Central Alberta’s first Centre for Positive Relationships opens in Sylvan Lake

The Sylvan Lake location is the first of 13 such centres to open this fall.

Central Alberta’s first Centre for Positive Relationships and Regional Training Centre officially opened its doors yesterday afternoon.

The centre’s opening included a short program attended by members of the public, Central Alberta Regional Vision for Non-Violence Coalition members and dignitaries from local and provincial government.

The centre has been in the works for a number of years, and Alissa McDonald, Community Development Coordinator with Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), and Colleen Lewis, Central Alberta Regional Vision for Non-Violence Coordinator, said to see the centre finally open is “amazing.”

“We got the grant in March and started working on the space in April. It has been a really quick process to get it to this point,” Lewis said.

The centre in Sylvan Lake is the first of it’s kind in Central Alberta, but soon another 12 centres just like it will follow.

Lewis and McDonald will work with the 12 other communities that are members of the coalition, Blackfalds, Benalto, Bentley, Bowden, Delburne, Eckville, Elnora, Innisfail, Lacombe, Rimbey, Rocky Mountain House and Stettler, to open their own centres in their communities.

“Each centre will be created to work for their community,” Lewis said.

“What will tie them all together is that each centre in all our communities will have the same training and resources available,” said McDonald.

The resources in include a a small library of books and pamphlets for families to use, along with consistent use of a common language and the same training used to prevent and create awareness.

McDonald hopes the centres will help to alleviate the stigma surround family violence and bullying.

This will be done through education and creating open communication, she says.

“Family violence is more than just abuse inside the family, parents and children. It extends to grandparents, friends even co-workers,” explained McDonald. “Communication and education is a huge part of it.”

The Centre for Positive Relationships will work to become a thread in the community fabric, by creating awareness and being available to those who need help.

Lewis says she wants the Vision for Non-Violence to become a well-known and staple in every community in Central Alberta.

Already the program and the new centre is gaining traction. Minister of Community and Social Services Irfan Sabir said in a video message the centre is an example of the good will in Alberta.

“The work that is being done through the coalition is a huge step in the right direction,” Sabir said.

Ken Dropko, the executive director for FCSS Branch, said he was proud to see a movement like this start in rural Alberta.

“It is amazing and says a lot about the will of rural Alberta and its people,” Dropko said.

During his speech, Dropko also said he would like to see the program started in Central Albert expand throughout the province.

This is already in the works, according to Lewis. The communities of Hanna and Drumheller have been in contact with the coalition to join.

Lewis says they are open to having other communities join their coalition, but feel these two towns may be a little far away, and would have to spend a lot of time on the road to get to meetings and conferences.

“We have been in contact and have suggested supplying them with our resources to set up their own coalition and conference,” said Lewis.

The Centre for Positive Relationships and Regional Training Centre is now open and is located on the second floor of the Sylvan Lake Family and Community Centre.

The other 12 centres will open through out the autumn at the discretion of each community.

 

Dignataries, MLA Don MacIntyre, Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre and Executive Director of FCSS Branch Ken Dropko were the first to tour the new centre on Sept. 7. The centre includes a small library of resources as well as Lakeview Parent Link’s Family Liason Advocate. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News