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Back  |  December 25, 2014  | 

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Most years (even before I was mayor!) I write a column for the Calgary Herald to support the newspaper's Christmas Fund. Here's my article about finding the Christmas spirit during an unlikely time of the year.

It might be odd to find the spirit of Christmas on a weekend in June, but that’s exactly what happened to me earlier this year.

On June 21, Calgarians held our first annual Neighbour Day. At block parties, work bees, parades, and bbqs, in every quadrant of our city, we celebrated what makes our communities great.

Strength, resilience, compassion. While it may have been the anniversary of a certain natural disaster, the common refrain that day was "we’re going to do this again next year!" Not because we must commemorate a flood, but because we must acknowledge that special spirit we hold dear: the belief that this is a city of opportunity for all and the truth that, regardless of where we live in this city, we are all neighbours who share in each other’s hardships and success.

Supporting our fellow citizens when they need our help the most. Providing the opportunity to live a great Canadian life. Is that not also the spirit of Christmas?

We are blessed to live in a city where that spirit is held in the hearts of many and shown throughout the year. Yet, this does not mean we are free from the social ills that plague society. Too many of us experience hunger, poverty, homelessness, addiction, and family violence. Many more are affected by mental illness.

So let’s take this opportunity to remind ourselves of the need that surrounds us and the role we can all play during this Christmas season.

The beauty of the Calgary Herald Christmas Fund is that it helps us spread our donation dollars between 12 worthy non-profit organizations to maximize our reach on issues that matter to Calgarians. Your donation will go to the Distress Centre to make sure we have support for our neighbours when they are experiencing crisis. But it will also go to the local Canadian Mental Health Association to provide important health programming for Calgarians. And it will also support the YWCA’s Mary Dover House to help women and children fleeing domestic violence.

I’m proud that The City of Calgary also plays a role in funding many of the important non-profit organizations that serve our citizens. Through the recent budget debate, your City Council reaffirmed our support for Family and Community Support Services and the granting work it does in the community. But we know that government support is not enough to tackle every challenge we face. In most cases, government grants only cover a fraction of the need.

So, this holiday season, I encourage you to extend that Calgarian spirit of generosity. We are lucky to live in this great city for so many reasons; it should be our responsibility to give back as much as we can.

May all Calgarians have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!

- Mayor Naheed Nenshi​

Categories: Columns; Poverty; Stronger communities

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