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Peace Country President for CMHA in Alberta

September 30, 2007

The Alberta Division of the Canadian Mental Health Association has elected Kathleen Frei, of Grande Prairie, as its President. She is the first person from either of the two northern regions of the province to hold this position.

Ms. Frei, a senior manager at Grande Prairie Regional College, is also the President of North West Region of CMHA and has served on the Division Board since 1998. In 2004, she received the Bettie Hewes Award for Distinguished Volunteer Service.  For the past two years, she has been Executive Vice President.

Frei said: “It is my honour to represent CMHA as its provincial president. It promises to be an exciting year for involvement with mental health in Alberta, with pending legislation and the introduction of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Our services are very much in demand and we look forward to working together with governments and other organizations to improve the quality of life for Albertans living with mental illness.”

The election of the Executive took place Sunday, following Alberta CMHA’s AGM held Saturday night in Edmonton. Completing the Executive are:  Dick Southworth and David Copus of Edmonton, Suzanne Sirias of Raymond, Vincella Thompson of Fort McMurray and Past President Jodi Cohen of Calgary.

Other Division Board Members at Large are: John Stokdjik (Calgary), Louise Bradley (Edmonton) and Barb Kuhnke (Lethbridge). Other Regional Representatives are: Susan Rich (Calgary), Jim Watson (Red Deer), Don McInnes (Lethbridge), Rod Truax (Centre for Suicide Prevention), Ron Mulick (Camrose) and Carol Nieman (Medicine Hat).

One of the highlights of the AGM was the Board appointment of  Dennis Anderson as an Honorary Lifetime Member of CMHA. Mr. Anderson, a former MLA and provincial cabinet minister, has worked tirelessly on advocating for better mental health services, including taking on leadership roles at CMHA, starting the Chimo Project (using animals as part of therapy) and being a founder of the Alberta Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health.  At an earlier ceremony in Calgary, the Board also recognized Calgary Board member Randy Findlay with an Honorary Lifetime Membership for his distinguished service over many years.

The AGM featured presentations of several annual awards.  Receiving the President’s Cup, recognizing outstanding contribution to mental health and CMHA in Alberta, was Robert Campbell of Lethbridge. A previous President at the regional, provincial and national levels, Mr. Campbell is currently Past President of CMHA National. His strong, quiet leadership have given CMHA much-valued strength and stability both internally and in its external relations.

Two awards were given to recipients in the southeast part of the province, with the Oyen Echo winning the Communications Awards for its excellence in providing coverage to mental health programs and issues and Muriel Rogers of Medicine Hat winning the Bettie Hewes Memorial Award for Outstanding Volunteer Services.  The Professional Care  Award was presented to Barbara Lamoureux of Fort Saskatchewan for her work with suicide prevention for young people through the Yellow Ribbon Program.

The AGM was held at the Coast Terrace Inn in Edmonton. The guest speaker was Sandra Harrison, provincial Mental Health Advocate, who spoke on her role in providing a voice for those Albertans living with mental illness.

Copies of the organization’s annual report were also distributed and are available on request from the Alberta Division office.

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