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Community & Sustainability with Alberta Original Alley Kat Brewing

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Alberta is home to more than 100 unique craft breweries, the majority of which are located in the city of Calgary and the provincial capital, Edmonton. The number of breweries has grown exponentially since 2013, when Alberta experienced a craft beer boom following legislative changes by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) that made owning and operating a microbrewery far more accessible. 

Founded in 1995, well before the boom, Alley Kat Brewing is an Alberta original. Having celebrated its 25th birthday in 2020, Alley Kat is the oldest microbrewery in Edmonton and the 4th oldest in all of Alberta.
Located on 60th Ave in NW Edmonton, this brewery was originally launched by local Edmontonians Neil and Lavonne Herbst. In February 2020 the brewery was purchased by Cam French and Zane Christensen, two childhood friends from St. Albert, Alberta. 

Accountants by trade, Cam and Zane had been looking for opportunities to transition into the craft brew industry, and found Alley Kat to be a good fit. According to original founder Neil Herbst, who has remained involved with the day-to-day at Alley Kat, keeping the brewery local

Photo Credit – St. Albert Today

was a key part of the decision. “At a time when we are seeing some craft breweries being absorbed by large multinationals, keeping Alley Kat in independent hands was extremely important to us,” said Neil in 2020. “This sale ensures Alley Kay continues to remain locally owned and operated” (Alley Kat Blog, February 2020). 

Since taking over the brewery, Cam and Zane have continued to focus on the foundations laid by the Herbst’s, including furthering sustainable, environmentally friendly practices wherever possible and keeping close ties with the community. In an effort to minimize their footprint as much as possible, Alley Kat looks for ways to recycle, repurpose and reduce waste throughout all stages of brewing and distribution. “From a social consciousness perspective, we know how important it is to do our part,” says Cam, “Alley Kat will always look out for the good of our customers and our environment.”
Alley Kat’s environmental practices include repurposing their spent grain, the product leftover once flavor and sugar has been extracted from their mash, by donating it to Edmonton’s Four Whistle Farm to be used as livestock feed. The brewery is also powered by Bullfrog Energy, which allows them to offset their electricity use with green energy, reducing their overall carbon footprint. Furthermore, everything that can be recycled is recycled throughout the process, and the owners continue to stress the importance of recycling the iconic Alley Kat can once it is empty. 

Alley Kat Brewery has and continues to be a dedicated member of the community in Edmonton and across Alberta. Most recently, the brewery announced a partnership with the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) in support of local teams, including the Sherwood Park Crusaders, Olds Grizzlys, Whitecourt Wolverines, Drayton Valley Thunder and the Bonnyville Pontiacs. $1 from each 6-pack of Alley Kat Blonde Ale will go towards helping cover travel, meal and equipment expenses for the young athletes.
“I played hockey for Drayton Valley growing up,” says Cam, “so this is a great way to give back and help these players have the same experiences I did.” 

After an exciting – if not somewhat trying – first year at Alley Kat Brewing, Cam and Zane are excited for the remainder of 2021. Fans of Alley Kat and Canmore’s Grizzly Paw Brewing can look forward to a collaboration beer, coming soon in honor of 25 years for both breweries.
A new Alley Kat “Summer Fling” mixed pack, featuring 3 new beers will be coming out soon as well, just in time for patio season, and their annual summer seasonal beer will be released on April 1st!


For more information on Alley Kat Brewing, visit https://www.alleykatbeer.com

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.

Alberta

World Cup super-G called off in Lake Louise because of too much snow

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LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — A World Cup men’s super-G race was cancelled Sunday in Lake Louise, Alta.

It was the second race called off because of too much snow. Friday’s downhill was also cancelled.

Matthias Mayer of Austria won Saturday’s downhill at the ski resort west of Calgary in Banff National Park.

The cancelled downhill in Canada has been added to the program for the next World Cup in Beaver Creek, Colo., starting Friday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

'For the greater good:' Indigenous financial advisor works to empower others

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CALGARY — It’s often said that every name tells a story. 

For Theodora Warrior, that couldn’t be more true.

“My name doesn’t lie,” says Warrior, a Blackfoot member of the Piikani Nation in southern Alberta. “The purpose of a warrior is not meant for battle. They are meant for protection and sacrifice for all for the greater good.”

Warrior is the first Indigenous financial facilitator for Momentum, a Calgary charity dedicated to community economic development.

Jeff Loomis, executive director of Momentum, says it’s committed to having a role in reconciliation with Indigenous communities and bringing Warrior onboard ensures a culturally relevant and supportive environment to aid in financial reconciliation.

Warrior views her job as one that empowers others, particularly Indigenous families such her own who experienced poverty as a result of the residential school system. 

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report says the schools amounted to cultural genocide, stripping Indigenous people of their language and customs, and has led to chronic unemployment, poverty, poor housing, substance abuse, family violence and ill health.

About two years ago, Warrior attended a money management workshop hosted by Momentum, similar to one she now teaches, and was asked to write down a vision for her future.

She had lost everything — her house, job and belongings. She says it was a cycle she had repeated for years, from housed to homeless, employed to jobless, hopeful to disheartened.

Her vision on a piece of paper, now tucked away in a safe spot, listed 17 goals, including having a two-bedroom apartment, a healthier mental state, being debt-free with savings and having a steady job. 

Most of those dreams came true.

Warrior is now bringing the program that helped change her life to other Indigenous people in Alberta communities. She calls the workshop series Money Moccasins.

“Financial wellness is a lifelong journey,” says Warrior. “Walking barefoot can make the trip more difficult. Moccasins are very sturdy and strong.”

Thinking about the workshop she attended, Warrior says the information was helpful but the facilitator, who was white, lacked an understanding of unique barriers faced by Indigenous people.

The facilitator talked about spending $200 on plants, almost the same amount Warrior had received monthly on welfare.

“It had nothing to do with where we come from, what we really encounter, what we have to work with,” says Warrior.

Warrior’s mother and grandmother attended residential schools. 

As a child, she remembers living in apartments with cockroaches, using food banks and moving frequently, both on and off reserve. Her mother, who has three university degrees, often worked multiple jobs. 

Warrior says she believes the repercussions of the residential school system left her mom struggling to find financial stability.

As Warrior became an adult, she also had trouble staying afloat.

There were months when she had money from working in the trucking or hydrovac industries. At one point, she had a five-bedroom house and was financing a new vehicle.

But, she says, everything fell apart in about nine months when a friend moved out without paying their share of the bills and work opportunities disappeared.

When looking for a place to live, she says she faced encounters with landlords who hurled racist and prejudicial comments. Sometimes she left showings in tears.

Warrior says she stayed in women’s shelters and slept in empty apartments.

“I’ve been through it all,” she says. “Homeless. Hitchhiking. Food banks. Relying on the kindness of strangers … the depression that comes with it, domestic violence, alcoholism, addiction.”

She says she openly shares her experiences now with those in Money Moccasins. She remembers one participant who laughed when Warrior told the class she was in bankruptcy.

“‘Who better to learn from than somebody who’s been there?’ Warrior recalls telling the woman. “Being open and vulnerable with them like that drops their guard.”

Warrior keeps a constant reminder of how far she’s come at her desk. Her computer screensaver shows Warrior looking into the distance with her sprawling First Nation behind her.

The photo was taken the day before she lost her driver’s licence for drinking. Shortly after that, in 2019, she attended her first class at Momentum and got a job with the charity.

She describes her Money Moccasins program, which started this year and explores assets, budgeting, banking, credit and consumerism, as generation changing.

“In this Western world, money is life. In our world, water is life,” says Warrior.

“This course, these classes, they give you something to hold that water. They show you that you can save your water, that your water is meant to be saved for the next generation.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2021.

Alanna Smith, The Canadian Press

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