Move Up Issue 15

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Local Features News Events Opportunities






Jenelle Van Slyke Tormaigh Van Slyke EDITORS


Tormaigh Van Slyke // Alana Souter // LAYOUT DESIGN

Jenelle Van Slyke Tormaigh Van Slyke AD DESIGN

Aimie Williams PHOTOGRAPHY

Þ Peace River Motocross Club gains momentum

p. 28

Carson Murphy, Daniel Wood, Jenelle Van Slyke, Kimberly Lambert, Paul Lavoie Images, Sharon Krushel, T Parenteau Photography, Talena Winters WRITERS

Billy Joe Laboucan, Community Futures Staff, Carson Murphy, Drew Rogers, Duncan McGillivray, Northern Lakes College Staff, Jenelle Van Slyke, Tormaigh Van Slyke, Talena Winters Move Up is published by VAULTmedia. No content herein can be reproduced without written consent of the publisher. 12,000+ copies are printed and distributed throughout the Mighty Peace Region, Alberta and beyond. Move Up is 100 per cent funded by advertising dollars. Have a great story idea? Please send us your press release for consideration.


Þ Big Ambitions lead locals to amazing places

p. 37

Also >> 13

Canso returns to the skies


NLC's Social Work Diploma Program


Wesahkecahk and the Great Flood


Advertising for a Kickstarter Campaign




Restored WWII plane takes first flight

Making a difference in your community

An Aboriginal legend

How to market your crowdfunding venture





 News

Peace River Bridge Twinning Update By Talena winters fter over fifteen years of planning, the Peace River Bridge Twinning Project is in the final stages before construction begins. Plans in place will address concerns about resident safety—since there are emergency services on either side of the river. The new bridge will dramatically ease congestion of the current bridge, which opened in 1968, and was designed to handle far fewer than the 17,000 daily vehicles it does now.


In May, Alberta Transportation and AECOM (the company handling design engineering and construction supervision) held a public consultation to answer questions and explain what lies ahead as the project progresses. Designs, schedules and tentative plans for handling traffic rerouting for the duration of the project were presented. Alan Saunders, the Regional Bridge Manager with Alberta Transportation, says, “We are excited about this project because it will reduce congestion and improve traffic flow, access and safety for travellers, emergency services, residents and industry as well as create hundreds of employment opportunities in the region.” The project boundaries will be between

the 100th Street Bridge (overpass) on the east side of the river and the CN railway track on the west, with neither structure to be affected by the work. The highway will be twinned between these two points with a second bridge being constructed downstream of the current traffic bridge. The new westbound bridge will have three lanes of traffic and an underslung pedestrian footbridge to be illuminated by LED lights. In a future project for which the timeline is yet to be determined, the existing bridge’s pedestrian lane will be removed and the two lanes widened to fill the available space, allowing eastbound traffic a little more breathing room. Special connecting lanes to be constructed on either side of the river will allow traffic to be easily rerouted from one bridge to the other during maintenance or emergencies. Another planned measure to improve traffic flow is to construct two new roundabouts on the east bank to replace the current 98th Street intersections on each side of Hwy. 2. In preparation for the twinning project, the former Town of Peace River maintenance shop was removed and remediated in the fall of 2016.

This summer, the previous Imperial Oil site will also be remediated. In June, the project was put out to tender, with intentions of choosing a contractor by fall. The winning contractor is expected to start right away. The new bridge is anticipated to be open to traffic in the fall of 2020, with only a few minor tasks such as clean-up and grass seeding to be done after that. While the construction process may present some challenges to citizens and drivers, the project’s planners are committed to having at least one lane of traffic on Hwy. 2 open in each direction at all times during construction. For stages when bridge access on either side of the river may be affected, possible rerouting plans designed to minimize impact on the community have been developed and will be finalized once a contractor is chosen. Once the project is complete, residents can look forward to a much smoother flow of traffic across the river with easier access to emergency services from both sides, making Peace River a safer and more comfortable place to be.

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 News

Local family makes unique fossil find to be approximately 108 million years old.

by carson murphy


round 110 million years ago, the Peace Region looked very different. In fact, all of Alberta did. It was at the bottom of a shallow sea known as the Western Interior Seaway (also known as the Cretaceous Seaway, Niobraran Seaway, or North American Inland Sea). During the mid to late Cretaceous Period (11565 million years ago), this sea stretched from the Arctic Ocean down through the Northwest Territories and Alberta and the middle of the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. The sea grew and receded depending on the conditions over this period, but at its largest it is believed to have measured 762 m (2,500 feet) deep (quite shallow for a sea), 965 km (600 miles) at its widest and over 3,200 km (2,000 miles) long. It is believed the Seaway was warm and tropical and filled with abundant marine life, including mollusks, ammonites, squid like creatures called belemnites, large fish that could reach up to almost five metres (16 feet) long, ancient sharks and large predatory marine reptiles like plesiosaurs and mosasaurs. Some of these fossils, most often ammonites and mollusks, appear from time to time, usually along the shores of one of the area’s rivers or creeks.

Plesiosaurs were longnecked animals with a broad flat body and short tail. Instead of legs, they had four long flippers powered by strong muscles. Plesiosaurs were air breathers, bore living young and are believed to have been warm-blooded. They lived in oceans and seas around the world during the Cretaceous period, alongside the dinosaurs.

The Denison Family of Peace River find a 108 million year old partial dinosaur skeleton // Photography by carson Murphy (Top) and Kimberly Lambert (Bottom)

Occasionally though, something bigger washes up and that was the case for the Denison family of Peace River in late June 2017. Sons Judah, Finn and Marshall Denison, the “rock-hounds” in the family, were scouring the shore of the river near the family’s river flat property for fossils when they came across something unusual. A large rock was sticking out of the sand and stones on the shore with a fossil in it. Realizing they had come across something special, TJ Denison brought photos of it to the Peace River Museum, Archives and

Mackenzie Centre to see if it matched anything in their palaeontological collection. The museum referred her to the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum. Palaeontologist Derek Larson of the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum wasted no time in responding, driving up with a colleague the next day from Wembley, AB, to look at the specimen and take it back to the museum for further study. It has been identified as part of a plesiosaur’s skeleton. It includes part of the shoulder, backbone and belly ribs and is thought

A palaeontology crew from the University of Alberta and the Philip J. Currie Dinosaur Museum will be visiting the site later in the summer to see if further specimens might be found. Following that, the fossil will be described for a scientific publication. It can currently be viewed at the Dinosaur Museum through windows looking into the fossil preparation lab. In the future, Peace River can possibly look forward to having a plaster cast of the fossil on display at the Peace River museum. If you think you have found a dinosaur bone or fossil, email photographs to the Philip J. Currie Museum or attend their annual fossil identification event in September. While you can be the keeper of loose fossils found on the surface, fossils still stuck in rock need to be excavated (or else you can face a hefty fine), and remember, no fossils can be removed from provincial or national parks.

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 News

Pictured (L to R) Betty Turpin, Eveline Charles, Lina Heath and Kelly Whalen // photography by Talena Winters

Glenmary Announces New Partnership with Academy By Talena Winters oly Family Catholic Regional Division (HFCRD) recently announced a major coup in their $7.5 million expansion of Glenmary School in Peace River—a partnership with EvelineCharles. As a result, the school’s modernization will now include an EvelineCharles Academy cosmetology and esthetics lab patterned after the brand’s other two worldclass schools in Calgary and Edmonton.


Both originally hailing from Falher, company Founder and CEO Eveline Charles and President Lina Heath enthusiastically explained their passion for the unique partnership. “Often people have to leave their homes to receive an education. A lot of people get rooted in urban centres 8


and stay where they went to school. It pulls away from the richness and services offered in the small towns that they’re from. Bringing education here keeps career opportunities in the community,” said Heath.

The academy also teaches students the business skills they need to be successful.

The EvelineCharles Academy will operate their lab from July to January each year. At which time, both part-time and fulltime programs, which lead to a full range of postsecondary certification, will be available to students and community members alike. In the meantime, from February to June, Glenmary cosmetology students can earn credits that can be applied to courses offered by the EvelineCharles Academy. A portion of the program can even be completed online as distance learning.

As the recipient of multiple entrepreneurial awards, including Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women of 2011 by the Financial Post and Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year, Charles is passionate about ensuring students learn business acumen.

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“You are not just a hairdresser, you are a business person,” said Charles.

The cosmetology lab is only one of several Career Technology Studies labs included in the new expansion. Also to be included are new science labs, a food studies lab and a welding, millwrighting and carpentry lab. The renovation includes

many thoughtful design aspects that will educate students both actively (using cutting-edge educational technology) and passively, allowing them to see inside the building’s structure through purposely-absent ceiling tiles. HFCRD’s Superintendent Betty Turpin is excited about creating more opportunities for students. “We want our students to graduate from high school with doors that have already been opened, and we want to give students the option of earning post-secondary credits or career designations before they graduate,” said Turpin. All elements of the modernization are currently under construction. The new cosmetology lab is anticipated to be open for the January 2018 term.

 News Dixonville’s Log Church Turns 85


he Strang Presbyterian Church will be celebrating its 85th anniversary on August 19, 2017. Scheduled events are a 4pm barbeque, a 6pm church service and a 7pm outdoor concert with music by Crimson River. The church was built by the fore founders of the Dixonville community in 1932, who included Oluf Kristensen, Albert, Karl and John Sorensen and Ira Woods,

Breast Cancer screening clinic coming to Peace river

among many others. In its 85 years, the church has kept its doors open and has had regular Sunday services. Dr. Margaret Strang (for whom the Church is named) was both a doctor and a preacher. She also helped to build the church while tending to the ill. Some of Dr. Strang’s family have

The Screen Test Mobile Mammography Clinic will be returning to the Peace River Community Health Centre August 15-17, and it’s free of charge. One out of every eight women in Alberta will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her

expressed interest in attending the anniversary celebrations. Organizers are also hoping Mrs. Minnie Erickson, who was 12 years old when she attended the dedication service in 1932 will be able to attend as well. Erickson is currently 97 and living in Grimshaw. For more information, please contact Geraldine Kristensen at 780-9712147 or Edna Tunke at 780-9712419.

lifetime. Screening mammograms can help find breast cancer early. Early detection with mammograms is one of the reasons 90 percent of women are now surviving breast cancer. Mobile screen test clinics

provide high-quality breast cancer screening and breast health education to women who live in rural areas. Visit for more information. To book your appointment, call 1-800667-0604 (toll-free).





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 Relocation Story à


Peace River prior to our acceptance of Rob’s new job with AHS, but I knew without a doubt this is where we were called to be.

à Pictured are Danielle and Rob, with sons Judah and Gabriel Weich // Photography submitted

Everything came together, and in the summer of 2015, we purchased our new-tous 360-acre farm west of Grimshaw (in Clear Hills County). It was a purchase we could never have afforded in Central Alberta. Our home sold in Lacombe within a week. We packed up our home in a stock trailer, and hauled our little holiday trailer up here with our, then, two-year-old and three-month-old boys to begin our new life in the beautiful Peace Region.


ob was born and raised in Hanna, Alberta, and I (Danielle) was born and raised in a small town outside of London, Ontario. Since 2001, Lacombe, AB, had been home to both of us, prior to our move up here. Through a series of events, our friendship found us meeting up in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in 2007, and we were married in 2010. We were both determined to raise our family in a country setting, with Rob’s deep desire to get back to his farm roots. So, when our first son was born, we made it a matter of prayer

nearly daily to find our dream location and “farm,” so we could give our boys the kind of upbringing we determined was best for them. Rob was working as an EMT for Alberta Health Services (AHS) and parttime with A Better World (a non-profit NGO) as Operations Manager. It was the good life, but it was not where we knew we wanted to be long-term. After several months of discussion, we decided to open our options and to make a long miracle story short—God led us to Peace River. I had never seen

We stayed in our holiday trailer at Rendez-Vous RV Park for the first two months until we got possession of our place, and despite my original reservations, we loved it there and made the Cecil Thompson Park our backyard. I still remember the first time we drove over the hill coming into the Peace River Valley—the beauty of the river and the trees and hills is just spectacular. Not only is the scenery just beautiful, but we were happy to find the people are too. Our neighbours are fantastic, and we feel so blessed to be in this Clear Hills County community. Rob and I often have the conversation about how awesome northern living really is.

This will be our second full summer here. We have discovered little northern gems we would have never had the privilege of discovering had we stayed within our old stomping grounds of central Alberta. A canoe ride and picnic at Figure Eight Lake is often our go-to on a nice Saturday afternoon, but we have enjoyed everything from picking strawberries at our local market gardens to riding the Shaftesbury Ferry to canoeing down the Peace River and walking along the river near Dunvegan. Our perfect night out is none other than in our own backyard under the stars, watching the northern lights dance. Here we find ourselves nightly chasing our chickens back into their coop, hauling water to the cows when we have watering bowl mishaps, taking turns putting the scare on coyotes that so often come into our yard to harass our dog (our treasure from Into the Woods Animal Rescue) and sometimes baking without proper ingredients because we live 15 minutes from the nearest grocery store. There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t drink in the fresh country air and thank God for our new life in the Peace River region. In five years, we see ourselves exactly where we are, a little older, but just as happy.

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Þ Photography by Sharon Krushel,



CANSO Returns to the skies n Sunday, June 18th, years of hard work and determination from the Fairview Aircraft Restoration Society finally culminated in the impressive first flight of the restored WWII Canso PBY-5A aircraft.


The celebration kicked off on Saturday at the Fairview Legion where eager participants met the honourary flight crew of six RCAF Veterans.

regaled the crowd with the history of the Canso plane, some sharing personal tales about connecting with the Canso more than 70 years ago.

The sold-out crowd enjoyed a celebration dinner where the flight and Canso crews

On Sunday, a crowd of over 1,000 were able to watch as Captain Bill Brady and Co-Pilot

Gary Weiben taxied the Canso down the runway and made a “perfect take-off” for the aircraft’s return to the skies.

Read Move Up anywhere, anytime.

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#Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P


APL founder & CEO, stephen woodburn


ADVANCED PARAMEDIC LTD. IS ON TRACK TO BECOME ALBERTA’S LARGEST AIR AMBULANCE MEDICAL CREW CONTRACTOR After several months of negotiations, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has awarded Advanced Paramedic Ltd. (APL) a 10-year contract to be the primary provider of emergency medical staff for air ambulance services in Peace River and Grande Prairie, AB. In addition, APL may be providing the same services for the High Level and Fort Vermillion contract, which would make them Alberta’s largest air ambulance medical crew contractor. 18


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eet Stephen Woodburn, 48, APL’s founder and CEO. Born in Grimshaw, AB, Woodburn spent his youth with his eye on the skies. With compassion, integrity, professionalism and innovation, Woodburn would create a legacy and impact countless lives in his community. “I got my pilot license in 1987, the same year I graduated from High School. I was 17 years old. I originally wanted to become a commercial pilot; however, circumstance led me to air ambulance, which I continue to be extremely passionate about,” said Woodburn. With some persuasion from his father, John Woodburn,

who was on Chairman of the Grimshaw/Berwyn District Ambulance Board at the time, Stephen ended up taking his Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training in 1989. It was a six month, full-time course with a price tag of $300. From 1991-1993, he upgraded his certification to Advanced Care Paramedic. “My first job was with the Grimshaw/Berwyn District Ambulance Service. I was a casual EMT making approximately $1/hour pager pay plus a base hourly pay for call outs. We didn’t do many calls,” recalls Woodburn. Woodburn would eventually work full time for what became a more regional municipal ambulance service in the Peace Country before

branching out on his own in 1999 to start APL. “I wanted to get my feet wet and started contracting myself out as a paramedic to other services. I ended up buying a truck and it morphed from there. I started primarily in the oil and gas industry with a mobile treatment centre, where a medic would be out in the field working on these high-risk oil and gas sites. I did most of that myself in the beginning,” said Woodburn. In 2002, APL was awarded the contract to provide medical crew for the air ambulance in Peace River, a contract they have maintained ever since. “This has been an important contract for us and we’ve

done it with the help of Northern Air Charter, which is who currently provides the aircraft for the Peace River base location,” said Woodburn. “They provide excellent service and delivery as well.” As his business grew, Woodburn continued to diversify, expanding to provide training, emergency services for special events and even non-emergent transport services for seniors and those with mobility issues. “We’re fortunate because we’re diverse. If oil is $40 a barrel, it doesn’t mean we have to lay everybody off,” said Woodburn. APL’s reach is also impressive. In addition to providing service to ADVERTI SE ME N T


marc manegre, advanced care paramedic (left), stephen woodburn, CEO (centre) & britney dunford, primary care paramedic (right)

the Peace Region, their team has transported patients from the Yukon, NWT, the Maritimes, the US and even Mexico. APL is also known for its philanthropy and the efforts of Stephen and staff to raise money and give back to numerous deserving recipients. “Most recently, we’ve been awarded the Peace River and Grande Prairie 20


contract with AHS, and we have begun talks regarding the High Level and Fort Vermillion air ambulance locations. We’re currently working through the many details,” said Woodburn. According to Woodburn, the public can expect the same high-quality air ambulance service they have experienced over the years locally and

provincially. Although it’s a major expansion for the company, APL already has the benefit of years of experience in Grande Prairie—both in an industrial capacity and as the secondary resource for Grande Prairie’s air ambulance service. “With seven years of experience in the industry, I can offer perspective

At APL, we are passionate about saving lives, and we feel privileged to be able to continue to do that.

from my time working for AHS as well as APL,” said Jeremy Klassen, 30, an Advanced Care Paramedic based in Grande Prairie. “I believe APL will make quite a smooth transition into Grande Prairie. Whenever they’re faced with something, they provide resolution in an organized and timely manner. Making patients comfortable is a real priority and they strive to always improve and excel.” Woodburn looks forward to this transition. “It is a privilege to be the new, primary provider of

air ambulance service to the citizens of Grande Prairie,” said Woodburn. Regarding providing service for High Level and Fort Vermillion, the details are still being worked out as of mid-July, which is the time this article was written. “We intend to set up air ambulance base locations in High Level and Fort Vermillion subject to successful negotiations with AHS,” said Woodburn. “We look forward to being involved in each and every community we serve.”

One thing is for sure, APL will be expanding and employing more people. Woodburn believes one of the most important things for a paramedic to remember is that no matter how routine a patient transport may be for the transport staff, it’s not an everyday occurrence for the patient. Woodburn makes it a priority to remind employees to keep looking at their trips from the patient’s point of view.

a story,” said Woodburn. “So that’s what gets me up in the morning. I still love my job.”

“We do so many of these trips, but when you get into the mind of the individual on the stretcher or the wife travelling with the husband, it changes your perspective. This could be the most traumatic day of their life,” said Woodburn. “We are empathetic to that.”

“I feel so fortunate to have been born and raised in northwestern Alberta, and I can’t tell you how great it is to have built my career and my business here. At APL, we are passionate about saving lives, and we feel privileged to be able to continue to that,” said Woodburn.

As APL has grown, Woodburn finds himself in the office now more than ever, but he still maintains his licence and gets out to transport patients from time to time. He says it’s crucial for him to remember the reason he’s in business. “We touch a lot of people’s lives in the most difficult times. We can’t forget, this is somebody’s mom, child, grandfather, grandmother, mom, dad, aunt, uncle—it’s somebody, and they all have

In Woodburn’s personal life, he and his fiancée Michelle Belzile have a blended family consisting of four children ages 15-24. The duo are both busy business owners, but they enjoy flying Woodburn’s Piper Cherokee 180, his personal, four seater airplane—for business and pleasure.

As a successful local with an expanding business, Woodburn still has his eye on the skies, but he has grounded APL, and perhaps himself, with some powerful company values: compassion, community, integrity, professionalism and innovation…because people matter.





t’s become expected. We need an internet connection and cell service to do our jobs. When we have non-existent or even patchy service, time, money and productivity are wasted. For Fossil, communication isn’t a mere convenience, it’s the very foundation and core of what they do. “You realize how important it really is for people to be connected, not only to the office but their families. It’s a great feeling when you hook up a 250-person camp with cell service. We just did this recently, in a record amount of time—a day—and you turn it on and you go inside and you hear people’s phones receiving a backlog of texts and emails they’ve missed,” said Fossil Operations Manager Rob Nelson. Fossil Communications Ltd. started in 2004 when Glen Freeland and Martin Heinen wanted to grow their previous



communications experience into a business. “In the beginning, Glen and Martin wanted to see what they could build. They had broad experience in the industry and a joint determination to do it well. It really wasn’t a choice for them; they were compelled,” said Fossil Owner and President Kirsten Freeland. Fossil began as a TELUS Mobility and Icom (two-way radio) dealership. In 2008, the Freelands took over full ownership of the company and expanded into Fort McMurray, splitting efforts between two offices, which kept approximately 25 employees very busy. Throughout all the changes, Freeland has bee n an integral part of the company since day one. “Initially, my title was Bookkeeper, but a more suitable title would have been Structure Creator and/or Overall

Organizer. Over the course of 13 years, I held other titles, Office Manager being the main one, but when Glen died in 2012, I became sole Owner and President,” said Freeland. Nelson had taken over in 2011 when the Freelands moved to Calgary to further expand the company, and Nelson maintained Fossil’s reputation for great work. On the back of this reputation, Fossil has been called out to jobs all over the Peace Region and as far as Swift Current, SK, to the southeast, and Fort Smith, NWT, to the north. “When we got called out to Swift Current, SK, I said to the contractor, there are probably a dozen companies that are five hours closer, but he said, We know you can do it and that you can do it right,” said Nelson. While they have predominantly served the oil and gas sector, Fossil has diversified over the years. They install, setup, program, rent and/or sell nearly

everything related to internet, cell and two-way radio service. Fossil also does installs for contractors and custom shop installations. “We provide communication services to anyone who needs them. Anything from setting up individuals and businesses with TELUS phone plans to two -way radios and large communication towers. We also work with local municipalities and emergency services,” said Nelson. Fossil strives to provide phenomenal service. They work to this end so they can ensure the client’s work doesn’t suffer.


they had absolutely no control over.

“As you can imagine, a drilling company, for instance, is pretty busy. There are a lot of logistics.” said Nelson. “When it comes to safety, coordination is a big one. When a client doesn’t have communication, it is an emergency situation. It’s our job to make sure they can work safely, be connected to the world and keep the job moving.”

“Today we have reached a new settling point. We have great dealerships including TELUS, Motorola, Hytera and Icom and a dedicated team of people who are conscious about why they are coming to work at Fossil each day,” said Freeland.

Glen’s passing cracked open the beginning of many big changes for the company and they faced many things

“It’s been an interesting road to get where we are today. We’ve learned who we are and who we want to be, which

Freeland has learned from the past and is inspired for Fossil’s future.

is a team that operates through the embodiment of our core values. We’ve shifted what’s important and we keep that in front of us daily. As a smaller staff, we discuss the important things together as a team. Everyone has a voice,” said Freeland. In addition to the whole staff, Freeland credits their Operations Manager for stepping up and continuing to manage things in the office and in the field. “I truly respect Rob and I appreciate his wisdom and knowledge of the industry as well as his continued willingness to learn. I admire his dedication to our joint vision. Most of all, I like to make him laugh; however, I am no comparison to Glen in that department,” said Freeland. Wireless communication is one of those things you don’t appreciate fully until you don’t have it. Fossil Communications in Peace River affords their clients the ability to communicate wirelessly, which is imperative for safety and getting the job done right. They’re connecting northwestern Alberta, one tower at a time.



* Denotes Professional Corporation



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In an Ideal World How the Ideal Protein diet has given Michael a new lease on life


ichael Buker, 38, is a massage therapist and a tire technician. He has been married for 13 years and has a four-yearold son. In a little over four months on the Ideal Protein Protocol, Michael has lost an impressive 70 pounds!

NEW! You can now purchase delicious Ideal Protein food as a way of supplementing your diet without committing to our comprehensive weight loss plan.

“It’s only been a few months and my blood pressure is back to normal, my sleep apnea is gone and I feel like I’m 18 again!” said Michael. Michael says he has never dieted in the past but he decided to try the Ideal Health Clinic in Peace River because he felt he was getting too heavy. “I saw some positive results from people that I knew, so I thought I would give it a try,” said Michael. Michael says once he got into the routine of the diet, it was great, but it was a little tough at first. “When I first started the diet, the first couple weeks were hard. I was hungry. I got a few headaches and



michael Buker’s sTORY I was really craving sweet stuff. After the first couple weeks, it got substantially easier, especially after seeing the results so quickly,” said Michael. Moving forward after the first couple weeks, Michael says things have been great. “I found the diet very convenient as you know exactly what to eat and

how much. Your only job is to have the will power to do it! I started the diet the end of February 2017 and as of July 5th I have lost close to 70 pounds,” said Michael. Aside from a healthy dose of willpower, Michael says the staff at the Ideal Health Clinic in Peace River were a huge part of his success.

“The staff are very knowledgeable, friendly, and they also function as a cheering squad. They make you accountable every week and that is very effective. You don’t want to let them down!” said Michael. Michael says the trick to the diet is 90 per cent mental. “You have to be ready and willing to do it. The tools are there and they work very well and very fast. It is just up to you to want to change your life,” said Michael.

For more information about The Ideal Health Clinic contact,

Peace River: 9907 101 Avenue | 780-617-9010 Grande Prairie: 780-539-DIET (3438) ADVERTI SE ME N T


BRETT SMYL, 28, HAS AN IMPRESSIVE TRACK RECORD. At 10, Smyl started answering phones at his grandpa’s car dealership. By 15, he was learning service and vehicle maintenance. At 17, he was in the parts department while taking a two-year Business Administration and Automotive Marketing course on the side. By 19, he was selling vehicles. Then, at 23, Smyl bought into the Dodge dealership in High Level, AB. When he was 26, he sold shares and moved to Peace River to own and operate his very own dealership—Mighty Peace Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd. (formally Marshall Automotive). Most recently, shortly before his 28th birthday, he opened a second business just up the street—Mighty Peace Powersports and RV. Smyl also sits on the board for the Alberta Chevrolet Dealer Marketing Association.



Nikki MacMillan (LEFT) with owner of Mighty Peace GM & Mighty Peace Powersports and RV, Brett Smyl (right)



’m into power sports. I enjoy camping, snowmobiling, side-by-sides, quads, you name it. I do all that stuff in my spare time, and I can’t get enough of it,” said Smyl. “Being younger and really into it, there are so many unique approaches we can take.” Traditionally, many people in the Peace Region go to the city to save a few bucks on big-ticket items, but Mighty Peace Powersports and RV has people from the city, and beyond, buying from their Peace River store.


“We’re selling to consumers all over Canada. Our team is reaching out online really well and we’re really competitive with our pricing and our inventory. So, you don’t have to go to the city—people in the city are coming to us,” said Smyl. Smyl recalls recent sales from Grande Prairie, Edmonton and Red Deer as well as a few from out of province. “We’ve had one gentleman from Winnipeg buy a snowmobile and he drove all the way here to pick it up.

people get excited about. It’s all part of our staff culture and it helps define who we are,” said Smyl. “We build relationships that are unique and fun.”

We’ve had a gentleman from Newfoundland buy a side-by-side that we shipped to him. He found our product online. We were priced well and we had something that was unique that he wanted. We also sold a quad to a customer in the Toronto area,” said Smyl. Smyl says he markets beyond the Peace Region, but it is important for him to be involved locally and get to know his local customers. “We’re in there with the people and getting feedback about what works and what

Peace River native Rachel Van Tamelen, 35, recently bought a Wilderness UltraLite RV. After shopping around, she decided to buy from Mighty Peace Powersports and RV. “I got a very fair trade-in deal. I got exactly what I was looking for and it was easy. The staff, Brett [Smyl] and Travis [Wood] especially, were awesome to deal with,” said Van Tamelen. Much of Smyl’s staff are young and in tune with newer trends and technology. “We try to make the atmosphere fun and exciting for both the staff and the consumer. For example, if our parts guy sees something that has just come out that looks really neat or fun, whether it be a new piece of equipment or a new

accessory, it’s great to be able to allow them to try it. We’re going to jump in and not be afraid to learn from our people and do things differently—even in the community,” said Smyl. Both of Smyl’s stores sponsor local events and non-profits, including the Oilmen’s Golf Tournament and the Peace Valley Snow Riders Snowmobile Club. More recently, they were a silver sponsor of PeaceFest and sponsored the FX Class at the Peace River Gold Cup Jet Boat Championship Races. “The Peace Region puts on some amazing events. It makes living in the region that much better. If we have a spare dollar kicking around that we can donate to a local event or charity—to make it more enjoyable for the people in our community—we’ll do it,” said Smyl. Smyl credits his staff for having a lot of drive and working hard for their

customers. “They go above and beyond, and they see our vision of success. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to provide the same experience for our customers,” said Smyl. Since their grand opening in October of 2016, Mighty Peace Powersports and RV has seen impressive growth. “We have a lot more consumers who now buy their products from us, so I believe we’re doing a good job with our customers. We’re trying to satisfy everybody as best as we possibly can. And, we pledge to continue working with everybody so they get the service they deserve,” said Smyl. Mighty Peace Powersports and RV offers Polaris and Arctic Cat snowmobiles, ATVs, side-by-sides, Timbersled snow bikes, Heartland and Cruiser RVs—just to name a few— as well as service and parts to support their products. ADVERTI SE ME N T



TAKING THE TEAM TO NEW HEIGHTS The Peace River Motocross Club is growing and gaining momentum Words By Drew Rogers // Photography by Paul Lavoie Images


he Peace River Motocross Club has taken many different forms over the past two decades. Multiple tracks have come and gone. Interest has peaked and fallen. It took a push five years ago by a small group of dedicated racers to get land, a road and finally



a track up and running. Motocross racing is back and there’s no shortage of opportunity to continue growing this thrilling, highspeed powersport in the Peace Region. Club President Chris Landaker explained how they got things going.

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“The past board of directors secured a 15-year lease on land. At that point, they were looking to step back, so I got involved right away,” said Landaker.

road built before we could even start the track. It was a process to convince people to believe that we would get it right this time,” said Landaker.

It wasn’t, however, as straightforward as they had hoped.

Persistence paid off and over time, and they gained enough sponsorships to push that road in. Oddly

“We needed our access

PRMC President, Chris Landaker enough, that was the hard part. “Once we did all the planning, it was really one weekend that brought it all together. We had about 12 pieces of equipment moving dirt and tons of manpower to make it happen. There isn’t a lot of natural rolling terrain so we had to get creative,” said Landaker. After the initial build, there was still fine tuning to make the track smooth. A second, smaller track specifically for younger, smaller riders is

also on site—built to help get a feel for riding the track and racing. “The feedback from families who visit Peace River has been very positive,” said Landaker. “We thought of what we would have wanted to ride as kids and went with it. It’s been a big hit.” With the tracks established, it was time to race. The local riders were the first ones to experience the club’s new track. Then, the track was added to the Peace Motocross Associations’ race

series, which includes tracks across the Peace Region in areas such as Grande Prairie, AB, and Chetwynd, BC. With two years of hosting PMA races under their belts, the club has attracted a new event this summer. The Dirt Riders Northern Alberta Series will be making its first stop in Peace River this summer on August 12-13, and Landaker is excited about the prospect of showcasing what they have accomplished. “This will bring in an even

higher level of racing and riders” said Landaker. “It’s a bigger event, with more riders and their families spreading the word about our track and town.” Even though the club is trying to attract a higher level of competition, they haven’t lost focus on their roots. Every Wednesday (weather dependent) is track night—a time to come pitch in on maintenance and get some practice. Landaker says it’s time for everyone. “We have ages five through

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48 out riding enjoying the track. All skill levels can go out there and have an enjoyable time. If we keep building the riding and racing scene here, it would be great to have our own local race series,” said Landaker. They even offered a race school/camp with a 30


former pro from the area who instructed. Twentyfive people came to learn and brush up on their techniques.

When you go out to the track and see all the signs, the number of people who chipped in to make this project happen is evident.

The Peace River Motocross Club had a lot of help to get to this point. While the sponsors are too numerous to list, they all helped make it happen in their own way.

The addition of the Dirt Riders series this year has only spurred the club on. The weekend of August 12-13 will be a great event for spectators at the

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track just north of Peace River. Landaker is hopeful interest and participation in motocross will continue to grow in Peace River along with the help of the club. To get involved at any level or learn more you can find “Peace River Motocross Club” on Facebook.

#Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P


 Column à


Northern Lakes College Social Work Diploma program Making a difference in your own community


or communities like Peace River, educational opportunities can change people’s lives in very meaningful ways. Northern Lakes College’s Social Work Diploma program teaches students how to work with different cultures and how to recognize and deal with oppression. Graduates are active in their own communities and bring their knowledge and passion forward to help change lives. Christine Kaip is a Northern Lakes College Alumni who completed the Social Work Diploma in 2015. She is a married mother of two and she has lived in the north her entire life. Kaip is dedicated to continue working in the Peace River region. “I have been very fortunate in my career in social services. I had an impeccable mentorship that allowed me to learn and grow in this field. One of my mentors stressed the importance of self-reflection when it comes to working with vulnerable clients. It supported my belief that social work is not what you do but who you are. I believe it is part of my responsibility to contribute to a healthy community,” said Kaip.



Pictured are Christine Kaip (L) and Josee Bouchard (R) // Photography submitted

Through their community-based learning circle delivery model, the University of Calgary selected the NLC Peace River Campus to deliver the Bachelor of Social Work degree for the 201415 and 2016-17 program years. Northern Lakes College also has a transfer agreement that can ladder students into the Bachelor of Social Work at the University of Calgary. This partnership allows Social Work Diploma graduates to remain in their own community while pursuing the last two years of the Bachelor of Social Work degree. Kaip graduated from this program in July 2017. “Northern Lakes College and the University of Calgary do an exceptional job in providing educational services to the Peace River area. I was able to pursue my educational career and continue to work in my own community. I am forever grateful that

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Northern Lakes College has enabled me to improve my skills and knowledge while I live and work in the north,” said Kaip. The Social Work Diploma is a two-year program, and includes a blend of core social work theory and practice courses, along with universitylevel courses. Students are encouraged, in a supportive atmosphere, to develop personal insights and approaches to social work practice. Students who successfully complete the program enter the workforce to provide much-needed services to communities. Social workers handle social issues, assist individuals and families with life changes, help improve people’s problemsolving and coping skills and assist in overcoming disabilities.

Josee Bouchard is a student of the Social Work Diploma program. She has completed her practicum and will graduate from the program in 2017. She is excited to continue learning and is currently exploring the transfer opportunities Northern Lakes College has with other institutions. “I like that Northern Lakes College offers flexible programming at the Peace River Campus,” said Bouchard. “This made it easy for me to continue working and studying in my own community.” Graduates from the Social Work Diploma are eligible for registration with the Alberta College of Social Workers. Students are prepared for entry level practice positions, or they can continue their education in a degree program. The Social Work Diploma is offered at all NLC Campuses. For more information please call 780-849-8600 or email admissions@ for program information. Visit to apply online.

 Aboriginal Perspective

Wesahkecāahk and Submitted by Billy Joe Laboucan, Chief, Lubicon Lake #453 Wesahkecāhk was the Creator’s helper who protected animals and the earth and taught people how to treat each other with respect. Some say that he is still out there...


nce upon a time, Wesahkecāhk was sitting under the shade of a tree looking at the animals playing and having fun with each other. This was a time when all animals were still able to talk with one other.

He was content and all was going well, so he didn’t pay as much attention as he should have. Some of the animals were in disagreement with each other. They were starting to argue about things they believed in, and they were starting to fight among their families and within their nations. The Creator saw this disharmony and said, “Wesahkecāhk, the animals are starting to fight each. Please do something about bringing peace to all.”



But, Wesahkecāhk was feeling lazy and didn’t really think it was too big of a problem. Then, the animals starting fighting and the ground turned red with their blood. Again, the Creator said, “Wesahkecāhk please do something to bring about peace on the land, or I will have to cleanse the world of this hatred.” Finally, Wesahkecāhk tried to stop all the arguing and fighting, but it was too late. No one listened to him, and the ground ran red with blood. The Creator told Wesahkecāhk, “To save yourself and the animals who have listened, build a huge raft for I am going to cause a great flood to cleanse the world of all this hatred.” Wesahkecāhk started building a huge raft and stocked it with food. No sooner did he finish building this raft, it started raining. Wesahkecāhk drove the animals onto the huge raft, and it rained and rained.

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Finally, all the tall trees disappeared under the water; then, the mountains got washed over too. Finally, it was water as far as the eye could see. Wesahkecāhk and the animals floated about in the flood water, and he felt he hadn’t lived up to his responsibilities. He sat down and cried. The Creator saw him and said, “Wesahkecāhk if you get some dirt from beneath the water, I will help you remake the world.” Wesahkecāhk heard the Creator and his hope grew. He said to the animals, “All of the swimmers come to the front. I need some dirt to remake our world.” All the animals were getting hungry and wanted to get off the raft as soon as they were able. The otter, the beaver and muskrat came up to the front. Wesahkecāhk said to the otter, “Otter, I know you are a strong swimmer. I want you to dive and get some dirt for us.”

the Great Flood The otter dove. Although he stayed under a long time, when he came back up, his paws were empty.

with a huge family. You will have many, many children if you can bring up some dirt. Please try again.”

back at the end of the day, and Wesahkecāhk said, “The world isn’t big enough yet. I have to make it bigger.”

Wesahkecāhk turned to the beaver and said, “Beaver, you must try. I know you are strong and work hard. Please get us some dirt so we can remake the world.”

This time, they tied a string on the muskrat in case he was too weak to swim back up. The muskrat dove again. He was gone so long the other animals were got really worried. The string became slack and they hurriedly pulled the muskrat up.

He blew again, Poof!, and the world expanded. “Now, my brother, please run to the other side to see how big it has gotten.”

The beaver hearing this praise dove into the water. He too stayed underwater for a long time, but when he surfaced, his paws were empty. Then, Wesahkecāhk looked at the little muskrat and said, “My little brother, we have to rely on you now. Please dive and get some dirt for us.” The little muskrat dove into the water, and he stayed underwater for a long time. When he resurfaced, the animals had to pull him on to the raft as he had almost drowned. The animals revived him. Again, Wesahkecāhk said, “Little brother, I promise I will reward you

When they pulled him up, he wasn’t breathing. Wesahkecāhk revived him. Then, he pried his little paw apart and a small amount of dirt clung there. They were all happy. Wesahkecāhk took that piece of dirt and blew on it. Poof! The world formed before them. “Wolf, you are a fast and tireless traveller. Please run to the other side, and when you get there, run back to tell us how big the world is,” said Wesahkecāhk.

Once again, the wolf ran off. This time he came back after three long days. Again, Wesahkecāhk said, “The world is still not big enough. I will expand it more.” He blew more, Poof! “Now, my brother, please run to the other side,” said Wesahkecāhk. This time they waited for many days and nights but the wolf didn’t return, and Wesahkecāhk determined that the world was big enough. © Billy Joe Laboucan 2011

So, the wolf ran off, but he came #Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P


 Column


Advertising for a Kickstarter Campaign WHAT WE LEARNED


a challenge for the user experience, Kickstarter has done a good job of allowing non-Kickstarters the ability to donate easily.

hen it comes to laying it all out on the line, there’s no better example than launching a Kickstarter campaign for a product you’ve put your money, heart and soul into. This all-or-nothing fundraising platform can be a rollercoaster of emotion for entrepreneurs, and just the thought of throwing more money into advertising your projects can cause heart palpitations. We recently had the opportunity to work with a client who had a campaign, and we were able to learn and understand some of the dos and don’ts of a successful Kickstarter marketing campaign. To help ease some of the stress, here are some things we’ve learned that can help make the difference between a flop and a screaming success. Start the Pre-Party Creating anticipation to your Kickstarter is a great way to build interest before you are even prepared to launch. If you have a website, it’s time to start collecting emails, and, more importantly, interest in your product. With all this said, you’ll need a great product, professional photos and a great video story to back it up.



Begin to work on your e-newsletter templates— from the pre-launch email to your last chance email and everything in between. In addition to the emails you’re collecting, it’s also smart to begin collecting visitors. Through Google Analytics and Facebook, you can use remarketing tracking pixels to collect user lists that can be later used for ads (nothing is more targeted than that). When you build these ads, consider building some variations and use timesensitive calls to action. Set Up Tracking Your Kickstarter dashboard allows you to track visitors with Google Analytics. Also use custom tag URL referrers so you can track the source of your donors. For every medium you use—be that your first email, your Facebook newsfeed, Twitter or Instagram—use different

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tracking URLs, so you can identify which mediums are delivering and which are flops. When we run campaigns, we like to tag our ads independently as well, so we can track the effectiveness of ad type in addition to our ad targeting. Also, make sure you’ve turned on e-commerce tracking in Google Analytics. This can automatically pull in the value of their Kickstarter purchase into your data so that you can determine direct ROI. It’s not a bad perk, and it’s great for optimizing ad performance down the road. Use Facebook Ads The biggest challenge about advertising a Kickstarter campaign is that you don’t know if the people you’re advertising to have a Kickstarter account in the first place. While this poses

For our campaigns, we have tried images, carousels, video ads and combinations of each to try to drive conversions. Through our experimentation, we discovered the simpler the message, the more effective the result. By leaving our clickers wanting more, while explaining the startup was a local entrepreneur, we were able to generate interest and, frankly, that warm fuzzy feeling of helping out a friend. Highlights àà Your job starts well before your Kickstarter is even launched, so do your legwork àà Tracking is your friend. Set it up properly and monitor it closely àà Get creative with your ads. Use very specific targeting and A/B test constantly


#Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P


DREAMING WITHOUT LIMITS Words By Talena winters // Photography by Daniel Wood


veline Charles simply refuses to be satisfied with the status quo. Her determination and purpose have taken her from a small-town Falher girl with big dreams to a respected beauty industry leader



and the owner of a self-branded multimillion dollar network of beauty salons, spas and schools. The most recent advancements in her empire—opening a beauty school in partnership with Peace River’s

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Glenmary School and franchising her world-class brand in partnership with the Hudson’s Bay Company—seem to bring Charles full circle. They have more to do with helping others to achieve success than simply expanding the boundaries of her own queendom.


When you have a strong mind, it becomes mind over matter.

After 43 years of achieving her own business goals, there are few people more qualified to help others do the same.

having styled for friends and family for years. She promptly sold her restaurant and enrolled in beauty school in Edmonton, AB.

“Eventually, you’ve got to give back. Going to Peace River for us was like, Now we can give back to that community. Because I am from here, I know how hard it is for people to leave their small communities. They don’t want to move to the big cities. I’m really excited that now we can reach out and put satellite schools into communities so people don’t have to leave them,” said Charles.

Even while she was going to school, she opened her own salon in Falher, driving home every weekend to work on her business. After graduating, she continued styling from her space in Falher’s Adanac Hotel, building a clientele that would travel from all over the region to see her. She grew her business as much as her small-town environs would allow and decided it was time to move to a larger centre.

The Making of EvelineCharles Charles wanted to own her own business since the age of 12 but was unsure of which industry to choose. Six months of owning a restaurant in Falher after high school opened her eyes to how difficult entrepreneurship could be when you are not passionate about the work. When a local hair stylist listed her salon for sale, it sparked a new idea— Charles always loved fashion, and she had a natural flair for cutting hair,

In 1980, she moved to St. Albert (because Edmonton felt too big) and grew that salon for another four years. When customers started to tell her they had gone to such-and-such big salon in Edmonton, she thought, We’re good enough to go into Edmonton, too. So, she moved once again, opening in a close-to-downtown location under the name Bianco & Nero, a brand she owned with a partner who ran a salon of the same name in Calgary. “My ultimate goal was to grow a bigger business.

When you’re in business, it’s always your intention to go bigger and bigger,” said Charles.

Determined to stand out from the crowd, EvelineCharles offered its own signature product line.

Charles quickly built her reputation and became known as one of the best salons in Edmonton.

At first, they outsourced the work to labs and companies around the world. As the brand developed prestige and experience, and with tempting incentives from the government to manufacture locally, EvelineCharles would choose to manufacture the majority of its products here in Alberta. The brand also has a full roster of clients across Canada who have EC Labs develop products for their own lines.

Within four years, she needed to move yet again— this time to a more spacious location in the Edmonton City Centre Mall. In 1994, she made a decision that would result in explosive growth—she stopped working on the floor as a technician and started running the business full-time. That same year, her company opened both women’s and men’s salons and a spa, all located within the City Centre Mall. Then, in 1998, Charles opened a second location—a 7,500 sq. ft. flagship location in West Edmonton Mall. Her business only kept growing. Along the way, she had separated from her business partner in Calgary, but they were both still operating as Bianco & Nero, which stymied their respective abilities to expand to the other city. Not one to let details stand in the way of success, in 2000, Charles rebranded as EvelineCharles and the expansion of her company took off. Pioneering Partnerships As an industry leader, Charles soon had to deal with copycat options on other salon menus.

A major challenge Charles encountered as her business expanded was finding qualified staff. As EvelineCharles opened more locations and standardized services and procedures, a great deal of time was spent training new staff to achieve the high quality of work they expected. The answer? Open an EvelineCharles beauty academy. Eleven years ago, the first EvelineCharles Academy opened in Edmonton and the Calgary location launched a few years later. The Peace River location is the third EvelineCharles Academy in existence and a pioneer partnership for the brand. The most recent feather in Charles’ cap is an agreement with the Hudson’s Bay Company to franchise EvelineCharles Salons in stores across Canada. Both the schools and the

#Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P


It wasn’t until she took up mountain climbing and was standing on the top of Mount Fairview that she had the epiphany that defined her life’s trajectory. “I realized my life was like climbing that mountain. My whole life had always been, That’s tough, that’s hard, and I’ve always been pushing myself. I tell people now that if you’re not stretching yourself, you’re coasting. You always need to feel that stretch,” said Charles.

franchises were developed with the intention of helping other people succeed in business. “We know what it takes to run a business. We know what students need to do to succeed in the industry, and now we’re taking our model and we’re going to help people grow their own businesses,” said Charles. Giving Back and Growing Forward EvelineCharles supports multiple non-profit organizations and events. With such an impressive resume, it is no wonder that Eveline Charles—the entrepreneur—has won multiple philanthropic and business awards, including being the first woman inducted into the Alberta Business Hall of Fame. “Strong goals are what have allowed me to get where I am in life. I’ve got lots of 40


creative vision, so if I feel it in my gut and I can see it clearly, then I can do it. I think that’s what’s always been propelling me forward, but it was strong personal goals that made me stronger in business,” said Charles. Charles credits making her goals public as a compelling motivation for achieving them. After leaving high school, Charles took up running and decided to qualify for the Boston Marathon in her first race. When she told her friends, they discouraged her from getting her hopes up. “Well, that’s all I needed. I actually qualified for the 99th anniversary Boston Marathon on my first run and then I decided, I don’t want to run that one, I want to run the 100th. So, I had to requalify the next year so I could run the 100th. When you have a strong mind, it becomes mind over matter,” said Charles.

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Charles has applied this philosophy to every area of her life, even (and maybe especially) to moments in her career that have terrified her, such as working through the recession of 2008 while holding $6 million of expansions and leases that the banks suddenly wouldn’t touch. She did what she had to do, financing the projects from the company’s own cash flow, and came through stronger on the other side. “Business has cycles, with some great years and some where you’re working harder on making it profitable. For us, it’s always been about getting better,” said Charles. Charles will tell you her biggest accomplishments are opening her beauty schools and developing her own product line. She loves being involved in every aspect of the beauty business and developing skills in others that will shape the industry for tomorrow.

“There’s always risk, but people need to push themselves. There are always going to be leaders and followers. If you’ve got strong leadership and entrepreneurship abilities, there is so much you can do out there,” said Charles. Her only regret is not pushing herself to do more earlier in her career. She wishes she had started franchising long ago because she strongly believes their business model can help so many other people be successful. Charles has advice for those who want to strike out and make a difference in their industry and in their careers. “Have big goals, think big and dream big. Make your goals public and have an action plan. Believe in yourself. It’s okay to fall on your face because you’re going to pick yourself up again and learn from what happened,” said Charles. Eveline Charles may be aiming for the mountaintop, but she seems determined not to be up there alone. With her example of driven, compassionate leadership, giving back to the community and the relentless pursuit of goals, Charles is poised to continue leading the beauty industry—and the many who have joined her on her journey—toward her vision of a better, more beautiful world.

#Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P


HEALER OF CHAMPIONS words By Talena winters // Photography by T Parenteau Photography


he year is 2011. Canadian figure skater Patrick Chan has spent the last two days at the World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow breaking world records that would land him in the annals of Guinness. He accepts his gold medals and his flowers, skates off the ice and later hands the bouquet to a pretty blond woman who has been waiting for him. No, she’s not his mother, nor his trainer, nor even his girlfriend. She’s his athletic therapist. Sylvia Ciurysek of Berwyn, AB, took



an arduous and uncommon road to be standing in Moscow that day. It is a moment she will never forget, as it marked a major achievement in her career path as an athletic therapist. When Ciurysek isn’t moonlighting with Skate Canada, she’s working as an on-staff physical therapist at the Fairview Health Complex. Ciurysek says there is a great deal of crossover between the two roles as far as treatment is concerned. “With Skate Canada athletes, their goal is to get to the Olympics in 2018,

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and I’m there to help them. With hospital patients, they might have been in a motor vehicle accident— they have all these fractures and a concussion—and their goal is to heal and get home. I’m there to help them with that. It’s just a matter of paring down your intensity and the volume of what you’re doing to what the person needs,” said Ciurysek. Ciurysek began her career in 1995, two years after she’d entered the University of Alberta’s Bachelor of Physical Education program, when she began working with the varsity Golden

Bears football team. By the time she graduated, she’d expanded her clientele to include community junior hockey and football teams. Not long after, Ciurysek gained a position at the Glen Sather Sports Medicine Clinic and simultaneously continued her work at the U of A varsity clinic. Finding it difficult to make a living as an athletic therapist, she went back to school in 2003 and earned a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. Three years later, her title at the Glen Sather Clinic changed from “Athletic” to “Physical Therapist.” While she was studying for her master’s degree, Dr. David Magee, a professor at the university who had for two decades been the official clinician for the Edmonton Oilers, asked her to volunteer in his clinic, which allowed her to gain more experience with higher-level athletes. Thankful for the opportunity to increase her skills, she would join him at his clinic in the basement of Corbett Hall at 6am every morning to work with his clients, both private and professional.

experience with figure skaters prior to the 2011 Worlds, her connections and experience gave her an edge. “An injury is an injury, and you see a lot of the same injuries in hockey that you see in figure skating. Treatment just depends on what kind of activity you’re trying to get the athlete back to,” said Ciurysek. Except for a three-year hiatus to heal from car-accident-induced injuries of her own, Ciurysek has worked with Canada’s figure skating team ever since that momentous spring in Moscow. Joining Skate Canada’s list of volunteer therapists meant finally working with the elite-level athletes of which she had always dreamed—even if the thought of figure skating had never entered her mind. Part of the Team Achieving notoriety in the field of athletic therapy is anything but glamorous. It involves giving up personal time to attend games, early mornings to work with the athletes

and extraordinarily long hours—many of which are volunteer. This aspect of the job was especially challenging for Ciurysek early in her career. “When I started, it was all volunteer. Even when I got into junior and varsity teams and on the U of A payroll, it still wasn’t a lot, but in order to gain the experience, you have to give up your evenings and weekends,” said Ciurysek. Ciurysek is one of about a dozen physical therapists and doctors on Skate Canada’s roster, each of whom work three or four out of 20 events every year. She gets flown to the event location several days prior, which could be anywhere in the world. While working the event, the hours are often from 6am to 10pm, and she is assigned to several skaters who may practice or compete at multiple points throughout the day. She needs to be available for pre-andpost event care such as acupuncture and massage as well as on-ice emergencies. She also works with

According to Ciurysek, a couple of years later she was passed over for a position to work with the Edmonton Oilers because of her gender. However, with her strong connections, she became the Lead Clinical Therapist of Varsity and an Associate Clinical Professor at the U of A in 2011. When a tsunami struck Japan that spring, the World Figure Skating Championships had to be moved from Nagano, Japan to Moscow, Russia. The month’s delay meant most of the normal support staff and even some of the athletes could not participate. Skate Canada was becoming desperate to find a qualified physical therapist who could accompany the team when Ciurysek’s name was put forward by Dr. Marni Wesner, who was head of the Glen Sather Clinic at the time. While Ciurysek didn’t have any Ciurysek with World Figure Skating Champion, Patrick Chan Þ

#Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P


it’s different. I get to do something I like, travel, see new things and meet great people. Then, I come back home to regular, everyday life. So, it’s fun,” said Ciurysek. The athletes and events help create some of the most memorable moments of Ciurysek’s career. Highlights include working with the Golden Bears hockey team when they won the Canadian Interuniversity Sports National Championship in 2006 and volunteering with Dr. Magee when the Oilers made it to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Playoffs that same year.

athletes who get chosen for random drug testing to ensure proper procedures are followed and may have to help with team members who become ill, even if it’s the middle of the night. Many of the collisions and falls happen during practice sessions when up to four skating teams are on the ice at once, each practicing their own program and not necessarily paying attention to what the other skaters are doing. Ciurysek says although the injuries can be quite severe, she is thankful she hasn’t had to deal with anything serious during actual competition. “There’s more involved than people might realize because you’re doing emergency care and sometimes you’re doing clinical work. It might be 44


at the event, or the practice before, or after the event, or numerous practices throughout the week. So, you’re on call for anything,” said Ciurysek. For the Love of Sport Like much of the other work required to achieve success in the field of athletic therapy, Ciurysek’s work with Skate Canada is voluntary (travel and expenses for the event are covered, and she may or may not receive an honorarium at the end of the year). Despite this, Ciurysek continues to do the work because she loves it. “I enjoy the competitive nature. The athletes become like family members. Even though I’m putting in long days, it still feels like it’s a break from work because

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She was especially impressed by Ryan Smith of the Edmonton Oilers. One year, she was one of only two volunteers working a preseason NHL Conditioning Camp hosted by the Golden Bears, which Smith attended. “At the end of that camp, Ryan Smith came and found me in the hallway. He had gone around the room with a hat and collected money from all the guys to pay myself and the skate sharpener for all the work we had done that week. I was floored,” said Ciurysek. The work is rewarding because she knows she is a part of ensuring that the athletes get to do their jobs. The gratitude she receives from her clients makes it even more worthwhile. When Chan handed her his bouquet at the Moscow Worlds, he was recognizing what many great athletes do—without his support

crew, his victory may not have even been possible. Ciurysek’s path to being an athletic therapist for Olympian figure skaters may have been unconventional, but she attributes her successes to the many connections she made working in the sport therapy industry in Edmonton. To those who want to become involved in the field, Ciurysek has the following advice: “Be persistent. Follow your goals. Network with people. Be willing to put in the time and effort. Keep up on your skills and learn new things so you can be competitive in that market,” said Ciurysek. Ciurysek is thankful her current position allowed her to move back to her family home in Berwyn, affording her the best of both worlds—working with high-level athletes on a regular basis while having a steady income in a rural community where nature is literally right outside her front door. Like the athletes she serves, she is persistent, dedicated and continually training to be better. The cost is high, but so are the rewards. “Sport is something that brings everyone together. It builds that camaraderie, whereas things like politics and religion tend to break us up. We remember major sport moments, like Sydney Crosby scoring an amazing goal. That’s why I love it,” said Ciurysek.



DEDICATED TO RESTORING DIGNITY Words By Talena winters // Photography by T Parenteau Photography & Talena Winters


hen Murray Simpson became the caretaker for the Notikewin Vale of Peace Cemetery just north of Manning nearly two decades ago, he had no idea the job would birth a new passion. As time went on, he became concerned by the dilapidated condition of many of the headstones and grave markers. He discovered nearly one-third of the yard’s inhabitants were not marked at all. As he began digging into the reasons why, he learned many of the unmarked graves belonged to pioneers



whose stones had either been broken and not replaced or had never existed at all. He also found several plots marked with only the most skeletal of information—surnames stamped onto an aging square of cement embedded in the earth. As a descendent of one of Notikewin’s pioneering families (with four generations of relatives buried in the Vale of Peace Cemetery), Simpson felt that something must be done about the general condition of the yard, but especially about the souls whose names seemed to be

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lost to antiquity. “When you lay there and no one cares enough to put your name on your grave, you don’t have much dignity,” said Simpson. “I don’t like seeing that. That’s why I do it—for them—to give them their dignity and respect back. To say that we count when we’re here.” The original graveyard map disappeared around a half a century ago. Local rumour says it was either lost by a careless gravedigger or inside a church that burnt down. Either way, there was no backup copy. Because of this, the identities of around

sixty of the cemetery’s occupants can no longer be precisely matched to their graves or their identities have been irretrievably lost. Simpson’s first major project was unearthing the history of one Private Alfred Tennyson Hudson, whose grave marker contained only his rank and surname. With the help of computersavvy friend Gail Dodds and resources such as Ancestry. com, Library and Archives Canada and the Last Post Fund (an organization working with Veteran Affairs Canada to ensure all eligible war veterans receive a dignified funeral, burial

and headstone), Simpson was able to discover many details about Private Hudson’s history. Thanks to Simpson’s efforts and those who helped him, Private Hudson’s life was honoured during a special funeral ceremony held September 17, 2015, two years after the quest for his identity began. Pvt. Hudson’s new military headstone will call to mind the service he did for our country in WWI for a very long time. While digging for information on Hudson, Simpson began to wonder if he could help the others marked on his graveyard map as “unknown” find new dignity by being restored to living memory. Inspired by a cairn project at

the Hotchkiss cemetery, he conceived an idea to build a cairn at the Notikewin Vale of Peace site to remember those who are known to reside in the yard but whose exact grave locations cannot be labelled. He also decided to build a war memorial (which now greets visitors as they drive in). Once the Town of Manning gave him the go-ahead, he set the ambitious goal of raising the $10k he needed within a year. Ten months later, he had achieved it. The community rallied around Simpson’s project. Businesses and individual sponsors stepped up. A Grade 6 class at Rosary School adopted Simpson’s community project as their own and installed donation cans at businesses all over town, raising

about a thousand dollars in a month. Before long, Simpson had the means to turn his vision into a reality. Two years later, the cairn to memorialize the unmarked citizens of the graveyard is nearly complete, with only a few plaques left to be made once some final details come in from Library and Archives Canada, and there’s room to add more should new information come to light.

help and I told them, Just have patience and I’ll fix you up. And I’ve done it one hundred percent,” said Simpson. He can tell you the story of Mary Kover, who died of tuberculosis at seventeen in 1934. When he replaced the cement marker (with her name hand-carved by her father) and reseeded the plot, he returned the original to her family.

Since he began his improvements to the graveyard, Simpson has placed or replaced twentythree new headstones, repaired many others and uncovered the identities of several more of the residents.

He will tell you about Abigale Schamehorn, a baby whose birth and death date were the same. Her final resting place had only a little steel fence enclosing a teddy bear and a cement angel, but hosted no headstone until he was able to give her one.

“I’ve stood at the graves of everybody that needed

Little Brittany Schamehorn’s headstone replaced a simple

Murray Simpson, Caretaker for the Notikewin Vale of Peace cemetery Þ #Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P


grave marker. Edward de Laforest’s slumping headstone was stuffed into the ground in pieces, but now it stands tall and proud atop its granite slab. Everywhere Simpson walks in the well-kept yard, he has a story to share about either the plot or the family members who have shown appreciation that someone cares. When the going gets tough, it is the kind feedback and the victories he’s had restoring lost identities that keep him going. “On a difficult project like this, most people quit as soon as it gets hard, but it motivates me. You’re not beating me, I’m gonna beat you. And I do. That’s how I’ve done what I’ve done in the last five years,” said Simpson. 48


Currently, Simpson is tracking down the identity of another baby who is identified only by the faint impression of the word “Phillips,” with a single “L” from the original adhered letters remaining. The process involves long hours, late nights and never letting a dead end stop him. Like many of the others he has helped, Simpson says he feels like a guardian to that child, whose parents had moved out east and died in two different provinces. “God sent me down to do this kind of work and it’s powerful to give back to something like this when they have no family. Someone’s gotta love and care and say, You still matter and I want people to know you matter. That’s why I do it. I hope I make a difference,” said Simpson.

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On a difficult project like this, most people quit as soon as it gets hard, but it motivates me.

Simpson’s passion and drive is already making a difference for the loved ones of those who rest under his care and in his community as they have all pulled together to make his vision a reality. No wonder Simpson is a big believer in giving back to the community when the community rallies with such enthusiasm to help causes like this one. When asked what advice

he would give to someone else following their passion, Simpson simply says, “Go for it and never let someone talk you out of it. Whatever you want to do, do it with all your heart.” Those who wish to contribute to the continuing efforts to improve the cemetery can donate to the Notikewin Vale of Peace Cairn Fund at Horizon Credit Union.

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how you feel about it inside. If you don’t have passion and love for what you do, then you won’t want to be there and that reflects on everything you do in life. People feel your passion and excitement and they get excited with you,” said Kyley.

n today’s economy, particularly in rural areas where traditional industries are slumping, starting a business sounds like a great idea. However, studies show that entrepreneurship works best when people are pulled toward it by passion and ambition, not pushed into it by circumstances. Successful small business owners are always driven by a strong desire to do something better or faster, or to provide a product or service that fills a niche market. To fulfill their vision, small business owners know they need to work long hours, learn from their mistakes and always be on the lookout for the next opportunity! So, what keeps an entrepreneur going in the face of multiple challenges? It’s passion for what they do. We talked to several local business owners about the need for passion in their business, and this is what they had to say:

Sarah Keates

The Green Goddess Sarah is the owner of The Green Goddess

Annie Giesbrecht

MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual

in Grimshaw, AB. She manufactures and sells “truly natural and handcrafted bath, beauty and body care products.” It is not uncommon to find Sarah in the forest gathering special herbs to be later infused into her unique line of products.

the evening and relax (HA!) and for the times you wish you could go to bed before midnight (never!), passion will be what drives you! Passion is the heartbeat of your business and it sustains you through the hard times!” said Sarah.

“Passion in business means you can’t stop yourself from walking your path, even if you tried! It means you are committed to the journey and you will move forward through all kinds of weather, no matter what. For the times when you felt like you just need a break (but you can’t), for the times when you just want to throw in the towel (but you don’t), for the times when you just want to sit down in

Aspen Grove Spa Ltd.

Kyley Corrigal

Kyley and her daughter, Jasmine, are owners of Aspen Grove Spa in Peace River, AB. They believe in pampering their clients. In business for over 12 years, Aspen Grove has grown to eight staff and has expanded offerings to include a wide range of spa services.

Annie and her son, Benjie own and operate MR MIKES in Peace River, AB. Customer service is key to the success of a restaurant business, and so it plays a major role in the corporate culture at MR MIKES. “Passion in business means you are doing what you love and getting paid to do it! I love meeting people and hearing their stories. When people come and enjoy the food at our restaurant, and memories are being made at MR MIKES, it is truly rewarding!” said Annie.

“I believe that passion is the heart of your business,

#Li fesBetterUpHere | AUGUST-NOVEMBER 20 1 7 M OV E U P




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