From the Fort McMurray wildfires to feeling the pinch of the economic downturn, 2016 has been a tough year for many Albertans.
But Albertans are a resilient bunch, and in hard times we're known to step up and help out neighbours, friends, and strangers, alike.
Calgarians helped secure a warm and safe vehicle for a man spotted riding a scooter in a snowstorm, and a Wetaskiwin teen was recognized by the Queen for helping save his stepfather's life — and those are just two of the many sincere and heartwarming stories we saw this year.
Way to go, Alberta. Let's resolve to keep up the kindness in 2017!
Here some of the best feel-good stories of 2016:
A Canadian National Railway conductor was checking the engines on his train in Wainwright, Alta. when he heard a pathetic cry. He called the cat, which jumped right into his arms. He brought the cat home, and while he posted the cat to Saskatoon missing pet pages — where the train had traveled from — he said he would be happy to keep the cat as his own. (Click here
for the full story.)
Calgary Police Service
Four young Calgarians were recognized for their bravery in June for stopping a sexual assault against a teen girl
. On April 2, 2015, at 11:15 p.m., Arnaud Nimenya, Carsyn Wright, James Hielema and Starlyn Rives-Perez were skateboarding in the underground parking lot at Chinook Mall when they stepped in to stop a man from sexually assaulting the girl. They prevented him from escaping and the man was charged.
Angie and Jason Hordichuk were forced from their Fort McMurray home during May's wildfire and never returned — their home burned to the ground. After a few weeks on the road, their trailer, full of the family's most treasured possessions, was also stolen from a campground. A WestJet employee heard their sad tale and wanted to give the Hordichuks a treasured heirloom as a replacement gift for a special ring that had been in Jason's family for decades. Watch the beautiful video here
University of Alberta/Facebook
Rather than condemning racist posters turning up on the University of Alberta campus in September, students set up an educational opportunity called "Turban Eh." Volunteers used cloth donated by the Sikh community to tie turbans on people who were interested, and also handed out pamphlets about Sikh culture, and served free food. (Watch the video here
Language barriers didn't stop Calgary police officers and Syrian refugees from facing off in a friendly soccer match in September. The Calgary Police Service Diversity Resource Team came up with the idea for the practice match as a way to engage the community. (Watch the video here
The Canadian Space Agency is hiring new astronauts, so five-year-old Juliet Munn-Lenz thought she'd put her name down for the job. The Grande Prairie, Alta., girl's qualifications include that she knows "hundreds of facts about space" and "has graduated kindergarten with a grade one level math" — all which she outlined in an adorable video résumé. Check out her audition here
This year, a Calgary non-profit group stepped in at the Calgary Stampede and saved more than a tonne of leftovers. LeftOvers Calgary rescues food before it ends up in the landfill and sends it to people in need. The pancake mix, burger buns and fresh veggies accounted for a massive haul — more than 1,270 kilograms (2,800 pounds) of food for local agencies. Find out more here.
Mike Ridewood/Calgary Stampede
Mary Burger, a 67-year-old Oklahoma grandmother, took the top prize three days in a row in the barrel racing competition
at the 2016 Calgary Stampede, winning herself a total of $16,500. Burger began competing in 1984. She's the world champion barrel racer, with 39 rodeos under her belt and almost $100,000 in earnings this year alone.
A nine-year-old Alberta boy headed to the 2016 NHL Entry Draft after he won a contest
promising to send winners to Buffalo, N.Y., for a VIP draft party. When Melnychuk was born the nerves in his right arm were damaged. His hand has less dexterity so it's hard for him to hold onto a glove, but that hasn't stopped him from getting on the ice.
A tough little Chihuahua managed to survive nearly a week in the wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in June. Bitzy, who weighs just two pounds, was travelling with her owners in Banff National Park. When they pulled over at a rest stop near the border between Alberta and B.C., Bitzy decided to take off. Her owners searched for her for hours with no luck. After five days of surviving without food, water or shelter, an official spotted the dog
Jumbo Donair, Mackenzie Brandvold/Facebook
Maher Taweel, owner of Jumbo Donair, was manning his Edmonton shop in March, when a young man came in who couldn't afford to buy any food. Without hesitating, Taweel asked the man what he wanted and sent him off with a large meal
. Edmontonians took notice of his generosity and flocked to Jumbo Donair. The restaurateur said that he sold three days worth of food in a single night.
A Calgary couple donated one of their late son's most-prized possessions to a Syrian refugee
. Kerri Workman was scrolling through Facebook in February when a video from a group aimed at supporting local Syrian refugees caught her eye. The video made her pause, because it was from a boy about the same age her son Bryce was when he passed away. Bryce had built the bike through Two Wheel View’s Earn-a-Bike program — a local after-school program for Calgary kids age 11-17. He worked on the bike for weeks, finally finishing it around the end of school in June 2014.
Royal Alexandra Hospital/Screengrab
Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Hospital produced a video in early 2016 to remind staff of the importance of making patients and their families feel truly cared for
. The video was inspired by elderly couple Angela and John Molella. After 73 years together — time which brought six children, 18 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren — the couple fell ill within one day of each other, and were admitted to the hospital. Staff recognized the two needed to be together, and made special arrangements for the couple to be together while in palliative care.
Jordan Cartwright, from Grande Prairie, took the stage at the Francis Winspear Centre in December to lead the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra (ESO) through the national anthem during their annual Christmas concert. His spot on stage earned him the title of youngest conductor in the symphony's history
. The seven-year-old has been battling high-risk stage 4 leukemia for nine months, and living at Ronald McDonald House with his family. Staff at Ronald McDonald House took note of his special interest in classical music and got to work, arranging the surprise guest conductor gig for Jordan.
Shell Canada helped evacuate over 8,000 people from Fort McMurray's wildfires in May. When the company heard about one family that still wasn't back home, they decided to bring them some holiday cheer. Mitzi Brydges and Adam Larocque, along with their two sons, were forced to flee along with over 88,000 others. The family lost their home and all of their keepsakes and Christmas decorations in the fire. Shell treated the family to a day at West Edmonton Mall. But, what the family didn't know is that Shell volunteers were back at their temporary home filling it with decorations and gifts. Watch the heartwarming video here
The Calgary-based airline gave back to Fort McMurray families who were impacted by May's devastating wildfires, by parachuting Christmas ornaments from the sky
that included free airline vouchers tucked inside. Attendees to the Snowflake Soiree were also treated to free food and drinks and a concert by country music artist Johnny Reid.
Women wearing hijabs received flowers
in early December as they waited at an Edmonton light-rail transit station where two Muslim women were earlier targeted in what police say could be a hate crime.
Calgarians captivated by a video of a man riding his scooter in positively frosty conditions came together in December to help the cold commuter secure a warmer ride
. In a video posted to Facebook, a man could be seen cruising down the QEII highway riding a small, white scooter on the icy, wind-whipped road. Automaxx Calgary learned of the man's plight, and they decided to gift the man and his family a car.
The Royal Family/Facebook
An Alberta teen was honoured for saving his stepdad's life in November
— by none other than the Queen of England. Eighteen-year-old Tyler Bailer, from Wetaskiwin, Alta., was invited to a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, where Queen Elizabeth II presented him with the Russell Medal. Last July, Bailer was at home one evening with his parents when he heard his mother scream. He ran upstairs and saw his stepfather lying on the floor, not breathing. He sprung into action and began performing CPR until emergency crews arrived to take over.
Calgary proved once more that it has the Jamaican bobsled team's back after the group was stranded with a broken-down van. The 12-member team were back in the city in November to train for the 2018 Winter Olympics, when they ended up stuck on the side of Beddington Trail
. Driving Force, a local trucking company, lent the team a new van and gave them $2,500 for gas and food and Calgarians started a GoFundMe account to help the team buy a new vehicle.
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