There is no question that Hobbema has been getting a lot of national attention recently thanks to some fatal shootings featured in many newspapers and television news channels. The attention escalated even more when two year-old Asia Saddleback was critically injured in a drive by shooting. The terrible incident instantly made Hobbema a main focus in the province.
It is understandable and logical that the media would grab at this kind of news for print or broadcasting but what seems to go unnoticed is the positive people, events and aspects of the community.
It seems that a lot of media tend to miss factors like the response and plans of the community, the programs implemented to combat violence and the education executed to give children tools to stay out of gangs.
It is estimated that in Hobbema there are 13 gangs consisting of approximately 250 gang members, which make up one per cent of the population of Hobbema. That one per cent does have people worried but there are some great programs that are working to combat the violence or build a strong and healthy community.
Hobbema has stepped up in a huge way and continues to battle the problems that the community is faced with. For being a small community, that is a great testimony and deserves a lot of respect. In larger communities there tends to not be a major, pr–olonged outcry when there is a homicide and it seems that the issue is left solely up to the police. Edmonton has the highest homicide rate among major Canadian cities, and the numbers are still rising. In 2005, according to Statistics Canada, there were 109 victims of homicide, up from 86 victims in 2004. For most of the tragedies the homicides will show up on the news once and not be referred to in depth again. It may be incorrect to assume that the city is not doing more than just increasing the number of provincial and municipal officers but it’s probably safe to say that they are not working as innovatively and consistently as the members in Hobbema.
Hobbema has come together as a community and put together programs such as a task force to execute a no tolerance for drugs and gang violence, the RCMP has enforced a curfew as well as developed a gun amnesty program. The plans for a safe community continue to be carried out and developed in the community.
Aside from programs geared toward curbing gang-related activity, Hobbema has excelled with community building and culture-rich events, has a positive focus on education including DARE programs and has recently hosted the National Aboriginal Firefighting Championships and the 2008 Investors Group Hockey Alberta Provincials.
There are also key members in Hobbema that have been making a difference and are positive leaders and role models for Canadians. Cpl. Darrel Bruno has been in the RCMP for 20 years, Former chief Victor Buffalo is being installed as an officer of the Order of Canada, body builder Clay Bruno is the founder of the Get Fit Challenge, Shane Yellowbird is making his way to the top of the music industry and there are many more leaders in the community.
The negative happenings in Hobbema are not to be ignored but the outstanding efforts of the community should definitely be recognized and commended.
It is challenging for a community to battle negative attention and not let that discourage them from making everyday changes toward a brighter community. Hobbema continues to be a leader in the province and the news of their successes should be celebrated and spread across the country.