STRIVING FOR A BETTER CITY - Andrea Lacoursiere was recently recognized for her efforts in non-profit work

Local woman striving to make a difference

Andrea Lacoursiere receives the Pillar of Community Award

  • Sep. 28, 2016 4:01 p.m.

Andrea Lacoursiere was recently recognized for her contributions towards making Red Deer a stronger, more vibrant community through the Leadership Centre’s Pillar of Community Award.

Lacoursiere was nominated for her commitment to Walking With Our Sisters and Red Feather Women as well as her involvement with the Welcoming and Inclusive Community Network and years of effort in various non-profit organizations.

“We all walk through this life with our own experiences. For myself, I have had experiences being vulnerable and being in vulnerable situations. I have had friends who committed suicide, or who have been beaten to within an inch of their lives for living truthfully in this community. I grew up here and am raising my kids here, but in doing that, I work very hard to make this a different community than the one I grew up in,” Lacoursiere said.

“If the only legacy I have is making this community a tiny bit better for my kids, then I will consider that a mission accomplished.”

Lacoursiere said the experience was surreal and somewhat intimidating, due to her preference of working with anonymity.

“I feel intense gratitude to be able to work in the ways that I do,” she said.

“The opportunities I have in our community are not necessarily ones that are afforded to a lot of people. I never in a million years thought there would be recognition for the work I do, because if you do what is right in your heart that is enough to keep you going. There is always work to be done and I’m okay with that.”

According to Linda Wilson, executive director of The Leadership Centre, the Pillar of Community Award was designed to recognize people who tend to fly under the community radar in terms of their efforts. She said the award is about people who act in a dedicated manner to get work done in the community they feel is important.

“Andrea was selected this year for her work in the non-profit sector in various ways, but specifically for her work with the Walking With Our Sisters installation and her dedication in bringing that to Central Alberta. My understanding was that the tour had been established and Andrea was a champion in ensuring that Red Deer would be included on that tour, and she worked diligently to make that a success in Central Alberta,” Wilson said.

“With the nomination process, a sort of resume is submitted as well as three letters of recognition of why people felt Andrea was suited for this recognition. Based on that information, the committee recognized her contributions and thought she’d be a great person to identify this year.”

Lacoursiere said one of the ways she believes in building up a community is simply through listening to one another with open hearts and minds.

“I think we need to build the capacity to listen within our community and to listen with empathy,” she said thoughtfully.

“It’s very easy for people to listen to a problem, smile, nod and walk away but when you employ empathy, you immediately bring yourself to a place where you can’t just walk away. If you choose to live with that attitude, it changes your perspective forever.”

She said allowing herself to listen to others with empathy has allowed her to grow and change towards a better version of herself.

“Everybody wants the opportunity to be heard and to speak out, but it’s important to sometimes put yourself on the other end of that and really value what a person says. Lots of people have almost rehearsed reactions to things and that’s a shame because there is a lot to learn by being present and open when you listen to someone,” she said.

Recently, Lacoursiere was one of many Red Feather Women who actively worked to show support to the victim in a sexual assault case. She said this kind of work was important to her because it shows people in the community they are supported, valued and that people are listening to them.

Lacoursiere continues to work among a number of non-profit groups, and is eager to work with the Welcoming and Inclusive Communities (WIC) Network. She said this is an important piece of her work because it is about creating a better Red Deer for herself and her family, as well as the greater population.

“When I was asked to sit on the WIC Network, I didn’t hesitate. The City is working hard on trying to figure out its identity and I felt if I was asked to help with that, I should step up,” she said.

“Red Deer has its problems, just as we all do, but I’m going to seize every opportunity for sharing what it is like living here in hopes of seeing changes and growth. I have seen homophobia expressed by violence, I have experienced racism, I have worked with street involved people all to try to get a better understanding of why these issues still exist. I’m so grateful that this City isn’t what it was 30 years ago, but we still have a ways to go.”

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