Monthly Archives: February 2011

Alberta Handicrafts Guild Keeping the Tradition Alive

What do you imagine when you think of knitting? Do you think of your grandmother sitting in a rocking chair in the winter making a hat or scarf? Well, there are some  members who might fit that scene at the Alberta Handicrafts Guild, but drop by on a Tuesday morning  at Bow Cliff Centre and you see a very different picture. The centre is filled to the brim with  80 women who are laughing, talking, working on their crafts, sharing snacks and stories. These are vibrant, hard working women who are able to use their creativity in such beautiful and practical ways with the crafts they make.

On any given day the Guild meets, you will find women working on knitting, quilting, tatting, or embroidery. We even have some weavers and some hookers… Rug Hookers that is! They make beautiful pieces that are truly works of art! And don’t be surprised to see a group of women talking about a project, and see them taking it apart because they didn’t get it “quite right”. There is a level of pride in their work and a bit of perfectionism in this group of women, I fear.

Women sharing at the Alberta Handicrafts Guild

The members are modern women who have businesses, homes, families, and they fit crafting into their busy lives. To stand in the room and watch them share their skills, their stories and their lives with each other warms the heart. And their commitment to keeping the ancient art of Handicrafts shines through their stories and their conversations. There is an honoring of the traditional, but a beautiful mix of modern and whimsical in their pieces that they see as opportunities to express their creativity.

Alberta Handicrafts Guild, Modern Quilt Style with scanned pictures.

The Alberta Handicrafts Guild members do knitting for charities such as hats & blankets for Preemie babies at the Calgary Children’s Hospital Neo-natal unit, they do Chemo Caps for Cancer patients, wheelchair lap afghans for assisted living centres. And that’s not all the Guild does for charity! The members who do quilting make placemats for Meals on Wheels clients, as well as cosmetics bags for the women at the Calgary YWCA Sheriff King Home, which is a shelter for abused women.

So if you want to try a craft, and don’t know what to make, perhaps you could do some charity knitting or quilting, so your projects can be fun and useful. You will be warmly invited by the members to share in crafts, socializing and fun!


Learn Beginner Quilting

The Alberta Handicrafts Guild is a vibrant, active group which meets on Tuesday 9:00am to 3:00pm, and 2nd & 4th Thursday of each month  6:30 to 9:30 pm at Bow Cliff Centre.

Watch a member talk about Embroidery at the Handicrafts Guild.

Watch the video to hear one of the members discuss Beginner quilting.

Have you been wanting to try a craft, but don’t know how? Or know how, but haven’t found the time lately to do crafts?  If you are interested in joining a class, come down when the Handicrafts Guild meets. The Handicrafts Guild offers classes to adults 18+ (they don’t offer childrens classes)

Or contact Bow Cliff Centre at or phone 403-207-1383

Let’s Think Bigger, or What’s Our Vision for Canada?

There’s been a lot in the media this week about the federal government’s decision to cut the number of family reunification visas that they will be issuing for parents/grandparents from 16,000 to 11,000. Most of the concern seems to be around the cost to Canada as these people age and receive benefits, specifically:
  • CPP: In order to receive benefits from the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), a person has to have contributed to the program through payroll taxes. The benefits are calculated based on how long a person has contributed and at what rate, so it is really based on a person’s work experience in Canada. (There are problems with this, of course, such as the role of stay-at-home parents in the system, but that’s for another blog post.)
  • OAS/GIS: Old Age Security (OAS) provides you with a “modest” pension that starts when you turn 65, but you have to live in Canada for 10 years in order to qualify.The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) provides additional income to low income people who already qualify for the OAS (10 years in Canada). The rates for both are dismally low, with a maximum monthly benefit of about $1,200 a month – if you’ve lived in Canada for 40 years after the age of 18. Benefits are reduced for those who’ve lived here less.
  • Other Benefits: There is an Allowance or Allowance for the Survivor for those aged 60-64 whose spouses are collecting or who collected OAS. People receiving this allowance have to be in a low income bracket, have to be a Canadian citizen or legal resident and have to have lived in Canada for 10 years.
Personally, I see this as a bigger story than just numbers (just like I see the secondary suite debate as a bigger debate than parking and neighbourhood density, which is also another blog post). The impact of caring for aging parents on a family is enough of a task; putting legal barriers in the way of family responsibilities just adds to the stress. And it’s not just permanent immigration – trying to bring a family member here for a wedding or celebration has also become an almost impossible task for many immigrants. (If a family member has applied to immigrate, they are not allowed to visit until that claim is dealt with. The current wait for a claim to be resolved is 13 years. What’s happened in the last 13 years that you would have missed?)
As the population of the world ages, this is an issue we’re going to see again and again. As a country, we need to develop better ways of addressing the needs of seniors, their families and the greater communities in which they live.  The debate needs to be bigger than money – it needs to be about values and ethics and how we support each other in creating a better future for all. The vision needs to include how seniors age in community and how we support families as they address the needs of aging parents and grandparents – and it needs to include how we’re going to pay for that support. I’m not immune to the funding debates. I’m just not willing to have them be the only thing guiding my thought process.
(Cross-posted at Witch-Ways, where I’ve been crafting magic on the internet since 1994.)

Handicrafts Guild Samples

The Alberta Handicrafts Guild meets at Bow Cliff Centre on Thursday evenings 6:30 to 9:00pm.  They displayed some items to give a sampling of what beautiful pieces of art can be created from this hobby.

Handicrafts Guild Display

Rug Hooking  Wall Hanging ” Yard of Gardens”

Hand Quilting “Blue Bird”

Pieced Work “Tranquil Water Garden”

Water Colour Technique ” Floral Wreath”

Pieced Work “Mama Loon and Baby”

Sewing Machine Embroidery “Garden Door”

Exercise Classes tailored for Older Adults

Lynn teaches exercise class at Bow Cliff Centre tailored to the Active Older Adult. She starts with cardio to keep them active at their pace.

Lynn offers a wide variety of classes designed to suit the needs of her participants. In general, classes focus on functional fitness. All activities are designed to help people maintain their independence and make their daily lives easier and therefore more enjoyable. Social interaction is a very important component of emotional well being and group classes are a wonderful way to make new friends while getting fit.

The members work on muscle strengthening that you use for daily activities, helping with Fall Prevention, fine motor skills, and reflexes.

Lynn incorporates ball exercises that help with reflexes, and fine motor skills.
She helps members with muscle toning, along with challenging them with memory, and multitasking, for accident prevention.

Lynn uses a wide range of pieces of equipment with everything from rubber chickens to balls and balloons to present challenges for everyone.  Classes include cardiovascular, strength, flexibility, balance and coordination training and also amusing mental tasks to keep the grey matter stimulated.

Lynn also incorporates her dance moves for fun and keeping participants limber.  She challenges people with memory function, fine motor skills and memorizing patterns, all while doing the exercises.

Everyone is encouraged to participate at his/her own fitness level and within his/her own physical/health limitations.  It is never too late to improve your physical fitness. Muscles will get stronger when challenged. 

 Fall prevention is epidemic in the older adult population therefore the balance and coordination training are crucial in improving reflexes and helping people to become more agile. Whether you would prefer a gentle chair class or a more vigorous aerobics or dance class, Bow Cliff is the place to be.

Bow Cliff & Calgary Dollars – A Perfect Match!

Calgary Dollars (C$) is hosting their monthly marketplace on Monday, February 14, at the centre. Not only can you get dinner for $5 (pasta, tomato sauce, salad, bun, coffee and dessert), you can also enter to win:

Send us your Calgary Dollars story or bring it in writing to Monday’s Market at Bow Cliff and you will be entered into a draw for an awesome prize of Calgary Dollars Cash or a Gift Certificate from a participating Calgary Dollars business. Below is a great example, However you must attend the market to win! Read more…

C$ will also be hosting an Abilitries Workshop to help you learn more about the program and how it can work for you. There will also be vendors selling a variety of wares.

We just love working in partnership with the community. See you then!

Roy’s Presentation of Ripple Rock in Seymour Narrows from 1943

Roy shared his story of Ripple Rock in Seymour Narrows, off the coast of Vancouver from 1943.

Part 2 of Roy’s story. Roy was working on the William Gay Stewart, a hydrographic survey boat that he worked on when he was a launch driver in spring 1944.

Part 3 of Roy’s story. Years later  the boat that had been converted into a restaurant. Roy and his family  revisited history 62 years later when they visited the boat-restaurant.

Stan’s War Stories

Our member, Stan is a participant in the LINKages program. He shared his story with us that he told the students from St Michael’s School last week.  Stan was in the war posted in Ghana. Watch to hear his 2 interesting stories, very interesting to hear his escapades in the war.

Working Together to Get Seniors Moving (in More Ways than One)

In October 2007, I started in my current position as an Executive Director of a nonprofit. As many EDs quickly discover, the job description and what you actually end up doing can be two very different things. Part of that evolution for me at Bow Cliff Seniors has been the increased emphasis on transportation issues facing our members: driving cessation, concerns about snow removal in neighbourhoods, changes in transit routes as the new West LRT line is developed, and challenges with Access Calgary and taxi wait times as a result of increased demand for these services, and so on. And, like many Executive Directors, I work best in collaboration.

One of the committees that I sit on, the ElderNet Transportation Planning Table, has been working on a mapping strategy to look at where seniors travel in our city and where the gaps are. It’s been a fascinating process already: learning that the trip from one senior centre to a hospital in the same city quadrant can take up to two hours on transit, while another transit route from a hospital to several care facilities has its last bus of the evening leave 15 minutes before visiting hours are over, has us thinking about “what” people are doing when they use transit. This is starting to make the news in Toronto as well: proposed cuts to routes would impact people who are mobile (War on Roller Derby) and not-so-mobile (Fiorito: Cuts threaten bus service to Toronto’s deaf-blind community).

Another collaboration opportunity has been the involvement of nursing students from the University of Calgary at our centre. This semester, the group is looking at how our members get to the centre, get groceries and get themselves to health services on a regular basis. I’ve also encouraged them to do a community survey to assess walking, transit and driving issues in the immediate neighbourhood, as keeping people engaged in community means being able to access it. It will be interesting to see what gaps they find here in relation to the bigger ElderNet project.

This week I’m also meeting with the coordinator of Get Up and Go, which connects seniors with “buddies” in an attempt to get people to ride transit. I’m hoping that the program will be a fit for BCS members, both as a way of getting more people to the centre (so they can participate in programs, access services, and not be isolated!) but also as another way of sparking a transit advocacy strategy process in the community. I still think the key to getting seniors using transit is to get them on it before they’re seniors, but that’s going to be a bigger project. (Hmmm….)

Trying to address social isolation without looking at root causes like transportation is a futile exercise. I’m glad that there are so many opportunities to work with others in the community, and I’m glad so many of them are recognizing that our transportation systems include more than individual vehicle ownership. What a radical concept, non?

(Cross-posted at Witch-Ways and Zero-Fare Canada.)