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

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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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Orlando shooter described himself as ‘Islamic soldier’ in 911 calls to police

U.S. federal investigators have released a partial transcript Monday of the conversations between Omar Mateen, the gunman who murdered 49 people within the Pulse Nightclub, and Orlando police negotiators.

The redacted transcript revealed more details into the deadly mass shooting that occurred a week ago. The agency said in a statement they will not be releasing audio of the shooter’s 911 calls at this time out of respect for the victims of this horrific tragedy.

Partial transcript of 911 call between Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, dispatch

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Partial transcript of 911 call between Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, dispatch

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Below is the partial transcript between the Orlando police department and the gunman which took place in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016.

Orlando Police Dispatcher (OD)
Shooter Omar Mateen (OM)

OD: Emergency 911, this is being recorded.
OM: In the name of God the Merciful, the beneficial [in Arabic]
OD: What?
OM: Praise be to God, and prayers as well as peace be upon the prophet of God [in Arabic]. I let you know, I’m in Orlando and I did the shootings.

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OD: What’s your name?
OM: My name is I pledge of allegiance to [omitted].
OD: Ok, What’s your name?
OM: I pledge allegiance to [omitted] may God protect him [in Arabic], on behalf of [omitted].
OD: Alright, where are you at?
OM: In Orlando.
OD: Where in Orlando?

[End of call.]

During the 50-second call with a dispatcher, Mateen “made murderous statements in a “chilling, calm and deliberate manner,” said Ronald Hopper, FBI assistant special agent in charge in Orlando.

However, there is no evidence Mateen was directed by a foreign terrorist group, and he was radicalized on his own, Hopper said.

Mateen’s name and the groups and people to whom he pledged allegiance were omitted from the excerpt. But the FBI has previously said he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State.

According to the FBI, Omar Mateen identified himself as an “Islamic soldier” and told the negotiator that America needs to stop bombing Syria and Iraq and that is why he was “out here right now.”

When the crisis negotiator asked the shooter what he had done, the shooter stated, “No, you already know what I did.”

“There is some vehicle outside that has some bombs, just to let you know. You people are gonna get it, and I’m gonna ignite it if they try to do anything stupid,” Mateen said.

Later in the call with the crisis negotiator, the shooter stated that he had a vest, and further described it as the kind they “used in France,” an apparent reference to the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

“In the next few days, you’re going to see more of this type of action going on,” Mateen said before hanging up.

The release comes a day after tens of thousands of people held a candlelight vigil in the heart of downtown Orlando for the 49 victims who died in the massacre. The victims also were remembered at church services and at makeshift memorials throughout Orlando.

WATCH: Thousands of people gathered Sunday to remember and honor the victims. Hena Daniels reports.

“As a community, it’s important that we gather together to show our support because only together can we move forward,” said Gabrielle Claire, a musician and Universal Orlando worker who says she knew three Pulse victims who died. She was holding a “Hugs for Healing” sign at the vigil and numerous strangers came up to hug her.

READ MORE: Pride and mourning, as funerals and demonstrations overtake Orlando

“We don’t have to be afraid of holding each other. We don’t have to be afraid of saying to other people, ‘I’m here for you,”‘ she said.

Lynch said in interviews Sunday on several news shows that the FBI would release a partial, printed transcript of the conversations between gunman Omar Mateen from within the Pulse nightclub and Orlando police negotiators. Armed with a semi-automatic weapon, Mateen went on a bloody rampage at the club June 12 that left 49 people dead and 53 others seriously hurt. Mateen died in a hail of gunfire after police stormed the venue.

Lynch told ABC’s “This Week” that the top goal while intensifying pressure on the Islamic State – the extremist group thought to have inspired Mateen – is to build a complete profile of him in order to help prevent another massacre like Orlando.

WATCH: Orlando nightclub shooter signed over property prior to rampage; funerals for victims continue. Aarti Pole reports.

“As you can see from this investigation, we are going back and learning everything we can about this killer, about his contacts, people who may have known him or seen him. And we’re trying to build that profile so that we can move forward,” Lynch said.

Lynch said she would be travelling to Orlando on Tuesday to meet with investigators.

Speaking to CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Lynch said that a key goal of the investigation was to determine why Mateen targeted the gay community. The victims were predominantly gay and Hispanic since it was “Latin night” at Pulse.

“We are hurting. We are exhausted, confused, and there is so much grief,” said Larry Watchorn, a ministerial intern, during a sermon Sunday at Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Orlando, whose congregants are predominantly gay.

READ MORE: ‘You just smelled death in the air’: Orlando shooting victim played dead to survive

Florida Gov. Rick Scott described the attack as “devastating” while praying at the First Baptist Church of Orlando on Sunday. He said the gunman targeted “two very vulnerable populations.”

“But here is the positive out of it … people have come together,” Scott said. “There are so many people who have done so many wonderful acts.”

Around Orlando, people left balloons, flowers, pictures and posters at a makeshift memorial in front of the city’s new performing arts centre and at Orlando Regional Medical Center where 49 white crosses were emblazoned with red hearts and the names of the victims.

The crosses were built by a Chicago carpenter with a history of constructing crosses for victims of mass shootings. Greg Zanis drove from Illinois to Orlando last week and installed the crosses at the medical centre, where many of the 53 shooting victims who survived were taken for treatment.

WATCH: Thousands gather in Orlando for candlelight vigil to honour Pulse nightclub victims

He said Sunday that the crosses are a message for people of all faiths: “Quit judging and start loving.”

A rainbow appeared over Lake Eola Park Sunday evening as tens of thousands of people turned out for an evening vigil to honour the victims of the shooting. The park was filled with people holding white flowers, American flags and candles.

READ MORE: Orlando shooter Omar Mateen’s school records show disruptive, violent pattern

One of those people attending, Traci Hines-McKenzie, said the timing of the rainbow was perfect.

“You know that’s a sign,” she said.

Dr. Khurshid Ahmed was part of a group of Muslim-Americans at the vigil who held signs reading, “Muslims Condemn Extremism.” Investigators have said Mateen reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, and a letter from the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Republican Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, said Mateen wrote on Facebook that “real Muslims will never accept the filthy ways of the West.”

At the end of the vigil, people held up their candles as the names of each victim were read, creating a ring of fire around Lake Eola. They chanted “One Orlando,” “Orlando United” and “Somos Orlando,” Spanish for “We are Orlando.”

“That event has gotten the attention of the world,” said Evania Nichols, an Orlando resident. “And, for Orlando – a city that’s always been incredibly inclusive no matter your skin colour, no matter your background – it’s brought about a movement that I think is starting here and I really hope continues.”

*With files from Global News