Terror in the Streets?

ON SEPTEMBER 30, WHEN ABDULAHI SHARIF allegedly rammed a police officer with a car, then stabbed him, and then ran down four pedestrians on Jasper Avenue behind the wheel of a U-Haul, the entire city was left in shock. But did the attack, which police have described as terrorism, really terrorize our downtown? We caught up with a few businesses close to where the attack happened to find out.

No sensationalism at Matrix

Olaf Miede, general manager of the Matrix Hotel, said his focus after the attack has been to ensure staff and guests feel safe. But is there a lingering feeling of terror? No.

“From my side, calling it a terror attack [seems extreme]. There’s lots of stuff going on in the world, and sometimes we over-exaggerate it. We want to work with the police and take it seriously, but still, there’s nobody here that’s going ‘Oh my god, I can’t work at the Matrix anymore and I have PTSD.’ There’s no sensationalism here. I look at it more as, you had a police chase and sometimes we [overemphasize] the nationality of who’s involved and create something out of it that creates a lot of fear, and fear mongering.”

Community strengthened at Central Social Hall

Neil Wolsegger, operating partner of Central Social Hall, said the attack might have back-fired, as it has only strengthened Edmonton’s sense of community.

“After the night it actually happened, there wasn’t a ton of buzz about anything going on in regards to terror, in my opinion. From people I’ve talked to, staff and customers, I think the Edmonton community is just way too strong to let that kind of negativity creep in. Obviously it’s a terrible thing that happened, and the people that were affected by it directly, I couldn’t even imagine to walk one inch in their shoes today. But as a business operator in downtown Edmonton it really hasn’t affected us at all. I think people just kind of bonded together and refused to let that kind of stuff creep in.”

The Kindness of Strangers

nadineNadine Riopel
Author of The Savvy Do Gooder: Giving That Makes a Difference

“When CityTV was still downtown, I was on my way in to do a TV segment one early morning and had a ton of stuff and a baby in tow, struggling along from the nearest parking spot a block away. A very kind passerby intercepted me and took my box of stuff, accompanying me all the way to the door of the studio even though it was in the opposite direction from where he was headed.”

oliviahughesOlivia Hughes
Arts student at MacEwan University

“Working as a Team Director for Homeless Connect, I see homeless people standing off and alone, ignored by others who are maybe too afraid to reach out and help, or who don’t know how. That’s why I tell everyone to carry granola bars in their bags. It’s a way to give, and a way to open yourself up to sharing respect with an equal. All because of a granola bar!”

RicardoBritoRicardo Brito
Realtor with Royal LePage

“My girlfriend Natasha continues to amaze me. Whether it is a homeless person or an elderly person, she always tries to help them. She truly believes it’s her job to spread love, kindness, and hope. This year, around Christmas, she took $500 from the bank, all in twenties, and randomly gave it out to anyone she felt was in need.”

MichelleMark.jpgMichelle Mark
Laboratory Coordinator at the Royal Alberta Museum

“My friend has a teenage son who recently ‘adopted’ an old man he met on his daily bus ride to school. He learned that he had almost no family in Edmonton. Since then, her son has had him over for a family dinner, and even took him out to a movie. It was refreshing for me to hear about a young person who cares, and who is brave enough to reach out to a total stranger.”

NeerajPrakashNeeraj Prakash
English professor at MacEwan University

“I was pumping gas at a station near MacEwan, when I saw a young, well-dressed man step outside with a plastic bag and a tray of four coffees billowing steam in the cold air. Without so much as a pause, he walked over to three men—possibly homeless—sitting on the curb and said, ‘I just got off a hard day of work, I have no plans and no one to go home to, and could use some company.’ For me, it wasn’t the shared coffee or fried chicken, but the talking and laughter that ensued afterward that brought warmth to my heart.”