Diversity and inclusion in Slave Lake are important things to Andrew Achoba. He works in the field of social services and sees ways the community could be more socially inclusive, more welcoming, etc.
Take the Filipinos, he says.
“They’ve got a beautiful culture. (We should) get in touch with them – help them to celebrate it and the rest of us to understand it.”
The same goes for Indigenous communities, Achoba says. Reaching out, getting to know and share in the culture and by so doing increasing understanding and a sense of belonging in our community.
“I feel that sense of belonging is not where it needs to be right now,” Achoba says. “I struggled a lot when I came here, because of that sense of belonging (or the lack of it).”
Achoba is probably not that well known in Slave Lake, having only lived here for a bit over two years. But he’s not seeing it as a disadvantage. It just gives me an opportunity to talk about things, he says.
Born in Nigeria, Achoba came with his family to Kamloops, B.C. in 2006. He studied science and business in university (he’s working on his master’s degree in business at the moment), and came to Alberta for work in 2018.
His job with WJS Canada took him to High Level for three years. In 2021, he relocated to Slave Lake, as the program manager for the same firm, which provides social services under contract to the provincial government. His job entails the supervision of programs, such as for people with FASD and family supports, for clients in Slave Lake, Wabasca and Peace River.
Achoba’s second reason for running is that having seen a need, he wants to do something about it.
“I’ve seen the social need, and I can’t just be quiet and hope somebody else addresses it,” he says. “I always try to be involved and help.”
He’s been doing just that for the past couple of years as a volunteer board member on the Slave Lake Homeless Coalition – first as treasurer, then co-chair, and now as the sole chair.
Achoba is 35 years old. He’s married, with one daughter.
Outside of work, family and volunteering, Achoba says he is very fond of the game of soccer and loves to play it. Basketball too, although he hasn’t found time for that lately.
“And I like traveling a lot,” he says.
Voting day is Tuesday, Nov. 28.
Craig Hudson is hoping for better results in his second run for a town council seat. He’s one of three candidates in the Nov. 28 byelection for the seat that became available when Julie Brandle resigned.
Hudson’s chances have certainly improved. In the 2021 general election, he was one of 14 candidates, and probably one of the least well-known of the bunch. Since then he’s taken on more volunteer roles, which combined with work and family, has made him a busy fellow.
“I’ve been trying to be more involved in the community,” Hudson says. “I’ve joined the Rotary Club. I sit on the Chamber of Commerce, and on the Legacy Centre Board.”
Add the United Conservative Party constituency association to that list; Hudson has been on its board for some time.
Professionally, Hudson is a service foreman with ATCO Gas.
A native of Beaverlodge, Alberta, Hudson and his wife Sarah moved to Slave Lake 11 years ago. They have two young children.
“We chose Slave Lake,” he says. “We love it here.”
Hudson says he thinks things are moving in a positive direction with the town lately, and he wants to be “part of that momentum.” An important aspect of the positive direction, he says, is a better relationship with the provincial government than the town has had for several years.
As for what he could bring to the table, Hudson says, “a different perspective,” in that he’s not a business owner or a real estate person, but more from the “blue collar” side of things.
“I have the perspective of a taxpayer,” he says. “Everybody wants to make sure their taxes are being used well.”
Growth is important to the community, Hudson continues. But if it gets too expensive to live here, growth won’t happen.
Transparency is another issue Hudson is interested in, when it comes to municipal budgeting.
“It should be pretty easy,” he says.
Hudson says he’ll be doing some door-knocking, put up signs and “social media, of course.” He also plans to work hard on his own circle of acquaintances, given the likely small voter turnout.
“It’s important to get everybody you know out there,” he says. “That will be my goal.”
Ronnie Lukan is one of three candidates running for a vacant town council seat in the Nov. 28 Town of Slave Lake byelection. It’s the second time he’s run – he was one of the eight unsuccessful candidates in the 2021 general election.
Lukan says he’s going about it differently this time. His attitude in 2021 was: ‘It’ll be good if I win, but it’ll be okay if I don’t.’
He didn’t, and this time he says he’s going to put in more effort. For one thing, he’s going to put up some signs, and he plans on talking to lots of people.
“I know a lot of people,” says the born-and-raised Slave Laker.
Lukan calls himself an entrepreneur, and prefers to be known by that designation. He’s also an electrician, but doesn’t work in the field, and maintains his real estate license. He’s a husband and father of two, who has reffed hockey for many years and is now coaching it. He also served on as a volunteer firefighter for several years.
“I worked the Slave and Fort Mac fires,” he says.
As to why he’s running, Lukan says the big thing for him is “just to advocate for the community.”
Health care, highways and so on – they need people speaking up for them and he’d like to do that if elected.
“I understand the community’s needs, from living here for a long time,” he says.
Accountability is another Lukan area of interest. He’s been monitoring some of the council meetings and thinks sometimes there’s too much “beating around the bush,” instead of straightforward answers to questions. He’d like to do something about that if elected.
Getting elected is the challenge, but if name recognition is an advantage, give Lukan the inside track.
“My family has been here for nearly 100 years,” he says, adding he’s got a big circle of acquaintances, and his plan is to make sure they know he’d like them to vote for him.
“Last time, some didn’t even know I was running.”
Lukan figures at 44, the time is now to get involved and try to make a difference. One thing he’d like to advocate for is turning Hwy. 2 into a four-lane way. That may sound extravagant, he says, but with the east-west connection between Red Earth and Fort McMurray having been promised by the provincial government, it could lead to a lot more traffic coming this way.