County council and Canada’s 150 celebration

With Canada’s 150th birthday looming large this July, all sorts of preparations are being made to mark the special occasion.

County of Wetaskiwin reeve Kathy Rooyakkers

With Canada’s 150th birthday looming large this July, all sorts of preparations are being made to mark the special occasion.

In that spirit, County of Wetaskiwin No.10 council sat down with The Pipestone Flyer Mar. 14 to discuss what Canada means to them.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers, Div. 6

Rooyakkers said she is always amazed by Canadians’ powerful patriotism, like disasters such as the Fort Mac fire where people across Alberta and Canada stepped up to help out. “I love that about Canada,” she said. “I’m a Canadian through and through.”

She said the beauty of Canada’s natural landscape is another thing that makes the country unique.

Most importantly, though, the reeve said a free society is what sets Canada apart from many other nations. Canadians have the ability to follow their dreams.

Rooyakkers said she’s also impressed by how proud new Canadians are and how many people dream of coming to Canada.

Counc. Pearl Hay, Div. 1

Counc. Hay said she was very excited about the 150 celebration. “From the shores of Vancouver to the eastern seaboard, what a beautiful country,” she stated in a letter.

“The orchards and wineries of B.C. to the majestic Rocky Mountains. The golden wheat fields of the Prairies to all the lakes and rivers. The Parliament buildings in Ottawa and the spectacular Niagara Falls. Don’t forget Montreal with its old buildings.

“We have the RCMP to protect us every day of the year. I would not want to live anywhere else but Canada.”

Counc. Terry Van de Kraats, Div. 2

Counc. Van de Kraats said the opportunities Canada provides are what he admires most. “Freedom, for one thing,” said Van de Kraats, noting the freedom to speak out when you’re not happy is important. “And a country of opportunity.”

He noted his parents immigrated to Canada after WWII and found opportunity, and he himself, growing up in Edmonton, dreamed of being a farmer. He found his dream in the County of Wetaskiwin. “It took hard work,” he added.

Van de Kraats said he’s visited lots of parts of Canada, and the diversity and beauty of the country is phenomenal. He said he’s even visited the arctic, which was a wonderful trip.

Counc. Garry Dearing, Div. 3

Counc. Dearing said he like most Canadians is impressed by the natural beauty of the country. He said he’s traveled from coast to coast and doubts there is a more beautiful country anywhere in the world, or a more lovely place to live in Alberta than the County of Wetaskiwin.

Another thing that sets Canada apart noted Dearing is the opportunity that is available here. “You can do whatever you want to do, if you have the ambition,” said Dearing.

Dearing said the safety and security in Canada is also the envy of other nations. “We have a sense of security and freedom here,” said Dearing, who noted it’s sad to see the violence and chaos occurring in other parts of the world.

Counc. Keith Johnson, Div. 4

Counc. Johnson said the image of Canada that sticks in his mind is the nation’s diversity. He said the landscape, especially in Alberta, is incredibly diverse and the lakes, mountains and prairie make an impression on a person.

Equally as impressive, noted Counc. Johnson, is the cultural diversity in Canada. He said he feels Canada’s mixing bowl of cultures makes the country special.

Especially with First Nations right on the County of Wetaskiwin’s doorstep, Johnson said he feels indigenous peoples have been undervalued and have much to contribute.

Counc. Larry McKeever, Div. 5

Counc. McKeever said he remembers the centennial celebration in 1967, when he was 11 years old. At that time, he said he felt Canada and Alberta were the best places in the world to live. Ask him now, he said Canada is still one of the top countries to live and Alberta is one of the top provinces in the country.

However, he said he’s concerned about governments going into debt from politicians who think borrowing money is a good idea but are short on plans to pay the money back. It seemed in years past, more forethought was taken in government and more care taken of taxpayer money.

Counc. Lyle Seely, Div. 7

Counc. Seely said Canada is like a family, despite the huge geographic area. “To me the thing that’s special about Canada is the sense of community,” said Seely.

“Everybody comes together and helps out.” Seely said he always enjoys watching people come together and help each other out. When a local organization, for example, needs a new roof for their clubhouse, everyone shows up to pitch in.

Another thing eh pointed is the universal healthcare system in Canada that many other nations are envious of. Seely said he has talked to many other people from around the world and they agree many countries cannot compete with the quality of care in Canada.