Princeton-area man credits Facebook group with helping save his life

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When Heather Balaam called 911 from her rural home because her husband was having a heart attack, she couldn’t get through.

“Our cellphone service is so intermittent, it wouldn’t put a signal through,” she said. “And it’s like, oh my god, what do I do now, what do I do now?”

Balaam and her husband, Che Lapointe, live in a remote location along a forest service road in the Princeton area.

The couple doesn’t have a landline, but they do have access to the Internet.

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“My first thing was to go on Facebook and ask people for help,” Balaam said. “And I typed it in capital letters.”

In Princeton’s rants, raves and issues group, she pleaded for somebody to call 911, listing her location and that her husband was having a heart attack

“And apparently four different people phoned in for an ambulance to come for me,” Lapointe said.

But he still had to wait nearly 45 minutes for the ambulance to arrive.

“That was, for me, I think, the scariest point, was sitting there waiting for the ambulance because I really thought I was going to die right there,” Lapointe said.


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In the meantime, some nearby loggers offered Lapointe aspirin, which was something the couple couldn’t find in their own house.

“We have five bathrooms where we live, and there wasn’t an aspirin in any of them. We have first aid kits, and no aspirin there either,” Lapointe said.


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The couple is now reminding other people to ensure their medicine cabinets are stocked with aspirin.

“Have them, even if you’re 35 years old, have them because your mother or your grandmother or the man on the street might collapse and need them,” Balaam said.

“I’m putting aspirin everywhere. In the truck, in the house, every bathroom. Every first aid kit,” Lapointe added.


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Lapointe is now recovering in Kelowna General Hospital, hoping to return home soon. He credits the quick response of people in the Facebook group with playing a big role in helping him get help so quickly.

“I knew somebody would help. I didn’t know who. I didn’t care who. But I knew somebody would help. And I think that’s a miraculous thing,” Balaam said.

Lapointe said he blamed smoking for his heart attack.

“And I’m done. Never again will I ever put a cigarette on these lips,” he said. “Because this is the scariest thing I’ve ever been through in my life.”

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How a 27-kilometre trek through marshland is helping these teens learn ‘they can do anything’

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NATUASHISH, N.L.—Around 20 kilometres into a remote part of the Labradorian interior blanketed by semi-frozen marshland, a dozen Innu women and teens are charging through thick brush in the dark, nearing the end of a 12-plus-hour trek.

Just then, walk leader Nympha Byrne makes a misstep. She sinks into the icy marsh waters up to her waist.

Walkers from Natuashish, Labrador, begin their trek into the bush. The Innu women and girls are following in the footsteps of their ancestors.
Walkers from Natuashish, Labrador, begin their trek into the bush. The Innu women and girls are following in the footsteps of their ancestors.  (Katrina Clarke photos)

Chenille Rich, 16, the only other walker within eyeshot, jumps into action and pulls Byrne out. She tugs off her boots, peels off her socks and starts a fire.

“She saved my life,” Byrne says later, warm in a cabin surrounded by teens who’d by then walked 27 kilometres.

Chenille Rich points a gun, as she stands on the steps of a cabin that was the final destination for the group of walkers the previous night. She had helped save the walk's leader.
Chenille Rich points a gun, as she stands on the steps of a cabin that was the final destination for the group of walkers the previous night. She had helped save the walk’s leader.

For Chenille, and the other young women, this walk is a chance to prove something to themselves, says Mary Jane Edmonds, the walk organizer and a community leader. It’s a chance for them to learn how to survive and thrive in both places they call home.

Those places are Natuashish, a reserve home to around 1,000 people where young people are comfortable and can thrive, but where they sometimes feel isolated, get caught up in gossip or start drinking or taking drugs; and on the land, their traditional Innu home, where Edmonds teaches them the strength and independence that come with connection to land and Innu culture.

As Edmonds says, “the land is our culture.”

The Innu women and girls are following in the footsteps of their ancestors, who lived mostly nomadically on land in Labrador and Quebec, a region referred to as “Nitassinan,” following caribou herds, hunting, gathering berries and living in tents.

Natuashish, a fly-in community on the coast of Labrador, is home to about 1,000 people. Half are under age 18, according to a 2016 census.
Natuashish, a fly-in community on the coast of Labrador, is home to about 1,000 people. Half are under age 18, according to a 2016 census.

But in the 1960s, encouraged by church leaders and the province, the Innu moved onto permanent settlements in Davis Inlet, an island off the coast of Labrador, and Sheshatshiu, a 30-minute drive north of Goose Bay, now home to around 1,500 people. That move caused a break from life in nutshimit — as the Innu call time spent in the country — and a disconnection from land and culture, say Innu leaders today.

Now Edmonds, community leaders and a determined team of educators at the school board are trying to help students reconnect.

I am in Natuashish — the community Davis Inlet residents relocated to in 2002 — participating in the walk and getting to know local leaders and teachers as I explore the Innu model of education in Labrador. This is the first leg of a project that later takes me to Melbourne, Australia, to look at a different model of education for Indigenous students – one that takes them away from home communities and attempts to integrate them into Melbourne society, still keeping culture at the core of education. As different countries grapple with how to approach Indigenous education, I’m looking at the two models to share insight into what works — and what doesn’t.

In Labrador, Mamu Tshishkutamashtau Innu Education, an Innu-run school board just a decade old, focuses on preserving Innu culture, language and values that form the foundation of Innu youths’ identity while also teaching western education that will help open doors for students in the future.

“When community had asked for running their own school, they wanted more Innu in the school system,” says Kanani Davis, the school board’s director of administration and professional services, reflecting back to years prior when the province ran the two schools in Natuashish and Sheshatshiu. “They wanted to see more Innu culture, more language taught, make it more Innu-friendly, basically.”

That’s what the new board gave them. Davis says it’s paying off.

Before 2009, when the province was still in charge, years went by when no students graduated from high school, Davis says. In just one decade, the board now boasts around 100 graduates, she says.

The schools still follow the Newfoundland and Labrador curriculum, but today, there’s an emphasis on Innu teachings, Innu language and land-based education. Kids in primary-school grades read books teaching them how to interact with dogs, which freely roam the two communities. Innu classroom assistants work closely with students, holding up flashcards and asking students to repeat words like mitten, feather and rabbit in Innu-aimun, the Innu language.

Elders are invited to share knowledge with students in tents near the schools, and children aren’t marked “absent” when they leave school to spend time out in the country with their families.

A new Innu Studies high school course, approved by the province and now taught in Sheshatshiu, is also bringing more cultural lessons into the classroom and answer students’ questions about “what it is to be Innu,” says teacher Krista Button.

That course “shows the kids you are important. Your culture is important,” says Button, a member of Nunatukavut, formerly known as Métis, who grew up across the river from Sheshatshiu and holds a master’s in curriculum teaching and learning studies with a focus on Indigenous education. “If you don’t know who you are, how are you supposed to find your place in the world?”

The hope is these initiatives affirm a deeper sense of pride in being Innu and reverse the flow of concerning trends, including loss of cultural knowledge and language, say school leaders.

The path is not straightforward.

About 300 students are enrolled at Mushuau Innu Natuashish School. Principal Jesse Smith expects four will graduate this year. Eight graduated last year.
About 300 students are enrolled at Mushuau Innu Natuashish School. Principal Jesse Smith expects four will graduate this year. Eight graduated last year.

At the entranceway to Mushuau Innu Natuashish School, students and staff are greeted by a photo of two twin girls, Mary Jane Rich and Madeline Rich, hanging underneath a skylight. The girls died in a 1992 house fire in nearby Davis Inlet, where the community previously lived before it was relocated to Natuashish in 2002 by the federal government in an effort to stamp out problems including alcohol abuse, drug use and solvent sniffing. The twins died alongside their three siblings and another child, all under the age of 9, while their parents were out drinking.

It’s a reminder of the past, but at the school today, teachers and staff are focused on the present.

They boast about their beauty queen — Chenille, the walk rescuer — heading to a competition in El Salvador, their girls’ volleyball team soon to compete in a regional tournament, their primary school students who hold an intimate knowledge of the land, their hockey stars playing out-of-province and their graduates who are becoming community leaders.

Leaders such as Natuashish Chief John Nui see student success as intrinsically tied to their knowledge of language and culture.

“Once you lose your language, you’re losing a very big part of your identity,” says Nui.

He sees multi-generational outposts in nutshimit as crucial for maintaining connection with culture, tradition — and elders.

Elder Elizabeth Penashue, who now lives in Sheshatshiu but grew up in nutshimit, helps facilitate that connection through her walks into the bush.

“When the kids go nutshimit, big change,” she says, sitting in her home wearing her hair pulled back in her signature red headscarf. “They talk nice … they never talk about money, drugs or alcohol.”

On Penashue’s walks, kids talk about the animals they’ll hunt, the boughs they’ll pick and the fires they’ll make, she says. They’re busy all day — never bored, as many complain they are on reserve.

But once children leave nutshimit, problems return, Penashue says.

Many in the community worry about the future for kids who spend less and less time on the land.

Today, Innu kids are “wanting to be a white person, maybe,” says Dawn Marie Rich, a Grade 4 Innu classroom assistant in Natuashish.

Rich says kids today are reluctant to eat traditional Innu food like caribou meat, partridge and bannock, all foods they call “gross,” while they prefer to eat white bread, chocolate bars and hot dogs. They want cleanliness in homes and they want English cartoons on TV, she says.

Back in Davis Inlet, Rich grew up in a three-bedroom home with more than 20 people and no running water. She ate more wild meats, she spent months on the land each year and she relied more on her community at large, she says. She doesn’t wish to go back to how things were in Davis — a place with poor infrastructure where social problems were rife — but she knows culture and language were stronger in the past.

“It’s fading out, the culture that we have,” she says of life in Natuashish. “That’s the saddest part.”

Her own 3-year-old daughter doesn’t like speaking Innu.

“When we try to say speak in our language, she cries.”

Some younger students make it clear they prefer English, even though for most, Innu-aimun is their first language.

“No, please don’t, please no!” shouted a Grade 2 student in Natuashish when her instructor started to speak Innu-aimun. “We don’t remember how to do Innu no more.”

Rich’s mother, Katie Rich, the Natuashish school’s director of education and a former chief of Davis Inlet, estimates around 5 per cent of students don’t speak Innu, compared with roughly 2 per cent five years ago. She calls it an “alarming” trend.

But she empathizes. As she sees it, her students have to work twice as hard as the average non-Indigenous Canadian kid. They need to learn Innu language and culture as well as the English language and a western curriculum, she says.

And they have additional responsibilities or challenges that lead to missing school or dropping out: some start working to support their families, some are expected to care for their siblings or some have kids themselves. Some lose interest in school or start using alcohol, drugs or sniffing gas. Others go away on the land with their families to hunt in the spring and fall — sent with homework when they do.

She acknowledges the community hit “rock bottom” when the six children — including Mary Jane Rich and Madeline Rich — were killed in the Davis Inlet fire. They community has since worked hard to move forward, addressing addiction issues and housing shortages and mental and emotional health, Rich says.

That is part of the past, she says. Her focus now is on “making our school the best school.”

She touches her hand to her heart and gets misty-eyed as she says she wants her students to become doctors, teachers, psychologists. She posts salaries that come with these positions on Facebook, hoping to inspire youngsters to aim high.

“Sorry,” she says, her hand still on her chest. “It hits me right there … Our kids are the best. And will be the best.”

Still, the schools face an uphill battle to offer the standards of education that non-Indigenous kids in Canada receive.

Sheshatshiu Innu School, the right building, is in Sheshatshiu, on the shores of Lake Melville, north of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. To the left is the  arena.
Sheshatshiu Innu School, the right building, is in Sheshatshiu, on the shores of Lake Melville, north of Happy Valley-Goose Bay. To the left is the arena.

Elena Andrew, Sheshatshiu’s community director of education, leans back in her office chair and rattles off a list of the school board’s challenges: difficulty recruiting dedicated teachers, limited federal funding that has to cover expenses such as the $400 one-way flights from Goose Bay to Natuashish, overworked guidance counsellors and the need for more resource teachers.

Indeed, reports show government funding for on-reserve First Nations students pales in comparison to what non-Indigenous students receive.

According to Don Drummond’s 2013 report, “The Debate on First Nations Education Funding: Mind the Gap,” First Nations schools on reserve get around 30 per cent less federal funding than other schools receive in provincial funding. In January, the federal government announced it is implementing a new approach to on-reserve education, which it says will give schools more predictable base funding, a shift away from previous proposal-based funding. First Nations leaders welcomed the move but stressed more still needs to be done to achieve equality in education.

Andrew added that First Nations communities have the burden of intergenerational trauma due to residential school experiences. Teachers have to work extra hard to encourage some kids to come to class, she says.

“Most parents have not had a good experience in school,” Andrew says. “So if you haven’t had a good experience at school … you may have issues with school and teachers and administration.”

Another reality: no Innu teachers at either school. Davis is the only Innu person with a Bachelor of Education in either community, she says.

The school board is striving to change that. It has covered the cost for two Sheshatshiu staff and five Natuashish staff to attend a classroom assistant training certificate program at Nipissing University in Ontario in the summer, with the immediate goal of enhancing their teaching abilities and the long-term hope that they will go on to pursue a bachelor of education degree, Davis says. She is also in talks with Memorial University of Newfoundland to set up a program allowing Innu people to obtain a teaching certificate by taking courses in Goose Bay.

Andrew’s long-term goal? Both schools fully staffed by Innu people.

“You’d have people who know the kids, who know the language, who know the culture, who know the history of the community,” she says. “Kids would be seeing themselves in teachers. Right now, the teachers are awesome, they’re great, but nobody sees themselves in any of these teachers.”

While teachers and school leaders want students to obtain diplomas and degrees, they also grapple with the trade-off that is required for students to earn those achievements; time in school takes away from time in nutshimit.

People like Kanani Davis, the school board director, miss the days when they would spend a total of six months in the bush. With school and work, families can now only dedicate a few weeks a year to nutshimit, she says, noting the schools give students one or two weeks off in the spring to head out on the land.

It’s clear nutshimit is where many students feel happiest. In Natuashish, students’ eyes light up when talking about setting snares, cleaning partridge and sleeping in tents.

Back on the women’s walk, moonlit water and a beach appear. Then a two-storey cabin on the shore.

The women and girls let out cheers when the key turns in the cabin’s lock, then pile into the cabin, spreading sore limbs on mattresses, plugging phones into chargers and trading stories of past walks. “Which was your hardest?” they ask each other.

All walks are hard, says Edmonds. They’re supposed to be.

“They can do anything if they do this walk,” she says days later, reclining on a couch in Natuashish, her body sore and voice weak from the walk.

“In life, in real life, they can do anything they want and succeed.”

A few weeks later, several of the girls who were on the walk won a regional volleyball tournament. Edmonds took to Facebook to congratulate them.

“The kids today… have adapted with the evolution and the environment. They have stepped up and are going to be the change in our Innu communities,” she wrote. “I’m so proud. I could cry.”

Katrina Clarke is a multimedia journalist based in Fredericton who received the 2018 Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary. She reported on two Innu communities in Labrador and to a boarding school for Indigenous students in Melbourne, Australia. The two-part project focused on education in Indigenous communities and education outside Indigenous communities, in a city centre.The Gordon Sinclair Roving Reporter Bursary is awarded annually to an early career journalist and funds a reporting project focused on an underreported issue in Canada or abroad. Follow Katrina on Twitter at @KatrinaAClarke.Next week: Part 2: Melbourne

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She broke three ribs on the job. Now this Toronto bike courier is helping others take time off for injuries

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When Leah Hollinsworth was hurt on the job she didn’t get any time off to recover.

“I remember it because it was one of those cold grey November rainy days when you have that Guns N’ Roses song in your head,” she recalls of the accident almost 15 years later.

Hollinsworth was coming down Blue Jays Way on her bike with a delivery when a car turned left in front of her, and she crashed into its rear-view mirror. She broke three ribs.

“I was a single mother the entire time I was a bike messenger so taking that time off work wasn’t an option for me,” she said, “I just couldn’t walk away.”

Her employer let her make some adjustments, walking to deliveries around the downtown core instead of cycling because that hurt too much. But she knows not everyone is so lucky.

It’s one of the reasons why the now 39-year-old is devoted to the charity Bicycle Messenger Emergency Fund.

The global non-profit donates money to bike couriers injured at work, who are mostly independent contractors without health benefits, disability leave or even sick days.

The transient nature of the industry makes it hard to pin down exact numbers of such couriers in Toronto.

But the rise of food service delivery apps means more independent contractors and a shift toward the gig economy that leaves many workers without the safety net of a traditional employer, despite the risks that come along with cycling through Toronto’s often treacherous streets.

Most courier companies and app-based delivery services don’t pay into the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for messengers because they classify them as independent contractors, Hollinsworth said.

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“Other jobs that are dangerous generally have some sort of pay that goes along with that,” says Toronto-based Hollinsworth, one of two volunteers who run the non-profit, which was started in 2004-2005.

The wages of a bike courier vary widely from city to city depending on how many shifts they work, but she said the average is about $80-100 a day — wages that were decent in the ’90s but have stayed stubbornly low with inflation.

“Most messengers are pretty hand to mouth, so the idea of not having two or three paycheques in a row is pretty devastating,” she added.

“If you get hurt on the job oftentimes that meant not only were you out of work but you could potentially lose your job indefinitely.”

The fund takes personal and corporate donations. But Torontonians contribute the lion’s share of the funding through an annual May Day bike race event, which has raised more than $25,000 over the years.

To apply for a $500 (U.S.) grant, bike couriers need to be working full time (more than three shifts a week, according to Hollinsworth), be injured on the job and unable to work using their bike for at least a month. The money, which is the same amount for everyone, is meant to help with costs of food and medicine.

The funds made a difference for Emily Glos, 32, a former bike messenger who had to stop work in 2010 after she was rear-ended by a car and broke her arm.

“It was pretty isolating,” she said of the incident, over the phone from Sayulita, Mexico, where she is now living.

Glos couldn’t ride with her injured arm, and turned to family for financial help. She also applied to the emergency fund, which gave her money to help cover costs for food. It also made her feel less alone.

“I think it’s so wonderful that it’s there to help financially. But it also adds a sense of community, knowing that there’s something you can dip into,” she said.

“That aspect of it is really beautiful.”

After she recovered, Glos helped start the May Day races as a way to give back. The fundraiser has grown over the years and allowed the charity to contribute $500, up from the $300 she had received, toward bike messengers who need help getting back on their feet.

A few companies are starting to recognize the gap that those two-wheeled messengers can face when they fall or are hit by a car.

At Foodora Canada, one of the most visible food delivery services in the city with its bike couriers bringing Thai food, pizza and burgers in bright pink containers through snow, sleet and rain, the company pays into WSIB (or provincial equivalents) on the riders’ behalf, said managing director David Albert in an email.

“This covers them for loss of earnings in the event they get injured while working. We feel it’s important to protect our riders to the best of our ability while they are on the job,” he said.

Facing court challenges in the European Union on its relationship with its drivers, Uber announced in spring 2018 it would partner with insurance company AXA to provide insurance coverage there — including sickness, injury and maternity and paternity payments.

But nothing like that exists for its drivers and couriers in Canada.

Xavier Van Chau, spokesperson for Uber Canada, wrote in an email they are “currently in active discussions to see how we can further support coverage for our delivery partners,” in Canada “and look forward to share more on this when possible.”

Andrew Cash, co-founder of The Urban Worker Project, an organization that fights for the rights of precarious workers, said he applauds the Bicycle Messenger Emergency Fund, but its existence highlights a growing underlying problem.

“It’s a good example of how the economy is continually loading all the responsibilities and all the risk on to individual workers themselves,” he says.

“Many of them would completely fall through any kind of safety net.”

The bike courier system is also set up so that it incentivizes people to bike faster, make more deliveries and more money, which can put them at risk for collisions, he said. And the rise of delivery apps has meant that many restaurants now go that route instead of paying their own employees.

A 2018 report from the Poverty and Employment Precarity in Southern Ontario research group, a collaboration between university researchers and community groups like the United Way Greater Toronto, found just over 37 per cent of workers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area have some degree of precarious employment.

That’s defined as part-time, temporary and contract, self-employed or full-time employment without benefits, regular hours or a guarantee of at least one year’s work.

“This is a brave new world,” Cash said, where the “matrix of rules and regulations” that governed employer-employee relations has been upended.

As that world shifts, we need to start thinking about new tools to adjust to the new reality, he said. For example, extending short- and long-term disability benefits to independent contractors.

“So that fewer are a bike accident away from the financial abyss.”

May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11

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First Saudi Arabia, now China — Canada has a new foe, and its southern ally isn’t helping – National

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First U.S. President Donald Trump attacked Canada on trade. Then Saudi Arabia punished it for speaking up for human rights. Now China has the country in its cross-hairs, detaining two Canadians in apparent retaliation for the arrest of a top Chinese tech executive on behalf of the United States.

Canada is caught between two super powers and taking the punishment — and its ally to the south has been conspicuously absent in coming to its aid.

WATCH: Tim Kaine: Trump has alienated Canada on USMCA, Huawei arrest






“We’ve never been this alone,” historian Robert Bothwell said. “We don’t have any serious allies. And I think that’s another factor in what the Chinese are doing. … Our means of retaliation are very few. China is a hostile power.”

The two Canadians, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat in China, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur who lived in northeastern China near the North Korean border, were taken into custody Monday on suspicion of “engaging in activities that endanger the national security” of China, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. Canadian consular officials have had no access to them.

WATCH: Morneau calls detained Canadians in China a “challenge,” but sticks to trade relations rhetoric






Their detentions ratchet up pressure on Canada, which arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of telecommunications giant Huawei, on Dec. 1 at the request of the United States. The U.S. wants her extradited to face charges that she and her company misled banks about the company’s business dealings in Iran. A Canadian judge released Meng on bail Tuesday.

The case has set off a diplomatic furor among the three nations in which Canada has been stuck in the middle.

Until now, Canada had a largely good relationship with China, forged by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s father, late Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who helped establish the one-China formula that enabled many other countries to recognize China in the 1970s. Canada acknowledged there is one government of China and does not officially recognize Taiwan.


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China has since become Canada’s second-largest trading partner, after the United States. Chinese investment has powered real estate booms in Vancouver and Toronto. And one-third of foreign students in Canada are Chinese. Justin Trudeau has even talked about a possible free-trade agreement with China in a bid to diversify Canada’s trade, which relies on the U.S. for 75 percent of its exports.

But the Canadian prime minister has said little since news of this week’s arrests became public. Opposition Conservative leader Andrew Scheer said Trudeau isn’t being forceful enough with the Chinese.

“This situation demonstrates that Justin Trudeau’s naive approach to relations with China isn’t working,” Scheer said.

It’s Canada’s second dispute with a major power this year. In June, Trump vowed to make Canada pay after Trudeau said he wouldn’t be pushed around in talks to hammer out a new North American trade agreement, an unprecedented attack on America’s closest ally. Trump called Trudeau weak and dishonest, words that shocked Canadians.


READ MORE:
‘China will take revenge’ if Canada doesn’t free Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou: Global Times editor

Then Trump said this week that he might intervene in the Huawei case if it would help clinch a trade agreement with China, upending U.S. efforts to separate the court proceeding from U.S.-China trade talks and contradicting Canadian officials who said the arrest was not political.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland took a swipe at Trump, saying it was “quite obvious” any foreign country requesting extradition should ensure “the process is not politicized.”

“Normally, Canada can count on the United States to back them up on such an issue,” said Laura Dawson, a former economic adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa and director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center think tank in Washington. Dawson said it’s unusual for Washington to “leave Canada hanging high and dry.”

“President Trump has made it clear that old alliances don’t matter so much anymore,” she said. “He has made no secret of his preference for a go-it-alone approach and his lack of regard for traditional alliances.”

WATCH: Trade minister continues to endorse commerce with China in wake of Huawei, diplomat arrest






In years past the U.S. might have defended Canada when came it under attack and other countries would know the U.S. had Canada’s back. Not now. In August, the Saudi government expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador after Canada’s foreign ministry tweeted support for an arrested Saudi activist. The Saudis also sold Canadian investments and ordered their citizens studying in Canada to leave. No country, including the U.S., spoke out publicly in support of Canada.

And now the stakes are much higher. Canada is one of the few countries in the world unabashedly speaking out in defense of human rights and the international rule of law. And Chinese trade with Canada is increasingly key as Canada looks to boost its exports in Asia as its trade with the U.S. is threatened by Trump’s tariffs on Canadian goods.

WATCH: Amid Huawei CFO arrest, B.C. trade mission to end trip early, foregoing China visit






“At the beginning of Trump there was this idea that maybe the Chinese would replace the Americans” as Canada’s pre-eminent trade partner “but that’s just nuts,” said historian Bothwell, a University of Toronto professor. “Relations for any smaller country with China are really grave.”

Derek Scissors, a China specialist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, called China’s actions toward Canada “thuggish.”

“You detain a Canadian because the Canadians can’t do anything. It’s bullying behavior,” he said.

WATCH: Huawei CFO’s arrest triggers questions about Canadians in China






Noting Canada was just following a routine extradition process with the United States, Scissors said America should be saying:  ‴Why are you picking up Canadians? You have a problem with us.’”

David Mulroney, a former Canadian ambassador to China, said not only the U.S. but other Western nations should be standing up for Canada.

“It would be nice if publicly and also behind the scenes if countries like the United States, the U.K., Australia and France would put in a word on our behalf and let the Chinese know how damaging this is to their reputation and to the notion that China is a safe place to work and pursue a career,” Mulroney said.

“I think a lot of foreigners in China are looking over their shoulder right now,” he added.

Christopher Sands of the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington said the world took note of how Trump treated Canada during trade negotiations and how the U.S. stayed silent when Saudi Arabia overreacted to Canada’s expression of human rights concerns over treatment of the Saudi dissident.

“In normal times, the U.S. sends a signal, usually discreetly, to allies to cut it out and play nice,” Sands said.

“What makes this worse is that China is lashing out at Canada not for Canada’s initiative, but for Canada’s honoring of a U.S. warrant. The damage done by our silence in terms of alliance relations is truly awful,” he said.

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If helping China hunt fugitives is the price of stemming deadly fentanyl flow, should Canada pay? – National

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China is a major source of the fentanyl killing thousands of Canadians every year.

But getting officials there to help staunch the flow will require Canadian leaders to offer something many may find unpalatable in return: help with hunting their targeted list of fugitives accused of corruption.

READ MORE: An introduction to the Global News series on fentanyl

“It’s a two-way street and it means also that we have to be more forthcoming probably with their own investigations related to fugitives,” said Guy Saint-Jacques, who served as Canadian ambassador to China from 2012 until 2016.

“The trump card there is really fugitives.”

WATCH BELOW: Trudeau says China is working with Canada on Fentanyl problem






For the past week, the Global News investigative series Fentanyl: Making a Killing has untangled the web of how fentanyl is flooding into Canada from China through the use of money laundering by Chinese gangs like the Big Circle Boys, a notorious Chinese crime group who are the kingpins of the fentanyl trade in Canada.

Fentanyl and its chemical precursors are largely produced in factories in southern China.

It then gets imported illegally into Canada via shipping containers and in the mail.

READ MORE: China won’t stop flood of fentanyl into Canada, sources say

While Canadian officials say publicly that China is cooperating with efforts to crack down on the deadly flood, sources privately say the country is largely inactive and causing growing frustration among law enforcement agencies in Canada.

“It’s a huge fight with China right now, and if you anger the Chinese they won’t work with you,” said a source, who could not be identified. “The fentanyl coming into Canada is going to get worse. Nothing will happen because we have to satisfy what they (the Chinese government) want.”

READ MORE: Chinese corruption fugitives may have fled to Canada or U.S.

Global News asked Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale on Monday whether he is satisfied with the level of cooperation being offered by China on the issue of fentanyl trafficking and whether more resources need to be put in place to crack down.

“It’s got to be a constant, constant diplomatic effort and we’ve started that,” said Goodale, but didn’t say whether there had been discussion about offering further help to Chinese officials who want to hunt fugitives in Canada.

“We have to keep — with all of our allies, including the United States and Mexico — raising it and raising it and raising it again,” Goodale added.

WATCH BELOW: Goodale said the government expects international cooperation on fentanyl crisis






Goodale said that what has been seen so far from Chinese authorities is “a beginning and a small beginning.”

He added that more needs to be done but did not indicate what specific actions Canada is taking to push the issue with the Chinese.

“There is a lot more that needs to be done to demonstrate that this is a deadly problem and we expect international cooperation and we will push very hard to get that cooperation from all the sources where the supply is coming from,” he said.

But Goodale stopped short of promising more funding for RCMP investigations in Canada and especially B.C., the epi-centre of the opioid crisis.

WATCH BELOW: Goodale comments on need for RCMP resources on money laundering






As the Global News investigation series revealed, fentanyl trafficking gangs with links to Mainland China are believed to be laundering billions of dollars in B.C. real estate, and also sending drug-trafficking proceeds back to China, in order to increase opioid imports.

Meanwhile, the death toll from opioid overdoses is spreading from B.C. eastward and mounting, with about 4,000 deaths per year across Canada.

READ MORE: Secret police study finds crime networks could have laundered over $1B through Vancouver homes in 2016

Sources told Global News that the RCMP doesn’t have the training, resources, or strategic focus to tackle the drug money laundering that they have found is prevalent in Metro Vancouver in particular.

The complaints of law enforcement sources were underlined last week, when Global News learned a major B.C. casino money laundering and underground banking investigation with links to China, had abruptly collapsed.

According to police, targets of the so-called E-Pirate investigation in B.C. are top echelon fentanyl traffickers, and they use B.C. casinos and real estate to wash multiply their drug profits.

WATCH BELOW: The B.C. compound police believe may be connected to “transnational drug trafficking” and the fentanyl trade






It is not known why federal prosecutors stayed charges against suspects in the case.

Goodale did not commit to increasing funding to the RCMP, when asked about the collapse of E-Pirate.

“This is an extremely important part of what we call on the RCMP to do, in dealing with money laundering and organized crime,” he said. “We’ve been working with the RCMP now for the last two years to find the appropriate ways to fill in the gaps in their funding.”

READ MORE: Fentanyl kings in Canada allegedly linked to powerful Chinese gang, the Big Circle Boys

Goodale was also asked if he would support a public inquiry in B.C. looking into the fentanyl crisis and organized crime money laundering in B.C.

B.C.’s government has so far not committed to such an inquiry, but pressure is mounting.

Goodale said he has talked with B.C. Attorney General David Eby about the issue, but he did not commit to an inquiry.

WATCH BELOW: Growing calls for public inquiry into deadly fentanyl






So far, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West is the only B.C. politician strongly advocating for a public inquiry.

“We’ve had this situation where fentanyl is pouring into our country, pouring into British Columbia from China, killing thousands of our people,” West said.

“There is organized crime from China that’s making millions and millions — maybe billions — of dollars in profit from off of that drug trade… and then they’re washing that money clean in our casinos and in our real estate, which also has devastating consequences for our community.

“What we need to do is take our province back. We need a government that is going to stand up for our own people and say, ‘This is going to stop.’”

B.C. Premier John Horgan acknowledged that Global News’ series has uncovered serious concerns, but maintained a public inquiry would be too costly.


READ MORE:
David Eby won’t rule out public inquiry after collapse of casino money-laundering case

However, after the collapse of the E-Pirate investigation, Horgan appeared to soften his stance.

“I have to say one of the major reasons for not taking that step (mounting a public inquiry) disappeared today,” Horgan said last week.

“And I don’t think that B.C.’s interests in getting to the bottom  of this has disappeared in any way. In fact if anything, it’s been amplified.”

But driving home the critical nature of the matter to the Chinese may be another matter entirely.

Saint-Jacques said there’s really only been a “lukewarm effort” from Chinese police to deal with the trafficking, and added the matter “was not seen really as a top priority.”

He added that the National Security and Rule of Law Dialogue, a forum set up between Canada and China to discuss security concerns annually, is supposed to be coming up shortly and would be an ideal venue to discuss how to get urgent action on the fentanyl crisis.

No date has yet been set for that forum.

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Woman dies while helping motorist along Trans-Canada Highway in N.B.

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A 33-year-old woman died while trying to help a motorist who crashed into the ditch along the Trans-Canada Highway on Tuesday, according to police.

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, New Brunswick RCMP said that a truck had gone off Highway 2 near Havelock and rolled over in the ditch. Two other motorists pulled over to assist the injured driver.

READ MORE: Kingsclear First Nation to build pedestrian passage in wake of woman’s death

Police say a transport truck travelling in the same direction jack-knifed while trying to move into the left-hand lane, away from the vehicles on the right side of the highway.

That caused the trailer to strike the two vehicles that had pulled over. The man and woman drivers, who were standing outside of their vehicles, were both struck, according to police.

The woman, who was originally from Burton, N.B., but had been living in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., died at the scene. The driver of the other vehicle was sent to hospital with serious injuries.

The driver of the transport truck was not badly injured.

READ MORE: Woman, 27, dies after being struck by pickup truck in Fredericton area

The section of highway was closed for several hours, but has since reopened. Police believe weather conditions played a factor.

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

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Sherwood Park grannies helping African grandmothers raising orphaned children: ‘We feel a connection with them’ – Edmonton

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Grannies here, are helping grannies there.

A group of grannies from Sherwood Park will continue their ongoing efforts to raise money for grandmothers in Africa through an event called Good Words for Africa this weekend.

In partnership with the Stephen Lewis Foundation, The Eastside Grannies will donate all of the proceeds from the event to tens of thousands of African grandmothers who are raising 17 million orphaned grandchildren in a region of Africa south of the Sahara.

They’re raising them because of the country’s HIV/AIDS pandemic.

“We had heard about the needs of the African grandmothers, and most of us firmly believe that had we been born in Africa 75 years ago, their story would be our own,” said Carol Maier, an original member of the Eastside Grannies. “We feel a connection with them.

“When you need somebody, what you need most is a friend. We wanted to be the friends who could help these African grandmothers.”

Watch below: On May 1, Sheila Fahlman spoke about Grandmothers to Grandmothers and her trip to Africa.






The Eastside Grannies raise money through the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign and have been doing so for almost 12 years.

“The only ones who are left to look after the children are the grandmothers,” Maier explained.

“They take care of their grandchild 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for the rest of their school lives.”

Good Words for Africa sees attendees gather funds through pledges, show up to the event and play “their best game of Scrabble,” according to Maier.

“We chose Scrabble because Stephen Lewis is the founder of the Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign and he is absolutely fabulous with words — anytime you listen to him, he’s just an inspiration,” Maier said.

“We wanted some way to earn money using words.

“The first year we tried this, we earned $55,000, which was absolutely gob smacking, and the next year we raised $61,000.”

And though Maier noted that the money raised by the event has declined over the years, some of the 200 groups of “Grannies” across Canada have taken a liking to the format of the event, which originated in Sherwood Park.

“More than 60 groups have used the Good Words for Africa format, and it’s a great moneymaking event,” she said.

“We are thrilled to be the first to have done that. It was serendipity.”

Now, the Eastside Grannies are getting creative and finding new ways to raise money for the African grandmothers.

“We’re going to have a decor show,” Maier explained. “We’re going to ask people who support our cause to donate one treasure from their own homes to our sale, and we’ll take all these treasures and sell them.

“It’s going to be sort of like an upscale garage sale.”

The sale will take place at The Agora in Sherwood Park in the spring. To donate an item, Maier advised people give her a call at 780-464-4195.

The Grannies also hold their annual Rhubarb Rally every spring, their biggest event.

Every treat has rhubarb and it’s symbolic for the Grannies.

“We’re trying to emulate the African Grandmothers. They use what’s available to them to feed their families,”  Maier said.

“In every home site here in Alberta, there’s a patch of rhubarb. So we’re using rhubarb to make rhubarb pies, tarts, cakes, cookies… everything is made of rhubarb.”

The Rhubarb Rally is held at the Bethel Lutheran Church every year and last year’s event saw 240 people show up.

Although over 14,000 kilometres divides them, the Eastside Grannies’ connection with the African grandmothers continues to strengthen, and so do their numbers.

The Grannies started with eight original members, including Maier, and are now up to 30 members.

The Grannies are always welcoming more and if you’d like to become one or get involved with their events, you can visit grandmotherscampaign.org.

Good Words for Africa takes place on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Bedford Village Dining Room in Sherwood Park.

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

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Growing up, she dared not dream she could be a scientist. Now she’s helping hundreds of kids believe it’s possible

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Seated in the hallway of her high school, Eugenia Duodu’s head was buried deep in her science textbooks when a student teacher approached.

“You like science?” asked the teacher. Duodu, then in Grade 11, nodded.

Duodu loved science, even though her friends thought it was uncool. It had been a closeted passion since childhood, when she relished TV shows such as The Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy. But she had never dreamed of pursuing science. Being Black, raised by a single mom in social housing in Etobicoke, she didn’t see herself in that world. She didn’t know any scientists and thought they were old white men in lab coats with messy hair. Albert Einstein types

The teacher told Duodu about an upcoming summer mentorship program at the University of Toronto, where students of Indigenous and African ancestry work alongside researchers in labs and clinics. Duodu had grappled with impostor syndrome, doubting her accomplishments and questioning if science was a good fit for her, even though she was a hard worker and had the grades to prove it. And, although she didn’t know it, science was literally in her DNA.

She applied, was accepted, and, for the first time, stepped onto a university campus, where she met scientists who looked like her with similar upbringings.

“We were like, ‘What? You exist?’… My classmates and I were like, ‘We can do this.’… It was a game changer.”

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Duodu went on to get a PhD in chemistry. She’s now CEO of Visions of Science Network for Learning, a charitable organization that runs free educational programs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for youth in low-income communities. It works with Toronto Community Housing (TCH) and Peel Housing Corporation in 24 locations across Toronto, Mississauga and Brampton, serving more than 500 youth from Grades 3 to 12.

The goal is to break down barriers — negative perceptions of STEM and limited funding for and access to opportunities and engage kids with hands-on learning experiences. A reason for this is 70 per cent of future jobs will require STEM-based literacy and skills, according to Let’s Talk Science, a national STEM-based organization.

“I’ve always had a passion for youth from (social) housing,” says Duodu, 30, who last year moved out of her mom’s apartment in TCH. “I saw the opportunity gaps, but also saw their potential.”

The organization runs STEM clubs for kids in Grades 3 to 8 on Saturdays from October to May in community spaces such as a building’s recreation room or community centre. Children participate in experimental workshops and learn, for instance, how to make paint, build robots and create hydraulic mazes. And they visit places such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Science Centre.

When Duodu stepped into a volunteer leadership role at the organization in 2012 — she became CEO in 2016 — STEM clubs were in six communities and are now in 24. They were so successful that a STEM Community Leaders program was created for kids in Grades 8 to 12. In the summer, they visit places such as labs, universities and hospitals. And during the school year, they help run the STEM clubs for younger children, which develops leadership skills.

With Duodu at the helm, the organization became a charity and has been steadily growing, with six full-time staff, 24 part-time workers and 95 volunteers, mostly university STEM students. The organization receives federal funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, which is a provincial agency.

Dawn Britton is the associate director of outreach at U of T Engineering, which has partnered with Visions for almost two decades. Since Duodu came on board, the relationship has deepened. With each passing year, Britton says she sees more kids who aren’t afraid to put up their hands, are thinking of taking Grade 11 physics and who want to go to university.

“She’s creating a culture within Visions where it is cool to be smart,” says Britton. “That’s powerful.”

And, she says, Duodu has been very good about engaging the support network of youth — parents, grandparents, siblings, influencers — and inviting them to events, which is key to their success.

Nawaal Ali Sharif is one of the hundreds of kids exposed to STEM programs thanks to Visions of Science Network for Learning. The charitable organization runs free educational programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for youth in low-income communities.

Nawaal Ali Sharif, 16, a Grade 11 student at Humberside Collegiate, says Visions programming “will change your life.” Four years ago, she started going to the STEM club in her Swansea Mews complex in the city’s west end. Back then, Sharif had little interest in science, which was synonymous with lectures and textbooks. That’s not the case now. “I actually truly love STEM,” she says, noting there were other changes too.

“I was shy. I didn’t like speaking and my confidence level was not at its peak … But since joining the program, my confidence has gone up.”

She hopes to study STEM in university and become a teacher. And, she thinks she’d be pretty good too, given her newly acquired leadership skills.

“Visions gave me an understanding of how to handle kids, make them have fun and help them understand and learn concepts they would not ordinarily understand at their age.”

She hasn’t ruled out becoming a scientist — she knows it’s possible.

“When I met Eugenia, I was like ‘Whoa.’ There are people who look like me who can be scientists. She completely changed my (perception) of what a scientist looked like.”

Duodu was raised as an only child in Etobicoke, in a TCH building on Capri Rd., in the Eatonville neighbourhood. She credits her mother with instilling in her a deep sense of community, that was reinforced at their local church — Church on the Queensway — where they are both still active.

Duodu remembers her mother making breakfast for a kid who lived down the hall, and giving it to him in a bag at the elevator so he wouldn’t go to school hungry. Her mother modelled kindness and Duodu was a fast learner.

As a toddler in daycare, according to stories her mom tells, Duodu would wipe the runny noses of children and alert caregivers to poopy diapers. And when she grew up, she’d help her peers by leading tutoring and reading groups.

Duodu’s mother, an accounting clerk, was always ready to help with homework, especially math. And she’d sign her daughter up for library programs, piano lessons and art camps. “We didn’t have the money to do certain things but my mom made sure to go after opportunities and see what subsidies were available,” recalls Duodu.

“I was very empowered to learn and go forward with my learning, but I didn’t see that empowerment translate to my classmates, who I knew had the ability … From a young age, I remember feeling like, ‘Why is it that I like this and some people don’t?’ or ‘Why am I doing well and some people aren’t?’”

Growing up, she was interested in science, but it was a “weird closeted passion.” Then, in Grade 10, at Martingrove Collegiate Institute, she took a biotechnology course. A class project involved having to do a series of tests to determine an unknown bacteria strain. Duodu was hooked. She researched tirelessly and figured it out.

“We had the best teacher. He was a complete light, and was totally hands-on,” recalls Duodu. “He opened up my world to the practical side of science. It was like science lifting off your textbook and operating in real life.”

She had not planned on continuing science but when Grade 11 started she asked to switch into physics, chemistry and biology. The guidance counsellor discouraged it, saying, “Why would you do that? It’s going to be so hard for you.”

Duodu was confused. The previous year she had aced science, but maybe the counsellor was right and she couldn’t hack it. But Duodu decided to follow her mom’s advice and insisted on getting into those science classes.

“As I excelled in university I would think back to that moment and think, ‘Oh my goodness, what if I had listened to (the guidance counsellor)? Did she say this to other people who didn’t know much about their abilities or themselves?”

During that “game-changer” of a summer mentorship program at the university, Duodu shadowed scientists in labs and followed doctors on rotation, witnessing live births, reading X-rays and studying MRIs.

“It was awesome,” recalls Duodu, who returned to high school with a new focus. “I knew I wanted to go to university and I was no longer afraid of going to school for a long time.”

While doing an undergraduate degree at U of T — she earned an Honours Bachelor of Science (chemistry and biology) — Duodu worked part-time as a youth worker for Toronto Community Housing.

“I (saw) what life was like across housing, across the city. That started shaping my perspective drastically, seeing how some challenges were the same, and some were completely different, depending on where you lived. Certain ends of the city were better resourced than others and that inevitably affected what happened in school.”

At the time, TCH was in the midst of the Tower Renewal project, retrofitting older buildings to make them more energy efficient. Residents complained about things such as low water pressure, and Duodu explained the science behind it and how money being saved could go back into community programs.

“I began to realize that it’s so important for communities to be scientifically literate, especially when science is happening to you anyways.”

After her undergrad, she pursued a PhD in chemistry. (The Master’s program is rolled into the PhD.) Spending countless hours in the lab researching cancer diagnostic tools taught her to look at problems and challenges in a different way and to be open to new possibilities. She drew upon those lessons when she began volunteering with Visions in 2011.

“There were systemic barriers to participation in STEM for youth in low-income communities and I began to think of ways to provide even more opportunities, despite these barriers.”

It was also during her PhD that she established a relationship with her father — a chemist — with whom she’s now very close.

“It put together a lot of pieces as to why I liked science,” she says. “It’s funny, I grew up not knowing any scientists and it turns out (I am the daughter of one.)”

Story Behind the Story delivers insights into how the Star investigates, reports, and produces stories.

After finishing her PhD in 2015, Duodu could have pursued academia or industry, but was “deeply passionate” about Visions and dedicated herself full-time to the organization.

There’s little research in Canada on children in low-income communities and academic achievement in STEM. But according to a 2014 Toronto District School Board report, the 2011-2012 EQAO results — tests administered by the Education Quality and Accountability Office — show that 65 per cent of students in Grade 3, and 57 per cent of Grade 6 students, from low-income families (earning less than $30,000), achieved the provincial standard for math. By comparison, 89 per cent of students in Grade 3, and 85 per cent in Grade 6, from high-income families (earning more than $100,000), met that standard.

Given the lack of research, Visions is tracking the progress of kids in their STEM clubs.

“We’re trying to get the data … Why are youth from low-income communities so under-represented in STEM? What are the determinants that go into that?

“It doesn’t mean that children from low-income communities have less aptitude for science or less interest. Everyone grows up, to a certain point, liking it … But then it stops.”

Maurice Bitran, CEO & Chief Science Officer of the Ontario Science Centre, which partners with Visions, says “every kid who drops out of school or doesn’t get the opportunity to pursue what they have talent for, is a loss for society as a whole.”

“Anything we can do to inspire kids from these backgrounds and give them opportunities will change their lives, but also will be a positive impact for society.”

As for Visions’ future, there are plans to expand into communities in Scarborough and Rexdale and grow the programming aimed at high school kids. Beyond that, Duodu hasn’t yet decided whether to focus on deepening the impact in the GTA or moving into other parts of Ontario or Canada.

“We have had the opportunity to watch so many of the youth that we work with grow in many ways,” says Duodu. “From what I can already see now I am excited about the future of our communities, this city and the country. They are extraordinary and I can’t wait to see all that they do.”

Eugenia Duodu will be speaking at TEDxToronto at the Evergreen Brickworks on Friday, Oct. 26, at 2:35 p.m. Tomorrow’s day-long event can be viewed on a live stream www.tedxtoronto.com beginning at 10 a.m.

The Star is profiling 12 Canadians who are making our lives better. Next week we talk to fiscal transparency watchdog Kevin Page.

Isabel Teotonio is a Toronto-based reporter covering education. Follow her on Twitter: @Izzy74

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University student group seeks donations for ‘street store’ aimed at helping homeless Edmontonians – Edmonton

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A University of Alberta student group is asking Edmontonians to help them so it can help homeless people in the city when it puts on its annual pop-up shop next month.

“The street store is a one-day pop-up shop that takes place at Boyle Street Community Services,” Lydia Mutoni, a student involved with Multiplying Equality, said in an email to Global News. “It aims to provide over 200 individuals of Edmonton’s downtown homeless community the opportunity to shop for gently used warm winter clothing, free of charge.

“Our biggest concern for our event this year is the issue of donations, and the opportunity to collect enough winter clothing for the community members.”

Mutoni said her team is holding a campus-wide clothing drive at the University of Alberta. Donation boxes have been set up in faculty buildings. She said there are over 100 volunteers involved with the initiative and they are also prepared to pick up clothing donations before Oct. 18.

Multiplying Equality’s fifth annual street store event is being held on Oct. 20.

READ MORE: Edmonton street store gives personal shopping experience to the city’s less fortunate

Watch below: (From October 2017) A group of University of Alberta students are doing what they can to help some of Edmonton’s less fortunate through a street store at Boyle Street Community Services.






For more information on how to donate and what types of items volunteers are looking for, click here.

According to its website, Multiplying Equality “aims to combat social injustice, give back to the community and inspire youth to join our movement for change by connecting them to meaningful causes locally and globally.”

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

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