June 15th, 2024

Concerned citizens group encouraging residents to be aware of policy

By ANNA SMITH on May 17, 2024.

asmith@medicinehatnews.com

A new group of concerned citizens are making their introduction to the city with a call to action.

The name of the group, AWARE Medicine Hat, is an acronym that stands for “Alberta Wins, Act, Respond, Educate,” said Shelley Ewing, one of the founding members of the group.

“We are a group of concerned citizens that will want to celebrate education and information by engaging subject matter experts as well as citizens with lived experience, in order to support and encourage the voting public to respond to harmful and what we feel are undemocratic politics being pushed by the current (provincial) government,” said Ewing.

AWARE is not affiliated with any political party, and seeks to encourage conversation, said member Anna Hansen, who stated if they are “anti-anything, it’s anti-authoritarian.”

As its debut event, the group has organized a Day of Action, falling on the same day as various protests throughout the province in regards to recent bills that have been proposed.

“We’re way past the point of remaining silent. We have a passionate lineup of speakers that will provide information that encompass the bigger picture,” said Ewing. She compared their format to something of a “political Pecha Kucha,” a storytelling format where a series of presenters speak briefly on a subject they have expertise or passion for.

Subjects range from water and climate change, to the realities of having a transgender child who is presently transitioning, both from experts in their fields and from citizens with a personal connection to the subject matter.

Hansen added that they have invited both Premier Danielle Smith and MLA Justin Wright to speak at the event, as their goal is to educate and facilitate conversation, but as of writing, neither representative had confirmed their presence.

“We aren’t affiliated with the NDP, or any political party. We’re more concerned that Albertans aren’t being listened to,” said Ewing. “For instance, the Alberta Pension Plan, how many people spoke out against that are angry and against it, but they’re still considering it.”

Each speaker will have eight to 10 minutes to present their perspective on their issue, and organizers will be encouraging citizens to write letters to their representatives and “engage in their democratic right,” said Ewing. She stressed that this day of action is intended to be a peaceful opportunity to learn more about the current political climate and how to respond for the best impact.

“What we’re trying to do is, we want to encourage people to stand up and push back against these policies they don’t agree with,” said Ewing. “Don’t be sidelined.”

Speakers will begin at noon on May 25, and continue until approximately 2:30 p.m., in front of city hall. The event is also a food drive, in order to support the Root Cellar at a time with increased demand.

A full list of speakers and times can be found on the group’s social media page, at facebook.com/awaremhab.

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