Silander lands new job with safety group

Duane Hicks

Having a long-standing commitment to safety in Rainy River District, Grace Silander’s dedication to the cause keeps expanding, with her recently starting a new position with Safe Communities Canada.
Silander, who currently is administrative co-ordinator for Safe Communities Rainy River District and a World Health Organization peer reviewer, has taken up the part-time job of Safe Communities network consultant.
The position involves contacting “Safe Communities” and mentoring them in programming, fundraising, or anything they might be having any kind of difficulty with, she noted.
Silander said she also will be encouraging the communities to take part in conferences, to submit nominations for awards, and otherwise getting and staying involved in Safe Communities’ activities.
Silander, who retired last fall after a 30-year career first as a paramedic, then ambulance manager, and most recently the patient safety and risk management co-ordinator for Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc., said she was on her way to Florida for vacation back in January when she checked her Blackberry and found Safe Communities president Paul Kells had e-mailed her with an offer.
“He was really nice. He didn’t say he was trying to get an old lady. He said he was trying to get people from ‘mature’ communities that were doing well,” laughed Silander, adding Kells spoke very highly of Rainy River District and its commitment to safety.
“It’s hats off to the Rainy River District and the work that we’ve been doing here.
“I was taken aback because the first thing I thought of was, ‘Why me?’” Silander admitted. “But [Kells] is such a wonderful guy as far as building you up and making you feel good about yourself.”
Silander said she agreed to the job because her work in safety is, and always has been, meaningful to her and fulfilling.
“Working on the ambulance, and stopping and picking up people from accidents, seeing the pain and the suffering, it energizes you to fix it,” she reasoned.
“The kids that have been hurt, it really makes you want to change and set the programs up.
“And seeing the success that [Safe Communities Rainy River District has] had, doing the annual report every year, it makes you feel so proud.
“We’re good, and we can help others,” added Silander. “That’s part of being a Safe Community—sharing and mentoring.”
Meanwhile, Silander said working so closely with Safe Communities Canada in her new role will be beneficial to Safe Communities Rainy River District, to which she remains very committed.
“It will help us be on top of things, and be proactive instead of reactive,” she argued.
“I think it will be better for our communities, I really do.”
While down in Florida, Silander started taking part in conversations and team meetings, via teleconference and e-mails, to get up to speed with Safe Communities Canada business.
“We, as communities, know what’s going on at the Canadian level,” she noted. “But on the other hand, we don’t know what’s going on at the Canadian level.
“There’s a lot of innovative plans that we aren’t privy to until they’re proven and ready to roll out.
“It was a learning curve for me, as well, and I am still learning. I don’t know it all.”
Silander returned home in mid-April and now is getting started. Thanks to teleconferencing and e-mail, she will be able to do much of her network consultant work from Fort Frances, although she does expect to attend national conferences each year.
She added the job probably will require her to work only a couple days a week, which is important to her since she’s still an active member of Safe Communities Rainy River District, continues to be a WHO peer reviewer (she recently returned from New Lennox, Ill., which is seeking status as a WHO-certified “Safe Community”), and also wants to have at least some time to enjoy her retirement.
“I’ve been busy. I think it’s time to have a little bit of a rest right now,” Silander remarked.
“If the weather would clear up, I’d like to go fishing,” she chuckled.