April 23rd, 2024

MP shares kaleidoscope journey to public service

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 19, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Lethbridge MP Rachael Thomas looks through her kaleidoscope while using it as an analogy to share her story at a recent Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce event at the Enmax Centre.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Through an analogy of a kaleidoscope, Member of Parliament for Lethbridge Rachael Thomas shared parts of her journey at a recent event where she talked about her childhood, career and the many people she has encountered on her life’s journey.

She started by sharing that while preparing for her speech, she encountered a kaleidoscope on a bookshelf that caught her attention, and proceeded to explain what it was for those who were unfamiliar with it while holding the device up to her eye.

“You look through it like this and you spin and there are shards of colourful objects in there that make a beautiful mosaic,” said Thomas.

 She said the images that are produced with a kaleidoscope are as unique as every person in the world and no matter how many times or in how many ways you turn the kaleidoscope, the image will never be the same.

“Our lives are a little bit like that, those shards of colour that come together are the experiences, the beliefs, the people that impact us and they create this beautiful mosaic within called our story and that story is unique for each and every individual,” said Thomas.

Thomas said she is the daughter of incredibly hard working parents and she grew up on a southern Alberta farm as the middle child of five children that consist of two older brothers, a younger brother and a younger sister.

“My older brothers thought that their job in life was to make my life interesting and my little sister came along about eight years after me. In this environment my parents were very hands off – some might say a little too much – but they wanted to spark in us creativity, a love for innovation and a desire to take risks,” said Thomas.

She said her family was far from perfect, they had their challenges, but one thing she is very grateful for is the way her parents modelled volunteerism and generosity onto them, not because they gave from having much, but rather for having little.

“They always found time to give back. There was time to give back in the sense of being able to go to our neighbours and help them fix a fence or paint, there was time to give back and bringing all the kids loaded up in the minivan and going and serve in the soup kitchen,” said Thomas.

She shared a memory that inspired her to do more for the world she lived in, even at a young age. Thomas said that even though she had limited access to television growing up, on Saturdays the was allowed to watch cartoons, and during that time there were commercials from World Vision that really touched her and inspired her in many ways.

“Often they showed images of dilapidated shacks, often dirty drinking water and toddlers with extended bellies and as a young girl, these images captured my attention and I thought something had to be done, something has to be done but I’m nine,” said Thomas.

 She said that made her question how to make a difference in the world, how can she address these big issues that she was facing since she was too young to get a job and provide financial help or jump in a plane and go build schools and clinics.

 “I was raised in a household with a lot of freedom and the ability to think with creativity and innovation, so as a nine-year-old my mind began to wonder and I told my parents I was going to start a business,” said Thomas.

 She said that after doing research and presenting a plan to her parents, with their help she opened a dog kennel to take care of people’s pets when they on holidays while also raising puppies.

 “I was able to launch this business successfully, running for eight years before heading off to university. During that time, I was able to build wells, I was able to build clinics and I was able to build schools,” said Thomas.

 She added that during her high school years, she had the opportunity to go on three humanitarian trips and see those projects first-hand and while in university she had the opportunity to do a few more.

During her last year of university, Thomas said she had the chance to travel the country from coast to coast while researching 18- to 34-year-olds, looking at social, cultural and spiritual trends, basically trying to understand the next generation and this made her fall in love with Canada even more.

“As I continued to engage with people, they would ask me if I would ever consider public policy or running for office and my answer was an emphatic no,” said Thomas.

 She said a political life meant a life in the limelight and she does not enjoy that, because it involves giving an invitation for people to scrutinize her life and watch every move she makes, every decision, every word that comes out of her mouth.

 “But this continued to happen numerous times over and over again, and when it gets to be 50, 60, 70, up to 100 times you begin to sit up and wonder maybe there’s something to that,” said Thomas.

She said she eventually put her name on a ballot and now has had the privilege to represent Lethbridge in Parliament for eight years, thanks in big part to a group of men that joined her team and supported her decision.

“It was men who came alongside me, who believed in me, who championed me, first to sign up to be on my team.

“We have an incredible opportunity to join together and be a force for good, as a collective of women but we also have an opportunity to accept the incredible blessing that is held within the wisdom and experience of the men around us,” said Thomas.

 She said it is not lost on her that it is a collective that she represents.

 “Furthermore, that collective is not meshed together but rather it is composed of individuals with unique stories, unique talents, unique abilities, unique backgrounds, like the images created in a kaleidoscope and it is my responsibility to make sure that I understand that to the best of my ability to make sure that is what is represented,” said Thomas.

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Thank you MP Thomas for sharing your “”kaleidascope” analogy. Having first met you 11 years ago, you were in University (UofL). You displayed a keen interest in the Lethbridge community and I recognized then that you had a sincere desire to make a difference. Not only a desire, it turned out, but the fortitude, tenacity and vision that has seen you through as our MP.

Your kaleiscope reflects your upbringing in a rural, agricultural setting where your parents were supportive. However, as you mentioned, there were limitations due to finances and boundries (restricted televison time) etc. all of which were building blocks to the person you are today.

You expressed that you “learned a lot” from life, travelling the country, meeting people and at a young age, a self appointed entrepreneur, who used income to help less fortunate.

As our long standing.Lethbridge MP, now married, you continue to work hard, give back to the community of your own personal resouces, and spend quality time engaging your constituents, listening and suppourting us.

THANK YOU, may God continue to Bless you.


Respect to Rachael for these reflections. Nice to hear politicians speak without the twist of partisanship marring their content.


BTW Rachael: One of the first things I did when my granddaughter was born was to buy a kaleidoscope which I put in a bookcase for her to discover one day. She did; often pulls it out to renew her viewpoints on life.

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