The Medicine Hat and District Retired Teachers Association celebrated 50 years on May 5 at the Medicine Hat Golf and Country Club.
Several former presidents of the association were in attendance and current president, Mel Deydey, was the emcee for the evening. President of the provincial Alberta Retired Teachers’ Association (ARTA), Deb Gerow, also joined in the festivities.
One of the members created a six-minute slide show with photos from past years along with facts from 1972 and every 10 years after.
Both Deydey and Gerow began their speeches with a few of the historic tidbits. Some facts included gas cost 36-cents per gallon or 9-cents per litre, a gallon of milk cost at $1.35, and minimum wage of $1.90 per hour. The Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup, the Hamilton Tigers won the Grey Cup, Pierre Trudeau was prime minister and Peter Lougheed was premier.
Also in attendance was Heather McCaig as a representative of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA). MHADRTA has a long-standing relationship with each of the three local ATA districts, which is due to members faithfully attending the meetings.
“It keeps us informed and gives us a relationship with the ATA that many branches throughout the province are envious of,” said Deydey.
Unlike every former president, who served either one or two-year terms, Deydey has been president for six years.
This is due to COVID, which resulted in meetings and elections being cancelled. Once restrictions lifted and meetings started again, only about half the number of members showed up, comparted to before the pandemic. Over the past few years, numbers have slowly started to increase and they are now up to about 90 members.
“I haven’t regretted it,” stated Deydey, “I have a wonderful executive, they are so helpful, everybody pitches in. I know the next president will have that same support. It’s a privilege to be part of the fiftieth year, so that is exciting.”
Reginald Johnston retired in 1971 as principal of Connaught School and became the first president of Medicine Hat Retired Teachers’ Association the following year.
The name was later expanded as they wanted to encompass the entire region of Southeast Alberta. Any teacher retired from each of the three area school divisions is eligible to join.
The provincial association is divided into 18 branches — 17 in Alberta and one in the Okanagan, as so many Alberta teachers retire there.
The association provides a benefit plan and travel insurance, along with services for seniors, such as advocacy, wellness, financial planning, a governance committee, communications committee, and a quarterly magazine.
“That connection and communication is huge,” said Deydey. “That’s one of the things with seniors, there is loneliness. COVID was particularly bad for that, and isolation.”
The local group meets six times a year for a short meeting followed by lunch.
“Our group is a very social group. We sometimes have activities; we’ve gone to Rosebud and things like that. Our teachers look forward to those meetings.”
Gerow drove from the Edmonton area to Medicine Hat to attend the celebration.
She has been the president of ARTA since October 2022.
“It’s been quite a learning process. There are so many great people to work with in our association that it makes all the works easier.”
Deydey drives up to Edmonton five times a year to represent MHADRTA at the provincial meetings.
MHADRTA is involved with many community organizations.
One is Pioneer Village where members volunteer at the McKay Creek School. The school is open for school tours during the spring, in July for Stampede and at Christmas.
By SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on May 10, 2023
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