Monthly Archives: February 2019

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VPD’s toughest canine cheated death twice before and after retirement

“He means the world to me.”

That’s how Sgt. Derrick Gibson describes his bond with ‘Teak’.

Teak is a legend within the ranks of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) and at age 12, he hasn’t lost his fight. “He’s probably one of the toughest dogs we’ve ever had here,” said Gibson of his former canine partner.

Teak is living out his retirement with Gibson’s family after his six-year VPD career saw him nab some 300 suspects.

Teak while he was with the VPD.

VPD

Gibson will never forget Teak’s toughest arrest on Jan. 11, 2013.

“I’m getting emotional now. It’s still pretty hard to think of, your partner and your best friend has been hurt and might not make it.”

On that night, the pair was called to what should have been a routine armed robbery at a gas station in East Vancouver.

The suspect ran when Gibson threatened to send Teak. Teak gave chase and managed to take the 20-year-old down after about 50 metres.

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That’s when Kyle Scott Martin began to attack Teak. At first, Gibson and his colleagues thought Teak was being punched.

“As myself and my cover officer got closer, we noticed he was being stabbed. He had a box cutter in his right hand.”

Despite being stabbed repeatedly and sustaining a gaping 25 centimetre stab wound, Teak never let go of his attacker.

“He didn’t stop. He fought through, did everything I asked of him until I released him from the suspect,” recalled Gibson, who said the stabbing only stopped when his partner tasered the suspect.

Bleeding from the neck, Teak was rushed to the vet for emergency surgery.

“The vet told me if it was a centimetre deeper or a centimetre longer it would have caught his jugular, so someone was watching out for him that day,” said Gibson.

Less than two days and two surgeries later, Teak was released to recover at home. His attacker, Kyle Scott Martin, would eventually receive a suspended sentence of two years probation for harming a service animal.

For his bravery in the line of duty, Teak retired from the force as the 2013 Purina Service Dog of the Year. That title was just one of many awards Teak received during his crime-fighting days, including the VPD Chief Constable’s Commendation and provincial meritorious service award he received for taking down a violent sex assault suspect in 2009.

Weeks into his long term recovery, Teak was dealt another blow. What the Gibsons at first thought to be either a complication from the anesthetic or a stomach blockage turned out to be a cancerous growth in his bowels. Some six months and six gruelling rounds of chemotherapy later, Teak had beat bowel cancer.

“He’s a three year cancer survivor now,” said a proud Gibson.

But Teak’s struggles weren’t over. In the summer of 2014, he was playing at the park when he planted his left front leg and spun on it. Amputation was recommended as veterinarians were unsure any surgery on the spiral fracture would withstand Teak’s athleticism.

“They figured if they put it back together just the way he is, he would have blown anything they did surgery wise. He’d just blow it apart within a week or so,” said Gibson.

More than two years later, Teak seems to be loving life on three legs. “It hasn’t stopped him, not at all. He still has the drive. I think he still thinks he has four legs,” said Gibson, who has a tattoo on his left arm that reads “Teak Strong”.

“When I look at it, I get motivated and strength from thinking about him and our partnership together.” Teak’s motto, if he had one, said Gibson, would be “Never give up. Always keep fighting. Never lose the will to live.”

Contentious parents committee meeting highlights growing divide at LBPSB

An extremely contentious meeting of the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) parents committee is highlighting a widening rift at the board.

Two factions are forming in the wake of revelations that UPAC, Quebec’s anti-corruption squad is investigating.

READ MORE: LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day admits she breached ethics code

It was also recently revealed that chairperson Suanne Stein Day was the commissioner who committed breaches of ethical standards – something that was known to board members for months.

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    The committee leadership said it wants to move on and suggested at the meeting that dwelling on the investigation was siphoning time away from the board’s educational mission.

    READ MORE: Calls for transparency at the Lester B. Pearson School Board

    Another group, including Verdun committee member John Ranger, is accusing the board of trying to wash over the matter.

    READ MORE: Lester B. Pearson commissioners hold second closed-door meeting in one week

    “For me to come here and agree with a process that shoves a very serious issue under the carpet is ridiculous,” he said, adding that the board is passing on an opportunity to prevent a similar matter from happening again.

    Ranger referred specifically to a letter drafted at the meeting that sought to amend how the board handles ethics violations.

    The committee leadership disagreed with the assertion that it is sweeping the matter under the rug, and insisted repeatedly that there is a process for complaints.

    READ MORE: Calls for resignation of LBPSB chair Suanne Stein Day date back to at least December 2015

    Parents with strong opinions should “use that energy to express themselves in different subcommittees,” said Shane Ross, committee chairman.

Cats survive months in the wild following Fort McMurray wildfire

Alyssa Hueser may have lost her house in the Fort McMurray wildfire but six months after evacuating, her family is finally back together.

On the day of the evacuation, she raced home to the Waterways neighbourhood from work in a panic.

“I had time to grab my kids, grab the dog and the cats went one way and basically we went the other way and I didn’t have time to chase them,” she said.

As fire raged around her, she was tormented by the decision she had to make.

“What do I do? I can’t just leave them. But my kids were obviously more important than going back for my cats.”

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When the family found out their house and much of their neighbourhood burned down, Hueser tried to remain optimistic.

“I just kept hoping that they weren’t there. That they did make an escape to somewhere else and they were smart enough to get away from the fire.”

Once they were safely evacuated, Hueser tried to use social media to find her beloved cats, Ellie and Minnie, to no avail.

“We didn’t hear anything back at all. We had lost hope.”

Then, out of the blue, hope returned.

“Two-and-a-half months after the evacuation, I did get a phone call saying they thought they found Ellie. The cat they found had six kittens with her,” Hueser recalled. “I thought, ‘No way!’”

“I was in denial until they showed up in my driveway and they opened up their truck and there she was. I didn’t have to open the cage or anything, I knew it was her.”

Ellie was in good health, but wouldn’t let any of the volunteers touch her until she saw Hueser.

“I was so happy. I was in the driveway crying and everything.”

Ellie’s kittens were given to families who lost their cats to the wildfire as well.

Hueser decided to keep one for her girls.

“We had lost hope. My kids wanted their two cats back. It was nice to have him so Ellie wasn’t lonely anymore,” she explained.

They named their kitten Pheonix, after one of the companies that helped with water bombing to save Fort McMurray.

Months later, on Halloween, Hueser got a phone call she’ll never forget – a volunteer looking for lost pets said she’d found Minnie, alive.

“I was like, ‘Are you serious? Are you sure?’ Because I couldn’t believe it because it had been a really long time and Minnie was only seven months when she went missing. So I just lost hope.”

It turns out Minnie, like Ellie, had also given birth to a litter of kittens. Minnie was relatively unscathed after spending half a year fending for herself.

“I’m very grateful. I’m happy they’re all home,” Hueser said. “They’re all my babies.”

She has one message to anyone else from Fort McMurray that might still be missing a pet.

“Just never give up hope. Because the worst thing you can do is give up hope. I gave up hope and ended up with another kitten and now I have three cats!”

MLA Sandra Jansen honoured for stance on bullying by group that advocates for abused Alberta women

WARNING: The following article and videos contain language some readers might find offensive.

Calgary – North West MLA Sandra Jansen has been named an honorary member of the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters (ACWS) because the organization says she shone a light “on the dark reality of how women are treated in politics – and the courage that it takes to address it.”

Late last month, just days after leaving the Progressive Conservative party to cross the floor and join the New Democrats, Jansen delivered hard-hitting speech in which she outlined the type of abuse she had received since switching parties.

READ MORE: New Alberta NDP member Sandra Jansen urges colleagues to fight harassment

Watch below: In a member statement to the house on Nov. 22, 2016, new Alberta MLA Sandra Jansen recounted some of the comments she said have been directed to her since she crossed the floor to the NDP from the Progressive Conservatives last week. Jansen said she’s been called some terrible things, which she listed.

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    “Dumb broad. A good place for her to be is with the rest of the queers,” were among the disturbing messages Jansen read in the Alberta legislature on Nov. 22.

    She also said she had been labelled “dead meat,” a “useless tit,” and was told that she should stay in the kitchen.

    “If you are stunned by the words you have heard in the last few days, if you reject the inherent violence behind them, and you know that harassment and abuse – even if it’s verbal and even if it’s online… let us be strong and clear in our resolve that no matter where we sit along political lines we stand together against this,” she told her fellow MLAs that day.

    A day after Jansen’s impassioned speech, it was revealed the MLA would be given a security detail as a result of ongoing threats made against her.

    READ MORE: Alberta MLA Sandra Jansen given security detail after threats

    On Wednesday, the ACWS bestowed the honour on Jansen and said the decision to make her an honorary member was a unanimous one by the board made on Friday.

    “Rarely does violence erupt from nowhere, it usually starts with words. Not harmless words, but put downs that often progress to daily humiliation,” the organization said in a statement. “These insults can come from a loved one, your boss or in the case of Sandra Jansen, your colleagues and fellow citizens.

    “Unfortunately, Ms. Jansen’s experience is not new; far too many career women and politicians have tolerated mean-spirited and misogynistic language on the job.”

    “She is an excellent role model for any woman or girl who has been subjected to bullying, verbal abuse and threats to her safety,” Brenda Brochu, the ACWS board president, said in a statement. “She courageously revealed to her colleagues, her constituents, and the electorate, squarely in front of the camera lens, the malicious comments communicated to her.”

    READ MORE: Alberta youth say online attacks aimed at female politicians won’t deter them

    “In this instance, the bullies have met their match,” Jan Reimer, executive director of the ACWS, said in a statement.

    November was a tumultuous month for Jansen. Prior to crossing the floor, she had recently dropped out of the PC party’s leadership race citing harassment and a”hostile takeover” of the party by factions not accepting of centrist views. She said “insults were scrawled on my nomination forms” and that the experience had left her “shaken.”

    READ MORE: Sandra Jansen withdraws from Alberta PC leadership race citing ‘hostile takeover’

    Watch below: Two women running in the leadership race in Alberta have pulled out. As Tracy Nagai reports MLA Sandra Jansen said the last straw came at a leadership forum in Red Deer.

    The ACWS says it awards an honorary membership to people “who have made outstanding and long-term contributions in assisting women and families in abusive situations, and to the activities of the ACWS.”

    The organization acts as an ambassador for women’s shelters in Alberta.

Leduc Country Lights back for another Christmas season

After misbehaving guests broke displays last year, Leduc Country Lights threatened to stop putting on their annual holiday display – but now, they’re giving people another chance this holiday season.

For the Ruel family, who’s been putting on the massive light display for a dozen years, the event is a labour of love.

It’s also their way to give back to the community.

“It’s one time of the year they get together and they can have their pets, their children, their grandchildren – whatever. It’s a whole family thing,” Douglas Ruel said.

Last year, a handful of Grinches stole the family’s Christmas spirit.

“There’s only so much people can take before we’re pushed past our limits,” Neil Ruel explained at the time. “It’s even gotten to the point where we’ve seen people hanging and sitting on our decorations.”

Nearly 100 strands of light were broken and one misbehaving family had to be kicked out.

“I can never blame children because they love it so much,” Douglas said. “But parents, they’ve got to know what their children are doing.”

The Ruels talked about shutting down their annual display.

“I wanted to get people’s attention,” Douglas said. “Stay on the walkways, quit touching stuff. This is for everybody to enjoy – not just a few.”

But Douglas said he didn’t have it in his heart to keep the lights in storage when October rolled around.

He just loves seeing the smiles on children’s faces as they wander through his yard. He just hopes families can follow a few simple rules.

“Do not touch rope lights, do not play with the ornaments, do not abuse Christmas characters – and the last one is have fun. That’s the important one.”

This year, the Ruels added a hot chocolate shop, expanded Santa’s workshop and made a new lane of lit-up trees behind their house.

Leduc Country Lights kicked off for the season Thursday and will run through until New Year’s Day.

Admission is free but volunteers collect donations for the food bank each year.

In 2015, they raised $30,000 and donated 43,000 pounds of food – the biggest single donation to the Leduc & District Food Bank.

ChangSha Night Net

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