When we look back on 2020, I want the Lakeland to be able to say there was some good news. And if you look for it, you can absolutely find it. I combed through the Lakeland Connect archives looking for the good news of 2020, and here it is.
(Sidebar: my new year’s resolution for 2021 is to tag more stories as ‘good news’ so this list is easier to make next year.)
At least a few people struck it big this year! Elk Point’s Alan Connor won $5 million in March, Lac La Biche’s Sharon Stevens won $250,000, and Saddle Lake’s Donovan Whiskeyjack came in to $100,000 in June.
National recognition for romance and fishing
Bonnyville and Cold Lake both made national lists in 2020. Bonnyville is the fourth most romantic place in Canada based on per capita sales of romance novels, romantic comedies, relationship books, jewellery and sexual wellness products on Amazon. Cold Lake earned #17 on a list of the best fishing spots in North America, which is sure to be a boon to the local tourism industry when the borders re-open.
Positive things happening in Frog Lake
The Frog Lake First Nation celebrated the opening of a satellite RCMP detachment, the signing of a fire agreement with the County of St. Paul, and announced a new public library set to open this spring.
New doctors get settled
There’s obviously still a lot of room for improvement with doctor retention around the Lakeland, but Vermilion welcomed a new doctor to the community this year, St. Paul announced two coming in 2021, and ten Lac La Biche doctors decided to stick around after resigning en masse during the dispute with Health Minister Tyler Shandro in April.
New fire hall for Bonnyville area
The Town and M.D. of Bonnyville stepped up and will be moving Fire Station 5 to the previously vacant Kopala building just west of town, along with all emergency operations including ambulance response and 911 dispatch.
The M.D. pulled the trigger on the $3.2 million building in late October, which is expected to save a lot of money instead of buying a new centre. This will help with the overcapacity currently for Station 5 and the emergency operation.
People from the Lakeland are doing great things
- Cold Lake man, Kenny Stead, received the Carnegie Medal, the highest civilian honour in North America in September for saving a woman’s life.
- Saddle Lake Cree Nation member Brielle Thorson earned a $30,000 engineering scholarship.
- Brinson and Steen Pasichnuk from Bonnyville were both signed by the NHL’s San Jose Sharks organization in 2020, wrapping up their collegiate careers at Arizona State University.
- Two Hills’ Joshua Kutryk is now an astronaut in Houston, working on the Artemis missions that will see humanity return to the moon in 2024.
- Beaver Lake Cree Nation’s Tina Lameman starred in a movie called Monkey Beach, based on the award winning novel of the same name.
- Bonnylodge, which started expansion plans in 2009, finished construction.
- Long-time Lakeland radio host Justin Marshall made the switch to government communications, he’s now working as the press secretary for the minister of municipal affairs.
- Bonnyville’s Isthmus food program is fully funded for the next two years.
- Students living on First Nations in the St. Paul Education area will have access to the technology they need to complete their studies while learning at home thanks to funding from Indigenous Services Canada.
- CNRL are making sure Odie and Romeo get taken care of, which is good news for anyone needing their support.
- In a year full of major players making big donations, Lakeland Credit Union donated $50,000 to Cold Lake and Bonnyville Food Banks.
Maybe 2020 wasn’t so bad after all.
With files from Michael Menzies.