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Alice Taylor meets the preem

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Alice Taylor (http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/no-running-water/degrading-third-world-conditions-one-more-hurdle-for-disabled-man-on-reserve-132369633.html), who is quickly becoming my favourite Manitoban, had an unexpected visit the week before the provincial election.

Alice, who lives in remote St. Theresa Point, is battling to get running water for her home and proper services for her disabled son, Kevin. Alice and her husband Francis put a lie to the offensive idea that people on reserves don’t deserve the same stuff Winnipeggers take for granted, that somehow they don’t work hard enough or take enough responsibility for their lives. Alice is sprightly and outspoken and warm and determined. This province could use 1,000 more Alice Taylors, and any politician would be wise to make her house their first stop when they visit Island Lake.

That’s exactly what Premier Greg Selinger and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson did a couple of weeks ago when they flew in to St. Theresa Point to campaign. It sounds like they had trouble finding Alice. She was staying at her dad’s house, taking care of him. She and her sisters trade weeks, each taking turns looking after the elder in his house, which also doesn’t have running water. Kevin, who has cerebral palsy, comes with Alice because there’s not really anyone else to look after him.

Alice, who joked about the big entourage that arrived with the politicians, was pleased when Robinson asked her to itemize exactly what services she needed for Kevin. Those would include respite, physio and speech therapy and some kind of recreation or job skills program to get Kevin off the couch and doing something other than crosswords.

After the visit, Alice says Selinger gave her a big hug – rather uncharacteristic for the cerebral premier.

"I told them, ‘If I don’t hear from you guys, you’re going to hear from me’" she laughed.

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About Mary Agnes Welch

Mary Agnes Welch joined the Free Press in 2002, first as a general assignment reporter and then covering city hall and the Manitoba legislature before moving to her current post as public policy reporter.

Before Winnipeg, she worked at the Windsor Star and the Odessa American, a small daily newspaper in West Texas. There, in addition to covering more than 20 counties, she took high school football scores from coaches all over West Texas by phone every Friday night.

Mary Agnes is a graduate of Columbia University’s journalism school, has won several Western Ontario Newspaper Awards and has been part of two teams of reporters nominated for a Michener Award. In 2011, she was nominated for a National Newspaper Award in the beat category. She is also the former national president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.

She once misspelled "Shih Tzu" in the paper and received 37 emails from angry dog-owners.

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