A community is more than a location. As we’ve covered stories this past year, and in fact, for more than a half-century as your local newspaper, we’ve discovered that as much as anything, community is about shared experience. It is about the friends and neighbours who live here. It is about the landmarks that become the touchstones of childhood memories and sadly, remembrances of those who have departed. It is about change.
Sometimes, that change is sadly nostalgic, such as when the Grandin Theatres fell to the wreckers this past summer. As you told us, it was a place of first movies, favourite movies, first dates and first jobs and is missed by many, though most realize the theatre’s best days were well behind it.
St. Albert also lost two citizens who put the words Love, Care and Service into practice, when they helped found Lo-Se-Ca Foundation. Gaston Curial and Ferne Carignan, who both passed away in 2014, helped transform concerns they had for their own children into an organization that helps those who most need help to this day. We should all follow their examples.
Sometimes, there is pain so great, it takes a community to share it. When so-called radicalized murderers struck in October, targeting members of the Canadian Armed Forces, it proved we live in a small world. One of the soldiers, Patrice Vincent, had once lived in St. Albert for about five years.
And when the bus driver involved in the fatal crash that killed six-year-old Thomas Wedman in 2013, was fined $2,000 for failing to yield to a pedestrian it brought the public face of an unspeakable tragedy to a conclusion. There are unlikely to be many future stories about Thomas, however, the pain endured by his family and the guilt felt by the driver will likely never pass.
But we do want justice, as well as compassion. When charges against Travis Vader were stayed earlier this year in connection with the deaths of Lyle and Marie McCann, our frustrated community had many questions to ask and we worried for the couple’s devastated children. Vader has since been rearrested and the uncertainty continues.
As a community newspaper, we also examined the plight of the temporary foreign workers within our borders and took a harsh look at a flawed government program that appears to have broken so many promises to so many people on both sides of the debate. As their visas – allowing them to do the work they were told Canadians did not want – expired, many of these workers have already returned home and many will likely do so in the coming year. At the paper, we will not lose sight of a major story like this. It may well continue to affect people and businesses for years.
All of these stories and, of course many more, touch at the soul of our community. They may not all make national headlines, but they are all part of a common history defining who we are and who we will be in the next 12 months.