‘We promote the best person for the job and, quite often, that’s a woman’: A surge in Shuswap female firefighters – Okanagan


According to several online statistics, less than five per cent of firefighters in Canada are women.

However, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District says it is working hard to ensure that gender doesn’t define a great firefighter.

Case in point: Kara Slous, an on-call firefighter at the Tappen-Sunnybrae Fire Department.

“I was a South Shuswap first responder first. It’s our first aid medical association,” Slous said. “And there were a few firefighters on that association that noticed my dedication and they told me to come try out the department, and it escalated from there.”

Slous was immediately hooked.

“It was really exciting and I liked being with a group that worked so well together,” Slous said.

In the four years she has spent at Tappen-Sunnybrae, Slous quickly moved up the ladder, even making captain at the young age of 24.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Slous said. “Your main role is to run the fire practices, so you’re telling everyone what to do. And, on the scene, you’re the team leader. You’re calling the shots.”

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Most recently, Slous has moved to a training officer role.

She’s also a member of the Shuswap emergency program structural protection unit, a co-chair of the fire services occupational health and safety committee and is certified as the district’s live fire instructor.

“Women bring a completely different dynamic to the fire department and, with all of our separate skills, we really bring the department up,” Slous said.

For the Columbia Shuswap Regional District, recruiting and promoting women just makes sense.

“We have a number of women in our fire service. It’s not 50/50 at the moment, but certainly we have a lot of women,” said the district’s protective services team leader, Derek Sutherland. “And we have a lot of women in leadership roles. We’ve had three women as fire chiefs, deputy chiefs, captains, training officers.”

So, what exactly is the district’s philosophy on gender equality?

“Quite frankly, we don’t give it a lot of thought,” Sutherland said. “We’re inclusive as a regional district and we promote the best person for the job and, quite often, that’s a woman.”

Sutherland says that it’s not necessary for firefighters to be able to do every role.

“We don’t ask everyone to be everything to the fire department,” Sutherland said. “There’s certain people that have specialties that enjoy doing one or two things really well, and we just ask them to come out and do that.”

The 13 fire departments in the district are made up entirely of paid, on-call volunteer firefighters.

“So we get paid for our practices, and any call we go to we are paid for that. And it’s pretty exciting,” Slous said. “All of a sudden, the tones will go off. You’re in the middle of dinner, you could be with your family, you could be out at work and you get to run off and fight a fire.”

The amount of calls vary by station but Slous says the Tappen-Sunnybrae Fire Department received about 90 calls last year.

“It’s bigger than yourself. It’s bigger than your neighbours and your community,” Slous said. “It’s for everyone.”

Slous has some advice to women who have an interest in firefighting.

“It is physically demanding, but it’s just about figuring out how to do it with your body and your momentum,” Slous said. “Go in, be persistent, be determined and just do the work and you’ll get through it all.”

The Columbia Shuswap Regional District is encouraging anyone interested in becoming an on-call paid volunteer firefighter to attend a Tuesday evening training session and test things out.

Candidates must be 18 years of age or older, possess a valid driver’s license, live and/or work in the district, and be physically able to perform the duties of the job and commit to weekly training sessions.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Promote expression through art: Lethbridge library encouraging youths to enter local art show – Lethbridge


The Lethbridge Public Library is encouraging youths to tap into their creative sides by putting out a call for kids to submit their artwork for an upcoming show this month.

“We want to promote emotional regulation and emotional expression and art is one of the best ways to do that,” said Ashley Northey, a children’s services assistance at the library.

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The call is open for all children under the age of 12 to bring their art into the library until Nov. 30. Submissions will then be displayed in the ‘kids corner’ of the library as part of the annual Art Show and Gala. The show on Dec. 29 has a theme of celebrating the public’s favourite moments from 2018, however all artwork submitted will be showcased until Jan. 5, 2019.

“A big value for us is empowering children and their families, and art is an expression that really builds confidence when you’re displaying your art and you’re proud of the things you’ve done,” said Northey.

“We’re excited to see more children explore their creative sides for this show.”

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After the walls overflowed with art last year, the staff hopes to see that success again this year with more submissions before the deadline hits.

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


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Trudeau warns about politicians using social media to promote fear, polarization – National


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says politicians need to learn how to enhance citizen engagement through the use of social media in the face of leaders using those platforms to undermine democracy.

He made the comment Monday morning while speaking at a conference in Paris.

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Without mentioning anyone by name, he suggested there are politicians who are trying to use technology to foster polarization in the electorate.

Trudeau said it is easier to push someone into being angry through a well-timed tweet than to pull them into a positive dialogue about issues.

The discussion at the Paris event was driven by U.S. President Donald Trump, who regularly uses Twitter to fire up his legions of followers and vent at his critics.

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Trudeau has been a target of Trump’s irate tweeting, particularly after the G7 meeting in Charlevoix, Que., over the prime minister’s comments on trade negotiations.

When asked directly to comment about Trump’s Twitter usage, Trudeau suggested Trump is just being Trump, adding that it’s important people are authentic on Twitter, and the American president is certainly that.

The comments came the day after Trudeau and other world leaders issued dire warnings about leaders calling themselves nationalists and the problems they pose for maintaining the world order built in the aftermath of the world wars.

Again, no names were mentioned, but the warnings seemed clearly aimed at Trump who has repeatedly professed his “American” nationalism.

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Trudeau also took time at the conference to tout his government’s progress on digitizing the way it delivers services.

The prime minister has made the use of technology and data a priority in providing government programs to Canadians through digital channels alongside better, more up to date information to feed federal decisions.

In September, the federal government launched its new “digital standards” to help public servants navigate their way towards what the Liberals call an “effective digital government.”

But there have been hiccups along the way.

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A pilot project from Statistics Canada to scoop up anonymized and randomized banking transactions on 500,000 Canadians has faced steep criticism from opposition parties in the House of Commons.

And internal documents obtained by The Canadian Press paint a clearer picture of detailed work underway to overcome the challenges the civil service faces in meeting the Liberals’ digital goals.

Documents obtained under the Access to Information Act suggest challenges in how to handle vast amounts of disparate data, the funding needed to acquire or generate data to fill gaps, and “legal and cultural impediments to sharing and accessing data.”

Later today, the prime minister will travel to Singapore for a summit organized by a 10-nation bloc that will put his government’s trade diversification plans on display.

Trudeau is on a 10-day trip across Europe and Asia that began Friday with a gathering of world leaders in France to mark a century since the end of the First World War.


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Lindsay Wellness Fair hosts 45 vendors to promote health and screening – Peterborough


The City of Kawartha Lakes held its 2nd Annual wellness fair on Thursday. From health screenings to live demonstrations, its purpose is to bring health and wellness, together with businesses, under one roof.

“We have a naturopath, chiropractor, physiotherapists, sleep specialist in CPAP, individuals that are dealing with orthotics and footcare,” said Samantha Yip, a workplace health and safety officer, with the City of Kawartha Lakes

Among the vendors, the City of Kawartha Lakes paramedics featured an automated CPR device.

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“It doesn’t get tired like a human being would get. It plugs into the back of an ambulance and it does perfect CPR — it frees our hands, so we can now give medications, we can manage an airway,” said primary care paramedic, Evan Forbes.

Meanwhile, the Community Care Health and Care Network was highlighting the importance of screening.

“Some of the programs we screen for is breast, cervical and colorectal screenings, so if you’re eligible for a pap test, or if you’ve had a mammogram recently, those are some of the things our primary care team can help connect the dots with,” said health promoter, Jordan Prosper.

Even though colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in Ontario, Prosper says most people aren’t familiar with its screening process. He says it isn’t just as simple as going for a colonoscopy.

“There’s actually a simple at-home test that you can do called an FOBT kit that we’re really encouraging our clients that are eligible for colorectal screening to complete,” said Prosper.

Another at-home test comes from LEX Scientific Inc. which offers a way to detect radon levels in homes.

The company says one in 16 homes in the city of Kawartha Lakes has high radon levels. The radioactive gas comes from the breakdown of uranium in soil and can accumulate in homes.

“It can reach cancer-causing levels in our basement, so it’s the second-leading cause of lung cancer, and the first if you’re a non-smoker,” said Elyssa Loewen from LEX Scientific Inc.

This year’s fair featured more than 45 vendors and even included a free flu shot clinic, and was held at the Lindsay Armoury.

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


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