A look back at some of the cultural and societal shifts Edmontonians faced this past year
This year marked a monumental avalanche of whistleblowers calling out sexual harassment, assault and misconduct in a variety of arenas. And The New York Times memorialized the waves these women made by collectively naming “The Silence Breakers” the “Person of Year” for 2017. The afterglow of their brave statements* has continued on and ripples have been felt all the way north to Edmonton’s own music and entertainment industries with several figures falling from public grace in quick work.
With the month of July (the proposed month for legalization) creeping around the corner, provincial governments have already started to decide who will be a licensed producer of marijuana. Alberta has decided the private sector will operate cannabis retail outlets, but we still don’t know what that will look like.
In Edmonton alone, plans for multiple dispensaries are already underway. Yet, we still don’t know a lot of things: What will the cost be? What kind of taxes are we looking at? Where will smoking weed actually be legal and what will be the rules for driving? We’re still left in a cloud of confusing smoke for 2018 and it will be everything but boring. Also, a few Conservatives are already trying to push legalization back as well as the province of Quebec. This will hurt business owners and enforce the already asinine stigma surrounding pot. Either way, all we can do is wait.
Many people around the world were shocked by the blatant displays of white supremacy on American soil. In mid-August, Charlottesville was the breeding ground of the Unite the Right rally of white nationalists and other far-right movements. It’s hard not to assume that President Donald Trump is to blame.
While white supremacy groups have been around a lot longer than him, Trump’s comments about race, religion and sex, have shown much of the United States’ true colours. In an article by The Atlantic, titled “The First White President,” the writer says Trump’s political ideology is rooted in white supremacy “casting himself as the defender of white maidenhood.” With all of the heinous events during the aftermath of Trump’s election, it’s hard not to agree.
When a U-Haul truck ran over an EPS officer and pedestrians on Jasper Avenue one fateful Saturday evening this fall, Edmontonians were shocked that a “lone wolf” extremist (that legally, wasn’t even supposed to be in the country at all) could act in their very own city. But the response of residents rallying against the hatred that could very likely have prevailed in the wake of the tragedy that following Sunday was a victory for the city and those that were injured in the event—something that we won’t soon forget.
A new and much-needed legislation to support gay-straight alliances (GSAs) was put forth by the Notley government and passed for publicly funded schools across Alberta. Bill 24 officially passed on Nov. 15 meaning LGBTQ students are now protected and supported in creating or joining a GSA. School officials can now no longer tell parents if their child is a part of a GSA. Schools are also now required to create an environment that enforces a clear and legal right to form a GSA.
Many schools have jumped on board with the new legislation, but a few are already trying to find loopholes. The success of the new law will only be truly seen in the coming months of 2018.
A United Conservative Front
The Wild Rose and Alberta Conservative Party joining forces this year marked a new era in Alberta politics emphasizing a distinct separation between voters under 34 and voters over, as well as Alberta’s age-old fault line between the rural and the urban. Winning a seat in Calgary’s byelection set United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney across the house from Premier Rachel Notley. An era of stiff competition is certainly ahead for our current NDP government this coming year with the 2019 elections down the pipeline and campaigns ramping up.