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Christmas trip home has special significance for couple affected by Danforth shooting




Jerry Pinksen introduced his girlfriend, Danielle Kane, to all the expected things on her first trip to Newfoundland over Christmas. The couple visited friends and family in Pinksen’s hometown of Straitsview on the Northern Peninsula and spent time outdoors enjoying the winter weather.

« I got to ride on a Ski-Doo for the first time, and I drove it too, » Kane told The St. John’s Morning Show. She called the experience « exhilarating, » even if she was surprised by how cold her thumbs got.

« Remember, she’s still a mainlander, » Pinksen joked. « There’s only so much we can do; she’s not so tough as us. »

But Kane is actually plenty tough, as her boyfriend of two years and many others have seen first-hand over the past few months. The ability to travel for a Christmas vacation in rural Newfoundland is one sign — of many — of how much the Toronto woman has recovered since she was injured in the July 22 shooting in the city’s Danforth neighbourhood.

Kane rode — and drove — a snowmobile for the first time while on the Northern Peninsula. (Provided by Jerry Pinksen)

« It was fantastic. I loved it. Everyone was so warm and welcoming, » Kane said. The trip came just five months after she spent 11 days in a medically induced coma in intensive care, the start of her long recovery from injuries that left her in a wheelchair.

« I felt like I was coming home even though I hadn’t met a lot of the folks up there. »

July 22 shooting

On the evening of July 22, Pinksen and Kane were having dinner with a friend on the patio of the Danforth’s 7Numbers restaurant when they heard gunshots.

The group ran inside for shelter but Pinksen, an emergency room nurse, left to help when he heard someone outside had been shot.

« With my medical training I knew I could help this person, so I told Danielle, ‘I have to exit, I have to help this woman,' » he said.

He didn’t know that Kane, a nursing student herself who had first aid training, had followed him to the restaurant’s emergency exit.

« I didn’t think that Jerry should go out by himself because in any emergency situation you’re going to want all hands on deck, » Kane said.

If the gunshot was just a little bit higher, I probably would not have made it.– Danielle Kane

Pinksen was able to duck out of the way when he saw the shooter, Faisal Hussain, raise a gun, but Kane was hit while standing in the exit.

« I was told that if the gunshot was just a little bit higher, I probably would not have made it, » she said.

Recovering from injuries

Though she survived the shooting, her injuries mean she will remain in a wheelchair, Kane said.

Her T11 vertebra was shattered, and doctors had to fuse her T10 and T20 vertebrae. She also needed three abdominal surgeries to clean internal debris left by injuries to her stomach, she said.

Kane had several surgeries and spent 11 days in a medically induced coma after the July shooting. (GoFundMe)

« My abdomen was left open for three days because there was too much swelling. »

However, Kane says she has recovered significantly since the shooting and expects to continue to do so through her ongoing rehabilitation in Toronto.

« I’ve learned that basically I can still gain back a lot of independence. I’ll be able to drive again, I’ll be able to return to work, and I’ll still be able to have children, » she said. 

« It’s not a death sentence. »

Danielle Kane attends rehabilitation therapy a few times a week and is exercising to build her strength, with a goal of getting her driver’s licence in the spring. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

She hopes to regain her licence in the spring, and plans to intern with the Ontario Nurses’ Association this summer before resuming her nursing studies in September.

Pinksen said he’s not prepared to return to work in an emergency room, but he hopes to continue to deal with the trauma of the shooting and reassess his readiness in a few months.

For now, he said, he is focusing on helping Danielle recover, especially considering the benefit his medical experience brings to their situation.

Kane, left, says she loved her first visit to Newfoundland, spent with Pinksen, standing, and his family. ‘Everyone was so warm and welcoming,’ she says. (Provided by Jerry Pinksen)

« It’s better for us to be healing together and while I can help Danielle the best way I can, being a nurse, » he said.

Having Pinksen’s help, as well as the support of family and friends, has been key in staying optimistic about the future, Kane said. 

« It’s been amazing. Everyone asks me, ‘Why are you doing so well?’ And I’m like, ‘I have such great support.' »

Focused on the future

Pinksen and Kane continue to have some sympathy for Hussain, 29, who killed himself after the shooting, in which he injured 13 people and killed two.

The two have had a lot to process since Kane was released from the hospital, but both still believe Hussain must have been struggling himself to act as he did.

« I still believe in my heart that this person was suffering, » said Pinksen. 

« He had to be suffering to think and plan out such an assault on all these individuals and want to bring so much terror and pain. »

Pinksen and Kane both say they are trying to look ahead to their future. ‘We can’t dwell on what happened,’ Pinksen says. (Provided by Jerry Pinksen)

Kane pointed to her own history with depression, saying that she believes Hussain must have been not only disturbed, but isolated and lonely.

« I try to think about how my depression affected my life before, and how maybe I didn’t appreciate what I had, all the good things I had in my life before, » she said.

Focusing on that good has helped her recovery, Kane said, because it has helped her realize how much love she has in her life and how much living she has left to do.

The couple tries to look toward the full life they have ahead instead of back on what happened, Pinksen said.

« We try not to dwell on him or that, and just know that we’re still lucky to be alive, we’re still lucky to have each other, and we’re just going to look forward. »

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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




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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Pandemic funds helping Montreal businesses build for a better tomorrow




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




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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