My husband and I lived in Sooke, B.C., and we had just started a family. With four kids it was very expensive living in B.C. and my husband knew he could find a job in the oil patch to better support us. How does the Peace Region differ from where you are originally from? The weather. Sooke B.C. has very mild weather. You hardly ever see snow or have any of the harsh winter weather that we do here. Also, I was always surrounded by the ocean. Did you have any “culture shock” moments after moving here? The biggest culture shock for me was the cold winters, and it still is. What is your favourite thing about living in the Peace Region?

I especially love when I’m kayaking down the river and see bald eagles.

One of my favorite things about living in the Peace Region is the river and spending all my summer days on it. I also find that generally the people in the Peace Region are very friendly. What is your favourite wildlife encounter since moving here? One time on the river we were taking the kids and cousins tubing, and there was a bear swimming across. It was very scary to see, but also fascinating. The wildlife in the Peace Region is just so beautiful! I love seeing the bears, moose and deer. I especially love when I go kayaking down the river and see the bald eagles. What is your ideal Sunday in the Peace Region? Going for drives along the gravel roads to check out the river. We have a few picnic spots we enjoy going to. In the summer it’s to head down and go swimming, kayaking, or boating. What is your ideal night out/date night in the Peace Region? I don’t go out a lot at night, but when I do it’s to go to Peace River go for a nice dinner with my husband and maybe catch a movie. What is your favourite summer activity in the Peace? It’s to pack for the weekend, head out on the boat, and spend the weekend in a cabin just relaxing, fishing and camping. What keeps you in the Peace Region? My husband’s job, and my three younger kids are still in school, so that is what keeps me in the Peace Region. I have enjoyed living in the small community that I do. Spring/S ummer 2014

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1950

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1980

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Paradise

WELCOME TO BY LYDIA ZILAHY

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orthern Alberta is literally a paradise to birdwatching enthusiasts. With a mix of lakes, Boreal Forest and fertile wetlands, the north is home to over 260 species of birds. For this reason, you might want to access the Birdwatchers’ Paradise, a network of 17 regional partners that offers everything from maps to checklists. The Town of McLennan is known as Canada’s Birding Capital, made famous by over 200 species of birds that live among the wetlands of Kimiwan Lake. The

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town hosts the beautiful Kimiwan Birdwalk and Interpretive Centre, which is operated by the Kimiwan Lake Naturalists. Their mission is to educate through interpretation, research and enhancement activities in regards to habitat.

Mark Heckbert is a biologist and Resource Manager for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development but said, “My first job is as the father of four and we have a responsibility to teach them to be stewards of our wildlife.” Both

professionally and personally, Heckbert is deeply committed to sharing his fascination with birds. Heckbert explained why the area is so special and what enthrals him about it. “Geographically, it is uniquely located in the middle of major flyways for migratory birds. Predominantly, there is water fowl on the lake but out of the 206 species observed here, only 30 are waterfowl, leaving so many others to see. With changing conditions year-round, new habitats are offered and we can see all kinds of birds.” He explained that when the waters rise, Kimiwan Lake

can actually see about five per cent of a global species population and becomes a very important stop. In the spring, throughout the months of May and June, the waterfowl are on full display. “For birders, this period is a hot time. The birds are moving through, in full colour as they are busy with their mating displays. That’s when they don’t pay much attention to us, so it is a fantastic time for birding,” said Heckbert. From August to October, many staging waterfowl


use the lake as a stopping point on their migratory journeys. For him, there was no question about it. “You want to be here in the first week of October. The most fantastic sight you will ever see in your life is 9,000 trumpeter and tundra swans out there. It is something else. The water looks as if it is covered in big, white icebergs. The lake is their last stop in October and November before it gets cold,” said Heckbert. The Interpretive Centre is operational May 1 to August 31 and the self-guided interpretative signage is always available.

Heckbert had some advice for novice birdwatchers: “Dress for the weather. While the Birdwalk is only a kilometre long, there is quite a trail network that links into it, so you can make it as long or short an adventure as you like.” As for gear, Heckbert suggests: “You should bring with you binoculars and a spotting scope. There are some scopes on the walk but they aren’t mobile. If you come by when the centre is open, we can lend you binoculars if you don’t have your own. I would also recommend a basic bird guide, which we also lend out and have

available for sale. The staff are happy to help viewers orient themselves.” The experience transcends simply checking off birds on a list, even if it may start that way. There is something about birdwatching that has the ability to connect people. Heckbert is connected to them on another level. “There is an absolute beauty to the birds and the journeys they lead us on, we are part of it too. They connect us through North America, how we look after wildlife is dependent on that. If you think about

it, Mexico and the United States have the same birds for part of the year, Alberta has a unique and humbled responsibility while hosting the migratory birds,” said Heckbert. To connect with the wildlife and see the birds in their amazing splendour, to stand there and realize the incredible responsibilities that come with stewardship or to simply stop and remember how to marvel at nature are all part of the Kimiwan Birdwalk and Interpretative Centre experience. It is unapologetically majestic and a northern jewel.

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Written by Tormaigh Van Slyke & Jenelle Lizotte Photography By Leah Wood Photography

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Frank Lovsin kick his feet up in his office in Peace River 48 M OVE U P taking S p r i na g /moment S u m me r to 2 014


One of Canada’s finest keeping philanthropy fresh Freson Bros. • Frank Lovsin

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t 80-years-young, Frank Leo Lovsin leads a positively remarkable life. He and his wife, Agnes, have three sons, one daughter and 18 grandkids. He’s a self-made man who, to date, has 15 major grocery stores throughout Alberta. And, as if that wasn’t enough, he has given millions to his favourite Peace Region causes. He has even received the Order of Canada. It really is quite a remarkable story. Lovsin’s saga, quite literally, starts at the top—just not how one might think. On January 28, in 1934, Lovsin was born atop a mountain—roughly 12 miles from Jasper in the nowdeserted mining town of Mountain Park. According to Lovsin, at the age of 12, his mother, after observing her older son acquiring useful skills, wanted Lovsin to acquire useful skills as well.

together. They would get up, go to work, go home for lunch and then pack it in for the day, together. Even when other employees got time off, Lovsin worked through—like a boss. By the end, Lovsin even learned to speak Ukrainian. After his summer with Novak, Lovsin was given a wrist watch worth about $14—so the young lad had earned $7 per month for his efforts. “I learned pride, passion and work—the three elements of running a small business,” said Lovsin. “Of course, you do need money to make it work also.” In 1950, the lonely mine in Mountain Park closed down forcing the family to move to Edson, Alberta, where Lovsin would get his first job in the meat business. In 1952, Lovsin completed his high school education, and in the following year he would find himself managing a store in Luscar— another town that eventually closed its mine.

My dad didn’t have much to give me, but he did put the title of their house up. I knew I couldn’t afford to go broke because I would lose the family house. “That’s when she informed me that I was to be sent to Edmonton at the end of the school year and work for a family friend at Western Shoe Repair,” said Lovsin. Upon arrival, Lovsin didn’t know who was picking him up or what exactly he would be doing for work. A Ukrainian man named Louis Novak walked up to Lovsin. “Are you Frank,” he asked. And that was that. Lovsin would spend the next two months shadowing the business owner. For two months, the two started and ended their days

In 1955, Lovsin partnered with a father and son duo, Leo and Frank Resek, to open his first butcher shop in Hinton, Alberta. Interestingly, Freson Bros. takes its name from an amalgamation of the words Frank, Resek and Lovsin. Fatefully, an error was made by the bank manager and Fresin Bros. became Freson Bros. Lovsin’s entrepreneurial beginnings were not without unease. “When I went into business I had a car that was paid for, Spring/S ummer 2014

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“We preferred to be in an agricultural area or something that is a little more diversified than a strictly one-industry town,” said Lovsin. “Our options became Pincher Creek, Peace River, and there was another place. And, I said ‘Peace River sounds interesting.’ In 1960, Lovsin made the voyage to Peace River. “We came across where the big Dunvegan suspension bridge is now but then it was still a ferry. By 1962 we put everything together and moved here and we’ve been here since—52 years now,” said Lovsin. In 1962, Lovsin opened his second location in downtown Peace River with his youngest brother Dan. By 1964, Lovsin opened a third location approximately 85 km southwest in the town of Fairview, Alberta, and Dan followed to manage the newly acquired store. Over the next five decades, Lovsin would open stores in a dozen more locations. Not surprisingly, managing a store as well as overseeing his growing operations became too much, so Lovsin stepped into the role of General Manager. Today, Lovsin’s son, Mike, is the president of Freson Market Ltd. while Lovsin himself serves as Chairman of the Board.

but the bank didn’t think that was any collateral. So, I borrowed $1,500,” said Lovsin. “My dad didn’t have much to give me, but he did put the title of their house up. I knew I couldn’t afford to go broke because I would lose the family house. That’s how I started.” After a few years, Lovsin had made a positive name for his company, but he decided perhaps it was time 50

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for him to move on. “Having lived in a one-industry town like Mountain Park, a coal mining town, I found they weren’t so secure. I saw Mountain Park and Luscar both close,” said Lovsin. Lovsin’s intuition, followed up by some research, brought him to the Peace Region.

A few years ago the company’s head office moved from Peace River to Stony Plain, Alberta, but Lovsin still calls Peace River home after 52 years, and he has an overwhelming love for the Peace Region. “It’s been a great place to do business. We really like it here. When we leave for business or family reasons, coming back is just like medicine for us,” said Lovsin. “You can do anything you want in


Peace River. They always talk about how there is nothing to do in a small town. There is more to do here than anyone can find the time to do.”

hosted in Peace River. “My son, Mike, said, ‘We’ll look after food.’ And, we looked after all the food—$250,000 worth,” said Lovsin.

Locally, Lovsin is well known for his generosity and his many philanthropic endeavours. Asked why giving back to the community is so important to him, Lovsin explained:

Lovsin has not only given to the town he lives in and loves so dear, he also has made large donations in surrounding communities including a $25,000 donation to the Fairview Aquatic Centre.

“Here’s what I like about the Peace Region, they gave me an opportunity to make money here, make a living and make a life. Then, I say, ‘What can I do for the community that we do business in?’”

In addition to numerous cash and in-kind donations, Lovsin coached local hockey teams for 17 years. “My wife looked after figure skating and the food booth for about that amount of time too,” said Lovsin.

Here’s what I like about the Peace Region, they gave me an opportunity to make money here, make a living and make a life. Lovsin felt Peace River’s arena needed a new ice surface to serve the region, valued at $1 million. According to Lovsin, it will eventually come. “I’ve put aside money for that,” said Lovsin. Another worthy cause, Lovsin felt, was to improve the existing health care services. “I think to myself, ‘What would I do if I or one of my friends needed help and there wasn’t enough health care here to provide for everyone?’” said Lovsin. Not only did Lovsin donate one acre of land for a new clinic and 17 acres for the main hospital, Peace River’s Community Health Centre, a land value of $850,000 according to Lovsin, but he also took advantage of an opportunity to help purchase a new CAT scan machine at a discounted rate. “I looked at my partner at the time, Norman Boucher, and we said, ‘For $400,000, we’d be crazy not to buy it.’ So, we split it down the middle and both put forward $200,000. It was for the community,” said Lovsin. Lovsin also donated $250,000 worth of food for the 2004 Alberta Winter Games when they were

On April 7, 2010, Lovsin accepted the Order of Canada from the, then, Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean. The funny thing was, when Lovsin received the call he thought someone was pulling his leg. “When the guy phones me, he says, ‘Look, your name has been chosen…’ This was about the same time they were making fun of Sarah Palin on the radio,” said Lovsin. “I said, ‘Nah. You’re joshing me.’ So I go home for lunch and I tell my wife, ‘You won’t believe what happened to me.’ She told me she was told in confidence. For two years she knew and she never mentioned it to me once. I couldn’t believe that.” What’s quite surprising about Lovsin is his genuine nature and his humble demeanor. According to Lovsin, when he received the call to tell him about the Order of Canada, he told the man that he was undeserving of the dubious honour. “I said I’ve never done anything courageous or anything exceptional. I’m just an ordinary grocery store owner trying to make a living,” said Lovsin. The man assured him that he was worthy—he had met all of the criteria.

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Bev, Jenna and Brent going over Rotary House blueprints together Left to Right: Bev Bastell (Rotary member), Jenna Strachan (Shell Community Affairs Rep.), Brent Rostad (Rotary member)

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Shell donates healthy funds to deserving projects Shell Canada • Rotary House

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n 2011, the Rotary Club of Peace River and the Peace River and District Health Foundation teamed up to provide the Peace Region with temporary housing for patients, families of patients and visiting medical specialists after identifying a need for temporary accommodations in the region. The quest to create a Rotary House was born.

was the large regional area serviced by the Peace River Community Health Centre. For many people coming in from outside of town, it isn’t feasible or preferable to make the trip back and forth—especially if your commute is a few hours or more. This additional hindrance can, and usually does, make a bad situation worse—especially when a loved one’s health is involved.

The Shell donation of $500,000 was a substantial milestone in the fundraising effort. In November 2013, Shell Canada announced that they would be committing $500,000 to the Rotary House, which will now be called the Shell Rotary House. This announcement came shortly after Shell announced it would be setting up an office in Peace River and would be going forward with the Carmon Creek project—a thermal in-situ project that will produce up to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. Brent Rostad, co-chair of the Shell Rotary House’s Fundraising Committee, explained why the Shell Rotary House is so important for the region, “It will allow patients and families of patients to take the stress off in a time of need, from an accommodation standpoint. It will provide them with a place to stay and free up hospital beds in the process.” “The other aspect of it will provide short-term accommodations for visiting specialists, visiting physicians, locums, and things like that—so it’s a two-pronged facility,” said Rostad. One of the major hurdles identified by the Rotary Club

“The huge component to the Rotary House is it allows a housing component for people who are really in a time of stress. The trading area that we consider for the hospital to service is just shy of 100,000 people throughout the north—up to the NWT border to La Crete and Rainbow Lake and all that region over to Fairview and down south to the Smoky River Region and such—so it encompasses about 100,000 people,” said Rostad. “We hope to alleviate someone’s stress load when they’re going through tough times—hopefully, it makes things a little easier for these individuals and their families.” With an initial $1.5 million fundraising goal, the Shell donation of $500,000 was a substantial milestone in the fundraising effort, bringing the total raised to $1 million. The Rotary House has recently bumped the fundraising goal to $2 million after conducting a need assessment with the Peace River hospital. “The conceptual was not large enough to do proper justice, so we want to raise another half million dollars—we’d like to get up to that $2 million mark and build a facility that Spring/S ummer 2014

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will last and sustain the area for years to come,” said Rostad. “The donation from Shell was huge,” said Rostad. “It brought a lot of credibility to the project. We’ve raised, as a club, $300,000 previous to the Shell donation. By committing $500,000 to the project, it shows that we have stakeholders in the area—and a major one that believes in the project.” For Jenna Strachan, Community Affairs Representative for Shell, the donation to the Rotary House was an important decision. “From Shell’s perspective, as we go forward and develop our asset and expand our operations, we’re going to need more people to help support our operations. We’re making a decision to live in a community and I can’t think of anything more important than the health care available in the region,” said Strachan. “We really thought, for the folks who live here now and the folks who will live here in the future, health care was a really important thing for us to invest in.”

According to Strachan, Shell focuses on areas under pressure when seeking out partners to invest in. “Some examples are health care, housing, workforce development, employment and training, and youth educational programs—anything that helps to build the capacity of our youth to either go on to postsecondary, access training or finish high school,” said Strachan. Shell is committed to offering support to the different capacities that are important to building and developing a workforce. “We do scholarship funding at the high schools every year,” said Strachan. “We also have a lot of programs for Aboriginal youth.” “We also support the Aboriginal Gathering and Pow Wow every year,” said Strachan. “We are looking for more opportunities this year to fund and support other programs and major events. We are planning to do dollar-for-dollar matching with the federal government to provide access to training and jobs for members of the Aboriginal community.”

The support from the community really shows there is a need for this. In addition to the sizeable donation to the Rotary House, Shell has also committed $125,000 to the Accredited Supportive Living Service (ASLS) in Grimshaw, a donation that helps fund the Stone Brook supportive living community slated to open this Spring. The ASLS offers support for individuals who require dedicated care. “The ASLS were a really great fit for Shell’s social investment program, and it will have immediate benefits for local health care in regards to how it will free up acute care beds in the hospital right now,” said Strachan. “It will also provide additional support so [individuals] can stay local without having to go to Grande Prairie or beyond to receive that kind of care. It keeps families together, and it keeps them in the area.” Similar to the Shell Rotary House, the Stone Brook facility will also decrease the demand for beds in local hospitals. 56

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Shell’s donation to the Rotary House was definitely a confidence booster for the fundraising effort. “This is a huge commitment—not just where we are, but for anywhere. That’s a lot of money coming from a corporation. We would love for the big government to come onboard too,” said Rostad. “The support from the community really shows there is a need for this. The more we can get commitments from towns and counties further away makes it a regional project; there’s no question.” With one million down and another million to go, the Shell Rotary House is well on its way to making a positive impact on our region. “We have an opportunity to build and showcase a facility here that can do a lot of good for the region and showcase what the region is about from a care point of view,” said Rostad.


L to R: Jenna Strachan, Brent Rostad and Bev Bastell

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Amber and Bill look on as 13-year-old Brice demonstrates his strength and balancing skills in Peace River’s newly-built gymnastics club Left Right: and Public Relations Rep.), Bill Downing (DMI Mill Manager), Brice Wilkes (North Peace Gymnastics Club member) 60 toM OVE Amber U P SArmstrong p r i n g / S u(DMI m meCommunications r 2 014


Helping balancing acts become reality DMI • North Peace Gymnastics Club

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eet Bill Downing, Mill Manager of DiashowaMarubeni International Ltd. (DMI) Peace River Pulp Division. Bill has been with DMI before they were up and running 16 km north of Peace River in the County of Northern Lights.

“DMI came to Alberta in 1988. I came here in 1989 when it was still under construction,” said Downing. “My wife and I came here with a five year plan, and 25 years later, it’s been a fun ride and a good place to work.” Downing relocated to the Peace Region from Kimberley, B.C., where he was newly married to his wife Johanna and working in the field of power engineering. “I was drawn to Peace River for the career opportunity to start things up at DMI,” said Downing. “I knew it would take a long time to develop my career there and I saw this as a great opportunity and a great experience. I worked my way up here and they have gradually increased my levels of responsibility.” The economic boost the DMI Pulp Mill brought the Peace Region cannot be overstated. Their initial capital investment was $580 million dollars and they employ 350 people who work together to produce high-quality pulp from aspen and spruce softwood chips. Now deeply rooted in the Peace Region, DMI and the Downings have both played major roles in the Peace Region for more than 25 years. “We got involved in the community and got engaged with a lot of different people. Our sons and daughter were born and raised here. Two of our kids have now moved out but are still living locally. Our daughter is still in high school. So, it’s their connections and all the people we have met here. It’s a nice place to live. It’s been good to us,” said Downing. The Peace Region has offered the Downings more than just careers. They took it to the next level and made this place their home. Likewise, so has DMI. Over the years, DMI has donated to an overwhelming number of worthy causes, but one very special cause was the North

Peace Gymnastics Club. It’s a local success story about a club that needed a home and how a few dedicated organizers, and an entire region, worked together to raise over $1 million dollars in cash and in-kind donations to build that home, the DMI Endurance Centre. The new home for the Gymnastics Club was long overdue. After outgrowing their original home at the Al “Boomer” Adair Rec Centre in downtown Peace River, the club moved to a facility at the Peace River airport hanger for two years. The Rec Centre had a lot of drawbacks including tedious equipment takedown after each practice. “After every class, you’d have to take everything apart and put it all back into storage. That was a lot of work and after while it seemed there weren’t too many parents who wanted to stick around to the very end to help, but we did that for years,” said Downing. The airport hanger, on the other hand, presented a different set of troubles. “The airport hanger worked for a while, but then we found it wasn’t meeting code and there was more investment to be made there, so it fell apart,” said Downing. Despite running a gymnastics program roughly 450 members strong, the club was forced to cancel all programming in the summer of 2011. It was clear the North Peace Gymnastics Club needed a permanent home. Enter two tough Armstrongs (with no blood relation): Lisa Armstrong, Head Coach and President of the North Peace Gymnastics Club, and Amber Armstrong, DMI Peace River Pulp Division Communications and Public Relations Superintendent. “About three years ago, the club was homeless. They had nowhere to go, and they literally raised over a million dollars all by themselves. They did everything so independently and with such enthusiasm that the community just rallied so hard to raise money for them,” said Amber Armstrong. “They had water bottles all over the Peace so people could donate their pennies, as pennies were going out of circulation, because every penny counts.”

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“That’s right. Every penny counts. We got $2,000 from that,” said Lisa Armstrong. From water bottles filled with pennies to volunteering hours at casinos and hockey games, Lisa and her team worked hard to make their vision come to life. “When it was all said and done, we generated about $880,000 in cash and over $300,000 of gift in-kind,” said Lisa Armstrong. “It all kind of came in one big lump. Once we put the word out, the County of Northern Lights were the first to donate $75,000. Then Northern Sunrise County were the next to donate $75,000. And then the Town of Peace River donated $75,000 and then DMI.” The Project Manager during the facility’s construction was eighty-year-old Ivan Schell. He volunteered all his hours and so the club honoured him by naming the Birthday Room after him.

7,200-square-foot facility with a full schedule of programming for all ages. The DMI Endurance Centre features a climbing wall, a foam pit, a 25-foot tumble track, a spring floor, an inground trampoline, bars and beams. “We have everything a gymnastics club could need,” said Lisa Armstrong. After two years of relentless fundraising, the support of an entire community and over $1 million later, the North Peace Gymnastics Club has worked out the perfect balancing act. “At DMI, we have a tagline, ‘Sustainable by Design,’ and that’s what the Gymnastics Club really embodied for us,” said Amber Armstrong. “They came to us with such a devoted and focused business plan. They were determined and committed. They were willing to donate their time—their nights and weekends putting on fundraisers. They were the little engine that could for us.” It was very important for the club, while conceptualizing the Gymnastics facility, for it to be self-sustaining.

About three years ago, the club was homeless. They had nowhere to go, and they literally raised over a million dollars all by themselves. “Every day he came in with his silver hardhat and oversaw the club being built. It was not easy to pull together this kind of facility when all of the construction—the electrical, the plumbing, the drywall, the painting—was done with volunteer hours. These guys all work fulltime, so they gave up their evenings and their weekends,” said Amber Armstrong. Both DMI and Richardson Pioneer, Canada’s largest agribusiness, both pledged $100,000 and DMI received the official naming rights. “That is just in terms of financial contributions,” said Amber Armstrong. “We wrote a cheque for $100,000, but we stepped up and said, ‘Do you need electrical? We can get you that. You need to have this installed? We can help. You need carpenters? We can get some in here.’ Whatever resource they needed, we were able to offer it because of the type of facility we have at DMI.” Working on the construction of the building connected DMI employees to the facility in a very real way. “The employees who come in and help with these things are proud of the building and the club too,” said Downing. “They are happy to come in and work on whatever they need because they have become a part of it too. We are all DMI and this club is ours too. It’s important to us.” Today, the Gymnastics Club is busy breaking in their new

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“It’s doesn’t suck from the community,” said Lisa Armstrong. “Our goal was to be self-sufficient. We didn’t want to constantly go back to the town saying, ‘we can’t pay our gas bill or we can’t pay our taxes.’ We worked really hard so that our mortgage is sustainable. There is no doubt that this club will be self-sustaining for years to come without draining from the community.” Over the years DMI has earned its position as an industry leader in the Peace Region. It’s a forward-thinking company that gives back to its employees and the community as a whole. “I’m representing DMI. You want to be engaged in your community,” said Downing. “You’ve got to have a community that has facilities for families that will bring people to the community and keep them here.” Since its arrival in the late ‘80s, it’s impossible to measure the impact DMI has made in the Peace Region, but perhaps the most important contribution has been the people, like Downing and his family, it has continued to attract and retain. “From our perspective, if you live here, you want to work here and you want to stay here, so retention is very important to us,” said Downing.


After playing in the foam pit, Bill and some North Peace Gymnastics Club members take time out for a picture. Spring/S ummer 2014

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Business owners Michel (right) and Dixie (left) Pelchat pose with some Peace River Outreach Campus students in the school’s newly built kitchen facility. With the Pelchat’s generous donation, the Outreach students can keep their food program year round. 64

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Living, working and expanding Locally MDP • Michel & Dixie Pelchat

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en years ago, Dixie and Michel Pelchat found themselves with an empty nest.

Supporting the Peace Region is close to home for the Pelchats. This is where their heart is.

“I was crying and complaining that I had no use anymore now that the kids are gone,” said Dixie.

“I was born and raised here so an important part of my life is Peace River. If we are living in the community, then we should support our own community. This is where my kids were born. I believe in supporting this place,” said Dixie.

“We always wanted to start a company. It was the right time,” said Michel. And MDP Oilfield Services Ltd. was born, based in the basement of their home in Three Creeks, Alberta, a community in Northern Sunrise County, roughly 30 km northeast of Peace River. Today, the bulk of their business is to purchase heavy equipment and pay operators to “build wellsite pads, access roads and do pipeline clearing for oil rigs,” said Michel. “We work for various local companies.” But, it didn’t start out that way. In the beginning Michel and Dixie were operating a home-based business in Three Creeks, but their work was literally all over the map. With an $18,000/month price tag, they started renting-toown their first piece of equipment, a CAT, finding most of their work more than 550 km southeast, near Rimbey, Alberta and more than 450 km northwest, near Rainbow Lake, Alberta. After a certain amount of blood, sweat and tears, business started to pick up for the young company, which allowed them to move the office out of their home. “The office was in the basement of our house for way too long. So, we built an office in our yard, which saved my sanity, and we just kept growing from there,” said Dixie. Eventually, MDP found that most of their work was moving closer to home, which is preferable for the couple. They are very proud to be able to provide jobs and livelihoods for people who live here locally. “We try to keep it as local as we can. If we have to go outside, we do,” said Michel. “We work a lot with Woodland Cree. In the oil industry, we work quite a bit with Baytex, Murphy Oil, Penn West, Shell and various other oil companies. Most of it is road building and lease building for the major oilfield companies out here. Oil spill cleanup too.”

The Pelchats especially like to support children-centred causes. “The ones that I always appreciated had to do with children’s safety. Not just for our community but for all communities in our area. We’ve given to Missing Children; we’ve sponsored free swims; we’ve supported the Outreach. We’ve also put in a boxing equipment centre at a local school,” said Dixie. MDP has recently sponsored the lunch program at the Peace Regional Outreach Campus in Peace River—a school that provides a learning environment for students who, for one reason or another, do not thrive in a mainstream learning environment. MDP gave the Outreach $18,000 for the lunch program, which will sustain the program for 18 months. The program not only provides meals for the students, it empowers them by teaching them dietary nutrition and teamwork as the students receive school credit for planning and cooking the meals themselves. The Pelchats have also donated $10,000 for a local demolition derby. “We’ve sponsored quite a few Woodland events like smash-up derbies, rallies, Treaty Days, stuff like that. We sponsor the World Championship Pond Hockey, other hockey things and baseball teams. There are quite a few,” said Michel. For the Pelchats, giving back to the people who work and play in our region is extremely important. “If we can help the local community and they are benefiting, that’s what we’re out to do. That’s why we really like to see people who live locally getting the jobs out here,” said Michel.

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Betty James takes a moment to pose for a picture in her comfortable hotel lobby in Fairview, Alberta. 66 M OVE U P S p r i n g / S u m me r 2 014


Dishing out down-home Fairview hospitality for over 40 years Dunvegan Inn & Suites • Betty James

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orn and raised in the Fairview area, Betty James opened her doors for business 42-and-a-half years ago and hasn’t looked back since. Over the years, James has planted deep roots in the Fairview area, giving back whenever she can to the community she loves so deeply.

No stranger to hard work and dedication, James spent many years making her business successful. On August 21, 1971, she opened Betty’s Diner for business. By 1979, she secured the land and started building the Dunvegan Inn on the other side of town, opening the door in 1982. Only lasting a year, James re-opened Betty’s Diner in 1985. Then, in late 1993 she expanded fully to the inn once and for all. Today, the Dunvegan Inn features 67 rooms and 13 executive suites. They also have a sports bar, a pub, an on-site liquor store, banquet rooms, a fireside dining room and, of course, Betty’s Diner. The Inn has also received four consecutive Housekeeping Awards from the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association from 2009 to 2012. “Time goes by so fast. It’s now been 43 years,” said James. Building the business into what it is today wasn’t easy. With such an impressive expansion from a humble diner in the ‘70s to the largest inn in Fairview, one would think that James would be run off her feet, but her expansion has been accumulative and very organic. “When you do something for a certain length of time people say to you, ‘Wow, it’s such an enormous business you have. How do you manage that?’ But you grow into it, or grow out of it, as you go along. You feel like you have to move on because things become routine. You do it so much that you get tired of it,” said James. For James, Fairview offers the ideal community for raising a family. “I enjoy Fairview because it is a small community. You can raise your children here. Everybody is friendly. It’s just a nice community to raise families. The smaller communities are better for raising families than the bigger cities, I think,” said James. It’s clear the community of Fairview is very important to James, and she is committed to giving back to the community she loves so dear. “Everybody has to work together in the small

communities. It seems you can’t get grants anymore, I don’t even know if they ever existed, so your community has to come together,” said James. “When my children were playing hockey, it would be this parent driving this week and then another parent the next week. You have to work together in whatever you do to make things work.” James and The Dunvegan Inn have “made things work” for so many organizations and groups over the years. From hockey to curling to figure skating, many sports teams are grateful for the help the Inn has provided. “We try to be fair and equal to everyone, but we’ve done a little more with a couple clubs to get them started like the Flyers [hockey team]. We gave them $5,000 to get them going. Sometimes some of these clubs need a bit more money to get started. We’ve given to the girl’s junior hockey team as well as volleyball teams and basketball teams. We’ll buy uniforms and that sort of thing,” said James. “Sometimes they need help to raise money to go to the tournaments. We’ve been there to help with that.” According to James, she donated close to $60,000 last year alone. In addition to supporting the local sports teams, James also supports local community groups by allowing them to use the Inn’s meeting space for free and by selling tickets for local events at the front desk. “We donate space for the Rotary Club and the Lions Club to have their meetings. We are also strong supporters of the Legion. We support them in any way we can,” said James. The Fairview Festival of Trees is an important fundraiser in Fairview. For the past 18 years, the volunteer-run, free event has raised money to support the Fairview and Area Palliative Care Society. Naturally, James supports the event too. “For the Festival of Trees, we donate the room of one week. They do very well with it. And we always buy something, of course,” said James. For more than four decades, James has shown an impressive drive and dedication in business and in life. She is a self starter who recognizes that giving a helping hand is what makes small communities go around. That is why James will continue to dish up her down-home Fairview hospitality. Spring/S ummer 2014

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COLUMN DAN DIBBELT

FOREIGN WORKERS ARE WILLING, BUT ARE PEACE EMPLOYERS READY?

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hey serve us our coffee, change the bed linens in our hotel rooms and bring us our bill after lunch at a restaurant. They work in our agricultural industries, drive trucks for our shipping companies and change our oil at the lube shop. They are foreign workers and more and more we rely on them in the Peace Region. Many foreign workers come on a four-year work visa and many are looking to call Canada home—not unlike your parents or mine who, way back when, emigrated from European countries. Currently, Alberta expects to be short approximately 100,000 workers in upcoming years. While we have a tendency to think those shortfalls will affect our major economic driver, the oil industry, the reality

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is the hospitality and service industries will be equally impacted. With this in mind, the Peace Region Economic Development Alliance (PREDA) opened a pilot Temporary Foreign Worker office in Jalisco, Mexico. Alberta and Jalisco are actually sister states. There are Alberta government offices and workers in Jalisco and our two governments have numerous agreements in place—everything from post-secondary education to forest fighting to economic opportunities. In our pilot project’s first year, we intend to build relationships, develop a foundation on which to develop opportunities and, in general, research how the Peace Region can build upon and benefit from the relationship Alberta has with this region of Mexico.

We weren’t expecting to get workers calling us this first year, but we have been pleasantly surprised. Mexicans have been calling to say they were sent information on the initiative and they would like to move up here. Climate-wise our two areas are polar opposites. Unlike Jalisco, northern Alberta is a forested gem with long, cold winters and vibrant hot summers. However, many Mexicans are willing to see beyond this disparity to pursue the opportunities we offer here—opportunities that many Canadians take for granted. Now, PREDA’s task is to partner workers with potential employers. While this project was intended to help ease the labour crisis in the Peace Region, it was equally intended to promote PREDA membership to industry.

PREDA membership allows industry not only to take advantage of the opportunity to attract foreign workers, but also to network with municipal elected leaders, many of which they may already do business with. Traditionally businesses hire companies and pay up to $5,000 per employee. On the opposite spectrum, Temporary Foreign Workers try to find a reputable company to help them through the process of coming to Alberta to work. PREDA will continue to work hard for businesses in northern Alberta to combat the challenges our industries face. We hope PREDA will be the right not-for-profit organization that can connect the dots— finding qualified workers and connecting them with Peace Region employers to help our hospitality and service industries to thrive.


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COLUMN LAURA GLOOR

A CREATIVE ECONOMY IN THE WATERSHED OF THE PEACE The Peace Region has a history of creative energy. It originates with the tangible and intangible artistry of our First Nations people. The influence of the northern Boreal Forest was expressed in their tools, food, clothing and spiritual ceremonies. This history and culture has been passed on from one generation to another and still reveals itself in today’s artistic interpretations. Complementing this original DNA were newcomers to this land who brought the notion of adventure, the expectation of opportunity and the desire for independence. Some newcomers were leaving the political and social confines that were building in their homelands. Some were avoiding or abandoning elements of their personal lives and looking for new beginnings. Unconventional and uncommon might describe the characteristics of some of these immigrants. As a composite of experiences, education, languages, cultures and spirituality, a newly formed disparate community of people learned how to create and manage a sustainable existence in this northern environment. Those who could not simply left for other pastures. It took drive, tenacity, humour, love, a uniqueness of character, and in some cases, luck, to endure, survive and enjoy the elements of life in the Peace Region. While today’s challenges of living in the North look different, the resolve to venture out of one’s comfort zone, to be audacious and innovative, remains a unique feature of the people of the Peace. We see it expressed in our art galleries, markets, museums, libraries, school and

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college programming. It is also expressed in the number of industrial and agricultural innovations that are created and designed in the Peace. You find it expressed in the numbers of people who came for a three-year work sojourn and have remained and committed to their communities many years later. This ambition to be remarkable is in our heritage, our culture, our environment and in how we describe ourselves today. Inherent in this place we call the Peace remains the challenge of attracting and retaining people to contribute to the vitality of our organizations, businesses and projects. Devising a common strategy to collaborate and showcase the resourceful and creative spirit of the Peace to local populations, who perennially say there is nothing to do here, to prospective employees and families and to travellers is often discussed. Richard Florida, a University of Toronto professor, suggests that to maintain our economic competitiveness, we recognize the impact of developing creative, sustainable and inclusive communities to attract people to settle and make their home in a particular place. The place we call home, whether for the next three years or for several decades, affects our work, our families and our happiness. The heritage and culture sector across Canada, and no less enthusiastically here in the Peace, supports the Cultural Access Pass, initiated by the federal government, entitling new citizens of Canada to freely access galleries, parks, heritage buildings and museums in the first year of their Canadian citizenship. Federal government encouragement for new Canadian citizens to explore and discover our country’s culture and heritage most evidently endorses the impact of the heritage and culture sector

on the well-being and development of our communities. There’s a plethora of businesses, facilities and not-for-profit organizations to consider when evaluating the groups involved directly or vicariously in the creative economy in the Peace. There are libraries, professional and community theatrical productions, museums, historic buildings and landscapes, liberal arts programs, music festivals, concerts, dance performances, community dances, Pow Wows and gatherings, just to name a few. The cultural investment in these spaces, events and programs invite dialogue and conversation. They support local businesses. They nurture neighbourliness and a sense of community. They offer opportunities to discover commonalities and shared passions and interests, and they very definitely contribute to the social, cultural and economic well-being of our region. The economic impact is often understated because it is not always part of someone’s business plan, but it is there and quantifiable. It’s in the invoice for the caterer for the opening reception; it’s in the contract for the carpenter working on a historic restoration; it’s in the space rental for the gallery; it’s in the evening’s dinner and theatre ticket; it’s in the design contract for the museum exhibit; it’s in the accommodation for the travelling musicians. Recognizing the impact of the heritage and culture sector will help us realize the full potential of the creative economy in the Peace.


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Move Up ~ Issue 3  

Move Up Magazine is a window into life and business in Northern Alberta. Move Up promotes economic development and the abundant opportunit...