What a year — and a shortened one at that for our Ukrainian Orthodox neighbours and friends across the Lakeland and the globe, many who are welcoming an historic change to the way they count the days until the next holiday season.
To finish 2023, millions of Orthodox Ukrainians are changing their customary Jan. 7 Christmas Day to the Dec. 25 date in the Revised Julian Calendar. It is huge news... and appropriate for year that has seen global populations and global news cycles trying to keep up with an ever-changing world landscape.
War. It has dominated the lives of millions worldwide this year. Ukraine, Russia, Gaza, Israel, Sudan... and countless others that have briefly caught pieces of the global spotlight, only to be over-shadowed by larger conflicts or worse acts of terror. The environment has shared some of the stage as well through 2023 with tinder-dry conditions in our own country and province wiping away millions of hectares of forests and uprooting countless lives with devastation. In more recent weeks, the volcanic activity in Iceland and the continuing lack of significant wintertime snowfall across many parts of Canada could foreshadow another year of dynamic environmental shifts.
Politically — well, in 2023, many people in rural Alberta driving pickups with a large enough rear window continue to express their single-finger opinions of the country's Prime Minister, and provincially, Premier Danielle Smith continues to send a slightly less direct — but equally intentioned — message to Ottawa with her government's push for an Alberta-owned pension plan.
Locally, communities across the Lakeland have felt the effects of a pinched economy in 2023. Food banks and service agencies are seeing dramatic increases in clients, with the issues of homelessness, vagrancy, crime and safety all over-lapping at increased rates.
While it can seem bleak, there are many bright spots — if you look.
Perhaps because of the increases in human suffering, the spirit of giving continues to shine. Seniors are creating quilt and mitten campaigns, children are connecting with children across the globe through virtual forums and networking, families are donating what they can to help others. People are reaching out to help those in need, and learning more about the lives of others at the same time.
As a news-gathering local business, it has been challenging and incredibly rewarding to provide another year of local and regional community coverage. Local news brings the world to local homes. It connects what may be happening a world away to the everyday lives of Lakeland residents. While the war in Ukraine is thousands of miles away, we have found the local connections, local reactions and local hope. The same hyper-local connections are the foundations of the commitment to our readers when it comes to news from all corners of the world, from across our diverse country, all regions of the province, and of course from the neighbourhoods and streets we travel each day.
The staff of Lakeland This Week and lakelandtoday.ca — in Lac La Biche, Elk Point, Bonnyville, Cold Lake, St. Paul and all points in and around this Lakeland area — are proud to relay the news, the events, and the information that help us all to learn more about our neighbours — near and far. As diverse and dynamic as local and world events were in 2023, it is near-impossible to think what 2024 may bring. As the world around us continues to change, and as we all become better informed about the people we share those changes with, one thought is clear — we are all in this together.
We hope to provide our communities with more opportunities to learn, grow and connect in 2024. Happy New(s) Year.