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October 18, 2017
February 10, 2017

Edmonton Headlines: February 10, 2017

Stories in the news and making news

Written by Jeff Samsonow

There’s a great story in the new issue of Vue Weekly that sheds more light on the recent cancellation of Othello at the Walterdale Theatre. The controversy surrounds the main character being played by someone who is not a person of colour – and Othello is one of the few non-white characters to be featured in a Shakespeare play so this does become important.

When the play was canceled the local headlines took up the theatre’s news release about it closing down because of threats. The story goes beyond that, and really asks Edmonton’s arts community to challenge its whiteness and its privileges.

This is also a good example of taking time to work on a story. The atttention-grabbing idea of people threatening a theatre for putting on a show is one that’s sure to get people reading. In the day(s) following the play shutdown, however, there were a lot of people in Edmonton arts – including people involved in the play – taking to Facebook (and perhaps in other conversations) to explain their position and privilege related to this staging of Othello, talking about how they had reached out over the problems of a white lead actor and how this was more than a story about threats.

Fortunately, we get a thorough story from Vue this week. Unfortunately, Edmonton’s arts coverage in traditional media is disappearing and we may not always get full stories (right away).


Metro Edmonton has just put out a series looking at some of the issues with our child and family welfare system, which itself is under review provincially. You can read parts one, two and three online now.

The series highlights challenges parents face and the over-representation of Indigenous families in the system. It also looks at a couple of the more community-based groups working under new models which might be the future of the system, aiming to keep children from being removed from their families in the first place.


We got a bit of an update on Edmonton’s ambitious plan to get 10,000 people out of poverty in just five years. EndPovertyEdmonton released a report from the Edmonton Social Planning Council as part of the event.

You can read the report online.

More than 100,000 people in Edmonton live in “low income” situations, many of them below the poverty line, with more than 30,000 children in those households. Most of the families would need another $12,000 each year to move out of poverty. Alberta has the most working poor in Canada, meaning most of the adults in poverty have jobs that just don’t pay them enough to cover living costs. We also have around 2,000 people who are homeless in Edmonton.

One the things the report says will help is more tax credits for families struggling to earn enough money to live in Edmonton.


Following up on earlier Headlines posts…

On Tuesday, we mentioned a story about Alberta oil spills which didn’t seem to get a lot of local follow-up. While it’s not exactly local, The Tyee has jumped on the story. They do tend to cover a lot of Alberta energy stories, so it’s not out of the ordinary for them to pay attention to a report like this which calls into question the monitoring of how much oil is spilled here and how much actually gets cleaned up.

Yesterday we talked about fentanyl and some of the work being done in Edmonton to help prevent so many people from dying of overdoses. Today, Edmonton Police are charging a man with manslaughter in the overdose death of his cellmate, which involved fentanyl. This comes on the heels of police being cleared of wrongdoing in the case, by the provincial body which looks into deaths and serious injuries involving police.


We’ll be working on an item related to the story of a sexual assault arrest at West Edmonton Mall, but there’s a little bit of follow on it today, so it’s worth mentioning.

The story is doing more than setting off the usual crime and fear alerts after some local newsrooms pushed an angle that appears to do nothing more than amp up anti-immigration anger and xenophobia. CBC Edmonton and Corus Edmonton (Global/630 CHED/iNews880) mentioned the citizenship/immigration status of the accused, which is definitely out of the norm for crime stories. (It doesn’t appear anyone else has done the same with their stories, but let us know if you noticed another newsroom did too, as we’ll ask them about it.)


Let’s close the week out with some good news. You can now drop off your children at the City recreation centre, while you work out. (You can get a pretty good discount on passes to the City’s recreation centres if you have a community league membership, which are often no more than $20/year)