Not Slowing Down

Todd Janes and Shannon Scott aren’t resting on their Top 40 laurels – they continue to push forward in their respective fields.

photography by Adam Goudreau

This year marks the seventh time Avenue Edmonton has put together our Top 40 Under 40 list, highlighting the great contributions young Edmontonians are making to their city and to the world at large. Those contributions don’t stop, though, when the honourees’ names go on the list. This year, we thought it would be a good time to take a look back at two members of our inaugural Top 40 Under 40 list and see how much they are still doing to make Edmonton a great place to live.

Todd Janes has always been ahead of the curve. “I know it sounds like a clich,” he told Avenue Edmonton back in 2009, “but we have to try and make the world a better place.” 

At that time, artist-run gallery Latitude 53 was still tucked away in the Old Creamery Building and Avenue was just three years old.

Janes has now been executive director of Latitude 53 for nearly 20 years. So, when he echoes that make-the-world-a-better-place sentiment six years after that initial Avenue interview, it no longer sounds banal: “We may not know how to do it, but people want to do it. It’s post-clich.”

This past June, Janes was inducted into the Edmonton Hall of Fame – the youngest arts and culture inductee of 2015. He has also been recognized nationally as a champion for local and emerging artists, winning CARFAC’s National Visual Arts Advocacy Award in 2010. Visualeyez, Canada’s only annual performance art festival (which Janes founded back in 2000), is attracting more talent than ever.

As for Latitude 53, it outgrew its space in 2012, around its 40th anniversary, and moved into a larger building right next door. The once-hidden art gallery is now front and centre with a street-level patio. That growth, Janes says, is symbolic of Edmonton as a whole, which he likens to a teenager developing his or her personality.

“As a city, we’re maturing. Edmonton is growing in really interesting ways – we’re getting to the point where hope is a good thing again.”

More and more people are sharing Janes’s hope, which is thematic of his hall of fame induction video. His monologue – the abundance of tears, he claims, is a result of poor editing – is preceded by a phrase characteristic of his life, work and art: “Being transparent, being honest and having hope really makes a difference.” It has definitely made a difference for Janes, as well as for Edmonton.

Since appearing on Avenue Edmonton‘s Top 40 Under 40 list in 2009, Shannon Scott has continued to rack up the awards and accolades. This included being named a Canada Research Chair in 2013, which she calls the pinnacle of her career.

Her magnum opus is ECHO – Evidence in Child Health to enhance Outcomes – a research program with the goal of giving pediatric health care professionals access to the most cutting-edge research on everything from asthma to children’s emergency care. Before she started making waves in Edmonton, Scott worked as a clinical nursing instructor in Winnipeg. It was there that she noticed a troubling trend: Even her most diligent students would stop reading scholarly journals when they graduated and became her colleagues, meaning that their theoretical knowledge peaked when they traded their caps and gowns for scrubs. Her aim with ECHO is to fight this stagnation by making sure the best available research makes its way into the hands of practicing clinicians instead of collecting dust in labs and libraries.

These days, Scott is also working as co-director and principal investigator for TREKK (Translating Emergency Knowledge for Kids). Between 2012 and 2014, she developed and led the largest needs assessment of emergency room departments in Canada, visiting 39 ERs from coast to coast and as far north as Yellowknife.

“In Canada, more than 80 per cent of kids receive their first line of emergency care in a non-pediatric emergency room department,” she explains, “but the majority of the specialized knowledge is housed in pediatric – not general – EDs.” 

Her goal with TREKK is to make sure that emergency room doctors and nurses have access to the knowledge and tools required to meet the unique challenge of treating children, and that parents are given the information they need to make informed decisions about their children’s health. For parents, this means using art and narratives to invite them into their treatment processes instead of shutting them out with medical jargon.

There’s no denying that the shortage of Canadian nurses is an enormous problem. “We are so short in the profession,” Scott says. Back in the ’90s, a large number of nurses moved to the United States, and the effects of that are still being felt today. However, her research allows our nurses to mitigate their lack of numbers by working smarter, not harder.

And as for the possibility of Scott moving south in search of greener pastures? Not likely.

“I moved to Edmonton in 1999, loved it here, stayed, and I’m never going to leave.”

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