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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!