The Pulse: Feb. 2, 2022

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

Want this in your inbox? Sign up to get The Pulse by email. It's free!


  • -17°C: Mainly sunny. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 17. Wind chill minus 34 in the morning and minus 27 in the afternoon. Risk of frostbite. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • 1,585: There are 1,585 people in hospital with COVID-19 in Alberta, including 109 in intensive care. (details)
  • 5pm: The Oilers (22-16-3) will face off against the Washington Capitals (25-12-9) tonight at 5pm. (details)

A portrait of Lejjy Gafour

Future Fields co-founder Lejjy Gafour joins CULT Food Science

By Emily Rendell-Watson

The former CEO and co-founder of Future Fields has left the Edmonton-based cellular agriculture startup to join CULT Food Science, an investment platform that is working to advance the future of food.

"My switch gives me a much broader viewpoint to really focus on the development of the ecosystem, and invest in innovative companies around the world who are in a position to make this change," said Lejjy Gafour, who was named president of CULT Food Science on Jan. 24.

"I'm in a position now to support the growth of cellular agriculture and precision fermentation more broadly. The problems that I feel we will face tomorrow, they still remain unsolved when it comes to food security and climate change."

CULT Food Science, which focuses on supporting the development of new technologies to produce cultivated meat, cultured dairy, and cell-based foods, is Vancouver-based, but Gafour plans to stay in Edmonton for now.

As he begins his new role, he's hoping to work with both local companies and others across the country that are interested in cellular agriculture or advanced food technology.

"With hard tech, or biotech, there's this massive barrier to getting space and equipment, because it's a physical thing. My hope would be to help foster and develop those opportunities, those facilities, those avenues for people to really get over that first hurdle of having access to tools, space, and expertise here in Alberta, and in Canada broadly, to get those ideas off the ground," Gafour told Taproot.

"I think Edmonton is really capable of providing this, and it's just a matter of building up that ecosystem."

As Gafour offers knowledge and support for entrepreneurs to create new ventures and bolster existing ones, he'll be aiming to guide technologies from the idea stage to IP development while ensuring they are commercially viable.

Continue reading


By Mack Male and Doug Johnson

  • City council has decided that more study is required on the impact of allowing alcohol consumption in public parks. Last year, the city allowed drinking at 47 designated picnic areas in a pilot project. Coun. Michael Janz suggested making the program permanent, but his motion was defeated. Representatives from Alberta Health Services argued that going ahead with the idea could increase alcohol consumption, which could negatively impact people's health.
  • Edmonton police are using what they call a "game-changing" piece of facial recognition technology called NeoFace Reveal. The tech can be used to identify people involved in criminal activities, but only specific trained technicians will be able to use it. Warren Driechel, superintendent of the information technology division of EPS, said data is collected in compliance with FOIP legislation. "We have also submitted a privacy impact assessment to the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta," he said.
  • The Edmonton Public School Board has voted unanimously to request access to $6 million from its surplus fund to install HEPA filters in all of the division's 213 schools. "This is a short-term investment but it's also a long-term investment and it's in keeping with this idea that the air quality in our schools matter and this will hold us in good stead once this pandemic is over," said board chair Trisha Estabrooks.
  • The Correctional Service of Canada announced that 21 inmates at the Edmonton Institution have tested positive for COVID-19. "This is an evolving situation and we continue to apply and reinforce infection prevention and control measures to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19, and adapt based on public health advice," the organization said in a press release.
  • Edmontonians can apply to become a firefighter in Edmonton until Feb. 28. "A career in firefighting is about making people feel safe and contributing to the community in a positive way," City Manager Andre Corbould said in a press release.
  • After wins against Vancouver, Nashville, and Montreal, the Edmonton Oilers have jumped nine spots on the NHL's Power Rankings list, from 18th to ninth.
  • CBC News is looking for stories from Edmonton's suburbs as a part of The Anthony Henday Project. It will accept pitches for first-person pieces from Edmontonians who have a connection to the suburbs, and believe they have an interesting story to tell.
  • A Statistics Canada survey shows that cities, including Edmonton, are losing their green spaces. The survey used satellite data to compare changes in parks, urban green spaces, yards, and other areas in 2001, 2011, and 2019.
  • Federal Labour Minister Seamus O'Regan told the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce that vaccine mandates aren't the enemy — COVID-19 is. The risk of unvaccinated people falling ill and missing work is a greater problem for labour shortages compared to people unable to work because they are not vaccinated, he said. "COVID is the biggest threat to our economy."
  • Fourteen Alberta schools have been granted a mask exemption from the province — though the government has yet to release the names of which due to privacy concerns. "To be exempted from the masking requirement by the chief medical officer of health, a school needs to implement an alternate COVID-19 safety plan," Alberta Health spokesperson Jason Maloney said in an email to CBC News. A total of 21 schools have applied for the exception so far.
  • Few people in Alberta can access Paxlovid, as only 3,200 doses arrived in the province. Another 3,200 doses will arrive from Health Canada next month.
  • Premier Jason Kenney said that he hopes to lift many or potentially all COVID-19 health restrictions by the end of February, if provincial numbers continue to decline. "Once we begin to see a sustained reduction in COVID pressure on the hospitals, I am looking forward to being able to make decisions about moving toward relaxation of public health measures at that time," he said.
  • Kenney also called for calm after an incident at the Coutts border crossing protest in which, he said, "people allied with the protestors" attempted to ram members of the RCMP. "This kind of conduct is totally unacceptable," Kenney said. "Assaulting law enforcement officers who are simply doing their job to maintain public safety and the rule of law is completely unacceptable."