Year in Review – September, October/2019

AB Taekwondo students belt testing.


During Labour Day weekend, Martin Pendrak and his father were putting on an air show for the 40th annual Smith-Hondo Fall Fair. Marten’s plane crashed. Unfortunately, he died. His funeral was at the Smith Complex.

Another tragic accident happened in Slave Lake. Albert Thunder was lying between the rails on the tracks in Slave Lake. A train came and he died. A memorial was held at the tracks and the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre.

One of the sharpshooters in the parade at the Smith-Hondo Fall Fair.

The federal election was called for October 21. Three more candidates joined the race: John Schrader (People’s Party), a rancher from Westlock County; Leslie Penny (Liberal), Barrhead Councillor and an NDP candidate Jennifer Villebrun, who didn’t respond to Leader calls and emails.

In sports, CrossFit hosted the second annual Festivus Games, with both men and women pushing themselves to the limit with strength training and cardio. The Slave Lake Fall Classic slow-pitch tournament had a big turnout. The Roland Michener Secondary School golf team qualified for provincials for the second year in a row. Slave Lake Gymnastics set fees and schedule in preparation for opening later in the fall.

Northern Lakes College student union.

Things started to come together for the Icedogs. Players showed up and started practicing for the season which started in October.

Sawridge First Nation celebrated the tenth anniversary of having its own constitution. It was one of the first First Nations in Canada to draft and ratify a constitution.

Kinuso Fire Department held its annual steak and lobster dinner, several months late. In May, when it was originally scheduled there were only four of 17 firefighters in the area due to wildfires near High Level and Wabasca.

Local environmentalist Jule Asterisk bought an electric car. It has lots of power, she says. The Leader plans to check in with her after it’s been 30 below to see how it copes with the winter.

Festivus Games weight lifting in Slave Lake.

Dr. Nicholaas Lerm joined the Slave Lake Family Care Clinic. His addition allowed the hospital to re-open the OR and have a full obstestrics program. He and his wife moved to Slave Lake from South Africa.

On September 30, the second person was convicted for the 2017 death of Nicole Robar. Braden Eric Foster of Slave Lake was convicted of unlawful confinement, assault and threatening a witness. He was sentenced to two years 10 months in prison and a two-year peace bond.


New Fire Chief Alex Pavcek was off to a good start with fires, but not so great with food. Someone at the station accidentally ordered pizza from San Antonia, by the Alamo, instead of from Alimo’s. The mistake resulted in ‘Random Acts of Pizza’ in Slave Lake and abroad.

Sisters in Spirit in Slave Lake.

On October 4, Slave Lake Native Friendship centre, Swan River First Nation with Kinuso School, and Driftpile First Nation held Sisters in Spirit events to raise awareness about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

Alberta Emergency Response Team training at the Slave Lake weir. Training also took place at ‘Disaster Village’ in Slave Lake.

Three Faust men and a man, whose family lives in the Slave Lake area, went missing on Great Slave Lake. Their bodies weren’t recovered.

In sports, the Lakeshore Volleyball League played every Wednesday. It had five teams of junior high girls. John Keaveny won the second annual Gilwood Grinder, one of the last golf tournaments of the season. Traildusters in Smith celebrated 40 years of horsemanship. Slave Lake Icedogs hit the ice on October 4.

The Mat Program hit a road block. This program provides a safe and warm place for homeless people to sleep. The planning permission was denied a few weeks before it was scheduled to open on Nov. 1. Mat Program Coordinator Barb Courtorielle and volunteers scrambled to try and find a solution. By the end of October, the decision was made to try and renovate the upstairs of the Slave Lake Native Friendship Centre to house the homeless.

Log hauling safety demonstration in Slave Lake.

On Oct. 15, the Town of Slave Lake awarded the contract to demolish two derelict hotels to a local business. This was the beginning of the end of a process that had taken several years.

Town of Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman, Sawridge First Nation Chief Roland Twinn, and M.D. of Lesser Slave River Reeve Murray Kerik exported their knowledge about working together at the Northern Alberta Elected Leaders group.

On October 21, 2019, incumbent Arnold Viersen was elected Member of Parliament for Westlock-Peace River in a landslide. In the student vote, he won, by a small margin.

Melanie Vogel is through-hiking across Canada from the Atlantic to Arctic and Pacific Ocean. She stopped in Smith and Slave Lake, for a few days. She’d been walking for over two-and-a-half years. She was all prepared to walk through the Arctic in the dark of winter.

At the end of October, investigators declared the two fires which started the McMillian Fire in May were arson. Other notable fires, including the 2011 Slave Lake Fire were also arson. Investigation continues, but historically culprits aren’t caught.

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