The Wren’s top 10 stories of 2022

Supporting local, Kamloops’ history and municipal politics were among the topics our audience read the most in 2022
A grainy photo of a man in a white t-shirt standing in a basement room. The room is covered in band posters.
A musician waits for rehearsal in Little Big House, the subject of one of The Wren’s top stories published in 2022. Photo courtesy of Lewis Podlubny.

The countdown to 2023 is nearly complete, and our team at The Wren has been taking a much-needed break to spend time resting and seeing loved ones before the new year. But we’ve also been reflecting on what a busy 2022 we had.

It’s safe to say 2022 was the best year in The Wren’s history so far (it being our first year as a publication and all). 

We launched our newsletter and social media in February and started publishing articles on our website in the fall. We also welcomed two community reporters, Kyra Grubb and Lyssa Martin, whose passion for Kamloops (Tk’emlúps) knows no bounds. 

We published 41 stories, featured ten writers and sent off over 35 newsletters this year.

Of those 41 stories, a few stood out to our readers. Supporting local businesses, digging into Kamloops’ history and holding municipal leaders accountable were among the topics you read about the most. 

Before we start working hard to bring you more community-led journalism in the new year, here are The Wren’s top 10 stories of 2022.

1. Memories of a punk palace delight readers

In a grainy photo, three young people are seen handling pieces of wood while standing on a wooden skating halfpipe
Residents work to disassemble a halfpipe on the LBH property. Photo courtesy of Lewis Podlubny

In July, The Wren community reporter Kyra Grubb dug into Little Big House, which one former resident described as “Peter Pan’s Neverland for lost punk boys and girls.”

LBH, near First and Columbia, is a legendary residence where Kamloops’ contemporary punk scene was catapulted into existence. The home, jam space and bustling underground venue was a safe haven for punk kids who felt alienated or had nowhere else to go.

With the recent news that LBH will soon be demolished to make way for residential parking, it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane and learning more about the building that helped put Kamloops’ punk scene on the radar. 

2. Holiday shoppers support Indigenous creators

An edited image showing three photos side-by-side: A bag of espresso beans; a young person holding a book; and a woman holding a candle.
The Kamloops region is home to plenty of incredible Indigenous-owned businesses. Images courtesy of Kekuli Cafe, Raven Reads and Smoked Smudge Scents via Facebook

Readers of The Wren were certainly in the holiday spirit this year — our winter gift guides were a hit! To make it easier to shop local this winter, we compiled a list of Indigenous businesses in and around Kamloops.

These businesses sell products like candles, regional tours, beadwork and clothing, with more to discover throughout the Tk’emlúps region.

3. Emergency shelter services hit winter road bumps

The image features The Loop Resource Centre: a teal one story building with a tin roof. Above the door an address reads 405A. A bike, shopping cart, wheelchair and other items sit outside.
The Loop Resource Centre in North Kamloops. Kyra Grubb / The Wren

Issues with a local service provider meant emergency weather locations had a bumpy opening at the beginning of November. As snow blanketed the streets of Kamloops, unhoused residents were left without shelter for multiple nights while city officials and service providers scrambled to find solutions.

When it became clear no other help would be available immediately, staff at The Loop Resource Centre, informally known as The Loop, leapt into action. Organizers opened the building to residents outside of regular operating hours — despite fears the city could force the service hub to shut down.

Reporter Kyra Grubb spoke to The Loop coordinator Glen Hilke about this year’s issues, as well as ongoing bylaw roadblocks preventing the organization from providing certain services.

4. Juniper Ridge access road delays persist

A photo of the Juniper Ridge neighbourhood
Residents of Juniper Ridge, one of Kamloops’ fastest-growing neighbourhoods, have been waiting for a second access road since 2007. Zack Kuan / The Wren

Over a year has passed since a wildfire near Juniper Ridge forced residents to evacuate their homes. Highland Road, the only permanent Juniper Ridge access road, quickly became clogged with traffic during the July 2021 evacuation. 

Two emergency exits on the western edge of the neighbourhood were gated off and remained locked even as the wildfire raged on.

While the City of Kamloops says it’s always planned to add a secondary road out of the community, Juniper Ridge residents told contributor Zack Kuan they fear the decade-old promise isn’t a priority. 

5. TRU builds luxury on-campus housing amid student shelter shortage

An architectural sketch shows plans for a Thompson Rivers University (TRU) luxury community development called The Reach Neighbourhood
An architectural sketch of a Thompson Rivers University (TRU) luxury development. Photo courtesy of The Reach / Facebook

In the midst of a Canada-wide affordable housing shortage, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) students have scrambled to find accommodations in Kamloops while navigating the inaccessible housing market.

Despite this, new housing developments on or near TRU campus offer accommodations at market or above-market prices, deterring a large portion of students from applying and rapidly outpacing the university’s student housing developments.

6. Women-owned businesses that wow

Two women stand inside Far & Wide, a Kamloops store. Shelves of products can be seen in the background.
Far & Wide is one of many women-owned businesses in Kamloops. Photo courtesy of Far & Wide.

Another gift guide from The Wren resonated with readers this year, as holiday shoppers learned more about women-owned businesses in Kamloops selling gifts for everyone on their lists.

If there’s one thing Kamloops is in no shortage of, it’s badass women — and women business owners are no exception. But local businesses struggled this year, and even the best entrepreneurs need an extra boost to compete with online retailers and big box stores in the coming months.

We rounded up eleven local women-owned businesses, including The Pond, Far & Wide, Castles and Cottages and Lys’ Thrift, with unbeatable products.

7. Light reading for local voters

The main entrance of Kamloops city hall.
The Wren tracked where, when and how to cast your ballot in Kamloops. Kyra Grubb / The Wren

We can’t believe it’s already been two months since the municipal election, when Kamloopsians picked a new mayor, council and school district board of trustees for the region.

Ahead of the election, The Wren produced multiple articles hoping to inform community members of their voting options. Among them was our municipal election voting guide, including all the information needed to cast a ballot.

8. Kamloops’ original name, explained

Kenthen Thomas laughs at a summer gathering
Kenthen Thomas, a storyteller from the Secwépemc Nation. Photo courtesy of Kristal Burgess / Culture Days

In July, Kenthen Thomas shared teachings about Tk’emlúps, Secwepemctsín and the importance of language with readers.

“Part of growing up here was understanding our connection with the land, Secwépemc’ulucw [suh-WHEP-muhc-em-cooluc], and the stories,” Kenthen wrote.

Kenthen’s teachings, originally published in The Wren’s newsletter, have recently been named among the finalists in the Canadian Online Publishing Awards’ Best Audience Development Series category.

9. Powwow celebrates tradition, healing and community

Dancers display their feathered and beaded regalia through movement on the grass surrounded by stadium seating outdoors.
Dancers display their regalia during the 41st annual Kamloopa Powwow. Lyssa Martin / The Wren

The Kamloopa Powwow returned in August for its 41st year. After two years of cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, guests were ecstatic to gather and celebrate the unique cultures of Turtle Island.

The Wren community reporter Lyssa Martin spoke to attendees, who told her they came to see the drums and dancing, reconnect with community members and commemorate the 2021 discovery of the resting places of Le Estcwicwéy̓ (The Missing). 

10. Holiday generosity helps local charities

Three decorated shoeboxes
The Kamloops Shoebox Project was among the charity events taking place during the 2022 holiday season. Photo courtesy of The Kamloops Shoebox Project.

While there are many ways to support fellow Kamloopsians through the winter months, quite a few local organizations put together meaningful holiday charity campaigns this winter in support of vulnerable residents.

We outlined all the ways to give back to Kamloops leading up to the holidays — and many of these charities accept local help year-round.

What was your favourite story The Wren published in 2022? Let us know by sending us an email. And to all those reading, we hope to see you again in the new year!

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