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By Bonnie Hutchinson

This just in.
Chickadees can tell when you’re upset.
Really! It’s science.
Since I was a little kid, I’ve loved hearing the sound of a chickadee–“chickadee-dee-dee!” It sounds so cheerful. I was quite old before I learned that the bird I called the “fee-bee bird” was the same kind of bird that said “chickadee-dee-dee.” I liked hearing both sounds–“chickadee-dee-dee” and “fee-bee”–because it sounded like the chickadees were singing stories with their songs.
I imagined the bird was calling for a girl named “Phoebe” who kept not answering. I imagined stories about where Phoebe might have gone, and why, and how she would or would not be reunited with the bird who missed her so much…
As may be obvious, I was a kid who liked to imagine stories. That was much more fun than homework or chores. Okay, back to the science. Chickadees communicate, and not just with each other. You probably already know that the different sounds of chickadees and other birds communicate messages to others of their kind.
There’s more to it than that, based on just-released research at the University of Alberta. According to an item by Anna Junker in the July 11 Edmonton Journal, chickadees can detect levels of arousal (fear or excitement) from the sounds made by others. But not just other chickadees. Other species including humans.
The item quotes Jenna Congdon, a student researcher. “The idea is that some species can understand other species vocalizations. For example, a songbird is able to understand the call of distress of another songbird when they are in the presence of a predator, like an owl or a hawk. Or, for example, if your friend scared you and you screamed. Both of these are high-arousal vocalizations and being able to understand what that sounds like in different species can be very useful.”
Congdon said that chickadees were able to identify high arousal in chickadees, humans and giant pandas.
Pandas? Congdon says, “This is fascinating because a chickadee that has never come across a giant panda before is able to categorize high and low arousal vocalizations.”
One more thing I like about chickadees. You have to appreciate a tiny bird who chooses to stay with us for the winter. Tiny but tough, that’s what chickadees are. They can handle a Canadian winter.
Here’s a little-known fact–at least, I didn’t know it before. During the winter, chickadees can lower their body temperature by as much as 10 to 12 degrees to conserve energy. Not many birds can do this, but chickadees can. It’s called “torpor,” and, though I don’t lower my body temperature, I too have experienced torpor in the winter. You may ask, why is this relevant on a July day? Well, maybe it’s not all that relevant right this very moment. But think ahead.
Next winter, when you’re not enjoying the weather, you can look out at chickadees, possibly scarfing down seeds from your bird feeder. You can listen to chickadees sing songs to each other–or to the ever-missing Phoebe–and you can say, “Easy for you, Chickadee. You can lower your temperature to conserve energy. Not like us humans.”
And if you happen to be upset that day, the chickadee will know and it can sing you a song. Not only that, if a giant panda happens to wander by and be upset, the chickadee will know that too. I have every confidence that a chickadee’s song can cheer up a panda.
There. Doesn’t that bit of trivia uplift your day?
I thought so. Or perhaps it just verifies that I never did outgrow daydreaming about stories instead of doing homework or chores.
P.S. To the person who sent the lovely handwritten note in response to the “Better Angels” column on July 2, thank you so much for telling me how it was. Wishing you well getting your iPad connected again!
I’d love to hear from you! If you have comments about this column or suggestions for future topics, send a note to I’ll happily reply within one business day.
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Camrose bids farewell to Wynn

By Lori Larsen

Well known supporter and contributor to Camrose and surrounding area, Max Wynn McLean passed away on July 10.
Wynn was the chief executive officer of the Camrose Regional Exhibition until he moved into the vice president of community relations with Travel Alberta in 2012. Wynn also served as a councillor on the City of Camrose council from October 2004 to October 2007.
A few of Wynn’s achievements with the CRE include being involved with Camrose Bull Congress from inception and being on the ground level of developing the casino, hotel and campground. He also served as a member of Travel Alberta’s Strategic Tourism Marketing Council, playing a significant role in the development of Alberta’s Tourism framework, was founding director of Tourism Camrose and acted as the founding chair of the Growing Rural Tourism Conference.
A Celebration of Wynn’s amazing life will be held Tuesday, July 16 at 4 p.m., at the Camrose Regional Exhibition Grounds (CRE), 4250 Exhibition Drive.
The Camrose Booster family would like to extend their sincerest condolences to Wynn’s family and friends.

Daley wins team cattle penning at Stampede

By Murray Green

Usually going to the Calgary Stampede is a lot of fun. But, it wasn’t all fun and games for cowboys Duane Daley of Camrose, Rocky Davis and his son Clinton Davis from Valleyview.
It came down to the wire, but the trio knew they had captured the win. As soon as the final buzzer went on July 7, it was fun for the local Alberta-based 14 Class-Team Cattle Penning trio.
They competed against 175 teams in their division; the local cowboys captured the championship with a time of 133.6 overall over four rounds, earning a big reward with $26,790.
Cattle penning is a display of athleticism and skill as horse and rider square off against the herd instincts of cattle. The fast-paced event gives a team of three riders on horseback 60 seconds to separate three specifically identified cattle from a herd of 30 and get them into a 20’ by 24’ pen at the opposite end of the arena.
Teamwork is the key to success, with all three riders working in harmony to cut out the correct cattle and drive them to the pen.
The Calgary Stampede Team Cattle Penning Championships features teams vying for championship buckles in four different classes, each determined by the skill and experience of the competitors. The win is super sweet for Daley, who said he’s been chasing this title for 27 years.
“I’ve never won Calgary before. This is the one big show I haven’t won, so this is a great feeling and couldn’t be better with two of my best friends. We’ve been penning together for 20 years,” he said, looking at his championship-winning belt buckle. “It’s one I’ve been chasing for 27 years, so it feels pretty dang good.” The packed crowd at the Nutrien Western Event Centre was behind the competitors from the start and it was a loud arena.
The second place team had an overall time of 137.83. The reserve win earned them $17,862 to split three ways.
The Calgary Stampede celebrates the people, the animals, the land, the traditions and the values that make up the unique spirit of the west.

Crossfire girls prepare for provincials

By Murray Green

The Camrose Crossfire U10 competitive team entered the Sedgewick tournament to receive tougher games as they prepare for the provincials in softball.
The team was in Sedgewick on June 22 and lost to the Sedgewick Steelers A team 9-4, lost to the Lloydminster’s A team 14-7 and beat the Sedgewick Steelers B team 17-12.
“We played a few exhibition games against provincial teams to get ready for provincials,” said manager Melissa Riopel.
Camrose lost to Sherwood Park 17-13 on July 4, lost to Sylvan Lake 16-14 and 17-12 on July 6, and defeated Sherwood Park  25-15 on July 7.
The Crossfire went to provincials in Medicine Hat July 12-14. “There will be a lot of tough teams. It will be a fun experience for our girls,” said Melissa prior to leaving.
The team had an 18-10 record prior to provincials.

BRCF granting wishes to communities

5 brcf oh esther
Speaker Esther McDonald

By Lori Larsen

Battle River Community Foundation (BRCF) held an open house on June 19, welcoming guests to hear about the crucial work the foundation does in granting funds to community organizations, all of which is made possible through generous donor support.
To begin the evening, BRCF chair Imogene Walsh recognized new and incumbent board members including: Tom Chelmick, vice-chair; Wally Wrubleski, treasurer; Kevin Gurr, secretary; directors Jim Hampshire, Stephen Kambeitz, Leon Lohner, Debbie Orcheski and Garrett Zetsen; and past chair David Ofrim.
Walsh spoke of a new position to the board, ambassador emeritus,  intended to honour past members who continue to contribute in significant ways to the work and operations of the board and BRCF.
“Two individuals were honoured with this permanent title,  Ken Drever and Blain Fowler,” said Walsh. “Both of these men have been instrumental in ensuring the work the foundation supports and the many communities that the BRCF serves.”
Walsh also recognized Dana Andreassen, executive director; and office administrators Melanie  and Tom Kuntz.
In 2018, the professional advisors foundation supporters provided $13,000 in funding towards the Administration Endowment Fund, bringing the total contribution since inception to $260,000 as of Dec. 31, 2018.
“Committed donors created 13 new named funds during the year, contributing over $260,000 to our endowment. In addition, the foundation received $594,000 in contributions to existing funds,” noted Walsh. “This brings our total endowment to just over $14 million with 360 named funds.”
Walsh also said the foundation received $167,000 from donors and flow through donations to various charitable organizations granting approximately $910,000 all over the Battle River area, making 170 grants to 92 recipients. Since its inception the foundation has granted $6.37 million to community projects throughout the area.
“Unfortunately, 2018 did not end well for the foundation,” remarked Walsh. “The steep stock market decline late in the year meant we ended the year with a loss. As a result of this, the board has made a decision to wave the endowment and administration fee on the endowment fund on 2018 in order to not impact the funds with an additional hit.”
Walsh indicated that a plan implemented years prior to save some of the available funds for granting, in the event of years such as 2018 where investments do not perform, along with the waving of the endowment and administration fee, will allow the foundation to grant in 2019, albeit less than in the past several years.
Guest speakers
Representative donor Dr. By Reesor spoke to guests about why he and wife Sue chose to support the Community Foundation. “When Sue and I first began receiving news letters from BRCF I thought this would be a great organization with which to get involved,” said Reesor. “I joined the board shortly after and was not disappointed. It is indeed a great organization.”
Reesor said that he and Sue were so impressed with the operation of the foundation that they, like many others, set up an endowment fund. “It is all part of giving back to the community. It’s the time, talent and treasure idea.”
Reesor remarked that what is unique about the Community Foundation is the variety of charitable organizations that it supports, such as arts, CAFCL, Reading University and many others.
In relating the difference between setting up an endowment fund versus donating to not-for-profit community organizations and projects on an ad hoc basis, Reesor said that setting up an endowment provides the satisfaction of giving back more than just a one-time gift.
Camrose Association for Community Living (CAFCL) was one of the many recipients of grants given by the BRCF last year, specifically to support the new SingAble community choir initiative.
Grant recipient CAFCL, represented by CEO Esther McDonald, began her presentation with a video production of SingAble featuring SingAble’s conductor and University of Alberta Augustana Campus professor of music Ardelle Ries. The video served not only as an explanation of how SingAble came about, but to illustrate the positive and powerful impact that an all inclusive community choir can have on everyone it serves. “Every time I see this video, it makes me smile,” said McDonald.
In relating the important role BRCF grant played in the SingAble initiative, McDonald said, “It is what got us off the ground.”
Augustana student Jasohna Haukenfrers also spoke about the impact SingAble has had on herself and the other students who volunteer and take part in SingAble. “The best way to sum up the SingAble experience is: magic,” she said. “I can’t express what it is like to walk into the chapel on Tuesday night and experience the energy, excitement and that feeling that everyone is welcome.”
McDonald related another story of a CAFCL individual who she encouraged to come to SingAble  and how showing up not only turned out to be a wonderful experience of sharing music, but was a form of catharsis for loss through which this individual was experiencing. “It was an amazing thing and she continues to come every week and great things have happened because of it. So thank you for your support.”
The evening’s feature speaker, David Samm, general manager of the Battle River Watershed Alliance, shared four experiences he and his wife Helen have had with the Foundation.
“The first experience is Helen and I started our own endowment fund,” he said. “Secondly, we utilized the flow through part of the BRCF to support Reading University.”  In speaking of his experience with Reading University, Samm expressed, “Literacy is really close to Helen’s and my heart. It has just been a delight to see these Grade 2 and 3 children say ‘I can read.’”
Samm went on to explain the third involvement with BRCF through his work with Battle River Watershed Alliance. “Our organization has been a recipient of grant funds from BRCF which has helped us to do several very cool experiments and projects with school children.”
The final experience Samm related was through a grant supporting environmental work and projects. “This three- or four-year experience allowed me to sit at the (BRCF) board table and listen to them and see community builders build a community endowment.”
Samm recollected meeting other like-minded people in other communities all doing the same work for their communities. “Trying to make an impact on their communities.”
In closing, Samm quoted one of his favourite authors, Dr. Seuss, relating the importance of supporting people at all stages and awareness in life.
“It is up to us, the people in our community to support our community. It is where we live and where we play,” said Samm, adding that the BRCF board is tasked with moving people to invest in their communities now and forever.
Community builders
The Community Builder dinner will be held on Friday, Oct. 18 at the Norsemen Inn. Tickets for the event go on sale on Thursday, Aug. 8.
Board vice-chair Chelmick announced this year’s Community Builder honouree to be Rob Hauser.
“The Community Builders Dinner has three purposes,” explained Chelmick. “The first is to recognize those who share the giving back philosophy of the BRCF. The second  is to familiarize guests with the concept of the BRCF, how it functions and how it can help finance worthwhile community programs and initiatives and the by-product of the above purpose is money raised to establish the funds in the name of the honouree.”
Summing up the open house evening of presentations and, on a whole, the work of the Battle River Community Foundation, emcee and board treasurer Wrubleski said, “At the end of the day, it is always about people.”
For more information on the Battle River community Foundation or how you can become a donor, visit the website at read more
6 summer studs library

Library summer filled with fun

The Camrose Public Library summer students are infusing their youthful ideas into a summer program for the entire community, promoting nature. Left to right, back row, are Liana Nand, Jeannae Matzner, Juanita Hohm and Elliot Harder. Front row seated from left, Jennifer McDevitt and Sarah Bean.

By Lori Larsen

Camrose Public Library welcomes a group of creative, ambitious and eager summer employees to educate the community on the wonderful programs and services of the library.
Comprised of an extensive background of education and an even more impressive zest for their mission, this group of young adults are excited about working with Camrose and surrounding area, specifically the youth, in an active summer of events and programs centred around the natural environment.
Liana Nand, Jeannae Matzner, Juanita Hohm, Elliot Harder, Jennifer McDevitt and Sarah Bean comprise the well-oiled summer program machine and by their own admissions, function as a tight-knit, diverse group feeding off each other’s ideas, knowledge and skill sets.
Second-year summer employee Liana Nand explains the theme for this summer’s programming. “The TD Reading Program theme this year is all things Nature, involving as much of the outdoors as we can. The crafts we are doing will be geared to getting participants (particularly children) outside as much as possible and the supplies we use are sticks, branches, leaves, anything from the natural surroundings.”
This year, the group is combining Books and Bikes, with permission from parents and or guardians, and are encouraging children to bring their own bikes and ride or walk along to different parks and green spaces to do activities.
“We want to show them that they don’t necessarily need organized activities.” The hope is to encourage the participants to discover the natural world and make or play with something they find in nature.
“One of the other programs we are offering at the library this summer as part of the All Ages Program is F“un”tastic Friday,” said Nand.
The program runs most Fridays and will include a representative from Mental Health offering tools and tips people can use to learn to cope with anxiety and stress.
While the initiative is geared towards children, parents are welcome to come and learn some of the tips and tricks. “It is intended to help children as they grow up to learn how to deal with stress now and later in life,” explained Nand.
Elliot said the Book Bike program will be wheeling around Camrose again this summer, attending different events and sharing a message of environmental literacy.
“We’re partnering with other organizations such as Battle River Watershed Alliance who have provided ideas for educational games and projects that we can use, such as plant pressing. We will just take the pressing boards along with us on outings to parks. The children can use things around them in nature and learn to interact with the natural world around them.
Much of the work the group will be doing has been made possible through the Youth Environmental Engagement Grant (Alberta Emerald Foundation), which has helped with the purchase of materials, books, field guides and equipment such as butterfly nets.
“They are all teaching tools that will become a part of the library collection as well for future library users.”
Sarah and Jeannae focus a lot of their energy on an intergenerational program that involves the Book Bike attending a few seniors’ complexes in the community.
“We are using it as an outreach tool for all ages,” said Sarah. “The objective is to bridge the isolation gap for those residing in care homes. We go out a couple mornings a week and spend time, bring them crafts, books with a focus on environmental literacy.”
Jeannae added, “The Life Cycle is a good tool to help seniors or older adults to connect with nature. It is about getting seniors,  or those with limited mobility, outside along with bridging relationship gaps.
“We can bring seniors or older adults and youth together through different activities. We have reading days where seniors can read to the youth and visa versa. It is a great way to practice literacy but also build better relationships between youth and seniors/older adults. They have a lot they can learn from each other.”
On July 26, from 1 until 3 p.m. the library will be hosting a Reading With Royalty event. “We have both a king and queen attending this year to read to children,” said Elliot. The event will include a drag workshop with items being supplied for children to dress up and just have fun.
The Life Cycle and Book Bike attend the Downtown Camrose Market, Thursdays from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m.
“We are also doing our own Reading Challenge this summer,” said Juanita.  “We are challenging the community, specifically children, to read 15,000 minutes over the summer. We want to encourage children to keep their reading up over the summer.”
Participants in the Reading Challenge (everyone and anyone reading anything and everything) are invited to bring in their recorded minutes, which will then be recorded on a chart at the library. “If we reach our goal our hopes are to have a big party at the end of the summer.”
It is apparent this group of library summer employees have done and continue to do, a lot of brainstorming and surfing the internet for ideas to bring to the table and develop creative, interesting and fun learning and reading opportunities for residents, of all ages.
To learn more about the library summer programs or all adult/children/family programs visit the website at or follow them on instagram. read more

Waste Water Treatment upgrades plans underway

By Lori Larsen

With the recent green light from the provincial government, and subsequent approval of City of Camrose Council, City administration is moving ahead with the next phase of the Waste Water Treatment Plant upgrade(WWTP) project.
City of Camrose director of engineering Jeremy Enarson provided an update on the progress of the WWTP project.
“In late 2008, administration began working with the province and consultants to determine what the City of Camrose will have to do in terms of the level of upgrade to the WWTP.”
Presently, the City WWTP system uses aerated lagoons. Air is pumped into the lagoons to provide oxygen for the bugs that break down human waste, which Enarson noted has been in compliance with provincial regulations.
New federal regulations which came about in 2013 and the growth of the City, have spurred the need for upgrades to the level of treatment required by the City. “That is why we have been in discussion with the provincial government since 2009 to determine those new requirements.”
In 2014, City administration along with Associated Engineering (the contracted engineering company) developed an initial conceptual design that met both federal and provincial regulations. “We then moved into preliminary design in 2015 which we submitted to the province in late 2017. In 2018, we found out from the province that they had some concerns about the designs and were asking us for a more stringent level of treatment.”
Enarson explained that the system presently in place is not effective at treating ammonia and nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen). “We knew we had to upgrade to treat for ammonia and nutrients, but were just not sure to what level, in order to meet the requirements of the province.”
After many discussions with the province, the City received confirmation from the province in late May this year, that they have now accepted the City’s proposal.
“The province is comfortable with what the City presented in the preliminary design, which meets both federal and provincial regulations and we have received approval to move into detailed design.”
The detailed design, tendering, construction and commissioning will take approximately three to three and a half years to complete.
“We are anticipating that the detail design will be complete by spring of 2020,” said Enarson, “Which consists of three main components: the pumping upgrades, main treatment upgrade and upgrades for post-treatment storage (prior to releasing back to environment).”
Enarson added that administration will be working closely with Associated Engineering in order to come up with a design that works specifically for the needs of Camrose.
After the design is created, Enarson predicts construction should begin in the summer of 2020 which he said, due to the magnitude of the project, should be about a two-year process.
Initial estimates of the entire project were projected to be approximately $40 million. “There has been a little bit of escalation  over the years (since original estimation). Currently, we are looking at approximately $42.5 million.”
Had the province insisted on a much higher level of treatment and subsequently rejected the City’s preliminary design, that estimate could have been conceptually higher, closer to $65 million.
Funding for the project will be done through a variety of sources.
“Knowing this project was coming, City Council along with administration, through residents’ utility rates, have been putting money away for this project, approximately $2 million annually for the past couple of years.”
The City has also applied for and received confirmation that the project is eligible for a provincial grant which would equate to about 25 per cent funding ($10 million).
“We recently applied for a different joint provincial/federal grant,” said Enarson.
If successful in obtaining the grant, it could fund the WWTP project with as much as 73 per cent funding (a combination of both the provincial and federal grants).
Enarson remarked that qualifying for the grant does require municipal contribution, which helps the government prioritize how the grants are allocated.
“We are aware of other municipalities that have recently applied for and received funding under this grant. But it is unknown whether we will be successful in getting that grant and it could be the better part of a year before we know,” said Enarson, noting that portions of the project will still proceed using a combination of funding sources including reserves, the initial provincial grant (which would be prorated should application for the federal grant be successful) and off site levies.

Folk trio Casati stops in Camrose

By Murray Green

Winnipeg folk trio Casati will be visiting Camrose on its tour through western Canada this month.
They are performing a concert at Fika Coffeehouse on Tuesday, July 23 in the cozy environment.
“This will be our first time in Camrose and we are looking forward to presenting our songs in the intimate space. We play a variety of instruments and sing in three-part harmony,” said Jesse Popeski, who provides the guitar and vocals with the band.
“Camrose is part of a tour of 11 shows in 11 days in Saskatchewan and Alberta. We seek out house concert type settings as the ideal venue,because it’s a great fit.”
Besides Jesse, Grace Hrabi is on vocals and plays the ukulele. Quintin Bart plays double bass, hurdy-gurdy and adds vocals as well.
“The three of us have been playing together for over five years.  We started out as a jazz trio, performing standards in fancy restaurants, before shifting to writing our own more personal folk music. We have been performing as Casati (named after an eccentric Italian artistic muse) for three years,” shared Jesse.
Casati released a CD in 2017 entitled There Will Be Days to go along with the debut called Afraid of Heights.
Like three hearts beating in perfect time, the music of Casati is a living thing, constantly changing, evolving and reinventing itself.
The members search for stories waiting to be told and collaborate in bringing them to life: songs about love found or lost, cautionary tales of time slipping away, or even a whimsical tune about bicycle rides.
Casati began as The Grace Hrabi trio, arranging jazz standards and dabbling in songwriting on their release Afraid of Heights (2014). As the band made collaborating on original music their priority, Casati found its own voice as a unique blend of folk and jazz that strikes a balance between sincere and direct words supported by musical inventiveness.
Casati brings their music to life with lush three-part harmonies and rich textures created with their instruments.
“Our music has become more folky over the past couple years, with more emphasis on the three-part harmonies and the message and stories in our songs,” explained Jesse.

Explore the art of local artists throughout the summer

By Lori Larsen

Celebrating the 24th year of featuring the work of local artists, Camrose Artwalk will begin on July 22 displaying pieces at nine different venues throughout the City until Sept. 7, with the exception of the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre, where pieces will be on display until Sept. 20.
“There are approximately 100 artists featured including a lot of new artists joining the event,” said City of Camrose arts director Jane Cherry-Lemire, “The majority of whom are local.”
Cherry-Lemire emphasized the important role artwalks play in promoting and bringing exposure to emerging artists. “It is really important to do an artwalk. Unless an artist has an agent or is represented by a gallery or something, they tend to struggle to get their work out there.
“Artwalks like this, in partnership with the businesses that are willing to open up their walls, provide that opportunity for emerging or nonprofessional artists to share their work.”
Cherry-Lemire reported that last year’s event saw record sales for artists, which validates the hard work and dedication they put into their pieces. One artist in particular sold approximately 10 pieces. “It was unbelievable. It is a boost for a lot of artists when they are first starting out.”
As for the businesses and organizations that graciously display the work of these artists, the benefits are threefold.  “It adds another dimension to their business,” explained Cherry-Lemire. “It shows their support for the arts and may bring people into their business who have never been there before.”
She added that some of the venues have been involved in the Artwalk since the first event. “It is community building.”
The Artwalk event will be hosting two receptions beginning with a large group show held on July 24 from 2 until 4 p.m. at the Chuck McLean Art Centre (4809-52 Street). “There will be four different art clubs coming together to do one show. It allows people to come in and see the artists work.”
The second reception will be held at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre on Sept. 4 from 5 until 7 p.m.
To view a full list of the artists and venues displaying artwork, visit www.camrose or you can pick up an Artwalk guide at the Chuck MacLean Arts Centre.

Local choir sings in Ottawa

By Murray Green

The Camrose and Area Children’s Choirs are still excited about performing nationally after a trip to Ottawa.
Over the July long weekend, 12 members of the Camrose and Area Children’s Choirs travelled to Ottawa to participate in a Canada-wide choir festival called Unisong.
Unisong has been running for more than 20 years, and brings choirs from all over the country together to share their love of singing and their love of our nation by giving them the opportunity to perform together in the capital on Canada Day.
“This year was a rebuilding year for Unisong, as they had broken all records for participation in 2017 (the 150th anniversary), and then had to cancel in 2018 due to scheduling conflicts. Camrose and Area Children’s Choirs had originally intended to go in 2018, but then had to put off their plans until this season,” said Joy-Anne Murphy, of the local choirs.
“While the massed group was smaller this year, that led to a thrilling opportunity for the singers–the Unisong festival choir was invited to open the Parliament Hill Canada Day festivities by singing ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘O Canada’ on stage with the National Arts Centre orchestra. It was a bright sunny (and hot) day, and our singers were great. They all said the experience was amazing,” added Joy-Anne.
Another feature of Unisong is that all the participating choirs work together in intensive rehearsals to prepare and perform their own concert. “Our singers were privileged to work on a beautiful Canadian repertoire with four other choirs, and perform with mixed voices (youth and adults) as well.
“Although we started the trip pretty tired after a series of cancelled or delayed flights on the first day, there were several highlights that helped keep us all energized and enthusiastic.”
They listed the beautiful music–all Canadian, some traditional and some newly composed–that got stuck in their heads; the gorgeous scenery, both in terms of natural beauty and historic or iconic buildings; and hearing colleagues from a Venezuelan choir from Calgary express how lucky and how proud they are to be in Ottawa on Canada Day. This really brought home for the singers how special a place Canada is, both for those of us lucky enough to have been born here, as well as for those whose lives have been changed for the better by becoming citizens; spontaneously bursting into song on the street at 11 p.m. on Canada Day. They ran into that choir group from Calgary while waiting for the crowds to thin after the fireworks, and stood around for about 15 minutes just singing; and realizing that they have a great group, and appreciating how special this opportunity was.

Camrose and area men hike the parade in high heels

11 walk a mile
Walk A Mile walker and courageous participant Richard Bruneau, right (co-owner of Fox & Fable Book & Game Cafe) gets fitted for his stunning red high heeled pumps by Camrose Women’s Shelter’s Jan Turnbull.

By Lori Larsen

Some gallant and generous men of Camrose and area are once again putting a high-heeled foot forward for the annual Walk a Mile initiative during the Kick ‘n’ Country parade taking place on Thursday, Aug. 1.
The Walk a Mile is an international men’s march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.
Men participating in the march will don a “stylish” pair of higher heeled red pumps (shoes) and walk the parade route, a “feat” in itself in an effort to raise awareness of women and children impacted by the long-standing effects of domestic violence.
“Last year, we provided services to 184 women and 211 children,” noted Camrose Women’s Shelter executive director Nora-Lee Rear, “Supporting them to reach their goals of living a life free of violence and abuse.”
Participating walkers will also be collecting pledges and all donations will be used to support the Camrose Women’s Shelter.
“To date, the number of men brave enough to walk is down from last year. I have a goal of 60 men this year, and so far we are about halfway there. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and we rely on the pledges men gather to meet 25 per cent of our annual fundraising goal.”
Not just a bed
On May 1, a national profile of Violence Against Womens’ (VAWs) shelters and transition houses was released providing various data on 290 VAWs and transition houses. Results of the data indicated that services are being provided in communities, such as Camrose, to a diverse group of women and children without comparable funding increases.
Despite the lack of funding and beds available, these shelters are managing to find solutions to keep women and children safe.
While many perceive these shelters to be just that, a place for women and children impacted by domestic violence to find refuge and to sleep safely at night, they are much more.
“Shelters provide much more than a bed,” said Rear. “In Camrose, we provide for everyone’s basic needs, we have a school for school-aged children to attend, we have a licensed daycare on sight, we provide outreach for women and children leaving the shelter and starting over, as well as for community members who don’t necessarily want to come to the shelter.  We make arrangements for pets when someone is fleeing so that the pet is safe, we hold babies for moms while they are on the phone. We talk clients through some of the most stressful times of their lives, such as leaving relationships which are dangerous and unsafe.
Rear also noted that the gracious giving and duties of the staff and volunteers at the Shelter don’t stop at providing immediate care.
“We clean a room or unplug an overflowing toilet.  And that is on a not-so-busy day. Our staff have to juggle many complex situations and know a little bit about a lot of different topics, such as addictions, mental health, domestic violence, immigration resources and how to respond to a victim of sexual assault, to name a few,”
The shelters also provide counselling, child-specific programming, safety planning, parenting classes, outreach services, help finding housing, programs for perpetrators and prevention and awareness programming. They are far more than just a warm, safe bed.
“Our buildings are aging, and the need for our programs are growing,” explained Rear. “With an increase in population only comes an increase in need. Unfortunately, the funding doesn’t follow the need.  The last time the shelter saw an increase to staffing costs from the government was in 2014. In 2015, shelters received an increase of 2.5 positions, but that just started the catchup for shelters with over 20 years of no changes to staffing models. Those positions are now maxed out in the number of clients they assist, and the need continues to grow. Shelters were never granted any increases with the change in employment standards, and those changes alone have had significant impacts on our budgets.”
Despite fundraising efforts and generous donations from community business and individuals, lack of government funding has the potential to undermine the vital work these shelters do to ensure the protection and education of the women and children who are in dire need of the services.
“I am frustrated and worried about our future,” said Rear, with a tone of concern mixed with compassion. “Frustrated because I know that we see miracles and great work every day, but I also know we serve the most vulnerable population in Alberta–women and children. Worried, because I also know we aren’t high on the list of priorities for many. Shelters are not glamourous and they don’t make money, but they protect people and save lives.”
The mission of the Camrose Women’s Shelter is to assist individuals and families experiencing the effects of family violence to work towards a lifestyle free of abuse.
“I’ve been in this field for so long that I’ve started to see children of children go through the shelters.  We must start to address the long-standing impacts of domestic violence, and we need to start doing that now. This province allowed Second Stage Shelters to remain as pilot projects for over 20 years. They were never properly funded until 2015. In Camrose, we have a dream of opening a Second Stage Shelter, because we know that it decreases the rate of recidivism for returning to an unsafe situation by about 40 per cent. Emergency shelters are essential services saving hundreds of women’s lives everyday.”
If you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse, contact or encourage them to contact the Camrose Women’s Shelter for support and assistance by telephoning 780-672-1035  or  toll free 1-877-672-1010 or emailing
To register for the Walk A Mile campaign, telephone 780-679-4975 extension 8 or email
There is no donation too small and no gift goes unappreciated. Every woman and child deserves an opportunity to live a safe and happy life. read more

Wildfire education

By Lori Larsen

They can destroy land and property in a matter of minutes and leave behind a path of destruction, devastation and often despair. Wildfires are a real threat in Alberta, but with a little education, residents can be partners in ensuring they protect their lives and property.
On Thursday, July 18 at the Stoney Creek Centre, located at 5320-39 Avenue, the Camrose Wildlife Stewardship Society, in partnership with Camrose Fire Service, will be presenting Wildfires in Alberta and the FireSmart Education.
CFS Chief Peter Krich will be speaking on the importance of fire safety and  providing information on past and current wildfires in Alberta.
Attendees of any Wildlife Stewardship summer sessions are encouraged to put their name into the draw box for a prize that will be drawn during the last session of the season.
For more information on any of the Wildlife Stewardship sessions or program, visit the Camrose  website or Facebook page, email Brittany at or telephone 780-672-0544.

Steil found his favourite 1974 Corvette

By Murray Green

Ernie Steil of Camrose dreamed of owning a ’70s Corvette for a long time. Now his dream has come true.
He bought a 1974 Corvette with a 454 engine and four speed transmission with a rare Z code.
“I grew up in Strome and the guy who owned the hotel had one and when I saw it, I knew that I wanted one. It was the last year of the 454 engine in them. After that, they went with 350 engines. I like the extra power, the way it sounds and it has actually been bored out to a 468 with about 500 horsepower,” explained Ernie.
Ironically, he is known as slow and shiny. “I don’t spin the tires or drive fast. I enjoy the ride to go get ice cream on Sundays,” he laughed. “I always wanted one and 1974 was the last year of the big block Corvettes. I bought it from a Corvette collector in Edmonton,” said Ernie.
“I always loved Corvettes. I had a newer one, a 2000, but I sold it because I wanted an older one. I’m from that era and this one brings back memories for me. I had a 1974 Chevy pick-up truck and I noticed the door, steering wheel, gauges and some other features are similar. It brings back your  childhood,” Ernie recalled.
“It took me a whole lifetime to get this car. You have mortgages, children to raise, college fees, so it takes a long time to be able to buy one. It is a lifetime effort. I was looking for a car and I found this Corvette around Christmas time. I was looking in my spare time around Christmas and I saw it, but I couldn’t get a hold of the guy because it was the holidays. I finally got hold of him on Dec. 28 and I raced up to Edmonton and bought it,” shared Ernie.
“It has totally been restored and it only has about 51,000 miles on it. It’s like a brand new car. I bought it to go to car shows and to get an ice cream. I call it my ice cream car,” he added.
“When I first got it and had it towed to Camrose, it    was snowing and it ended up with a rock chip on the hood. It’s fibreglass, so it was the size of a toonie. I had it fixed and it looks great now.”
Only 32 Corvettes were produced with the Z suspension, so it is a very rare zip code. “The guy I bought it from is a collector and he has about 30 Corvettes altogether. I took my son Dale with me to look at it and when I walked in to see it my knees were buckling. He told me to smarten up, you have to wheel and deal to get this car. I was in awe of all of the Corvettes,” Ernie said.
“The one thing that I want to do yet is add a factory stereo. They added a cassette machine and I want to have everything  original. I found one, it is just a matter of putting it in. I want the numbers matching. I want to add factory side pipes as well.”

The Chevrolet Corvette  Stingray was a sports car that was produced for the 1968 through 1982 model years. Engines and chassis components were mostly carried over from the previous generation, but the body and interior were new. All 1974 models featured a new cowl induction domed hood, which pulled air in through a rear hood intake into the engine compartment under full throttle, increasing power (but didn’t show up in the horsepower ratings).
For 1974, a new rear bumper system replaced the squared tail and chrome rear bumper blades introduced in 1968 with a trim, tapering urethane cover carrying an integral license plate holder and recesses for the trademark round taillights. Underneath sat a box-section aluminum impact bar on two Omark-bolt slider brackets similar to the system used in the nose which allowed the Corvette to pass federal five-mph impact tests at the rear as well as the front. The new rear design was more up-to-date than the ’60s shape that it replaced. For the 1974 model only, casting limitations mandated left and right bumper covers with a vertical center seam. The anti-theft alarm key activator was moved from the rear panel to the front left fender. Tailpipes were now turned down as the new bumper cover eliminated the tailpipe extensions.

Kurek ready for Battle River Conservative election

By Murray Green

It is your last chance to hear the candidates speak and cast your vote for the Conservative Party representative for the riding of Battle River-Crowfoot.
Damien C. Kurek of Camrose, formerly of Consort where his family farm is still located, is vying to replace current MLA Kevin Sorenson, who is retiring from federal politics. Jefferson McClung and Jeff Watson are also in the running.
“I’m very pleased with the way the campaign is going. I’m astounded at the level of support that I have received across the constituency. It’s been an honour and privilege to campaign, connecting and re-connecting with people that I have grown up with over the last three decades,” shared Kurek.
Many people that know Kurek have supported his endeavours. Now he is receiving support from different areas of the riding such as Stettler and Drumheller.
“Every major centre that I have campaigned in, I’ve received a very positive response. I’ve had town hall meetings in 14 communities across the constituency and sold a lot of memberships. People want to get on board with the things I have been talking about and we want to make sure Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is just a one term PM and replace the Liberals with Conservatives with a solid mandate in the fall,” he added.
“People want common sense conservative ideas and continue the strong local representation. I’m looking forward to sharing the stage with other candidates. I’ve been campaigning for about two and a half months, so a debate will be welcome to become more focused. We are with the same party, so we are not against each other, but rather for something. It is more of determining who will best represent this constituency,” explained Kurek, who has knocked on about 4,000 doors to talk with people.
He sat on Kevin’s board, worked alongside him while he was Minister of State for Finance and most recently served in his Camrose Constituency Office.
“I want to clearly demonstrate that I’m from this area and I want to help my neighbours to have a voice in the Canadian government. People want someone who gets why east central Alberta is unique. I’m the only candidate that has experience in the Conservative Party from this constituency. That is something I’m proud of.”
Nomination vote in Camrose is on Wednesday, July 17 with a candidate Forum from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Voting is from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Camrose Regional Exhibition Grounds, 4250 Exhibition Drive.
“It’s exciting that this winds up in Camrose. It’s an honour that the first set of speeches are in Consort where I grew up and it finishes in Camrose where I now live and is also my home town,” said Kurek.
You can also vote in Stettler on July 17.
For more information about Kurek email or call 403-575-5625. You can also visit his website at and find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram by searching @dckurek.

U17, U19 soccer clubs earn gold medals

By Murray Green

The Camrose Vikings U17 boys soccer team reaped gold when they earned the title at Youth Tier 4 Rural Provincial Championships in Fort Saskatchewan on July 5 to 7.
After an undefeated season for the Vikings, the team didn’t want to accept any other colour of medals.
Camrose shut out Bonnyville 2-0 in the final. Bonnyville had to settle for silver  medals, while Hinton received bronze.
The Camrose Vikings U19 boys soccer club won gold medals at the provincial tournament held in Rocky Mountain House on July 5 to 7.
The girls U13 squad came close to winning it all, but received silver medals at provincials on the same dates.

Blue Jays finish on top in Powerline Baseball

By Murray Green

The Holden Blue Jays finished first place in the Powerline Baseball League with a record of 14-1-1 in 16 games.
The Rosalind Athletics clinched second with a 13-3 record, while the Armena Royals are in third with a 10-3-1 record. The Expos are next with a 8-6-1 record followed by the Tofield Braves at 6-8 and Camrose Roadrunners with a 6-9 record.
The top three teams in the league will  advance to the playoffs (Holden, Rosalind and Armena). The fourth and fifth place teams will play a one game wild card contest to qualify for the final playoff spot. That still could be the Edmonton Expos, Tofield and the Roadrunners.
The annual all-star game between the Battle River Baseball League and the Powerline Baseball League is scheduled for Harry Andreassen Field in Kin Park in Camrose on Sunday, Aug. 11 beginning at 1 p.m.
The Powerline Baseball League has a 10-6-2 record dating back to 2000. Since 2014, the leagues have alternated wins, with the PBL winning 15-8 in 2018.

Minor ball teams in hunt for provincials

By Murray Green

Camrose Minor Ball teams are competing in Baseball Alberta games as teams battle for spots at provincial tournaments.
U18 double-A
The Camrose Cougars support a 7-5 record after 12 games. Camrose hosts the Stettler Storm on July 17 at 7 p.m. on Harry Andreassen Field in Kin Park.
The Cougars then travel to South Jasper Place in Edmonton to take on the Jays and the Okotoks Outlaws on July 20 and 21.
U15 triple-A
Camrose travels to Edmonton on July 20 and 21 for two games against the Edmonton Expos and single contests against the Red Deer Braves and the Northwest Prairie Pirates.
U15 double-A
Camrose Cougars and Round Hill Royals are entered in the U15 division. Camrose is at 6-9 after 15 games this season.
Camrose host the Fort Saskatchewan Red Sox, Calgary Dinos and Calgary Cubs on July 20 and 21 in Duggan Park.
Round Hill takes on Beaumont on July 18.
U13 double-A
Camrose Cougars Reds (9-6) and the Camrose Cougars Royals (11-3) are entered in the U13 division.
The Royals play Innisfail and Oyen on July 20 and 21.
The Rosalind Jr. A’s are 10-6 after 16 games in league play.
U11 double-A
The Camrose Royals are 5-10 in league play. Camrose heads to Edmonton to play the Padres, Red Deer Braves and Sylvan Lake Mariners on July 20 and 21.


Flagstaff Region to host Canadian Forces Snowbirds

By Murray Green

The Flagstaff Region and the Iron Creek Flying Club will be hosting the Canadian Forces Snowbirds on July 24 at the regional airport.
Local volunteers in the area and generous sponsors have allowed for a very rare experience for the Flagstaff Region. A last-minute opportunity in the Canadian Forces Snowbirds schedule allowed the jet team to fly to Flagstaff Regional Airport to perform their world-renowned high show at 7 p.m.
This will be  the smallest, most rural airfield on the Snowbirds’ 60-stop annual tour. Due to the available runway length and services, the Snowbirds CT-114 Tutor aircraft will base from the Camrose Airport.
The pilots and technicians will visit for photos and autographs at an open house/meet and greet barbecue hosted by the Battle River 4-H Travel Exchange Group on Tuesday, July 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Flagstaff Regional Airport.
For additional information, visit www.flagstaff

Rybalka leads AJHL team to Russia

By Murray Green

Camrose Kodiaks general manager isn’t finished with coaching just yet.
Boris Rybalka will be coaching the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s entry in the Junior Club World Cup in Russia.
The AJHL roster is composed of 22 returning AJHL players, who will compete in an eight-team international tournament from Aug. 23 to 31.  Players and team staff members will travel to Moscow for a pre-tournament camp from Aug. 16 to 22 prior to the tournament.
Rybalka will be taking four Kodiaks players with him who made the roster.
Goaltender Griffin Bowerman and defencemen Matthew Davis, Robert Kincaid and Lane Brockhoff will have a familiar coach to look up to.
The rest of the players will be made up from the other teams in the AJHL.