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Hats off to volunteers

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  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 12, 2014 06:00 am

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Saturday marks the end of National Volunteer Week, which celebrates volunteers everywhere. Here in St. Albert there are plenty such people.

This week the Community Information and Volunteer Centre (CIVC) enveiled its candidates for Volunteer Citizen of the Year and the recipients of the Leaders of Tomorrow youth volunteer awards.

This year there are four nominees for volunteer of the year: Joe Becigneul, Sandra Fildes, Dick Tansey, and Jennifer and Davey Giordano. The winners of the Leaders of Tomorrow awards are: Jamie Guest, Liam Kachkar, Eleze Munro, the Leadership 9 class from William D. Cuts Junior High School and BAM (Building Assets and Memories).

Also of note is local teen and extremely active volunteer Katie Fitzgerald, who was one of 46 people from across Canada to receive a Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.

Each of the above groups and individuals maintains a volunteering schedule that most people would view as superhuman. They are obviously very deserving of the accolades they are receiving.

But there are also many other volunteers who put in significant hours keeping local organizations afloat and making local events happen. And then there are the more mortal types who volunteer a little bit here and a little bit there. All of these people contribute to the quality of life in St. Albert.

In the course of our day-to-day lives, we encounter volunteers all the time, seating us at the Arden, coaching our children’s sports teams, helping out at their schools. etc.

“Every day, somewhere in St. Albert, a volunteer is helping someone,” said Glynis Thomas, executive director of CIVC. “We certainly support our community volunteers but we don’t always have the opportunity to say thank you.”

On that note, to all the volunteers mentioned above and the hundreds of others who aren’t getting an award this year: Thank you.

Tracking abusers the right move

Justice Minister Jonathan Denis recently made the correct decision when he decided to extend a pilot project for GPS-based trackers for violent abusers.

While the project, based in central Alberta, was only intended as a three-year trial, the outcry from possible cancellation of the project was noticeable. Statistics Canada numbers year in and year out show Alberta has the highest domestic violence rates in the country.

The GPS system would monitor an abuser and ensure he or she remained outside any minimum distance mandated by the courts. For instance, police or other agencies would instantly know if an order to remain at least 200 yards away from an accuser or victim was violated. There would be little grey area or confusion.

Domestic violence is a complex issue in which emotions run high. Abusers can be extremely unpredictable, and if a critical situation unfolds, there may be little time to call police to save a life.

GPS technology has become widely available, as many non-profit groups even use it for treasure hunts and other simple activities. It’s not expensive.

The number of serious abusers wouldn’t reach a level where critics would say an unreasonable amount of money was being spent.

For victims who are being stalked, harassed, bullied and intimidated, or worse, no price tag can be placed on giving them back their lives.


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