Blog Header

Blog Header

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Second Wind Dreams Wins an Award!

This is where I and my fellow Second Wind Dreamers were Wednesday evening. It's Government House and was once the residence of the Lt.-Governors of Alberta--well the first 6 anyway. Building started in 1912 and it was officially opened in 1913.  It was closed as a residence in 1938 after Lt.-Governor Bowen refused to give Royal Assent to 3 bills William Aberhart's Social Credit government wanted passed. Although the economic times of the Depression were cited as the reason, Aberhart had the electricity and heat shut off, and after a few days of trying to tough it out, Bowen and his family moved out. Aberhart also removed Bowen's support staff and official car. From that point on, no Lt.-Governor ever lived at Government House again. In 1966 a residence was purchased in the Glenora district for the Lt.-Governors. That residence was torn down in 2005 and at present there is no official residence for the Lt.-Governors in Alberta. Aberhart's government sold off all the wonderful Edwardian furniture and fixtures--thanks for that! In the 1940's the place was used as a boarding house for American pilots ferrying supplies for the Alaska Highway; then it was a federal military hospital; and then a convalescent home for vets after the war. In fact, Diane's dad, who was in the Royal Canadian Navy, spent sometime there after he was injured when his ship was torpedoed.  She had never known about this until she told him this week that we would be dining at Government House. His 2 brothers were serving on the same ship and were killed in that torpedo attack.

The property was returned to the province in 1964: a Provincial Museum was built on part of the grounds and Government House was restored and re-opened as a conference centre. Some further renovations were done in the 1970's and in 1985 Government House was declared to be a Provincial Historical Resource. It's a beautiful building--I had never been in it before.  We were given a tour, dined on the 1st floor, the reception was on the 2nd floor, and the official pictures were taken on the 3rd floor where there is a fabulous 100+ seats conference room in the round.

Second Wind Dreams was one of the 3 recipients of the group Minster's Senior Service Award.  These awards have been given out for 13 years and there were a total of 80 nominations for group and individual awards this year. We had known for about a month that we had won, but the official statement was issued on Wednesday. Not all the members of the committee were able to attend, but we were allowed to have 5 people and we also invited Averil Suriyakumaran  from the Edmonton General to join us. Claire, a resident at the EG, is on the SWD committee and she was thrilled to be able to attend such a function--it was probably the most exciting thing that has happened in her life.  She is in her 50's and has been a resident at the EG in a wheelchair for over 10 years now.  Imagine what it must be like for the younger people who are consigned to a life in a long-term care facility either because of diseases like MS, or because of injuries. And the majority of the other residents are over 75. Something to think about if we get to feeling sorry for ourselves.

Anyway, we were introduced to the new Lt.-Governor, His Honour Col. Retired Donald Ethell, who has only been in the job for a month. He's quite informal and was new to the whole protocol thing.  His Aide-de-Camp, a lovely young gal in the military shepherded him around. We met the Minister of Seniors, Mary Anne Jablonski and other government types.  The MLA for Edmonton Centre (where the EG is located), Laurie Blakeman was there and  sat with us at our table and gave the introduction for SWD. She was the only Liberal MLA there and has been quite supportive of the EG and our issues. Diane and I were interviewed by Omni TV (although I have yet to see the interview on their newscasts),  we all admired the wonderful paintings, all by Alberta artists of course, that have been purchased for Government House,  had a fancy dinner, and then received our award. We didn't know this before but the government only wanted 2 reps of the group to be in the pictures and receive the award and that ended up being Diane and I. We weren't happy about that because we had thought that everyone would be up there. But Doreen, Claire, and Kay were mentioned and acknowledged.

Our award

I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we had a most lovely evening and felt pretty special. It was so gratifying to be acknowledged for the work we do at the EG--especially since we often struggle to get support from some sectors of the EG. The SWD committee is composed of 6-8 people, gets all our money from private donations, not government funding, and has managed to fulfill 105+ plus wishes in the largest long-term care facility in Alberta and I think, Canada--504 residents. Mind you, the work that the other award recipients was pretty impressive and we felt humbled in their presence.

Doreen took some pictures, but she doesn't download them, just prints them off at Wal-Mart or wherever, so I have no photos other than this one of the award.  But we are supposed to get a CD of the photos and  some printed for us too. So I will post another blog when we get pictures.


onecollie said...

what wonderful history Dianne!
Truly a special evening, something you will always remember!

onecollie said...

PS. I'm liking the new look!'re getting the hang of this blog stuff!

Dianne SS said...

Glad you liked the history! Can you tell I taught history for 25 years? :)) I just can't pass up an opportunity to give a history lecture!

It was a very special evening indeed--a once in a lifetime event.

I had tried this template before when they first came out, but at the time Blogger was still ironing out the kinks and I couldn't change any settings. So it was nice to try it again--thanks!

Squishy said...

Pretty impressive! Nice to be rewarded for your work, especially when there are others out there in contention. It will be nice to see more photos!