Edmonton papal mass electronic tickets causing anxiety for seniors

Click to play video: 'Paperless papal mass tickets causing anxiety for seniors in Edmonton' Paperless papal mass tickets causing anxiety for seniors in Edmonton
Tickets for the papal mass at Commonwealth Stadium are virtual through Ticketmaster. As Dan Grummett explains, the paperless format is creating logistical problems for groups representing Indigenous elders and survivors who don't have smartphones – Jul 19, 2022

When more than 50,000 people descend on Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on July 26, they’ll be asked to present a ticket not unlike they would when attending a concert or football game.

But the demographics of a Papal mass with Pope Francis are different than they are for Garth Brooks.

Read more: Rolling Alberta highway closures planned for Pope’s upcoming visit to Edmonton area

Indigenous community groups tasked with distributing dozens of free tickets to seniors and residential school survivors are frustrated that electronic tickets are their only option.

“The seniors are getting very anxious because they know we have tickets, but for some reason we’re not putting those tickets in their hands,” said Cheryl Whiskeyjack, executive director of Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society.

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Read more: Some Quebec residential school survivors opt not to see Pope Francis

The organization has 50 tickets for the mass.

But Whiskeyjack said many of the clients they represent do not have smartphones or even use email. Therefore, Bent Arrow cannot distribute the tickets. Printing the tickets was not an available option.

“This is literally a group of seniors that will be technologically challenged to get into the event the way Ticketmaster is asking us to do that,” said Whiskeyjack, who says she has spoken with other community partners having the same issue.

“Although we got 50 tickets, some of the folks we’re speaking to have hundreds of tickets,” she said.

Cheryl Whiskeyjack was initially told by Ticketmaster it would not be possible to print tickets to the papal mass. Dan Grummett / Global News

Whiskeyjack initially said, barring some sort of resolution, she was going to have all 50 people — many whom she doesn’t know personally — meet outside a particular gate at Commonwealth Stadium the morning of the mass to scan all 50 tickets off her phone at once.

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“I’m hoping they find me. I don’t know, I’ll wear a big sign on my head or something,” she joked.

Global News contacted Ticketmaster to ask about the issue. A spokesperson said arrangements would be made to have Bent Arrow pick up physical tickets from will call at Commonwealth Stadium.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether this exception could apply to any other groups.

Global News asked what other groups can do to circumvent the electronic ticket process but did not receive a response.

Whiskeyjack was pleased her group’s issues will be resolved but remained concerned about other seniors.

“It’s hundreds, if not thousands of seats that have been impacted by this issue,” she said.

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