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In her short life, little Abby inspired countless acts of kindness. Now even strangers are mourning her death

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Abby was here, and the signs are everywhere. Pink ribbons are tied around the fence posts south of Schomberg, and in town, they’re on stop signs and telephone poles. At a coffee shop, there is a board where red hearts proclaim in permanent marker scrawl who has a free coffee or muffin coming to them. Just one of the many acts of kindness made in the name of the little girl who became a “binding force,” not just in this town north of Toronto, but everywhere she went. Abby Eveson died last week. She was here for five years and four months.

Abby Eveson was born with a rare congenital heart defect that limited the blood flow to her lungs. She had three open-heart surgeries before she was 2. When she was facing a surgery in 2014, her parents, Becky and Craig, began dropping $5 bills at the hospital, buying lunches for strangers, encouraging others to do the same. “It really helped us get through the hard times, just knowing that you’re helping make someone else smile when they’re having a difficult time,” Becky Eveson said earlier this week. “It just helped.”

Charlie Eveson, 7, in front of a picture of his sister Abby at the Schomberg arena, where his words were read out.
Charlie Eveson, 7, in front of a picture of his sister Abby at the Schomberg arena, where his words were read out.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

It was an exchange with the universe, and it became a movement: We Believe in Abby.

Read more:

Paying it forward for Abby: One family’s quest to create positive energy for their very sick daughter

“I know they truly believed that Abby survived for as long as she did because of that positive energy,” said Kate Glassow, a family friend.

On Thursday, the town arena was the only place big enough to hold the hundreds who came to celebrate her life. At centre ice there were flowers, balloons and pictures of Abby, including a recent school photo where she is leaning on some books in an academic pose. Her mom posted a behind-the-scenes version on Facebook about a month ago. Out of the frame, she is kneeling behind Abby to hold her up — “Picture day at school today! Gotta do what you gotta do xo.”

More than 500 people came to the service. Children sat cross-legged on the walking track. Many of them had done good deeds in Abby’s name, some had been on the receiving end, and others had been inspired by Abby. If Abby can do it, so can I. “It carried on forever,” Glassow said.

The Evesons knew that Abby’s life would never be free of medical appointments, but things had recently stabilized. “Out of all the years of being sick sick sick, it didn’t seem like the time,” Becky said. Abby was in school a few hours every day. She loved going on adventures, playing with her brothers, making people laugh. (One day at school, her teacher told her she needed to change her “grumpy pants.” When her mom picked her up to take her home for a nap, she insisted her pants be changed.)

In the middle of October, she went to a Wiggles concert with her mom. “I’ve never seen her beam more,” Becky said. A few days later, she learned she was going to be a big sister again. Her dad asked what they should name the baby, and Abby suggested “Coochie,” after her beloved soother.

In her short life, little Abby inspired countless acts of kindness | Story Behind the Story
The Trisan Centre hosted the memorial, which included an honour guard from King Emergency Services.
The Trisan Centre hosted the memorial, which included an honour guard from King Emergency Services.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

Abby woke up early, as usual, on Oct. 24. She played in the bath and had a nap. She was sassy when her mom was too slow to return her iPad. And then she went into distress.

Eveson posted a message on the We Believe in Abby Facebook page. She knew it was bad, and asked for prayers and positive thoughts. “That’s always helped us in the past,” she said.

A few hours later, Abby died at the Southlake Regional Health Centre. Not long after, people in town began tying pink ribbons everywhere. Nearby towns did the same.

A jogger running downtown saw the ribbons. She had a sinking feeling.

“She started bawling,” said Glassow. “She was devastated, and again, she doesn’t know the family. Everyone just knows Abby’s story.”

During the service, Rev. Sheilagh Ashworth spoke for the family, including a tribute from 7-year-old Charlie.

Becky Eveson is consoled by her son Charlie, 7, during the service.
Becky Eveson is consoled by her son Charlie, 7, during the service.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

“She had lots of friends, including me because I am her brother,” Ashworth read, as Charlie stood at centre ice in his green sweater, shuffling behind one of the photos. “I miss her so much, and I am sure all of you do too. I will miss her cute little face and I am sure you will too. I will miss seeing her walk in her orange walker, because she would walk very fast. I will miss her cute feet, because they were really cute. I will miss her.”

King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini also spoke, calling it the “most difficult” speech of his career.

“If you didn’t know Abby you might ask: how could someone so small make such a profound impact on our community?” he said. “It’s because of the size of Abby’s heart.”

The service closed with a Wiggles recording of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It was the only song that soothed Abby when she was upset, her mom said. “Twinkle, Mom,” she’d say, and Becky would sing.

There were many “heart moms” in the stands who had met on the fourth floor of Toronto’s Sick Kids hospital. It can be difficult for friends and family to understand, so they all keep in touch on a Facebook group, offering support.

The stands of Trisan Centre were full as Abby’s service began on Thursday.
The stands of Trisan Centre were full as Abby’s service began on Thursday.  (Rick Madonik / Toronto Star)

In 2015, Carol Syme’s daughter Evynn had a heart transplant. It had not gone well, and after Syme posted in the group, she received a gift: a doll for her daughter, who was about to turn 4, and a Starbucks card. It came anonymously in “our last days in hospital.”

The coffee shop in the hospital is open day and night. It is one of the few places parents can go for a break, while still being close to their children. It was a special, thoughtful gift.

“It’s such a simple, tiny little thing,” Syme said. “Because it does get expensive, it does get dreary, or lonely, and it’s just someone random thinking about you, right?”

Even though everybody knew who the gift giver was, Becky “outed herself” after Abby’s death, hoping that someone will continue the tradition, said Melanie McBride, another heart mom at the service. McBride had been to the arena before. Eveson had arranged Christmas parties there for “heart kids” here so they could visit Santa in a controlled environment, and not worry about the germs at the mall.

After the floral arrangements were taken off the ice, there was skating, and a make-your-own-slime room with glitter and confetti. Slime was one of Abby’s favourite things. There was a room with singing and dancing, and an ice cream machine. On the ice, some of the younger children took tentative steps with a parent, their ankles bowed, smiling in disbelief.

This is what the Evesons wanted. A day for families to be together. They want to build an accessible playground in Abby’s memory someday. They believed in Abby, and they still do.

“It’s been overwhelming,” Becky said. “People aren’t just sending condolences. It’s messages of how she touched them, you know? And she’s 5. It’s amazing.”

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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