The Solutions Podcast

There is no shortage of news about problems — social problems, political problems, climate problems. But what about the solutions?

We believe the solution side of the equation is just as important as the problem side. In the Journal’s ongoing podcast series, we take a vexxing problem each episode and talk to experts who are solving that problem.

Episode 1: Middle Eastern representation in entertainment


A recent study shows that Canada’s growing digital economy is anchored by a $15-billion entertainment industry. 

According to the study more than 57,000 businesses involved in movies/cinema, music, publishing, radio, internet and gaming make up this vibrant and dynamic sector of the economy, which is expected to grow at an annual rate of 3.7 per cent through 2022. 

However Syrian director, independent filmmaker, and theatre professional, Rawd Almasoud, continued to struggle in finding an opportunity in the industry until she was introduced to the Calgary Arab Arts & Culture Society. 

“The hardship was always being asked for Canadian experience,” said Almasoud. 

“When I moved here I said I have the experience but not Canadian experience, and lots of times I’m told I need to build my own experience which means I would need to work for free.” 

According to Almasoud, the society connected all Arab content creators and media industry professionals together under one roof. 

“We were struggling with the fact that there’s no content by Arabic artists,” said CAACS board member Bassem Hafez. 

“Although we see across the board lots of Arabic artists, they [still] don’t have a chance, so [we thought] why don’t we offer this opportunity.” 

Episode 2: Helping students with finances


This episode aims to give money management solutions through the financial services provided to students through the Student Association of Mount Royal University  (SAMRU). There are many resources available that students can access through SAMRU to overcome financial burdens.

SAMRU provides a variety of resources and services for students during their time at school.

We spoke with Lisa Antichow, the support services manager for SAMRU, who talked us through the different financial well-being resources available to students, such as SAMRU Awards, SAMRU Tax Clinic, Breakfast options for students, and the Experiential Learning Fund.

Sabbiqa Ahmad, a first year business student talks about her personal experiences managing finances and tells us that she personally has not taken advantage of the solution that SAMRU provides.

Episode 3: Refugee health needs


Refugees face a number of challenges and each unique to their situation. One of the universal  challenges includes barriers to healthcare

Many refugees have higher healthcare needs that are not always met within the healthcare system. The need for refugees to have access to resources, especially in the first few years in Canada, is fundamental to setting them up for success in settling in Canada. 

Refugee Health YYC is a research group that is situated in the University of Calgary. Their research helps assess gaps in healthcare services and propose innovative models that would help improve it. 

They partner up with refugee health care centers like the Mosaic Refugee Health Clinic to improve healthcare delivery for newly-arrived refugees in Canada. 

“Health and healthcare have a long tradition of doing things to communities or working for communities,” said  Fabreau.

Gabriel Fabreau is the co-director of Health YYC. A lot of his research is targeted towards healthcare with a special focus on refugees. He also shares his time with medical clinics in the northeast and at the Peter Lougheed Centre. 

“I think one of the little known facts about Calgary is that it’s incredibly good at refugee resettlement, it has been for decades,” said Fabreau. “And that’s built on years of relationships and partnerships and hard work from the resettlement agencies like Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS).” 

Episode 4: Relationship violence at Mount Royal University


Domestic and sexual violence on Canadian university campuses is an an issue that’s been the subject of research studies since the early 1990s, and unfortunately is still prevalent today

Faculty and students are taking measures to provide support for those who have experienced violence, and prevent further violence from occurring through the Stepping Up program, which has been running on campus for more than10 years.

In this podcast we talk with Julia Rand, the program’s current coordinator, and a fresh face on Mount Royal University’s campus, having only joined the university’s staff in June of 2022. However, she has years of experience in social work, particularly in violence prevention for women and girls. 

Rand’s work began with her interest in social justice and addressing power imbalances in relationships. 

Now her knowledge is used to create free module workshops in collaboration with student facilitators to help educate MRU’s students on bystander intervention, sexual relationships, gender and media, and healthy relationships.

Rand said that even though Stepping Up is primarily about violence prevention, talking about healthy relationships is just as important in making a difference.

“If we’re too focused on talking about violence and violence prevention, then the conversation gets swayed over to that, and is kind of less focused on solutions,” she said. “And one of the solutions is helping people understand what a healthy relationship looks like.”

Gaye Warthe is the associate dean in the faculty of health, community, and education at Mount Royal University. She is also the president of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters.

Warthe is a researcher and social worker with a focus in dating, domestic, and sexual violence. She is one of the Stepping Up Program’s primary researchers, and continues to monitor its impact both at MRU and at other campuses across Canada. 

“We’re really seeing tremendous gains in knowledge and awareness, in attitudes changing, and also in a willingness to intervene,” Warthe said. “We’re achieving the outcomes that we want to achieve on this campus.”

Episode 5: Addressing abuse in hockey


In hockey, there have been problems of bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination (BAHD) for decades.

In 2004 Wayne McNeil and Sheldon Kennedy co-founded Respect Group, an organization dedicated to addressing, what they call, BAHD behaviors.

The organization helps solve BAHD behaviors through a vital tool: education. 

Through interactive online programs, Respect Group is educating parents, coaches, activity leaders, and players on how to be respectful in sports. McNeil said their goal is to give good people the tools to be better so that they can create a positive experience in hockey and sports.

“[These programs are] about conversation, feeling comfortable and understanding when things aren’t right. Giving people an avenue to have a conversation or in the best case, come forward and report it,” says McNeil.

The Respect Group Team pictured at their annual summit in April, 2022.

According to Annette Jensen, a hockey coach at Edge School in Calgary, Respect Group is a great starting point for solving abuse in hockey.

Jensen said, after completing the Respect in Sport Activity Leader/ Coach program, her own coaching habits have changed to better handle BAHD behaviors.

“The biggest thing was just starting to understand different perspectives of sport and the people that are involved. Sometimes it can be really competitive… and we kind of forget that everyone is here to learn,” says Jensen. “Everyone has their own walks of life, everyone’s been through a lot, and everyone is also there to do the best that they can.”

We talked to Respect Group about how they are solving abuse, harassment, and sexual assault in hockey as well as other sports.

Episode 6: Pay what you can businesses


In this episode, two non-profit organizations are helping Calgarians with their pay-what-you-can ideas as a response to the increasing cost of living.  

With the rate of inflation being at the highest it’s been since 1983, many Calgarians are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of essential items. 

Good Neighbour and the Social Impact Lab are two stores in downtown Calgary that use a payment method where customers are able to self-adjust the price of items to fit within their price range or not pay at all, if necessary.  

James Gamage, the director of the Social Impact lab, says the goal of the current project is to open up a “pay-what-you-can” market that will supply Calgarians with a wide variety of high quality foods.  

Gamage said, The Social Impact lab strives to give its customers a dignified shopping experience. 

Alice Lam, co-founder of Good Neighbour, gives customers the ability to browse through food, clothing, books, and other home goods. The store also uses a volunteer-run, pay-what-you-can business model so those in need are still able to have access to items they require.

Businesses and non-profit organizations like The Social Impact lab and Good Neighbour are giving struggling Calgarians options for access to support and resources through innovation and compassion. One solution at a time.

Episode 7: Food Insecurity and Poverty


Inflation in Alberta is increasing, reaching levels not seen since 1983 last June. Calgarians say they are struggling to keep up with rising expenses and accessing basic needs. 

In this podcast episode, Calgary Journal reporters explore the small and large scale solutions organizations are making to combat food insecurity, and ensure the future is fruitful.  

Gabriella Wong Ken, co-founder of The Hatch, a mutual aid operation founded in 2021, describes what it takes to run a barrier-free community fridge and pantry. The Hatch’s resources are in high demand, but Wong Ken says greater policy changes would better address food insecurity.

Meaghon Reid, executive director for Vibrant Communities Calgary, also says it’s a systemic problem. The organization provides research to propel greater policy changes, so Calgarians do not have to rely on resources like food banks in the future.

We spoke with Meaghon Reid and Gabriella Wong Ken about the poverty and food insecurity crisis in Calgary. You can listen to it here:   

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