Imagining Who We Could Be: An Education & Wellness Story

In the Year 2040...
It is 2040, and Shelly is catching a quick coffee at Alberta’s newest post- secondary campus, a welcome addition to the community’s education landscape. She is joined by a diverse group. There’s Chuck, a retired coal miner taking computing science; Richard, an Aboriginal teen studying to be a forester; and Otiba, an engineer from Japan who’s learning English. They first met in the town’s newest affordable housing complex, where they all live.

In decades past, nearly everyone around this table would have had trouble finding affordable housing in the community, let alone post-secondary accredited programs to follow their dreams. Now they have rent they can afford, plus courses that meet their needs. They are not alone in benefitting from Alberta’s newest multi-dimensional campus. Already, its combination of superb programs and excellent outdoor recreational opportunities are attracting students and staff from around the world. Working with other local institutions and industry, the campus is earning a name as a premier resource-industry research institution with apprenticeship programs that translate into jobs in forestry, mining, lodge management, outdoor recreation and more.
Theme 2 Education Wellness
Talk around the table turns to the comings and goings at the housing complex, where life is never dull. The complex has attracted an interesting array of tenants, in part because it offers everything from tiny suites to units big enough for extended families plus homecare. Home care has been a lifesaver for Chuck, whose wife is battling early stage dementia. “Without help from our homecare workers, we’d have had to move somewhere else by now,” Chuck says.

The community’s new senior drop-in centre and expanded array of health care specialists are also important, he adds. “I never thought we’d live here after retirement. But now we just might be able to stay for the long-term.” Younger families also have more places to turn for help in the community these days, observes Shelley, a single mom with three children ranging in age from 4 to 14 - going on 20. “I’m not sure I’d be coping otherwise.” It’s not an exaggeration.

Shelley works shifts to make ends meet, and without things like transit service and all-hours child care and a dynamic youth centre, she’d worry about her children’s safety. Recent family- friendly changes to the shift structure at work are also easing her stress. That’s a good thing, for as planned the community has attracted newcomers every year, primarily young families, students and professionals such as researchers and teachers, immigrant families and newly retired couples.

Together, they are creating a much more diverse, livable, dynamic community while increasing the demand for family support, senior care, education, English training and other essential wellness tools. And the community has the capacity to make it all happen.

“If our children can learn in their home town, they can bring many great ideas to our communities. A Hinton campus would also bring other students here to see what a great place we live in and the courses themselves could open their eyes to the multitude of riches in the area.” - Community Consultation Participant