Boardwalk repairs approved on closed section

Town of Hinton Boardwalk map

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Council approved the repair of a section of the Beaver Boardwalk that is currently closed, located East of Happy Creek.

Funds allocated for the boardwalk in the 2020 operational maintenance budget will allow this section to re-open for public use, explained administration during the Oct. 20 special meeting of council.

Opening this specific section means people can use the loop that runs on both sides of Happy Creek.

“The cost and time commitment to opening this section is really minimal and it doesn’t affect the ability to continue maintenance on any of the currently open sections and it doesn’t affect the budget,” said Coun. Albert Ostashek. 

Despite a previous direction from council to concentrate efforts on currently open sections, reopening this section is a bit of a win, he added.

The repair needs to be done before ice is formed to avoid the use of machinery to move or replace pilings.

A portion of about 20 meters in this section (‘H’ on the map) requires minor repair consisting of straightening with the use of hand tools, placing cross braces and supporting boards to strengthen the structure. 

In order to reopen this section, other minor repairs to sections that are currently open and slated for 2020 will be re-prioritized. 

“Addressing and reopening this section of the Boardwalk will satisfy many stakeholders and visitors, and can be accomplished with minimal staff time and resources,” stated the Town of Hinton.

Ostashek added that quite a bit of feedback from the community was received about this section and they would like to see this reopened.

Sections that are at risk of being closed in the near future will be addressed as planned, while attention to lower priority areas can take place in following years.

The total operational budget available for 2020 regarding Beaver Boardwalk work, including materials, labour, tools, and the Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) application, is $60,000.

The continual funding for maintenance is part of the budget deliberations. The Municipal Stimulus Program (MSP) grant funding requests that are underway will also support major repairs and rebuild of structures of our Beaver Boardwalk asset.

Work has begun or has been completed with straightening and replacing several sections of the boardwalk. That includes sections c, d, e, f, and i on the boardwalk map.

These sections require levelling or sideways alignment, a task which requires little material or disturbance to complete and improved safety.

Section B and any of the sections that are currently closed, including a, j, k, and o, are not likely to see work until 2022, or 2021 if needed.

“For section b, we likely have to use machinery to address this section, and machinery use is not yet approved by AEP, it is awaiting approval under the Water Act application. This would not be included in the low level maintenance deemed permissible,” stated Hans van Klaveren, parks, recreation and culture manager.

The other sections that are currently closed are also in need of intensive work requiring machinery and rebuild, or other structural solutions.

“In addition to AEP, we will need Council’s approval to work on, and open, closed sections. Administration would also need to secure the funding to undertake this work,” van Klaveren said.

At this time, work is not deemed needed in section g, i, m, and n, due to them being in relatively good shape.

This judgement is made in part as larger sections are on solid soil and not in risk of failure right now. The Town is prioritizing the remaining work season and resources to other areas.

Decisions on how work on the Beaver Boardwalk is prioritized is done by the Town’s Parks department.

Staff take into account the community survey done earlier this year and any feedback or input from residents and other Town staff members, stated van Klaveren.

In the meantime, sections could close temporarily during the day when work is being done that pose a safety risk to the public.

All previous maintenance of the Boardwalk was put on hold pending the Water Act Approval application submitted to AEP. 

Administration received written confirmation from AEP in September that minor repairs to the existing footprint of the Boardwalk is permissible outside the wetland approval, which is still required for intermediate and major repairs. 

Town staff started with maintenance work on open sections and continue to work on open sections that need immediate attention to avoid closure of those areas.

Maintenance and repairs began on Sept. 24 and include fastening and replacing deck boards, leveling and straightening sections, and adding cross braces and side support where needed. This work will be completed to the extent supported in the 2020 Budget and a Request for Decision Report may be addressed during the 2021 Budget process.

For more information on the Beaver Boardwalk, go to

Rotary repurposes wood street signs for fundraiser

Hinton Rotary Poster

Masha Scheele

The Hinton Rotarians are raising funds for their annual projects through the sale and auction of Hinton’s wooden street signs.

More than 300 wooden signs were cleaned and put in storage prior to the sale. Roughly 60 signs have already sold in the presale that started earlier this month and runs until Oct. 24. 

“There are some neighbourhoods people have been asking for signs but those neighbourhoods are more recent and never had the wood signs. Much of Thompson Lake, and the subdivision by the golf course never had wood signs. They went directly to metal when they were first developed,” explained Bernie Kreiner, member of the Hinton Rotary.

Signs were removed from Hinton’s streets this August to early October through an initiative from the Town of Hinton.

Anyone can contact the Rotary Club of Hinton and purchase a sign for $100 if they still have more than one of the signs requested.

If there is only one sign left from a specific street, individuals will have to wait until the auction and bid on the last signs available. For fairness, if only one specific sign exists, it is also held for the online auction.

“We purposely kept one for every street that had the wood signs for the auction. We didn’t want to sell the last one in the presale. We want to let people compete and bid if there is interest. Some may go for more, some for less in the auction,” Kreiner said.

About 120 unique and different wood signs can be bought through the auction website.

The internet auction begins on Oct. 24 and runs until the first week of November.

The minimum bid will start at $25 per sign, and a link to the auction will be available online through the Rotary website or Facebook.

“The minimum price will be $25 for most signs, if they are damaged we will put it at $15,” Kreiner added. 

Signs will be delivered by a team of volunteers on Nov. 8, or they can be picked up. All proceeds go to Hinton Rotary to support the projects in Hinton, and replace funds normally raised via the 2020 Oktoberfest, which was cancelled.

“This auction is an important piece this year, because in addition to [cancelling] Oktoberfest we don’t have many or any casino or bartending requests going into the Christmas season yet,” Kreiner added.

He noted that Christmas events typically bring in another $10,000 that go directly back into community projects.

Even if the street sign fundraiser is successful, the Rotary is headed towards raising half the funds they normally do in a year.

Although the Rotary doesn’t commit money to projects until the funds are available, Kreiner believes they will be able to maintain their core projects and contribute to some other initiatives. 

In addition to annual projects, the Rotary responds to written requests for funds. 

The Rotary recently committed $5,000 in advance for the outdoor classroom proposed by the Mountainview School Parent Council.

“We’ll be okay with committing as much as we need to with those regular programs but it’s some of the extras we won’t be able to do as much of,” Kreiner said.

Current annual programs include the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, the Hinton Food Bank, Hinton Movies, polio-plus donations to end Polio in the World, containers for Clubs, Highway 16 litter pick up, Kiva Loans for women entrepreneurs in developing lands, Oktoberfest, and bartending and casino services for events.

For information on the wood street sign fundraiser go to the Hinton Rotary facebook page or email Bernie Kreiner at

To view the online auction, go to and use the code: S3PYHT.

Pambrun named volunteer of the year by Rotary

Masha Scheele

Candace Pambrun was awarded the Hinton Rotary Volunteer of the Year award for her work with individuals and families in Hinton.

“In selecting Candace for this award, Hinton Rotarians are aware of many (but not all) of the things Candace has done as a volunteer in Hinton that far surpass what fits into her workday,” stated Bernie Kreiner, member of the Hinton Rotary Club.

This includes taking individuals and families to appointments or removing them from conflict situations, helping homeless individuals find a place to call home, and introducing role models into people’s lives to help them overcome challenges.

“It means a lot to me. I don’t volunteer to be recognized, I volunteer because it’s wonderful and I love being able to be part of things,” said Pambrun.

Pambrun was invited to present on Hinton Employment and Learning Place (HELP), where she works, during one of the Hinton Rotary zoom meetings when she was presented with the Volunteer of the Year Award. She noticed another avid local volunteer attending the zoom meeting and was convinced this volunteer was the recipient of the award.

“I had so many people in mind for this and every year we look for people to nominate for that. And then all of a sudden my office started filling up,” she said.

Pambrun said she was shocked and humbled when they finally announced that she was the recipient of the award. She expressed her appreciation for the award and for the people who wanted to recognize her in that way.

Candace Pambrun accepts her volunteer of the year award from Hinton Rotarian Daniel Duval.

The Rotary stated that Pambrun has a big, caring heart and shares opportunities in a caring way while leaving the ultimate responsibility with the persons she works with, and is able to promptly create rapport with people and put words and beliefs into action.

“She’s there when you need her—Candace does things when clients need support, not only during work hours. She reaches out to homeless people and responds as situations arise to help folks navigate the challenges of a difficult situation, whether finding a bed for the night, providing a caring ear to listen/understand/support, or an opportunity to motivate with some  “tough love”,” stated the Rotary.

Pambrun has volunteered for many one-off events but also for organizations she has been involved with for years that are very meaningful to her.

Although she has recently had to prioritize her volunteering time, she recommends getting out there and volunteering to anybody.

“Volunteering has gotten me jobs, volunteering has made me life long friends, volunteering has allowed me to be part of wonderful things like the Fohn Festival and different things like that,” she said.

It’s not hard to donate time and help out in some way, and it is a great way to connect with the community, she added. The connections motivate Pambrun to be part of her community and help make it a better place for everybody.

“For youth and for people who are new to the community, it’s wonderful. [Volunteering] is a good way to start to get to know people and build their rapport,” Pambrun said.

She noted that everybody has different talents that can be utilized in different ways to benefit local organizations and the community.

“I volunteer and invite my friends into that, people love the creativity and the different things that come with that. You also have the opportunity to expand on what’s there,” she added.

To look for volunteer opportunities in Hinton, go to

No raise for Fish and Wildlife for RAPID response

Alberta Government Photo

Masha Scheele

While in the process of joining the Rural Alberta Integrated Defence Force (RAPID), Alberta’s Fish and Wildlife officers have been notified they will not be compensated for additional responsibilities and risks added to their roles by the province.

Their added duties and responsibilities would come into effect by December 2020, according to a post from the Alberta Game Warden Association (AGWA), a non-profit organization whose members are Fish and Wildlife officers. 

“The RAPID Force is a critical component in the Government of Alberta’s strategy to combat rural crime. By integrating Alberta’s provincial peace officers, response times are significantly reduced and communities feel safer,” stated Jerrica Goodwin, press secretary of the Treasury Board and Finance.

When contacted by The Voice, West Yellowhead MLA Martin Long’s office had nothing to add on the topic beyond forwarding the same statement already made by Goodwin.

Despite a promise from the provincial government last year that said these extra duties would come with increased salaries, officers were notified of the change to that commitment on Oct. 2.

“RAPID Force duties have not been assigned at this time. Alberta’s Public Service Commission completed a job classification review finding the additional duties would not substantively change the job function. With new work we know adjustments may be made and if there are substantive changes to the job descriptions after six months they can be submitted for review,” stated Goodwin.

Officers were informed that according to the classification review, their duties have not substantively changed in the areas of knowledge, problem solving, or responsibilities. 

“If they’re saying nothing has changed in their duties, then that means they were functioning as full police officers all along and getting way underpaid compared to everyone else. Or the government is actually going back on their word from last year,” said Bill Peters, a retired Fish and Wildlife enforcement manager.

One of those new duties means Fish and Wildlife officers will be responding to the most dangerous 911 emergency calls in rural Alberta, stated Mike Dempsey, vice president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) representing the officers.

“Fish and Wildlife Officers have the most training with weapons because of what they do with wildlife. They have weapons training, which is why they would be doing the most dangerous work for the RCMP,” said Dempsey.

Dempsey noted that one officer recently wrote about going through a two-day domestic violence course, trying to wrap his head around what business he has as a game warden to attend a domestic abuse course. Officers would be taking statements, photographs, and potentially getting into high risk violent scenarios, which raises alarm bells.

The average RCMP officer doing the same work, is making $15,000 to $25,000 per year more, according to Dempsey.

In addition to that, traffic sheriffs and commercial vehicle officers will be given authority to respond to a wider range of calls, such as complaints by erratic drivers, collisions, and impaired driving incidents, he added.

“This is a broken promise, it was in writing that these [officers] would be paid more for stepping up to the plate and then lo and behold they said, ‘Sorry, we’re not going to pay you more after all,’” Dempsey said.

Premier Jason Kenney and former Justice Minister, Doug Schweitzer, announced the creation of the RAPID Force initiative last November.

RAPID would provide extra training to 400 peace officers who work in Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Services and the Alberta Sheriffs Highway Patrol to help combat rural crime.

About 130 Fish and wildlife officers will be impacted, roughly 115 highway patrol sheriffs, as well as Commercial Vehicle enforcement.

“[The increase of rural crime] doesn’t seem to be dealt with, there doesn’t seem to be sufficient police resources,” said Peters. 

He added that the RAPID initiative was one way the premier hoped to combat the issue.

Training the 400 officers to respond to some emergencies, if they are closest to a crime in a rural area, would cost $6.5M and the total initiative would cost about $7.7M more each year, mostly for increased officer salaries, stated reports last year. Peters said they’ve given the officers additional training, additional firearms, additional responsibilities, without sufficient pay and without a choice.

“The officers are not asked if they want to do this, they are being told. There’s a reason people are game wardens and not Edmonton city police officers, they chose their career. Wildlife officers are very, very passionate about what they do, and their job is an incredibly complex law enforcement job,” said Peters.

He noted while fish and wildlife officers are paid substantially less than municipal police officers, they were doing what they are passionate about.

Fish and Wildlife officers are still tasked with delivering their core mandate of conservation law enforcement, but will now also provide initial response to emergency 911 dispatches for crimes in progress. Dempsey noted that parks conservation officers will have to be reassigned as well to do the work of Fish and Wildlife officers who are being called out to respond for the RCMP. 

“An employer has the right to tell people what they do, even if they change what they do rather drastically. What they need to do is first of all, if you’re going to give them increased dangerous work, then you need to compensate them accordingly,” Dempsey said.

As of Oct. 1, Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Branch members joined the Alberta Sheriffs and called the Alberta Sheriffs – Conservation Services.

Dempsey explained that the Fish and Wildlife Officers are set to take on their new duties as of Nov. 1. Dempsey is hopeful that concerns are being heard and will be acted upon.

“It would be wise and prudent, but with this government, I haven’t seen any evidence of changing direction on anything,” he said.

Peters is hopeful that, what he calls common sense, will prevail in the end, and that the officers will be compensated for their work.

“The sad part is if it doesn’t get fixed, Alberta is going to lose an awful lot of very good front line fish and wildlife officers,” he said.

If these officers don’t get paid for the work they do, they will likely apply as a police officer in the city and be compensated properly, Peters believes.

“They will get a 15 per cent to 20 per cent increase in salary and the losers will be natural resources of Alberta and the public. They will lose all these super trained-up wildlife officers that are going to go find employment elsewhere,” Peters said.

The Saskatchewan government implemented a similar program in 2018, Conservation Officers were required to go through similar training and equipment upgrades, but they were given a 15 per cent salary increase.

Contact fish and wildlife by reaching out to one of offices listed on this page:

The public can continue to report suspicious or illegal hunting or fishing activity and dangerous wildlife through the 24-hour Report A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800 or at

Feds announce $60M in MPB funds for Alberta

West Fraser 2017 Photo

Masha Scheele

The Government of Canada has announced $60M in funding for Alberta over the next three years to support ongoing work to combat the Mountain Pine Beetle (MPB), but it is still uncertain if the funds will have any local impacts.

“To address the threat, we need a united front, a team Canada solution,” said Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan, during the announcement on Oct. 8.

This funding includes $24M for fiscal year 2020–2021 to address the outbreak of MPB in Alberta and the Rocky Mountain National Parks while mitigating negative impacts on the forest sector and communities. 

The Government of Alberta will use funds to help continue with and expand it’s aerial and ground surveillance and beetle control work that includes removing infested trees, and fund new research.

Final details associated with the announcements are still coming and it is unknown how this funding will be distributed, explained Keith McClain, FRI Research program lead of the Mountain Pine Beetle Ecology Program in Hinton.

The Town of Hinton believes the funding is a positive step, but agrees that it is uncertain where the province will prioritize activity.

“The announcement of these funds in and of themselves is good news, but it is hard to foresee what level of impact it will have in our local community directly. The province has full discretion in how to disburse these dollars, and it is possible that they will follow their existing strategy of investing efforts and dollars to the fight at the leading edge, which Hinton no longer is. The current edge would be east in the Edson Forestry area,” stated Hans van Klaveren, Hinton’s parks, recreation, and culture manager.

He added that the Hinton Mountain Pine Beetle Advisory Committee – which was formed in fall 2017 and produced a workplan approved by council in September 2018 – can engage with and put recommendations forward, or take other actions they deem possible to positively influence the provincial strategy.

The Hinton and District Chamber of Commerce made a recommendation in a policy that was approved by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to be advocated upon in 2018, to reinstate the Federal Mountain Pine Beetle Program with funds equivalent in scale to the $200M, similar to what was allocated during the 2007-2010 program. 

Natalie Charlton, executive director of the Chamber noted, “This could potentially mean that we are getting less.”

Federal contributions for the fight against MPB include $8M in 2007-08, $10M in 2009-10, and $370K in 2010-11, according to Justin Laurence, press secretary to the minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

The $60M for the Alberta Government will support Alberta’s strategic objectives for MPB management to limit the spread of MPB into the eastern boreal forest, limit the spread of MPB along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, and mitigate damage to Alberta’s pine resources in locations where MPB is already established, stated Claire Teichman, communications of the Minister of Natural Resources office.

Alberta uses aerial and ground survey techniques to detect and monitor beetle populations, looking to detect red-crowned pine trees symptomatic of MPB infestation, as well as infested trees that have not yet turned red. 

Surveys will also be done in Alberta and Western Saskatchewan to identify potential critical pathways of the MPB, Teichman added.

This funding would also augment existing control operations by the Government of Alberta and enable the removal of additional trees annually.

An additional $6.9M will go to Parks Canada to mitigate pine beetle impacts and reduce the risk of wildfires within the national parks, and $1.5M is going to Natural Resources Canada’s canadian force service, which employs the nation’s largest team of scientists devoted to pest management, to learn more about the beetle’s risk of the eastward spread.

Parks Canada will use funds to reduce the wildfire risk related to the MPB infestation in the Rocky Mountain National Parks, enhance safety for adjacent communities, and increase resiliency to MPB impacts and potential spread. 

This will be done through aerial and ground monitoring surveys, the development of decision support and planning tools, and prescribed fire and fuel modification operations at key locations in Jasper, Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks, stated Teichman.

Natural Resources Canada will advance laboratory and field studies, through its funding.

This includes activities such as field observations, collection of samples, measurements, laboratory analyses, data analyses, scientific publication, and knowledge transfer. 

“Thanks to Alberta’s efforts and the hard work of Albertans, our aerial surveys have shown that the fight against MPB is working, and that our work along with favourable winters have been working,” stated Hon. Devin Dreeshen, Alberta’s Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.

More than 147,000 trees killed by the beetle were detected through aerial surveys across Alberta this year, compared to almost a quarter of a million trees that were detected last year, he added.

In the Edson Forest Area, where Hinton is located, 140,997 trees were killed by MPB in 2019, while 115,020 dead trees were detected in 2020.

Right now, Alberta is developing detailed ground surveys and the control program for the upcoming winter. This is when individual MPB infested trees will be cut and burned to stop the spread, Dreeshen stated.

“This is a comprehensive control plan the province has seen over the last two decades. We will not stop until we have successfully safeguarded our resources and shielded the rest of Canada from this devastating infestation,” Dreeshen said.

In the province of Alberta, about 40,000 Albertans rely on the forestry sector and the forest sector is a major contributor to Alberta’s economic recovery, Dreeshen added.

Since the early 2000’s, Alberta has invested over $560M to combat the MPB and this infestation. 

The pest continues to threaten about $11B worth of pine trees in the province, according to Dreeshen.

The government of Saskatchen has provided millions of dollars over the last six or seven years to the province of Alberta to help fight the MPB.

Since 2010, Natural Resources Canada has invested $12.9M in mountain pine beetle related research in Alberta.

O’Regan noted that the forestry sector has stepped up over the past few months to supply necessary wood products and provide essential items for Canadians.

“All the important work you do requires our forests to be healthy in Alberta and right across the country. The mountain pine beetle has been harming our forests, hurting our economy, increasing wildlife risk, reducing our ability to enjoy the parks that showcase Canada’s stunning natural beauty, and depleting carbon storage in forests,” O’Regan said.

MPB is jeopardizing $9B of pine timber, according to O’Regan.

This funding will help protect forests, jobs, and companies in communities across Alberta that are dependent on forests. 

He noted that a healthy forest functions in a carbon sink, and because of that they will move Canada closer to a net zero goal in 2050.

Jason Krips, president and CAO of Alberta’s Forest Product Association, agreed that working forests are a critical part in the carbon solution and an important vehicle to reaching net zero.

“Working forests sustained more than 230,000 direct jobs throughout Canada. Our forests aren’t just important to our economy, they’re critical to our environment and well being,” he said.

He noted that the United Nations has also highlighted the importance of working forests in the global recovery.

Fatality at Hinton pulp mill confirmed

West Fraser Photo

Masha Scheele

RCMP and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) are investigating a sudden death at the Hinton pulp mill that occurred on Oct. 5, 2020.

“We understand there are questions about this tragic incident and are fully cooperating with the authorities to find answers. We are extremely saddened about this loss of life, and our thoughts are with the individual’s family at this time,” stated Tara Knight, communications for West Fraser.

Other reports stated that a stop work order was put in place for a scaffolding contractor involved in the incident.

AlumaSafway, the scaffolding company that was a contractor at the site, confirmed the death of Norman Hatami during the tragic accident on Oct. 5.

“Norman was a highly respected member of the AlumaSafway team, and his passing represents an enormous personal loss to us, his family, and his loved ones,” said Karla Cuculi, AlumaSafway VP communications

AlumaSafway is providing counseling and support to the workers at the West Fraser site, and assisting occupational health and safety officers in the course of their investigation into the cause of this tragedy.

“Out of respect for Norman, his family, and the investigative process, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further until that process is complete. Our most heartfelt condolences, thoughts, and prayers are with his family, friends, and all those that knew him,” stated Cuculi.

A GoFundMe page was set up for Hatami’s family.  It has raised more than $17,000.

The page stated, “For anyone that knew him, he truly was the most genuine, caring and loving man. His big smile would light up a room when he walked in and there wasn’t anything he wouldn’t do for his family and friends.”

RCMP Staff Sergeant, Chris Murphy, said no further details would be released by RCMP unless this death is deemed as criminal in nature. OHS confirmed that a worker fatality at the West Fraser Mills site was reported on the evening of Oct. 5 and that an investigation is ongoing.

Local student honoured with provincial award

Lucy Beaverbones dancing as a jingle dress dancer.
Christine Hancock Photo (submitted by Blaine Beaverbones)

Masha Scheele

When Lucy Beaverbones’ mom proudly told her she won an award, the Grade 4 student was curious to find out which award she was talking about.

Beaverbones had been nominated early in 2020, and after the long months during the pandemic she and her mom had nearly forgotten about the award until an email popped up in her inbox to congratulate her.

She was one of 12 winners in the province of the 2020 Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Award from the Alberta School Boards’ Association. 

“To me and my family, it’s pretty amazing. Very proud of her. She’s an amazing spitfire girl,” said her mom, Blaine Beaverbones.

The award celebrates First Nations, Metis and Inuit students from across Alberta who model strength and commitment in the pursuit of their personal education path and who embrace their own gifts, strengths, and potential while celebrating the ways of their people.

Lucy’s school teacher, Hywel Phillips, nominated her for the award, and the Friendship Centre also wrote a letter in support of Lucy’s nomination.

Phillips explained that a group of teachers decided that the students leading the indigenous cultural activity within Crescent Valley Elementary School deserved an opportunity to be nominated for this prestigious award.

“We decided that Lucy would be a prime candidate, she was one amongst others that were nominated for the award,” he said.

Phillips got to know Lucy in his Grade Three class last year, where she displayed a passion for her culture. 

“When she was dancing within the school, that’s where I got to see Lucy’s passion, that was dancing for the school kids. You could just see her beam with pride as she was able to share her culture with the other students in the school. She has also been a role model and a leader for our younger indigenous students, taking them under her wing and helping them through the process of dancing and promoting her culture,” Phillips said.

Lucy dances in the pow wow circle as a jingle dress dancer, is part of the youth group at the Hinton Friendship Centre, and tries to be involved with pretty much everything she can be involved with.

Her family is in tune with their culture and it’s important to her to follow in their footsteps. Her mother added that while it’s sometimes hard, she follows their cultural protocols of womanhood.

“There are certain things that young women cannot do in our culture. A prime example is not to bother with boy stuff, it’s really hard on her but she does try,” Blaine said.

The nine-year-old is very close with her grandma, her kookum, who Blaine believes is a knowledge keeper and shares her stories with Lucy. Her kookum is also an elder for the Friendship Centre.

“She’s a pretty resilient little girl. She has a really big personality. She’s very in tune with her culture and she strives to be great in school,” Blaine added.

Last year, Lucy also won the student of the week award, which was a big accomplishment for her. Blaine added that it’s important for her family to keep up the traditions and keep the culture alive throughout the next generation.

While Lucy understands a little bit of her family’s language, she doesn’t understand it all.

“I understand my language, that’s Saulteaux. That’s a really big importance for us, it’s more of an art than anything now. It’s really rare to find Saulteaux-speaking natives within her generation. Language is pretty important for us,” Blaine said.

Blaine’s father is a pipe carrier, and it would be pretty significant for her children to pass that on, as well as the stories and knowledge from her mother.

Blaine believes her daughter won the award due to her dedication to their culture and her involvement in the community.

“I believe she is one of the first ones within our school division to get it. So it’s a pretty important one,” Blaine added.

Blaine was told that no ceremony would take place this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that her daughter will still receive an award.

Lucy was one of 12 recipients of the award, and 18 students from across the Grande Yellowhead Public School Division (GYPSD) received an Honourable Mention.

The Alberta School Boards’ Association received over 240 submissions from around the province this year.

These awards offer the opportunity to celebrate exceptional students nominated by members of their education communities. 

Students are nominated by other students, teachers, principals, superintendents, education directors, trustees, school staff, Elders, or a member of the education community.

These nominations include detailed examples related to why the student is nominated and how they exemplify certain attitudes and characteristics outlined by the award.

Those characteristics include perseverance, maintaining strength, self-care and a healthy attitude, embracing cultural identity and promoting the strength, beauty and value of culture and community, modelling leadership through a cultural lens, respecting and honouring the autonomy, empowerment, and agency of others to self determine, improvement in work ethic, attitude, attendance and interaction with others, honesty and honour, and kindness towards others.

The nominations also include detailed examples on how the student has demonstrated commitment to their culture and community. 

Some examples are assisting in community functions, celebrations and ceremonies, volunteering in the community or school, chopping and hauling wood, traditional dancing, learning or speaking their traditional language, and teaching others about their culture.

Recipients are then selected by the awards committee, comprised of the ASBA Indigenous Advisory Circle members and one member from each partner organization: the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS); Alberta School Councils’ Association (ASCA); and, the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA).

This was the third annual Honouring Spirit: Indigenous Student Awards.

Other honourable mentions for the award from Hinton’s nominees included Bryson Strawberry, Chance Thompson, Jacob Thompson, Ehriennlucy Beaverbones, Kendra Beaverbone, Kiya Kelley, Matisiwin Beaverbone, Pyriel Kelley-Beaverbones, Taya Beaverbone, Xander Kelley, and Brea Oshanyk.

Share Shop overwhelmed with donated items

Masha Scheele Photo
The volunteer group from the Friendship Centre sorted through donated items on Wednesday morning, Oct. 7. Volunteers spend their morning sorting items to put out on the shelves before they open the shop at noon. Any excess items are normally shipped to Edmonton, and any unusable items end up in the landfill.

Masha Scheele

Hinton’s Share Shop is asking the public to be more selective in their donations as they deal with the aftermath of the pandemic and the backlog of items.

The Share Shop opened its doors again in late June after being closed for three months due to the pandemic.

“At the current time we find ourselves in a challenging situation, as our excess donations, which comprise around 35 to 40 per cent of what we receive, cannot be picked up for three to six months. In order to avoid sending too much to the landfill, we need to severely limit the amount of goods that we accept from the community,” said Barb Meredith, chairperson of Hinton’s Share Shop. 

Most people don’t realize that only about 50 per cent of all donations are able to be put out in the store, she added.

Roughly 25 per cent is sold to a non-profit organization in Edmonton, called Inclusion Alberta, who sells it to other organizations like Value Village. The other 25 per cent most likely goes to recycling or the landfill, Meredith said.

Inclusion Alberta helps educate and advocate for people with disabilities with the funds they raise from selling goods to Value Village.

Currently, the organization has to rent trailers to store the excess donations that have come in since shops opened back up in the early summer months, and they have little funds left over to fund their programs.

“They felt they had to completely shut down until the backlog is cleared,” Meredith explained.

Once they gradually clear the backlog, they will start picking up donations again. They estimate this could take three to six months.

Value Village can’t buy everything as fast as it is available because they were also shut down during the early pandemic months.

“Everyone was shut down and then when things opened up again people had been cleaning out their houses for months and they wanted to get rid of all this stuff,” Meredith said.

The Share Shop collects a semi trailer load of excess donations every two to three weeks, Meredith said.

“That’s how much is sent away, we do not have the space in the store to store that,” Meredith said.

Besides slowing down the flow of donations, another option is to find some other outlet for excess donations.

Unfortunately there is a lot going to the landfill, something the Share Shop is trying to avoid.

“That’s one of our mandates as well, recycling and reusing is to avoid sending everything to the landfill,” said Meredith.

The Share Shop appreciates the support and the donations from everyone in Hinton but the challenging time means donations need to be selected more carefully, she added.

The shop can only accommodate a certain percentage of donations and they ask that people only send clean saleable merchandise that is still in good condition. Clothes with holes and stains or with missing zippers will most likely end up in the landfill. Volunteers at the Share Shop go through all donations to sort the good saleable items from the items that can’t be sold, and then they select what they can put out on the shelves and what can go to Edmonton.

“If you give us books, toys, puzzles, games, we ask they be in good condition, not damaged in any way, no missing parts, books not having torn pages, tattered spines, again these things would either have to go to recycling or put in the garbage,” Meredith explained.

Anything that isn’t in good shape can be recycled directly as that is what volunteers at the Share Shop will need to do with items that aren’t saleable.

Additionally, they are asking the public not to send anything that is non-seasonal, like clothing or sporting equipment. This means no shorts or golf clubs and life jackets. Winter clothes and skates are more acceptable during this time.

“If we are being continuously overwhelmed with donations, as much as we appreciate them, we would possibly have to shut down entirely for a period of time. Which we don’t want to do and the community doesn’t want us to do. The community can help us by being selective in what they send,” Meredith said.

The Share Shop doesn’t collect things like car seats, large furniture, large, old, or outdated electronics, VHS tapes, and VCR’s.

Furniture can be brought to Neighbourlink in Hinton, who donate furniture to families in town.

The Share Shop is operated by eight different non-profit groups and churches. At the end of the year, any proceeds are divided amongst the groups who use it for various programs. 

“Most of the money stays right in town,whatever people are spending at the Share Shop is benefitting Hinton as a whole,” said Meredith.

Currently there aren’t as many volunteers due to the pandemic and most of the volunteers are seniors. Meredith added that it is sometimes difficult when people donate large bags and heavy boxes of stuff as the volunteers are mostly elderly.

“Hefting these bags and boxes can be quite challenging. If people could be aware of that and not send things that are quite so heavy or bags that are not quite so full. We do appreciate all the things people are doing and we appreciate the support,’ Meredith said.

Protocols at the Share Shop include mandatory facemasks for anyone who enters the shop, and the use of hand sanitizer as they come in. The number of shoppers at one time inside the shop was limited and they initially said no children under 16 would be allowed.

“I realize this has been hard for some people but I hope the community can understand that it is necessary to protect our volunteers and our customers,” said Meredith.

The majority of volunteers are elderly and that is the most vulnerable population. The eight volunteer groups are currently rotating each day due to the lack of volunteers available.

Meredith added that the shop is a good space for volunteers to socialize, and it’s a great place for those looking to donate and looking to shop.

Focus on serving up fire safety in the kitchen

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

It’s Fire Prevention Week in Canada and this year’s theme for the Hinton Fire Department is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.”
Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 4 to Oct. 10 brings awareness to fire hazards while identifying serious cooking risk in the kitchen.

“A number of fires start as a result of overheated cooking oil in deep fryers or pans heated directly on kitchen stoves,” stated Todd Martens, Hinton’s fire chief and protective services manager.

Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, he added, and the Hinton Fire Department is focusing on preventing kitchen fires.

Five quick tips to prevent cooking fires include staying alert and never leaving cooking unattended, checking on food regularly and possibly with a timer, heating cooking oil slowly and keeping the temperature below 200 degrees Celsius, avoiding cooking when sleepy or drowsy from medication, alcohol, or cannabis, and keeping cooking areas clear of children, pets, and materials that can catch on fire, such as potholders, towels, drapes, and food packaging.

Martens stated that in case of a grease fire, don’t use water to put it out and keep the pot on the stove. Slide a fitted lid over it to smother the flames. When safe, turn off the heat and the exhaust fan to stop flames and gases from spreading.

For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed to prevent flames from escaping.

For a microwave fire, keep the door closed and unplug the appliance if it is safe to do so.

It’s important to have tested and maintained smoke alarms on every level of the house, including the basement and sleeping areas.

More than one-third of all fire fatalities are associated with having no smoke alarm, Martens added.

“If your smoke alarm sounds and you see or smell smoke or fire, you and your family need to get out of the home as quickly as possible and call 9-1-1,” he said.

Smoke alarms should be tested once a month with the test button and batteries should be replaced once per year at least. A smoke alarm should be replaced every 10 years to make sure it stays in proper working condition, and the expiry date should be checked.

Firesmart work in Hinton is always ongoing if funding is available. 

The Hinton Fire Department did apply for grant money for maintenance on a few of the older areas recently but was denied. 

“We will be looking at having the five year mitigation strategy redone in 2021 hopefully through grant funding which will help us identify high hazard areas in the community on projects moving forward,” said Martens.

Over the last seven years, the department has done about $2.1M in firesmart grant funding work in the community.

The Hinton Fire Department ran recruit drives through 2019 and 2020 and will be starting a new class in early 2021.

“We try to bring on at least one class of eight to ten people a year but with individuals work, family time, and the commitment it takes to get certified or deemed competent requires a lot of hours of training as a volunteer,” Martens said.

Martens added that when he started in the fire service 23 years ago there was a long waiting list to get on the department and only a few courses were mandatory.

With changes to occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation, training requirements, and time commitments, it is getting harder and harder to find people who want to volunteer their time, Martens said.

Once a new recruit starts it takes about a year and half until they complete their 1001 Level 2 firefighter courses, which is recognized across Canada. 

A recruit starts with just the basics over the first three months, in order to get them responding to calls. 

Book work, classroom, and hands on training follows this for the next year and three months. 

“Most departments are all having the same issues with recruitment across Alberta. It is one of the town departments that is almost completely run with volunteers,” Martens said.

Hinton currently has 26 volunteer firefighters and without their dedicated commitment the department could not do what they do, Martens added.

The work experience program (WEP) is still up and running, which adds a big value to the town of Hinton and residents, he said.

Two fully trained firefighters have worked out of the firehall for the past year. They helped with keeping equipment up to date with legislation and in working condition, and with manpower shortages during the day and overall time savings for calls. 

“We currently just had two firefighters from Ontario in the program and we have application open for the next hires,” Martens added.

The Junior Firefighter Program is put on hold in 2020 due to challenges with the pandemic but the department hopes to start it up again in 2021.

Applications are open for volunteers for the upcoming 2021 recruitment class. Go to for more information.

The wildfire danger in the Edson Forest Area, where Hinton is located remains very high and as of Oct. 5, there were two active wildfires in the area.

One of those wildfires is now extinguished and was located 1.5 km northwest of Grande Cache along the Smoky River. It burned 0.01 hectares.

The second fire is now under control and located 22 km northwest of Hinton along a gravel road and is estimated to be 2.89 hectares in size. There is one water truck, five firefighters and one helicopter on site working to extinguish the fire.

Both wildfires are under investigation and were reported by the public using 310-FIRE.

Humans generally account for the cause of 60 per cent of wildfires in Alberta. Due to a lack of rain and above seasonal temperatures, a fire advisory in the area was put in place. Safe campfires are still allowed and existing fire permits remain valid.

Since March 1, 2020, there have been 56 wildfires in the Edson Forest Area burning approximately six hectares. There are currently 17 wildfires provincially in the Forest Protection Area of Alberta, with one of these wildfires out of control. Three are being held, eight are under control and five have been turned over to the responsible parties.

Since March 1 in Alberta’s Forest Protection Area, there have been 675 wildfires burning a total of 1,423.92 hectares. According to Alberta Wildfires, 989 wildfires and 883,411 hectares burned in 2019. In 2018, 1,288 wildfires and 59,809 hectares burned.

A fire restriction, fire ban, and ATV ban early in the season this year shut down any fire activity which is usually the cause of multiple fires.

For more information on the current wildfire situation across the province of Alberta, visit

Alberta’s wildfire season begins March 1 until Oct. 31. At this time of year, grass and fine fuels become very dry, stated the Alberta Wildfires fire advisory. The advisory cautions individuals when camping, hunting, or working in the outdoors to ensure they fully extinguish campfires and never leave it unattended.  

Even on top of snow, it is important to fully extinguish a fire as snow can quickly melt by afternoon. The fire can smoulder in the debris below and reemerge as a wildfire.

Check for fire bans at and report a wildfire at 310-FIRE(3473) toll-free from anywhere in Alberta. 

Precautions urged, but Halloween not cancelled

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Halloween is not cancelled this year, but some simple precautions are recommended by the province to make it as safe as possible.

The province is promoting the celebration of the spookiest time of year without the fear of spreading COVID-19. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, stated that Halloween may actually be safer in many ways to celebrate than any other holiday.

“I have no plans to suggest that Albertans cancel Halloween this year. My own children would never forgive me,” Hinshaw said.

Unlike Thanksgiving, most Halloween activities take place outdoors and largely within one family. The province has created posters that can be printed and put in windows or on doors, to let trick-or-treaters know which houses are handing out candy this year.

Hinshaw asked Albertans to avoid hosting group get-togethers or Halloween parties, and instead trick or treating should be done within a cohort, staying within the community, and avoiding contact with common touch-points like doorbells or hand railings. Bring hand sanitizer and knock on doors instead of using doorbells.

“Dressing up and trick or treating is the best part of Halloween for many children, and this can be done safely by choosing costumes that allow children to wear a non-medical mask,” Hinshaw said.

She urged the public to continue trying to minimize contact with others and maintaining two-metre physical distancing whenever possible. 

Wear a mask when handing out candy, and consider handing out treats outside on the driveway or front lawn.

“Try to get creative and have fun with ways to minimize the risk of exposure that comes when giving out candy, like the candy slide I mentioned earlier this week, and please use prepackaged candy, not homemade treats,” Hinshaw said.

A candy slide could be built along front steps or railings, which would allow treats to be dropped at the top of the slide straight into kids’ bags at the bottom. This allows the public to have some fun with social distancing and, non-touch delivery methods, and other suggestions included a candy catapult.

The province suggested using tongs to hand out pre-packaged candy to avoid handling treats, setting up a table or desk to help enforce distancing, making candy bags and spacing them out on a table or blanket, and don’t leave out self-serve bowls of bulk candy.

When it comes to Halloween parties, the recommendation is to spend time with people within a cohort. Games and activities should avoid shared items and allow people to stay two metres apart. Drinks, food, cigarettes, vapes, or cannabis should not be shared.

If possible, parties should be hosted outdoors.

Most importantly, the province advised those who feel even slightly sick not to go trick-or-treating, not to hand out candy, or attend any Halloween activities.

Hinshaw stated that the best way to ensure a safe Thanksgiving, Halloween, and school year is to limit community transmission.

“Particularly with the rising numbers we have seen over the past few days, I want to reiterate my strong recommendation for safe Thanksgiving events this weekend,” she said on Oct. 5.

She urged the public to keep Thanksgiving gatherings limited only to one household and cohort members, no more. 

Gatherings should be as small as possible, eating outdoors if possible, and not sharing serving utensils or dishes.

“If you are even slightly sick, don’t go to a Thanksgiving event and don’t host one at your home. The greatest tragedy would be to have Thanksgiving dinner turn into an opportunity for COVID to spread to our loved ones, potentially with severe consequences,” she said.

As of Oct. 6, Alberta had 1,900 active cases of COVID-19 with 61 hospitalizations and 13 in the intensive care unit. Alberta has had 281 confirmed deaths from COVID-19, since it arrived in the province.

The Town of Hinton currently has zero cases of COVID-19, while Yellowhead County has one confirmed active case.

For more tips on how to stay safe during Halloween, go to