For Stettler’s Malcolm Fischer, community engagement just comes naturally. And it’s that commitment to making Stettler a more stronger and vibrant community that has led to Fischer landing this year’s Male Citizen of the Year award from the Stettler Regional Board of Trade.
“I was stunned and humbled,” said Fischer about the moment he heard of the honour. “A lot of times, when I look back, it was other people nudging me on,” he added, reflecting on the many initiatives he’s been involved with. “They saw things in me that I didn’t see in myself.
“I feel so flattered and humbled, honestly,” he added.
A long-time educator, he recounts a poem he used to have his students learn as a language arts teacher – ‘There’s no thrill in easy sailing/when the sky is clear and blue/There’s no joy in merely doing things which anyone can do/But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take/when you’ve reached a destination that you thought you couldn’t make.’
“Some of those kids have that poem painted on a wall in their houses,” he said with a smile.
The Stettler Awards Gala has been a prestigious event for many years where citizens have an opportunity to honour the accomplishments of local businesses and citizens.
The 2020 Business and Citizenship Awards Gala will be held Oct. 22nd by invitation only – the Stettler Public Library will be providing a live stream for the public to view on the Stettler Regional Board of Trade and Community Development Facebook page.
As for Fischer, his involvement on the local front, as mentioned, covers a wide range of causes and initiatives, from his many years in education to leadership roles in sports and participation in arts-related events.
It boils down to his love of the region; one in which he has lived and worked in for most of his life – including 47 years working in education.
Fischer explained how it was the relationships formed during those years that have really meant the most to him.
“When you see how you can affect people positively as a teacher – when you really start to see that, it’s enlightening,” he said. “It’s those caring relationships that you establish with so many people.”
Fischer earned his Bachelor of Education degree through the University of Calgary and his Masters of Education in Educational Administration at the University of Alberta.
He was an elementary teacher in Erskine for three years followed by a stint at Stettler Elementary as teacher, vice principal and principal for more than 30 years there altogether.
Fischer said he was actually quite a shy youngster, and that his shyness continued into early adulthood.
Then along came the Erskine teaching job, and a sense of confidence and affirmation became added blessings at that point in time, too. “Teaching brought that confidence out.”
Fischer also spent many years on the screening committee for Heartland Youth Centre’s Big Brother/Big Sister program plus he hosted and took part in the twinning project involving Stettler and Okoppe in Hokkaido, Japan, chaperoning one of the exchanges there.
He was also the initial organizer of local participation in the Government of Canada’s FORTUNE HUNTERS program run through the East Parkland Community and Business Development Corporation which was designed to give students experience in real business initiatives.
In terms of other community involvement, Fischer served on boards/committees for the Stettler Golf and Country Club, the Stettler Curling Club, Stettler Minor Hockey and baseball, plus he also coached and managed in fastball, baseball, soccer, and hockey at several levels.
On the artistic side, he was a member of the Gilbert and Sullivan Arts Troupe which grew into HATS (Heartland Arts Troupe Society), having been in countless plays being everything from a lovesick iguana to a crooked sheriff to a corrupt minister to Scrooge to the Elvis-inspired Pharaoh in Joseph’s Technicolour Dreamcoat to Colonel Pickering in My Fair Lady.
It was when he came back here from university that he was approached about joining the Gilbert and Sullivan Arts Troupe.
“She said, ‘You are going to be in the next one’,” he said with a chuckle. “I was in the last three, and it was tremendous! After that, we got into pantomimes a bit and then HATS was born.
“For me, being able to get a response and a reaction from an audience – they laugh or they are really into what you are doing – I guess again it’s about a relationship,” said Fischer, who is also something of an accomplished musician as well.
Another particular passion has also been in the world of vintage cars. Fischer served as editor and writer for the Central Alberta Vintage Auto Club newsletter the Brass Lamp for more than 20 years, having writings also published in Australia and the U.S.
Also on the community front, Fischer is now in his 10th year as a town councillor.
“People would say, ‘You should run for council’. I would say, no, I’m not political enough. I just call a spade a spade. And they’d say, ‘That’s why you should be there’.
One of the things he loves most about it is that it often doesn’t take too long to bring local projects to fruition – unlike what is usually the case with provincial and federal politics.
Fischer has also held every executive position in the Stettler Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion plus he was the opening, welcoming and closing ceremonies co-chair for the 1991 Alberta Summer Games.
Fischer was also the ceremonies chairman for the Alberta Provincial Men’s Curling Playdowns in 2001, the ceremonies chairman for the Alberta Provincial Master Curling Championships in 2018 and the ceremonies chairman for the Alberta Provincial Ladies Scotties Curling Championships in 2019.
What keeps him inspired?
“There are so many good people around here,” he added with an unmistakable sense of profound gratitude. “There is also this enthusiasm and excitement. When you are among people who are movers and shakers, you become one, too.
“I’ve always had friends, contacts and teammates that have been busy people. So I do credit those people much more about what I’ve been able to do than me,” he added. “People nudge you – and their enthusiasm rubs off.”
Ultimately, being connected to community help one build a richer, more meaningful life – in a multitude of ways.
“Skip the thought that you aren’t worthy, or that you have nothing to offer. Everyone does,” he said. “I always said, whatever you do – make a difference.”