The Pulse: July 11, 2024

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  • 31°C: Sunny. A mix of sun and cloud late in the afternoon with 30% chance of showers. Risk of a thunderstorm late in the afternoon. High 31. Humidex 32. UV index 7 or high. (forecast)
  • 11,820 megawatts: Albertans used 11,820 megawatts of electricity on July 10 amidst the extreme heat, breaking the summer record of 11,721 megawatts set on June 29, the Alberta Electric System Operator said. (details)

A person sitting on a stage smiles at someone else who is holding a microphone.

Game Discovery Exhibition adds new Indigeneity and diaspora summit

By Colin Gallant

The organizer of the ninth annual Game Discovery Exhibition wants to celebrate more people in gaming with a new summit on Indigeneity and diaspora, one of two tracks that tackle equity, diversity, and inclusion in the industry during the conference portion of the event.

"When you're focusing two of your four summits on that EDI world and that lens, you really want to make room for the positive and to highlight the people behind things," Madison Côté, the executive director of GDX organizer Interactive Arts Alberta, told Taproot. The speakers, Côté said, are "folks who are very competent or very much industry thought leaders."

Interactive Arts Alberta has hosted GDX annually since 2015. This year's conference takes place at the Feltham Centre at NAIT, while an exhibition of game makers runs as part of KDays from July 19 to 28 inside the Edmonton EXPO Centre. GDX's mission is to raise the profile of indie gaming and to support it makers and fans.

One of its noteworthy local speakers is Aretha Greatrix, a member of Kashechewan First Nation who was born and raised in Edmonton. One of the many hats Greatrix wears is program director for Dreamspeakers Festival Society.

"She is a powerhouse of a human because she's a streamer, and she's a filmmaker," Côté said. "She's done actual advocacy work to YouTube Canada to get them more involved in National Indigenous History Month. As a streamer, she has also worked directly with some studios on their partner programs … I think we've convinced her to start thinking about making a game, too."

One out-of-towner coming to the summit is keynote speaker Rami Ismail, a Dutch-Egyptian developer, speaker, and toolmaker. Ismail has worked on more than 20 games and created presskit(), a free software that helps build publicity packages for games. He will discuss representation and business growth for indie gaming studios. Another is Kadeem Dunn, a founder of a studio called Diaspora Games that "focuses on the role that racialization plays in both the production and consumption of technology, media, and society at large," Côté said. Two more are Natalie Tin Yin Gan (顏婷妍) and Remy Siu 蕭逸南 of the interdisciplinary arts company Hong Kong Exile. Both work in gaming outside their shared company, too.

Stereotypes about gamers — they're white, cisgender, straight males who don't always play nice — do not respect the reality of the wider community, Côté said. Still, an attempt to revive the online harassment campaign aimed at marginalized people known as Gamergate earlier this year. Leaving people who don't fit this stereotype out of the conversation just doesn't make sense, Côté said.

"White males are only 33% of the gaming market," she said. "You're leaving a lot of people out by only telling (some) stories and only highlighting speakers from certain demographics."

Côté knows that not every conversation about Indigeneity and diaspora in games will be an easy one. She's thankful to have support on that front.

"Some of (the conversations at GDX) are going to be hard, for sure, and we've been really lucky to work with the Nîsôhkamâtotân Centre," Côté said in reference to the centre that is dedicated to supporting the Aboriginal student experience at NAIT. "They even offered to do some smudging."

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Headlines: July 11, 2024

By Kevin Holowack

  • Temperatures in the Edmonton region climbed as high as 37°C on July 10, with extreme heat expected to continue into next week. Edmonton, St. Albert, and Sherwood Park remain under weather warnings. The heat can be unsafe for pets, with dogs especially vulnerable to heatstroke and sunburn. Pet owners are advised to monitor their animals for signs of distress. Anyone who sees a pet in a hot car is asked to record the vehicle's information and location and call 311, or 911 if the animal is in distress.
  • Edmonton is experiencing an urban heat island effect, which makes some parts of city up to 12°C hotter than surrounding rural areas, researchers say. Neighbourhood design and the North Saskatchewan River both affect temperatures, with concrete and a lack of trees leading to more captured heat, while ravines and vegetation keep things cooler. "The best way to mitigate the effect is to protect trees," said University of Alberta urban planning professor Sandeep Agrawal.
  • World-renowned artist Alex Janvier, whose work is known for blending Indigenous and modern art elements, has died at the age of 89. Janvier was born in what is now Cold Lake First Nations northeast of Edmonton, was sent to the Blue Quills Residential School near St. Paul when he was eight, and studied art after high school to become a full-time painter in 1962. A member of the Indian Group of Seven, Janvier has had his work widely collected and displayed across Canada, including at the Art Gallery of Alberta and in Rogers Place, which showcases his large mosaic piece Tsątsąke k'e (Iron Foot Place).
  • The City of Edmonton, the federal government, and the Canadian Urban Transit Research and Innovation Consortium announced a combined $1.29-million investment to help Edmonton with analysis and planning activities related to zero-emission public transit. The money will go toward an examination of fuel cell hydrogen propulsion technologies and help plan for a transition to a zero-emission bus fleet, a press release says.
  • Intuit, the California-based company that makes TurboTax and QuickBooks, announced plans to close its offices in Edmonton and Boise, Idaho as part of a company-wide reorganization to focus on AI-powered software and products. The company says it will lay off 1,800 workers, about 10% of its workforce, and hire 1,800 other workers with different skills. Together, the Edmonton and Boise offices have more than 250 employees, some of whom will be relocated.
  • Wîhkwêntôwin, formerly called Oliver, emerged as one of Canada's top neighbourhoods for liveability in RE/MAX's 2024 Liveability Report. The neighbourhood made the list for its "friendly atmosphere and unique environment, architecture, and the river valley," while an "abundance of condos in the area make it a hotspot among first-time homebuyers." The report also found neighbourhoods in Edmonton were popular with retirees and health and wellness seekers.
  • The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra is holding a series of free outdoor concerts in August as part of the ESO Outdoors program. The Edmonton concert will be in Castle Downs Park on Aug. 16 at 7pm, with other events happening in Devon, Fort Saskatchewan, Beaumont, and Stony Plain.
  • Nine Edmonton public and Catholic schools were awarded the City of Edmonton's School Bike Parking Grant, which launched earlier this year to help schools make active transportation more convenient. A total of 39 schools applied for the grant.
  • The Globe and Mail published an editorial about parking in Canadian cities, highlighting Edmonton's efforts to address an oversupply of parking. In 2020, Edmonton was at the "vanguard of change" when it eliminated parking minimums, having previously discovered it had 50% more parking than needed. Regina and Vancouver have also eliminated parking minimums, citing benefits to economic development, affordable housing, and simpler development processes, the editorial board wrote.
  • The 35th Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament, one of the "most distinguished" minor hockey tournaments in the world, took place at the Ice Palace in West Edmonton Mall from July 1-7. Seven Canadian and seven American teams took part in the competition, with the Detroit Jr. Red Wings taking home the championship title.
  • Edmonton-raised swimmer Emma O'Croinin appeared on Global News to talk about representing Team Canada in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. O'Croinin currently swims for the UBC Thunderbirds and has international competition experience, including at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games.
Sign by the road announcing public engagement for the Wîhkwêntôwin neighbourhood renewal

Calls for public engagement: Youth transit, park renewal, Wîhkwêntôwin

By Kevin Holowack

Here are opportunities to inform municipal planning on transit, parks, neighbourhood renewal, and more. Please only answer surveys from municipalities where you are a resident.

  • July Mixed Topic Survey — The City of Edmonton wants to learn more about youth on transit and climate initiatives. Youth who ride transit are invited to participate in a qualitative research study set for Aug. 7. Businesses pursuing sustainability programs, meanwhile, are invited to complete an online survey until July 16.
  • Mary Burlie Park Renewal — The City of Edmonton is inviting feedback on its proposed design options for the Mary Burlie Park, located at 10465 97 Street NW in the McCauley neighbourhood. Engagement will take place in person in the park from noon to 5pm on July 13, while an online survey will be available until July 24.
  • Wîhkwêntôwin (Oliver) Neighbourhood Renewal — The City of Edmonton has released its first round of design options for neighbourhood renewal in Wîhkwêntôwin, formerly known as Oliver, with a second round set for later this year. City administration will hold in-person engagement on July 11 from 4:30pm to 7:30pm at Holy Child School and on July 17 from 4:30pm to 7:30pm at Wîhkwêntôwin School. An online survey will be open until July 25.

More input opportunities

Photo: Edmontonians are invited to offer feedback on design options for Wîhkwêntôwin, which will officially be renamed in January 2025. Because of the large number of "opportunity areas" in the neighbourhood, engagement for designs will take happen in two rounds. (Kevin Holowack)

A title card that reads Taproot Edmonton Calendar:

Happenings: July 11, 2024

By Debbi Serafinchon

Here are some events happening today in the Edmonton area.

And here are some upcoming events to keep in mind:

Visit the beta version of the Taproot Edmonton Calendar for many more events in the Edmonton region.