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The Righteous Anger of Queen Mother Morningstar?
Edmonton Journal, June 10th, 2003
By Greg Buium
(Copyright Edmonton Journal 2003)
EDMONTON - She was the first and only woman to be executed in Alberta.
Florence Lassandro, inspiration for the opera Filumena and the Italian immigrant convicted with Emilio Picariello in 1923 in a murder case often called The Fall of Emperor Pic, is front and centre in a new Web site created by the Edmonton-based Heritage Community Foundation.
Great Alberta Law Cases seems to have stolen its subjects from some old pulp fiction or book of fantasy. Where else would you find titles such as The Fall of Emperor Pic or Double Double Jeopardy or The Righteous Anger of Queen Mother Morningstar?
Where else but the courtrooms of Alberta.
"The material sounds like it could be sensationalized, but it's not," says Linda Affolder, the project's senior researcher and editor.
The site revolves around 10 docudramas produced in the early 1990s by CKUA radio. Each one recreates a colourful and influential legal case in the province's history, from 1885-1951. As you listen to the dramatization, there are a handful of other links you can follow: profiles of the people involved, reproductions of contemporary newspaper reports and historical background.
"It's a template with layers of information, like a book," says Adriana Davies, the foundation's executive director. "This is a truly multi-sensory experience."
The project began last September after Davies discovered the docudramas in the CKUA archive. "There's a vast treasure in our basement," says Ken Regan, CKUA's general manager.
"We knew it was there, but if it hadn't been for Adriana, it would have sat on a shelf."
Thirty half-hour radio shows were found. Ten were digitized and slotted into three categories, criminal, civil and constitutional cases.
This is the 27th site created by the Heritage Community Foundation, a charitable trust established in 1999. Its work is funded in large part by federal government programs. The Alberta Law Foundation was a key partner in this recent project.
The Making of Treaty 8 in Canada's Northwest
(www.albertasource.ca/treaty8/), the most popular site, receives more than 100,000 hits per month.
"It is fabulous," says Charlotte Cameron, a teacher at Eastwood school.
Her Grade 1 class logs on once a week, even though the median reading age is 13.
"We tell them the story and they click to the different photographs," she says, referring to the project devoted to Alex Decoteau, an Olympic athlete and Canada's first aboriginal police officer. "It really isn't very hard."