Thousands enjoy BBQ at annual Porkapalooza event

EDMONTON – Meat lovers filled Clarke Stadium on Saturday as the third annual Porkapalooza got into full swing.

Darcy Fitzgerald, executive director for Alberta Pork, said approximately 70,000 people are expected to walk through the grounds during the three-day event.

Fitzgerald said he hopes the event gives attendees a greater appreciation for barbecue, such as pulled pork, brisket and pork and beef ribs.

“The intent really was to try and introduce Alberta and Edmontonians to more barbecue,” he said.

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    “I think traditionally most people think of barbecue as grilling. You take the meat, you put it over a flame and you cook it really quickly. But barbecue is really about low and slow – low temperatures for a long time.”

    The low and slow barbecue technique is something Myke Badry is familiar with. The Edmonton man is one of three men who make up MJM Competition BBQ.

    The trio have barbecued together for about five years now but decided to enter the barbecue competition at Porkapalooza this year.

    “It’s a popular thing throughout the U.S. We see it on TV all the time. We thought, why not , give it a shot,” Badry said.

    So what is the key to good barbecue? Badry said the answer is actually quite simply.

    “To have fun – I think it’s all about getting people together in the backyard making delicious meat.”

    Attendees like Leon Cardinal have been coming to Porkapalooza ever since it started three years ago.

    “It’s pretty laid back, just like barbecue, low and slow,” he said.

    Cardinal said he finds himself drawn to pork ribs and beef ribs in particular.

    This year was Margaret Duma and Scott Cameron’s first time at the event.

    “We are both meat lovers,” she said with a laugh.

    “We love to eat and being Father’s Day coming up, I figured I would bring Scott.”

    “We’re looking at buying a smoker and thought we’d check out what these guys do,” Cameron said.

    Porkapalooza includes a concert series and this year, Alberta Pork decided to donate 8,000 tickets as a way to say thank you to everyone who helped out with Fort McMurray fire relief.

    “We looked at this and just thought Edmonton and Alberta and others just really opened their hearts, opened their doors and helped out the evacuees from Fort McMurray. We’ve seen so much giving, we just thought, why don’t we give too?” Fitzgerald said.

    Concertgoer Breanna Duguay calls the idea “great.”

    “It also gives people extra incentive to donate as well instead of just paying [the admission],” she said.

    Fitzgerald said the donation is a big financial cost but he hopes people enjoy it.

    “We hope people remember a good time and I hope people remember Alberta Pork helping out a great cause,” he said.

    The Rotary District 5370 Charitable Foundation is also on-site at Porkapalooza to accept donations for the Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fund.

‘I don’t want anybody else to go through this’: Mac’s murder victim’s widow speaks out

It’s been exactly six months since Karanpal Bhangu was shot and killed while working at a Mill Woods Mac’s convenience store.

In the middle of the night on Dec. 18, 2015, three masked men allegedly burst into the store in an armed robbery.

Police say Bhangu cooperated, but the gunmen still shot him in the stomach. The 35-year-old died soon after.

The suspects then drove to another Mac’s store in Pleasantview. That’s where Ricky Cenabrae was working alone. He too was shot and killed.

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    Bhangu’s widow, Kiranbir Bhangu, said she has not been able to move forward since her husband’s death.

    “Karan was everything to me. He was my husband, he was my mentor, he was my guide, my everything,” she explained. “Love of my life.”

    To help her cope, she’s spearheading the Karan Project, an initiative named in her husband’s honour, to improve the safety of overnight workers.

    “The project is my way of saying thank you to the community and finding a purpose in my life.”

    After more than five years of waiting to join his wife, Karanpal had just moved to Canada with the couple’s six-year-old son, Royce, in August 2015.

    The 35-year-old had only started working at the convenience store one month before he was murdered.

    “Kiranbir and her family came to Canada for the security and safety and that was robbed from them,” said Karan Project supporter Monica Lewicki.

    “It was stolen from them. It’s heartbreaking.”

    Kiranbir believes a few changes would go a long way in protecting workers like Karanpal.

    “Night shift employees should be behind a secure barrier or a bulletproof countertop or shield,” she said.

    She also wants to see them working in pairs.

    “If somebody’s in the back room and they see there is something going on, they can jump in or they can call the police.”

    Karanpal’s cousin, Navpreet Baath, agreed. He worked overnight at a Mac’s store for two years before quitting due to safety concerns.

    “If there are two guys working, you can feel like you have someone backing you up. And if you’re behind the counter, you feel more safe. You have a little space that’s yours.”

    Kiran said on the night of the robbery, her husband activated the store’s emergency transponder – but the store owner told her that alarm company can’t see what the surveillance cameras do – that’s another company.

    “They call the police and they call the dealer,” she said. “Then police call the store, three times, a minute apart, to make sure it’s not a false alarm. I think it’s too long.”

    She’s worried those phone calls tip off the burglars that the employee has reached out for help.

    “If you push it multiple times, in a panic, a patrolling officer should arrive there (without calling first),” she explained. “No wasting time.”

    With help from her employer, the Progressive Academy, Kiranbir hosted a special brainstorming event for the Karan Project on Saturday.

    She’s hoping to hear suggestions from others on how to ensure employees make it home from their shift.

    “I feel like night shift workers are at a high risk of violence. We need to get together to make our voices heard and get decision makers to have our voices heard.”

    Labour Minister Christina Gray came to Progressive Academy to speak with Kiran. She sent this statement to media later in the day:

    “My heart goes out to Kiran and all of Karan’s family. I was overwhelmed by today’s powerful show of support from the Edmonton community for Kiran following such a tragic loss. I was also touched to meet with her and hear from the Karan Project team about the ideas they have for improving the safety of workers in Alberta’s convenience stores and gas stations. These are tragic situations that should be preventable. Families need to know that when their loved ones go to work, they will come home safe at the end of the day.”

    Gray also extended an invitation to Kiran to meet with her and her staff at the Legislature.

    “The darkness of night is so horrifying. I don’t want anybody else to go through this.”

    Global News reached out to Mac’s Convenience stores, but has not yet received a response.

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Sask. and federal government investing in 12 affordable rental housing units in Regina

The provincial and federal government celebrated the official opening of 12 affordable rental housing units in Regina with a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday.

“This project is interesting, because it’s not all in one location. It’s at nine different locations throughout the city of Regina,” Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale explained.

The units are a mix of duplexes and two-storey family units. Most of the rentals are located in the North Central neighbourhood.

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The federal and provincial government, through the Saskatchewan Housing Corporate (SHC) and the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) jointly contributed $240,000.

READ MORE: Most Regina housing rentals in suburbs despite inner city need

That money will go towards six of the 12 units over the course of ten years. The savings for low income families equate to $300 per month.

“This gives the individual or the family a really good running start to be able to make sure that they have some sort of help and assistance with their housing needs,” MLA Regina Rochdale Laura Ross said.

According to Avana Homes president Jennifer Denouden, the total affordable rental housing project costs $2.4 million.

“It’s very important to give back, and what better way to give back as a homebuilding company that to invest in affordable housing,” Denouden said.

READ MORE: Regina’s Housing First strategy sees success in early steps

According to the latest “Housing Market Outlook” according to CMHC’s Spring 2016 forecast, rental vacancies across Regina are at an all time high.

Still, the federal government said investing in social infrastructure, and specifically social housing, will help boost the economy.

“We increased over the next two years, the federal investment (of Affordable Housing Agreement) by 1.5 billion dollars. That is part of the acceleration that we’re making in infrastructure across the country,” Goodale said.

The province acknowledges there is more social housing that needs to be addressed, but believes this is a start.

“We have more work to do, there’s just no doubt about that … We’re committed to helping ensure that families and individuals have good quality homes,” Ross explained.

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Scientists battle to save world’s coral reefs

HONOLULU — After the most powerful El Nino on record heated the world’s oceans to never-before-seen levels, huge swaths of once vibrant coral reefs that were teeming with life are now stark white ghost towns disintegrating into the sea.

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And the world’s top marine scientists are still struggling in the face of global warming and decades of devastating reef destruction to find the political and financial wherewithal to tackle the loss of these globally important ecosystems.

“What we have to do is to really translate the urgency,” said Ruth Gates, president of the International Society for Reef Studies and director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology.

READ MORE: New study says bleaching has killed over a third of the coral in parts of the Great Barrier Reef

Gates, who helped organize a conference this week for more than 2,000 international reef scientists, policymakers and others, said the scientific community needs to make it clear how “intimately reef health is intertwined with human health.”

The International Coral Reef Symposium convenes Monday to try to create a more unified conservation plan for coral reefs. She said researchers have to find a way to implement large scale solutions with the help of governments.

Consecutive years of coral bleaching have led to some of the most widespread mortality of reefs on record, leaving scientists in a race to save them. While bleached coral often recovers, multiple years weakens the organisms and increases the risk of death.

Researchers have achieved some success with projects such as creating coral nurseries and growing forms of “super coral” that can withstand harsher conditions. But much of that science is being done on a very small scale with limited funding.

WATCH: Why is the Great Barrier reef turning white?

Bob Richmond, director of the University of Hawaii’s Kewalo Marine Laboratory, said the problems are very clear: “overfishing of reef herbivores and top predators, land-based sources of pollution and sedimentation, and the continued and growing impacts of climate change.”

While reefs are major contributors to many coastal tourist economies, saving the world’s coral isn’t just about having pretty places for vacationers to explore. Reefs are integral to the overall ecosystem and are an essential component of everyday human existence.

Reefs not only provide habitat for most ocean fish consumed by humans, but they also shelter land from storm surges and rising sea levels. Coral has even been found to have medicinal properties.

In one project to help save reefs, researchers at the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Marine Biology have been taking samples from corals that have shown tolerance for harsher conditions in Oahu’s Kaneohe Bay and breeding them with other strong strains in slightly warmer than normal conditions to create a super coral.

WATCH: How Google’s “Street View” is changing how we look at coral reefs

The idea is to make the corals more resilient by training them to adapt to tougher conditions before transplanting them into the ocean.

Another program run by the state of Hawaii has created seed banks and a fast-growing coral nursery for expediting coral restoration projects.

Most of Hawaii’s species of coral are unlike other corals around the world in that they grow very slowly, which makes reef rebuilding in the state difficult. So officials came up with a plan to grow large chunks of coral in a fraction of the time it would normally take.

Coral reefs have almost always been studied up close, by scientists in the water looking at small portions of reefs.

IN PHOTOS: El Niño devastates coral reefs in Pacific

But NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is taking a wider view, from about 23,000 feet above. NASA and other scientists recently launched a three-year campaign to gather new data on coral reefs worldwide. They are using specially designed imaging instruments attached to aircraft.

“The idea is to get a new perspective on coral reefs from above, to study them at a larger scale than we have been able to before, and then relate reef condition to the environment,” said Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences’ Eric Hochberg, principal investigator for the project.

If the scientific community and the world’s governments can’t come together to address coral’s decline, one of earth’s most critical habitats could soon be gone, leaving humans to deal with the unforeseen consequences.

“What happens if we don’t take care of our reefs?” asked Gates. “It’s dire.”

WATCH: GoPro camera strapped to turtle’s back offers unique view of Great Barrier Reef