The Pulse: May 12, 2022

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

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  • 17°C: Sunny in the morning then a mix of sun and cloud with 30% chance of showers in the afternoon. Risk of a thunderstorm in the afternoon. High 17. UV index 5 or moderate. (forecast)
  • 4,391: Alberta reported 70 new deaths due to COVID-19 from May 3-9, bringing the total to 4,391. (details)
  • 4-2: The Oil Kings have swept the Red Deer Rebels in the second round of the playoffs and are now headed to the Eastern Conference Final. (details)
  • 8pm: The Oilers (2-3) will play the Kings (3-2) in Los Angeles, hoping to avoid elimination. (details)

A smiling Danielle Paradis, wearing T-shirt with Cree syllabics on it, stands with her arm around McKenzie Toulouse

Immersive program combines coding, ceremony, and Indigenous knowledge

By Brett McKay

A program that merges technology and traditional teachings has come to Edmonton to give Indigenous young adults digital skills and deeper connections to their communities.

The Indigenous Friends Association started delivering its INDIGital program at PÎYÊSÎW WÂSKÂHIKAN (Thunderbird House) at the Stanley A. Milner Library on May 9. The four-week program is introducing a full class of students to the languages and logic of coding alongside ceremony, local history, and traditional knowledge. The aim of the program, delivered in person for the first time since the pandemic, is to help participants "heal through technology."

"We start through cultural teachings and through grounding our participants in where they live, what the teachings in the area are, but also that we've always been people who have technology," said Danielle Paradis, a Métis writer and educator who is the program manager for INDIGital.

"A lot of us are envisioned as people in the past. When you think of Indigenous people, often we're portrayed like people who existed a long time ago. But we teach our students we're here, here are technologies that we've used."

The Indigenous Friends Association is a Toronto-based non-profit that hosts events throughout the country and online. The Edmonton Public Library's gift of free rental space and the use of its robots helped bring the INDIGital program here.

Indigenous coders are in high demand, Paradis said, and INDIGital has plans to expand its program to include mentorships and certification beyond what is offered in this introductory course. Currently, students graduate by producing a final project such as a webpage, a language app, a digital story, or an online shop.

Students leave INDIGital better prepared for the tech job market, and they also walk away with a deeper sense of community belonging, educator McKenzie Toulouse explained.

"We're giving them all those tools that are going to get them to be more connected to their identity, to embrace their culture, to build that sense of community and support systems within their own social networking," Toulouse told Taproot.

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By Kevin Holowack and Mack Male

  • The city has announced a new Community Safety and Well-Being Strategy, a seven-pillared plan for building a safe and inclusive city. "Our goal is to make Edmonton the safest city in Canada by 2030," said city manager Andre Corbould. Administration recommends $8.4 million in funding held back from the police budget to implement the plan if council approves it in the coming weeks.
  • City council has approved an additional $860,000 in one-time funding to respond to encampments this year, after spending about $2.7 million on the issue in 2021. The money will go toward cleanup efforts, evening and weekend support, additional park rangers, and dedicated resources for known hot spots like Dawson Park and Kinnaird Ravine. Coun. Anne Stevenson, who brought forward the motion, acknowledged the money is "completely inadequate in terms of meeting the needs of folks who are living in encampments right now."
  • The Old Strathcona Farmers' Market is hoping to modernize its building early next year. The market has engaged Clark Builders to provide a cost estimate for the work and is now starting the process of finding funding. "We want to open up Friday and Saturdays, we want to activate the building seven days a week with a general store, a food kiosk out front, so the community can use it for corporate, social and community events, make the building active," market manager Keith Persaud told CTV News.
  • The Oilers will face elimination in tonight's game against Los Angeles without defenseman Darnell Nurse who has been suspended for one game for headbutting the Kings' Phillip Danault during the second period of Game 4. Edmonton will look for a better start to the game, forward Leon Daisaitl said. "We've got to come out with our skating legs underneath us. We haven't had that the last couple of games really, not any games really in the series."
  • The city has put a spotlight on the professional women — including lawyers, communications experts, business leaders, engineers, and realtors — who are pivotal to the Valley Line West LRT project. Engineer Jacqueline Miller estimates that women make up at least 50% of the project team.
  • A provincial court has found northwest Edmonton's Church in the Vine and one of its pastors, Tracy Fortin, guilty of violating the Public Health Act six times. The church and Fortin obstructed public health officers repeatedly while holding worship services in defiance of social distancing rules in 2021. A sentencing hearing will be held on May 25.
  • Edmonton-Griesbach MP Blake Desjarlais is demanding answers from the oil and gas industry on whether companies will pay the $253 million in unpaid property taxes that oil companies owed to small Alberta municipalities at the end of 2021, a figure identified by the Rural Municipalities of Alberta. "It's absolutely unfair to the men and the women who work in these communities and their families to be shackled to companies that don't want to pay their fair share, pay for their communities, pay for the basic programs and benefits that every worker deserves," said Desjarlais.
  • The federal Conservative Party's leadership debate in Edmonton on May 11 was "an unorthodox, wide-ranging debate," CBC reports, "with detours on the topics of binge-worthy TV shows and the candidates' current reading lists."
Taproot Edmonton's Bloom podcast, brought to you by Innovate Edmonton]

Bloom: Applying AI to craft beer

By Emily Rendell-Watson

In Episode 15 of Bloom, co-hosts Emily Rendell-Watson and Faaiza Ramji interview Kirk Zembal, co-founder of Blindman Brewing, and David Chan, product lead for industry at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii). They discuss the craft brewery's use of artificial intelligence to make beer label art and improve its CO2 capture technology, and they explore how other businesses can determine whether AI adoption could give them an edge.

"Even if you're not a tech company, we can work with you to go through a very similar process to what Blindman went through," Chan explained. "You can tell us about what processes you are undertaking, what challenges you are seeing, and we can work together to figure out if AI and ML might be a tool that can help you solve some of those problems."

Ramji and Rendell-Watson also talk about the local top 20 selected to pitch at Startup TNT, including Correct-AI, Fairly Staffing, and JustCook. Plus, the YEG Startup Community Awards are coming up on May 19, with Taproot's Rendell-Watson and Arden Tse of Yaletown Partners co-hosting. And EZ Ops, whose technology helps equip operators to focus on top priorities for production and compliance, announced it has acquired two companies: PAYLOAD Technologies and Drift Technological Solutions.

In our sponsor spot, you'll hear from Dawn Newton, the head of Accelerate Edmonton. She and Taproot's Mack Male continue their conversation on Alberta Catalyzer, the new provincial pre-accelerator program for Alberta founders.

Bloom is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and everywhere else you get your podcasts.