STF members to vote on new bargaining committee offer

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Saskatchewan teachers will vote on a new offer presented by the Government-Trustee Bargaining Committee, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) said in a press release late Wednesday afternoon.

According to the press release, the offer is a three-year agreement that would see teachers receive salary increases of three per cent in year one, three per cent in year two, and two per cent in year three. Teachers would see retroactive pay to September 2023.

The offer also includes a reference to “the accountability framework in relation to a Memorandum of Understanding among the three parties.”

STF president Samantha Becotte will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday to discuss the offer.

The offer comes what the STF described as “two days of difficult negotiations.”

Prince Albert bowlers excited for shot at national title

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Prince Albert bowlers Taryn Dumont and Bella Mulhall hope to do something no local bowler has done in a long time: bring home a national title.

The 19-year-old Dumont and 17-year-old Mulhall are headed to the Ottawa-Gatineau region to represent Saskatchewan in the Youth Bowl Canada (YBC) National Championships from May 6-8. The two bowlers will compete in the Senior Girls Doubles competition.

“It’s exciting (and) nerve-wracking,” said Mulhall, who will be competing at nationals for the second time. “I’m beyond happy that I get to experience it again. It’s a feeling like no other. There’s just so much adrenaline. It’s awesome.”

“I’m excited but I’m also nervous,” added Dumont. “It’s my first nationals so I’m excited to have that experience.”

The duo will bowl 24 games over the three-day event, which features competitors from every province bowling in bantam, junior, and senior age categories. Mulhall said they’ll both need to be mentally tough to be successful.

“We just have to keep our minds straight and really just live in the moment,” she said. “I think we have to stick to how we feel. We know we can do good and we know we can win. We just have to stick to that feeling.”

The Prince Albert duo qualified after beating eight other teams at provincials in Regina. Each team bowled four games, with the highest scoring team representing Saskatchewan at nationals.

Dumont and Mulhall found themselves trailing by 86 points after the first three games, but rallied in the fourth to take the provincial title.

“We struggled a little bit, but we pulled through and won and now we’re going to nationals,” Dumont said.

“It was nerve-wracking because we were watching the other team who had a chance at beating us. We knew what they needed to beat us…. It sounds really bad, but seeing that they didn’t get it was an indescribable feeling.”

Team coach Michael Pelechaty credited the duo’s ability to stay calm under pressure for the provincial win.

“We knew going into the last game it was going to have to be a big comeback if we wanted a chance to go to nationals,” Pelechaty said. “Of course, the girls came out strong. Taryn started off with four strikes in a row, and then right after that, Bella had probably four strikes of her own too. They came out clutch when they needed to be clutch and got the job done.”

Pelechaty said having two Prince Albert bowlers representing Saskatchewan in a big boost for the sport locally. He’s hopeful it will translate to more bowlers trying the sport’s competitive side.

“Any time we time we get bowlers from Prince Albert going to nationals, whether it’s the kids or adults, it’s always good,” he said. “Every once and a while when you see new bowlers coming out to the bowling alley, it’s always good to see. We all have that end goal of getting a national banner someday. It hasn’t happened in a while, so that’s always a goal.”

Regardless of what happens at nationals, this will be the last YBC Championship for Dumont, who will not be eligible for youth competitions next year. She bowled in a few adult tournaments during the 2023-24 season in preparation for her first full year of adult eligibility next year.

Mulhall is in Grade 12 at St. Mary High School, and has at least another year of eligibility. Like Dumont, she plans to keep bowling competitively after graduation.

Man charged with attempted murder following investigation into November single vehicle collision makes first court appearance

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An 18-year-old man facing attempted murder charges following an investigation into a single vehicle collision on the 1000 Block of 22nd Street East made his first court appearance on Monday.

Kye Rees, 18, has also been charged with criminal negligence, failing to remain at the scene of a motor vehicle collision resulting in bodily harm, and numerous firearms offences. He was arrested on April 12 in Moosomin, Sask.

A 42-year-old woman also faces obstruction of justice charges in connection with the investigation. She will make her first court appearance on May 22.

Prince Albert police do not anticipate further charges. Moosomin and Broadview RCMP assisted with the investigation.

The charges stem from a single vehicle collision in the early morning hours of Nov. 19, 2023 which left 22-year-old Clarence Sewap in hospital with serious injuries. Police say Sewap continues to recover. Four other people were also injured in the collision.

Officers were called to the scene at 12:46 a.m. on Nov. 19 following reports of a collision with injuries. They arrived to find a vehicle that had collided with a power pole.

On Nov. 21, the Prince Albert Police Service announced that a suspect from a second vehicle shot the driver of the first vehicle, causing him to lose control. The second vehicle then fled the scene.

Police also announced that the occupants of both vehicles had interacted with each other at the Skate Board Park near the Art Hauser Centre moments prior to the collision. Investigators said the victim and suspect were known to each other and this was not a random act.

Prince Albert wrestler strikes gold at nationals

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Prince Albert wrestler Kayley Clarke was a little uneasy heading into the 2024 Canadian Wrestling Championships in Ontario, but the nerves didn’t show.

The Carlton Comprehensive Public High School Student finished strong in the U19 Women’s Division, taking home a gold medal in the Greco-Roman event on the final day of competition.

“I was just really happy,” said Clarke, who was one of four Prince Albert Wrestlers to travel to the championships in Mississauga. “I lost to the second place girl the first day, so I was really happy I was able to beat her that day.”

Clarke opened the tournament with wins over Ontario’s Jaida Lorenzo and B.C.’s Sarah Clarke in the U19 Women’s Freestyle 61 kg event. However, a loss to Ella De Almeida in the semi-finals and another loss to Nova Scotia’s Alexis Lavers sent her to the fifth place match where she defeated B.C.’s Diksha Chaudhary.

Clarke used that as motivation heading into the U19 Women’s Greco-Roman 61 kg event, scoring wins against Lavers, Sarah Clarke, and Chendra Clements to take home gold.

“It was pretty scary,” Clarke said about competing at nationals, “But, I did it before so I knew what I had to do.”

With nationals in the rear-view mirror, Clarke has turned her attention on school and post-secondary athletics. She graduates from Carlton this fall, and plans to keep wresting at the University of Saskatchewan next year.

“I was thinking of going to Alberta, but I didn’t like how far they were and I didn’t have any family (there),” Clarke said. “I had family living in Saskatoon, so I thought that was nice.”

Joining Clarke in Mississauga were fellow Prince Albert wrestlers Owen Ferchuk, Noah Remy, and Jonah Sanderson. All four wrestlers also represented Saskatchewan at the North American Indigenous Games in 2023 (NAIG).

Ferchuk joined Clarke on the medal podium, taking home a pair of bronze medals in the Men’s 125 kg Greco-Roman and Men’s 125 kb Freestyle competitions. This was Ferchuk’s first time competing at Nationals. He qualified in 2023, but had to skip due to injury.

Ferchuk also graduates this year, and like Clarke, plans to keep wrestling after graduation.

‘You can always find treasures’: CFUW prepares for annual Spring Book Sale

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Residents looking for a new adventure or a classic favourite will have a chance to find it when the Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) opens their doors on Friday for the first day of their annual Spring Book Sale.

This year’s sale returns to the familiar confines of South Hill Mall. CFUW member and volunteer organizer Gail Syverson said they’re always happy to see residents dig into a pile of books.

“There’s no book store in Prince Albert, so it’s a good source for really good quality books—and books of all genres,” Syverson said. “Any little niche thing that you want to find a book about, if you look hard enough, maybe we have it.”

Syverson is one of roughly 35 CFUW members and volunteers contributing their time to this year’s sale. She said many of the volunteers want to ensure good books don’t go to waste, but they also want to support a good cause.

Proceeds from this year’s sale will go towards CFUW scholarships handed out to female high school students. Last year, they gave out six scholarships valued at $700 each.

“Despite the fact that post-secondary stats show that there are actually more women than men in post-secondary education, there’s still a great need for that help,” CFUW Prince Albert chapter president Barb Gustafson said. “I think beyond the money, it’s also the confidence building that comes with getting a scholarship, that somebody outside yourself and your family has said, ‘you can do this.’ I think that’s really helpful.

“I mean, $700 is not a huge amount. That maybe pays the cost of one full course, but it still is very important, I think, to encourage young people to go on to post-secondary education.”

Prince Albert non-profit SHARE stored all CFUW books over the winter and delivered them Monday night so volunteers could begin setting up on Tuesday.

Both Gustafson and Syverson said the event remains popular largely because the book buying public has few options in Prince Albert.

“I think there’s still a good audience for print books, and I think especially in Prince Albert it’s appreciated because unfortunately we don’t have a book store for people to turn to,” Gustafson said. “Even with Amazon and all those other options, people still like to come and browse through the books and see what they can find.”

“It’s an opportunity for people to donate their books too, because what else would they do with things,” Syverson added. “Yard sales? It’s pretty hard. Value Village does take books, but we like to think that our cause encourages people to bring books to this sale.”

Online book sales rose in 2020 when more than 50 per cent of books sold were sold online, according to a Publishing in Canada report. However, online sales began to decline as a percentage of all book sales in 2021 and 2022, while eBook and audio book sales also slowed.

Syverson said club members and volunteers do keep an eye on the issue, but so far it hasn’t affected the Spring Book Sale’s popularity.

“We do wonder, with the prevalence of eBooks and so on, and so far it hasn’t really harmed our number of books,” she said. “People still come to buy and to donate. Whether or not the next generations will still be buying, we don’t know.”

In fact, the hardest decision volunteers face isn’t getting people to come out, it’s trying to cultivate their selection.

“You always find treasures along the way … and it’s hard to choose what to keep and what to actually put in the discards,” Gustafson said with a laugh. “You never know who’s going to come along and want something, other than computer books. I’m pretty confident we can get rid of anything else.”

The CFUW Spring Book Sale runs from Friday, April 19 to Saturday, April 20, and Monday April 22 to Saturday, April 27 at the South Hill Mall. Hours are 10 a.m. to five p.m. Attendees are asked to make a donation for any books they take.

The CFUW Book Sale receives assistance from South Hill Mall, the Optimist Club, SHARE, and other community volunteers.

Youth Poetry to take centre stage at Jam Street

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Young poets will have a chance to recite their work for a live audience as a province-wide series of Youth Poetry Open Mic Nights arrives in Prince Albert.

Jam Street Shared Spaces will host the second of four Write Out Loud open mic nights on Tuesday. Event organizer and Write Out Loud director Dash Reimer said they’re excited to have the event up and running.

“Youth poetry, it’s always so beautiful and honest,” Reimer said during an interview on Monday. “The youth are feeling just as big emotions as any adult, and they are just learning to form the words to exactly express through metaphor—or whatever it might be—how they’re feeling.

“It’s one thing to give kids a journal (and) let them write in their own room, but it’s another thing—and I think it’s also just as beautiful—to give them a space to share that.”

Write Out Loud hosted their first Open Mic Night in Moose Jaw a few weeks ago, and has two more shows scheduled for Swift Current and North Battleford. Reimer said they are always hosting events in Regina and Saskatoon, but wanted to start connecting with artists in some of the province’s smaller cities.

These events are building up to Write Out Loud’s inaugural Skribe Youth Poetics Festival scheduled for July 5-8 in Saskatoon.

“Write Out Loud is really dedicated to building youth community within the literary arts,” Reimer explained. “I think there are so many young writers out there with brilliant voices, and not all of the different cities around Saskatchewan have youth poetry scenes, or sometimes even just poetry scenes period….

“Because we’re running that (Skribe Youth Poetics) this summer we want to do some shows around the province to make sure youth outside of Saskatoon—where we normally run our events—know what’s happening and feel welcomed into the scene.”

Tuesday’s show has time for 12-15 poets max. Each poet will have five minutes to recite a piece of poetry. Local youth between the ages of 13 and 25 can sign up at the door to participate.

Reimer will also be performing some of his own material during the show. He said open mic nights and youth poetry festivals were vital in his journey to becoming a professional artist, and he hopes they can provide a boost for the next generation of poets.

“When I was a youth I went to Ottawa for youth Can Slam. It was an national youth poetry festival, and then I took some other youth back in the day to Toronto for Voices of Today, which ran for, I think, two or three years,” he said. “Neither of them are running currently, and so we were wanting to do something similar but a little bit smaller scale.”

Reimer said spoken word poetry is one of the most accessible art forms because artist don’t need to pay for expensive supplies or spaces to create it. However, finding a venue to showcase it can be more challenging. He said he’s grateful for spaces like Jam Street in Prince Albert, who can give those events a home.

“They’re an awesome partner to work with,” Reimer said.

The Write Out Loud Youth Poetry Oepn Mic Night begins at 7 p.m. at Jam Street Shared Spaces on Tuesday, April 16.

The Skribe Youth Poetics Festival provides free workshops and performances for youth ages 13-25 who register. Residents who do not fall within that age category can still attend, but will have to pay a small fee.

The festival is open to youth poets in Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. Reimer said they’ll be announcing the line-up quite soon.

A new album in new territory: B.C.’s Garton eager to hit E.A. Rawlinson stage

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Like many musicians, Jack Garton had a lot of time on his hands when COVID hit.

After public health regulations forced music venues to temporarily close in 2020 and 2021, the B.C. resident turned to song writing to fill the time. The result was Original Skin, a new album released in 2023, and an expanded list of musical stops, including one scheduled for Wednesday in Prince Albert.

“This tour for me is a lot of new territory,” Garton said during a phone call from Winnipeg, where he performed on Friday. “I’ve been touring B.C. and Alberta for a long, long time, but had not really made it out to Saskatchewan or Manitoba much, so that’s what I’m doing with the new album here.”

Original Skin features 14 songs written during COVID lockdowns in 2021. At the time, Garton wasn’t planning on making an album. He just wanted to create music. When music venues began opening back up, he decided to get in the studio and start recording.

“It was such a huge interruption to all our lives, and of course, not performing music anymore was really strange for me,” Garton said. “Basically when I started coming back to it, I found that I was doing it just for the joy of song writing and singing again, which was a beautiful experience.”

“A lot of them are memories of things that had just been missing for a long time,” he added. “I wanted to sing about them so I could spend more time with them and explore them, and it’s probably the most joyful and honest songs I’ve ever done because it really wasn’t for anyone other than myself. We were all still locked down and I didn’t know when we’d be sharing them, so it’s quite personal.”

Garton’s musical style runs from folk and roots music to blues and doo-wop. He compliments the variety of styles with a variety of musical instruments. Garton plays the accordion, trumpet, piano, and guitar, a feat he jokingly attributes to his short attention span.

“I’m easily distracted is one way to put it,” he said with a laugh. “I was taking music classes as a kid in school and I learned how to play different things, but whenever there was chance to try something else I just jumped on it.”

Jokes aside, Garton credits another B.C. musician, Geoff Berner, for helping him get serious about one of his most popular instruments, the accordion. Garton spent many of his teenage years watch Berner perform, and that inspired him to learn the instrument himself.

Garton said he’s always been curious about what’s around the next corner, and that’s helped him expand his musical tastes as well as his list of tour destinations.

“I just really hope that people really like the album and I think they would love the show,” he said. “This is the band that is going to be coming to Prince Albert is the same band that recorded the album. They’re very good friends of mine, and just so much fun to play with.”

Jack Garton will perform at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Wednesday, April 17. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the Rawlinson box office, or from earc.ca.

‘A nice surprise’: Songwriter and Poets’ Open Mic Night headed to larger venue for fourth performance

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The group organizing Prince Albert’s Songwriter and Poets’ Open Mic Night have a problem, but it’s a good one.

After three successful events, the group outgrew their home at Jam Street Music. On Saturday, local poets and songwriters will take the stage at the larger Rock Trout Café for the fourth show.

“We started out with maybe a dozen people at the first one, which we were really happy about, and then it’s grown each event,” event co-host Laura Marshall said. “The last one we filled the venue and had to turn people away, unfortunately. We really wanted to make sure everybody’s family and supporters could come out and see them, so we are moving to a bigger venue.”

Joining Marshall as event co-hosts are Jenna Tokaruk and Stephanie Wilkinson. Marshall said open mic nights helped her gain confidence as a young artist. She originally wasn’t sure there was a market for one when the group started hosting them in August 2023, but she’s glad to be wrong.

“It’s a nice surprise,” Marshall said. “It’s really shown me that there’s an appetite for this in our community. We had more and more people come out just to watch. It’s been really neat to see that.

“You don’t know really if you’re alone in wanting to create that kind of space or if anyone’s ever going to show up, but I think there’s really a need for it and a desire to have more people involved. It’s good and exciting to be growing, but we still do want to make sure we can keep the intimate vibe where people are listening to the story being told.”

Marshall said musicians and poets don’t sign up to play until they arrive at the event, so they never know how many performers they’ll have. Artists who take the stage are limited to two songs to poems each. The ages range from high school students to older adults.

The goal is to get people performing original creations instead of covers. Marshall said it’s not a strict rule, but the goal is to help artists become comfortable sharing their own work, not someone else’s.

They also hope to create connections among local artists, which will create a community feeling and encourage collaboration.

“It’s meant to inspire people who are writing at home to continue writing to get out and share and practice performing, for people who aren’t very experienced, but aren’t ready for a bigger stage,” she explained.

Doors open for the Songwriter and Poets’ Open Mic Night at 7 p.m., with the music starting at 7:30 p.m. Admission is by donation. After covering the cost of the event, any remaining donations will be given to charity.

Youth talent to light up stage at PACMA Showcase

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The Prince Albert Country Music Association (CMA) hopes to give prospective musicians a boost to start their careers with a Youth Showcase Event on Saturday.

Five local bands and three singers will take the Prince Albert Public Library Stage. Show producer Evan Swalm said they CMA wanted to help young musicians develop their careers.

“There’s not many venues today where young musicians can cut their teeth or learn the ropes … so we wanted to try and provide an opportunity for these folks who are just beginning their music career,” Swalm explained.

The youth showcase was inspired by the Garnet Ebach Memorial Share the Music Campaign. That initiative makes instruments—primarily guitars—available to children who can’t afford them so they can take music lessons.

The CMA decided to take things a step further and provide a venue for young musicians. They’re covering the entire cost of the event, and donating the proceeds from the door.

Swalm said getting used to being on stage can take some time, especially since not all audiences act the same. He said the show will provide these young musicians with valuable experience.

“How to feel comfortable on stage in front of an audience—those are all skills that you can’t open a book and learn,” he explained. “They need to do it to develop that competence.”

The performers won’t be the only youth involved in the event. Swalm said the sound engineer, emcee, and stage manager are all 17 and under.

Scheduled musical acts include the bands Fiberglass, Organized Confusion, Eternal Elysian, Stump Lake Slough Thumpin Brothers, and The Spark, and singers Emma Kuwala, Gaia Smart, and Layla Mogg.

Although the show is sponsored by a country music association, the acts include more than just country performers.

“It’s quite an eclectic collection of music,” Swalm said. “It’s flowing hair rock and roll … to bluegrass and various things in between.”

Proceeds from the event will go towards Children’s Haven. The CMA also plans to donate $1,000 of their own money along with the gate.

Since the show is youth oriented, Swalm said, the CMA though the donation should be too.

“In our community we have a lot of vulnerable youth … and we felt that that would be a good target to put invest some money,” he explained.

The Prince Albert Youth Showcase begins at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 13 in the Prince Albert Public Library Theatre. Tickets are available at the door for $5.

Efforts to honour Weldon man who died in mass stabbing to receive boost from James Smith Cree Nation

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Efforts to honour Weldon’s Wesley Petterson will receive a big boost on Saturday from James Smith Cree Nation.

The 78-year-old Petterson was one of 11 people murdered during the stabbing massacre in Weldon and James Smith Cree Nation less than two years ago. In February 2024, Weldon residents started the Weldon Playground Project to honour him.

The group plans to host a pancake breakfast fundraiser on Saturday, and James Smith Cree Nation, Chakastaypasin Band, and Peter Chapman Band leadership and members will be in attendance to make a donation.

Weldon Playground Project co-director Chelsey Erickson said they originally sent an invitation to James Smith leaders hoping they would attend, and were floored when the First Nation offered to bring a donation too.

“Emotions are extremely high right now,” Erickson said in an interview Thursday afternoon. “It’s crazy the support we are getting for this.

“We were all, not shocked, but we … were overwhelmed … and overjoyed that they’re willing to help us out. It’s really hard to explain.”

Erickson was raised in Weldon and new Petterson her whole life. She and other group members described him as a friendly and good-natured resident who would rise early and be the first person at the local seniors’ centre, where he would make coffee for everyone.

“He was such a kind man,” Erickson said in a press release. “He’d give you the shirt off his back because that’s the type of person he was.”

A rendition of the proposed playground design. The park will be named after Wesley Petterson. — Submitted photo.

Weldon community members decided to create a park in his honour as a way to help local youth. Erickson said the community has seen a steady growth in the number of children living there, but the local recreational amenities haven’t kept up.

She said a playground would receive plenty of use, as there is currently no designated park in Weldon. The closest thing is a few metal swings in an abandoned school yard.

“We need a safe place where children are free to play and have fun without traffic,” Erickson said. “It would be a gathering place for families.

“Parents and grandparents could bring their kids to the playground and enjoy climbing, swinging, or sliding on the equipment. I envision families playing catch, playing games, or having a picnic. It’s a much-needed space that all residents would be able to use and enjoy.”

There are currently five people on the Weldon Playground Committee. They hope to spearhead efforts to raise $150,000 for the project.

The group hasn’t committed to a site, but hopes to build near the Weldon Care Home. The goal is to have a play structure built and ready by the end of the summer.

The pancake breakfast fundraiser begins at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the Weldon Auditorium. Other fundraisers planned include a bottle drive, a BBQ, and a dance. James Smith Cree Nation leaders will be on hand at 10:30 for the presentation.