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Newspaper tells the story of street people in Calgary, Edmonton
Andie WL (requested that her last name not be used) is passionate about the writing she does for the newly launched Alberta Street News.
“People see us as invisible,” said Andie, who is one of three Calgary writers. “Aboriginal men and women are out there and (other people) don’t want to acknowledge us.”
Andie wrote for Calgary Street Talk, which folded in the summer of 2011. She had been selling Street Talk in the Mission district of Calgary’s inner city since 2005.
“My customers are from all over the area. Most are quite friendly, but sometimes I’m not accepted there because of my race,” said Andie.
She said that is why it is important for Calgary to have a paper that targets the goings-on of the homeless and street people.
“People see (Aboriginal people) as a stereotype. There’s a stigma attached to us. I’ve been sober for 25 years. But when people look at me, they wonder, ‘Is she sober. Is she safe?’” said Andie.
A donation from Triumph EPCM Ltd. made the Calgary pages for Alberta Street News possible. The new paper, which is available in both Calgary and Edmonton, is in the revamping of Edmonton Street News, which managing editor and founder Linda Dumont has been running since 2003. The donation will allow four pages dedicated to Calgary happenings to be wrapped into the eight pages of Edmonton news.
John Zapantis writes for the new Alberta Street News and its Edmonton predecessor. He has written for 12 newspapers over 15 years and said telling the story of the people on the streets is important.
“We need to promote understanding and awareness of how these people have risen above,” said Zapantis, who has in his repertoire many success stories of people getting off the streets. “People usually have a misunderstanding of (street) people.”
Zapantis is one of six regular Edmonton writers.
There are four vendors in Calgary selling Alberta Street News and approximately three dozen vendors in Edmonton. Over the course of selling Edmonton Street News, Dumont said she has had about 150 vendors in Edmonton.
Alberta Street News isn’t only about getting the stories of street people out there.
“It provides employment for people who aren’t able to work regular hours,” said Dumont. “They can work doing this even if they have addictions because they’re self-employed.”
Vendors pick their own locations, with some choosing permanent areas of the city and others keeping mobile.
The papers “sell” for a donation, usually around $2. Vendors buy as many papers as they want at 50 cents a copy.
Dumont printed between 2,500-3,000 papers for the inaugural run of Alberta Street News, with 600 shipped to Calgary. She is presently looking for more vendors for Calgary as well as more writers.
The hope is to get the paper into other cities across the province. Alberta Street News is a monthly publication.
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