Where do you belong? Can you get around? How do you connect with your community and take part in activities that enrich your life and the lives of others? Are you treated with respect and included regardless of your age, skin colour, gender identity, physical abilities, or socioeconomic status?
Community and belonging are connected as one unit. Communities are places where groups of people live in the same place. Communities are also a place where there is sharing of common attitudes, interest and goals. We see communities everywhere – there are groups within our places of employment, place of worship, cultural groups, sporting teams, quilting groups, travel clubs, etc. We have numerous communities within our lives.
In our daily lives, we each take on a role and a focus at work, school, volunteer groups, and service groups. It takes all levels of government, businesses, service groups and individuals to build success within a community. We see success when people feel like they are part of something, they take ownership, responsibility, and they contribute time and skill.
We define belonging simply as being part of a collective we. It is a two-way street: It is about communities sending signals of acceptance and inclusion, and about individuals cultivating their own connections to community.
Last year, our Northwestern Alberta’s Vital Signs® looked at what belonging is, and why it matters to people living in Grande Prairie and region. We focused on a few key groups who historically have struggled harder to feel included: Indigenous people, seniors, youth, and new immigrants. But there are other groups who struggle, too: people barely scraping by on low incomes, people who live with disabilities, people whose gender identity positions them outside the mainstream. While inclusion begins with the individuals within a society — within the hearts and minds of the humans within – Grande Prairie and region is glowing with initiatives and processes that foster inclusion, from programs offering Everyday English classes for new immigrants to the LGBTQ Youth Mentorship program, and arts programming for all ages at the Centre for Creative Arts. There is powerful work happening in the community.
Belonging is at the heart of building stronger communities and an inclusive community. Join me in strengthening our region by reaching out to others; help others feel included by sharing a kind word or gesture, and break down potential barriers with your neighbour or the person beside you at the park.
Connect people. Build community. For good, and forever.
Tracey Vavrek, CEO
MIKE EVANS fun for kids FUND
From hockey and gymnastics to judo and biking, Michael Evans loved sports. That passion is something his family hopes to ignite in young athletes through the establishment of the Community Foundation of Northwest Alberta’s Mike Evans Kids For Fun Fund.
An avid participant of many and coach of several sports throughout his life, Mike passed away in a tragic accident on August 26th, 2016 at the age of 43.
Born and raised in the Peace Country, Mike began playing hockey at a young age in the early 1980’s. Though hockey and gymnastics may not seem a common combination, Mike took on both, becoming a competitive member of the Grande Prairie Gymniks Club for a few years.
When the family moved to an acreage near Wembley, Mike jumped at the chance to join the Wembley Judo Club and continued to be active through his high school years as both a participant and an assistant coach, instructing younger members.
In the late 1980’s Mike became a member of the Grande Prairie Wheelers Club, a local cycling group. Because of the move to the country he was a member for only one season.
His love of sports drew him into the Physical Education program which he began at the Grande Prairie Regional College and completed at the University of Alberta in 2001. Following his graduation, Mike worked at several jobs in his field including work at a YMCA in Edmonton and later as a gymnastics coach in St. Albert. He really enjoyed working with kids.
Though he eventually moved on to work in the construction and landscaping fields, Mike continued his active lifestyle by participating in all kinds of sports activities. He loved hiking, skiing, and backpacking trips with friends and family and extreme mountain biking outings with his more adventuresome friends. He also loved playing the guitar and became very good at it.
In establishing the legacy fund with the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta, Mike’s parents, Ron and Janet, hope to offer youngsters a chance to develop the same passion for sports and active lifestyle that Mike embodied.
“We think it would make Michael happy to know that money given in his memory would go to making involvement in sporting activities available for those who would otherwise not be able to participate”, says Ron and Janet.
You can make a difference in our community — not only today but forever. When you make a donation to the Community Foundation, we invest that gift into a permanent endowment fund. Your original gift is not spent. Earnings from your gift today and in the future, are then distributed through grants to support local charities. Interested in making a gift to the Mike Evans Kids for Fun Fund, please follow the link below or call Tracy Zuk at 780-538-2820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Where are they now?
Previous student award recipient – teagan ruether
For Teagan Ruether, a student award through the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta has helped lead to her dream career.
Struggling to pay for her Bachelors of Science in Nursing, Ruether says the award she received in 2010 and 2011 allowed her to complete the accelerated stream of the program.
Upon graduating she began working as a nurse in Fairview, before landing her dream job as an emergency room nurse in Grimshaw. Ruether excelled in her role and quickly became integrated as part of the ER team.
Two years ago the young nurse made the decision to further her education and enrolled in the Master of Nursing program through Athabasca University. Ruether is set to finish her program in December and will graduate with her Masters/Nurse Practioner degree.
“My deepest thanks the Community Foundation board, and the donors! I have gone farther than I ever would have imagined with the support that I have received!” she says.
Regional Community Foundation Funds
Play for community golf & fundraiser
Interested in learning more about the following Regional Community Funds, contact our office at (780) 538-2820:
North Peace Community Foundation – Serving Peace River and the surrounding communities.
Sexsmith Community Foundation – Serving Sexsmith and the surrounding communities.
West County Community Foundation – Serving communities in Beaverlodge, Elmsworth, Hythe, Wembley and area.
June 7, 2018 – Open Door Cafe
August 24, 2018 – Sexsmith Golf Tournament
September 27, 2018 – Nourish the North
For more information on these events, please contact the Foundation Office at 780.538.2820.