The last six months have proven to be a test of resilience for Calgarians and Albertans alike. Faced with a Canadian dollar that reached record lows last month and weak oil prices, the province’s most noteworthy city has felt the pressures mount as the economy slowly stabilizes.
“Alberta lost 10,000 jobs in January as it continues to reel from the oil price shock. The province saw its unemployment rate hit 7.4 per cent for the month — the highest in 20 years — from 7 per cent in December,” wrote Financial Post reporter John Shmuel last week.
Despite this less than optimistic outlook, Calgarians remain focused on returning their city to its former glory, while rallying around their neighbours in need.
“Calgary has gone through times of great hardship, and our history holds many enduring lessons. Our city was built by generations of Calgarians marked by frugality and generosity; when hard times brought people closer and communities banded together for financial and emotional support,” says life-long resident and City of Calgary Councillor Druh Farrell.
Calgary’s 2015 Christmas Fund Campaign
The undaunted spirit of Calgary residents was evidenced in early February when one of the city’s most well-known newspapers, the Calgary Herald, released the amount raised during their 2015 Christmas Fund campaign. Although the Albertan economy lost approximately 20,000 jobs last year, the Calgary based newspaper was able to collect $1.3 million dollars.
The Christmas Fund, which has been around for 25 years, supports more than a dozen local charities and organizations. Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued a formal statement of gratitude to Calgarians, who, amidst their own economic pressures, still dug deep to give back.
“Some of the 14 organizations are well known; others less so,” wrote Nenshi. “Every one of these organizations performs miracles every single day. Every one of them deserves our help. Thank you for giving.”
Calgary’s Project Warmth
The more than one million dollars will go to specific initiatives like the Society of Alberta’s Project Warmth, which provides warm winter clothing to citizens in need. Albertan winters can be extremely harsh and taxing, especially on the city’s youngest residents. So, Project Warmth ensures every man, woman and child that needs winter clothes receives them.
Even though winter conditions only last for three to four months, Project Warmth hosts clothing drives year round to ensure they’re prepared once the inclement weather hits.
“We all need to do our part when we can,” explained Riaz Mamdani. “Strategic Group sponsors a variety of local and provincial charities because we believe in supporting the communities we live and do business in.”
The day-long event collected almost 2,500 items of gently used clothing and blankets for Project Warmth. Although they didn’t need any incentive, those who made the trek out and brought a donation were rewarded with a free donut and coffee or tea from Jelly Modern, Perk ‘N’ Beans and TotaliTea.
“This time of year, after Christmas certainly in this economic climate this is something we can really get behind,” said David Barrade, who brought his family and a bag of donations. “It’s an opportunity for us to give a little bit back to Calgary.”
As Barrade and Riaz Mamdani evidence, the spirit of giving is alive and well in Calgary and will be one of the factors that drives the city towards success, again.