This letter is for Edmonton, the city we call home, and the people who inhabit the traditional lands of the First Nations and Métis people.
Fellow citizens, we have come to a fork in the road, highlighted by the bitter transition of our natural environment. Some of us are lucky enough to live in a private dwelling, keeping us cozy in the depths of winter with somewhat little worry of what the effects this harsh winter climate could have on the body and mind. For others, it is a struggle to find any form of shelter. For those of us that encompass the former, I hope that we can all appreciate and thank how fortunate we are to find ourselves with such hygge (contentment and well-being).
I have a growing family and reside in north central Edmonton, some might call it northsiiiiiide! We chose to call the neighbourhood around 118 Avenue home because it is true to the philosophy of Edmonton. Kind, thoughtful, interesting, funny, frustrating, happy… the list goes on with an infinity of nouns. For my wife and I, what has been a godsend is the location, quality of care, and quite simply the existence of the Intercultural Child and Family Centre Daycare (ICFC) at the old McCauley School. Here you will find the most dedicated, hardworking, award-winning, and competent childcare workers the city has to offer. With its partner daycare – 1000 Women Child Care Centre, ICFC offers families in north central Edmonton a place where parents need not worry about the level of care.
If the tone of this letter is perceived as a gushing yarn of civic pride and cheerfulness, I offer you a cautionary tale. Outside the window of my home is the symbolic tattered remains of Edmonton Elks flags flying steadily in a cold November breeze. Symbolic for one specific reason: neglect. Our city is faced with what seems to be an insurmountable challenge: that of homelessness and desperation in the neighbourhoods encompassing north central Edmonton.
Rampant drug use, desperation, tent cities, and an unknown level of human suffering are the challenges ICFC and other inner-city tenants face. Ignoring the problem will not work and is not a solution, and that is exactly the attitude our landlords and landowners cannot have.
It is not right that childcare workers have to manage people with drug addiction, mental illness, and contend with racist graffiti. To say the system is overwhelmed with a population of desperate, vulnerable, and lost souls is not acceptable. We as people and engaged citizens need to start helping each other by offering a hand, talking with, and helping our neighbours no matter what we call home. If the wonderful educators at our childcare centres can do it, so can we. Let’s take down the proverbial tattered flags, repair and store them for next season, because with civic pride and a sense of brotherhood, Edmonton could be the City of Champions once again.