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They Took Over Their Business Just Before COVID-19 – Here’s How They Survived


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Prairie Grounds Coffee House, a local coffee shop in Langdon, Alberta, is making strides in order to serve the local community that has rallied around them during the shutdown caused by COVID-19. Lana and Jesse Seddon took over the local coffee house on March 1, 2020 and were open for just two weeks before they made the decision to shut the doors and switch to curbside pickup and local delivery. Prairie Grounds has built a website that not only has their own goods but incorporates other local businesses that specialize in both retail and baked items.

Prairie Grounds Coffee House Owners Lana and Jesse Seddon

Lana Seddon says the decision to close was made in an effort to protect the community as well as the staff at Prairie Grounds Coffee House. “We’ve just all tried to keep open communication and let each other know what we’re comfortable with, even opening up with stage one of [Alberta’s] relaunch plan.”

Seddon worked at Prairie Grounds when it was operated by the previous owners, and says that familiarity with the shop and its regulars has helped the business to continue to operate without being open for customers to dine in. Their business has remained open because of their close relationship with the community and continued support from local patrons. “[The community] is really rallying around us and they want to see us succeed,” she says, “there are people who have lost their jobs and been laid off, but they still come a few times a week just to support us.”

With phase one of Alberta’s relaunch plan now in effect, Prairie Grounds has made the decision to open up, but has put in place further safety restrictions in order to guarantee the continued well being of the community. “Just because the province says you can open up, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to,” says Seddon, “it’s your own personal decision and the level of comfort you and your family have with where you want to go and how much you want to be out.” 

Prairie Grounds Coffee House still isn’t allowing anyone to dine in and only permits five customers inside at a time, but Seddon says that many people are continuing to opt for the delivery and curbside pick-up options. With people being used to the current business practice, Seddon says they may consider keeping it when they are able to fully reopen again.

Even though the current state of Prairie Grounds Coffee House was not a part of the Seddon’s business plan, Lana says that she and their staff are prepared for this new “business as usual” and will continue to serve the community as best as possible during these uncertain times. 

For more information on Prairie Grounds Coffee House and how to support local, visit


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Former world champion Kevin Koe earns third straight win at Tim Hortons Brier event

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Kevin Koe remains unbeaten at the Tim Hortons Brier.

Koe’s Wild Card 2 rink defeated Eddie MacKenzie of Prince Edward Island 12-5 on Sunday to improve to 3-0 at the Canadian men’s curling championship.

MacKenzie’s squad dropped to 0-2.

Koe, a four-tine Canadian champion and twice a world gold medallist from Calgary,  took control of the match early, scoring three in the second for a 4-0 lead.

Koe’s rink added four more in the fourth end to go up 8-1 before adding three in the sixth for an 11-3 advantage.

Koe rounded out the scoring with one in the eighth, after which the two teams shook hands.

Koe’s takes on Team Canada’s Brad Gushue (2-0) in the evening draw.

In other early action, Saskatchewan’s Matt Dunstone (2-1) downed Newfoundland & Labrador’s Greg Smith (0-3) 6-3; Quebec’s Michael Fournier (2-1) defeated Nunavut’s Peter Mackey (0-2) 15-1; and Ontario’s John Epping (2-1) got past Nova Scotia’s Scott McDonald (1-2) 12-7.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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‘It kind of clicks:’ Text4Hope program helps with depression, anxiety during pandemic

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EDMONTON — Kiara Robillard says she was in a really bad place.

During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, after she was struck by a truck and her spine broke in two places, she moved home to Alberta from California.

“That put a real damper on my life for quite awhile,” says the 25-year-old, who’s unemployed and living in Edmonton.

“I was depressed, anxious, losing touch with reality, and I was desperate for help.”

A few months ago, she says her doctor recommended she subscribe to an Alberta Health Service text-messaging program designed to provide mental-health support during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s called Text4Hope.

Participants receive one text message every morning for three months. After that, they can subscribe for a further six months.

Robillard selects a message of hope on her cellphone. “This one’s my favourite: ‘We often think that motivation leads to behaviour. The opposite is also true. Engaging in activities can increase your motivation.’

“I struggle with motivation so just seeing it written out in plain English … it kind of clicks.”

Vincent Agyapong, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, founded the program.

“Text4Hope is a program that allows individuals to subscribe to receive daily supportive text messages to help people deal with stress, anxiety and depression during the COVID pandemic,” he says.

“When people are feeling stressed, anxious and depressed, they become preoccupied with doom and gloom.

“Once you are in this mental state you receive this positive message of hope, which momentarily disrupts your negative pattern of thinking.”

Agyapong says the messages are crafted by psychologists, therapists and psychiatrists.

Another example of a message sent to subscribers: “When bad things happen that we can’t control, we often focus on the things we can’t change. Focus on what you can control; what can you do to help yourself (or someone else) today?”

The idea for Text4Hope came from a similar texting service Agyapong created after a wildfire tore through Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2016. Text4Mood, which was also promoted by Alberta Health Services, sent similar messages of hope to that community’s residents.

Over six weeks with Text4Hope, Agyapong says users reported a 10 per cent reduction in depressive thoughts in comparison to those who didn’t get messages.

“When people switch from being preoccupied with the doom and gloom to thinking more of the positive contents of the messages, which changes their thinking pattern, (it) results in reduced stress, anxiety and depression,” he says.

More than 52,000 people have subscribed to the program since it started nearly a year ago. It is planning to continue for at least two years.

Agyapong says he has also set up a program that will send similar text messages in Arabic for newcomers, starting in April.

Last month, he started a text service for first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and he launched one in British Columbia for residents in Indigenous communities who have had multiple traumas. “They had wildfires, then they have flooding and now they have the pandemic,” says Agyapong.

Robillard says she is getting therapy and on medication, but Text4Hope comes in handy on days when she feels down.

“It’s something that’s like a good addition to whatever regimen you have for taking care of your mental health,” she says.

“It’s there to help me … having a different voice, a different stream of consciousness around me helps.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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