Community Stories:

Gift Lake - Communities Remember

The whole idea around prevention is keeping people safe and hopefully healthy. 

I was recently blessed with a visit to one of the Métis communities in Alberta.  I was struck by what I saw as I turned onto this particular Métis land not too long ago.  I was in a rural setting with only fields and some trees and not that many roads.  As I turned the corner off the highway and onto a secondary road I saw a beautifully kept walkway on the left side of the road.  As it turns out there is a lot of history about this walkway. 

A group of volunteer community members came together and formed a society called the Gift Lake People for Comm-Unity.  These volunteers recognized the need to have a shared responsibility for the people of their community and for their safety.  Walking on the road was not safe so they embarked upon a plan which would enhance the work of their leadership and expand the length of the pathway.  The spirit of this community and the people involved in this project is truly identified through the amount of work it takes to succeed in a project of this magnitude.  The dedication and determination it takes to get the second phase of this project off the ground is also inspiring when there is limited funding as well as a limited number of people to do the work that is required to deliver a completed project such as this.  There are also the other projects that come from working together in the community such as the Volunteer Reward Program which is a way for the community to give back to the volunteers.  

The second phase of development is completed and gets a great deal of use by the community (walking, running, biking etc.).  The walkway goes for six kilometers down the road from the junction and then it turns in to the most populated part of the community for over 2 kilometers.  This walkway also carries on past the road out of the more densely populated section of the community for about another three to four kilometers.  What is amazing about this walkway is that it seems to come out of nowhere as there are no buildings (at first), no park, and nothing really urban to make one feel like it could be expected to be seen anywhere.   What an interesting experience, as a stranger to the community, to drive alongside the walkway and wonder what caused it to be there.  This was truly a unique experience and there is so much more to know about this Comm-Unity Walkway.

A shared reflection by Brenda Roland, Indigenous Community Coordinator, ACPLF