Day 24 – White City to Grenfell, SK – 110km

Today was a paced day. I woke up and heard the wind. I knew it wasn’t a westerly. I slept in, ate a hearty breakfast, and set off from our campsite around 11:30am. The wind was strong today—about 30km/hr consistently with stronger gusts. At least it was coming from the south. I made decent time for the first 50km of my day with the wind as a crosswind. However, the road changed direction to go southeast, and this meant that I got a headwind. My efficiency dwindled. Slowly and steadily I cycled on, tucking low, and keeping a steady rhythm of pedal strokes. I didn’t exert myself. I had time. I get there when I get there.

I was planning to get about 50km ahead of schedule today, but again; the wind was being rather rude. Tomorrow, the wind is supposed to come from the southwest, so I’m hoping to get a solid 160km in. There are also forecasted thunder showers, so I don’t want to bank on doing too many kilometres. Monday, a westerly wind is in the forecast with rain but no thunder and lightning (yippee), so I’m hoping to do a 200km+ day then and finish in Portage la Prairie a day ahead of what’s scheduled on the itinerary so I can have time to meet some new friends in Portage and get well rested for our event day in Winnipeg. Hopefully the wind can demonstrate some generosity.

I have a comfortable bed to sleep in tonight—thank you to Nicolle, Aaron, and Winter for your hospitality. I met Aaron 2 years ago. We worked at Cyclepath together in Toronto and became friends. He recently moved to Grenfell with his wife, Nicolle, and Winter, their 1.5 year old, mobile and rambunctious, son.

I finished my pedaling early. I didn’t see the point in struggling an extra hour to do a distance that I could easily make up with a tailwind tomorrow. Thanks to our generous hosts, I’ve had a relaxed evening—a nice meal, a beer, and a tour of the quiet town. Aaron’s been building a mini skate park inside a storefront of what used to be a grocery store. He has a cool set-up going on. I’m glad I got to see his sanctuary. It was great to catch-up and have a stress-free evening after battling the wind and fixing a flat tire next to the highway. Oh well, only the second flat tire in 2386km; can’t complain.

A corner of Aaron's small-town grocery store skate park

I found this sign amusing...you can see its purpose in the above skate park photo

I’ll be leaving Saskatchewan tomorrow. We did have a little bit of media in the province—a newspaper article and a radio show. Overall, there hasn’t been the same interest or involvement in Kilometres for Communication on as there has been and will be in other provinces. As we’ve travelled through this province, we’ve learned that the funding and supports for AAC, and other programs related to disability and childcare, aren’t what they need to be. The mother and father of a young girl who speaks with AAC in Sakatoon contacted us. They wanted to know about events planned in Regina. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get the momentum going in the area, and as a result, there were no events planned. This family has an issue with the lack of support and not enough access to professionals who specialize in AAC. Communication devices are not easy to operate, are tedious to program, and consistently need to be updated with new vocabulary to fit upcoming events or new situations. Often, parents just want to know what the next step is in progressing their child’s ability to communicate. Our family has felt this feeling of despair as well, in Ontario. This isn’t just a problem in Saskatchewan. This is a national issue. Families and people who speak with AAC in Canada need to have better access to services and supports. If you are feeling hopeless because you don’t know the next step to improve your child’s communication, and there aren’t any trained professionals who you can regularly access, wouldn’t you feel frustrated and alone?

I’ll be in Manitoba tomorrow. If I have enough energy, and I get to my computer early enough, I hope to go into more detail about what we’ve learned about the situation in Saskatchewan for AAC, and how it compares to the other provinces we’ve visited or lived in (Ontario!). As for now, I really need to sleep.

-Skye

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