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FUBAR’S TERRY CAHILL Inside a headbangin’ success story

T S JU ! R ’ E V I G

Indigenous group works to help the homeless and address drug issues in the downtown core


Vegetarianism gains new ground in Alberta’s mostly meat market


40 years of gaming with Calgary’s dungeon master, Gordon Johansen


Navigating the treatments and side effects for clear complexions


International flair for Calgary’s original cocktail


Those with disabilities struggle to stay above the poverty line


Start your next journey Transform your career with our online and classroom-based certificate and diploma programs.

Registration for Spring and Summer courses opens on March 9, 2020. mru.ca/ContEd

>In this issue



4-5 › Climate Crisis


6 - 8 › Bear Clan Patrol 9 -11 › Living WIth AISH


12 -13 › Skin Deep: the tribulations of clear complexions 14 -15 › Help and hindering patients


22 - 23 › Money and music photography 24 - 25 › Inside the Sentry Box



32 - 37 › Curtis Van Charles: painting up FOOD 16 -17 › Veganism on the nature rise: RAW Eatery & Market 38 - 40 › Life’s a drag: 18 -21 › The International gender impersonation Caesar 41 - 42 › Photo healing

18 16 38


32 41

Lead Editors › KENDALL BISTRETZAN, SARAH GREEN Photo Editor › LAURA BALANKO-DICKSON Design Editor › ISAIAH LINDO Contributing Editors › FLOYD BLACK HORSE, RICARDO GARCIA, DANIEL GONZELEZ, SOFIA GRUCHALLA-WESIERSKI, JACKSON REED, ANDREA WONG Faculty/Managing Editor › SEAN HOLMAN: sholman@mtroyal.ca Production Supervisor/Sales › BRAD SIMM: bsimm@mtroyal.ca 403-829-7424





THE CRISIS CONTINUES Last edition, we introduced a front of book section dedicated to examining the climate change crisis. With each passing day, the crisis becomes even more pressing — wildfires are still burning, oceans are still rising and species remain in more peril than ever. Even when these stories aren’t in the headlines, the devastating effects of climate change remain a reality all over the world. Here at the Calgary Journal, we are dedicated to facilitating an open dialogue about this crisis — whenever and wherever possible. As our readers, we hope to share with you the latest news about the effects of climate change so you can make ethical and informed decisions about your impact on the planet. This section will highlight local, national and international news related to the crisis, which won’t end when we are gone. That’s why we feel it is our responsibility, as journalists, to ensure we keep you informed about this issue which will profoundly affect all of us — politically, societally and personally.

Lighter colours represent warmer tempertaures, and darker tempteratures represent cooler temperatures in this earth image. PHOTO COURTESY OF NASA GOES PROJECT SCIENCE

2019 DECLARED THE SECOND HOTTEST YEAR EVER According to scientists at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 2019 was the second hottest year ever — just shy of the record set in 2016. The 2010s were also the hottest decade on record, with the second half of the decade being especially warm. This trend of increasing temperatures is not new. Starting in the 1960s, each decade has been significantly warmer than the previous one. These temperatures are affecting both humans and the environment. Retreating ice, extreme weather and rising sea-levels are just a few of the visible effects of these increasing temperatures. SOBEYS ELIMINATES PLASTIC BAGS

Increasing warming trends are consistent among four independent records. PHOTO COURTESY OF NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY/ROBERT SIMMON 4



Sobeys is the first national grocer to completely eliminate single-use plastic bags as of Jan. 31. The bags were phased out from all Canadian stores at the beginning of the year, removing 225 million plastic bags from circulation annually. Sobeys says the average plastic bag is used for 12 minutes and takes over 500 years to decompose. This is likely the first of many similar changes, following the announcement by the Trudeau government in 2019 to ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.



SUPERCHARGE YOUR SOLAR RETURNS SAIT will be hosting an event for Calgarians to learn about the future of solar energy. From hearing about people living in solar powered houses to those driving solar powered cars, this collaboration between Solar Alberta and the Electrical Vehicle Association of Alberta runs from 5:45 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Free tickets are available through Eventbrite.



The Dunns Road Fire started burning north of the Victoria border on Dec. 28 and burned over 330 hectares of land. PHOTO COURTESY OF NEW SOUTH WALES RURAL FIRE SERVICE

AUSTRALIA’S FIRE SEASON Australia saw a hot, dry year in 2019, with temperatures 1.5 C higher than the mid-20th century average. December also had the lowest rainfall numbers on record, turning the continent into a tinderbox. The resulting fires have killed at least 28 people and burned more than 18 million hectares of land. As the Calgary Journal went to press at the end of February, the Australian government had announced the creation of a royal commission to investigate how the country can better prepare for future bushfires. HOW TO HELP: - The Australian Red Cross is accepting monetary donations; - Givit, an Australian organization, is matching people with the specific items they need; - The following places are accepting monetary donations for firefighters: the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, the Country Fire Service in South Australia, Victoria’s Country Fire Authority and the Queensland Rural Fire Brigades Association; and - Up to 10,000 koalas in New South Wales may have died as a result of bushfires and drought. The Koal Hospital Port Macquarie is accepting monetary donations on its website.

Calgary Climate Hub hosts frequent climatefocused gatherings in communities around the city. The March conversation will be held at the West Hillhurst Community Association at 6:30 p.m. Attendees will be introduced to the evening’s facilitators before breaking off into conversation with the facilitators and attendees. More information is available on Calgary Climate Hub’s website or Facebook page. RSVP recommended.

The wildfires in Australia serve as a reminder of Calgary’s own history with wildfires. As a result of such blazes in British Columbia, in August 2018, Calgary broke it’s all time record for consecutive smoky hours. Calgary’s Climate Resilience Strategy, which was adopted in 2018, shows the city is likely to face increasingly dry summers, meaning the effects of wildfires are only going to continue. The city is working towards reducing the 2005 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. A council committee is set to provide an update on the city’s climate strategy in April based on progress towards that goal. CANADIAN INSTITUTE FOR CLIMATE CHOICES LAUNCHES A new Canadian institute for research and analysis on climate policy launched in January. The institute is federally financed, with funding of $20 million over five years. The 15 climate-focused organizations involved will maintain independent control over the research and reporting conducted. The institute is similar to the defunct National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, which was set up by Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government in 1988. The national roundtable led to many reports on climate change, public policy and environmental protection before its funding was eliminated in 2012 under the Harper government. The aim of the newly introduced institute is to analyze Canada’s climate issues, resulting in the release of three major reports per year, as well as other information as it becomes available.

Climate change rally outside City Hall.


MASS CLIMATE STRIKE Fridays for Future Calgary is hosting a mass climate strike at City Hall. Starting at noon, strikers will come together to demand government action on climate change. Fridays for Future strikes at City Hall every Friday, but this particular day is set to have speakers, marching, chanting and a die-in if weather permits. More information can be found on the Fridays for Future Calgary and Calgary Social Change’s Facebook pages. Send us your events at editor@cjournal.ca.






Paws Its Way Into The Streets Of Calgary This Indigenous-based group hopes to change the city by cleaning Calgary’s Downtown Core and Forest Lawn

DANIEL GONZALEZ dgonzalez@cjournal.ca


he Bear Clan Patrol is trying to bring a new sense of safety to the streets of Calgary by cleaning the streets of drug paraphernalia and helping out the homeless. However, this work wouldn’t be possible without the patrol’s donors, supporters and volunteers. The organization, which started in November 2019, holds these patrols every Friday afternoon and evening, regardless of the weather. Inspired by a group based in Manitoba with the same name, its members were also influenced by another group from Lethbridge called the Sage Clan Patrol who assisted in the Bear Clan Patrol’s first walks in Calgary. Heather Black, one of the Calgary Bear Clan Patrol’s committee members, states that part of their goal is creating a bond of safety and friendship within the community and giving people in need the resources they need “to help them make that one step into changing their life.” “When we go out for a patrol, we are looking for the ‘sharps,’ the needles, and at the same time, we’re meeting with those homeless and we’re providing gloves, warmth and food.” The Bear Clan Patrol does two different walks across the city. Each is led by two of the patrol’s six committee members. The first walk happens in the afternoon and is focused

on the downtown core, while the second happens in the evening in Forest Lawn. Their afternoon patrol, which runs from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., begins at the west side of the Calgary Public Library. From there, they go to Olympic Plaza and then the riverfront near the Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre. After that, the patrol takes a two-hour break, resupplying and getting a quick meal before hitting the streets again. At 8:00 p.m, they will begin their second walk and continue until 11:00 p.m. Before every patrol, the leaders go over safety precautions with their volunteers, providing orange safety vests and the necessities they hand out to those in need. They also perform a traditional smudging where they burn sage and ask their ancestors for protection. Although the patrol does not directly intervene with substance abusers or criminal activities on the city streets, they do their best to ensure that everyone is in a safer space, regardless of their situation. “We go over safety precautions, what not to do. We warn volunteers what they’re going to see on the street. We’re not out there to stop people from doing what they’re doing. We’re there to help them be able to provide that sense of safety that they need,” says Black. Armed with naloxone kits, tongs, pick-up tools and biohazard containers, they search alleys, crevices, around buildings and even under bridges along the city’s riverfront.

(Top) Leftover drug paraphenilia that the Bear Clan Patrol picks up to make sure it does not harm the community. (Bottom) The Bear Clan Patrol quickly resupplies before they continue their patrol into Olympic Plaza. PHOTO: DANIEL GONZALEZ CALGARYJOURNAL.CA




Black says there also are many things that the Bear Clan Patrol can offer the homeless, from clothing and clean needle kits to condoms and toiletries. “As we are going around and we see people, we stop them. We converse with them. We give them coffee. We give them food. If there’s anything else that they want, then we’re pretty well-equipped to help them out with any kind of warm gear,” Black explains. All of those supplies have been donated by supporters. By giving to those in need, the Bear Clan Patrol’s members hope they can strengthen the connection they have with them. One encounter Black will never forget occurred during the coldest week in January where the patrol met a young man in need of their aid. “One of the gentlemen that we were looking after at the Marlborough C-train line was kind of distant and he wasn’t warming up to us. But I branched off and I went to get him hot chocolate and stuff. He said he was hungry, so he voiced that,” she says. Giving the assistance this man needed that evening gave Black a lasting impression of the homeless in Calgary and 8


that sometimes, the patrol cannot provide all the help they need. “He had a broken arm and he didn’t want to get medical attention. So, you know, it broke my heart. We, not only myself but everybody that was on patrol, were able to look after and give him what he needed to be comfortable,” Black recalls. With the support of donations from different organizations in Calgary, the Bear Clan Patrol can continue to assist people suffering with addictions and homelessness in the city. “Calgary has been amazing and the whole Calgary community has come together, not just individuals, but companies and organizations, have come forward to help and support us in any way they can,” says Black. The Bear Clan Patrol is continuing their Friday patrols and have plans of expanding their reach and launching more patrols. They hope to further their connection with the community. “We walk with what we have, right? And we are here to make friends and build that relationship with everybody. Not only with those on the streets, but with all of the volunteers and people that have been part of our journey thus far.”


(Above) Two men from Saskatchewan appreciate the backpacks filled with supplies given to the from the Bear Clan Patrol. (Below) Two organizers prepare the sage for the smudge before heading out for a patrol. PHOTO: DANIEL GONZALEZ


DISABLING THE DISABLED UCP changes to disability income adds financial stress for vulnerable Albertans

After Jennifer Stewart lost her job a year ago, she turned to Assured Income for the Severely Handcapped to cover her monthly expenses. But with AISH now being de-indexed from inflation, Stewart is worried how others with disabilities will cope with the change. PHOTO: ANDREA WONG ANDREA WONG awong@cjournal.ca


ennifer Stewart has lived with a developmental disability her whole life. She started walking later than most people and learned at a slower place. Eventually, Stewart was able to find an office job at an oil and gas company doing duties such as filing records and stocking kitchens. For 21 years, going to work raised Stewart’s selfesteem and gave her the chance to earn her own money. Her situation changed, however, when she was let go last February. Still unemployed, Stewart says searching for work in today’s job market is frustrating, especially when most places aren’t looking for people with disabilities. “They expect you to do multiple things and, because of my disability, I’m not able to do all those jobs at once.” Though finding work has been daunting, one of the

biggest challenges Stewart has dealt with is the feeling of being another number. According to Statistics Canada, about one-quarter of the six million Canadians living with a disability are unemployed. People with disabilities are also twice as likely to live below the poverty line. “I was very proud because I was one of the only people that had a job,” Stewart explains. “When I lost my job, I went through a lot of anger … I just felt like, ‘Oh my god, I’m just another statistic.’” Since then, Stewart has been able to live off her Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped, a welfare program that provides a monthly income to over 67,000 Albertans with permanent disabilities. The amount of AISH a person receives varies based on their income. Being unemployed, Stewart is eligible to receive the full amount of $1,685 per month, which helps cover basic living expenses such as rent and bus fare. Stewart also receives

money from the Persons with Developmental Disabilities program to pay for a live-in support worker.


With additional assistance from her mom, Stewart has been able to afford her monthly expenses, which total around $1,500. But, she recognizes this is not the case for all people on AISH. “Everybody’s situation is different,” she says. “A big chunk of people are having to live month-to-month with $20 to their name once they’re finished paying all their bills.” Living on that kind of tight AISH budget is a reality that university student Mary Salvani faces every day. Salvani has dyspraxia, a lifelong disorder that impairs motor skills. On top of grocery bills and rent for her small onebedroom apartment, Salvani pays for school by working odd jobs and saving anything from AISH that is left over, which is usually $100 at most.




The Disability Action Hall is a Calgary-based advocacy group made up of people with disabilities and their allies. Since 1998, the group has worked towards improving services for Alberta’s disability community. PHOTO:ANDREA WONG “I always have to keep an ongoing calculator in my head,” says Salvani. Although Salvani says she would likely be on the streets if she didn’t have AISH, it’s stressful making sure she has enough money to live on every month. This has been a common problem among AISH recipients for years. But it’s one that will only worsen under the UCP’s proposed changes to disability benefits, leaving advocates and those who rely on the program worried.


The Disability Action Hall is amongst those who are concerned. For years, the Calgary-based advocacy group has worked to improve the lives of people with disabilities, and fighting on their behalf for basic income. “People are told to be thankful for what they get,” says co-ordinator Colleen Huston. “If you ask what is a basic income, it’s really about being able to cover the essentials and living a life of dignity.” AISH has long been at the center of this conversation. Established in 1979, the program was intended to meet the needs of severely handicapped Albertans. Year after year, however, AISH has continued to fall short in covering the cost of living. For example, in 2012, the maximum monthly living allowance for AISH was $1,188. The amount was barely enough for people to meet their basic needs, a gap that Huston says stemmed from a lack of understanding around what it’s like to have a disability. In response, the Disability Action Hall created the 1188 Challenge, which asked Alberta’s politicians to live for one month on the same amount as AISH recipients. The campaign saw the Redford government raise AISH by $400 per month. Though Huston says they were “incredibly happy” with the change, the government only fulfilled part of their request. In addition to an increase in monthly living allowances, the group had 10



also asked for AISH, along with other social assistance programs such as Alberta Works and Alberta Senior Support, to be indexed to the cost of living. According to Huston, tying AISH to annual increases

If you ask what is a basic income, it’s really about being able to cover the essentials and living a life of dignity. > Colleen Huston

in inflation would meet the needs of recipients and also free the government from trying to do big catchups in funding. A big victory came in 2018 when the NDP government announced they would be indexing AISH according to inflation. Although the change equated to a $100 monthly increase, there was still room for improvement as AISH had only been indexed to 2015 standards, not to the current year.


Following the release of the 2019 budget, the UCP government put a pause on AISH indexing, which came as a surprise to the Disability Action Hall.

During the election campaign, UCP spokesperson Matt Solberg told Postmedia the party wouldn’t make any changes to the program and would continue with indexing. Premier Jason Kenney also dispelled claims of the party cutting AISH as “complete rubbish,” adding that the UCP had supported the NDP government’s legislation to increase AISH benefits. In a September interview with Alberta Views, Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney said she was “fully supportive” of AISH being indexed and saw it as “compassionate” and “sensible.” The indexing would have added $32 per month, bringing the basic living allowance to a total of $1,717. “It was very upsetting because I think people were hopeful,” Stewart says. “Doing that was kind of cruel on [Jason Kenney’s] part … I just think it’s mean to give somebody something and then take it away.” The UCP defended that decision in the 2019 fiscal plan, stating that the de-indexation would reduce costs by $10 million in the upcoming year. The plan also stated Alberta’s AISH is “much higher” than anywhere else in the country. “We pay so much more than other provinces in AISH benefits, it would take around 20 years of inflation for the next most generous province to reach Alberta benefit levels,” the budget said. However, Huston says this comparison is “apples to oranges” as the services that different social programs provide vary across provinces. Executive director of Public Interest Alberta Joel French adds that by de-indexing AISH, the government is “actively making life worse for people with disabilities.” While the program hasn’t technically been cut, deindexing will reduce the purchasing power of monthly payments as living costs increase every year with inflation. “We’re going to see a drop in their standard of living, and these are some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” says French. “I think as Albertans we like


to believe that we’re better than that, but our government is not reflecting that.” These changes are also concerning to Huston, who says the pause on AISH will set people with disabilities back to when they were living on a monthly allowance of $1,188. The effects of less income will cause more people to make “unsafe decisions based on their budget” as they select which of their basic needs to pay for. More people with disabilities falling under the poverty line will also lead to a greater strain on crisis services and charities. And that problem will only worsen with the number of clients on AISH having risen last year by almost 10 per cent. As the caseload keeps growing, Huston says de-indexing AISH will be more expensive in the long-run as people with disabilities fall further behind. “I’m very concerned about the social fabric of Alberta, and it’s so tied to just making sure people are okay,” says Huston. “It’s just going to cost a lot more money later if we continue to not fund things appropriately.” For AISH recipients like Salvani, her worry about expenses will only continue. “It makes it harder to afford things in the future like rent, food and all that stuff. It’s going to just create a bigger gap,” she says. “I feel like I can barely keep up with the changes all the time.” When asked what she would want to tell the Alberta government, Savani said, “Please index it and listen to the disabled folks when they say they need something. It’s not that they are saying it because they want a million bucks. It’s because they want to live.” As AISH, along with other social programs, receive cuts and other changes under the new budget, it is unlikely that de-indexing will be reversed in the next three years. In the meantime, the Disability Action Hall has plans to make a budget submission and meet with the Community and Social Services minister to make lives better for Albertans. “As Albertans we’ve got to work together, and we can’t be siloed in these little different meeting rooms,” says Huston. “This is not an individual’s problem, and I think that’s important for people to work together.”









The Painful Path to a Clear Complexion Millions are taking Accutane to help treat severe acne, but is clear skin worth the side effects? KENDALL BISTRETZAN kbistretzan@cjournal.ca


hen I was a child, it was easy to hate myself. A scrawny kid of 12, I was either too much or too little of just about everything. Too skinny, too hairy, nose too big, chest too small and far too sensitive to not take every mean-spirited comment to heart. Eventually, I grew into my features and out of others. I got waxed, got contact lenses, got my braces off and by the time high school rolled around, my appearance was the only aspect of myself I was actually confident in. By that point, I felt like I deserved to like myself. And then my skin got bad, which would lead to me joining the other two million people taking Accutane, a last-resort drug used to treat severe acne. However, Accutane has intense side effects, which means the choice to go on it is a serious one to make. I didn’t even notice my poor skin for the longest time. As always, it started out with a few pimples. Once they left, new ones would take their place. I also developed general anxiety and began picking at my pimples and my lips. By the time I was 15, something was always bleeding. And somehow, I didn’t hate myself. I was frustrated that, despite my intense skin-care routine, my skin was not healthy. But I’d slap on some foundation and live with it. Every so often, I’d switch skin care routines. Sometimes they would help. But the problem never went away completely. New acne began to blend in with the scars. I bought a stronger foundation. By the time I graduated high school, my acne had never looked worse. And yet, my skin did not get thicker with age. I soon found it astonishing how many people felt the need to comment on my skin as if they knew or understood the first thing about it. One day at work, I was taking payment from a customer. I’ve never loved the waitress uniform I had to wear —the shirt cut low enough that the red spots across my chest were impossible to hide. “Does that hurt?” the old lady asked as her partner stuck her card in the debit machine. 12



A self-portrait following the Walmart incident in 2018. “What?” “That rash across your chest.” My heart plummeted. I looked her in the eye, unsmiling. “That’s acne,” I said. This wasn’t the first time a stranger felt the need to comment on it. Months earlier, I was at Walmart without any makeup on. As I searched for the vanilla yogurt I like, a short woman with red lipstick tapped me on the shoulder. “What do you use for your acne?” she asked. “Um… a lot of things,”I said, laughing through the discomfort. “Well, you should use Proactive,” she commented. “My niece had skin worse than yours and it cleared right up.” There were a hundred things I wanted to say just then, but I am meek. So I thanked her for the insult. Feeling desperate, I finally went to a dermatologist. She looked at my face for under a minute before announcing, “Your scarring is pretty severe. At this point, the only thing that might help you is Accutane.”


Accutane, also known as Isotretinoin, is a drug that was developed in the early 1980s. It’s used to treat cystic acne. A doctor will only prescribe it if nothing else will work. Thirty per cent of patients who finish an Accutane cycle never deal with acne again. However, the side effects are nasty. My already cracked lips would become unbearably dry, like they do for 90 per cent of users. My nose would bleed daily. “Keep an eye on your mood,” I was told, “because depression is a possible side effect.” According to the 2014 Encyclopedia of Toxicology, “it is unclear how this emotional instability arises. These effects appear to be strongly correlated to use of Accutane, since the effects subsided following discontinuing use of the drug, but reappeared when use was reinstated.” However, in an interview with Dermatology Times, Penn Medicine Lancaster General Hospital’s Dr. Patrick Feehan says that “when suicidal ideations and depression were cited as side effects, I found people much more likely to be

The anti-pregnancy packaging that litters our bathroom garbage can. PHOTO: KENDALL BISTRETZAN

“I hated going out places, I hate taking pictures or doing family events, so when my skin did clear up a little bit, I was so happy. “ > Emma Turnbull depressed and commit suicide before they went on the Isotretinoin. Any teenager that has problems with acne can have mood changes; 99 per cent of patients actually become less depressed on this medication.” As of 2001, the drug now comes with a depression warning, not long after Bart Stupak testified that Accutane radically altered his sons’ personality, leading the 17-year-old boy to die by suicide. Depression wasn’t the only possible side effect I had to worry about. My eyes and hands could dry out, my hair might thin, I was at risk of joint pain and I was to take every necessary precaution to ensure I wouldn’t get pregnant. In fact, the capsule containers come printed with a pregnant belly crossed out on them. “Two types of contraception at all times,” I was reminded. That’s because Accutane causes severe birth defects in fetuses that can affect their nervous system, eyes, heart, glands and skeletal systems. However, this danger wasn’t officially addressed until 2002 when the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Janet Woodcock, wrote that “a significant proportion of fetal exposures have occurred because patients were already pregnant. These events are entirely preventable.” That’s why, regardless of my sexual history, I get bloodwork done before each prescription renewal. At 20-years-old, I began the first cycle of a drug I hoped I would never have to take. Thanks to my age, I was still covered under both of my parents’ insurance. This would greatly reduce the cost of the pills that are priced at four dollars each.

I was not alone in my struggle. My roommate, Emma Turnbull, was beginning her second cycle of Accutane. In a way, she had become my mentor. We shared Vaseline for our cracked lips. She taught me how to cover up the initial flare-ups caused by the drug. Our bathroom garbage was littered with the hideous anti-pregnancy wrappers. She was an Accutane veteran and, like me, had decided that clear skin was worth the cost of the side effects and hefty price tag. She began her first cycle in August 2018, following a severe breakout several months prior. She had tried several topical treatments and oral medications, but nothing worked. Finally, her doctor recommended Accutane, and she was more than happy to oblige. “I did my bit of research on YouTube and looked on WebMD on all of that, so I was like, ‘Oh crap, I’m gonna die of a heart attack or all this.’ But to me the positive things outweigh the possible side effects,” Turnbull explains. She was on Accutane for 280 days (and was 22 years-old, meaning that at four dollars a pill she paid roughly $1,120) and began seeing results after roughly three months. Her skin only stayed clear for a couple of months, but during that time she finally felt alive. “Having acne, I was always so self-aware and so selfconscious. I hated going out places. I hated taking pictures or doing family events, so when my skin did clear up a little bit, I was so happy. For the first time in my life I could go without makeup, which I loved.” Despite the side effects, and having to endure a second round of Accutane, she stands by her decision. I, however, am still unsure. My mood didn’t worsen on the drug, but it could have. I often wonder what sort of hardships I would have faced if that had been the case. I was willing to trade in side effects — some potential ones being detrimental to my health — for a shred more self-esteem. Yet it has been four months and my hands are cracked, my pillowcases are stained with blood, my wrists and knees creak like those of the elderly and my skin is still covered in angry red flares. Accutane has not yet been a fair trade. But this drug has not made me hopeless. In fact, for the first time in years of trying countless skincare lines, topical treatments and antibiotics, I know there is a statistically reasonable chance my skin could clear up. After all, most patients don’t see results until month five or six. Maybe for the first time in my adult life, I will feel comfortable in my own skin. And who knows? I just might venture to Walmart without makeup on.

The actual Accutane capsul. PHOTO: KENDALL BISTRETZAN

For over a month I would get nosebleeds every day. Some of them were pretty bad. PHOTO: KENDALL BISTRETZAN

My chronically chapped lips were at a whole new level of pain. PHOTO: KENDALL BISTRETZAN CALGARYJOURNAL.CA




THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD How journalists can help and hinder those in need SARAH GREEN sgreen@cjournal.ca





received Joshua Wong’s email on a Wednesday afternoon. “Dear Sarah,” it read. “I am writing to inquire if you or any of your columnists would be willing to do a personal interest story on cancer and medical funding in Calgary, Alberta. We need your help to spread the word on this story, as it could save lives.” I quickly learned Wong was writing to me on behalf of his wife, Sharon Lin. In November 2019, Lin went to see her family doctor because of back pain. The X-Ray and CT-Scan results revealed multiple tumors in her lungs, with metastasis in her spinal cord. The diagnosis was advanced-stage non-small cell lung cancer. Wong said this news came as a shock to everyone in Lin’s family, as she had never smoked a single cigarette in her life. He explained that Crizotinib, the drug critical to prolonging his wife’s life, is currently priced at $8,000 per month, which is impossible for him to afford. After detailing his heartbreaking situation, Wong signed off his email with, “Time is not on our side, given the seriousness of Sharon’s illness. She desperately needs Crizotinib to treat the cancer. Sharon means the world to us, especially to her 13 year-old son, Jonathan. Please help us.” Wong’s message tore at my heartstrings. As both a journalist and a fellow human, I wanted to help, and Wong and Lin are not alone in needing it. Due to the increasing prices of specialty drugs in Canada, too many families are having to take matters into their own hands to access these kinds of costly pharmaceuticals. However, self-advocacy is a messy and unpredictable process, made even more challenging to navigate when brought into the public eye by journalists like myself. I responded to Wong’s email immediately and started researching Canada’s rising pharmaceutical costs. After digging through numerous reports, I discovered our country’s per capita drug spending is the second-highest in the world, after the United States. A 2017 report from the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board states that since 1987, pharmaceutical costs in Canada have grown at a rate three times the pace of inflation,

outpacing all other health care costs. As a result, almost one in 10 Canadians in the past year have had to forego filling a prescription medicine for reasons related to cost. And, at least one reason for that increase is the introduction of newer, more expensive specialty drugs. With a $96,000 annual expense on his plate, Wong reached out to Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant that manufactures Crizotinib, asking for compassionate consideration to be granted. As a result, Pfizer reduced the price of Crizotinib to about $6,000 per month. However, given his present financial challenges, the cost of the drug was still prohibitive. When I followed up with Pfizer about Wong and Lin’s situation, they said, “We share this patient’s and their family’s concerns regarding access to crizotinib for ROS1-positive nonsmall cell lung cancer (NSCLC). In Alberta, it is the responsibility of the provincial government, the Alberta Health Department, to provide oncology medications for its beneficiaries.” Pfizer representative, Manon Genin, added, “This patient has reached out to Pfizer for assistance and guidance on how to access this medication. We have been working with urgency with the patient’s family and oncologist to help. We are working on a path in order for the patient to get access to this medication.” Wong contacted Alberta Health Services about the possibility of public funding for Crizotinib. In a written response, he was informed the province has not made a decision to cover the costs of Crizotinib for NSCLC patients in Alberta. In fact, no Canadian province has made this decision yet, despite it being approved by the FDA in 2016. After two months of fiercely advocating for his wife, Wong was left with no actionable solution to his very real problem. As a last resort, he reached out to me — a journalist who could provide his story with a platform. Janice Harrington has witnessed first-hand how much of an uphill battle this kind of self-advocacy can be. She is a health advocate at Alberta Health Advocates, an organization dedicated to promoting self-advocacy by listening and working with Albertans to help them find ways to resolve their healthcare issues. “Generally, people are in the midst of one of the most difficult points in their lives,” she explained. “I suspect the majority of people just don’t know how to go about being a self-advocate or where to start, especially in an area like healthcare where it is complex and often frightening for people who are concerned for their health,” she says. Kristen Schmidt from Open Arms, a patient advocacy society, agreed. “Self-advocacy can be a daunting process if there is potential for conflict between the parties involved or if the likelihood of success is low.” Harrington explained it isn’t unusual for self-advocates to doubt themselves or what they are fighting for. “Often people feel they have gone as far as they can and give up. They may feel exhausted by the process, especially when there are other things affecting their mental and physical well-

being. This is where seeking assistance can help.” Even though Harrington and Schmidt both believe in the power of self-advocacy, I’ve come to understand that selfadvocacy is not an easy journey to embark on — it has no road map, no guide book and no instruction manual, leaving many feeling like their final destination is unreachable. Most importantly, however, I’ve learned the process of self advocacy is made even more complex when a journalist throws their own agenda into the mix. Not only this, journalists can present their own set of limitations when covering those seeking medical assistance. Niko Bell is a freelance journalist who spent much of his early career advocating for the British Columbia government to offer free PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, a class of drug that is used to treat HIV. He believes that as journalists, we need to be mindful of our role when reporting on healthcare self-advocacy. “We are journalists, not activists. Our job is to present facts but at the same time, give voice to underrepresented communities that are suffering,” Bell explained. “Journalists shouldn’t go into a conversation about a policy issue and say, ‘My job is to persuade the public and the government that this is the right option.’ That is not a journalist’s job. What a journalist can do is go into a space and say, ‘The voices of people who are suffering are not being heard and I will amplify those voices.’” Pamela Fayerman, a health journalist with the Vancouver Sun, added, “I am not anyone’s agent. I am merely reporting — in the most balanced fashion — patients’ circumstances and experiences. And when they are being failed by health systems or professionals, hopefully my reporting will result in corrective actions that satisfy what people are complaining about.” After much deliberation, Wong and Lin decided not to sit down with me for an in-person interview. Shortly after they turned down my request, their story surfaced on CTV. The article and video profile detailed their desperate plea to Pfizer and Alberta Health regarding the cost of Crizotinib. Since its publication, the article has received an overwhelmingly positive response, raising over $28,000 for Lin’s medication as of early February on GoFundMe (www. gofundme.com/f/sharon-lim-and-joshua-wong). I can only speculate as to why Wong and Lin didn’t want to share their full story with me. But what I do know is that I was convinced I was going to provide them with the breakthrough that they needed. I was determined to take their meaningful story and fix it into a neat journalistic package. And, in doing so, I was going to become the hero of the story — something that ultimately would have done Wong and Lin a disservice. I now realize that I am not the one making a difference. I am simply the one amplifying the voices that can make a difference. My job as a journalist is simple — it is tearing up my personal to-do list and providing a platform to those who need it the most.

“We are journalists, not activists. Our job is to present the facts but at the same time, give voice to underrepresented communities that are suffering.” > Niko Bell






One vegan restaurant takes on Cowtown Raw Market & Eatery is gaining surprising traction in Alberta beef country


BY ALAINA SHIRT ashirt@cjournal.ca

hat’s the way you should go into a business...going into it delusional.” This is how Megan Pope describes her and business partner Ali Magee’s choice to open RAW Market & Eatery, a vegan restaurant right on Kensington Road. Pope and Magee have always been believers in plant-based diets, but it took them moving from Toronto to Calgary, a notoriously meat-centric city, to open their vegan restaurant — which has been surprisingly successful. Sitting along the wooden bar top at RAW, Pope wears jeans and a navy blue sweater — a thrown-together braid gracing her shoulder. Magee wears a similar combo with long dirty blonde hair. Keeping an eye on the door for customers, they reminisce about their unconventional path to becoming business owners. The duo met in Edmonton. Pope was studying science and nutrition at the University of Alberta, while Magee was studying broadcasting at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. Roommates at the time, they weren’t eating animal products — each for their own reasons — but didn’t label themselves as vegan or even vegetarian. “I didn’t even know what a vegan was, but we pretty well were,” says Pope. Yet Pope was utilizing what she was learning in school to make creative, plant-based recipes at home with unique ingredients. “This is about 2011 or something. So it was more unheard of to be baking with black beans,” Magee explains. 16



Megan Pope and Ali Magee opened RAW Eatery & Market, a vegan restaurant, in After university, they both found themselves in Toronto, where healthy food trends were more common. Although the market for plant-based eating was greater there, Magee found the food wasn’t all that different from the dishes Pope had been making from their kitchen in Edmonton. “I was like, ‘Wow, Megan actually makes way better stuff than what I’m trying,’” she recalls. This is when the idea to open their own plant-based business started to take shape. The already saturated market in Toronto served as incentive to come back to Alberta and start the business in a city with a less prominent vegan community. “We definitely had reservations, but I think it was also motivation as well because we wanted to have a large impact on a group that hadn’t been impacted in that way before,” says Pope. But establishing themselves as a meatless eatery in Calgary wasn’t easy. According to a 2018 Dalhousie survey, of the 2.3 million Canadians who consider themselves vegetarian, and the 850,000 who consider themselves vegan, the prairie provinces have the smallest population of meatless eaters. “That’s where our delusion comes in. We were like, ‘It’ll be fine, [veganism is] trending everywhere,’” says Pope. “It wasn’t.’” “It was like tumbleweeds. We were like, ‘Oh, nobody is vegan, and there’s no options and we’re starting from scratch in a population of cowboys.’”

“We definitely had reservations, but I think it was also motivation as well because we wanted to have a large impact on a group that hadn’t been impacted in that way before.” > Megan Pope

explains. “We were the target audience.” But now the clientele is a reflection of a much wider demographic. “It’s really inspiring to see the clientele, that change. [We get] a lot of middle-aged dads who watched a documentary and they’re ready to start their health journey and their veganism,” says Pope. The changing clientele is reflected through positive online reviews from selfdeclared “carnivores” as well. “I’m about the furthest thing from a vegan/healthy eater,” one Zomato reviewer says. “If more places like this existed, I’m

quite certain the world would be a healthier place.” Another reviewer says, “I think even the very carnivorous would enjoy a meal here.” Despite the initial shock, both Pope and Magee are heartened seeing a more diverse group of Calgarians becoming interested in plant-based foods. “We’re so happy to provide that platform for A: education and B: just showcasing that food that is vegan is good and healthy food can taste good,” says Pope. “It’s cool when you have a captive audience.”

RAW is a located in a lower level location right on Kensington Road. PHOTO: ALAINA SHIRT

n 2016. BENEFITS OF EATING MORE PLANTS While vegans and vegetarians are still the minority, especially in Alberta, the new version of the Canadian Food Guide is a resource that advocates eating more plant-based foods for both health and environmental reasons. The guide recommends filling half the plate with fruits and vegetables. This is in response to studies, such as one published in 2017 by the Canadian Journal of Public Health, which found that over three-quarters of Canadians are not consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the guide recommends people choose “protein foods that come from plants more often.” That’s for health reasons. But the guide also states “an eating pattern that is higher in plant-based foods and lower in animalbased foods can decrease the negative impacts of food on the environment.” In fact, a special report on climate change and land by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change includes a policy recommendation to reduce meat consumption — highlighting plant-

PHOTO: ALAINA SHIRT based diets as a “major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change.” These recommendations come at a time when Sylvain Charlebois, director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, has noticed a national trend in Canadians turning to alternative protein foods. Charlebois says Alberta is not going to abandon its beloved beef all together. “I actually do think that people will just see Alberta beef differently, as a natural unprocessed wholesome product,” he says. However, people are likely to start seeing meat as more of a luxury, rather than an everyday essential. “I think the food guide kind of confirmed a trend. It put an exclamation mark to what was already going on.” A NEW PERSPECTIVE In fact, both Pope and Magee have seen Calgarians become more open to the idea of plant-based meals since they opened their doors four years ago. “When we first opened, it was us,” Magee

The Rainbow Pad Thai is made up of spiralized beets, zucchini and carrots that act as noodles. PHOTO: ALAINA SHIRT CALGARYJOURNAL.CA





Re-imagining the Caesar


The Calgary Journal teamed up with local cocktail bar Cannibale, to come up with four variations of the Caesar based off different countries cuisines. SOFIA GRUCHALLA-WESIERSKI sgruchalla-wesierski@cjournal.ca

All photos by Sofia gruchalla-Wesierski

A BRIEF HISTORY Many Canadians take pride in our country’s official cocktail, the Caesar, even though it may have been inspired by an Italian dish. With this in mind, the Calgary Journal and Cannibale, a local barbershop and cocktail bar, teamed up to come up with four variations following the same preparation rules, based on four different cuisines in Canada. The Caesar was invented here in Calgary. According to Tourism Calgary, many incorrectly assume that happened at Caesar’s Steak House. But Mott’s — which makes the Clamato juice that’s such a vital part of the drink — states the Caesar was actually invented in 1969 by a man named Walter Chell. He created the cocktail for the opening of an Italian restaurant called Marco’s, located inside the Calgary Inn, which is now known as the Westin Hotel. Chell dubbed his creation, the Bloody Caesar. It’s similar to the Bloody Mary. But what sets it apart is the inclusion of clam juice, which Chell claimed was inspired from his favourite Italian dish, spaghetti alle vongole (tomato sauce spaghetti with clams). For his own part, Ian Arcega, an instructor at Calgary’s Metropolitan School of Bartending, believes the Caesar’s origin story is, well, bogus. Arcega explained there is actually a second story to how the Caesar was invented. “Throughout the years of working in the industry, you start to hear a different side of the story, from kitchen managers and prep cooks. Around the same time, at the same restaurant, there was a prep cook who screwed up the clam chowder recipe.” 18



According to Arcega, the cook wanted to preserve as much of the meal as he could. So “he used a colander to seperate it [the liquid] from the soup, and he was left with eight buckets of clam juice soup, which they ended up selling as bloody mary mix.”

“Around the same time, at the same restaurant, there was a prep cook who screwed up the clam chowder recipe” > Ian Arcega “Having gone to Italy myself, the tomato and clam is not something they would put in their drinks, ever! You would likely find more Proseco or wine flavors,” said Arcega, pointing out another reason why Chell’s story is, in his opinion, implausible.

When Arcega teaches his students how to make a proper Caesar, he begins by telling them these two stories. Those who have experience in the service industry, they tend to believe the latter tale. Regardless of who actually invented the Caesar, the cocktail grew in popularity across Canada, so much so that in 2009, the Canadian Parliament even went as far as to declare it Canada’s official cocktail. That declaration was all thanks to the guys at Mott’s Clamato, of course, who began a petition hoping to get proper acknowledgment for the drink. At the time, the CBC quoted the company’s vice-president Andy Bayfield saying, “We want to see it get recognized and in its place among those truly intrinsic Canadian things.” According to the Mott’s Clamato website, around 407 million Caesars are consumed in Canada each year. There’s even a National Caesar Day, which started in 2015 thanks to Canada’s Iceberg vodka. The company even launched a National Caesar Day website to promote the event, which takes place on the Thursday before the May long weekend. Canadians also organize Caesar competitions, with the most popular one hosted by Mott’s Clamato. They add ridiculous toppings to turn the already hearty drink into what could then be considered a meal. And they make their foreign friends or family try the cocktail when they come to visit - though many find it is ‘too spicy’ or react in a way similar to ‘gross, I don’t want to drink clam juice!’ To help those celebrations, the Calgary Journal reached out to Cannibale to come up with four recipe variations of the Caesar based on prominent cuisines in Canada.

HOW IT WORKED The classic Caesar is made out of a Clamato base and a mix of tomato and clam juice. It follows the one, two, three, four rule of preparation, (one ounce of vodka, two dashes of Tabasco sauce, three dashes of salt and pepper and four dashes of Worcestershire sauce). According to Arcega, when making a Caesar, it is crucial to always add all of your ingredients over ice before adding the base. Additionally, it is important to make sure you always stir before serving. With this understanding, we took the “one, two, three, four,” rule and used it to create taste variants by changing the alcohol, spice, seasoning, or savory components in the drink. Merrick Milne, a bartender at Cannibale, explained he was intrigued when approached by the Calgary Journal for collaboration. “I thought it was going to be interesting creating a twist on a cocktail that has very unique flavors, especially making several along the same lines,” said Milne. He added many suggestions to the recipes that only a long time cocktail maker could come up with. “Any themed party would be amazing to use these cocktails. A lot of these cocktails use juices as well. So having the option of fresh juice over store-bought clamato would be a good push to try these cocktails.”


“I thought it was interesting creating a twist on a cocktail that has very unique flavors.” > Merrick Milne

Ingredients 1 oz. vodka 2 Dashes hot sauce 4 Dashes Worcestershire sauce 3 Grinds fresh cracked salt and pepper 4 oz. clamato juice Rimmer Celery salt Garnish Celery stalk or lime wedge Recipe Rim a highball glass with citrus and the rimmer. Fill the glass to the top with ice. Add the ingredients in the order listed. Stir well to mix the cocktail, and garnish.

TRULY “CANADIAN” We might not know whether or not the traditional Caesar is based on an Italian dish. What we do know is, without the Caesar, spicy tomato juice and clam broth are not something we would associate with Canadian cuisine. So, for this Caesar, we made sure to incorporate the first foods or flavor profiles that come to mind when you think of Canada: from maple syrup to Canadian rye. Acknowledging the fact the Calgary Journal is situated on traditional Blackfoot territory, we also wanted flavors from Indigenous cuisine to be present within this drink as well. With the addition of Saskatoon berry syrup and beef jerky topping, the Canadian cocktail mixes light flavors with a hint of nostalgia, leaving you feeling refreshed and satisfied.


1 oz. Canadian rye (of your choosing) 2 Dashes vinegar-based hot sauce 3 Dashes cayenne pepper 4 tbs. Saskatoon berry syrup 1 Lemon 4 Hibiscus tea bags Rim: Maple syrup Freeze dried berries Topped with beef jerky

Recipe Begin by steeping four hibiscus tea bags in about a litre of hot water until it reaches room temperature. Then, remove the bags and put the tea into the fridge to make it nice and cold. Pour a bit of maple syrup onto a plate

INDIAN CUISINE Each ingredient in this Indian cuisine-inspired cocktail is used to compliment the next, creating an aroma which awakens our taste buds and prepares them to get smacked with a mouth full of flavor. Masala chili sauce and curry powder help tickle the nose as we dive in for our first sip. The addition of gin was a must, as many of the herbs used to make that alcohol — such as juniper and coriander — are used in Indian cuisine. Mango juice, along with a hint of coconut milk, is used as the base to imitate the richness and density found within each bite of curry, resulting in what could be considered a “smoothie-esque” cocktail.


flakes until evenly covered. Next, pour gin, masala chili sauce, curry powder, coconut milk and mango juice into a shaker glass, add some ice and shake intensely for about 30 seconds. Add ice into the serving glass and strain the shaken contents into it. Top it off with a veggie samosa and a lime wedge. Enjoy.

1 oz. Gin 2 Dashes masala chili sauce 3 Pinches masala curry powder 4 tbs. Coconut milk 1 Lime 1 Can mango juice Rim: Coconut flakes (thin) 1 Lime Topped with veggie samosa


Begin by pouring coconut flakes onto a small plate. Rim the glass by first dipping it into lime juice or using a wedge around the rim, then swirling it around into the coconut



Note: It is normal for the coconut milk and mango juice to look thick, and have some slight clumps. By shaking the mixture, we remove these characteristics. A strainer can also be used to lighten the drink. Substitute coconut milk with coconut water for a lighter variation.


and the freeze-dried berries onto a separate plate. Crush the freeze-dried berries with a muddler or the bottom of your service glass. Dip the rim of the glass into the maple syrup and then immediately into the freeze-dried berries, making sure to move the glass around in a circular motion so that it is evenly covered. Once you have created your rim, fill the glass with ice then add the rye, vinegarbased hot sauce, cayenne pepper and Saskatoon berry syrup. Finish by filling the glass with the cold tea and stir to combine. Top it off with Saskatoon berries, a piece of beef jerky, a lemon wedge and serve.

POLISH CUISINE Polish cuisine tends to be made up of hearty and heavy dishes that people might want to eat after a long day of skiing while warming up by a fire. This cocktail brings out the cuisine’s earthy tones by using a beet juice base. The slight heat from the cayenne pepper and ginger juice rounds out the sweetness of the beets. And the black currant syrup balances out the drink. Each sip makes you feel more at ease, especially considering the natural vitamins found within pure beet juice.


1 oz. Vodka 2 oz. Ginger juice (can substitute for orange juice) 3 Dashes cayenne pepper (can be substituted by a pinch of fresh horseradish) 4 tbs. Black currant syrup (Ribena) Topped with Beet juice Rim: 1 Lime 2 tsp. Citric acid 2 tbsp. Orange zest Topped with dried apricot and slice of kielbasa (Polish sausage)

Fill the glass with ice then add vodka, pure ginger juice, cayenne pepper and black currant syrup. Fill the remainder of the glass with pure beet juice and stir. Drink after topping it all off with a slice of kielbasa (Polish sausage), a dried apricot and a lemon wedge. Note: Substitute the beet juice for black cherry juice, and use the beet juice instead of the black currant syrup, to remove some of the earthy notes and to sweeten the cocktail.


In a small plate, mix the orange zest with the citric acid. Use a lime wedge or juice to wet the rim of your glass. Then, dip the glass into the mixture until evenly coated.

PORTUGUESE CUISINE Pineapples aren’t traditionally part of Portugese cuisine, which includes more than 200 different types of pastries. But they have become a major part of the economy, being grown on the Portugese island of Sao Miguel in the Azores. The pineapples are described by many tourist and greenhouse websites as being unique because of their intense flavor and small crown. So we incorporated the juice of pineapples into this Caesar recipe, along with the addition of the port wine. It also highlights traditional spices, such as peri peri, in what could be described as a sangr-aesar (Sangria Caesar).

Ingredients 1 oz. Port (we used Taylor Fladgate [vintage port]) 2 Dashes peri peri hot sauce 3 Dashes peri peri seasoning 4 Small dashes apple cider vinegar Topped with Pineapple juice Rim: 1 Lime 1 tbs. Cumin 1 tsp. Cinnamon 1tbs Peri peri seasoning Topped with rolled ham Recipe Mix cumin and peri peri seasoning with cinnamon onto a small plate. Grab your desired glass and wet the rim with fresh lime juice or a lime wedge, then, dip the rim into

the seasoning until it is evenly coated. Fill the glass with ice, then pour the port into the glass, adding peri peri hot sauce, peri peri seasoning and apple cider vinegar. Add the pineapple juice as desired, or until the glass is full and stir. Top it all off with a lime wedge and a rolled-up slice of ham, and serve. Tip: To make sure you don’t pour too much apple cider vinegar into the drink, use your thumb to cover up most of the opening of the bottle and move your hand in quick spurts. Note: Pineapple juice is also an easy substitution in a Caesar for those who do not enjoy Clamato.





NOT ALL THAT GLITTERS IS GOLD: Is music photography a road to riches?

DJ duo, Chuurch takes the stage at Shambhala Music Festival this past summer.



CATALINA BRICENO cbriceno@cjournal.ca

rette Culp has loved photography and EDM music for years. She has been able to combine her two passions – shooting at venues in Calgary, and at music festivals in Canada. However, despite the booming EDM industry, she hasn’t been able to profit from this work. That’s often because other photographers are willing to work without pay. Despite 22


that challenge, she says the industry is improving. Culp, who also goes by the alias 403 ABC, became enamoured with photography and EDM at the age of 18. She then started shooting events for a friend of hers from elementary school who had become a DJ. “I had no idea what I was doing, but it’s how I learned. That eventually snowballed


into shooting for nightclubs, which built my portfolio.” Her skill and talent eventually landed her a residency at Marquee Nightclub with Next Level Entertainment and work with Calgary-based DJ 1NF1N1TE. Culp usually covers one show every weekend and has shot for many prominent electronic dance music artists, such as

Rusko, Liquid Stranger, Mija and Wolfgang Gartner. “I love how challenging it is. I love the energy at events. I love the music. I love it as a creative outlet. I get to meet a lot of really talented and amazing people, I have made more friends than I can count, and I love that it’s allowed me to travel as well,” says Culp.

“I love how challenging it is. I love the energy at events. I love the music. I love it as a creative outlet.” > Brette Culp

Earlier this year, Culp also got the opportunity to travel to Los Angeles and shoot for INF1N1TE at Exchange Nightclub. “I’ve worked for Sub Chakra Next Level Entertainment, Boodang and Electrodeo, and they’re always adamant about paying me. Nobody expects me to work for free,” says Culp. She has also shot for Shambhala Music Festival, Bass Coast Music Festival, Chasing Summer and Borealis. The editing process for her photos is arduous and time-consuming. Having to sift through thousands of them, Culp can spend up to five hours editing and perfecting the photos – something that’s often deprived her of sleep. “Even for something like Chasing Summer, I’ll start at 11 a.m., even though the festival starts at 1 p.m. and I shoot all day and then have two or three after parties. Sometimes I have 15 to 16 hour days. I’ll go to sleep for four hours and do it all again the next day,” says Culp. Her efforts didn’t go unrecognized. Both Bass Coast Chasing Summer and Borealis paid her accordingly. But shooting for Shambhala Music Festival was a volunteer position. Culp says that with an event such as Shambhala Music Festival, artists generally have to pay their dues and volunteer so the organizers can gauge the quality of their work and determine if they’re a fit for the festival, professionally. However, Jake Sherman, a public relations representative for Shambhala Music Festival, says previous volunteer experience is not actually necessary. He says that volunteering is a great way to get a foot in the door but Shambhala does hire a large number of paid staff that have never volunteered at the festival before. Because her camera equipment is costly, Culp thinks people don’t really pay her what she’s worth, even though the EDM industry is worth billions of dollars.

According to an International Music Summit report released last year, worldwide, the electronic dance music industry is worth an estimated value of $7.2 billion dollars. The IMS report also further notes, that if the revenue continues to remain steady, its value in the following two years are projected to be a total of $9 billion dollars. But since Culp only sees a minuscule fraction of that money in her pocket, she’s a horticulturalist on the side, gardening and rehabilitating softscapes for clients to pay the bills and accommodate her touring and travel. “[Shooting] is fun and it has changed my life in so many ways, but I don’t think I could do this full time – knowing how little and how few people want to pay me and not only that but pay me what I’m worth. If I’m making $100 or $150 a night that is less than minimum wage, and I’m worth more than that. I would have to shoot an event every single day to be able to legitimately profit.”. Those working for free, she explains, not only end up hurting themselves but other photographers and the industry itself. Because they agree to volunteer their time, it encourages artists and festivals to not pay other professionals. “It happens all the time. I’ve actually been taken off of shows because somebody will do it for free. I think it is important to stand your ground and know your worth,” says Culp. Working in such a lucrative industry, Culp thinks even those new to the business deserve more than getting on the guest list and being given drink tickets. “After you become a part of it and you see the industry for what it is and then you realize not only what you should be getting paid, but how often you should be getting paid, and that everybody should be getting paid – whether you’ve just started or have been doing it for years,” says Culp. The Alberta Electronic Music Festival and Beat Route Magazine are also on that bandwagon. Andrew Williams, the co-founder of the Alberta Electronic Music Conference, says all their lead photographers get paid – a group that Culp was a part of this year. Williams also says the conference also has a mixture of volunteer and paid photographers with a range of different skill levels. Beat Route Magazine also started paying its contributors as a result of expanding nationwide. Although the industry is moving in the right direction, Culp doesn’t see a future working and making a living as an event photographer. “I don’t think I could personally do this full time because of the culture of the industry and knowing how little and how few people actually want to pay me, but also pay me what I’m worth.”


Bass Coast Music Festival headliner, Huxley Anne, performs for festival goers. PHOTO: BRETTE CULP CALGARYJOURNAL.CA




Calgary’s Dungeon Master:


The journey of a gamer and a businessman

Gordon Johansen, owner of The Sentry Box.


or over 40 years, The Sentry Box has been the crown of Calgary’s gaming community. But, for owner Gordon Johansen, the quest to protect his shop, has been fraught with financial peril, as well as great reward. Originally working as a power engineer, Johansen started his gaming business small by selling products from the back of his car in his spare time. His goal was to retire from engineering at 36 and open a game store. “It was shift work which gave me the time to do the game stuff and it’s why I started whole-selling,” says Johansen, explaining that he “met a guy at a convention and wanted to get cheap games for me and my friends and it kind of started all from there.” Instead of retiring after losing his job, he was convinced by friends to purchase a space to transform his hobby into a fulltime career. He saw his opportunity with a small ten-by-ten square foot store called The Sentry Box. 24


The first owner of the store was a lady “who ran it for a couple of years, got bored and quit.” It was later bought by someone else. Johansen was able to buy The Sentry Box from the second owner since “the guy who owned it wasn’t a gamer” and he believed Johansen would be a worthy successor. “He once said that ‘I wouldn’t have sold it to anybody else’ because someone else wanted to buy it too,” says Johansen, adding that the former owner “ended going off and became an undertaker.” From there, Johansen grew his empire by buying property around the first location, moving the business to a second location in Marda Loop and, as of 25 years ago, finally settling in to their current location on 10th Ave. At the same time, Johansen ended up having to fend off different hardships and disasters like the “Great Sewage Flood” of 2013. Repair work on the pipes on 14th


Street and 10th Avenue caused 10 inches of sewage to spill into the back areas of the store, taking out the front part of the building and about a quarter million dollars worth of damage. As a result, Johansen had “loyal staff wading through raw sewage to save product.” Another costly problem Johansen still deals with is the changes the city made by raising the property taxes six years ago. Changes in his payment schedule and a 65 per cent increase has costed him $46,000 a year to $116,000 in one year. “And this year we got hammered again. It went up another 25 per cent after that. So now I’m paying as much per month as I used to per year when we first moved here.” But Johansen takes these events and places them into perspective. “You have to look at those moments and go, ‘You ‘know what? This sucks,’ simple as that. But the reality is I’m living in Canada, I’m healthy and my kids are healthy.’”

DANIEL GONZALEZ dgonzalez@cjournal.ca

PHOTO: DANIEL GONZALEZ And his business seems to be healthy too. Recently, Johansen has seen an increase in the number of female customers. Many are interested in European-style games, where the players interact and compete indirectly with one another. But most notably, he says many of them enjoy playing the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons. Johansen attributes the growth of female adventurers to the fifth edition specifically since it appealed to both genders. “That was the tip of the iceberg of female players and the potential base they could access,” he said. Other factors that re-popularized the game include the Netflix series Stranger Things, the Critical Role podcast and celebrities who play the game. What hasn’t changed, however, is the different connections and experiences that bring people to the Sentry Box. One event that took place at the shop six years ago was a wedding and reception. “That was basically one of the cooler

stories. Basically, their comment was that they said they couldn’t think of a place that they’d had more fun together,” says Johansen. “And that was pretty flattering.” “The fact is, my customers are what makes it fun. That’s the one thing I love about Christmas time is that I have to go down and not be dealing with computer work and paper prints. I’m just down there helping people because I really enjoy it.” The Sentry Box recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and Johansen will never forget the comments and appreciation of one long-time customer who brought him a bottle of wine and a beautiful two-page handwritten letter about how much the store had meant to him. “He’s a normal guy, you know? But it was really, really flattering to know that you’ve had that kind of impact.” But what Johansen enjoys more than anything else is gaming with family and fellow gaming enthusiasts. “You know, that’s what makes you feel good — when you make someone’s evening. I never want to recommend a higher-priced game that I don’t like. I have to tell people: ‘Just because you don’t like it, doesn’t mean they won’t. But if you recommend it you better like it,’” he says. Johansen compares the way he runs his business to the classic war strategy game

Fire in the East, which uses over 2,500 pieces to simulate the fighting in the Soviet Union that took place during the Second World War. It can take months or even years to play. “It’s all because each piece represents a division, regimen or a battalion and it’s got combat strengths and different abilities. And in some ways, running this place is like that. There’s so many moving parts and pieces to it.” He believes that games, life and his business are all the same. There is no meaning in simply winning or losing. It’s all about the experience. “You don’t want to gloat if you sell a game to somebody. That is not the win. The win is having the good game.” Johansen continues to share his passion of games with anyone who enters his store. Although he achieved his goal of owning his own game store, he has no plans of retiring. “Probably what I’ll do is keep working for another 10 years as my daughter says. I’m 63 now. I have no real desire to retire, but once you hit 60, you start thinking about things a little bit. But what would I do, play games and read books?” Johansen and The Sentry Box are located at 1835 - 10 Ave. SW.

TOP RIGHT: w BOTTOM: Johansen demostrating the game Warhammer.

A set of dice from The Sentry Box, one of the best selling items in the store. PHOTO: DANIEL GONZALEZ








Calgary actor David Lawrence on being FUBAR’s Terry Cahill JACKSON REED jreed@cjournal.ca


hen Vancouver’s transit system was in need of a celebrity announcer in 2018, they got Hollywood comedian Seth Rogen. But Calgary’s system got Terry Cahill, one of the headbangers from the mockumentary FUBAR, whether they needed him or not. Dressed in his iconic plaid shirt and crop top t-shirt, Cahill marched into a recording studio and started blurting out lines that would be familiar to Calgarians. “Welcome to Calgary Transit where we’ll whip you around the city if yer loaded or not,” Cahill announced. “Next stop Saddletown. If yer hoping for the Dome you fucked up bad.” The result was then posted to YouTube, where it’s so far garnered more than 70,000 views. David Lawrence, the actor and comedian who plays Terry, says, “It was mostly for fun; it wasn’t for any good reason. There was no money, no one was being paid.” But it’s just one example of how Lawrence has managed to continue to have career success, despite playing the same character for the past 18 years and mostly staying in Calgary, the city he earned his acting chops in. That process of learning how to act began at 15 when he took drama in junior high. Shortly after that, Lawrence, who is now 43, found his way to the Loose Moose Theater, a Calgarybased improv theater that has been running since 1977. “I was taking drama classes in junior high, and [I was at] the Calgary Drama Festival that they usually have. Some performers from Loose Moose came down and I sort of thought that was something I might be able to do,” Lawrence explains. While he did try more traditional acting roles, Lawrence found his skills were best used in improv. “Improvisation is my favorite thing to do, so I try to stick to that.” Lawrence states he never had a moment where he decided to pursue acting as his profession. “It wasn’t like suddenly I was doing it full-time. I worked in Japan for a few years doing like ‘roving style’ entertainment, like where you ‘rove’ around at events. I’ve done the children’s festivals and folk fest. I tried to avoid a real job and then I realized I avoided a real job for a long time. It wasn’t like a conscious thing like, ‘I’m going to go do this.’ It just sort of went that way.” Lawrence would occasionally audition for American productions that were being filmed in Calgary, with one example being Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: The TV Show. He states these auditions didn’t lead to greater opportunities, due to the very small roles being offered. However, while continuing to perform regularly at the Loose Moose, Lawrence began developing the character that he would become most associated with. There are many ways to describe Terry, with “metal head” or “hoser” being a few. He is an embodiment of a certain type of Canadian culture that harkens back to the days of Bob & Doug McKenzie. Terry would begin appearing at the live shows held at Loose Moose. Lawrence based the character off people from his youth. “My older brother had the hockey hair, caused a little trouble, cops were at our house a few times looking for him. So he inspired me. And when I was in high school, there were a few remaining old school ‘bangers,’ with the leather jacket and the denim vest and patches. I also worked on the pipelines right after high school for a year up in Fort St. John. So that’s where there was quite a bit of blue-collar culture that I was keeping my eye on,” Lawrence recalls. Dennis Cahill, the artistic director at the Loose Moose, was able to see Lawrence create the character first hand. “Terry Cahill’s last name is the same as my last name oddly. We would introduce him as my nephew visiting from out east and that I was being forced to let him on stage as a family thing.” Cahill also believes the character highlights Lawrence’s strength as an actor. “He’s committed. Once he’s Terry, he’s Terry.”

With help from his childhood friend Paul Spence, the character of Terry began to flesh out even more. “I’ve known Paul since I was a little kid,” says Lawrence. “He grew up down the street from me. Paul would improvise sometimes at the Loose Moose. He was a little more into his band and rock and roll. But I thought Paul would be perfect to play Terry’s buddy.” The two starred in a Loose Moose show, where Spence created the character Dean. After working together on a film shoot in Calgary, Lawrence brought the then-juststarting-out director Michael Dowse onto their new project, which became known as FUBAR. “It was sort of just like, ‘Well ‘I’m never going to get a big part in Calgary.’ So we decided to shoot our own mock-doc.” It follows the comedic happenings of Terry and Dean and the challenges they go through. Shot in Calgary in the early 2000s, the film had a shoestring budget. “We had some technical issues. We ran around in the rain with our camera, so the camera got wrecked,” Lawrence explains. “Post production was not that simple, because we shot on a MiniDV camera and back then film festivals, like Sundance, you couldn’t actually get into the festival unless you delivered on 35mm. So, we had to blow up footage from MiniDV to 35. I think we were the last film, probably anywhere, to do that.” The film was submitted to the Sundance Film Festival in 2002, and was chosen to be shown at the “Midnight Screening” — the same slot where The Blair Witch Project

had its premiere. Lawrence remembers exactly what happened at Sundance. “A lot of the people at that screening were buyers. The room was 25 per cent full of buyers. The rest were fans or people interested in seeing new movies,” Lawrence recalls. “The film started and, five minutes in a bunch of people in the back started leaving and I thought this was tanking. Later I learned they were just specific distributors who just knew it wasn’t for their company. Ten minutes after that the crowd loved it and I was like, ‘Okay, we’ve got a good film.’” The film was distributed by Odeon Films (which then became Alliance Films and is now known as eOne Entertainment). Originally not attracting much attention in Canada, the Sundance showing made people take notice. “Once we got into Sundance, the Canadian press went a little wild for it. It’s cliché but it took the Americans to say ‘It’s good,’ and then the Canadians were like, ‘Yeah it’s ours.’” Lawrence realized that the film had entered “cult” status very quickly. “It was released on May 24, 2002. It didn’t make a ton of money. But in certain parts of the country it stayed in theaters for a long time even though it was an independent film,” he explains. Despite the success, a sequel would not come for a long time. Lawrence, Spence and Dowse would move to Montreal to work on other projects. “I don’t think it was really on our radar, to be like ‘Hey, let’s turn this into a brand.’”

“My older brother had the hockey hair, caused a little trouble, cops were at our house a few times looking for him. So, he inspired me, and when I was in high school, there were a few remaining old school ‘bangers,’ with the leather jacket and the denim vest and patches.” > David Lawrence

Lawrence created Terry performing improv at the Loose Moose Theater in the late 90’s, with inspiration for the character coming from things he saw in his youth. PHOTO: JACKSON REED CALGARYJOURNAL.CA



Following the success of the “Terry4Transit” video, Lawrence was apporached to work with the Calgary Flames. Lawrence appears at the occasional game as Terry, and worked with the team to design t-shirts. PHOTO: COURTESY OF FACEBOOK By 2005, the idea of a sequel to FUBAR began to interest Lawrence and Spence. “By the time you decide to make something, in film and TV, it doesn’t go quick. You have to get the funds. These projects take time. In 2005, Paul and I started writing an outline. By the time we got serious about it, it was around 2008. Then we shot in 2009,” says Lawrence. With the backing of Alliance Films, FUBAR 2, which was released in 2010, had a much larger budget, making it a different shoot compared to the first film. “With Alliance, we had proven that we could get people into the theaters,” says Lawrence. “Mike Dowse was very interested in getting that budget up so that he could have more to work with as a director. So it was shot much more like a traditional film. We still improvised everything. But we had the resources that we needed for like wrecking a house or building a fake pipeline.” “To me, part two feels more like a movie, where the first one feels like an actual documentary.” Lawrence found the sequel got a lot of attention. “There was a lot of hype and excitement for the film. I know the first couple of weeks in the theaters, people were smoking joints and drinking Pilsner and it was like a rowdy environment.” After FUBAR 2, Lawrence moved back to Calgary with Spence remaining in Montreal. North Darling, a long-time friend of Lawrence, presented him with the idea of making a FUBAR series. It was perfect timing as they were already in talks to work with Vice. “Him and I and Immanuela, my wife, we started working on something [set] in my basement where Terry goes online. From there, Vice was starting up a network in Canada and initially they wanted to make a cartoon with us. But then they shifted gears and wanted live-action. And it just so 28



happens that we had this little show we were working on,” Lawrence recalls. However, the series — FUBAR: Age of Computer — proved difficult to produce.

“I’m not the first one to invent the Canadian hoser: Bob & Doug, Wayne’s World, Trailer Park Boys. So, it’s not that hard to be like, ‘This is Calgary’s own version of that.’” > David Lawrence “TV is very structured,” says Lawrence, “So it was quite different. It was a difficult shoot because we had some factors that made it quite challenging. We were in a situation where both Paul and Mike were in Montreal so they wanted to shoot out there. We shot in Montreal even though it was supposed to take place in Alberta.” Following Age of Computer, Lawrence would find a new home for Terry on YouTube. With the help of his wife and Darling, they created the “Terry4Transit” video. “That [video is] where we went after it. Paul’s out in

Quebec, and I was still hoping to make some stuff with Terry.” Lawrence adds, “It came with us just wanting to have some fun with the character, and it turned into some actual opportunities for the character.” The video, which was uploaded in August 2018, has earned over 78,000 views. Lawrence now regularly uploads Terry videos, with his wife and Darling continuing to help produce them. The initial video also led to an opportunity with the Calgary Flames. “[The Flames] saw the transit video and thought maybe there was a place for Terry. Initially they wanted Terry to maybe do the safety video that they play at the beginning of games but, after a bit of discussion, they were like, ‘Maybe we could do something else,’” Lawrence explains. “It took a little bit of convincing that the character was suitable for the Saddledome. Once they thought that made sense, then we wrote this idea [for a video] that Seth Rogen sends a ticket to Terry.” After the video’s release, Lawrence started to become a fixture at Flames games with Terry’s trademark “awooo” now being heard after every Flames goal. The team and Lawrence even came up with a TerryFlames t-shirt, which has a portion of proceeds going to the Mustard Seed. Terry continues to keep Lawrence busy, as Jan. 8 saw the release of FUBAR: Just Give’r, a mobile game developed by Victoria based Kano Apps. Kano Apps CEO and co-founder Tim Teh says, “This a codevelopment project with Eastside Games out of Vancouver, who are great friends of ours. They had tremendous success with the Trailer Park Boys IP and approached us about a collaboration to create a FUBAR game, which was tough to refuse.”

“Funnily enough though, our lead artist on the project is from Calgary and was part of that same crowd that David frequented on the improv side.” Lawrence says they “reached out and said, ‘Would you be interested in doing a FUBAR game?’ Then they started writing and developing it.” “The premise of the game is around Dean and Terry hearing about the record for the world’s longest party, and the boys taking that as a challenge they want to beat,” says Teh. “In the game, you help Terry and Dean with their money-making schemes to keep their party streak going.” Teh also mentions that Lawrence and his wife were involved in the storytelling and character design to “ensure the game was true to FUBAR.” Lawrence believes opportunities such as this happened for a single reason. “I think just because we’ve been cranking out content. If you look at what we’ve done in the past year or so, there’s quite a bit of content. Once you’re up on the jumbotron at the Saddledome semi-regularly, it kind of just creeps in,” he says. Another reason is the fact that the characters of FUBAR have become cultural symbols of Calgary and Canada for lots of people. “Terry’s been around Calgary for a long time going back to the origins of the character,” Lawrence explains. Back in the late 90s, there’s a base that remembers Terry from back then. Then they got to see FUBAR and FUBAR 2 and other stuff. So it’s kind of like pooling the Calgary base who are like, ‘Oh yeah, we know this guy.’” Cahill thinks the characters Canadian behavior draws people in, even with people outside of Canada. “I suppose [it’s popular] because it does resonate with some people. A lot of people know these characters, they’ve met these guys. They’ve run into them. They’ve worked with them,” he says. “I think we all know people who are like these characters. To some degree, they’re distinctly Canadian. The FUBAR characters have a bit of cult status as well in other parts of the world. I met some guys in Scotland years ago and they all knew FUBAR.” That even helps when marketing a video game.

The poster for the first FUBAR film, which was released in theaters in 2002. PHOTO/ILLUSTRATION: COURTESY OF BUSTED TRANNY

According to Teh, the characters “are just so Canadian. Everyone has known a Terry or Dean growing up, and you just want to root for them to succeed. In FUBAR: Just Give’r, you can actually help them to.” What Lawrence has achieved as a Canadian actor is impressive due to the challenges many face in this profession. But those challenges have also helped in a way. “We’re next to the Americans, and most of our media comes from the US. People like to have something that’s kind of our own. I’m not the first one to invent the Canadian ‘hoser:’ Bob & Doug, Wayne’s World, Trailer Park Boys. So, it’s not that hard to be like, ‘This is Calgary’s own version of that,’” he says. Lawrence states that many Canadian actors find themselves moving to cities like Los Angeles to find work, which is something that has never really crossed his mind. “If the right opportunity came then for sure. But I’ve kind of gotten used to making my own opportunities. Being here in Calgary makes it a lot easier, just because I can get people to help me.” Cahill adds, “I don’t think Dave has ever been interested in doing the commercial route. He wanted to do things his way. There’s a certain amount of integrity with that, it might be a tougher road to go down. But he wanted to work with people he wanted to work with, he didn’t want to become an actor for hire. If he had moved to Toronto to be an actor, the chances of becoming famous are really slim. You’re going to end up doing a lot of work that you don’t particularly want to do, but you have to do it because you need the money. “Dave is doing what he wants to do, as opposed to doing what other people want him to do.” Lawrence believes starting small is the key for any actors in Calgary who want to get their start. “I always recommend the Loose Moose. It’s free, they give really good training. Most companies like that charge. These days it’s not that hard to get a camera and some sound equipment. Go try and make something. Don’t even worry if it’s good or bad, just do it, make it, see how it feels, you never know what you’re going to get.”

A screenshot from the brand-new mobile game FUBAR: Just Give’r. The game lets you help Terry and Dean try and break the record for the world’s longest Party. ILLUSTRATION: KANO APPS CALGARYJOURNAL.CA



Q&A with Terry Cahill The self-proclaimed “Duke of Ogden” sits down with Calgary Journal reporter Jackson Reed to talk about life, Pilsner, and Calgary

JACKSON REED jreed@cjournal.ca This interview took place over the phone on Jan. 16, and has been edited and condensed. So, how’s it going? Oh fine, just trying to stay warm. My fuckin’ transmission blew out so I have no ride. I’m sipping a little bit of rye instead because it’s easier to carry home from the booze store instead of the cubes of Pilsner. Did you have an interesting childhood? Oh, I don’t know about interesting. I ran to school with wet hair usually. Did what my old man told me: collected empties when he let me have them, bought licorice and candy. It wasn’t that different. Put them hockey cards in the spokes of my bike to make it sound like a car. It was pretty good, I can’t complain. I know a lot of kids have had a rougher go at it than me. Like 15-16, I moved out, and an older buddy of mine let me crash with him. Then I started to get interested in welding. Is that your current occupation? Well no. I ain’t a welder now, I’m just interested in it. I was a welder’s helper for a while there, and now jobs just kind of flow to me here and there. Like not cash corner all the time, but sometimes I get opportunities and stuff. I don’t wanna spend my whole life working though, so I am not always lookin’. What is a day in the life of Terry like? Well you know it kind of depends on the opportunity. Like if my buddy Lazer’s like, ‘We gotta go dry walling,’ he likes to fuckin’ start at like 5 a.m.. Some people are early workers and those mornings suck. I’m usually up rippin’ it until at least 11. So that day would be super thirsty in the morning dry walling. It changes quite a bit from day to day, but still trying to get my truck running. That’s kind of been taking up a lot of my time. Pick-A-Part’s hard to get to from where I’m at. Taking the bus to Pick-A-Part. Got the wrong gears, have to go back. That kind of thing. How often do you get recognized in public? Oh, you know, from time to time I’ll go out there and people will be like, ‘Hey Ter,’ and they’ll honk as they go by. ‘Ter, how ya doin’?’ And I’m like, ‘Right on!’ So, whenever they play that documentary on the TV, then sometimes people will be like, ‘Oh, you’re right on the tip of my brain there. Oh there you are, hey.’ But if that documentary ain’t on TV that much, then less. Who’s your biggest inspiration? Oh, jeez that’s tough. I don’t know, probably Angus Young. Cus he’s an old guy, and he’s still given’r so hard. Like if you watch him play, like he must have some like ceremonies backstage and like Satan fires up his blood. If I could give’r like that at that age, I’m inspired to do that actually.

The pinnacle of humanity: Terry Cahill PHOTO: JACKSON REED




Bon or Brian? Oh, Bon fer sure. Fuck. Not to say they’re not equally inspirational or talented. But something about Bon. He’s a bit more of a wild child, ya know? So, I like that. He’s also got the same kind of hair as you Oh fuck, well Malcolm Young’s hairdo was fuckin’

awesome way back in the day. I only get a haircut like once a year, but maybe I should just bring in a picture of Malcolm, and be like, ‘Do it like this.’ What is the best beer, and why is it Pilsner? Oh oh, that’s a loaded question because you just answered it! I actually recently found out there’s more than one Pilsner. I normally drink the Pilsner from Lethbridge, and I do think that is my favorite beer. It’s not too pricey. I heard from the brew master, I met him one day, and he said that Pilsner is the most expensive beer for Molson to make. It costs them the most because they have to bring in hops from Germany. So, it costs them the most, and they sell it for less. That’s why I like it. Here’s a philosophical question for you: If Pilsner was a woman, what kind of woman would it be? Well fuck, the perfect woman. All I can say. I don’t want to get into shit for this, my wife Trish reads this stuff. If you write it, I’ll get in shit later. Do you still hold a grudge with Calgary Transit for not becoming their voice? Well I wouldn’t call it a grudge; I was just thinking it was a good match. Apparently, Seth Rogen was actually gonna do it, but I don’t know if he did. I have a plan once it warms up. Maybe I might go camp out at Calgary Transit

there. I don’t even need to be the whole voice, how about just Marlborough Mall? Just the one where they’re like, it’s the normal voice, then I can be like, ‘You’re at Marlborough Mall, Aawooo,’ then the rest will be normal. Do you still get Saddletown confused with the Saddledome? Not anymore. You do that trip twice and you won’t forget. What are your favorite Calgary neighborhoods besides your native Ogden? Dover, fer sure. Rundle, anywhere kind of around Sunridge Mall. What are your go-to places to eat and drink? I like the Smokehouse Diner on Ogden Road. Pinbar fer sure, they’re really nice to me there. Tubby Dog if I’m really lucky, like I love those hot dogs. What’s your favorite part about Calgary? Oh man, I got lots of things I love about Calgary. First of all, the amount of sunshine we get here. I could never live in a gloomy place that’s always gloomy, ya know? Like Edmonton? Ya like Edmonton. Fer sure, you could say that a couple times. But anyways, everyone in Calgary is super friendly, and like, not gonna lie, camping.

Do you consider yourself to be an ambassador of Calgary? Well recently, people have started to say that, and like ya hear it enough you start to believe it. So, like the Calgary Flames kind of put me up there a bit by makin’ some shirts. I don’t wanna let it go to my head, I’m just given’r, but if Calgary needs an ambassador, I’ll do it. Does it give you chills when you hear “Awooo” at Flames games? I’m not gonna lie man, I was watchin’ a game at home, and I heard it ripple through the cable, and I was like, ‘That’s fuckin crazy.’ I woulda never believed that if someone told me that would happen. Milan Lucic or Connor McDavid? You know who I have to go for, it’s Looch man! Thoughts on the Battle of Alberta feud between Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian? Oh, Kassian needs to take five, and the NHL was like, ‘Go take five man.’They say Tkachuk turtled a little, but it was a good call at the time. He was like, ‘Do I wanna get hurt? Or hide under my gloves?’ But who really won there? We did. Now, I’m going to ask you the questions that James Lipton uses on Inside the Actors Studio: What is your favorite word? Fuck. What is your least favorite word? No.

What turns you on, creatively, spiritually, or emotionally? Weed. What turns you off? No weed. What’s your favorite curse word? Fuck. What sound or noise do you love? Awooooooo. What sound or noise do you hate? The sound of my fuckin’ truck not starting. Fuckin’ hate that. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Like a truck driver, but not one that has to go too far. Like the one who does the run from Calgary to Airdrie or something like that. Long haul, but short haul driver. What profession would you not like to do? Probably a tax man or an accountant. If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? Get in here bud, let’s give’r! Do you think you should be on the cover of the next edition of the Calgary Journal? Ya, fuckin’ A, let’s do it.

“If you ain’t given’r, you ain’t liven’r”







CURTIS VAN CHARLES painting up nature

“Growing up, I spent a lot of time just exploring the riverbanks all by myself. I loved doing that more than anything else.” > Curtis Van Charles

Curtis Van Charles painting: Iceberg Sunset.










Curtis Van Charles at his studio in Calgary.


urtis Van Charles is part of a crowded scene of landscape artists. But he manages to stand out with his hip-hop inspired Cubist painting technique, allowing him to become a well-known Calgary artist and an advocate for the great outdoors. As a child, Van Charles could often be found either exploring the sights around his home in Saskatoon. “Growing up, I spent a lot of time just exploring the riverbanks all by myself when I was a little kid. I loved doing that more than anything else,” he explains. Beginning when he was 12-years-old, Van Charles — who had never been good at school — took that love and combined it with his interest in art. “I remember drawing realistic graphite illustrations of owls and foxes when I was a little kid,” he says. He tried to pick up other hobbies as he was growing up, like the time he spent being a teenage punk with his band.But he always found himself being drawn back to his drawing and painting. That’s why he committed to becoming a full-time artist, deciding to make a move to Calgary and enroll at the Alberta College of Art and Design. During his time at ACAD, he worked as a graphic designer and started to build a reputation for himself as an artist in Calgary. 34


“I had to sit down and think about what was the most honest thing I could paint. And that was something to do with nature.” > Curtis van Charles

All the while, Van Charles had a goal of being a painter. “I had to sit down and think about what was the most honest thing I could paint. And that was something to do with nature, to inspire other people, to either get outside more, to understand it more, to learn the names of trees, to explore their region,” says Van Charles. “That way I feel like I’m making a difference maybe in some tiny light. I’m not just doing it for myself. I’m doing it for everyone.” Using certain colours and textures in his art allows Van Charles to pair the pieces of art he creates with design elements in the homes of his buyers. Since his art is meant to be in homes, not just galleries, this is an important concept for Van Charles. “I also want to make artwork that has substance and meaning that, no matter how many times you see it, still tells a story that draws you in,” says Van Charles, adding that he incorporates “a lot of really subtle layers” into his work too. “That is something that keeps it interesting. If it’s something that is in your home, you see it a thousand times, you see it every single day. I try and keep it interesting for my clients,” he explains.












A&E Taking a moment to appreciate a Van Charles piece will leave you wondering where that landscape could be. There is a certain level of familiarity for some of the scenes but they never look cliché. “There’s a billion artists out there doing the same thing. So when I started doing it, I had to make sure that I was doing it in as original a way possible.” Through trial and error and by incorporating some of the skills he picked up at ACAD, Van Charles was able to create a unique style of painting that starts with a computer screen rather than a canvas. “I started using Photoshop a lot to create my compositions to figure out what colours I was going to use so that way I could really think about it and stand

back and look at it and try all the different options before I started painting. Once I started painting, I could still take those graphic elements, print them, and incorporate them onto the canvas,” he explains. “People always ask me, ‘Oh, where is this? Where did this come from?’ I don’t always know because I just happen to find myself around these things because I like to explore and that’s what I did growing up as a kid. I think that it just makes it more interesting and magical that way,” he adds. This magic is especially important in the crowded field of landscape photography and paintings. What you get from a Van Charles art piece is not quite photography, but it’s also not a painting.

“Hip-hop was literally my inspiration for my process. It’s a place to start and it gets you started.” > Curtis Van Charles

Curtis Van Charles studio in Calgary.


“It’s kind of the best from both worlds. You get these really sharp details from the photography and it’s not just the photography that I’ve taken. It has also been cut apart and then put back together into the composition that I like,” Van Charles explains. This concept of creating art by recreating something that’s already there is similar to the musical art of sampling. “Hip-hop was literally my inspiration for my process,” says Van Charles. “It’s a place to start and it gets you started, right? And if you end up in a completely different place, you’ve created something that is uniquely your own. No one can easily trace it back to its original form. And I think that’s great.” “I think that is progression. That’s taking the art form and moving it forward. So thank you to everyone who came before us.” As an example of that technique, Van Charles bought a photo of an iceberg just to get the texture of ice and snow. He then cut it apart and put it into Photoshop. “So I had an idea of how I wanted the shape of it to look,” he explains. He then continued to manipulate these ideas on his computer until he liked the outcome. “A lot of times, I’ll add my own painted elements into it so that the line between what’s painted and what is a photo is blurred. I think it’s hard to tell and that’s one of those details that draws people in,” he explains. One of the other techniques which can be seen throughout Van Charles art is the use of cubism. “It’s the same thing that Picasso used to do when he would paint portraits —he would paint the side of his face, but then he would paint another side of the face as part of the same portrait. So just telling us a little bit more about that person. I’m doing the same thing in these landscapes,” he explains. This skill creates an abstract view of a subject which can make the scene appear different at every glance, helping Van Charles stand out from all of the other landscape artists. But he also wants to send a clear message through his art. “That has always been my goal. It needs to be something that is going to last no matter what type of environment is put into.” As times change, Van Charles’s work emphasizes the importance of conscious living. At first, he wanted to communicate the importance of being outdoors and enjoy the nature in which we live among. But after seeing first hand the impact of climate change on the Athabasca glacier, his message took on a deeper meaning on conserving the environment. “That’s why I started painting these glaciers and icebergs because it is an important conversation to have right now. I aspire to be a certain type of person, someone who cares about nature, someone who cares about the outdoors, or just someone who loves spending time outside,” he explains. His success in doing so “has been just getting out there and meeting people in person, shaking hands with all of my clients. A lot of it has been creating something that is different from what’s out there,” he says. Another element to being a professional artist, according to Van Charles, is being really stubborn. “No matter how many times I fail, I continue doing it and getting just a tiny bit better each time. Being an artist is hard no matter what. So that really has been the hardest part. That’s something that I think every artist struggles with,” he explains. Van Charles believes his success has happened for one reason. “Consistency. Having a clear message, for me, maybe it is making something for the people and serving the people and giving them what they want as opposed to making art for myself.” The consideration of a client is the most important factor for him. “I know a lot of artists who paint for themselves as therapy. I think there’s a balance there. Otherwise it’s not honest.” CALGARYJOURNAL.CA




Life’s A Drag LAURA BALANKO-DICKSON gbala943@mtroyal.ca

Getting ready with Valerie Hunt XX




etting ready looks the same for many people. They wake up to an alarm, have a personal hygiene routine and go about their day - with or without breakfast. Adam Keiran, does things much differently when preparing to go out as Valerie Hunt, his drag persona. But he says not everyone within Calgary’s drag community is always accepting of how he impersonates women. Without fail, Keiran starts to get ready for a night of drag with a bong hit. “The Lord’s day, Sunday, is my only guaranteed day off. So, I want to do it my way. It’s fun. It’s legal. And it’s a nice chill way to start considering I have to glue my face,” says Keiran, “I love getting ready.” But, his love for getting ready doesn’t begin and end with a bong hit. It also involves “slathering on” a lwot of off brand makeup. “I like to have fun with it,” says Keiran, explaining, “it’s important to nail your base. Your eyes can be whatever, but if your foundation is cracking that’s a problem.” For Keiran, it’s important to “pay attention to details” and “critique yourself without hurting yourself” “I wanted to look good so I had to figure out to use cream contour so I don’t look so dusty,” says Keiran, adding “there’s so much to figure out.” Just like Keiran had to figure out which products to use, he also had to decide what drag means to him. For Keiran, impersonating gender doesn’t necessarily include impersonating gender stereotypes. “There’s lots of humans, and lots of body types,” says Keiran. For example, he says one of the queens who competed in RuPaul’s DragRace UK had an “untucked, meaty package” “People came for her,” says Keiran Essentially, Keiran’s perspective on drag is that “people should literally be able to do whatever they want except getting naked on stage.” For Keiran that might mean a drag queen has a hairy chest or a drag king wears sparkly and feminine makeup. It might include a drag monarch that totally mixes gender norms into some indiscernible gender identity or a drag monster that isn’t even human. Yet, because of his perspective, he is criticized by the drag community in Calgary. “I get called out for having body hair by other queens,” says Keiran. “I just don’t understand the issue. Drag is about impersonating gender. If I choose to impersonate women, well, real women have body hair. Humans come in all shapes, sizes, and types.” “There are women that have a penis and men that have a vagina. There are bearded queens and long haired kings,” says Keiran, “If you don’t like it, you can just leave.”

Valerie Hunt getting ready for Beers for Queers.

Valerie Hunt exhaling a hit from the bong.




Top: Adam Keiran, AKA Valerie Huntperforming various drag numbers at Beers for Queers at Highline Brewing on January 26th. Bottom: Valerie Hunt performing at Twisted Element during the Pride weekend party. PHOTOS: LAURA BALANKO-DICKSON

The Power of Perspective How One Calgary Based Artist Heals With Photos




A&E LILY DUPUIS ldupuis@cjournal.ca


hen Carolina Vasquez-Lazo was growing up, she found it difficult to not see herself or many other people of colour represented in the media. But now, as a young photographer, she is trying to change that lack of diversity, while sharing her personal experience with trauma to help others. “Being a person of colour is hard,” Vasquez-Lazo explains, noting that the feeling of not being represented in the media is alienating and isolating. “The stuff that I grew up watching was so much of, well, not me,” Vasquez-Lazo recalls. “It was so hard to see myself, my friends and my family (not) represented.” Vasquez-Lazo’s family comes from El Salvador and as a first-generation Canadian, she values the strong sense of culture within her household. She believes her culture has influenced the type of art she creates. Within her work, Vasquez-Lazo uses people, extreme close-ups and vibrant colour schemes to share her personal narrative. Additionally, her portraits often feature herself, her friends and her family members Vasquez-Lazo is not the only artist who believes in the importance of equal

representation in media. Montana Finn, a photographer who is working on her bachelor of design degree at the Alberta University of the Arts alongside VasquezLazo, agrees. “It made me more comfortable to see somebody else like me — a woman of colour — making things like that,” says Finn, describing the body of VasquezLazo’s work. “It’s inspired me so much to push myself.” Finn also feels a close connection to Vasquez-Lazo’s ability to explore her personal struggles through her imagery. “It’s so easy to push down your feelings,” Finn explains. “It’s been so awesome to see her use her artwork as a way of letting people in on her personal experiences. People can relate to them and they appreciate that.” Transforming difficult subject matter into something beautiful is the foundational concept of Vasquez-Lazo’s art. “I’ve been making a lot of stuff that, at face-value, is maybe very aesthetic to the viewer,” says Vasquez-Lazo. “Once you read my artist statement, or hear me explain the work, you start to see that there are layers and dimensions to the photograph.” Vasquez-Lazo also explores themes of substance abuse, family conflict and mental health issues, making her work deeply intimate and emotional.

Carolina Vasquez-Lazo shares some of her most prominate work. PHOTO: LILLY DUPUIS

Carolina Vasquez-Lazo is all smiles when it comes to sharing her artwork. PHOTO: LILLY DUPUIS

“A lot of people don’t even realize that my past is my past,” Vasquez-Lazo explains. “It’s definitely a part of me that people don’t see every day.” Sharing her personal struggles with others is important to Vasquez-Lazo. She believes it creates a safe space where people can address their personal trauma and destigmatize its effects. She describes her style of photography as conceptual and multi-faceted. Her imagery intends to blur the line between fine art and design. Vasquez-Lazo explains the intensity and meaning of her work gradually develops as the audience takes time to explore each element of the photo. She doesn’t want her imagery to be too heavy upon first glance. The emotional dimensions of Vasquez-Lazo’s work reinforce her belief in the importance of coping with adversity and deepening relationships with others. Vasquez-Lazo wants her work to create conversations that destigmatize intergenerational trauma and connect people who share similar hardships. “Now that I’m older, I’m starting to use [photography] as a means of working through my trauma, and it’s almost therapy,” says Vasquez-Lazo.

“It’s definitely helpful because, once you’re done the project, you’re like, ‘Ah, yes, it’s all good. We can talk about it now.’” Commercial photographer, John Gaucher, believes that Vasquez-Lazo’s work creates a very personal experience for the viewer. He explains that her work is just as technically proficient as it is creative and open-minded. “She’s so strong in terms of being able to create narrative in her imagery,” says Gaucher. “Young women are finding their voice in a lot of different artistic ways and that’s a nice thing to see.” Gaucher emphasizes the importance of young photographers being able to find a balance between not only the technical aspects of photography, but the creative side of it as well. Overall, Vasquez-Lazo’s work sets an example for creators everywhere by acting as a catalyst in starting conversations about trauma to unify people from all walks of life. Moving forward, Vasquez-Lazo intends to further break the mold for young artists. She hopes the future of photography will be sculpted by people of colour who are willing to share their own personal experiences in order to pave the way for inclusivity and acceptance.




Vivian Maier Photographer. Nanny. Enigma.

AtGlenbow UNTIL MAY 24 #Vivian MaierYYC





Profile for Calgary Journal

Calgary Journal March-April 2020  

Calgary Journal March-April 2020  


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