Lady Justice: Dead rear in the rearview mirror

“There is nothing to do in Red Deer.” Red Deer also has the nickname “Dead Rear”. The exasperating part is that both the comment and moniker are most often heard from Red Deerians themselves, including ones that should know better. Such municipal “pride” is anemic to the development of our potential. Sometimes I think we are successful in spite of ourselves, at other times I notice we are overwhelming underachievers.

Alberta is the economic engine of Canada. People both nationally and internationally are flocking to our province. The economy is starting to successfully diversify. Red Deer has natural beauty, incredible resources and amazing talent with a growing arts and culture scene.

Having potential and realizing it are two different things. Red Deer also has a central location advantage to lead as a destination for events and conferences with beautiful surrounding communities including one with the most beautiful lake in the province. Success is usually not an accident but the result of strategic and passionate effort.

This August, Central Alberta held our first Afro-Caribbean Festival in downtown Red Deer. Thousands attended this inaugural event, spotlighting our ability to hold such events, along with our growing diversity. More people wished they knew about it and want to attend, volunteer, or otherwise participate next year. The talent, food and artisans were fantastic. Centrefest and Central Alberta Pride also held two excellent events supporting the downtown core and the Westerner Days Parade was back in full force. Moments to not focus on homelessness and empty offices but on our potential.

People came from all over the province to support the Afro-Caribbean Fest initiative from the newly founded African Caribbean Centre of Central Alberta (ACCoCA). What I heard from a number of sources is “it’s about time”. I vociferously agree. I was so proud of us.

There is strength in diversity of people too. Our growing Hindu community is in the process of fundraising to build a Hindu temple in Red Deer. Currently, its members need to travel to Calgary or Edmonton in order to attend one. I am advised that members of the Hindu community seeking to relocate to Canada (or elsewhere) will search “Hindu temple” while determining their new residence for themselves and their families. I wonder if they are also googling “what is there to do in Red Deer?”. Hopefully not at the top of the rankings is the Dead Rearian’s response that there is nothing to do.

Red Deer City Council has now endorsed hosting the Alberta Municipalities Conference and Trade Show, which would take place every three years from 2024 onwards. The leading-edge courthouse is being completed. The hospital will be built.

My new favourite, the Smart Manufacturing Technology Exposition (SmartMTX), has announced it is returning to Westerner Park for its second year. Westerner Park is picking up its game. So is the Tourism Board. The Red Deer Resort and Casino is a gift, with event centre construction underway.

It takes two to three years to establish a new venture. Just as they say that it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to raise a city. Don’t wait for things to succeed (as they will likely fail if everyone waits), get on the bandwagon early.

I hope that the “Dead Rear” cheerless-leaders do not go to their job interviews emphasizing that they are nothing special. If you want to take yourself for granted and tell your future employer how you are nothing special, I’m not stopping you. But as part of my municipal team, if you have nothing nice to say…

Let’s get off our dead rears and appreciate our Red Deer. We all need to be part of the A (“Eh”) team and believe we are the heart of the entrepreneurial spirit by all being leaders.

Donna Purcell, K.C., (aka Lady Justice) is a Central Alberta lawyer and Chief Innovation Officer with Donna Purcell QC Law. If you have legal questions, contact

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