Augustana’s Plan for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

BY ALIZA GRAHAM / Dagligtale Staff Writer

The University of Alberta’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) Strategic Plan was launched On February 13, 2019. The Plan is inspired by the shared goal of guiding and supporting both current and future efforts and initiatives to build an equitable, diverse, and inclusive university. The mission of the EDI Strategic Plan is to work to achieve an accessible, equitable, and inclusive community of students, faculty, and staff. The Plan has been created for the purpose of having a learning environment shaped by respect, and a culture of human rights.

The University of Alberta’s North Campus created the EDI Strategic Plan. It is no longer a draft, and it is a template for North Campus. The Strategic Plan was presented to Augustana and we have begun participating in it, and getting involved in the conversation, however we have not yet made our own plan. The North Campus does not want to mandate the Plan for other faculties and campuses, and they have encouraged other campuses to develop their own plans that align with their needs. Augustana has had only two EDI meetings as of this point in time, which are open to anyone who wishes to attend. The first meeting was mostly for getting people to write out some ideas of what they think is important and to engage in a collective of ideas. In the second meeting, people were asked to bring up three to five different things they wish to see in the draft Strategic Plan for Augustana. There is not a set timeline for the Plan.

The mission of this plan is to create a working, learning, and living environment free from discrimination, bullying, and harassment. The vision is that the University of Alberta establishes a commitment to cultivating an institutional culture that values, supports, and promotes equity, human rights, respect, and accountability among faculty, staff, and students. Feisal Kirumira identified some things about the plan that are good and bad. It is good that the senior leadership is taking accountability, and is held accountable for equity, diversity, and inclusivity. However, being held accountable is more than writing reports and Kirumira believes that more needs to be done by those who have the power. The EDI meeting members act as an advisory group and do not hold the power to make the decisions. They can only share ideas, knowledge, experiences, and expertise. In Kirumira’s opinion the not so good part is that it is a plan that does not have a lot to do with the real life challenges and problems that people meet, for instance as minorities. Reflecting on recent racist incidents on campus, he believes that the plan needs more equity initiative, disciplinary measures against hate crimes, and a reevaluation of the language used in the mission statement. There is no reference at all in the mission statement, about racism, hate speech, xenophobia, or any of these things; it says Augustana is committed to having a university free from discrimination, however, the term discrimination is vague. Kirumira’s suggestion is that the university explicitly states these things to make a clear commitment to combat racism and other forms of [oppression]. It is important that the university stands by what is written in the Plan.

In an executive report written by Naomi Mahdere, Vice President Academic of the Augustana Students’ Association, it is noted that there is concern about how to sensitize individuals who are already comfortable in the current system, outside of the EDI Strategic Plan implementation (e.g. through bias training). Mahdere agrees with the Dean that the plan looks leisurely and not at all that ambitious. The Dean’s main concern is the need to treat campus climate issues with a greater sense of urgency moving forward.

The EDI efforts are forming an inclusive community that encourages and supports individual and collaborative efforts to identify and address inequities, and it welcomes and enables contributions of all voices and perspectives engaging in diverse ideas, in the pursuit of inclusive excellence for the public good. Overall, Augustana is in the early stages of drafting their own EDI Strategic Plan and is involved in the process of bringing about better change. For anyone interested in looking at the plan, it is accessible online at


Parking Inconvenience a “Benefit” for Camrose Community

BY ALIZA GRAHAM / Dagligtale Staff Writer

Every year the Camrose community is flooded with visitors from all over the province because of dance festival season, which is held annually at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre. The Lougheed Centre has a huge draw of people from studios as far south as Lethbridge and as far north as Fort McMurray.  The tourism brought into Camrose through dance festivals is enormous and highly beneficial for the community. In an interview with the Lougheed Centre Managers, Nick Beach and Tanya Pattullo, regarding the upcoming dance festival season this spring, some of the successes and challenges of dance season were discussed. We further talked about how these challenges are being managed, and the changes being made to accommodate and coordinate dance festival season and make this year a success. Overall, from the Lougheed perspective, dance season has a very positive impact on the campus and greater Camrose community.

When asked what makes for a successful dance festival, Beach responded that a festival that attracts a lot of people to the campus and community is important. In addition, he noted that the length and size of the festival are significant and the Lougheed Centre wants a long festival with longer days, and for everything to be well organized and run smoothly. Pattullo added that scheduling is essential in making a dance festival successful. The dance companies that are doing the festivals have been with the Lougheed Centre for a number of years now and have developed a good rhythm, routine, and structure with which they run. Any changes being made now are the minute tweaks because by now most everyone knows what they are doing. Beach said the Lougheed Centre is not making any major changes this year.. Pattullo explained that scheduling is a constant, not a change; the most important thing for managing scheduling is to pay attention to and keep constant awareness of everything going on.

Pattullo noted that dance season occurs at the perfect time of year because it is not typical tourist season, and so it is nice to be able to bring money into the community during what Pattullo describes as “shoulder season”, which is February through May. The economic impact for Camrose is huge, as dance festival season generates revenue and that revenue is used throughout the year to do a great amount of outreach and free programming events. It has become a sort of micro industry now; in an economic impact study from 2017 it was found that the Lougheed Centre dance festivals had an estimated economic impact of $4,463,257.82.

Managing parking and scheduling have been the key challenges in the past. Beach explained that the Lougheed Centre has been working with festival organizers to manage peak moments. There is a cycle they like to talk to festivals about, in which they hold small solos, duets, and groups interspersed with large groups to create variation and more control over the amount of people who are on campus and in the building at a certain time. Beach says they have learned a lot over the years and have had lots of discussions to improve the management of peak moments, which has helped immensely to control parking challenges.

Pattullo highlighted that they work to manage and organize these challenges with the festivals because they take pride in their building and their relationship with Augustana.  Beach does note that the most that these festivals will affect students is with parking, and to that he says: “You should feel happy to be inconvenienced. From a greater community perspective, being inconvenienced means that the community is benefitting from something going on and that is a great problem.” Beach’s advice to anyone who is wondering what is going on and why there are so many people on campus is to just come and check it out, walk through the lobby and see for yourself. It is a very high level dancing and it is amazing to see all of these people who are here and appreciate the event.

To conclude our interview, I asked Beach and Pattullo what their favorite thing about dance festival season is and they agreed that seeing all the kids on campus is wonderful. It is great how all these visitors are being drawn here for something other than being a student, and that the end result is they realize what a great place this is to be. It is also a joy to see how the dancers use the space, revealing the value and potential of the space because that is what it was built for, and the dance festivals really push the space to its limits. Overall, dance festival season shows the Lougheed Centre at its glory, and creates opportunity and activity in the Camrose community.

Vikings Rec Takes on a New Look


Augustana Campus Vikings Rec Council offers fun and exciting campus and community recreation activities. The Vikings Rec set up features drop-in programs such as basketball, volleyball, badminton, and yoga as well as intramural leagues, including ultimate Frisbee during fall term, and flag football in winter term. In addition, golf tournaments, dodgeball extravaganzas and more are featured as special events. Vikings Rec also has a “learn-to” feature, in which you can learn to play cricket, to curl, to golf, to ice skate, to cross country ski and much more. For more information, visit the Augustana website and the IMLeagues website.

Augustana students who are paying an Athletic/Rec fee are eligible for all recreation programs and activities featured by Vikings Rec. Augustana staff and faculty, community fitness centre members with a valid monthly membership, and the general public are also eligible for some programs and activities. If you want to bring an off-campus friend to a Vikings Rec activity, see the program information for details. To find out more about a program and register for activities, register on IMLeagues . There you can create your own profile and sign up for the activities of your choice.

On the IMLeagues website you can get in the game and register for active teams. Under the “Fitness” heading you can find fitness classes and drop-in activities. Team and free agent registrations are accepted for drop-in activities and league sports. Learn-to sessions are individual registration only, whereas tournaments are team registration only.

On the website, you can view currently Active sports for Fall 2018. Coming up in Winter 2019, right in the New Year on Jan. 1 at 8 a.m. until Feb. 1 at 6 p.m., you can join the Curling Bonspiel. On the website, you can also access an overview of all fitness classes and drop-ins offered in December 2018.

One option offered is drop-in for beginner yoga at the Learning Commons. Beginner’s Yoga is designed to help you relax, reduce stress, and restore your body and mind; you will learn the basic Hatha Flow poses and breathing techniques to calm your busy mind. At 7 p.m. on Nov. 29 and 30 and on Dec. 1, drop by the Augustana Gymnasium for climbing; no experience is necessary. The climbing wall offers top roping and bouldering, harnesses are available, as well as ropes and other climbing hardware that are maintained by the climbing wall staff. There is a limited assortment of climbing shoes available, but you may bring your own clean, non-marking running shoes to use for climbing.

On another note, the City of Camrose also has recreation options that you can check out. Consider joining the Rose City Curling Club. Also, the Community Centre/Field House has indoor pickleball, and the Recreation Centre has adult shinny and public skating. Camrose has a great urban park system, check out the trail map and get outside to go cross-country skiing.

There are many different recreation opportunities available, the Vikings Rec set up and the IMLeagues website makes it easy for you to join in on your favorite activities or step out of your regular routine and learn something new and exciting. Just set up your profile and get started by checking out the different programs offered, and then you can start building your schedule. No matter what you are looking for Vikings Rec can help you have fun and get active by taking part in their recreational fitness programs.

Aquatic Centre Upgrades Will Bring First Class Facility to Camrose


The Camrose Aquatic Centre is currently under construction and is planned to reopen in 2020. The entire facility will be closed for approximately 14 months while the remaining construction takes place. The plan has been in the making since August 2017, and was recently put into motion in the fall of 2018. This renovation and expansion plan is considered a major revitalization project. Supporters who contributed to the design include the seniors who do drop-in groups, the swim club, syncro club, triathlon club, Special Olympics, lifesaving group, and the general public.

This updated design was taken to user groups (swim clubs), lifeguards and operations, staff, maintenance, and council to get feedback on the practicality of the design. This feedback helped determine what the public saw as important features that should be part of the new design.

For example, during this feedback it was determined that a steam room was the preferred choice over a sauna, and so a steam room will be implemented in this plan. The final design will include an addition to the existing building that will have an eight lane competition fitness lane pool that will be deep enough for swimmers to dive in from the pool deck in the shallow end.  There will be diving blocks with sliding rails, a recreational diving board, integrated steps for easy access, and anchors for future play features. A brand new water slide will also be implemented, along with an in-ground twenty-person hot tub, two meeting/party rooms that have pool and outdoor access, and a brand new outdoor water splash park.

The renovations include a brand new leisure pool tank with a lazy river, as well as a very shallow play area, spray feature, and a mid-size teach pool for children. A shallow pool will be used for water therapy and education. The change rooms will be fully updated with new tile, paint, fixtures, seating and showers. There will also be larger staff change rooms. The renovations are recreating the space, for example the old meeting place and small family change room will be converted into a fully family change room.

In the front lobby, there will be new tile and paint with a large welcoming desk and general cosmetic upgrades to the hall areas. There will be new pool filtration, and water treatment systems for all pools, new heating, new air conditioning, new ventilation systems, and upgraded fire and security alarm systems. The final design includes improvements and new features that will make the Camrose Aquatic Centre a more enjoyable experience overall, with new and improved recreational and practical features. The new design of the Camrose Aquatic Centre is an important improvement, in the end it will make for more exciting recreational and competitive swimming, and the renovations will have a positive impact on overall swimming experience. For more information on what programs are offered through Red Cross during these renovations, visit the City of Camrose website. For information on how the construction is going, contact Ryan Poole the General Manager of Community Services with the City of Camrose Aquatic Centre.


Featured image courtesy of City of Camrose 

Camrose Open Door Offers Support for Camrose and Region Youth


The Camrose Open Door is a regional non-profit organization that is funded in various ways including government contracts, government grants, private grants, donations and fundraising. Youth from throughout the central region of Alberta, who are between the ages of 11 and 24, can come to the Open Door in times of need for support and outreach services. A team of passionate and dedicated directors, youth support workers, volunteer workers, and practicum students work to provide support 24/7 to those in need. It also has a 24 hour emergency helpline. Youth support services aim to help youth to grow and transition into successful adults. With the help of the Open Door, youth in need have a chance at a brighter future and the support they need in order to become contributing members of society.

The Open Door offers support, effective services, and a safe place for youth in need. Homeless youth may be couchsurfing, staying in abandoned places, or unsafe environments and the Open Door can help provide them with a safe place to stay. They have an emergency shelter, as well as offering transitional suites to those who need help adjusting to the transition from living in a shelter to living independently in a community. There are many possibilities for why a youth is homeless, such as family violence/abuse, addictions, mental health, or neglect. Sometimes youth come to the Open Door when they need a break from their home life and seek a  safe place.

The services offered are client centered, solution focused, and individualized to meet the specific needs of clients. To the Open Door, there is no specific definition of a youth ‘in need’; there are many reasons why a young person might come to the Open Door for help. The Open Door is there for any youth that requires assistance in any part of their life. Some possibilities of a youth ‘in need’ include those who need help with a place to live, help finding a job, help with transportation, or help dealing with parents/caregivers or family situations. Perhaps they just need someone to talk to, or a place to come to during the day, or they are hungry and need food. In times of need, youth can come by the Open Door office for something to eat. The Open Door outreach services include employment and school support, as well as referrals to assist in all areas of life, these outreach services can be accessed in the community, main office, or through the helpline. Additionally, they have an employment program that provides job coaching, job searches, and referrals to help youth find employment and support them as they cope with difficult situations. They also help support youth staying in school.

The Open Door offers help for those youths who need a referral to a doctor, or mental health assistance. For youths and families, there are counseling services available which are free of charge. A Behavioral Health Consultant from the Camrose Primary Care Network (PCN) is on site to help with mental health, substance abuse and the health needs of youth. With the Youth Hub, the PCN and the Open Door partnered in order to offer help to youth who need healthcare and social support. The services are youth and family oriented, providing easy access to primary care, addiction and mental health support and social services. An outreach navigator can help youth in need to find the right assistance. The Open Door also has a trained therapy dog named Moose, who is at the office and provides support to youth.

In addition, the Open Door has a Library Drop-In group every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m., which focuses on encouraging discussion and learning about topics and issues including bullying, self-esteem, and family violence. The group encourages youth to participate in activities and discussions that help develop their self-confidence.

A great way to support the Open Door is with grocery gift cards to help buy food for the shelter and for the outreach at the Open Door office. Clients living independently may come to the Open Door for assistance with purchasing food. Gift cards for clothing, house ware, activity passes, and single serving food items are also helpful.