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Calgary girl who died in skiing accident remembered with Abby Award

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For David Wunsch, coming back to the ski hill where his nine-year-old daughter died never gets any easier.

“It’s difficult at times, but we get here and we know that Abby and her spirit [are] fully entrenched in the ski hill. It’s a place where I can connect with her and know that she’s around and with us here,” said Wunsch at Nakiska Ski Area on Sunday.

Abby Wunsch was on the U10 Race Club at Nakiska. She loved to ski.

“She was always smiling,” said her teammate, Natalee Tulloch. “She was a fun and happy girl, and when you were sad she would always be there to help cheer you up.”


READ MORE:
Nine-year-old girl found unconscious on Nakiska ski hill in critical condition

In December 2015, Abby was skiing with her team on a green run she had done countless times before. But this time, she hit a tree.

“She didn’t lose control,” Wunsch recalled. “There was a young witness who saw her. She wasn’t skiing out of her element. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Right away, there were ski coaches and patrols on scene and were able to help her within minutes. Unfortunately, the injuries were too great.”

David Wunsch and his daughter’s ski team jacket at Nakiska Ski Area.

Global News

Abby’s parents weren’t sure if they could ever return to the mountains again, but it was her little brother who encouraged them.

“Right after it happened, Isaac said to us: ‘We’ll take a couple of weeks off but then we will go back skiing.’ He really led us. I didn’t know at the time if we could ever ski again or even come back to the ski hill but he led us, and for such a young person to help us, we just went with it, and it’s good because the support we’ve had from Nakiska and the ski community, I think it helped us tremendously in our grief,” Wunsch said.

He added that he and his wife, Jessie, made the decision together to continue with Abby’s brother’s ski team.

“The incident was part of the sport, and we understand that. Life sometimes has inherent risks so I don’t think we can go around being bubble-wrapped and stopping living for the risk that something may happen,” Wunsch said.


READ MORE:
Alberta Alpine Ski Association mourns death of 9-year-old skier

The Wunsch family has now set up the Abby Award in memory of their daughter. Seventy-eight medals were given out in 2017 to young skiers across Canada who demonstrated Abby’s attributes, such as effort, passion and an ability to have fun.

Parents and coaches call the family an inspiration to their community.

“I admire them because going through such a tragedy and to turn it into such a positive thing is amazing to me,” said Kim Blouin, whose daughter received an Abby Award.

“This award is special because there’s all kinds of other medals for performance, but this is about attitude and work ethic and passion and showing up and being there 100 per cent of the time.”

Thoughts of Abby remain as teammates ski down the run where they lost their friend three years ago.

“I always think of her every time I go down that run,” said Tulloch, also an Abby Award recipient. “I don’t feel sad. I feel happy and grateful that I got to know her.”

Abby’s racing jacket now hangs on the wall at the Nakiska Lodge. Olympic athletes like Brady Leman and Kerrin Lee-Gartner, teammates and first responders who were at the scene of the accident wear the Abby Badge in her memory.

The award now helps all those grieving to find some peace.

“Setting up the award really brought out what Abby was about,” said Wunsch. “It helped us to honour her and helped us in our grief. It helped a lot of other people that were with us in our grief. It helps us remember all the great things about Abby and it helps us be positive for those other athletes out there and not dwell on the fact we don’t see her every day and that we will one day.”

The Wunsch family has set up the Abby Award Foundation to help cover the costs associated with presenting the Abby Award across the country. Funding for the Abby Award Foundation is being  achieved in part by selling Abby Badges.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘Business as usual’ for Dorel Industries after terminating go-private deal

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MONTREAL — Dorel Industries Inc. says it will continue to pursue its business strategy going forward after terminating an agreement to go private after discussions with shareholders.

« Moving ahead. Business as usual, » a spokesman for the company said in an email on Monday.

A group led by Cerberus Capital Management had previously agreed to buy outstanding shares of Dorel for $16 apiece, except for shares owned by the family that controls the company’s multiple-voting shares.

But Dorel chief executive Martin Schwartz said the Montreal-based maker of car seats, strollers, bicycles and home furniture pulled the plug on a deal on the eve of Tuesday’s special meeting after reviewing votes from shareholders.

“Independent shareholders have clearly expressed their confidence in Dorel’s future and the greater potential for Dorel as a public entity, » he said in a news release.

Dorel’s board of directors, with Martin Schwartz, Alan Schwartz, Jeffrey Schwartz and Jeff Segel recused, unanimously approved the deal’s termination upon the recommendation of a special committee.

The transaction required approval by two-thirds of the votes cast, and more than 50 per cent of the votes cast by non-family shareholders.

Schwartz said enhancing shareholder value remains a top priority while it stays focused on growing its brands, which include Schwinn and Mongoose bikes, Safety 1st-brand car seats and DHP Furniture.

Dorel said the move to end the go-private deal was mutual, despite the funds’ increased purchase price offer earlier this year.

It said there is no break fee applicable in this case.

Montreal-based investment firm Letko, Brosseau & Associates Inc. and San Diego’s Brandes Investment Partners LP, which together control more than 19 per cent of Dorel’s outstanding class B subordinate shares voiced their opposition to the amended offer, which was increased from the initial Nov. 2 offer of $14.50 per share.

« We believe that several minority shareholders shared our opinion, » said Letko vice-president Stephane Lebrun, during a phone interview.

« We are confident of the long-term potential of the company and we have confidence in the managers in place.”

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Anglais

Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow

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Many entrepreneurs have had to tap into government loans during the pandemic, at first just to survive, but now some are using the money to better prepare their businesses for the post-COVID future.

One of those businesses is Del Friscos, a popular family restaurant in Dollard-des-Ormeaux that, like many Montreal-area restaurants, has had to adapt from a sit-down establishment to one that takes orders online for takeout or delivery.

“It was hard going from totally in-house seating,” said Del Friscos co-owner Terry Konstas. “We didn’t have an in-house delivery system, which we quickly added. There were so many of our employees that were laid off that wanted to work so we adapted to a delivery system and added platforms like Uber and DoorDash.”

Helping them through the transition were emergency grants and low-interest loans from the federal and provincial governments, some of which are directly administered by PME MTL, a non-profit business-development organization established to assist the island’s small and medium-sized businesses.

Konstas said he had never even heard of PME MTL until a customer told him about them and when he got in touch, he discovered there were many government programs available to help his business get through the downturn and build for the future. “They’ve been very helpful right from day one,” said Konstas.

“We used some of the funds to catch up on our suppliers and our rents, the part that wasn’t covered from the federal side, and we used some of it for our new virtual concepts,” he said, referring to a virtual kitchen model which the restaurant has since adopted.

The virtual kitchen lets them create completely different menu items from the casual American Italian dishes that Del Friscos is known for and market them under different restaurant brand names. Under the Prasinó Soup & Salad banner, they sell healthy Greek options and their Stallone’s Sub Shop brand offers hearty sandwiches, yet the food from both is created in the same Del Friscos kitchen.

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Downtown Montreal office, retail vacancies continue to rise

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Some of downtown Montreal’s key economic indicators are heading in the wrong direction.

Office and retail vacancies in the city’s central core continued to climb in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report released Thursday by the Urban Development Institute of Quebec and the Montréal Centre-Ville merchants association. The report, whose first edition was published in October, aims to paint a socio-economic picture of the downtown area.

The survey also found office space available for sublet had increased during the fourth quarter, which may foreshadow even more vacancies when leases expire. On the residential front, condo sales fell as new listings soared — a sign that the downtown area may be losing some of its appeal to homeowners.

“It’s impossible not to be preoccupied by the rapid increase in office vacancies,” Jean-Marc Fournier, the former Quebec politician who now heads the UDI, said Thursday in an interview.

Still, with COVID-19 vaccinations set to accelerate in the coming months, “the economic picture is bound to improve,” he said. “People will start returning downtown. It’s much too early to say the office market is going to disappear.”

Public health measures implemented since the start of the pandemic almost a year ago — such as caps on office capacity — have deprived downtown Montreal of more than 500,000 workers and students. A mere 4,163 university and CEGEP students attended in-person classes in the second quarter, the most recent period for which figures are available. Border closures and travel restrictions have also brought tourism to a standstill, hurting hotels and thousands of local businesses.

Seventy per cent of downtown workers carried out their professional activities at home more than three days a week during the fourth quarter, the report said, citing an online survey of 1,000 Montreal-area residents conducted last month.

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