The Pulse: Nov. 22, 2022

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  • 4°C: A mix of sun and cloud. High plus 4. UV index 1 or low. (forecast)
  • Green/Gold: The High Level Bridge will be lit green and gold for the University of Alberta 2022 Fall Convocation, which is happening at the Jubilee Auditorium on Nov. 22 and 23. (details)
  • 2-5: The Edmonton Oilers (10-9-0) were defeated by the New Jersey Devils (16-3-0), who tied a franchise record with 13 straight wins. (details)

Converse and Cook co-founders Juanita Gnanapragasam and Mishma Mukith at one of the organization's events

Comfort food cookbook catalogues a way Edmonton coped with COVID

By Mack Male

A new cookbook launching in December captures the stories of how Edmontonians redefined comfort through food during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Stories Our Food: Edmonton's Comfort Foods is an initiative of Converse and Cook. It features more than 50 recipes and stories from people who took action in their kitchens to provide comfort and hope to others.

"That's what is so special about this cookbook," co-founder Mishma Mukith told Taproot. "It holds these stories that you can keep, kind of like a time capsule."

It also reflects a diversity of experiences, added co-founder Juanita Gnanapragasam. "There are contributions from doctors, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, and so many others," she said. "It really hits home how isolating the pandemic was."

Georgette Popoff is among the people featured in the cookbook, with a recipe for sweet and sour ribs. She launched the "Happiness is Homemade" initiative on the YEG Community Response to COVID-19 Facebook page with a simple offer to cook a homemade meal for anyone who wanted to drop off their groceries. The initiative took off, and eventually, Popoff and her team of volunteers were preparing more than 100 meals a week.

"During the pandemic, I was honoured for my humanity efforts in doing my part to help others in so many ways, but THIS is an absolute honour, as I am one of 60 featured," Popoff said of her inclusion in the book. "It is a true homage to my mother, who raised me to be who I am."

The cookbook also features contributions from local chefs and restaurants, including Matt Phillips of Northern Chicken, The Hallway Café, King Noodle House, and even Blue Plate Diner, which closed last summer.

"Everyone's definition of comfort is very different," Mukith said. "It isn't a one-size-fits-all, so that was interesting to capture all these different stories about what comfort food means to Edmontonians."

The cookbook launch will take place on Dec. 4 at the Strathcona Community League's hall. Registration for the free event is encouraged, and there is an option for a $20 ticket that includes a copy of the cookbook.

"There's a story for everyone in there," Gnanapragasam said. "It's a cookbook by the community for the community."

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Headlines: Nov. 22, 2022

By Kevin Holowack

  • Social disorder in Chinatown, which came under the spotlight after two unprovoked murders in May, is part of a larger pattern of discrimination and government neglect in Chinatowns across Canada, the CBC's Wallis Snowdon reported for an in-depth news feature. Holly Mah, chair of the Chinatown and Area Business Association, recently told an appeal hearing for the contested plan to relocate Boyle Street Community Services to Chinatown that only around 130 businesses remain in area. "What was once considered a nuisance is now lethal violence," she said. "Sometimes our shopkeepers suffer violence. Sometimes the homeless suffer violence." The city is currently funding private security and clean-up services for Chinatown, is working on a dispatch centre for police and social workers, and began accepting submissions in October for the Chinatown Recovery Fund. Still, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said he expects the problems will take years to resolve. Teresa Woo-Paw, chair of the Calgary-based Action! Chinese Canadians Together Foundation, said that half of the Chinatowns in Canada have disappeared in a lifetime due to "erosion, erasure, neglect, and gentrification," among other issues.
  • The 4B Harm Reduction Society held a protest outside city hall on Nov. 21 to call for a better shelter strategy for unhoused Edmontonians, a population that is at extreme risk this winter due to a lack of warm spaces as well as the ongoing shigella outbreak. "In the summer, it was blatantly obvious that there were so many more people out there," said founder Angie Staines, "and nothing's changed just because the weather's changed." According to Homeward Trust's By Name List, a real-time record accessible to some service providers, there are currently more than 2,600 Edmontonians experiencing homelessness. Around 1,300 are "provisionally accommodated," such as staying with friends or in short-term or transitional housing.
  • TransEd's announcement on Nov. 18 that there are 30, rather than 21, cracked concrete piers supporting the elevated Valley Line LRT tracks prompted Coun. Tim Cartmell to reflect on damage to the City of Edmonton's reputation. "We are certainly taking a reputational hit, and that reputational hit then speaks to increased costs to future projects," said the Ward pihêsiwin councillor. "There's the cost of lost confidence. There's the cost of people counting on this project being complete and making investment decisions, or purchasing homes in particular places, or locating a business in a particular place." Cartmell, who is a structural engineer, said the latest update shows that "clearly something's gone wrong here in the design and construction process, and it needs to be remedied." But, he added, "administration is as frustrated as anyone. They're not at fault here, and no one intends to make a mistake. So in this particular instance, it's gone wrong without intent."
  • The Association of Academic Staff of the University of Alberta (AASUA), a union representing around 4,000 employees at the University of Alberta including faculty, is calling on the institution to reinstate an indoor mask mandate for university-owned buildings that would impact staff, students, contractors, and visitors. "Our view is that the pandemic is not over, and other respiratory illnesses like RSV and the flu are spreading," said association president Gordon Swaters, who added the ongoing rise in respiratory viruses seen in K-12 schools is also affecting the university campus. AASUA is also asking the university to create a process to ensure any policy changes regarding mask mandates are backed by scientific evidence. A spokesperson for the U of A told CTV News the board of governors received a letter from AASUA and said the university "will maintain guiding safety measures accordingly based on the best advice available." The U of A has "strongly recommended" wearing masks indoors since the provincial mandate was dropped in June.
  • A local man, Randy Lowry, said Kia West Edmonton tried to charge him $2,400 for a "market adjustment fee" when he went to pick up a new car after waiting four months for it to arrive. While under the impression he signed a contract with the dealership, Lowry had in fact signed a non-binding "worksheet agreement" when he paid his deposit and not a formal bill of sale. A Kia Canada customer service representative pointed to "volatility in the market" and said prices can't be guaranteed for "an extended period." Shari Prymak, a senior consultant at the non-profit organization Car Help Canada, suggested it is "unethical to add a markup like that to a car in order to take advantage of a desperate buyer."
  • Mark Noonan, commissioner for the Canadian Premier League, announced the CPL board of governors voted to terminate Fath Sports Limited's right to operate FC Edmonton, effective Nov. 21. As a result, the soccer league will not have a team in Edmonton for the 2023 season. Noonan said that the "conditions in each of our markets for our clubs to be successful on and off the field...simply didn't exist at FC Edmonton, consistently resulting in the smallest league average attendance, lowest revenue, and poor performance in the standings, despite incremental league investment." Noonan said before a CPL franchise can return to the city a "proper facility" is needed. "We look forward to working with the City of Edmonton leadership on a strategy to return CPL to the market in an appropriate facility."
  • Residents of Camrose, about 90 kilometres south of Edmonton, were told to expect a "heavy police presence" as the Camrose Police Service, the Edmonton Police Service, and the RCMP carry out search warrants on 17 properties for several days starting Nov. 21. The Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) said the searches are related to an organized crime investigation and there is "no immediate risk to public safety."
Rows of attendees in front of two large screens in a classroom

Resurrected DemoCamp aims to help connect Edmonton's tech community

By Mack Male

One of Edmonton's most well-known tech events is back after a two-year hiatus, this time as a community-led initiative. DemoCamp Edmonton 51 will feature a number of demos on Nov. 23 at the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii)'s event space downtown.

"People are ready for in-person events again, and DemoCamp has always been an event best done live," co-organizer Tiffany Linke-Boyko told Taproot. "So many great new startups have emerged, and with hackathons happening again, we felt it was time to get it going again."

Linke-Boyko, who is a principal at Flying Fish Partners, collaborated with her sister-in-law Ashlyn Bernier, COO at samdesk, and Sean Feehan, vice-president of technology at Meetingmap, to bring the event back to life.

"The hope is that this will be a low-barrier way for people to explore the tech community by seeing what other people are building and getting connected," said Linke-Boyko. "Successful tech communities need lots of different ways for people to engage."

Edmonton's tech ecosystem has changed a lot since Linke-Boyko's brother Cam Linke — who is now CEO of Amii — launched DemoCamp in 2008. The arrival of several accelerators has resulted in a plethora of opportunities for startups to access mentorship, funding, and pitching practice.

But DemoCamp offers something different, said Linke-Boyko, who attended many in her various roles at Startup Edmonton, including as CEO from 2016 to 2019.

"There isn't anything that really overlaps with DemoCamp and the purity of it — it's not about business models or pitching for investment, and it's focused on tech. You have to have something to demo," she said. "It's about showing what you've built or what you're building, however rough, to get some feedback and connect with other builders and folks interested in tech. It's low-pressure and really just a chance for organic community-building and connecting."

DemoCamp Edmonton 51 will feature demos from samdesk, Frettable, and Table Four. Eugene Chen, a developer of This is Edmonton, will show off his Bike360 project that has added Edmonton bike paths to Google Street View. Four of the projects from HackED Beta, a hackathon organized by the University of Alberta's Computer Engineering Club, will also be demoed.

The event will conclude — as DemoCamp always does — with networking and drinks, this time at RED STAR.

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