A dozen missionaries working in Haiti landed safely at the Calgary airport on Sunday after violent riots centred in the country’s capital stranded them for days.
Working for the aid group Haiti Arise, the missionaries had been stranded at a compound near Grand Goave, about 65 kilometres west of the capital city of Port-au-Prince.
« I was sad to leave because I have family down there and friends. And it was different because I hadn’t been in that kind of situation before in all the times I’ve been to Haiti.… It is scary because I know a lot of people in the general area where the riots are happening, » said 12-year-old Miesha Honorat, whose parents co-founded the group and whose father remains in Haiti.
« He didn’t want to send the wrong message, that anytime there’s something wrong we just all leave, » said Lisa Honorat, Miesha’s mother.
Around two dozen Haiti Arise missionaries, who had planned to return on Wednesday, were airlifted by helicopter to Toussaint Louverture International Airport in three waves on Saturday. From there, the group flew to Miami, where they spent Saturday night.
While 12 missionaries returned to Alberta on Sunday, at least a dozen other members of the group are still waiting for flights out of the U.S.
The cost of the evacuation for the whole group is about $6,900, which they are paying themselves.
They were originally scheduled to leave the country on Wednesday, however the ongoing protests meant ground travel was impossible as several of the main streets and roads are blocked or damaged.
Honorat said the family remains committed to their humanitarian work and plans to return once circumstances are safer.
« They always bounce back somehow. So we just try to be there and support and help in any way we can, » she said.
Most of last week’s demonstrations occurred in Port-au-Prince, with protesters demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse over skyrocketing inflation and the government’s failure to prosecute embezzlement from a multi-billion dollar Venezuelan program that sent discounted oil to the country.
Protests are expected to resume this week.
A group of missionaries from Alberta wait for a helicopter to take them to the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Saturday. (Haiti Arise/Facebook)
On Tuesday, Global Affairs Canada issued an advisory warning against all non-essential travel to the country. On Thursday, it advised against all travel.
The Canadian Embassy in Haiti was also closed on Wednesday due to the unrest.
Working in the country since 2002, Haiti Arise has three compounds near Grand Goave.
Among the Canadians trapped in Haiti were missionaries, medical personnel, tourists and students. Many have been slowly making their way to the airport via helicopter or, in some cases, dangerous road journeys.
Demonstrators run away from police who are shooting in their direction, as a car burns during a protest demanding the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday. The protests have blocked access to the airport. (Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press)
Some 113 Quebec tourists who had been trapped at a Haitian resort by the protests were also evacuated to the airport by helicopter and were flown to Montreal Saturday night on a chartered commercial flight.
Air Transat also said a group of high school students from Victoriaville, Que., and their chaperones, who had been on a humanitarian trip, were on a flight that was expected to land in Montreal on Sunday evening.
Also travelling home on Sunday were another group of Christian missionaries based out of Montreal, who had been staying in a village some 200 kilometres west of Port-au-Prince.
Michel Bougie, a spokesperson for La Bible Parle, said the group had to hire a Florida-based plane service to get its 26 members to the airport after the Canadian government didn’t step in to offer any practical help.
The Alberta Dental Association and College (ADA&C) says it’s “aware of a disruption” at a Calgary orthodontist’s office that has drawn outcries online over services that were allegedly paid for but not completed.
In an email confirmed to Global News from late January, Dr. Richard Halpern writes to his patients that “for several personal reasons I am no longer able to provide you with orthodontic care.”
On a number of online review sites, commenters who claim they were patients say they paid for services that were not finished by the time of that email and beyond.
“We understand patients have been given contradictory information and are understandably confused and frustrated,” read a statement from ADA&C CEO Dr. Randall Croutze.
“The ADA&C, along with the Alberta Society of Orthodontists (ASO), have reached out to the larger orthodontic community in Calgary and area to help provide resources for these patients, including being as accommodating as possible regarding treatment fees.”
When asked to provide his side of the situation, Dr. Halpern said he “cannot provide any comment.”
In an email, ASO President Greg Barnett said: “the most heartbreaking cases are the ones who have paid up front, or at least are done paying their contract, but still have braces on and require months of further treatment, retainers, etc.”
“Orthodontists are aware of this terrible situation and are jumping in to help,” Barnett’s email read.
“We understand the frustration and sense of panic patients are having and want to reassure them that the rest of the profession in Calgary and beyond is stepping up to help.”
The ADA&C is advising any impacted patients to not postpone any treatment they need because of this incident. Halpern’s office will open again next Tuesday after the long weekend for patients to access their records.
Halpern’s late January email also states that patients would be left in the care of two other orthodontists, who told Global news in a statement that their “concern for the patients that would be left stranded required us to step in an interim basis to assess the unfortunate decision.”
The ADA&C is now working with “the orthodontists involved to ensure continuity of care for these patients, and that the integrity of patients’ records are upheld,” according to Croutze’s statement.
Social agencies and members of the public presented concerns about Calgary’s supervised consumption site to the community services committee on Wednesday.
Police and fire officials spoke about the increased social disorder and spike in crime in the area. Alberta Health Services officials talked about steps it is taking, such as increasing security patrols in the area.
Effect on residents
Residents living near the consumption site at the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre spoke of how they feel unsafe in the area.
“People like my daughter and granddaughters have to walk in fear as they go to work or school,” said Sherry Crawford in her presentation to the committee. “You imply that all lives matter yet you are deliberately choosing to prioritize addicts’ lives over those of my daughters and granddaughters.”
Jessica McEachern, a peer support worker at the site, said the increased security in the area has a negative impact.
“It’s really disheartening as people that I see that have come and been using the site from the beginning to now… they feel they can’t trust us anymore because of the increased police presence around,” she said.
Resources and strategies
Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley said strategies, such as daily needle clean-ups and police patrols, are already being used to help address social disorder. He added that working to provide supports to the site will help the surrounding neighbourhood.
“Ensuring that we have the wraparound supports and that the wraparound supports are working, we will see better outcomes in terms of social disorder and crime in the community that we’re experiencing and having challenges with,” he said.
Calgary deputy police chief Ryan Ayliffe said officers have made a point of directing more resources at that area.
“That includes changing shifts, re-deploying officers from bikes, re-deploying beat officers,” Ayliffe said. “We have engaged in other investigative resources in the area to supplement some of our investigative tactics.”
Ayliffe said that police alone won’t be able to address issues in the area.
“There’s nothing an officer possesses in their tool belt that can allow them to work on these problems in isolation,” Ayliffe said. “We have to work with all the partners in the city and in the province and federally to resolve the root issues of these problems.”
Impact on future projects
Concerns surrounding the site have led an east Calgary community association to withdraw support for another proposed supervised consumption site.
HIV Community Link hopes to have a mobile supervised consumption site operating in neighbourhoods like Forest Lawn. The project has not yet been approved by Health Canada and specific locations have not been determined.
Troubled by the CPS report outlining significant increases in drug-related calls and violent crime in the area surrounding the Chumir site, the Forest Lawn Community Association said it would not support having a safe injection site in their neighbourhood.
“Given that the only information we have comes back with such a negative response, we just can’t take that risk,” association president William Carnegie said.
“Right now, I just don’t see anything going forward where we can support it.”
However, HIV Community Link believes its mobile site won’t experience the same sort of social disorder seen at the Chumir site.
“We’ll be a low-volume service that will be in a neighbourhood a few hours at a time rather than a large service that’s operating 24 hours a day,” executive director Leslie Hill said.
She added that the organization will have outreach teams to help ease any concerns community members have. Security teams could also be added as a precaution.
WATCH: People living near the Sheldon M. Chumir Centre supervised consumption site delivered impassioned pleas for change to a City of Calgary committee on Wednesday, as officials grapple with public safety issues surrounding the site. Blake Lough reports.
City administration is being asked to consider feedback in developing recommendations in response to the 12 items up for study from Woolley.
On Feb. 25, city council will get an update on actions taken to address social disorder and public safety.
The issue will head back to committee in the second quarter of the year.
“If they’re experiencing an economic downturn, or maybe they’re worried about the job market or their job has disappeared, or they’ve been downsized, franchising provides them a different option to earn a living.”
McNeil made the argument at the annual Franchise Canada Show in Calgary at Stampede Park. She said the field gives potential business owners a chance to become entrepreneurs, but with the support system that an established brand brings.
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Calgary is latest city to face problems keeping expensive former Olympic venues operating.
At Issue tackles the issues fuelling the increasingly heated debate over the future of Alberta’s energy industry.
How a Toronto professor’s chance discovery turned into a Grammy-nominated album.
The project to replace the refrigeration system and make other needed upgrades had already received $10 million in provincial funding and a promise of a further $7 million from Ottawa. However, WinSport says that won’t be nearly enough, estimating the total costs to be at least $25 million, plus decades of future operating subsidies that currently run at $750,000 a year.
Sport federations had been assured that the project was going to go ahead regardless of the 2026 Games bid, which called for the refurbishment and reuse of the 1988 venues. Now they face months of uncertainty as WinSport tries to pry more money out of the Alberta and federal governments.
A skeleton athlete trains on the 1988 Calgary Olympic track at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary in October 2018. The facility is estimated to need at least $25 million in maintenance work to keep it operating. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)
Of course, Canada does have another world-class sliding facility in Whistler, a legacy of the 2010 Olympics. Canada’s high-performance sliders already train and compete there as well, so moving the national team programs and world cup races from Alberta to B.C. would be more of an inconvenience than an impossibility.
But the closure of the Calgary venue would severely hamper the kids’ camps and development programs that produce the next generation of athletes, and have helped Canada to eight Olympic medals in bobsleigh and skeleton since 2006.
Nor is it the only post-Games problem that the city is facing.
Two of the three neighbouring ski jumps at Canada Olympic Park, now in a state of terminal disrepair, are scheduled to soon be torn down. The 90-metre tower will survive, but only for use as a zipline launch and to boost cellphone signals.
Although increasingly, host nations seem to be leaning towards the other choice — just letting stuff fall apart.
A year after the Pyeongchang Games, many of the 2018 venues sit idle. The sliding centre is closed — ironically, South Korean athletes now train in Calgary — and the speed-skating arena is without ice. The hockey arena has been used three times since the games finished, and the figure skating venue has hosted two concerts.
The new lid is scheduled to be in place by 2023, and will hopefully last until the city hosts some FIFA World Cup matches in 2026.
Tonight’s At Issue panel tackles the problems fuelling the increasingly heated debate over the future of Alberta’s energy industry, writes Rosemary Barton.
From the low price of Canadian crude, to a lack of pipelines, it’s safe to say Alberta’s economy is facing serious challenges.
This week I travelled to Edmonton as part of our National Conversation series. With the federal election now just eight months away (yes, the countdown clock is on) and a provincial election before that, we wanted to talk about the future of the province and hear from Albertans directly.
And we wanted the provincial government’s perspective, too.
Premier Rachel Notley told me she still believes a pipeline is the best and safest option to move oil to market. But given the current stalemate, she has no choice but to keep looking to railcars (remember she announced the province would be purchasing 7,000 railcars last fall).
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley answers questions from the audience at CBC’s The National Conversation event in Edmonton. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
So is Ottawa doing enough to help Alberta? And should Notley be doing more to stand up to the federal government?
The premier says she is, but many who were in the audience for our event in Edmonton or submitted questions for Notley online felt otherwise.
Jason Kenney and Rosemary Barton talk Alberta politics over coffee. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)
Tonight on At Issue, we’ll take this opportunity to talk about Alberta’s economic woes, the political implications, and ask where both the province and the federal government go from here.
Plus whatever else comes our way — a lot can change in a few hours in Canadian politics. Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hébert and Althia Raj will join me for my favourite night of the week.
See you then.
– Rosemary Barton
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Yiddish Glory at the Grammys
Producer Greg Hobbs describes how a Toronto professor’s chance discovery turned into a Grammy-nominated album.
When Yiddish Studies professor Anna Shternshis found herself in the unlikely position of overseeing the production of a musical recording, she discovered that musicians can connect with the past in ways historians might not be able to.
Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is a Grammy-nominated collection of songs written by Jewish Red Army soldiers, refugees and victims of the Ukrainian ghettos.
University of Toronto Professor Anna Shternshis in her office at the University of Toronto. Her work led to the making of the Grammy-nominated album ‘Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II.’ (Anand Ram/CBC)
The works were discovered by Shternshis during the early 2000s in a box at the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, while she was working on a project about the decline of Yiddish culture in the Soviet Union. They are unique, in that they were written in Yiddish from the perspective of those battling through one of the darkest periods of the 20th century for Soviet Jews, as they experienced it.
« The rumours that the songs were collected existed, » says Shternshis, who teaches at the University of Toronto. « But scholars believed that this collection was destroyed and never survived the war. »
Some of the documents came with musical notations, others were just lyrics.
Early in the production process, when Shternshis was working with Russian songwriter Psoy Korolenko to put music to the lyrics of a piece called Purim Gifts for Hitler, Korolenko said he wanted to add a line.
« I said to Psoy, ‘this is a terrible idea,' » recounts Shternshis, who was trying to be as authentic as possible to the originals.
Shternshis displays photos she took of lyric sheets of Yiddish songs from the World War II era that were thought to have been lost. (Anand Ram/CBC)
Purim Gifts is a defiant song decrying Hitler’s attempts to defeat the Jews. As the translated lyrics go, « You’re not my first enemy, before you I’ve had many others. »
While first performing the song on behalf of Shternshis at an academic conference, Korolenko insisted on adding a well-known Yiddish and Hebrew saying that translates as, « The Jewish people live on and on. » It was a rousing moment that the audience loved, although it made Shternshis uncomfortable.
To her astonishment, she later discovered an earlier handwritten version of the song in a different section of the Vernadsky Library. In that version, the lyrics ended with the very same line, « The Jewish people live on and on. » It turns out that this is what the original author had intended before Stalin’s censors got their hands on the lyrics.
It was eye-opening for Shternshis.
« Musicians can really get what the other musicians were saying, many years later, better than a historian, » she says.
Yiddish Glory: The Lost Songs of World War II is nominated for a Grammy in the World Music Category. For more on the collection, watch tonight’s The National on CBC Television and streamed online.
– Greg Hobbs
Juno Award-winning jazz vocalist Sophie Milman performs an anti-fascist song titled Chuvasher Tekher (Daughters of Chuvashia), written during World War II, which is on the Grammy-nominated album Yiddish Glory:
A few words on …
The passing of one of Parliament Hill’s good guys.
Former Ottawa MP Paul Dewar died from brain cancer Wednesday. His remarkable approach to life and death made a lasting impact. <a href= »https://twitter.com/hashtag/TheMoment?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw »>#TheMoment</a> <a href= »https://t.co/vKOJvGU2K4″>https://t.co/vKOJvGU2K4</a> <a href= »https://t.co/NA2cLo4ke0″>pic.twitter.com/NA2cLo4ke0</a>
A Calgary man who won $16.3 million from a Lotto 6-49 draw says he doesn’t want to change “much” about his life.
“I have a lot to learn about how to manage this much money,” Alfonso Buonomo explained in a Thursday news release from the Western Canada Lottery Corporation. “I want to be smart, learn how to invest it properly and let it snowball.”
Buonomo discovered he had won the jackpot from the Jan. 2 draw while checking his tickets a Co-op gas bar on Symons Valley Road N.W.
“I actually thought the prize amount was a barcode number when I first scanned the ticket,” he said. “I was shocked! I couldn’t move.”
“After reviewing concerns shared about Andy Evans speaking at Calgary Teachers’ Convention, I have consulted with @CCTCA organizers and we will be cancelling AARC’s session. I sincerely regret the impact this has had on survivors, victims and their supporters,” he said.
After reviewing concerns shared about Andy Evans speaking at Calgary Teachers’ Convention, I have consulted with @CCTCA organizers and we will be cancelling AARC’s session. I sincerely regret the impact this has had on survivors, victims and their supporters. #abed#CCTC2019
According to the schedule summary, Evans was to be speaking about adolescent addiction and his journey through addiction.
After serving seven years for second-degree murder, Evans was granted parole in 2014.
Nicole Parisien was strangled by Evans, a former UBC rugby player, while working at an illegal massage parlor in Vancouver.
Evans was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of getting out for 10 years. However, the Criminal Code allows parole eligibility three years before the official date of release to ease an eventual transition back into society.
After Evans was granted day parole, he moved back to Calgary where he’s currently the quality assurance coordinator at the AARC. He’s also a member of the Calgary Rams Rugby Club.
Initial concerns about him being a guest at the convention came up on a social media post wondering if it was the same person who served time for the murder Parisien in Vancouver.
In a statement on Tuesday, the organizers of the conference said they stood by their decision to keep Evans as a speaker:
“Teachers are smart and thoughtful professionals capable of examining contentious issues and sensitive topics with critical thought. For this reason, the association’s convention organizers do not shy away from scheduling controversial sessions or speakers. We trust in the professionalism of teachers to understand and appreciate different perspectives on issues that relate to their work.”
News of the cancellation spread quickly on social media on Wednesday evening:
The Calgary City Teacher’s Convention runs from Feb. 14 to 15.