Edmonton needs to talk about the name of its football team, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley both said in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Trudeau was asked about the name Edmonton Eskimos at a news conference. The nickname has been criticized for its use of an outdated term for the Inuit people of Canada’s North.

“Obviously that’s a part of reconciliation, is listening to concerns and understanding what habits of the past need to change,” he said.

“This is a discussion and a reflection that the city of Edmonton certainly needs to undertake. Reconciliation is not just about Indigenous people and the government. It’s about all of us as Canadians, non-Indigenous as well. And I think that’s a really important discussion to have.”

Ottawa is the host city for Sunday’s Grey Cup game between the Calgary Stampeders and the Toronto Argonauts.

Notley also weighed in on the Edmonton club’s contentious nickname Wednesday. She was in Ottawa on a speaking tour promoting the need for pipelines to get Alberta oil to new markets.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Notley said it would show good leadership for the franchise to engage the community — including Indigenous people — in the conversation.

Notley said while she won’t tell the team what to do, she would like to hear what people have to say about the issue.

Many consider the word Eskimo a slur, or at least an uncomfortable vestige of colonialism for Inuit people.

There have been periodic calls in recent years for the team to change its name.

The team said this month it was keenly listening to all input, including from loyal season ticket holders and other fans.

In Edmonton Wednesday, Mayor Don Iveson repeated his position that the team needs to deal with the nickname because the questions about it aren’t going away.

Iveson said concerns raised by Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national Inuit organization, must be taken into account.

“Now that we’ve heard repeatedly from the leader of the national Inuit organization, who is an elected official there to represent his people, and he’s spoken consistently — very calmly, very persuasively but consistently — that it raises concerns for his community, I think that demands further conversation,” Iveson said.

“It really is for the team to follow up on that, but again, as I’ve said before, I don’t think this issue is going to go away, either.”

Any discussion should involve Edmontonians, including Inuit people, and national Inuit leaders, Iveson said. He also said fans and players on the Edmonton team should be included in the conversation.

“We’ve seen players taking pretty strong positions in the United States around strong issues of inclusion and equity, and so I think the players have a stake in this, too,” he said.

“That’s a difficult conversation for the team to manage but … there probably is a respectful process to at least make sure the Inuit perspective is fully heard by the community, including by fans who may not have heard what Mr. Obed has to say.”

A curated micro mall in Edmonton is pushing locally-made goods inside the biggest mall in North America in time for the holiday gift-buying frenzy.

West Edmonton Mall opened the mini mall, which it calls Retail as a Service, last month with 23 retailers from Edmonton and surrounding area.

The mall, located outside the pirate ship and Chapters, hosts shops selling clothing, makeup, jewelry, even doughnuts. 

Mark Ghermezian, with the WEM ownership group, came up with the idea, saying he wanted to create a unique space for local retailers to open themselves up to a different market.

“We wanted to give that community a platform where they can really unleash their creativity and give something back to the locals in Edmonton,” Ghermezian told CBC’s Radio Active Monday.

Amy Bohn, who curates the mall to ensure variety and quality, said this is the first time many of these businesses have had a storefront.

“It’s like a milestone for many of these businesses,” Bohn said. “This is a great way to test if retail is right for them.”

West Edmonton Mall's micro mall a local take on holiday shopping

The Wild Prairie Soap Company is one of 23 retailers in the micro mall. (Anna McMillan/CBC)

Vendors in the mini mall have the opportunity to leave after a certain amount of time if they feel the space isn’t right for them.

Even though the storefronts have been open less than a month, vendors find the prime real-estate beneficial to their business, Bohn said.

“Some of the vendors are super excited and they just want to stay,” she said. “[But] some of the vendors, this is a great experience, but not forever.”

Ghermezian said the goal was to make the micro mall accessible for fledgling businesses. “We try to make the risk as low as possible,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t risk involved.

Risky investment?

Emily Deveaux, a retail and real-estate strategist in Edmonton, said the rent is lower than what the other regular stores are paying. But for the amount of space the retailers get, the rent is expensive.

“It is definitely a very intentional investment that the retailer has to make,” Deveaux told CBC’s Radio Active Tuesday.

The small space doesn’t allow customers to have what she calls the “discovery process,” or the time a potential customer spends getting a feel for a store and deciding if it’s for them before talking to anyone from the store.

The tiny booth “doesn’t allow you to do that,” Deveaux said.

It’s an investment — Deveaux said in addition to rent, retailers have to pay for increased product coming in, staff and marketing. Staffing is a particularly significant hurdle for some businesses who have never had a storefront before.

Vendors might also have to worry about being kicked out of their spot after an amount of time in favour of some of the bigger chains.

“You might spend $25,000 on a store that will be there for three months, but after one month they’re like, ‘Hey, H&M is coming, you’ve got to get out,’ ” Deveaux said. “That’s the risk you take.”

A different crowd

But despite the criticisms, Deveaux said the idea is a unique take on the buying local trend.

Mall of America, the second-biggest mall in North America, is owned by the same group. They’ve also started a micro mall — but it’s in an empty store space.

Deveaux said these two different approaches to the same idea will help the ownership groups figure out what works best.

“This is a really good opportunity for them to use dead space,” she said.

Deveaux expects the idea to evolve over time and incorporate more products from around Alberta.

She said the community that buys local will already have the Edmonton-area products and bringing in others from places like Calgary or Grande Prairie will help keep the mall fresh.

West Edmonton Mall's micro mall a local take on holiday shopping

BasketBelle is an Edmonton-based gift shop, but retail expert Emily Deveaux says the mall may have to bring in retailers from all over Alberta to keep the storefronts fresh. (Anna McMillan/CBC)

The micro mall doubles as a different take on gifts for many mall-goers, who might not otherwise be exposed to the products, Deveaux said.

“We’re trying to combine an audience that doesn’t necessarily buy local and emerging products [with local vendors],” she said.

Bohn said the mall shoppers might look at the mini mall as an alternative to their traditional holiday shopping.

“This is a huge opportunity,” Bohn said. “Coming into Christmas time, this just going to launch their exposure even more.”

Listen to Radio Active with host Portia Clark, weekday afternoons on CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM/740 AM in Edmonton. Follow the show on Twitter: @CBCRadioActive.

It’s a moment that must play over and over again in Edmonton Eskimos coach Jason Maas’s head. 

The team was down by seven points to the Calgary Stampeders and had the ball 20 yards away from the Stampders’ end zone on third down.

With one minute and 43 seconds left in the game and four yards left to extend the drive, Maas sent out kicker Sean Whyte to try to put the team within four points of a tie, having faith that his team would recover the ball in time for one final drive.

The Eskimos forced the Stampeders to punt with 24 seconds left. But after a Jamill Smith fumble, the game was over, the Stamps won and fans and players alike were left scratching their heads.

It’s a play call that will be talked about and second-guessed for years to come. But it’s a conversation that Maas isn’t backing away from.

“Will I look back on it and wonder? Maybe,”  Maas said Sunday in a post-game interview. “But I won’t ever regret it.”

‘It was just nuts’

Supporters of the green and gold are split on whether Maas made the right call — and whether he should be held accountable for the result.

Many fans took to social media immediately following the game, calling for Maas’s firing.

Dan Creighton, an Eskimos season-ticket holder, was dumbfounded by the call.

“To bank on the defence to stop them was just too big of a gamble, I think,” Creighton said Monday. 

After the call was made, Creighton watched the anger unfold on social media.

“It was just nuts,” he said. ” ‘We’d be surprised if he still had a job,’ is what the comments were.”

Sorry, but that FG call was one of the worst coaching decisions you will ever see. When it mattered most, Jason Maas crapped his pants on national TV.


Maas has to be immediately fired for that debacle…. you can’t make that mistake in a game like this #esks #yeg


He said he thinks the play shouldn’t cost Maas his job.

Even Stampeder fans weren’t sure what to think of the field goal unit coming onto the field 20 yards from their end zone. 

“We were kind of scratching our head for sure when we were wondering why they didn’t go for it,” said Kevin Simpson, who was in the stands cheering on his beloved Stampeders. “He might as well have gone for the touchdown.”

As the Stampeders now prepare for their Grey Cup match-up against the Toronto Argonauts, the Eskimos are left wondering whether they should have continued the drive. But like Maas, Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly said he has no regrets.

“I put faith in my coaching staff that they’re going to make the best decision for us,” Reilly said Sunday after the loss. “I’ll never question that.”

A newly elected Beaumont councillor says she was “blindsided” after being asked to resign a month into the job by her fellow council members due to an unpaid utilities and property tax bill. 

Sabrina Powers was elected on Oct. 16. On Nov. 8, the unpaid bill was unearthed during a meeting she had with the town’s chief administrative officer. According to the Local Authorities Elections Act, an unpaid bill means she should have never qualified to run in the election, let alone win a seat in the town eight kilometres south of Edmonton, Powers told CBC News. 

The unpaid bill was an honest mistake — Powers said her husband simply forgot to pay it. 

“My husband takes care of all the bills. He thought he was all caught up. We’ve been together for 22 years now. I’m not going to nag him every month asking if he paid every single bill every month. This is just that one incident where we missed it,” Powers said.

“And I’m not blaming him, I should have triple checked, and I know that. I’m not upset and I’m not mad at him. And he feels really bad about it.”

She did not say how late the payment was or the amount, only that it was “above the minimum, for sure.” Powers paid the bill immediately, but was told she had three choices in resolving the issue: she could willingly resign, bring it to council and they could choose to dismiss it, or it could be brought before a Court of Queen’s Bench judge.

Instead, Powers said council chose a fourth option: to request her resignation. She opted to resign on Nov. 17. A byelection will now be held.

“I thought, if all of your colleagues ask you to resign, what would you do? So that’s kind of where it’s at,” she said.

“For sure I felt blindsided. I really, really did. By council asking for my resignation, I don’t fault them for it. They obviously have their reasons and I wasn’t privy to those reasons, but it wasn’t necessarily an option that was presented or that should have been presented.”

John Stewart, Beaumont’s newly elected mayor, said he was shocked by the discrepancy too. 

“This situation that we’re in really caught us by surprise. No one saw it coming,” he said. 

The town of Beaumont does not have rules in place to review the eligibility criteria of city councillors once they are elected. Under the Local Authorities Elections Act, councillors have to sign an affidavit on nomination day declaring they meet all the criteria for the job of an elected official.

If they do not meet all the conditions, they have to resign, Stewart said.

“This isn’t about Sabrina,” he said. “This really comes down to what the process is.” 

Stewart said the date of a byelection to fill Powers’s seat will be debated at the next city council meeting on Nov. 28. The byelection will cost Beaumont residents $10,000, he said.

There is nothing preventing Powers from running again, Stewart added.

A “serial entrepreneur,” Powers said she might just return to running her three businesses with her husband. 

Powers said she has “utmost respect” for the current town council, but doesn’t believe asking her to resign was a good decision for the town.

“It’s so weird. Just right from the start, right up until now, I’m just going ‘Oh my God, like what the heck is going on?'”

Too much of almost anything can be bad for your health — even regular checkups with your doctor, new research suggests.

The research, from the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, involved researchers from across the country, including Dr. Neil Bell from the University of Alberta and James Dickinson from the University of Calgary.

Researchers found that annual checkups “should not be a regular activity” for healthy people.

Lead author Dr. Richard Birtwhistle said physicians for decades have been calling for the end of the yearly checkup for healthy people.

“Generally, when healthy people with no symptoms go and see a physician for an annual checkup, it’s unlikely for people to find any abnormalities,” Birtwhistle told CBC’s Radio Active Monday.

“There does not appear to be any advancement in terms of people surviving longer.”

The research, published in Canadian Family Physician, looked at previous trials as far back as the 1960s and determined that none of them showed clear benefits to regular annual checkups.

Birtwhistle said yearly checkups can actually be detrimental to the health of an otherwise-healthy person.

“You can find things that actually aren’t important to patients’ health, end up with more testing anxiety, and potentially [lead to] treatment of unnecessary things,” he said.

Birtwhistle said doctors should instead adopt periodic preventive checkups — a regimen based on the particular patient’s risk for health issues.

Such checkups for healthy people could be anywhere from three to five years apart, with similar testing to that of a yearly checkup. The report suggests that the yearly approach could still be “useful for people older than 65 years of age.”

Doesn’t save money

Birtwhistle said getting rid of unnecessary checkups likely won’t save money, but would instead save time and decrease wait times for those who do need a doctor’s attention.

“I think it’s time to turn the page on annual physicals … and start to concentrate more on how do we deliver preventive care in Canada,” said Birtwhistle, a professor of family medicine and public health sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston.

“That doesn’t include, necessarily, listening to somebody’s chest who has no chest complaints.”

‘You can … end up with more testing anxiety and potentially [lead to] treatment of unnecessary things.’ – Richard Birtwhistle, researcher

The researchers suggest three possible avenues of implementing a preventive checkup system.

The first would be to provide all citizens within a certain age group a free checkup every five years. The second suggestion is to embed a health professional who specializes in prevention care into all primary-care facilities.

Finally, the researchers suggest developing a website that patients could use to help determine if they need a preventive checkup.

All three suggestions would need money from the provinces, but that they could re-purpose the funds saved from annual checkups.

But above all, Birtwhistle said, the recommendation to end annual checkups is meant to help streamline the public healthcare system.

“I think what we’re doing is trying to use doctors’ time or the primary care team’s time in giving effective service,” he said. “The hope would be that we’d have more effective delivery of preventive health services.”

Listen to Radio Active with host Portia Clark, weekday afternoons on CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM/740 AM in Edmonton. Follow the show on Twitter: @CBCRadioActive.

An Alberta judge is calling on Alberta Health Services to restore emergency helipad access at the Fort McMurray hospital to improve patient safety.

Judge James Jacques called on AHS to restore helicopter landings at the hospital “with all due haste” after the landings were discontinued a decade ago.

Jacques’s comments appear in the final report of a fatality inquiry into the death of Ge Genbao at the CNRL Horizon oilsands construction site in 2007. The Chinese worker died after a storage tank he was working on collapsed.

Judge urges AHS to move quickly to build helipad at Fort McMurray hospital

AHS says it expects the helipad will offer easy access to the hospital’s emergency department, operating room and intensive care unit. (David Thurton/ CBC)

A ground ambulance rushed Genbao to hospital 85 kilometres away in Fort McMurray but he died on the way.

A March inquiry examined whether a faster mode of transportation should of been used. Alberta Justice published the final report Wednesday.

“There are many circumstances under which rapid helicopter transport to the hospital would contribute greatly to the saving of lives,” Jacques wrote in the report.

“Time is a critical factor in emergency care, and the current necessity of taking patients to the helicopter base, and thereafter transporting them by ground ambulance to the hospital, wastes crucial minutes.”

CNRL faced 29 charges for the incident, all of which were stayed or postponed.

Sinopec Shanghai Engineering Ltd. faced 21 charges, all of which were withdrawn. The company’s subsidiary, SSEC Canada, faced three charges and was forced to pay $1.5 million in penalties in 2013.

The inquiry determined Genbao died after air collected between his lung and chest wall. The report said his injuries were so severe it is unlikely that a helicopter would have saved his life.

Helipad in the works

Steve Rees, senior program officer for capital management at AHS, said the health authority has already begun implementing the inquiry’s recommendation.

“As far as the recommendation — going to quickly get the helipad built — [we] absolutely agree,” Rees said. “We’ve been working on this for quite some time.”

In April, AHS announced it would begin construction of a helipad at the hospital by the end of the year and finish by the end of 2018.

Paul Spring, president and CEO of the Helicopter Emergency Response Organization in Fort McMurray, said he will believe AHS when he can land his helicopter at the hospital.

Judge urges AHS to move quickly to build helipad at Fort McMurray hospital

Paul Spring is president and CEO of the Helicopter Emergency Response Organization which oversees air ambulance services in Fort McMurray and the Wood Buffalo region. (David Thurton/ CBC)

“We’ve been told it was going to be built on multiple occasions before this one,” Spring said. “Maybe this will be the actual impetus to actually see it through and actually finish this time.”

Spring said his pilots and paramedics will continue to land at the airport and then make the 20 to 30 minute drive to the Fort McMurray hospital until the helipad is completed.

“Look around Alberta [and] find another place with the [same] activity level,” Spring said. “They all have helipads. They had them for decades. Why didn’t we have one?”

Spring said the air ambulance service is also used to help traffic accident victims and people with health problems in remote Indigenous communities.

Follow David Thurton, CBC’s Fort McMurray correspondent, on FacebookTwitter and via email.

A man facing five counts of attempted murder after a police officer was hit with a car and stabbed by an assailant is to undergo two psychiatric assessments.

 A judge agreed with Abdulahi Hasan Sharif’s lawyer Tuesday that Sharif’s mental health must be reviewed.

One test will determine if the 30-year-old is mentally fit to stand trial. He must be able to understand the legal proceedings and to give directions to his lawyer.

“If the determination comes back that he’s not fit, then the matter is adjourned essentially until such time as he’s deemed to be fit,” Sharif’s lawyer, Karanpal Aujla said outside court.

Sharif was charged after a speeding car rammed through a barrier at an Edmonton Eskimo game on Sept. 30 and sent  Const. Mike Chernyk flying five metres through the air.

The driver got out, pulled out a large knife and began stabbing the officer.

Hours later, four pedestrians were hit and injured by a cube van being pursued by police on Jasper Avenue,

A second test will be to determine whether Sharif should be found not criminally responsible due to his state of mind at the time of the alleged attacks.

Aujla told reporters he has met with Sharif and “he appears like a normal guy to me.”

But the defence lawyer said based on information from those close to the accused and from the disclosure provided by the Crown, “It appears to me that there certainly may be issues that pertain to mental health.”

Sharif is scheduled to appear in court again on Dec. 13.

An Islamic State flag was found in the car used in the attack, but no terrorism charges have been laid against Sharif.

The Edmonton Ski Club could be shutting down for good after 106 years in the city.

A termination of lease notice has been posted on the door of the club telling the owners to vacate the premises by December 11.

Coun. Ben Henderson said Monday that the decision to close the ski hill “was made by the board” and not by the city.

“With their decision not to operate this year, that put the lease in a kind of tenuous position because it’s based on how they operate,” Henderson said. “The cleanest thing to do was to terminate the lease right now based on their decision.”

Edmonton Ski Club's lease terminated, leaving future uncertain

The City of Edmonton posted a termination of lease notice on the ski club’s door on November 9, giving the tenants 30 days to leave. (Sam Martin/CBC)

However, there is a chance that the ski club could reopen back after the 2017-2018 ski season.

“I think everyone hopes that [the closure] will be temporary,” Henderson told CBC News. “But ultimately it’s their decision.”

The Edmonton Ski Club, located on Connors Hill at 9613 96th Ave., was created in 1911 as a ski jumping venue. It claims to be the oldest ski club in North America.

Financial trouble plagued club for years

In recent years, the ski club has struggled to stay open.

Last year, then executive director Ken Saunders asked Edmonton city council for $1.3 million over five years to maintain the club’s operations while the Valley Line LRT was being constructed through the hill.

Council approved an emergency fund of $338,000 to the ski hill in October 2016 to get it through last winter.

“We’ve been trying really hard to keep everything going,” Henderson said of the funding decision.

Saunders said at the time that the emergency funds would go towards covering staffing costs, paying off debt and buying new equipment.

The club also received emergency funding six years ago.

The financial struggle has plagued the ski club for years, according to former general manager Lorne Haveruk.

Equipment dating back to the 1950s, competition from three other ski hills in the area and a lack of city funding made it difficult for the club to stay afloat, Haveruk said.

“There’s been built up competition so the small Edmonton Ski Club didn’t have money to replace lifts,” he said. “It fell behind its times.”

During the 2015-2016 ski season, the ski club made $600,000 in profits.

Patrons not convinced club will reopen

There are already signs of the club’s decay in Gallagher Park.

A letter posted next to the termination of lease notice said a section of one of the ski club’s buildings was previously condemned. 

Access to the ski club has already been fenced off by city officials “to ensure the safety of the general public,” the letter said.

Edmonton Ski Club's lease terminated, leaving future uncertain

Equipment, including snow machines, sit unused behind the Edmonton Ski Club. (Sam Martin/CBC)

Caitlin Brown grew up with the ski club practically in her backyard. By the time she was 13, she spent every day each winter on the slopes.

Brown now lives in Victoria, B.C., but said she keeps the memories of the ski hill with her.

“It’s part of my childhood that’s gone,” she said. “That was a big part of growing up in Edmonton.”

Brown worked at the club as a lift attendant and ski instructor until 2007. She said money was tight even back then.

“It always seemed to be a bit of a struggle,” she said. “There were never any renovations going on and there didn’t seem to be any money coming in. It wasn’t a big surprise for any of us.”

Haveruk got involved with the Edmonton Ski Club 45 years ago. While the finances were never great, he said he still believes the ski club should reopen.

With the Valley Line LRT planned to run through the hill, it would be an accessible option for Edmontonians looking for a way to learn how to ski or snowboard, he said.

“The potential of that ski area is probably one of the best in Canada for becoming an in-the-city learning facility,” he said.

The ski club is included in the city’s master plan for Gallagher Park. However, the plan will not be finalized until 2019.

Henderson said he will be meeting with club representatives in the coming days to find out more about its closure.



An Edmonton city councillor wants an investigation to determine whether the beleaguered Metro Line LRT poses a risk to public safety after a pair of incidents near the NAIT Station on Saturday, including one that saw a northbound train on the same track as one that was preparing to head south.

“If it’s safe, then why are we having all these problems?” Coun. Mike Nickel said Sunday. 

“Are we at this point where this line is so dysfunctional, do we have to shut it down?”

Northbound, southbound trains on same track

Eddie Robar, the city’s transit service branch manager, confirmed that just before 6:30 a.m. Saturday, a train departed Kingsway station, northbound for NAIT station, and was on the same track as a train that was ready to go southbound.

“Any time we give a line assignment where a train is routed on to a track that’s occupied, that shouldn’t happen in the system itself,” Robar said. “Having to … back a train into a station is not something that’s ideal.”

While the city worked with the software provider, Thales, to figure out what went wrong with the track switcher, it caused another software system malfunction, Robar said, noting there was a service delay of six to seven minutes. 

An investigation is underway, Robar added. 

The incidents on the weekend are the third and fourth mishaps this year to result from software system failures. On Oct. 30, the crossing arm lifted prematurely at a busy intersection near NAIT. CBC News has also confirmed an issue in July.

“If you don’t call the Metro Line a failure at this point, I don’t know what you would call it,” Nickel said.

Nickel said he will make an inquiry at the city council meeting Tuesday calling for an investigation, and will also ask the city manager and city auditor to get involved.

Councillor wants investigation after northbound, southbound Metro Line trains end up on same track

Coun. Mike Nickel says he “has some very grave safety concerns” following two incidents with the Metro Line LRT signalling software. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

“Obviously, I have some very grave safety concerns now surrounding the entire Metro Line,” Nickel said.

Ongoing problems

The city is withholding a $17-million final payment to Thales until the company can resolve the software issues. 

“If we can’t get to a resolution at some point, there’s always different alternatives we can take,” Robar said. “To say that we’d do that right now, I’m not sure that’s the case.” 

The $700-million Metro Line LRT opened in September 2015, more than a year behind schedule. It was supposed to open in spring 2014 but there were problems integrating the new and old signaling systems. 

​Robar said neither of the two incidents that occurred on Saturday posed a risk to public safety. He noted that when a train comes too close to another train or a gate, the system puts on the brakes. 

“In both cases, none of that was breached,” Robar said. 

As the cowboys and cowgirls hang their hats after a weekend of rodeo in Edmonton, the Professional Bull Riders Global Cup is reflecting on the success of its inaugural event.

Held at Rogers Place from Nov. 8-11, the first Global Cup brought professional bull riders together from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Brazil and Australia to compete for a grand payout of a million dollars. PBR has been hosting bull riding events in different Canadian cities since 2006, but this is the first time it has hosted a competition with international teams.

Inside the arena, sections of upper-level seating were blocked off for the weekend, and none of the weekend’s events sold out. Attendance and ticket sales statistics were not made available. 

Sean Gleason, CEO of PBR, said lower turnout was expected for the rodeo’s first time in Edmonton, held during the same weekend as the Canadian Finals Rodeo — an event with a 44-year-long legacy in the city.

“We grow over time in a market,” Gleason said. “We like to find places where we’re liked and appreciated. We win our fans over one at a time. We didn’t intend to compete with CFR. We don’t see rodeos as competition.”

PBR is known for its bull riding events that mix rodeo with pulsating rock concerts and explosive pyrotechnic displays, drawing a younger crowd. The organization was attracted to hosting the competition in Edmonton because of the city’s western culture. 

‘We win our fans over one at a time. We didn’t intend to compete with CFR. We don’t see rodeos as competition.’ – Sean Gleason, Professional Bull Riders

The CFR, by contrast, is a traditional rodeo held at Northlands Coliseum. It offers a wide range of events including steer wrestling, barrel racing, saddle bronc riding and bull riding, and is linked to Farmfair International at the Expo Centre. The rodeo’s last event is Sunday afternoon, and this is its last year at Northlands.

The SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon was supposed to take the reins for the 2017 event but the Canadian Professional Rodeo Association rescinded their agreement last year, bringing the event back to Edmonton and in direct competition with PBR.

PBR reached out to the CFR to try and organize an improved schedule where both events would perform better. The organization never received a reply.

Discussions are underway to possibly merge the two major rodeos, creating one larger, combined rodeo event.

A spokesperson for the Oilers Entertainment Group told CBC News one of the possibilities includes merging the PBR and the CFR into a 10-day event on back-to-back weekends.

Gleason said the PBR already hosts a two-day event in Arlington, Texas, where the professional bull riders take to the dirt on the first night, and rodeo enthusiasts turn up for the Iron Cowboy on day two. 

Either way, discussions about the future of rodeo in Edmonton will begin right after the dust settles, Gleason said.

“Edmonton is sitting on the precipice of having a major PBR and a major rodeo event happening in the same weekend, and there aren’t many places where that happens,” he said.



Coming out as gay, lesbian, trans or queer can be a huge challenge for a teen, but it can also be difficult for parents and family members in unique ways.

Two parents who know the challenges first hand shared their experiences on Edmonton AM Friday morning.

'It's a journey': coming out can be a family affair

Ruby Swanson is the author of A Family Outing, a book about her experiences with a gay son. (CBC)

Ruby Swanson, author of A Family Outing, a book about her family’s experiences with her gay son, described how her son came out in stages, first telling his father, then waiting months to tell her.

“My husband felt really isolated because he had something really important that he couldn’t share because he had to honour our son’s request,” Swanson said.

After finding out, she said it was another seven months before her son came out to his brother.

In the end, the family was accepting of his identity, but Swanson said she struggled with keeping her son’s identity undercover.

“It’s just issues of secrecy. Secrecy destroys people’s souls and I felt my soul was being destroyed and I didn’t know why being gay was something that had to be protected, withheld.”

Terry Soetaert’s said he’s also familiar with the damage secrecy can do.

His daughter came out at age 13.

When his daughter was young, Soetaert says she was struggling with a lot of issues, including depression and anxiety.

She was seeing specialists, but the first step for her to recover was to end the secrecy within herself, he said.

“With my daughter, the toughest thing was actually coming out to herself,” he explained. “She didn’t have access to a [Gay Straight Alliance], so having one would have been an excellent idea for her.”

'It's a journey': coming out can be a family affair

Terry Soetaert is with the St. Albert chapter of P-FLAG. He also helps organise Outloud, a meeting group for LGBTQ youth in St. Albert. (CBC)

Despite the problems secrecy can create, both Soetaert and Swanson said they don’t think schools should out kids.

“No one can judge whether or not it’s right for that child to come out to their parents,” Swanson said. “The child knows when it’s right. And that ‘child’ might be 60 years old.”

Soetart said he thinks it’s a difficult balance for parents.

“We want to help. We want to be there for our kids. But for a lot of kids, at least half of the kids that I deal with, it’s a dangerous situation coming out.”

GSA’s and similar groups give teens an environment to explore their identity, said Soetaert, who works with the St. Albert chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and helps organize Outloud, a meeting group for LGBTQ youth.

“A lot of kids like to say that they’re queer or questioning because they don’t really know,” he said. “It’s a journey.”

One person is dead after a fire broke out inside a suite in a southeast Edmonton seniors home late Thursday.

Several other residents were treated for minor injuries on scene but no one else transported to hospital, a Fire Rescue Services spokesperson said.

A resident of the building said the victim was a man who lived there in a main-floor suite.

Around 10:30 p.m., fire crews were called to St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Selo at 8025 101st. Ave. in the Forest Heights neighbourhood.

Resident found dead after fire at Edmonton seniors' home

A resident was found dead after a fire broke out inside this main-floor suite Thursday night. (Nola Keeler/CBC)

Fire crews arrived within five minutes of being called and the fire was brought under control by 11 p.m.

Residents were evacuated from the building.

One resident of the building, Wayne Huculak, said the victim was a man and that they were friends.

Huculak’s main-floor suite is only a few metres away from the neighbouring suite where the fire broke out. 

‘I couldn’t’ see anything’

“I was sleeping and I just woke up because I heard the fire alarm going, so I figured I better check it out,” Huculak said Friday morning as he stood on the sidewalk outside the burned-out unit.

“Then I just opened up the door and I couldn’t see anything because it was all smoky, so I came to the front entrance and the fireman said, ‘OK, you’ve got to leave the building.’ ” 

Huculak and more than 20 other residents spent a few hours on a bus before they were allowed back into their units. 

“When I was going back to my suite, the door was open to his suite and the walls were all smoke,” he said. 

The fire was contained to a single suite where the body was found, Maya Filipovic, a spokesperson for Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, said Friday.

It is not clear if the person’s death was related to the fire, Filipovic said.

Investigators won’t release any identifying details of the deceased resident until an autopsy is completed, said Filipovic.

The city’s emergency support response team was also on scene providing food and water, said Filipovic.

Buses were brought in to provide evacuated residents temporary shelter from the cold.

Residents have since been allowed to return to their suites, she said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and a damage estimate has yet to be completed.