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Edmonton Briefs - September

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Compiled by Shari Narine







Blackstone films in Edmonton, area

Executive producer and director Ron E. Scott chatted with Carmen Moore, who plays Leona Stoney, in Blackstone, which wrapped up eight weeks of shooting in early September in Edmonton and Namao. Edmonton locations included the Diamonds Gentleman’s Club on Gateway Boulevard. Namao was turned into the Blackstone Indian reserve for filming. The highly successful pilot for the Prairie Dog Film and Television show led to the production of eight one-hour episodes of Blackstone, which will air on APTN and Showcase in early 2011. “Blackstone is relevant and relational in an Aboriginal story world, with universal themes and conflicts,” said Scott.

Homeless count in October

Two hundred and fifty to 300 volunteers will be hitting select areas of Edmonton in early October to count the homeless. The count takes place every second year, said Alex Abboud, spokesman with Homeward Trust. From 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Oct. 5, designated areas in downtown Edmonton, Old Strathcona, Alberta Avenue, Fort Road, and the west end of Stony Plain Road will be walked by volunteers meeting up with homeless people. Volunteers will conduct surveys at drop-in centres, libraries, temporary employment agencies, bottle depots, and various areas. The results of the survey are expected to be released in mid-November. In 2008, the survey noted that close to 40 per cent of the homeless in Edmonton’s streets were Aboriginal. The count “provides a current snapshot of our overall homeless population and enables us to examine how this population changes over time,” said Abboud.

Aboriginal comedy, talent aired on CBC

The Alberta Comedy Spectacular, filmed in St. Albert at the Arden Theatre in May, was broadcast in two separate shows on CBC. Turtle Island Too, hosted by Lorne Cardinal and headlining veteran comic Don Burnstick, was broadcast Aug. 28. Also taking part were emerging comic Lars Callieou; Dawn Dumont, newly transplanted to Edmonton from Saskatchewan; “Indian vaudeville” creator Ryan McMahon and Howie Miller, star of the APTN series Caution: May Contain Nuts. Best of the West was hosted by comedy veteran Jebb Fink, with performances by Big Daddy Tazz, Brian Stollery and Carmen Stockton, along with up-and-comers like Brad Muise and Erica Sigurdson and was aired Sept. 4.

Community barbecue important for networking

SHINE Youth Clinic hosted a community barbecue on Sept. 11 in front of the Boyle McCauley Health Centre in downtown Edmonton. Along with serving hot dogs and hamburgers, volunteers spread the news about the Saturday afternoon clinic, which is run by student volunteers and supervised by practicing physicians and trained health professionals. “The challenge for us is just getting patients in the door. Once they’re here, we know we change their lives for the better through various medical treatments and social services,” said Sarah Wozney, SHINE’s VP of Communications. Patients and drop-ins are not required to provide identification or an Alberta Health number and have access to medical, dental, and social services along with food, hot coffee, socks, tuques and even bus fare back to their shelter. Patients are seen for as much time as required to provide complete care, including time for treating multiple symptoms and answering questions.

Work on TB screening for Aboriginal children results in award

University of Alberta science graduate Angela Lau was recently honoured at the Rising Stars of Research conference at the University of British Columbia for her work with tuberculosis screening. Lau’s lab discovered current screening methods used on First Nations children often falsely indicate an infection where there is none. Because of the increased risk, First Nations children receive a vaccination at birth, followed by a skin test in elementary school. Lau’s lab discovered that the initial vaccination led to more positive results on the test. Lau’s lab retested a sampling of the children and discovered only a small number tested positive for TB. Lau told the Edmonton Journal that changes to the testing needed to occur. “It’s an unreliable test to use for school screening,” Lau said, noting that treatment resulting from false positives is an unnecessary burden on the medical system. First Nations people in Canada are 30 times more likely to develop TB than other Canadian-born residents, and four per cent of infected Aboriginals died between 1990 and 2000, most of whom were adults.

Compiled by Shari Narine