February 20th, 2018

Lethbridge a giving community

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on October 27, 2017.

If you have been in Lethbridge for any length of time, you know that this is a city full of generous people. Whenever there is an international disaster or something close to home, folks here respond by giving of their money, their materials and their time. What’s more, they will give again and again and again.

That’s just the big stuff, the events that hit the news and compel our hearts; Lethbridgians also give in thousands of small ways every day. We buy chocolates for school fundraisers, we volunteer as greeters at church, we guide hospital visitors to the right room, we cook food for block parties, we pledge online to support someone’s dream, we donate to a food bank, we lead a Jane’s Walk, we sit on a board of directorsÉ we do all of this and more.

Nov. 15 is National Philanthropy Day, a day to recognize the contributions of donors, volunteers, charities and other organizations. Canada became the first country to officially recognize this day back in 2012, but in Alberta we are the experts. According to ATB Financial, our province is the most generous in Canada, and Statistics Canada data shows Lethbridge is the third-most giving city in Alberta.

We don’t just give money, we give time, too. If you look around you at any local event, chances are that most of the people making it possible are doing so out of their kindness, compassion, and sense of community.

This National Philanthropy Day I join with many community partners including the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge College, Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and Volunteer Lethbridge, in celebrating all of you who support our city through philanthropy. Thank you for your hours of volunteering. Thank you for your donations to worthy causes. You truly make Lethbridge an amazing city. #thanksyql

The University of Lethbridge’s Fall Convocation has just passed, and as always it was incredible. Congratulations to all of the new graduates! Your education at the University of Lethbridge will provide a strong foundation for whatever your next steps are, whether it be more education, moving into the workforce, staying here, or going far away. Congratulations also to honorary degree recipient Buffy Sainte-Marie: legendary musician, artist and advocate for Indigenous rights.

For the second year in a row, a member of the University of Lethbridge community has been inducted into the Alberta Order of Excellence, the highest award given by the Province of Alberta. Dr. Gary Bowie is well known in the community-at-large as a promoter of sport and fitness, but he has also been instrumental in our city’s plan to end homelessness. I thank Dr. Bowie for his leadership and compassion, and offer my congratulations on a well-deserved honour.

The Government of Alberta has declared October 2017 as Disability Employment Awareness Month in Alberta, a time for us to celebrate workers with disabilities and recognize their skills and achievements. In our province, people with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed or underemployed than those without disabilities.

Lack of employer awareness seems to be the biggest barrier, which is why the focus this month is on educating employers about the importance of diverse and inclusive hiring practices, and helping them access this under-represented talent pool. Employment inclusion brings benefits to the whole community, as many of our outstanding employers in Lethbridge already know.

One last thing: we need your input on the draft Alberta Cannabis Framework. The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize marijuana by July 2018, but Alberta can decide how it will roll out in our province. Our government’s priorities are to protect public health, ensure safety on the roads and in workplaces, and limit the illicit market. With that in mind, Minister Ganley has released a draft approach and is seeking feedback from Albertans until Oct. 27. Go to alberta.ca/cannabis to learn more and fill out a short survey.

If you have any thoughts or questions for me, please contact my office at 403-329-4644, Lethbridge.west@assembly.ab.ca, or stop by at 402 8 St. S. My staff and I are always happy to help.

Shannon Phillips is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge West. Her column appears monthly.

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