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Grande Cache | Yvonne Rempel & Sonia Paquette

Posted on Dec 31 at 8:12am

Meet Community Animators

Yvonne Rempel and Sonia Paquette from Grande Cache

Yvonne Rempel and Sonia Paquette have been Rural Mental Health Community Animators in Grande Cache since 2019. Yvonne works in human and social services, and Sonia works for the Community Adult Learning Program in Grande Cache.

Sonia is open about her personal journey with mental health and the importance of breaking the stigma surrounding it. She is an advocate for destigmatizing mental health issues and promotes honest conversations. She says that mental health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being and should be discussed openly and without judgment. Yvonne is excited about the opportunities available to promote mental well-being in Grande Cache and emphasizes the importance of an asset-based approach to community development. 

Identifying the Need for Connection 

Together, Yvonne and Sonya began by identifying both the available resources for community mental well-being and the opportunities for added support. They quickly realized that there was already a wealth of information and resources. This realization laid the foundation for the newspaper project they embarked on using Rural Mental Health Project grant funding.

The newspaper project idea arose during the community resource assessment. Sonia's background in the newspaper industry presented the opportunity to use the newspaper as a powerful tool to connect people and showcase the vibrant and diverse aspects of Grande Cache. Through articles, events, and stories, the newspaper aimed to reveal the hidden talents, accomplishments, and offerings of the town's residents, businesses, and organizations. 

The Power of Community Support

The community's enthusiastic support for the project was a testament to the deep connections formed and the willingness of individuals to share their stories. This made the project all the more meaningful to Sonia and Yvonne as they witnessed the positive impact of community engagement, mental well-being, and the power of storytelling firsthand. The inclusion of a home delivery service staffed by local families further strengthened community connections. The content of their newspaper was intentionally focused on uplifting and inspiring stories, providing readers with a respite from the negative news overload. They wanted their publication to be a beacon of light in a time of hardship, keeping the community's spirits high.

Yvonne and Sonia recognize that working alongside the community and adopting the rural mental health vision philosophy goes beyond simply allocating funds to increase staff. It involves promoting mental health awareness and well-being within the local context of Grande Cache, leveraging existing assets, strengths, and knowledge. The unexpected success of the community newspaper project has allowed Yvonne and Sonia to create connections, tell stories, and contribute to community well-being in a truly impactful way.

 Learning as You Grow

Throughout the entire process, Sonia and Yvonne encountered many learning curves. Adapting and being open-minded became essential aspects of the newspaper project. Learning was an integral part of the journey, whether it was about the community, newspaper operations, or making necessary adjustments.

Yvonne reflects on a significant "aha" moment in her community development work spanning over 15 years. She acknowledges that it's easy to get caught up in excessive planning and overthinking, even when the end goal is clear. However, the community newspaper idea felt different for Yvonne. She finds it refreshing to tap into the collective assets, strengths, and knowledge within their community, bringing everything together in the form of a newspaper every other week.

For Sonia, taking a chance on herself and pushing through personal boundaries were transformative experiences. The experience of working on the newspaper project allowed her to tap into her hidden talents and develop a newfound trust in herself. It taught her the importance of taking a chance on oneself and pursuing meaningful endeavours.

Yvonne firmly believes in finding like-minded individuals who share a similar vision and passion. Sonia and Yvonne agree that every Animator forms part of a larger community, and they all have the opportunity to nurture and strengthen their community. It's about more than just starting new projects; it's about supporting the ongoing initiatives within the community.

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