The Pulse: June 7, 2022

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  • 22°C: A mix of sun and cloud. Fog patches dissipating in the morning. High 22. UV index 6 or high. (forecast)
  • 5-6: The Oilers lost to the Avalanche in overtime, ending their shot at the Stanley Cup. (details)
  • 8:05pm: The Oil Kings play the Thunderbirds in Seattle for Game 3 of the 2022 WHL Championship Series. (details)
  • 79-77: The Edmonton Stingers beat the Niagara River Lions in Canadian Elite Basketball League action. (details)

A portrait of Amsale and Paul Sumamo sitting at a table in their restaurant

Langano Skies leaves a legacy of awareness about Ethiopian cuisine

By Sharon Yeo

Longtime Ethiopian restaurant Langano Skies will host its last meal on June 19. After more than 18 years in business, owners Paul and Amsale Sumamo have decided it's time to close this chapter in their lives.

"We are older, and it is a 24-hour job," said Amsale. "Even if we aren't here, we are always thinking about it. Everything is cooked from scratch, and it takes a lot of time – 14 hours a day, six days a week. We have three grandchildren and want to spend time with them. Time is too short, and the more we get older, the more we want to spend time together outside of the kitchen."

Still, it was a bittersweet decision to close the restaurant. "It's been emotional," she said. "It's been very hard. I couldn't smile during the announcement, I was so sad. If I was younger I would keep going."

The couple's four adult children have been involved in the restaurant, but have other full-time careers and weren't interested in taking over the business. The Sumamos were also adamant that the brand will remain with them. "Langano Skies will retire with us. It has a lot of meaning for us. The place, the lake(Lake Langano in Ethiopia), how we started," Amsale said.

The Sumamos acknowledge that they were not the first Ethiopian restaurant in Edmonton when they opened in 2004. But they still had to educate non-Ethiopian diners about the cuisine. In those early years, they participated in festivals such as the Taste of Edmonton and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, where they worked hard to make people aware of Ethiopian food and how to eat with injera.

"People had no clue about the taste, the texture, how to eat it," Amsale said of the flatbread made of teff flour. "In the beginning, we had to teach people about the food and how to eat it with their hands. We had people who took forks out of their purse! But we guided them – make sure the injera is flat, scoop your food, and put it in your mouth. It's that easy."

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Headlines: June 7, 2022

By Kevin Holowack

  • Police commission member Ashvin Singh wrote to Mayor Amarjeet Sohi asking for an investigation of fellow commissioner Anne Stevenson, who is also the councillor for Ward O-day'min, on the grounds she has "attempted on numerous occasions to actively influence an investigation of one of her close contacts, Duncan Kinney." Kinney, the executive director of Progress Alberta and its media outlet, Progress Report, has filed a complaint against Chief Dale McFee after the Progress Report's media credentials were revoked. At a March 17 police commission meeting, Stevenson asked why the Edmonton Police Service made that decision. Stevenson told Postmedia she disagreed with Singh's characterization of her actions, but she would not discuss specifics. Sohi said in a statement he has no authority to investigate Stevenson and is "uncertain why this request was sent to (him) in the first place."
  • The Edmonton Oilers were swept out of the Western Conference Final after the Colorado Avalanche beat them 6-5 in overtime at Rogers Place. Even before the loss, downtown businesses expressed hope that the enthusiasm would continue even after the playoffs. "I think everyone understands how important it is to get back to where we were for vibrancy and excitement downtown," said Downtown Business Association executive director Puneeta McBryan, adding that she believes upcoming festivals, shows, and concerts will continue to feed the downtown rush.
  • Edmonton-based workers of the Irish video-game company Keywords Studios, all 16 of whom are contractors of BioWare, voted to unionize through the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, creating Canada's first video-game sector union. "Workplace frustrations are widespread throughout this industry, and it has become clear that workers need to unionize to address those issues," the union president said in a release.
  • The Edmonton Police Service's latest budget update requests that $4 million originally intended for an in-car camera project be redirected to a digital record-keeping and crime analytics project. In January, EPS told the police commission that in-car cameras were delayed due to a "longer than anticipated request for proposals process," conflicting with executive director Matthew Barker's new statement that the delay is due to a "reduction in planned funding increases," a reduction Postmedia says EPS has been aware of since 2020. "It appears clear that the police do not want to have in-car video and that they're not making it a priority," Coun. Michael Janz responded. Council is scheduled to consider a recommendation on changes to police funding on June 7.
  • Organizers of the Russian pavilion at the Heritage Festival announced there will be no pavilion this summer, citing issues of safety and stress on volunteers, supply chain problems, and negativity currently associated with Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. "We hope that Heritage Festival patrons will enjoy our famous dancers groups and will come to see us in person next year!" the Russian Heritage Cultural Development Association said in a statement. The festival runs July 30 to Aug. 1.
  • P & D Enterprises, a gun store just north of Unity Square, is recording record sales and says it sold out of handguns after the federal government's June 30 announcement of Bill C-21, which could prevent buying or importing handguns if passed. "It's been unbelievable," owner Chris Gubersky told CTV News. "The phones are ringing off the hook."
  • The city is running a series of public engagement events for the Balwin/Belvedere Open Spaces Revitalization project, which was approved in 2018. The in-person and digital events offer residents a chance to contribute to the planning and design of five new open spaces in the two neighbourhoods.
  • Chris Jones, head coach and manager of the Edmonton Elks, has been busy deciding on the 46-man roster since ending the preseason with a 37-7 loss to the Calgary Stampeders on June 3. "(We) had some guys that did a few things that kind of solidified our thoughts about them, and we had some guys that went in the other direction," said Jones. The Elks face the B.C. Lions on June 11 for their first regular-season game.
  • Age Friendly Edmonton has kicked off Seniors' Week with a video recognizing the contributions of older adults.
A hare sniffs at some wood chips beside an eavestrough

The (biodiversity) battle of Alberta begins June 9

By Brett McKay

The BiodiverCity Challenge, which pits citizen scientists from Alberta's urban centres against one another in a friendly competition to document species, is holding its annual "BioBlitz" in the metro Edmonton region from June 9 to 12.

Participants are invited to use two apps — iNaturalist and eBird — to take photos of whatever wild animals, plants, fungi, or algae they can find during that four-day period.

"It's a wonderful way for people who have zero knowledge of nature to learn about the species that are in their own backyard," said Nature Alberta program director Steph Weizenbach, "as well as a fantastic way to engage people who are experts and want to create a list of all the species that they're finding and share those with the community."

Aside from having the app installed, no additional setup or training is required for people to take part. Once you take a picture, the inbuilt artificial intelligence compares images and aids users in identifying the species. All submissions uploaded to the apps during the BioBlitz are automatically collected by the BiodiverCity project, and the photographed species are then verified by experts.

"iNaturalist is the world's largest citizen science platform dedicated to capturing general biodiversity," Weizenbach said. About 2.5 million observations were made in Canada alone in 2021, and the country contributed the largest number of new users to the app last year. "That's attracted the attention of many different researchers and wildlife managers. And they use the data in a number of different ways to contribute to the conservation of our species," she added.

Initially inspired by the global City Nature Challenge, the Alberta BioBlitz is scheduled about a month later than the global contest to give northern ecosystems time to bloom and migratory birds a chance to return. In 2021, Edmonton led the province with 3,323 sightings submitted and 850 species documented, giving the city a strong lead over Calgary's 1,984 sightings and 590 recorded species. Now in its third year, the BioBlitz has expanded to include Red Deer, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, and more remote places.

For the sake of data collection and analysis, communities are grouped together regionally. Photos uploaded by users in St. Albert, Fort Saskatchewan, Sherwood Park, Ardrossan, Beaumont, Nisku, Leduc, Devon, Enoch, Spruce Grove, and Stony Plain all count towards the Edmonton-region total.

Nature Alberta is also partnering with Root for Trees on June 11 for a program in Edmonton to coincide with the biodiversity challenge. Volunteers will help re-naturalize areas of the city by removing invasive weeds, planting trees, and logging native species on a guided walk. Registration for the Tree Planting for BiodiverCity session is open until June 10.

Photo: The iNaturalist app indicates this creature, photographed in an Edmonton yard, is a member of the genus Lepus. (Karen Unland)