My late husband Carl Allard and me in 2006. We had just purchased this truck, which we affectionately called ‘prettiful’ (a made-up word that suited it well). Carl had a big personality and is missed by many. I’m campaigning in his honour.
I grew up on the West Coast, mostly in the Lower Mainland of BC where I met my late husband Carl. We moved to Redcliff with my two children in 1989 where his parents Joe and Lila lived. Carl and I moved our growing family to Medicine Hat in 1996. I love it here — sun all year round, wide-open spaces, and very little precipitation. I’ll never leave.
Carl and I raised 4 children together, from time to time some of his other children from previous marriages would live with us. We struggled with finances for a long time, various things set us back - cancer, a serious motor vehicle accident, health issues. We aren’t the only ones with hardships, and we made it through by doing more with less, improvising, stretching our finances, and repurposing items.
A family trip to Fernie with my daughters and a couple of grandkids.
My husband was often away working on the pipelines. I balanced running a household full of lively, intelligent children while working various jobs in Medicine Hat — a server, grocery store cashier, personal care aide, and running a gardening business. I also studied full-time at Medicine Hat College. Meals were always home-cooked, fast food was a rare treat. Needless to say, I became incredibly good at balancing priorities, budgeting, and diplomacy!
CB the Truck Kitty
When work in the oil patch dried up, we bought a used highway tractor and Carl went trucking — hauling flat deck B-trains from BC to Manitoba. We later bought a new truck, paying in full. When the kids all left home, I went trucking with him full time as his swamper/navigator/companion. He had an artificial leg so I tried to do most of the tying down and securing the loads especially in winter, I did need him to help me with the 100lb tarps and the tire chains. Chaining up on Roger’s Pass in the cold and the snow is not much fun but we had CB the Truck Kitty to make us laugh. Carl was an amazing man who could climb all over the loads despite the prosthetic leg; a 10- hour day was a short day for him. We were the rare couple that could work and live together in a very small space.
Advocating for better health care in 2019.
When I believe in something, I’m not afraid to stand up for it. I’ve been publicly advocating for different issues for more than 40 years. Here are some highlights from the last 20 years:
Equal Access to School Bussing: In 2000, the school board tried to introduce a fee for children bussing outside of their catchment area. I went down to the school board office, and became a one-woman picket line. I wrote letters to the newspaper. I made a fuss.
And the school board backed down- to this day, there are no fees for any child riding a school bus.
Fighting - and Winning - Against Workers’ Compensation: I went to bat against Workers’ Compensation following my husband’s workplace injury. It took five years before we won, along with a ton of detective work and even more persistence. I’m not afraid of a challenge.
Safe & Adequate Health Care: My husband had trouble accessing the thorough and safe care he needed from the medical system. I got tired of waiting for an adequate response to my second formal complaint, so I went and picketed the provincial building. Community TV interviewed me, and finally, my husband was appointed a formal liaison to address his ongoing care. Health authorities asked to use our story as a learning tool, and I was happy to agree to it.
I have no issue making a nuisance of myself to have my voice heard if conventional efforts don’t work. Of course, I believe in being polite - When you are kind and patient, people will often go the extra mile to give you what you want/need. If that does not work, I will escalate. When necessary, I go all out.
I do pick my battles, I make sure they are worth fighting for. My children and grandchildren keep me informed on many issues and different points of view from different areas of the country and even the world.
If you know me in person, you know how proud I am of my children. Carl and I raised four vibrant humans who have each embraced their own path. My son Andy got his degree and worked as a mechanical engineer before pivoting to become a French Immersion teacher. Megan graduated from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and is now a successful tattoo artist living in Sydney, Australia — she occasionally has a guest spot at a local tattoo shop too. Lala (Lynsey) is a Red Seal Journeyman Hairstylist at Euphoria (she prefers the term Hair Artist). Kelci did two years of pre-veterinary studies before becoming a Red Seal Journeyman Welder— she is now in her second year of a carpentry apprenticeship. I also have a bonus son from another mother here in town, Arlen is a Red Seal Journeyman Autobody Technician. Arlen and his family moved here from Saskatchewan in 2020.