November 2017

What is the legacy that you will leave behind?

Last week I had the opportunity to present on including philanthropy in estate planning. RBC gathered local experts and professional advisors, including our friends from KMSC Law LLP and Fletcher Mudryk LLP, to chat about the importance of planning for the future. I always love the opportunity to bring some heart to a presentation and although estate planning isn’t everyone’s favorite topic, bringing it back to the joy of giving was a wonderful message to leave.

Planning for the future often brings to mind the question of a legacy. Through my presentation I was able to share the story of a tremendous community member named Beth Sheehan. There are some people who are just born with an inextinguishable desire to improve the world they live in. These people hold within them a belief in serving others above themselves. Beth Sheehan was one of these rare souls. Beth was considered a true pioneer of the Peace Region and advocate for our community. She loved this region deeply and through her life made philanthropy a way of life.

In 2008 Beth established the Sheehan Flint Family Fund to empower local post-secondary students and support the community that meant to much to her. Through her life Beth made an impact on her community and through her endowment fund, her legacy will continue to impact our region forever.

It’s that magical time of year when the frost is on the trees, the days are bright and snowy and on blustery evenings we can curl up by the fire in fellowship with the people we love. The holidays are a time for sharing and connecting with community. Start your holiday season on a joyful note. Join us on December 6th for Invest Northwest, our annual granting ceremony where we invest in community and celebrate impact. Through the support of our friends and fund holders, this year’s impact is greater than ever!

Thinking about your own giving legacy? Consider making a holiday gift that gives back today, and forever.

Please feel free to contact me at (780) 538-2820 to discuss how you can partner with the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta in building community, connecting people and increasing our collective sense of belonging throughout the region.

Connect people. Build community. For good, and forever.

Warmest Wishes,

tracy vavrek

Tracey Vavrek, CEO


Random Act of Kindness Day

Our 5th annual Random Act of Kindness Day was an amazing success! Friday, November 3rd, we saw champions from all areas of our community coming together to give back in a truly inspiring way.

Our community was invited to drop-off donations of healthy non-perishable food items, winter gear and hygiene items with your Community Foundation at the Centre 2000. After only a few hours of collecting donations, a truck-full of food & supplies was delivered to our friends at the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre. The donation was met with huge smiles from the staff and clients.

Optimized GP Friendship Centre

Proud Director of the Board Danny Noskey with team members from the Grande Prairie Friendship Centre 

The runaway stars of Random Act of Kindness Day this year were local youth. They took the idea of belonging and ran with it, leading kindness initiatives among their peers and being an example for their schools. Students from all three local school divisions participated in leading acts of kindness and inspiring a sense of belonging in their schools and community. Way to go students!

Thank you to our community for participating in another amazing Random Act of Kindness Day. Together we connect people, build community and inspire belonging in our communities.


Invest Northwest

The Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta invites you to celebrate an amazing year of investing in community.

Invest Northwest is an opportunity to celebrate the deserving recipients of our annual Student Awards and Community Impact Grants. Providing post-secondary students and charitable organizations with the resources they need to succeed is an essential way that your Community Foundation strengthens community throughout our region.

To date, we have disbursed over $4.45 million in grants to charitable organizations, including 192 student awards in support of local post-secondary students in their educational pursuits. Through the relationships with our friends, donors and supporters, the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta continues to invest in community, support future leaders and strengthen our region.

Join us in recognizing the deserving recipients, celebrating community and realizing the impact that endowment funds held at the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta have on our region. Special guest and previous grant recipient Lee Brentnell will be sharing his life-changing journey in Canada’s high arctic this summer – a testament to the amazing impact that investing in community can have.

Optimized Invest Northwest Invitation 4

RSVP to to confirm your attendance.

Year-end Giving

This year consider the gift of philanthropy. Whether it’s a donation in memorial of a loved one, contributing to a cause you care about or simply giving back to community, a gift to your Community Foundation makes a difference today and forever.

To receive a 2017 tax receipt, gifts may be:
• Delivered to our office during regular business hours until Friday, December 22nd.
• Mailed to our office, postmarked December 31 or earlier.
• Made online until 11:59pm on December 31. You can find the Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta’s donation page here.

Donations received after December 31, 2017 will receive a 2018 tax receipt.


Get in touch with your Community Foundation at (780) 538-2820 or at with questions about year-end giving.

Ryan R. Blais Legacy Fund

Ryan R. Blais was a loving guy. He loved camping and spent time outdoors every chance he got. He loved animals, especially his raggedly old rescue cat that lived for 22 years. Ryan loved his job at the Daily Herald Tribune, his second home from the time he was in high school. Above all else, Ryan loved his family. His mom Kathy, brother Tory, wife Tracy and wonderful sons Kyle and Cole were his entire world.

Kathy shares, “From the time Ryan could do anything, he helped.” He was a lovely, smiley baby who grew up spending a lot of time with his Grandmother and Great Aunt. From the time he could lift a shovel he was their maintenance man, helping them out around the house and doing what he could. It seems that Ryan was born with an innate sense of “let me help you with that.”

Kathy smiles as she remembers that Ryan used to take his vacation from the Daily Herald Tribune and travel to Fort St. John to work for a family member making extra money on the side so he could pay the property tax on his house. That was the person Ryan was. He was always dedicated to his family and community. When in need of a helping hand, a kind word or a funny story to cheer you up, Ryan was there.

The distribution centre at the Daily Herald Tribune was Ryan’s second home from the time that he was in 11th grade. When he was in high school at St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, Ryan completed a job placement program that led to a position at the local paper. He enjoyed it so much that he never left.
Sadly, in the summer of 2006, Ryan was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma (PNET), a rare and ruthless form of cancer. During the 18 months that Ryan was sick, he would travel back to Grande Prairie from Edmonton every weekend to spend time with his family. It was a difficult time emotionally, physically and financially, and the weeks spent at the Cross Cancer Institute long and draining; however, throughout it all the wellbeing of his family was the most important thing to Ryan.

At the end of December, 2007 Ryan and his brother Troy attended a hockey game in Edmonton. On the drive back Ryan made it a point to let his brother know that after he was gone, Troy had a job to do. In fact, at the Cross Cancer Institute Ryan’s nurses said that he wasn’t afraid of dying; his only concern was support for his mom and his sons after he was gone. Having family look after each other was always important to Ryan; loving and caring for one another is an integral part of the legacy that he left behind.

On February 18, 2008, at the age of 29, Ryan R. Blais passed away. His mom remembers “They had the entire chapel and the lunchroom packed full of people, and there was a lineup of people out the door of Oliver’s Funeral Home waiting to get in.” The impact of Ryan’s life was clear that day and remains through the tremendous legacy of love that he left behind.

Ryan R. Blais

The Ryan R. Blais Legacy Fund was established by the staff at the Daily Herald Tribune to recognize the life of an incredible man and to support deserving graduates of St. Joseph Catholic High School that share Ryan’s caring and compassionate nature. The journey of the endowment fund is a testament to Ryan’s impact as it has received support from the entire community including graduating classes from St. Joseph’s Catholic High School, staff from the paper and his family. The Fund supports post-secondary students today and will continue to empower future community leaders forever.

Ryan lived his life with compassion and love for others and that is the legacy he leaves behind.

You can contribute to Ryan’s legacy through by making a donation to the Ryan R. Blais Legacy Fund online or by getting in touch with your Community Foundation. 

See the Impact

Meeting Community Needs, Today and Forever

Every year around this time we see the need for community services spike. Between transportation around the city in winter, emergency shelters being at capacity and filling everyone’s pantry for the holiday season, the ask of our community is great.

The mission of Your Community Foundation is to connect people and build community. For good, and forever. Endowment funds held at the Foundation provide Community Impact Grants to agencies throughout our region, supporting valuable projects and programs that build community.

Programs like the Salvation Army’s Soup Kitchen, the MD of Spirit River’s Soupier Seniors Soup Kitchen, school snack programs through the Grande Prairie Public School District and Peace Wapiti School Division, and regional food banks in Beaverlodge and Sexsmith help to ensure that communities throughout our region can weather difficult times.

Optimized Salvation Army Foodbank2 increase middletones

Salvation Army Soup Kitchen

The Grande Prairie Friendship Centre’s One Window Resource is drop-in program that works to address the needs of the most vulnerable in our community, providing them with resources to access things like food, clothing, hygiene items, emergency shelter and fellowship.

Through Community Impact Grants, your Community Foundation supports programs like these that are vital to the wellbeing of community members, especially during vulnerable times.

You can find all of the Community Impact Grants from 2016 in our Annual Report

Thank You! From Your Community Foundation

Hi there!

This is Tracy and Allison – the dynamic duo working behind the scenes at your Community Foundation. As we wind down a truly amazing year, we wanted to take a minute to say thank you!

Looking back on 2017, we are more thankful than ever for the tremendous support of our community. From Nourish the North Wine & Auction to Northwestern Alberta’s Vital Signs, Random Act of Kindness Day and wrapping it all up with Invest Northwest, it is clear that we are supported by an amazing community that is dedicated to giving back. Through the support of our fundholders, friends, volunteers, ambassadors, Board of Directors and our entire community, we connect people and build community, making a difference in our region each day. 

Thank you to each and every one of you. It is because of you that we have the opportunity to make a difference and give back through doing what we love.

Best wishes,
Tracy Zuk and Allison Richels

Nov staff pic

Board of Director Opportunity

Are you are looking for a place to make a difference, feel personally satisfied and be appreciated for your skills? The Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta is accepting resumes for Board of Directors positions for 2018 appointment.

Embracing the Smart & Caring Communities vision, the Board of Directors works at a governance level to ensure regional residents are served by the Community Foundation and are provided opportunities to strengthen their connection to their community.

One of the most valuable assets of any Community Foundation is its Board of Director. This group of community leaders brings vision, dedication and energy to making a difference in their community today and into the future.
The Board of Directors is the governing body of the Community Foundation. Accountable for the operation of the Foundation, within the parameters established by law, its overall responsibility is that of governance. This includes providing leadership, setting direction, establishing policies and ensuring sound management.

The Board of Directors is chosen for their skills and experiences and commitment to building for the long-term success of regional communities. Representing a variety of fields including finance, estate law, accounting, governance and community leadership, they draw on their collective wealth of experience to successfully govern the Foundation into the future.

Director’s acts in a position of trust for the community and is responsible for the effective governance of the organization. Responsibilities include:
• Embrace the Foundation movement and direction of the Community Foundation
• Be willing to embrace the Foundation’s mission of philanthropic leadership in the community and support its objectives in asset building and grantmaking
• Have a reputation within his or her profession and the community that would serve to enhance the public image of the Foundation
• Serve on one or more committees
• Fully embrace the ambassador role
• Full attendance at board meetings, committee meetings and annual general meetings
• Actively support fund development and fund development activities
• Commit approximately 10 hours per month to meet the role of a board member which includes participating in a volunteer capacity on Management Committees under the management of the CEO

Board members shall be appointed to the Board for a term of 3 years and can hold up to 2 consecutive terms.

Please submit your resume via email to highlighting your skills and community experience, plus a statement regarding what you feel you can do to further the goals of the Foundation, by Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 4:30 pm.

To learn more, please contact:
Tracey Vavrek, CEO
(780) 538-2820

Devon Wardley, Chair of the Board of Directors
(780) 539-4110


Through the generosity of our fundholders, the support of community partners, and the continued success of events like Nourish the North Wine & Auction, Northwestern Alberta’s Vital Signs and Random Act of Kindness Day, your Community Foundation supports meaningful projects and programs to build smart and caring communities. Your Community Foundation of Northwestern Alberta invests in our region because community matters. Join us in being part of the Community Foundation movement.


2023 Vital
Impact Leaders

Thank You!

We are very proud of the continued relationships with the following community leaders. Partnerships with organizations that are dedicated to giving back to their local community ensure that your Northwestern Alberta Foundation can continue to build community. Please support those who support us!

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