Friday, March 30

The journey for justice continues

Last week, our Creative Communications class had the pleasure of listening to Mike McIntyre discuss his latest book, Journey for Justice: How ‘Project Angel’ Cracked the Candace Derksen Case.

Photo courtesy of

McIntyre did a great job at interweaving excerpts from Wilma Derksen’s book into his story.  From his detailed accuracy to his emotional insight, you can really sense that McIntyre had a strong relationship with the Derksen family.  The things he wrote about were not simply assumed, but were interpretations of factual stories and feelings shared by the Derksens.

I absolutely loved reading the first part of Journey for Justice.  It was a story that hit home for many reasons, considering the streets, stores and neighbourhoods were all places I recognized.  Someone very close to me was actually around Candace’s age when she passed away.  After reading her story, hearing someone talk about growing up at the same time as she did was a huge wake-up call.  It was a reminder that this crime actually happened, and is far beyond a simple story that you read and later put in the back of your mind.  The reality of this case is somewhat unnerving, but what really impressed me was the perseverance of the Derksen family.  The way they coped with the situation was incredibly humane and sincere.

The only part of the story I really didn’t connect with was the second half.  McIntyre’s writing style is not to blame for this reaction, because it’s the process of the court case that inevitably gets a little longwinded.  There are necessary details in the second half, however, that explain what happened during the Mark Grant trial.  It also included some interesting facts about forensic science and how it’s changed so drastically over the past few decades.  I appreciate that the story shows that DNA testing is not quite as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be.

The key message I took away from McIntyre’s book and presentation was how important it is to be sensitive about the people you’re writing about.  Never once in this story did I question the morals and beliefs of the Derksen family.  Surely, McIntyre considered the way these people were portrayed in the book, and he did a fantastic job in encompassing their compassionate essence.

Another thing I learned about writing crime stories is that it doesn’t always have to be about exploiting someone else’s wrongdoings.  Of course, Mark Grant was highlighted as an abusive and unbalanced human being, but that wasn’t what the whole story was about.  So much more of the book focused on what Wilma, Cliff, her family and her community were going through.  McIntyre wrote their entire story, including the before, during and after, as opposed to simply catching the final verdict of the court case.

Although this may sound like a strange comparison, I do see some similarities between Journey for Justice and the military documentary Restrepo.  Although Restrepo is much more gorey and violent, there are some exceptionally emotional clips that mirror parts of the Candace Derksen story.  The soldiers who survived the war in Afghanistan are so amazingly candid during their interviews, and it made me think of how candid the Derksen family was to include such incredible detail on their painful journey they went through.

All in all, I really enjoyed Journey for Justice and the message it relayed.  It was a heartbreaking story about the strength of a family during a devastating journey, a community coming together to help find their oldest daughter, and how an entire national supported the search for this young Winnipeg girl.  McIntyre and Wilma were so sincere during their presentation, and you can tell that they had such a great relationship during the process of writing this book.  This experience really shone light on the importance of being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes, and knowing where your personal and professional lines are drawn as a journalist. 

Mike McIntyre is a justice reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press.  You can follow him on Twitter here.
Wilma Derksen is the mother of Candace Derksen, and has a blog about her amazing journey here.

Wednesday, March 21

What the duck?

It's Vogue.
It's Wired.
No, wait - it's duckface Magazine!

On March 30, Red River College will be hosting the Creative Communications Magazine Trade Fair at The Roblin Centre.  Come join us from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. as we launch duckface Magazine, Winnipeg's first publication bridging the gap between tampons and technology.

Magazine Trade Fair
The Roblin Centre, 160 Princess St.
12:00PM to 4:00PM
Free admission

duckface Magazine quacks proudly about social media, online dating, digital software and Winnipeg's top tech females.  Our premiere edition also features a beautiful eight page spread on technology through the ages.  We'll have paper and digital copies available for purchase exclusively at the Magazine Trade Fair.

Next Friday, we'll be giving away tons of free swag, including gifts from Mondragon Bookstore & Coffeehouse, Cake-ology and The Vantage Lounge.

Pucker up, ladies.  Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @duckfacemaglike us on Facebook, read our and visit our website.

Care about it or don't, just know about it.

Tuesday, March 13

Winnipeg bloggers

The Winnipeg blogging community is filled with passionate individuals who love sharing their thoughts on our prairie city.

In ode to their enthusiasm, I would like to send a shout out to some recent Winnipeg bloggers who were kind enough to feature The Downtown Dweller.

Winnipeg Internet Pundits

A blog written in conjunction with a local radio show, playing every Wednesday at 5 p.m. on 101.5 UMFM.  Their blog also features an endless list of other prominent local bloggers and is a fountain of Winnipeg-related information.

Slurpees and Murder

A news, commentary, personal and MP3 blog written by the oh-so-eloquent James Hope Howard.

West End Dumplings

An awesome source for current stories and the historical background on Winnipeg's West End and surrounding area.

One Man Committee

A thorough blog focusing on Winnipeg's economic development and future projects.

Winnipeg is Beautiful

A blog created by Erica Glasier showcasing the work of Winnipeg's amateur and professional photographers.

Sunday, March 11

Homeless on campus

For five days, five resilient students from the University of Manitoba will be living "homeless" on campus.

Photo courtesy of

Kate Armstrong, Maria Gluskin, Sam Holloway, Jaysa Nachtigall and Jill Stevens have all volunteered to participate in this fundraising campaign to promote awareness for the issue of homelessness in Winnipeg.  All the proceeds collected will be donated to Resource Assistance for Youth (RaY), a non-profit organization helping homeless youth up to the age of 29.

According to the campaign rules, the students must stay on campus without any income, food or drink.  Nourishment can only be received through direct donations.  They can only have a pillow and a sleeping bag to keep them comfortable at night, where they will sleep outdoors.  They will have no access to showers for the duration of the campaign.  And through all this, they must still attend regular classes.

The students will be living on campus from March 11 to 16.  The itinerary of events can be viewed here.

Five Days for the Homeless started out at the University of Alberta's School of Business in 2005.  After a few successful years of raising funds and gaining awareness, the campaign went national, with 22 campuses participating in the event.  So far, the organization has raised over $750,000 towards bettering the lives of people living on the streets.

Participating universities include the University of Alberta, Queen's University, University of Waterloo, Concordia University and McGill University.

"I'm not okay with being homeless, are you?"
Kate Armstrong

Saturday, March 10

Return of the Mac Miller

The young phenomenon Mac Miller returns to Winnipeg this weekend to showcase his lyrical know-how.  This 20-year-old rapper from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is quickly climbing the ranks of hip-hop stardom, often seen as the "new Eminem."

Photo courtesy of

Mac Miller is performing in concert at The Garrick Centre this Sunday, March 11.  You can purchase tickets here.

His Twitter handle is @macmiller.  He's fostered almost 2 million followers, almost doubling since he hit his 1 million mark in October 2011.  Not too shabby for a self-taught youngster from Pennsylvania!

Saturday, March 3

Let's do lunch downtown!

If you haven't already noticed (much thanks to my countless restaurant-related blog entries), I'm a bit of a foodie.  I adore all types of culinary combinations, whether it be greasy burgers, spicy pad thai or creamy pasta alfredo.  Walking into a downtown restaurant, I feel like a kid in a candy store.

Photo courtesy of

That being said, when I heard news of Let's Do Lunch Downtown, I was absolutely thrilled.

Let's Do Lunch Downtown is an event organized by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.  From March 5 to March 30, various restaurants all over city central will offer special pricing on some of their most popular plates.

Hy's Steakhouse courtesy of

Participating restaurants include The Palm Lounge, The Rib Room, The Key, Lobby on York, Hy's Steakhouse, The Current, Pony Corral, Cafe 22, Boston Pizza, Hermanos, The Ground Floor Urban Diner, 4Play Sports Bar and Shannon's Irish Pub & Eatery.

Photo courtesy of

Dishes range from $6.99 to $14.95.  Some of the tasty delicacies include chickpea burgers, smoked salmon bagels and "The Winni-delphia Steak Sandwich."  Most meals include a potato or salad side.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is also hosting a contest in conjunction with Let's Do Lunch Downtown for a restaurant tour valued at $500.  You can enter by leaving your business card or by asking for a ballot from your server.

Photo courtesy of

All the more reason to enjoy a delicious, affordable meal in the heart of our delectable city.  Bon appetite!

Friday, March 2

Food court favourites

If you've ever worked at the mall, you may be familiar with the love/hate relationship some employees develop with the food court.

On one hand, the quick preparation of fast food is great for short lunch breaks (except during Christmas, where you'll be waiting at least 10-15 minutes before the meal hits your tray).  You often get to choose from a dozen or so different major chains, including the likes of KFC, A&W and Arby's.

For the first little while, we tend to romanticize the idea of having so many choices, but the shininess wears off fast.  As your ease into the daily grind, you start to become uneasy with the less-than-fantastic food selection.

Now, I've spent hundreds of lunches in Polo Park's food court during my lunch breaks.  After things started getting dull, I began exploring the surrounding area in hopes of finding something that I could sink my teeth into.

From my outstanding repertoire of gourmet mall dining (ha!), I've decided to let you guys in on a few of my favourite unconventional food court meals.

Photo courtesy of

1.  Salads at Cultures
People often complain that the menu at Cultures is overpriced and unfulfilling.  Although it is one of the more expensive food options, their salads are completely worth it.  Why?  Simply because it's one of the only choices that don't make you feel like there's a huge, undigested rock in your stomach after you're finished your lunch.  The serving is huge, and you can save the rest for later.

2.  Homestyle dining at Zellers
Don't let the looks of this stodgy little diner at the back of a department store fool you.  Although their clientele consists mainly of retirees, their menu features a number of tasty lunch items, including chicken fingers, burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches (my personal favourite).  Here, you get more bang for your buck, and the best part about it is that you get to escape from the consumer-packed mall atmosphere.

Photo courtesy of

3.  Friendly staff at Opa!
Pitas, Greek salad, tzatziki sauce - oh my!  Opa offers a menu that is a tad healthier than the rest, but the main reason I mention them isn't because of their food options.  I personally have never had a bad experience at this location, much thanks to their cheerful staff members.  They make friendly conversation while assembling your order, and their upbeat demeanour adds a bit of pep in your step for the rest of the weary day.

4.  Cream of anything soup at Brioni's
Brioni's is the only restaurant left in the food court that has its own personal seating area.  Much like Zellers, it offers a more private environment to enjoy your meal.  Asides from this leg up, their menu isn't necessarily the greatest - asides from their creamy soups.  And they are to die for.  Whether it's broccoli, mushroom, tomato or potato (they even have a cheeseburger variation), this dense broth fills you right up with its hearty goodness.

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5.  Deep-fried tempura at Bento
Many people shy away from Bento Sushi because they expect the same quality of sushi here as they would from a sit down restaurant.  Unfortunately, all of their rolls are made in batches and left out for customers to pick up and go.  They do, however, make their tempura fresh to order.  It's warm, tasty and super affordable.

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6.  Pizza buns at Second Cup
Second Cup orders most of their dainties from a local bake shop called Goodies.  Now, if you haven't been, I highly recommend visiting this tempting dessert paradise.  They carry countless cakes, baked goods and breads that are melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  The pizza buns are a rare commodity, usually only available in the mornings and early afternoon, but they are a gooey, yummy warmed-up treat.

Here are a few more suggestions from my fellow Tweeps:

@Danielmags Opa no question.
@BVirts Famous Wok: Bourbon Chicken and Sweet and Sour Pork.  Thai Express: Pad Thai.
@jennylynndotnet Popular favourite is the fried stuff from the sushi place.  The fries and the tempura.
@SaraJHarrison  I LOVE THESE PLACES: A&W (haha), that thai place, TacoTime all mixed together with a strawberry banana julius

Eating at the food court doesn't seem so bad now, does it?  The next time you pay it a visit, consider some of these options.  Your stomach will thank you for it.

Eenie, meenie, miney, moe!

The new Choose Your Charity concert series features eight Winnipeg musicians with tremendous vocals and enormous hearts.

Don Amero, courtesy of

These talents performers take turns playing at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe every Thursday evening at 7 p.m.  Performances have included the artistic stylings of JD Edwards, Katie Murphy, Keri Latimer, Don Amero and Flo.

Flo, Courtesy of Walter Janzen from

Thrift Store Love will be performing March 8, in support of the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Hayley Gene will be coming in on March 15 to help out her charity of choice, W.I.S.H. Inc.

Lastly, James Struthers, who is also the event's organizer, will be rocking out to raise awareness for Winnipeg Harvest on March 22.

Thrift Store Love, courtesy of

Admission to the event is $15, or $10 with the accompaniment of a non-perishable food item.