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Future of Elliot Lake in hands of all citizens, says Rural Change Honouree Forrest Heard

Elliot Lake Rural Change Maker loves graphic design because she loves to be creative and to make things work better for people
Forrest Heard, recipient of Rural Change Makers award in 2020 and Elliot Lake Resident. Photo provided.

Elliot Lake's Forrest Heard is one of 19 young people living in rural Ontario communities who have been honoured for their future visions for their communities.

As one of the Rural Change Makers this year just announced by the Rural Ontario Institute, she is passionate about her home town and her future in Elliot Lake

The Rural Change Makers are building upon their existing talents through networking and training together and pledging to take action on important issues.

Like her 18 counterparts, Forrest participated in a series of developmental training webinars, got connected with the others on-line, and came together for a face-to-face customized, experiential event.

Rural Change Makers is a program that helps young adults from 18 to 29 gain confidence and builds their networks to mobilize action within their communities.

Forrest Heard received her training at Sault College and St. Lawrence College.

In these days of near-instant global communication, she says her chosen vocation gives her a unique opportunity to work in a rural Ontario community such as Elliot Lake.

"I chose Graphic Design because I've always loved this art field. I always enjoyed doing art, being creative, and I always really enjoyed solving problems and trying to make things work better for people," she said. "Graphic Design kind of marries the two ideas."

"There's always a chance to have that business side and see where things can be done better, where we can help the community, where we can help the business, how we can run things and do things in the best way for everyone involved."

Heard spent the last year her Graphic Designing training on "UX Design" short for "User Experience."

"A lot of times my UX side will come in,  I can focus on the accessibility of it as well and making sure that anyone with any issues or of any background are able to use it."

As for cost-effectiveness, "Whether or not you can afford me? Chances are, we can work through whatever it is that you need for the price that you need it. Maybe you can't have all the bells and whistles and you can't have everything, but we can work together to find out the basic needs and work out how we can make that happen."

"There's a lot more to it. When it comes down to it, there's a lot more science and psychology to it that needs to be looked at, if you really want it to succeed and have things work for you."

As the eldest of four siblings who.all grew up with their parents in Elliot Lake, Heard remains an active local volunteer, always willing to help with different sporting organizations, and helping with the local Rotary Club. 

"When I come home from school every year, or now, when I'm home for good, I'm constantly helping out, I'm constantly in the community, helping out getting to know people doing what I can. Either that be to the Rotary or, I've helped with minor hockey, and I've helped out the dance studio." 

She added, "That just helps solidify my feeling of community and feeling like this is a wonderful place to be and that I'm cared for and welcome here."

"I just want to say through the Change Makers we have an opportunity for others. To make sure that people in this community feel like they're part of this community."

As for the future, Heard has a prediction.  "This town really depends on the people who live here, currently, and the people who come in. So, it's ever-changing, because we constantly have people coming and going from this community. It's just a fact."

"And we constantly like to see people who grew up here, leaving and going to school and possibly, coming back. The people who come to retire, haven't even heard of Elliot Lake, sometimes.

"It really depends on how the community and the people who live in it, decide to interact with one another, and the things that they decide to put their time and effort into.

"That seems to change all the time. It's hard to say what will stick and what won't because this community is full of people with so many creative ideas, and it's constantly having new things happening, and being created, and groups to join.

"So, I think, the basis of what will happen is that there will be a marriage between the people who come from other communities, and belong to the older population, getting along with and working with the younger population, and seeing where that leads through the experience of the older generation and the things that they need and want, out of a community."

To learn more about Forrest Heard and what she is trying to achieve as a returnee to her native community of Elliot Lake, you can email her at [email protected].

You can also find her at the same name, on any of her social media. You can also message her at those sites.


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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