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Edmonton Briefs - January 2012

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Compiled by Shari Narine







Photo Caption: A cold New Year’s Day drew a large number of homeless and less fortunate to the Alex Taylor School/E4C Gymnasium for a free meal.

Rare New Year’s Day meal served
While many organizations in Edmonton host Christmas day meals, the New Year’s celebration hosted by the Bissell Centre at the Alex Taylor School/E4C Gymnasium is a rare occurrence. The Bissell has held this celebration for over two decades and is aided by over 50 volunteers as well as businesses and organizations. Roger Sarna of Palace Banquets has been cooking the meal for the last 15 years and provided all the ham this year; Saroj Saher has been coordinating all of the desserts for the past 17 years; and Brian Blacklock, owner of Pagasus Paper, has supplied paper plates, cutlery, napkins, salt  and pepper, take away containers, for the past several years. “This is the first day of the new year and potentially someone’s fresh start,” said Mark Holmgren, Bissell Centre’s interim CEO. “It’s a day that our community members look forward to!  It is our way to celebrate new beginnings, and we very much enjoy bringing the community together to share a warm meal and excitement for the New Year ahead.”

More services offered for less fortunate
Boyle Street Community Services has switched over to its seven-day a week, 15 hours a day winter mode. The additional hours were recently implemented and already the numbers of people accessing services are so high that there is an overwhelming need for warm items of clothing such as toques, gloves, scarves and socks.  Despite many generous donations, Boyle Street’s supplies are dwindling, said Communications Manager Lance Beswick, and the agency is hoping that there are more donors out there who can help our homeless clients keep warm as temperatures continue to fall.

University launches Mountain Institution
A new undergraduate certificate program will be set up in 2012 at the University of Alberta, which will allow students to get an ad-on to their degree by doing intensive interdisciplinary mountain studies work. A conference planned by the university for December, Thinking Mountains, will kick-start the new institute spearheaded by the Canadian Mountain Studies Initiative, which is based at the Edmonton university. Some 25 scholars spanning everything from glaciology to film studies, ecology to First Nations’ history, and human kinesiology to gender studies, have come together to form what they hope will be an “epicentre for mountain studies,” alpine historian Zac Robinson told Pique News Magazine. Their intent is to bind together studies of science, anthropology and culture into one giant dialogue about mountains — not just the Rockies, but mountains world-wide, said Robinson, one of the initiative’s participating faculty.

Conference centres on lost love
The Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women will be hosting the Love Conference in February. The conference deals with love that has been stripped away because of family violence, negative residential school experiences, addictions or other personal traumas.  Through comprehensive workshops the conference is designed to be interactive and the skills obtained from them can be utilized in everyday living.  The Love Conference will raise awareness about forming healthy and compassionate communities by placing emphasis on the needs of Aboriginal families. Organizers estimate that approximately 200 delegates from across Alberta and Canada will attend, including Aboriginal women, business leaders, innovators from the corporate sector, government, associations, educational institutions, healthcare professionals, and non-profit organizations.

Turkeys donated for Christmas meal
On Christmas Eve, 90 frozen turkeys were delivered to families in Hobbema. The gift came courtesy of the employees of Costco in northwest Edmonton. Management traditionally offers turkeys to staff and staff chooses to take home the turkey or to donate it. Costco store manager Derek Campbell contacted the Edmonton Sun and was connected with Samson Cree Nation councillor Kirk Buffalo. “This will be ideal for our Elders and some of our larger families who are on income support. It’s unbelievable,” Buffalo told the Sun. “Things like this show the true meaning of Christmas.”

Compiled by Shari Narine