Fighting mountain pine beetle in Whitecourt area

Fighting mountain pine beetle in Whitecourt area

L-R:Maryann Chichak, mayor of Whitecourt, Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry and Jim Rennie, mayor of Woodlands County.

The mountain pine beetle threatens six million hectares of Alberta’s pine forest and affects the activities of more than half of the major forest companies operating in the province.

In order to protect Alberta’s crucial forestry industry, the province is providing Whitecourt with $29,000 and Woodlands County with $26,000 for the control, suppression and eradication of mountain pine beetle on municipal and private lands. The funds are part of the Mountain Pine Beetle Municipal Grant Funding Program which helps communities minimize the spread of mountain pine beetle infestations in their areas.

“Our best chance to combat the mountain pine beetle infestation is if our government partners with local municipalities on aggressive and proactive detection and control programs. This funding will help us work with the Town of Whitecourt and Woodlands County to do that.”

Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

“On behalf of the Town of Whitecourt, thank you to the Government of Alberta for its continued support of our local mountain pine beetle program. For several years, with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry’s support, our community has conducted local surveys and control work to minimize the effect of an infestation. Whitecourt is heavily invested in the forest industry, and the control of this insect is vital to our economic, environmental, and social health.”

Maryann Chichak, mayor of Whitecourt

“From a municipal point of view, one of the greatest supports from the provincial government has been the pine beetle mitigation.  Keeping our forests healthy is vital to the viability of our communities in Woodlands County. This new grant will help strengthen our local mountain pine beetle program. It will assist in educating our residents and stakeholders in identifying trees infected by the pest.”

Jim Rennie, mayor of Woodlands County

Quick facts about mountain pine beetle

  • Mountain pine beetle threatens six million hectares of Alberta’s pine forest.
  • The value of pure pine stands in Alberta is more than $8 billion.
  • Last year, more than 92,000 trees across the province were cut and burned to help control the mountain pine beetle outbreak.
  • More than half of the major forest companies operating in Alberta are reliant on pine to continue operations.

Link to source


4-H Alberta volunteers receive highest recognition

4-H Hall of Fame inductees with Minister Carlier

Minister Carlier with the 2017 4-H Hall of Fame inductees and family.

Linda Gooch, of Arrowwood and Sylvia Mathon, of Innisfail join an elite group of Albertans inducted into the Alberta 4-H Hall of Fame since 1971. Mathon was honoured posthumously.

“4-H Alberta celebrated its centennial year in 2017, and it is an integral part of our province’s rural way of life and our strong agricultural foundation. Congratulations and sincere thanks to this year’s inductees for their outstanding leadership and commitment to 4-H and their communities.”

Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry

The 4-H Hall of Fame recognizes exceptional 4-H leaders for their exemplary service, mentorship and volunteerism. Candidates are nominated by their 4-H peers and are evaluated based on their demonstrated leadership qualities, community references, local volunteer work, and contributions to 4-H and agriculture.

“Being involved in 4-H for nearly 30 years has been so rewarding in itself, but being inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame is truly an honour that I never expected.”

Linda Gooch, 2017 4-H Hall of Fame inductee

“We are honoured that Sylvia has been inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame. Mom’s passions were family, youth and agriculture. She never needed recognition for her work, but we know that she would be truly touched.”

Family of Sylvia Mathon, 2017 4-H Hall of Fame inductee

4-H Alberta is the largest youth organization in the province with more than 250,000 alumni. The program teaches leadership, communication and agricultural skills through fun, hands-on experiences.

Backgrounder: Alberta 4-H Hall of Fame

Created in 1971, the 4-H Alberta Hall of Fame has recognized 87 men and women who have significantly contributed to Alberta’s rural youth and agriculture. Each inductee has been a 4-H leader at the local, regional, provincial and national level. They demonstrate outstanding leadership in the program, promote the 4-H motto of “Learn to Do by Doing,” and live out the 4-H pledge of service and commitment to the club, community and country through all activities and levels of organization.

A selection committee of key leaders of the 4-H Council of Alberta, the 4-H Foundation of Alberta and representatives from Agriculture and Forestry’s 4-H Branch evaluate each nominee based on the candidate’s strong personal qualities, as well as their significant contributions to 4-H, agriculture and rural life. For more information, visit


Linda Gooch

For more than 25 years, Linda has supported and strengthened the 4-H program as a leader and volunteer.     

Her 4-H involvement includes, but is not limited to: club leader, district key leader, Calgary Regional 4-H Horse Show volunteer (show chair, assistant show chair), developed guidelines and equipment checklists for both 4-H on Parade (4-H Alberta’s largest show and competition) and Regional Horse Show, and a member of the Provincial Equine Advisory Committee (PEAC).

Linda is also a volunteer member of the Arrowwood Agricultural Society, Stampede Queen competitor mentor, organizing committee member for the Alberta Equestrian Games, riding coach and school teacher.

Described as someone who always puts kids first, Linda has shown over and over again just how dedicated she is to ensuring Alberta youth are given opportunities to learn, have fun and experience success.       

Sylvia Mathon

Sylvia, who died in 2016, dedicated more than 20 years as a 4-H parent, leader and volunteer.

Her 4-H involvement included, but was not limited to: project leader of the Rangeland 4-H Beef Club, 4-H Council of Alberta director, president – West Central 4-H Regional Council, and Red Deer District 4-H Council.

A volunteer with the Innisfail District Agricultural Society, Sylvia was also a Westerner Park volunteer, member of the Icelandic Society and the Markerville Good Neighbours Ladies Club. She also volunteered driving local seniors to appointments, banking and grocery shopping.

Sylvia was passionate about working with youth, and through her battle with cancer she often said, “working with kids in 4-H helps keep me going.” 

Link to source


Heartwood’s big anniversary – Athabasca Advocate – January 9, 2018

The Heartwood Folk Club approximately celebrated their 20th year with live music as their fall 2017 season-opener Oct. 1.

About 200 people crowded the Nancy Appleby Theatre to see acoustic guitar folk duo J.P. Cormier and Dave Gunning perform. During intermission, Heartwood Folk Club Society board member Richard Zwicker gave thanks to the music club’s artistic director, Peter Opryshko, for all his work putting on shows for the past 20 years.

Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette was at the show, and presented Opryshko and the society with a certificate of achievement.

Opryshko said that it was “very special” to have such a good crowd, and that the club has survived for so long. “It’s fantastic. It couldn’t have happened without all these good people. They give me more credit than they should, I think.”

Looking for help this summer? Why not hire a student! Financial assistance for wages is available


The 2018 Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) application deadline for employers is February 2, 2018Canada Summer Jobs is a Government of Canada initiative. It provides funding for not-for-profit organizations, public sector employers and small businesses with 50 or fewer full-time employees to create summer jobs for students between the ages of 15 and 30.

The application form as well as the applicant guide are currently available at You can submit your application online, by mail or in person at any Service Canada Centre.

We encourage you to submit your 2018 application online. By doing so, you will benefit from a fast, easy-to-use, and secure way of applying as you will:

  • have access to the Canada Summer Jobs application 24/7, from any location, allowing you to complete it at your convenience;
  • ensure your application is received immediately by Service Canada;
  • receive an instant acknowledgement confirming that your application has been received; and,
  • avoid postal delays.

There are two systems available to enable you to apply online:

  1. Grants and Contributions Online Services (GCOS): If you already have a GCOS account, please use this online platform to submit an online application; or
  2. CSJ online application form.

More information about how CSJ benefits both students and employers is available on our YouTube page

For more information:


Call: 1-800-935-5555 (ATS: 1-800-926-9105)

Visit: a Service Canada Centre

If you are interested in attending an information session, please reply to this email ( providing the following so we can provide you with the teleconference number:



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Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2018

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Athabasca Community Dinner Draws Over 1000 People – Athabasca Advocate -December 19, 2017


Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette donned a Santa hat and pitched in with the dinner. He said nothing could be more in the spirit of the season than an event like the community dinner. 

“This is the very definition of what community is,” he said. “People are getting together and sharing fellowship and good cheer. Raising funds for the less fortunate.”

-MLA Colin Piquette