When 2021 began, many individuals had hopes for a better year than 2020. Unfortunately, over the past 12 months, news headlines were often bogged down with stories of sickness, conflict and uncertainty. Nonetheless, there still existed positive stories both locally and around the world. Here are a collection of some of Medicine Hat and communities’ favourites;
The year began when friends nearly 6,500 kilometres apart, reconnected with a little help from the News. Jane and David Shields of Falkland, Scotland contacted the News in January with the hopes of finding their long-time friend Pat Cook of Medicine Hat, and her sons Martin and Paul. Only one day after word was put out, the Shields and the Cooks reunited via phone for a long-overdue chat.
Keeping things pawsitive
Hatters spent time with animals of all shapes and sizes this past year and had some pretty heartwarming stories to share as a result.
Last year, the News reported that Rubble – one of two dogs abandoned by their owner at a local kennel – had found his forever home. In February, his pal Petey was also adopted. Rob Taylor initially began fostering Petey but soon fell in love with him and welcomed Petey into his home permanently.
It wasn’t just pups who found homes in Medicine Hat this year; in April a family of Canadian geese settled down on one Hatter’s balcony and laid their eggs in a flower pot. Audrey and Dwight Luscombe were surprised to see the geese move in, but quickly welcomed them with Audrey saying good morning to the mother goose and providing her fresh water as she awaited the arrival of her chicks. Audrey even posted updates on her condominium’s bulletin board so that others in the building could take part in the excitement.
For any Hatters unable to welcome animals into their homes or gardens, there were many opportunities to connect through events, like the Dunmore Equestrian Centre’s petting zoo – which visited seniors homes around the city, Medicine Hat College’s therapy dog sessions with Louie, a seven-year-old German Shepard mix or by watching the goats, who returned to Police Point Park this summer.
Luck was with Medicine Hat this year, as there were two big lottery wins for members of the community. John and Annalee Wagner won $1 million on a Western Max ticket in February and Kieron Burgess won $100,000 on Lotto Max in April. The Wagners were planning on using their winnings for a vacation, while Burgess wanted to think on how best to use the money.
The community gave back
Throughout the year, Hatters have given back to those both within the community and around the world.
Students within both the Medicine Hat Public School Division and the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education engaged in philanthropic activities. In June, students at Crescent Heights High School sewed more than 200 blankets and then donated them to Medicine Hat Regional Hospital’s pediatric and maternity wards, as well as the Santa Clause Fund. Later in the year, schools across Medicine Hat’s Catholic Board of Education raised money for Mission Mexico, a global outreach program which helps to support rural communities in Mexico.
Just as students gave back, so did Medicine Hat non-profit organizations. The Root Cellar and the Mustard Seed both moved locations and expanded their operations this year. They continue working to provide Hatters in need with food and other necessities.
Prairie Gleaners has also provided food to numerous countries dealing with food insecurities this year. As of August, the organization had shipped more than 16,000 bags of dehydrated vegetables to countries in North America, South America and Europe.
Focusing back on Medicine Hat, the Coats on Finlay winter clothing drive returned after taking a year’s break due to the pandemic. Hatters hung any new or gently worn coats overnight on Finlay Bridge and anyone in need was invited to take the items necessary to keep warm.
To end off the year, Medicine Hat came together to celebrate and encourage local health-care workers through Operation Appreciation. The effort was started by Hatter Alison Jacques and since its creation in mid-September, has provided cards, care packages and gift cards to healthcare workers throughout the city. Individuals, groups and businesses have donated time and goods for Operation Appreciation.
KENDALL KING, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News