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Letters to the Editor

Seniors’ concerns will be an election issue

Welcome to Seniors Week here in the county. This is the second year our +55 club hasn’t been able to fully participate in the celebration because of COVID-19.


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However, I have been busy participating in many meetings with council this past year and with the council-appointed Senior Advisory Committee (SAC). This committee has brought forward many workable issues to our elected representatives that would meet the criteria for a successful Senior Centre here in the county.
The group has done outstanding research and followed up with a work plan to make it all come together. However, three of the hardest-working individuals have resigned. Why did this happen? I believe they resigned based on their frustrations with the lack of support from the county and council to move things forward in a timely manner.
As president of the 55+ club, representing more than 400 seniors here in Sherwood Park, I feel we need to hear why the seniors have been cast adrift again, by this administration and council.
Three years ago in September, we made a presentation to the Priority Committee, which is made up of all elected officials and expressed the concerns that affect seniors of the county. We heard nothing except “good presentation” and that is it. Two years ago, council appointed a group of volunteers to form a Seniors’ Committee to gather information that would be in the best interests of county seniors. They have done a marvelous job in my opinion, and a lot of their presentation runs parallel to what our club submitted three years ago — wow! three years ago.
Mayor Rod Frank put forward a motion this year which was passed, however, the admin suggested this matter be put off until the fourth quarter, then council moved the information to the fourth quarter of this year, and will revisit the proposals put forward by our club, and the SAC, with probably a recommendation to do more studies.
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The recommendations for the seniors of the county by SAC should be put forth to council in a motion to approve a new seniors centre or to repurpose a building that would have enough square footage to accommodate the activities so desperately needed by seniors. If any councillor doesn’t support this motion, then seniors of the county would know how to cast their ballot in the upcoming election.
Seniors’ Week has just become lip service. One councillor thought this is just a communication issue, not an election issue. I beg to differ wholeheartedly.
— Ray McCartney, 55+ Club president, Sherwood Park

Re: “”One horror amongst many”: Community reflects upon B.C. residential school burial discovery” in The News’ June 4 edition

I was both saddened and shocked, but not overly surprised to hear of the discovery of 250 unmarked graves at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia. I was well aware of the indignities, and outright abuse, that children had experienced at these schools as I have numerous friends and relatives who are survivors of that system. Interestingly, none of them will talk at length about this time in their lives as even now the memories are too painful.

On a personal note, I also recall my parents admonishing us as children that if we didn’t behave “we would be sent to a convent school”. This was a threat that was worse than anything else they could think of. Needless to say, it was more effective than any form of punishment we could contemplate and 65 years later it appears that our fears were more than justified.

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While I don’t doubt that the motives behind the decision to establish these schools were a reflection of the attitudes of the time, history has taught us that if we don’t acknowledge, take responsibility and apologize for past wrongs we can never hope to move beyond them. In this regard, one of the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report was to invite Pope Francis to Canada to offer an apology for the Roman Catholic Church’s involvement in putting this policy into practice. This recommendation was put before the House of Commons and it was anticipated that it would receive unanimous consent, therefore sending a clear message to Rome that we, as a country, needed to move beyond this shameful period of cultural genocide. Unfortunately, this did not happen as one MP chose to cast a dissenting vote. That vote was cast by Garnett Genuis, the MP for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. While I’m sure that MP Genuis had his reasons for personally opposing this motion, to put his own attitudes and opinions above the greater good demonstrates a complete lack of compassion for the victims of this system and their sincere attempt to seek closure.

This is not the first, or likely the last time MP Genuis has put his personal beliefs ahead of other people’s rights. Genuis needs to be reminded that we do not live in a theocracy and one of the basic principles of a democracy is the protection of individual and minority rights. A wise man once said that a society is only healthy to the degree that it protects and defends its most vulnerable citizens. Words we and our political representatives could all live by.

Ken Cunningham, Sherwood Park

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