July 21st, 2024

Year-In-Review: Top stories from October – December


By Lethbridge Herald on December 30, 2023.

Herald file photos - Members of the 20th Independent Field Battery participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Cenotaph; Staff Sgt. Pete Christos speaks to reporters at the Lethbridge police station after four members of the Chinook High School football team were charged with sexually assaulting a teammate in October; A firefighter walks up a pathway after helping to battle a blaze on Boxing Day at three homes on Iroquois Crescent. It’s estimated about $2 million in damage was caused to three structures.

As we all prepare to turn our calendars to the new year we take time to reflect back on 2023 and examine all the highs and lows, ups and downs and leading stories that graced the pages of The Lethbridge Herald.

This is the last of a four-part series.

OCTOBER

The Sik-Ooh-Kotoki Friendship Society held a pipe offering ceremony in honour of reconciliation. Theron Black, president of the Honouring Traditions and Reconciliation Society, said the pipe offering was a good way to lead into reconciliation. “We wanted to do a pipe offering to start our reconciliation week, so we can all be able to lead in a good way, Black said.

Lethbridge city council has voted in favour of two supportive housing projects in the city worth several million dollars. Following a session of the Economic Standing Policy Committee earlier Tuesday, councillors passed two items in their regular council meeting, after making some revisions to the amount of money the city could provide. Two recommendations by city administration to council members for financial support of two proposed supportive housing projects were discussed during SPC meeting and further discussed during the council meeting.

A family member of the couple killed by a grizzly bear in the wilderness of Banff National Park says he knew something was terribly wrong as soon as he received a call with a message from their satellite device. Colin Inglis said his nephew, Doug Inglis, and Jenny Gusse, both 62, from Lethbridge, died in the bear attack on the weekend. Their seven-year- old border collie named Tris was also killed.

Local seniors organizations are sounding the alarm on the struggles their members are facing due to the rising cost of living, as many are struggling to pay their bills and put food on their table on fixed incomes. David Ng, executive director of Nord-Bridge Seniors Centre, says he has heard from members they are struggling to continue living independently due to the increase in utility costs among other things.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many families find themselves looking for ways to put food on the table in such difficult times, and both Food Banks in the city find themselves in need of donations to help those families and individuals. So the Lethbridge Conservative Association donated 13 turkeys to each food bank, just in time for Thanksgiving dinner.

Four Chinook High School football players have been arrested by Lethbridge Police Services in response to the sexual assault of a 16-year-old that police say occurred after school hours on Oct. 3. The suspects, all males under the age of 18, are teammates of the victim. The investigation determined that on Oct. 3 a 16-year-old male was forcibly confined and sexually assaulted in a locker room at Chinook High School after school hours.

The Lethbridge Police Service Traffic Response Unit was recognized for their efforts to keep impaired drivers off the road during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the police station.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Lethbridge and Area chapter and LPS honoured the officers within the Traffic Response Unit (TRU) with recognition as recipients of the Cpl. Cumming’s Watch award.

A project by the University of Lethbridge in partnership with the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden and the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom, that shares the histories of Japanese Canadians in the post-war era has been shortlisted for a Governor General’s History Award for Excellence in Community Programming.

A judge rejected a Brocket man’s claim of self defence in the stabbing death of a 16-year-old boy three years ago, and convicted him of second- degree murder Thursday in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench. Madam Justice Johanna Price said while there is an “air of reality of self defence” in Dustin Big Bull’s case, his re- action was unreasonable and disproportionate to any threat he may have felt from the younger and smaller Tregan Crow Eagle when the two approached each other, knives in hand, on July 22, 2020.

NOVEMBER

A Calgary-based energy company is soon starting a reclamation project of four sweet natural gas wells west of the Copperwood subdivision. The project will enable the continued growth of residential development in west Lethbridge. Tamarack Valley Energy Ltd. is publicizing the work so residents don’t misinterpret the project and assume it’s a well drilling operation.

A 60-year-old Lethbridge man who stabbed his wife to death while their two grandchildren played nearby has received a life sentence in a federal prison. David Dragland, who often wiped tears from his eyes, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench to one count of second- degree murder, where he was told he won’t be eligible for parole for 13-and-a- half years.

Veteran’s Week kicked off in Lethbridge Friday with a flag-raising at City Hall. On a cool November morning, members of the Legion stood at the flagpoles and watched as the poppy flag was raised to fly in the breeze.

Jeff Alden, chair of the poppy committee of the General Stewart branch of the Royal Canadian Legion said the poppy flag is traditionally raised to commence the week of remembrance ceremonies for the country’s veterans.

The president of the Alberta Medical Association says the restructuring of the province’s health services needs to be done responsibly. Paul Parks, an emergency room physician in Medicine Hat who was in Lethbridge Tuesday meeting with various stakeholders, said Wednesday the restructuring needs to be done carefully to ensure it doesn’t adversely impact patient care or lead to longer wait times and less access to medical care.

SCAN is setting up shop in Lethbridge. The Alberta government announced the Alberta Sheriffs has created six positions for a Safer Communities And Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit to be based out of Lethbridge. Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis said the province is committed to improving public safety in southern Alberta to make sure residents don’t feel unsafe in their own homes.

A pro-Palestinian rally at City Hall was staged over the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. A poster for the rally stated “Stop the Genocide” and called for an end of funding for Israeli weapons. The president of the Lethbridge Hebrew congregation is outraged over a protest at City Hall Tuesday night which he believes was anti-Semitic. 

Lethbridge College celebrated Métis Sash Day Thursday to honour the culture, history and contribution of the Métis community with a multitude of cultural activities. Each year on Nov. 16, Métis people across Canada pay tribute to the Right Honourable Louis Riel, a political leader who spent his life defending Métis rights.

The Chinook Sexual Assault Centre celebrated the grand opening of its Chinook Child and Youth Advocacy Centre after many years in the making. Dozens gathered to celebrate the important milestone with MP Rachel Thomas, MLA for Lethbridge East Nathan Neudorf and Mayor Blaine Hyggen among them.

For the 29th year, the Chinook Regional Hospital Foundation is staging its fundraising Christmas tree festival. The CRH will see 22 beautifully decorated trees auctioned off to the highest bidders. Last year, after the festival returned live following  COVID-19 restrictions, the CRH raised just over $170,000 from the auction.

Several unmarked veterans’ graves now display military markers in Mountain View Cemetery thanks to the Unmarked Grave Program of the Last Post Fund. President of the Alberta branch of the Last Post Fund, Glenn Miller spoke to reporters Tuesday and said the placement of the military markers has been possible thanks to many hours of research done by volunteers and the monetary contributions of many community members.

Construction around the downtown core has finally come to an end and traffic can once again flow freely, especially around the intersection of 4 Avenue and 7 Street South which is now re-open. Senior Transportation Project Administrator Bryce Dudley told reporters he was aware of the impact the construction had on downtown businesses and visitors and he was thankful for their patience.

DECEMBER

It’s the word that has been on the lips of almost every Canadian for the past six months: inflation. From utilities, to housing, and especially groceries, costs are soaring, and Canadians are doing their best. But when it comes to the organizations that act as a safety net for those in times of need, inflation just keeps making it harder. “We get hit on both sides,” says Danielle McIntyre, director at Interfaith Food Bank. Initially, McIntyre says, the food bank was anticipating a seven to 11 per cent increase in cost, depending on the item. However, for some products, Canadians are seeing prices rise as much as 68 per cent. 

The City of Lethbridge is getting $1 million from the provincial government to fund about 50 temporary winter shelter spaces.

Provincial Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jason Nixon said Tuesday the government’s priority is to keep the most vulnerable people safe during the winter season in partnership with the Blood Tribe.

The Alberta Medical Association is sounding the alarm on hospital overcapacity across the province. AMA president Dr. Paul Parks said an increase in respiratory illnesses resulting in hospitalization is adding to an already over-capacity system.

A new food bank in Lethbridge is quietly assisting military veterans and their families. Now in its fifth week of operations here, The Veterans Association Food Bank is operating out of a leased space in north Lethbridge. The organization provides food, funding, support and programs for needy veterans in Alberta, delivering about 250 hampers with a grocery store gift card – each month. It provides emergency assistance and peer support community referrals to veterans who are often reluctant to seek help.

Lethbridge city council on Monday voted to provide emergency interim financial support to the Lethbridge and District Exhibition after the province earlier turned down a request to provide funding. Part of a resolution that was passed also calls for the implementation of an interim governance body for the Exhibition which excludes any previous board members “to ensure a clean slate,” said a press release from the City after the Exhibition had announced that it and CEO Mike Warkentin “have mutually agreed to part ways. The decision comes as LDE begins the process of reorganizing to ensure the continued success of the organization and the Agri-food Hub & Trade Centre,” said a release from the Exhibition.

Three homes erupted into flames on a windy Boxing Day afternoon. The fire at Iroquois Crescent West had multiple crews working in front of – and behind – the houses, one of which was a group home for youth.

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