‘I feel like I’ve been deserted:’ B.C. woman trapped in Haiti says Canada not doing enough to help – BC

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A woman with roots in Kelowna says Ottawa is letting her down as political unrest in Haiti has left her trapped in the Caribbean nation.

“I’m crushed, I feel like I’ve been deserted,” Laura Allan told Global News on Sunday.


READ MORE:
Alberta missionaries among the Canadians heading home from riot-stricken Haiti

Allan is currently stuck in Jacmel on Haiti’s southern coast where she’s been doing aid work with her organization Shelters International Disaster Response.

Other groups of Canadians returned to Calgary and Montreal over the weekend, but Allan says roadblocks and looters have made it too dangerous for her to travel to the airport in Port Au Prince.

She says the Canadian government should be doing more to help her and the 20-odd Canadians she says are still in the Jacmel area.

WATCH: Trio of Maritime medical professionals share their harrowing escape from Haiti






“There is no way for any of us to get through this unless we are air-evacuated or by sea,” Allan said.


READ MORE:
Trio of Maritime medical professionals share their harrowing escape from Haiti

In a statement Sunday, Global Affairs Canada said they are on top of the situation in Haiti and they are making consular services there available to Canadians who need it.

Haiti has been gripped by political violence and unrest as demonstrators call for the resignation of President Jovenal Moise over skyrocketing inflation and a scandal over oil imports.

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Renowned journalist Marie Colvin’s bravery well documented but none hold a candle to the woman she was

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Marie Colvin is the journalist I wish I could have been.

Utterly fearless, stubbornly rebellious, committed to recording the suffering of civilians in conflict zones. And God she had style: Always wore La Perla lingerie underneath her combat fatigues.

Hard-drinking, chain-smoking, swore like a sailor. But wrote beautifully.

Yet here I am, on a Sunday afternoon in Toronto, in front of a keyboard. And Colvin is . . . a dead legend.

Targeted and murdered amidst the ruins of Homs seven years ago by the Bashar Assad regime after crawling through an abandoned storm drain below the city, intent on putting the lie to assertions that Syrian forces weren’t indiscriminately bombarding civilians.

A U.S. federal court judge in Washington recently found the Syrian regime guilty of murdering the London Sunday Times war correspondent, awarding her family $302 million (U.S.). Judge Amy Berman Jackson found President Assad had deliberately targeted Colvin, in an “extrajudicial’’ murder, to silence her reporting from the besieged enclave of Baba Amr in Homs during the frenzied first year of that brutal civil war.

“Officials at the highest level of the Syrian government carefully planned and executed the artillery assault on the Baba Amr media centre for the specific purpose of killing the journalist inside.

“A targeted murder of an American citizen, whose courageous work was not only important, but vital to our understanding of war zones and of wars generally, is outrageous.’’

Investigators assembled their lawsuit from interviews with witnesses who’d fled Homs and defecting Syrian officials who provided a trove of internal government documents. The Centre for Justice and Accountability, which helped to fund the case, noted it was a landmark ruling, first time the Assad regime had been held legally responsible for war crimes.

Read more:

Marie Colvin’s final piece on Syria

Early on the day that she was killed, Feb. 22, 2012, Colvin had emailed her editor: “No other Brits here. Have heard that Spencer and Chulov of the Torygraph’’ — what “Private Eye’’ dubbed The Telegraph — “and Guardian trying to make it here but so far we have leapfrogged ahead of them. Heavy shelling this morning.’’

Relentlessly competitive, you see. Get the story first, eyes-on. Never could resist a front line. Even as she railed against what the profession was becoming during a merciless war left largely to civilian journalists uploading videos because Assad had banned reporters from entering the country.

“How do I keep my craft alive in a world that doesn’t value it?’’ she told a close friend, as recounted by Marie Brenner in a Vanity Fair article three months after Colvin was killed.

“I feel like I am the last reporter in the YouTube world. I am inept with technology.’’

Colvin had snuck over the border with photographer Paul Conroy. She’d heard, while in transit (in Beirut) that the army was under orders to kill journalists. That didn’t dissuade her.

It may be that, by turning on her satellite phone to communicate with the office and send her dispatches, Colvin inadvertently led the regime to pinpoint her location — a two-room makeshift media centre in a building where the top floors had been sheared off by shelling. The bombing was a direct hit, killing Colvin and esteemed French photographer Remi Ochlik instantly, Conroy severely wounded.

Was it worth it, taking such risks? Colvin posed that question rhetorically at a 2010 church service honouring reporters killed in killing zones. “We always have to ask ourselves whether the level of risk is worth the story. What is bravery and what is bravado?”

But Colvin couldn’t abide any other way of doing her job, despite having a “bad feeling” as she left for her final reporting assignment, against the advice of colleagues and humanitarian agencies monitoring the carnage in Syria.

Twice-divorced Colvin also sent an email to her lover at the time.

“My darling, I have come back in to Baba Amr, the besieged neighbourhood of Homs, and am now freezing in my hovel with no windows. I just thought, I cannot cover the modern day Srebrenica from the suburbs. You would have laughed. I had to climb over two stone walls tonight, and had trouble with the second (six feet) so a rebel made a cat’s cradle of his two hands and said, ‘Step here and I will give you a lift up.’ Except he thought I was much heavier than I am, so when he ‘lifted’ my foot, he launched me right over the wall and I landed on my head in the mud! . . . I will do one more week here, and then leave. Every day is a horror. I think of you all the time, and I miss you.’’

Colvin, a Yale graduate who made her bones on Fleet Street, was a highly complex person, driven by a yearning for truth, the thrill of the scoop and the adrenalin rush of danger. She suffered from PTSD — the real thing, not the lazy diagnosis so common today but the psychosis of witnessing more slaughter than most soldiers — and panic attacks and alcoholism.

At age 56, long in the tooth for a combat correspondent, Colvin could have slowed down, mentored younger colleagues — always generous-hearted. Instead, she kept on going, pushing herself even harder. She’d survived aerial bombings in Chechnya and a daring escape over a 12,000-foot mountain range, spent nine weeks sleeping on a medical clinic floor during the siege of Misurata, stayed behind in East Timor to help fleeing civilians, raced across the “Green Line” in West Beirut in the midst of the Lebanon-PLO conflict, under fire, to report from inside a refugee camp, and fended off the advances of Moammar Gadhafi during an exclusive interview.

I crossed paths with Colvin in East Timor in 1999 — she still had two eyes back then, later losing the left one when struck by shrapnel from a rocket-launched grenade in Sri Lanka while embedded with the Tamil Tigers, ever-after wearing a black eye patch that only furthered her rakish repute — and in Afghanistan and in Libya and in Iraq, where she infamously fell asleep with her sat phone still on, racking up a $37,000 bill. That only burnished her bona fides.

It is unlikely the Colvin family will ever see a penny of the awarded multi-millions — which her sister says would be put toward a memorial foundation. But, even symbolically, with Assad now the clear victor in the Syrian war, having crushed the rebels — at least 400,000 killed — the judgment resonates.

The Committee to Protect Journalists identified 54 journalists who died violently last year alone, 34 of them murdered in direct retaliation for their work, from Mexico to Yemen, more than a dozen in Afghanistan, which remains the most dangerous place on earth for correspondents. Reporters Without Borders puts the figure at 80, if citizen journalists and other media employees are included. None died more gruesomely than author and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, assassinated and dismembered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Khashoggi, Colvin and Austin Tice — a former U.S. marine turned freelance reporter who disappeared in Syria after being kidnapped in 2012 — were honoured in a 60-second commercial broadcast during the Super Bowl, paid for by the Washington Post and narrated by Tom Hanks. Afterwards, Donald Trump Jr., tweeted that media could avoid paying millions for a commercial to “gain some undeserved credibility . . . how about report the news and not their leftist BS for a change.’’ Because repugnant behaviour runs in the family.

Colvin’s adventurous life has been told in documentaries and books and in A Private War, a movie released last month, based on Marie Brenner’s article, with Rosamund Pike delivering a ferocious performance as the heroic and deeply traumatized journalist, with all her physical and emotional scars. But none of it can hold a candle to the blood-and-flesh woman she was.

The Star doesn’t cover wars anymore. Too costly and few reporters willing to go anyway. Easier, sadly, to just piggyback on the Washington Post and the New York Times. And maybe the data metrics show no significant audience for it. I hate news judgment in thrall to readership analytics.

Colvin’s own words, spoken when she accepted an award for her work in Sri Lanka, provide the most poignant epitaph for the greatest war correspondent of our era.

“Bravery is not being afraid to be afraid.”

Rosie DiManno is a columnist based in Toronto covering sports and current affairs. Follow her on Twitter: @rdimanno

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Residents of condo tower where woman threw chair off balcony say short-term rentals are not a problem

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A video of a woman throwing a chair off a downtown highrise balcony sparked immediate anger and outrage, but long-term residents of the building where it happened say such a display of recklessness is rare and has little or nothing to do with the proliferation of short-term rentals in the area.

Kevin Gaston moved into his one-bedroom condo at Maple Leaf Square nearly 10 years ago, and he remembers his neighbours then being mostly owners or long-term tenants.

Today, he says a number of units in the two towers at the corner of Bremner Blvd. and York St. have been turned into short-term rentals. There is also a large number of young students who save on housing costs by sharing condos, he says.

So when he saw the viral video, Gaston assumed it was “one of those scenarios, like a drunk teenager throwing a chair off the balcony. Crazier things have happened.”

Over the years, the behaviour of short-term renters has raised concerns in Toronto, but most residents at Maple Leaf Square were indifferent or expressed only mild concern over it.

The woman alleged to have thrown the chair, Marcella Zoia, turned herself in last week. She was charged in the incident and released on $2,000 bail, and will return to court next month. Her lawyer said she acted under “peer pressure.”

Police said they were looking into whether the unit where the “reckless” incident took place was a short-term rental. Airbnb said there was no evidence the woman used its platform, but confirmed it had suspended the account of a guest at the building as the service reviews the incident, and it is co-operating with police.

The apparent proliferation of short-term rentals at the twin towers near Scotiabank Arena has never been a cause of concern for Gaston. He said he doesn’t feel unsafe and has never been disturbed by noise from nearby units.

“If anything, it’s funny, because I just feel like a tour guide sometimes,” he said about the many confused people who ask for directions to navigate the path between two towers, get to the Longo’s or LCBO downstairs, or find the best place to eat nearby.

“The only thing is, I have seen more people using the swimming pool, because they’re on vacation and in Airbnb, so it gets crowded. Other than that, I’ve had no complaint, no problem at all.”

He’s not alone. On Thursday, the Star spent four hours in the condo’s lobby and at the two main entrances, speaking to residents and observing as individuals and small groups of people entered and exited, some with suitcases. About a dozen people, including a couple who said they had just landed from Paris, said they were staying in Airbnb units.

Dozens of residents who spoke to the Star said they know a large number of units in their building are used as Airbnb rentals. But they said disturbing incidents are rare and that people staying in short-term rentals are generally polite.

“Honestly, it doesn’t bother me,” said Stella Cabrera, who has lived at the building for nearly a year. Two units next to hers are used by short-term renters. She said she understands the convenience of Airbnb in the area, which lies near entertainment venues. Nearby hotels are expensive.

She said people can do irresponsible things even if they own the places they live in.

“That girl would probably have done the same if she was at another place that is not Airbnb,” she said about the chair-throwing incident.

Christina Wang said a unit across from hers is rented on Airbnb, and sometimes people leave the door open and noise spills out. She said some short-term renters don’t take care of things they don’t own, such as the chair in the video.

“It’s a case-by-case, I guess, but generally people who do Airbnb are nice,” she said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal in terms of living conditions.”

Ivonne Flores, a recent graduate and a resident of Maple Leaf Square for the past two years, sometimes feels “uncomfortable” seeing strangers strolling in the building, which happens especially on weekends. Apart from the drinking and partying that tend to happen in Airbnb rentals, major incidents of concern are few, she said.

“That chair thing was the first, and it was surprising that everyone was making such a big deal about it,” she said.

Alex Wong, who has lived at the condo for the past five years, said the building has security guards who usually ask people for their names if they don’t have keys, and there’s a computer screen at the reception on the 9th floor where those staying in Airbnbs are supposed to log in.

“I’ve seen some bad ones, like people leaving pizza boxes in a hallway. But I’ve heard worse from other buildings. I think we’re OK here,” said

The chair-throwing incident did “freak” him out though, he added.

“That’s a crazy thing to happen, but Airbnb-ers don’t usually do that. Now I basically hug the wall when I walk home, just in case,” he said.

Fairbnb, a coalition that advocates for stricter regulation of short-term rentals, has repeatedly raised concerns about the safety of residents in highrises with large numbers of Airbnb units.

Speaking to the Star after the chair-throwing incident, Fairbnb spokesperson Thorben Wieditz said there have been incidents of short-term renters vomiting in swimming pools, leaving garbage in the hallways and stairs, and making life miserable for residents by partying and making noise.

At Maple Leaf Square, an office administrator confirmed to the Star there are units in the building that are used as Airbnb rentals. But property manager Lubko Belej declined to offer any further details, saying “police told us not to comment.”

“Right now, we’re working very hard with the police on this, and trying to keep our profile as low as possible, as you can imagine.”

Gilbert Ngabo is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @dugilbo

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Woman, 19, accused of throwing a chair off downtown Toronto balcony, turns herself in

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A 19-year-old woman has turned herself in to police, four days after a widely viewed video showed a chair being tossed off a downtown Toronto highrise balcony, sparking huge outrage.

Marcella Zoia, a Toronto resident, walked in to 52 Division around 7 a.m. this morning. She has been charged with mischief endangering life, mischief involving damage to property and common nuisance.

Det. Todd Higo said Zoia was alone when she turned herself in.

She is scheduled to appear in College Park court today in room 505.

Police said in a news release that they started an investigation into the incident that happened 10 a.m. Saturday in the Harbour St and York St. area.

A video of the incident, which was widely shared online, shows a young woman picking up a folding chair and tossing it over the railing hundreds of feet in the air.

The video follows the chair as it hurtles towards the busy Gardiner Expressway and ends just before it hits the ground. Police later said a second chair and other items were tossed as well.

Const. David Hopkinson on Wednesday said detectives are investigating whether the apartment unit was being rented as a short-term rental.

In a short statement, Airbnb spokesperson Ben Brait said the company is investigating whether any of its users were involved in the incident.

“We are outraged by the blatant disregard for community safety on display in the video,” he said.

“We will be suspending any guest accounts that appear to be connected to this incident. Additionally, we have reached out proactively to Toronto police to offer our full support to help them investigate this abhorrent behaviour.”

Ajax woman Tyler Walton told the Star she believed she rented the same unit Saturday night, the same day as the chair-throwing incident, through AirBnB.

She said she saw the broken chairs on the street in front of the condo tower’s Lake Shore Blvd. W. entrance and later noticed the unit did not have the balcony set shown in the online listing. She said she didn’t put two and two together until she saw the video.

“I saw the chairs outside on the street and joked to my boyfriend that they looked like they were thrown,” she said. “He didn’t think anyone was dumb enough to do that.”

The online listing for the unit — Walton said it’s a south-facing apartment on the 45th floor — includes pictures of a patio set that appear to match the chairs in the video.

Walton said she asked the AirBnB host if the unit should have had a balcony set, and was told yes.

Walton said the AirBnB host told her to arrive later than the regular check-in time because the previous guests had left it “a disaster.”

Read more:

Toronto police investigating ‘reckless’ video of woman throwing chair from downtown highrise

Opinion | Emma Teitel: Toronto’s chair thrower is a symptom of a bigger problem

Condo-heavy areas at high risk for fires started by careless smokers

Fairbnb researcher and spokesperson Thorben Wieditz said it’s not unusual to hear residents in downtown highrises in the area complain about problems caused short-term rentals.

“It’s very common for partiers and Airbnb guests to throw stuff off the condos. What we haven’t seen yet is something like those two chairs that could have very well caused death,” he said, noting the group is “desperately” waiting for the city’s regulations on short-term rentals to come into effect.

Hopkinson said Monday that he was “outraged” at the incident.

“Anybody could’ve been walking underneath,” he said, adding if someone was hit, they could have suffered “catastrophic” injuries.

A conviction for mischief endangering life could result in jail time, Hopkinson told the Star earlier.

With files from Gilbert Ngabo

Jack Hauen is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @jackhauen

Alexandra Jones is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @AlexandraMaeJ

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Woman who allegedly tossed chair over balcony surrenders to police

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A woman accused of tossing a chair off a condo balcony in downtown Toronto has turned herself in, police say.

The woman surrendered on Wednesday morning. Police have not released her name or age. No charges have been announced.

The woman appeared at Toronto Police Service’s 52 Division at about 7 a.m., according to Staff Sgt. Ron Boyce.

Her surrender comes after a video surfaced on social media on the weekend that shows a blond woman, dressed in black, tossing a chair from a highrise building.

On Monday, police made a public appeal for the woman to surrender, saying they knew her identity.

The chair is seen fluttering in the wind as it makes it way down towards the highway. (Lisa Calderon/Facebook )

The video was shared widely on social media.

Police believe the chair-throwing incident occurred Saturday around 10 a.m. ET at a condo in the Harbour and York streets area, which overlooks the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard. 

They said two chairs, among other items, were thrown over the balcony. Police are still looking for the person who videotaped the chair throwing.

There was outrage over the possibility the tossed objects could have injured someone or caused an accident, as the expressway is right below.

On Monday, Const. David Hopkinson, spokesperson for the Toronto police, said he obtained a copy of the video on Sunday and police began to investigate the next day. 

In a news release, police had said it was a mischief-endangering life investigation.

The items, which police said were thrown from a « very high floor » in the building, landed in front of the entrance to the condo, police said.

Police said they received a flurry of emails from members of the public with information about the woman.

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We know who you are — turn yourself in, Toronto police tell woman videotaped tossing chair from condo

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Toronto police say they know the identity of a woman caught on video throwing a chair from an upper floor of a downtown condo building, but don’t know her exact whereabouts and want her to surrender.

Police received a « significant amount of information » from the public that helped officers determine the woman’s identity, Const. David Hopkinson of the Toronto Police Service said on Tuesday

He declined to release the woman’s name or age, but told CBC Toronto: « We are in the midst of contacting her and giving her an opportunity to consult a lawyer and turn herself in. »

Hopkinson confirmed police have spoken with the woman or someone acting as her representative.

Police believe the chair-throwing incident occurred Saturday around 10 a.m. ET at a condo in the Harbour and York streets area, which overlooks the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard. It was captured on video and shared widely on social media on Monday. 

The chair that was thrown over the balcony is seen fluttering in the wind as it makes it way down towards the highway. (Lisa Calderon/Facebook )

Hopkinson said two chairs, among other items, were thrown over the balcony. Police are also looking for the person who videotaped the chair throwing.

There has been outrage over the possibility the tossed objects could have injured someone or caused an accident, as the expressway is right below.

Hopkinson said he obtained a copy of the video on Sunday and police began to investigate on Monday. 

The items, which police say were thrown from a « very high floor » in the building, landed in front of the entrance to the condo, police said in a news release.

Police have said the woman is wanted for a mischief investigation, but Hopkinson declined to say which charges she could be facing.

A video posted on the weekend on Facebook with the caption « good morning » shows a woman, dressed in black, taking a peek over the balcony, and then throwing a folding chair onto the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard below. 

On Monday, police released a photo of the woman, who they say appears to be in her 20s.

Police said the incident has prompted dozens of calls. 

« People can stop calling now, » Hopkinson said.

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Police seek public’s help in ID’ing woman in video that shows her tossing chair off condo balcony

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Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a young woman who threw chairs off the upper floor of a downtown Toronto condo building.  

A video posted on the weekend on Facebook with the caption « good morning » shows the woman taking a peek over the balcony, and then throwing a folding chair onto the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard below.

As of mid-morning Monday, police said they believe the incident took place in the last few days and that two chairs were thrown, not one as originally thought. 

Sgt. Ron Boyce told Radio-Canada that police believe the condo is at 55 Bremner Blvd., and said condo management is working with them. 

The video cuts out before the chair she’s seen tossing lands on the highway, so it’s not possible to determine if it hits a car or causes an accident.  

The chair is seen spinning in the wind as it falls down towards the highway. (Lisa Calderon/Facebook )

​Last week, the CBC reported on residents of a downtown condo tower who were infuriating their neighbours in a nearby building by throwing trash and liquor bottles, and vomiting from their balconies.

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

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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.”


READ MORE:
Edmonton’s first female firefighter Shirley Benson gains another first

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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Halifax woman posthumously calls for fix to Canada’s assisted dying rules

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A Halifax woman who died in November is posthumously calling for an amendment to Canada’s assisted dying laws that would get rid of a requirement for late-stage consent to invoke medical assistance in dying, also known as MAID.

« People like me who have already been assessed and approved are dying earlier than necessary because of this poorly thought-out law, » Audrey Parker said in the video released by Dying with Dignity Canada on Wednesday.

The video was launched Feb. 6, the four-year anniversary of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling in favour of medical assistance in dying. 

But that ruling came with a stipulation: it only applied to competent adults with enduring, intolerable suffering who could clearly consent to ending their lives.

Parker had terminal cancer and chose to die Nov. 1, 2018.

She said she would have liked to have made it to Christmas, but worried that if she became incompetent along the way, she would lose out on her choice of a « beautiful, peaceful and — best of all — pain free death. »

Her amendment to Canada’s assisted dying law would be to allow people who are approved for MAID to continue with their wishes, even if they lose their mental capacity.

« I can assure you that no one chooses death lightly, we just don’t want to suffer anymore, » Parker said.

Parker’s friend, Kim King, said she and other people who were close to Parker have been working with Dying with Dignity Canada to help move the amendment forward. 

They envision an amendment could be something like an additional form or declaration that would clarify what should happen if someone who wants MAID loses mental capacity or becomes unconscious.

King said Parker started thinking about making a video when she found out her cancer was moving to the lining of her brain. It was then they realized Parker could lose her mental capacity and then lose her ability to invoke MAID.

« It was really, really upsetting. It took something that was so comforting to Audrey, you know, to have that control and it took it away. And therefore made her have to take the courageous step to end her life early, » King said.

King said Parker shot the video three days before she died. She said it was Parker’s final message to lawmakers and Canadians.

« It was really having that final poignant message thanking the lawmakers for the fact we even have MAID but clearly pointing out there is a flaw in this law with the late-stage consent. »

King said watching the video is difficult, especially knowing how much pain Parker was in at the time. She said Parker shines in the video because her message was important.

« When you look at the video, Audrey looked beautiful and I think she was really standing in her own power, » King said.

« She never thought she would be an advocate. This was a very unexpected change at the end of her life and she was really, really passionate about it. »

King said she hopes the video will serve as a tool to get Canadians to sign an e-petition on the Dying with Dignity website to send a message to Canada’s justice minister to change the legislation to have Parker’s amendment passed.

She said the e-petition launched Monday and the goal is to get around 15,000 Canadians to add their names to it.

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Hamburglar? N.S. woman baffled after someone in Montreal uses her My McD’s app

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Lauren Taylor says she has no idea how someone in Montreal spent $483.65 using her McDonald’s app.

The Halifax woman said she received dozens of order confirmations in her email inbox with the last four digits of her Visa debit card between Jan 25-29.

« It’s amazing to see how quick someone can just breach your privacy … rent is three days away and now I have to find the money, » Taylor said. « It’s a good thing that I live with family. Otherwise I’d be out. »

The charges to Taylor’s account went unnoticed for days because she hadn’t checked her emails. When she checked her bank account, there was $1.99 left.

Some of the items purchased included large fries, Big Macs, poutine, junior chicken meals, Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, McDouble burgers, bacon and hashbrown McWraps, Egg McMuffins and hot cakes.

Lauren Taylor received this detailed receipt showing purchases from a McDonald’s location in Montreal. (Submitted by Lauren Taylor)

McDonald’s Canada said there was no security breach on the My McD’s app.

« We take appropriate measures to keep personal information secure, including on our app, » Ryma Boussoufa, a company spokesperson, wrote in an email.

« Just like any other online activity, we recommend that our guests use our app diligently by not sharing their passwords with others, creating unique passwords and changing passwords frequently. »

Taylor said she doesn’t know anybody in Quebec. She said she has never been to Quebec.

She said she has different passwords for all her online accounts and changes them frequently. She said she never shares her passwords and said her passwords are strong.

With the McDonald’s app, passwords must be eight to 12 characters long, include upper and lowercase characters and at least one number.

« This is an app that’s supposed to be secure, » she said. « So why do I live in Nova Scotia and why is my card being used in Quebec? That’s crazy. »

Receipts sent to Lauren Taylor’s email inbox. (Submitted by Lauren Taylor)

The good news, Taylor said, is the bank will refund her account.

« [The bank] told me that I had to call McDonald’s back for them to confirm that it was actually fraud on my account, » Taylor said.

« And then I called RBC back and they called McDonald’s back with my case number, confirmed that it was fraud [and] agreed to give the money back within three-to-10 business days. »

Taylor said she filed a police report, too.

Halifax Regional Police confirmed it received a report of a fraud that had been occurring through a McDonald’s app on Jan 29, 2019 and that it was investigating the incident.

Each order confirmation from McDonald’s is time-stamped with the different locations where the food was picked up, so Taylor is hoping that will be helpful in the investigation.

McDonald’s orders were placed at five different locations in Montreal area.

As for McDonald’s, Taylor said the company could be doing more to make sure every purchase from its app is extra secure.

Among her suggestions are texts to mobile phones to confirm orders, requesting CVV codes or requiring a code to finalize an order.

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