This is a very interesting film, showing a Nepalese family’s arrival in Winnipeg as refugees. It gives you a good idea about the many things that newcomers need to learn right away.
This is a long and lovely essay about Canada’s greeting to refugees. It was written before the inauguration and the dramatic rise in refugees walking or swimming across the Canadian border. The federal government has stayed pretty silent on how to handle the recent changes in policies, south of the Canadian border.
Parkas, art, and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms embody an aspirational vision for our country
Many Canadians are really not familiar with the traditional music of this nation but the members of Northern Cree have been drumming for round dances and pow wows since 1982! According to their webpage, “the group originates from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation but is made up of members from the Treaty 6 area, most notably the Frog Lake Cree Nation, Onion Lake Cree Nation, Samson Cree Nation, Louis Bull Cree Nation, and the Poundmaker Cree Nation.” All of the members have full-time jobs and other activities that keep them busy, like raising their families but the group is frequently present at round dances in the winter, pow wows in the summer, and award shows when they are nominated. Tonight, they will be opening for the Grammy Awards, after being nominated for an award for the 7th time! Take some time to listen to some of their contemporary and traditional music, as well as the CBC interview with Steve Wood (very slow and clear English).
Northern Cree’s Steve Wood discusses his group’s Grammy nomination and their upcoming performance at the ceremony’s pre-show.
Many people start to study Engish when they are making a big change in their lives. Maybe a partner is taking more education, a parent has remarried and moved, home feels too dangerous, or your marital status has changed. This is a great article about 6 people from Calgary who had to make job changes. Your identity changes a lot, along with your employment status and where you live. Read for some good ideas about how to “reinvent” your life.
It’s interesting to watch videos and TV shows that are filmed in your hometown, when you can recognize many of the landmarks and objects in the video. Here are some videos that were filmed in Edmonton. They are very useful for reviewing a lot of the vocabulary that relates to different kinds of transportation. Enjoy!
The TV show was all filmed during one day at Edmonton International Airport, and shows many of the different problems that happen at an airport.
Martin Kerr’s music video was all filmed on the LRT train system in Edmonton, as well as at some stations. People from Edmonton should be able to recognize many familiar locations.
Thanksgiving is a unique holiday because we don’t give presents and there aren’t any large, public celebrations. Most people use the time to meet family and friends for a large meal, as well as to reflect on the good things that have happened in the previous year. Click the link to read and hear what the immigrants below say about their new lives in Canada
On Thanksgiving weekend, 11 recently arrived immigrants from eight different countries tell us why they’re thankful.
I’ve already posted about two trips to Lakeland Provincial Park, and I hope that there are many more in my future. It’s just wonderful to be able to paddle around lakes where nobody can drive to the edge. There are a few smaller motorboats on the lakes, but they’re generally busy fishing and they don’t do much to interrupt the peace and quiet in this lovely area. In fact, we also realized on this trip that there are some great trails, with picnic areas and outhouses for cross-country skiing in the winter, so I may be able to enjoy another season in the area!
This trip was interesting for me because it was organized by the Borealis Canoe Club, in Fort McMurray. I “joined” several canoe clubs around the province on their Facebook pages, so that I would have more opportunities to join in on trips. I had never met anyone from this club, but I posted a lot during the Fort McMurray fire when I found helpful information about services that were available for evacuees. They apparently have a tradition of visiting Lakeland every year for the Labour Day weekend, at the beginning of September. As soon as they posted this trip, I signed up. After my canoe rack broke, I checked back to see what I should do. I could have rented a rack in Edmonton, but it would have cost a huge amount of money. Luckily for me, the club offered to bring one of their boats down with them, carrying 2 canoes on one vehicle. Their plan was to leave Fort McMurray around 6 am Saturday, arriving at Jackson Lake around 9 am. I reserved a site at Beaver Lake, on the road to Lakeland for Friday night.
Friday, I organized and packed all my gear, after spending a couple of weeks evaluating what I really needed and didn’t need. I knew that it was likely to be pretty cold and wet. I picked up groceries and gas on the way, stopping for a little while in Lac la Biche. I checked in to the campground just before the office closed at nine, and it was very dark by that point. It was also raining extremely heavily. I decided that I didn’t want to pack up a wet tent in the morning, so I settled down in my car for the night, inflating my Thermarest and getting out my sleeping bag. I actually slept quite well, although I got completely soaked when I got out of my car to pee during the night. I had locked my car before going to sleep, and it was awkward in the morning because my doors were locked. Finally, I reached into the front seat to unlock all the doors. After I heard the click, I hopped out of my car, closed the back door, and went to open the front door. There was a lot of swearing after that! Instead of unlocking all the doors, I had locked them all. My keys, purse, food, and phone were all inside the locked car!! It was about 7 am. Luckily, I had dressed in warm, dry clothing just before that. I searched for a way to get into my car, but nobody had a wire coat hanger, and that didn’t work, once I found one. Luckily, my neighbours in the campground took pity on me. They let me use their phone to call AMA (the Alberta Motor Association) to get a locksmith to come out, and then they let me check my Facebook, to find the phone number of my new-to-me paddling partners. Luckily, they were still on the road because there’s no phone service at the parking lot. Finally, around 9:30, the locksmith arrived (he had to help someone who had locked a baby in the car!) and he opened my car. I grabbed a quick snack and then drove to meet my fellow paddlers.
When I arrived at the Jackson Lake Staging Area, I was still pretty stressed, so I tried to take my time packing up my gear. I hadn’t unpacked very much the night before. Everyone else was ready and waiting, and they were very calm and patient while I got ready. Finally, we started out on the 3-kilometre+ portage with our canoes and gear loaded onto carts. As soon as we got started, the rain began again, and it didn’t finish until late that night! After our portage, we paddled to the middle of Kinnaird Lake. For about 20 minutes, we battled huge (to me) waves and heavy wind on Jackson Lake. As soon as we got under the bridge, onto Kinnaird Lake, the wind and waves stopped.
One of the group members had started out ahead of us, to make sure that we had a campsite in Kinnaird Lake. When we arrived, most people pulled out food, and started eating, but I went straight to set up my tent and change into dry clothes. It took me awhile, and when I finished, I realized that I had no more warm, dry clothing, other than what I was wearing. I came out to join everyone to eat a little bit, but even under a tarp, the wind and rain meant that I would be wet again very quickly if I stayed outside. I gave everyone my regrets and crawled back into my tent, wrapping up completely in my sleeping bag and fleece liner. At that time, it was only about 3 pm. For the next 5 hours, I slept, waking up occasionally to change position, but I didn’t take off any clothes or layers until at least 8 pm. I could hear the others saying goodnight around that time, but I wasn’t willing to come back out into the rain. I read for an hour or two and then went back to sleep until 7 or 8 in the morning. At 3 am, I could hear that the rain had stopped, so I stepped out to go to the bathroom, then crawled back into my sleeping bag. In the morning, I had a headache from eating so little, but I still didn’t have an appetite! Apparently, I was pretty hypothermic the day before!
Unlike Saturday, Sunday was an excellent day for being outside. The weather was cool and cloudy, but there was NO rain! After all of us prepared and ate our breakfasts, the group decided that we would attempt to make a full inner circuit of the lakes, while our gear stayed in camp. I would highly recommend this method of making a circuit of the area since it’s a WHOLE lot easier to portage unloaded canoes! One of the group members brought an excellent cart for our portages, and another member seems to prefer carrying his canoe on his shoulders! We paddled to the bottom of Kinnaird and found carts available for the 600-metre portage. At the end, there was a further detour of about 200 metres which wasn’t passable with the carts. Next, we were in Blackett Lake, and paddled to the longest portage, about a mile long (1.6K). A kayaker was here after going to the other end to pick up a cart. We used what we had and this trail was relatively smooth to portage. Now we were in McGuffin Lake, and we visited a large campsite in the NE part of the lake, taking a short walk to visit the memorial cairn for Squadron Leader W. C. McGuffin, a Calgarian who was killed in WWII. It was interesting to see that a minimum security work crew (prisoners) had created their own “memorial” at the site, paving a small picture of a wolf. This campsite is located on a trail system, which may be groomed for cross-country skiing in the winter (accessible from Shaw Lake staging area). From McGuffin, there was one more short portage (300 metres) into Jackson Lake. Along the shoreline, we gathered firewood, now that we didn’t have to carry the canoes anymore. There were a number of dead birch and spruce trees that were pretty easy to saw branches off of. The last stretch was a longer paddle, but preferable to more portaging. The water was quite calm.
Sunday evening, we all prepared larger meals and enjoyed a great campfire. Throughout the last 2 days, we saw a great variety of birds, including migrating sandhill cranes and Canada Geese, Bald Eagles, a kingfisher, many loons, and some grebes and gulls. There were plenty of rose hips on the bushes, and a wide variety of mushrooms and fungi, none of which I can identify. There were no mosquitoes or horseflies and sunscreen wasn’t necessary. I took a quick dip after supper, to clean off. The water was brisk but tolerable.
Monday, we got started by 7:30 am, in order to have enough time to take care of everything. People packed up pretty quickly after breakfast and we had a pretty easy paddle back to the Jackson Lake portage. Once we were on the water, the sun put on a show for us. It wasn’t a hot day, but it was sunny! The final portage seemed like it got longer while we were on the lakes! Back at the parking lot, everyone was excited to change into clean, dry clothes. I opted to sponge off in the bathroom at the Lac la Biche Boston Pizza. We had a fabulous lunch there before my new companions returned to Fort McMurray, and I came home. Alberta has so many highways, so I drove on a route that was new to me, with no traffic to worry about. I stopped at Linda’s Market Garden in Smoky Lake to load up on the last of the lovely fall veggies and fruit.
I really prefer to choose my own time off, and with no paid vacation, I usually don’t take much time away from work. However, my workplace decided that there would be 4 weeks/year with no classes, so I guess that I have time off, ready or not! Most people consider late August to be summer, but in this part of the world, the summer weather ends about 6 weeks after the solstice, just after the August long weekend. There is usually a lot of nice weather ahead, but the nights and mornings are often quite cool. This week has been no exception. The mornings are in the low teens or single digits, Celsius!
My original plan was to visit Prince Albert National Park, in Saskatchewan, to paddle to Grey Owl’s cabin. However, as the week approached, I had no paddling partner, so I altered my plans to travel around Alberta, to some of the many micro-breweries that have started up over the last few years. As Friday approached, I had a sinus infection, so I took another couple of days to recuperate. I visited a couple of local “Irish” pubs at the end of the week: O’Byrne’s on Whyte Avenue and The Druid, on Jasper Avenue. The Druid was closing on the weekend, and all of their staff had been laid off with only a week’s notice, which is very sad!Sunday, I started off from Edmonton to Red Deer, only 90 minutes south. I camped at the Lions’ campground on Riverside Drive. It’s a very nice urban campground, although traffic in the area seems to have a speed problem.
Sunday, I started off from Edmonton to Red Deer, only 90 minutes south. I camped at the Lions’ campground on Riverside Drive. It’s a very nice urban campground, although traffic in the area seems to have a speed problem so it was noisy in the evening. I met a running friend at Troubled Monk Brewery, in an industrial area of the city. What delicious beer they have! Their seasonal beer was very interesting because it was made with syrup made from a European ground cover plant. They also had a raspberry syrup. Their Homesteader Saison is always one of my favourites, and they filled a 1-litre growler with that for me to bring home. Apparently, I really like Belgian yeast! The weather was pleasant, and I visited a cocktail bar in Red Deer, To The Lost for supper, and to try one of their very interesting cocktails. They had some really interesting appetizers: devilled eggs and curried chickpeas. It was hard to choose one cocktail, but I wasn’t disappointed with the Inner Light that I tried. The bar is right in the historic downtown, so I spent time exploring the city gardens down the street, where all of the Pokemon players were out to play. What beautiful flowers they have in the garden.
Sunday evening was very pleasant, but sometime during the night, the wind began to howl, and the rain began to pour! When I woke up, it was too wet and windy to make breakfast at my campsite, and the temperature was only 8 degrees. I picked up some groceries and saw patches of clear sky, so I paid for a second night of camping, and drove to Olds, 1 hour south, for my second brewery visit. Olds College has been an agricultural college for more than 100 years. 3 years ago, they began to teach the fine art of brewing, which is part of the reason that there are so many fine new breweries opening around Alberta! They had 6 lovely beers on tap, including a couple of wheat beers. The brewery is counter service only, but again, I chose a 1-litre growler and had them fill it to take along, as well as buying a couple of their beers from the cooler. There was a lounge in the adjoining hotel where they sold their beer, and I sat and watched the rain pour down, while the wind tossed the tree branches around. I visited a local Indian restaurant, where $10 bought me a lovely vegetarian feast and I explored the local Pokestops. After a couple of hours, I realized that I would be spending all of my time searching for dry places to spend time indoors and that just wouldn’t be a fun camping vacation. The forecast showed that the bad weather (80K/hour winds!) would continue for at least 2 more days. Finally, I decided to return to Red Deer to pick up my soggy camping gear and continue back towards home.
It was still fairly early at that point, so I continued north towards Lacombe, with a really beautiful historic downtown. I spent a couple of hours at an amazing restaurant and watering hole, Cilantro and Chive. There were very few empty seats on a Monday night! I sat at the penny-decorated bar, watching the bartender make Caesar drinks that were topped with sandwiches and other crazy things. Their beer selection was fantastic. I found the Ribstone Creek/Norsemen Brewing collaboration of Rhubarb Saison that was so popular, but sadly, it wasn’t really my style. The burger (bison and blue cheese) was fantastic, though!
Now, it was Monday night, and I was already back at home for the week! However, it was nice having time off in the city to do things that I don’t usually have time for, even some housework! Tuesday night, my biking friends decided that they needed an early-week beer, so it was wonderful to socialize together! My daughter and I had an amazing meal at The Local Omnivore on Thursday night. Friday, I returned to Lacombe and met a new running friend to tour the town in style. We started out at Sweet Capone’s, a new Italian bakery that’s only open from 10-2, Tuesday-Thursday. It sounds like they sell out of their cannoli that early every day! We tried a delicious variety, and she waited in the long lineup for me while I drove down. After fuelling up, it was time to explore the town’s fantastic trail system. Most of it was handmade by Bill Nielson, a local running legend (ran 100 marathons) who passed away 2 years ago. One thing that I never realized was that Lacombe is full of many small lakes, and it was a great pleasure to ride around them on these lovely trails. After exploring the trails in town, we rode south towards Blackfalds, 10 kilometres south of us, on one of the only stretches of Trans Canada Trail that I’ve seen, connecting communities. This trail was also amazing, and it went past the agricultural research station, farms, lakes, and acreages. A local cycling club was out enjoying the trail. After 30 kilometres of riding, it was time to visit Blindman Brewing in Lacombe. They have a lovely patio, and we enjoyed a plate of local cheese, sausage, and mustard while we sampled some really interesting flights of beer. Our server helped me to remember the difference between a “Saison” (Belgian farmhouse ale, with yeast from the French region of Belgium), and “Session”, a lighter beer that would allow a group of friends to consume several rounds of beer at one session without any serious damage. They do both extremely well, and I especially enjoy their sour beers. I was able to try #5, which was only sold for growler fills and consumption at the brewery. I also brought home their barrel-aged saison, which was magnificent. I stopped by Cilantro & Chives to try their duck wings. Although I’m crazy about duck, I thought these wings were a little salty for my liking. Still, a dish that’s not available elsewhere
On Friday evening, many of the Edmonton cyclists met for a memorial ride to commemorate Isaak Kornelsen, a young Edmonton track star, who was killed by a cement truck driver, while riding to work. I returned to the city too late to ride but met at the small, memorial “parklet” where friends and family met to remember Isaak. Afterwards, a group of us went for supper and beer at Situation Brewing, around the corner in Old Strathcona. I tried a delicious pork steak accompanied by succotash, a fantastic bean dish. It was a pleasant evening to socialize. the weather was pleasant, and the windows were open in the bar.
On Saturday evening, friends from one of my canoe clubs organized a BBQ at their home in Beaumont, south of Edmonton. That evening, we were back to the cold and rainy weather, so our group moved indoors to eat and visit. Sunday was also a cool day, with rain at times. I had a lot of time to organize my camping gear as well as reading and relaxing. During free time, I visited the legislature a few times to play Pokemon, and it was really interesting to see how many people were roaming the lower grounds to play. Some people dress in costumes, many people bring their babies, older kids or dogs and one man was walking his ferret. When somebody finds an uncommon Pokemon, they yell out what it is, and there could be a hundred people or more who start to run in that direction to “Catch ’em all”.
The week wasn’t really what I had planned, but I think that I really needed some time to just relax and enjoy some different things than usual!
Camping at Coal Lake in June, we saw that there was an excellent view of the dark night sky from our campsite. When I realized that the annual Perseids Meteor showers were going to brightest and most active on a weekend, this was a good place to return. As well, I saw that Samson Cree Nation was holding their pow wow on the same weekend, only about 20 minutes south of the campground. On the way through Wetaskiwin, we could see many people camping for a rock concert in town, camped only inches apart. At the municipal campground, only a dozen or so camping units spent the weekend, and our evenings were very peaceful. The firewood was very dry and seasoned, and it burned extremely well, as we watched the night sky. At first, nothing moved. Then, we gradually started to see movement, often slow, and occasionally extremely fast and bright, as the meteors crossed the sky. Friday night was clear, so we had very good visibility.
On Saturday morning, we went out for a hike after finishing breakfast. We searched for the Waskahegan Trail, but I realized after we were done that the trail is on the West side of the lake, not the east. Since we didn’t find a trail, we got out for about 8K on the country roads. After returning to the campground, some of us took naps, most of us read, and we tried out my “slackline”, a low and easy trapeze. Some people got pretty good at using it. I only managed a little bit, with a person on either side to hold onto! Some of the group went to investigate Bittern Lake, a wildlife area. They discovered that the grass was very long, the lake was very low, and there were many ATV users there, going fast.
In the evening, most of us went to Maskwacis, to enjoy the Samson Cree Nation pow wow. This was a really beautiful event. the vendors had a great selection, and the food was top-notch. It was fascinating to watch the hand games, a complicated version of the “shell game” at carnivals. Each team had drummers and singers, so there was a LOT of great energy in the building where the games were happening. Grand entry and the intertribal competition were both spectacular. It would have been nice to stay late, but I was worried about night driving where there are a lot of deer and moose, so we got back to the campsite about 11. There was some heavy rain on our way back and the night was cloudy, so not much good for watching the meteors.
Sunday, most people wanted to get back home pretty early, but a couple of us went over to Camrose to take a look around. The town is very well-maintained and the area around Mirror Lake is especially lovely. We visited Norsemen Brewery, located in the large Norsemen Inn. It doesn’t really have the “vibe” of a micro-brewery, being a very large pub, but their 3 beers were all tasty. After that, it was less than an hour to drive back to downtown Edmonton.
I first visited the Ross Lake campground at Whitney Lakes in 2014, and I was really impressed with the place. Campsites are extra-big, and quite private. There are several very nice lakes, where swimming is very nice, and it’s close to several hiking trails, including the Iron Horse Trail, and the historic Carlton Trail. I recommended the trip to my cane club(s) and outdoor club last year and this year, but people seem to have different ideas about how to spend a long weekend. Luckily, there was one member of my outdoors club who wanted to go camping someplace new. Depending on how you go, and whether you stop, it takes about 2 1/2-3 hours to drive to Whitney Lakes from Edmonton, on quiet highways. We stopped in both directions at Mundare & Two Hills, and we also paused in Elk Point and Myrnam on our return trip.
I was hoping to paddle for one day on the North Saskatchewan River, but we didn’t have another vehicle to provide shuttle service. Nevertheless, paddling was very pleasant on Ross Lake, as well as Whitney Lake. I really enjoyed the calls of the loons on Whitney Lakes. Swimming was also quite lovely on both lakes. On Sunday afternoon, the weather was warm and sunny for 2-3 hours, long enough to nap on the beach, and to enjoy going back and forth between warming up on the beach and cooling off in the lake. The area is very popular with families. There were motorboats on the lakes, but they weren’t terribly noisy and busy.
We tried hiking around Whitney Lake, but a portion of the trail was underwater, in both directions. The Iron Horse Trail out of Lindbergh was a nice spot to enjoy all of the birds, berries, and butterflies that were plentiful.
The days were pretty cloudy, with rain threatening much of the time. It rained extremely heavily on Saturday and Sunday nights. Our neighbours helped us out by setting up tarps over our tents, including one of their own. They set them up while we were off canoeing, and they drove away from the campground very early Monday, leaving us their tarp and ropes! Evening campfires were great, and we ate very well.
On the way back to Edmonton, we enjoyed the traditional Ukrainian church in Myrnam. In Two Hills, we were curious to visit the “Mexican Family Store”. When we went inside, we saw that about half the store sold fabrics and Bibles for Mennonite families in the area, and the other half had a wide range of Mexican food and cleaning products. It seems that the town is being settled by Mexican Mennonites, who also speak German, and there is a large Mennonite school in the town. I picked up vanilla, panela (solid cane sugar), and a number of other spices and Mexican foods. We also noticed that the main restaurant in town advertised Mexican, Ukrainian, and Western cuisine. That was a pretty big surprise, in rural Alberta! In Mundare, we visited Stawnichy’s Ukrainian (Mundare) Sausage, a famous, long-standing business (0ver 50 years). It was a great place to pick up assorted meats, and some delicious Ukrainian food, including fruit perogies and cabbage rolls.
I paddled this stretch of river in 2014, and really enjoyed the area. It’s a good, easy river run, relatively close to Edmonton, but very peaceful, once you’re on the river. I invited members of my outdoors club to join me this year. There were some folks who are usually hikers but who wanted to try paddling. Most people on the trip had a fair amount of previous paddling experience. We made the trip with 8 people in 4 canoes, which was a perfect number for staying together and moving along.
There is a really decent municipal campground adjacent to Vega (Klondyke or Klondike) Ferry. We camped both nights at the campground for $12/site, and there was firewood and a cook shelter available. Most of us gathered at the A&Ws in Barrhead, where we could also purchase food & beverages nearby. There was a worry about how high and fast the river might be, so we met at the bridge near Fort Assiniboine to assess. The group decided that things looked manageable, so we locked up our canoes by the bridge, before proceeding to our campsites. Saturday morning we started out fairly early, returning to the put-in with 2 vehicles.
Most of the day on the water was very pleasant. Although there were dark clouds on both sides of the river a lot of the day, there was no heavy rain or lightning. The speed of the river kept us moving at a comfortable pace. We spotted deer and moose along the river, eagles, and assorted other birds and wildlife. As we neared our destination, the wind picked up and we had to work very hard to keep moving forward for about 30-45 minutes. Luckily, the wind died down again and we reached the campground with plenty of time to relax and fix dinner. Some of us returned to pick up our vehicles from the put-in, and I enjoyed the old-time general store and lovely coffee shop in Fort Assiniboine. Some of the group checked out a short hike in the morning. My trip partner had an injured ankle, so we explored the discount stores and
On Sunday, some of the group checked out a short hike in the morning. My trip partner had an injured ankle, so we explored the discount stores and Pokestops of Westlock on the way back to Edmonton. There were hearty, healthy lunch dishes available at the grocery store. It was lovely to watch the crops and livestock along the highway. An excellent weekend adventure!