Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Coping with social breakdown in Fort McMurray

The social impacts of massive, out of control development in Fort McMurray is costing dearly on the issues of health, particularly for new parents and children, with both inadequate housing and a society with few community driven aspects but a severe amount of alcohol and drug abuse, combined with attendant violence. Even the desperate tone of the situation described in this glossy government pamphlet from Food for Two shows the dire situation for services and basic life conditions. It is set to escalate in a manner absolutely out of control, literally.


Food for Two, Fort McMurray, Alberta

Since 1996, Food for Two has been offering support to the women of Fort McMurray, Alberta to enhance their health during pregnancy and the health of their children. Food for Two, which is located in Fort McMurray's The Children's Centre, is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada through the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP) and receives additional support through community donations and fundraising activities. The program is offered in partnership with the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre, which offers the support of its public health nurses and registered dietitian.

Most of the program participants are in their late teens and face issues such as poverty and homelessness due to the shortage of affordable housing in the community. Many also experience family violence and/or drug and alcohol abuse. With a participation rate of more than double the 50 women funding allows for, it is clear that Food for Two fills a vital role in the community. Linda Lynch, the Program Facilitator, explains that the program is geared toward those facing conditions of risk, "but if someone wants to come in, we let them. If a mom is stressed, we don't turn her away. "

"A lot of these young ladies face huge troubles, "Linda explains. "They are single mothers, they are going to school, they have to live in Fort McMurray and it's so expensive that women are living on the street. "Some of the mothers stay at a home that Linda runs called Angel Manor. This house is solely for homeless women who are pregnant or have children less than one year old.
Mom and son

A woman can come to Food for Two when she learns she is pregnant and stay up until her child is one year old. She is then welcome to attend the Parent/Toddler program offered by The Children's Centre. Food for Two offers weekly prenatal and postnatal classes, both of which include an educational component along with a lunch. Guest speakers from the community do some of the information sessions. These may involve a registered dietitian bringing the mothers on a grocery store tour to provide information on low-cost, nutritious foods, or a public health nurse talking about immunizations, breastfeeding, or car seat safety. One day, a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) facilitator may come in to do a presentation and another day a parent-toddler facilitator may lead a sing-along that encourages interaction between the mothers and their babies. Another day, the moms may have a presentation from the YMCA Youth Connections to learn about budgeting or they may go to the YMCA for a mom-and-tot swim. The program activities are endless!

For lunch, two low-cost, nutritious main dishes and a dessert are served, which ensures the moms are eating at least one good meal a week. The program supplies participants with coupons for 6 litres of milk each week. Additional nutrition support is provided through prenatal vitamins donated by Northern Lights Regional Health Centre. If a mother is malnourished, a coupon to buy Ensure will also be provided. For mothers who are having a lot of difficulty affording food, Linda will help them access the food bank. If they are still having problems accessing food, Linda will give the moms a food hamper to help them get the essential nutrients. Linda often brings the participant along when she is making the food hamper in order to improve the mom's grocery shopping skills.

Linda also makes home visits five to six times each week to different program participants to ensure that all the moms' needs are met. She says, "It's always good for the mothers to know that we're here if they need us. I love going on home visits because I'm in their environment and they'll make you feel welcome, and even show you their pictures. "Linda brings the moms gift bags when their babies are born, filled with items such as baby shampoo and lotion, bibs, bottles, a thermometer, toy, a candle and a baby book.

For moms who have difficulties making it to the program, the program offers bus coupons and some women are picked up at home by a bus from The Children's Centre. "The women just love coming down here. Coming to the program is sort of like a sanctuary for them, "Linda says. "So many of the ladies have made best friends through meeting people here because they have the same things in common. It doesn't matter where they come from; if they come from money, if they don't come from money, it doesn't matter. "

Being involved in a program that is so influential in the lives of participants makes working for Food for Two a rewarding job. Linda says, "There is not a day that I don't love coming into work because it's always different; it's always interesting and I love to help people or at least be there for them if they need something." Food for Two has proven itself to be a truly vital part of the community of Fort McMurray.

Oilsandstruth.org is not associated with any other web site or organization. Please contact us regarding the use of any materials on this site.

Tar Sands Photo Albums by Project

Discussion Points on a Moratorium

User login


Syndicate content