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Monica Paslawski: Building a Better Future Through Education, Political Action, and Local Initiatives

Monica Paslawski: Building a Better Future Through Education, Political Action, and Local Initiatives

Monica Paslawski’s relationship with the Peace Region is marked by profound connection and significant contribution. Born and raised in Southern Alberta, Monica’s journey to this part of Canada reflects her enduring love for its vast landscapes and welcoming communities. After moving to the Yukon with her husband in 1993, Monica frequently made the three-day trip back to Southern Alberta to visit family, ingraining in her a deep appreciation for the regions she traversed. One particularly memorable stretch of this journey was along Highway 43, between Dawson Creek and Grande Prairie. Here, Monica was captivated by the vast vistas and countryside, planting a seed in her mind that this area would be an ideal place to raise her family.

In 1997, Monica and her husband realized this vision. They moved to a beautiful quarter section on the Red Willow River with their three young daughters. This move brought them closer to their families in the south and introduced them to a tight-knit, welcoming community. Her deep-seated love for the Peace Region was further affirmed by her father’s saying: “Once you’ve sipped the waters of the mighty Peace, you will always return.” This proved true for Monica, who had spent the early years of her teaching career in Grouard from 1984 to 1986, only to return years later with a renewed commitment to the area.

Monica and her family have thrived in the Peace Country. Her husband successfully established a consulting business, and together, they fulfilled their dream of building a small cattle ranch. Their ranch, spanning four quarters of beautiful land, is home to a small herd of Black Angus cattle, which Monica finds to be her source of tranquility amidst the chaos of life. Her three daughters benefited immensely from growing up in such an environment. They had the freedom to explore, create, and connect with nature, fostering their personal growth and creativity.

Settling into their new life on a small farm, Monica and her family faced the challenge of integrating into an established community where they knew no one. Despite being an introvert, Monica pushed herself to attend local events, gradually building connections with a diverse group of people, many of whom became lifelong friends. Monica embraced the belief, "You can't choose your family, but you can choose your friends," surrounding herself with individuals who shared her values and inspired her to strive for better outcomes. These relationships, built on mutual love and kindness, became a treasured aspect of her life.

Monica's growing involvement in the Peace Region was deeply rooted in her upbringing. Growing up in a family actively engaged in community efforts, she inherited a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to making an impact. Monica soon adopted the mindset that personal complaints should be met with personal action. Guided by the mantra "Be the change you want to see in the world," she took on leadership roles to drive the changes she wanted to see in the Peace Region.

Monica has since made significant contributions to various organizations, events, and initiatives in the Region:

  • Elmworth School and Community Foundation: Shortly after moving to the Peace Region, Monica attended a Parent Council meeting at Elmworth School, where her and two other parents volunteered to lead a committee to build a new playground. This successful project led to the formation of the Elmworth School & Community Foundation, an organization that remains active today, providing bursaries to Elmworth students and more. Monica served as President and Treasurer for many years before passing the torch to other local volunteers.
  • Elmworth Parent Council: Monica played a crucial role in achieving the "School of Necessity" designation for Elmworth School, preserving funding and preventing its closure. Collaborating with another parent, Monica's efforts ensured the school's continued operation, benefiting the local community.
  • Mountview Curling Club: As her children grew older, Monica got involved with the Mountview Curling Club, eventually taking on the role of President. Under her leadership, the club hosted events like a Curling Clinic with Olympic champion Kevin Martin, fostering community spirit and engagement in the Elmworth, Hinton Trail, and Rio Grande areas.
  • ANSO Collectives and Education Society: In 2010, Monica joined the ANSO Collectives and Education Society, an organization dedicated to supporting initiatives in Ethiopia, founded and operated by local advocates, Chris and Kathy Andersen. She traveled to Ethiopia to deliver the first English Language Boot Camp (ELBC) with other local teachers and helped send several groups of local teachers over the years. Monica shares, “It has been a privilege to sit on the ANSO board ever since and be a small part of such a unifying charitable program. As one of the students, Roba, stated so clearly while describing his drawing of a "logo" - "This, I say, means I love Canadians, and so I know Canadians love us' '. I've never forgotten those words.” Despite political challenges in Ethiopia, Monica continues to serve on the ANSO board, contributing to its charitable programs and building cross-cultural connections.
  • United Conservative Party: Monica's political involvement began in May 2015, following the NDP's victory in Alberta. A strong believer in conservative values, she volunteered at the local constituency level, contributing to the formation of the United Conservative Party (UCP) and supporting Travis Toews' successful 2019 MLA bid. Monica continues to serve as President of the Grande Prairie-Wapiti Constituency Association, striving to uphold core principles of small government, lower taxes, and robust health and education systems. Despite the challenges of political division, she remains committed to her role, aiming to bring calm and focus to Alberta's future.

Monica's community involvement is marked by numerous rewarding experiences and memorable moments that highlight the impact of collective efforts. While she humbly views her contributions as part of a larger tapestry of community-driven success, several instances stand out as particularly meaningful.

Monica expresses a wish that any recognition she receives extends to all the women who tirelessly contribute to their communities and feel the pride of their achievements. "It's not about personal accolades, and I'm not special; it's the warmth of the bigger picture and knowing in a small way, you have been a part of it," she says. For her, it’s about the collective impact. "I'm behind the scenes, and always have been—along with the best people I know!"

Monica is currently pursuing several personal and professional dreams, driven by her passion for learning and helping others. As she enters her 60s, she is more motivated than ever to make a positive impact in various areas.

One significant achievement for Monica is obtaining her real estate license. "I got my Real Estate Licence—and I enjoy every single service I'm able to provide!" she exclaims. This new venture allows her to combine her love for learning with her desire to assist people in finding their perfect homes.

In addition to her real estate career, Monica is finally working on developing and marketing an invention that has been in the works for years. The process of bringing this invention to market is challenging but deeply rewarding for Monica, as she embraces the opportunity to learn and innovate.

Monica also has a visionary dream for education in Alberta. "I have a dream to contribute to a massively different education program in Alberta," she reveals. Transforming this dream into reality is a monumental task, but Monica is determined to make it happen with the support of others. "To turn that dream into reality will be a massive undertaking, but I'll do it—with the help of many, many others!" she asserts.

"My 60s are starting out to be a terrific decade and I'm excited to get going every single day!" she declares. Her enthusiasm and commitment to her new projects and initiatives highlight her dedication to personal and community growth.

When reflecting on the women change makers and those who inspire her, Monica's thoughts immediately turn to her daughters: Leah, Lori, and Julia. Each of them embodies qualities that have profoundly influenced Monica and continue to inspire her contributions to the Peace Region.

“Leah for her work ethic, her intelligence, creativity, and her ability to be true to herself and others without wavering in her convictions!

Lori for her spirit of adventure, for her adherence to personal goals, for her leadership in a male-dominated industry, and for her vision!

Julia, for her kindness, love, unwavering support to her family, and yet strong determination. She is a marvel in the way she cares for others while never enabling them in dependence! She is a gifted artist, and it's exciting to watch her grow!

All three girls have this creativity built into whatever they do to solve problems in the most amazing ways, and I marvel at each of them and I'm inspired to be better for them.”

Each day, Monica draws strength and motivation from Leah, Lori, and Julia, making her not only a proud mother but also a more impactful leader in the Peace Region. To other women striving to make a meaningful impact in their communities, Monica shares, "I have always held the value of personal integrity to be the most important part of anything I do. It doesn't always make me popular, but the line is solid and we cross it at our peril."

As part of the '30 Women for 30 Years' campaign, Monica shares a simple yet profound message with future generations of women: "Do your small part. Do your best. It is enough! And be grateful for this life and the opportunities you have and can create." Monica emphasizes the importance of collective effort, stating, "My impact is small. My impact is diverse. My message is that it takes a village." She adds, "Everything we have, everything we do, is a product of many, many selfless people who give to make the world a better place. That's what I want to highlight. The opportunity to work with countless others who will also never be named has made my life rich indeed."

She concludes with gratitude, recognizing the blessings and opportunities she has experienced. "I'm grateful for the opportunities, the incredible souls, and the life we are privileged to live here in the Peace Country." Monica's legacy represents the power of community, integrity, and the quiet yet profound impact of doing one's best.


Learn more about 30 Women for 30 years here