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Boozeless parties? Alberta women launch groups for sober fun

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Kira Dunlop says she can’t count the number of times she’s been called boring.

She stopped drinking this past year but still likes to have fun. That concept, of socializing while sober, seems strange to many, she says, and outright offensive to others.

“You have a hard day at work, you go out for a beer. You know, your girlfriend dumped you, your truck broke down, you go out for a beer,” Dunlop told the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday. “If I came, either it was a total buzz kill or, alternatively, like I just felt super, super uncomfortable and I had to leave.”

Dunlop, 23, founded organized a group in November called the Calgary Boring Little Girls Club, a tongue-in-cheek name. It’s dedicated to running events for young people who want to have fun without drinking, from skating to enjoying live music.

Kira Dunlop founded Calgary Boring Little Girls Club, a tongue-in-cheek reference to people who’ve called her boring for not drinking. (Kira Dunlop)

There is a similar group in Edmonton, Sober Saturdayz, that puts on bar events with nonalcoholic beverages.

The founders of both groups say they tried to curtail their own drinking, after seeing the negative impacts of it, but found their social lives disappeared. Dating, as well, became difficult for Sober Saturdayz founder Katie Degen, 26.

“People don’t know where to take you or how to talk to you. Suddenly it gets really awkward just because you’re sober,” she said. “Especially like at this age they’re like, ‘well, what do you do then?'”

‘Free-for-all’ drinking

In Canada, 78 per cent of people over the age of 15 drank sometimes in 2017, according to the Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, a figure that’s remained steady in recent years.

Young people aged 20 to 24 show signs of riskier alcohol use, the annual survey consistently finds. Twenty-nine per cent of that age group exceeded the amount of drinking required to be considered chronic risk. According to the guidelines, chronic risk means drinking up to 10 drink a week for women and 15 for men.

The positive response to the events has been overwhelming and unexpected, Degen said. She’s heard from people of all ages who love the bar scene but not the drinks.

“No one teaches you how to drink. They tell you you can’t drink until you’re legal and then all of a sudden is a free-for-all,” she said. “Until it’s a problem — and then suddenly you’re supposed to be embarrassed about it.”

The two groups are teaming up for a joint event. Each city will host Love Fest, a night of live music with complimentary hair and makeup, plus non-alcoholic cocktails and treats. Calgary’s event is on Feb. 9 and Edmonton’s is on Feb. 23.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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