WATCH: (Jul. 18, 2014) Equine therapy pairs veterans and their spouses with horses and under the supervision of a psychologist they work through a series of exercises to improve communication and collaboration.
It is a world away from the dust, danger and stress of Afghanistan and other war zones.
On a quiet ranch near Rice Lake, four veterans enter a corral with their spouses by their sides. Each couple approaches a horse and tentatively starts to groom.
Conversations are subdued, calm, focused on the task at hand.
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Psychologist Jim Marland observes carefully, looking for insight through the human interaction with each other and the animals.
It is a new angle on helping veterans deal with post traumatic stress disorder.
“It is not about hug a horse,” said Jim Critchley, a 28 year veteran of the forces and trained mediator.
Collaborating with Marland, he developed Can Praxis, a program of equine assisted therapy.
READ MORE: 13 first responders, 13 suicides, 10 weeks
The veterans and their spouses do not ride the horses, at least not in the initial phase. Rather they lead them through a series of collaborative exercises. The horses sense emotions in the humans and react accordingly—giving hints about what is going on in the minds of the participants.
“If they’re being very aggressive, the horse wants to leave. If they’re extremely passive, the horse will walk all over them,” said Critchley.
“If they’re asserting themselves in just the right, relaxed manner the horse is relaxed and they’re able to work with it effectively.”
The program has been running for a year and a half in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. The first session in Ontario was July 18 and organizers hope to set up centres in different locations across the country to minimize travel costs.
The charity Wounded Warriors funded the program, so none of the veterans have to pay.
Todd and Laurie Burns made the journey from their Halifax home to try the equine therapy. Together for more than 30 years, things changed in their relationship when he came home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007, suffering from post traumatic stress.
“I have a tendency to withdraw on a bad day. I don’t let Laurie in,” he said.
READ MORE: Is there enough mental health support for first responders?
He was skeptical when a therapist first told him of the idea but after learning more about it decided to try the therapy. They were paired with a gentle old horse named Badger. In one exercise, Laurie was blindfolded and held onto Badger’s bridle while Todd led them both through an obstacle course of logs laid out in the corral. It touched on a key area for him.
“One of the themes of the program is to learn to communicate effectively and to work together,” he said.
It was a trust exercise, where Laurie had to count on Todd’s advice on where to step.
“I trust you,” she said.
“That’s a good thing,” he responded as they both laughed.
“I don’t think I’ve lost the trust,” she added. “It’s just good to have the direction.”
Marland likes to call the program therapeutic rather than therapy.
“We give them practical tools to have a conversation that reduces conflict. And they practise those skills with me and the horses and the horses give instant feedback,” he said.
PTSD is an affliction that never really goes away. The hope is that the participants can go home with new understanding and new means of coping with what the veterans brought home from the war.
TORONTO – Composting is being embraced by more and more Canadian households as an easy way to divert waste from landfills and produce nutrient-rich compost for your garden.
But what to do if you live in a high-rise without a backyard or curbside composting program?
According to Environment Canada, biodegradable materials, such as food waste, make up around 40 per cent of all residential waste in Canada.
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The agency said diverting organic materials from landfills is “essential” and the environmental benefits of doing so include reducing greenhouse gas emissions and producing “valuable compost,” which can be used in home gardening, agriculture and horticulture industries as well as soil erosion control and landscaping.
Numbers from Statistics Canada show that composting is on the rise in Canada, with 61 per cent of all households participating in some form of composting – that’s nearly double the rate that composted in 1994.
Not surprisingly, people who lived in a single, detached home were way more likely to compost their kitchen waste compared to apartment dwellers (50 per cent vs 22 per cent).
Condo life presents some challenges for those who would otherwise like to compost their kitchen waste, from privately-managed garbage collection systems to an absence of backyard space.
Apartment and condo dwellers who live in buildings that don’t offer a curbside composting program have a few options for joining the composting ranks.
Making your own indoor compost bin is a cheap and flexible way for people to compost in small spaces.
With a few simple materials and tools, you can build your own compost bin in an afternoon.
There are lots of online tutorials that walk you through the process (such as this one here, or here).
If you’re not an avid DIY’er, several companies make and sell indoor composting systems, such as Food Cycle Science’s indoor residential composting system and NatureMill’s ECO Series models.
If composting in your apartment really isn’t an option, eco-champions recommend canvassing your neighbourhood for places to set up a community compost bin.
Locations for community composters could range from community gardens to municipal property. Environmental organizations, such as Winnipeg non-profit Green Action Centre, offer tips and resources for people wanting to start their own community composting program.
The city of Winnipeg already has a number of community compost sites operating for those unable to compost at home.
REGINA – Stars of the hit Canadian TV series “Corner Gas” are pumped to reunite for a new movie, and say it’s like seeing family again.
Brent Butt, Lorne Cardinal, Nancy Robertson and the rest of the cast are back in the fictional town of Dog River (a.k.a. Rouleau, Sask.) to shoot a feature film based on the series, which ended in April 2009.
Butt says it feels like only a few weeks have passed.
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“It’s getting back together with family, but it’s family that you don’t have tremendous psychological issues with, so it’s all great you know,” laughed Butt.
“It was great. The cast, we were all looking forward to seeing the crew. You come in, you see people every day for six years and then you kind of go your separate ways and you really miss these guys.”
Butt, who was born and raised in Tisdale, Sask., was a standup comic when he created “Corner Gas” in 2004. He starred as Brent Leroy for six seasons.
The comedian says he wanted to do a movie after the TV series ended and the script has been in the works for a while. But just because time has passed, doesn’t mean the characters have changed and that’s by design, he says.
“I was always against growth … I seriously was. It sounds glib when I hear myself say it, but I was actively against these characters growing because thematically this is about a group of people who don’t like change. They don’t change much. They like their situation and they’re kind of adverse to change,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
“We’ve come back five years later and it was a conscious decision to say they’re still here, kicking around. They’ve been here all this while.”
Still dishing out sarcasm from behind the cash register in the gas station is Wanda Dollard, portrayed by Nancy Robertson.
Robertson, who is Butt’s wife in real life, says being surrounded by the cast and crew and back in Saskatchewan helped her to get back into character. It’s like going home to visit family for Christmas or Thanksgiving, she says.
“I know everybody in the business says ‘Oh we’re like a family and blah, blah blah,’ but it really is,” said Robertson.
“For six years, we spent half a year together on location, living in the same residences, being driven together, travelling for promotion. You cannot help, working 13 hours a day, you cannot help but become a family, that’s just an automatic and it’s just a nice plus when you think the people you’re becoming a family with are pretty great.”
Robertson says she was a little nervous at first because she wanted to make sure she was bringing the same elements to Wanda as on the TV show. But, she jokes, Wanda hasn’t changed.
“I don’t think any of the characters really have, which the beauty of the world out here. Everything just keeps going along,” she laughed.
“Well, she’s changed in the sense that she’s heavier and she’s older. That’s the change.”
Lorne Cardinal, who plays police officer Davis Quinton, waited to shoot his next scene with Robertson and Tara Spencer-Nairn, who plays officer Karen Pelly. He leaned against a gas pump and turned his face toward the Prairie sky, soaking in the sunshine.
Cardinal says reuniting for the movie was like “getting the band back together.” The rhythm came back once the cast was in the same room, reading through the script, he says.
“I was little nervous about it, but once I donned on the polyester and got the hair just right, it was pretty seamless. It was nice to know it was still there,” said Cardinal.
“Corner Gas: The Movie” is set to hit theatres in December.
©2014The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG – A Manitoba judge has dealt a blow to the provincial Conservatives, ruling the NDP did nothing wrong by hiking the provincial sales tax last year without a referendum.
The Tory party and its leader, Brian Pallister, filed the lawsuit following the tax increase, arguing it was illegal without consulting voters. The NDP government suspended the referendum requirement at the same time it introduced the tax increase.
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The Conservatives argued in court last month that the NDP was bound by its own legislation to consult the public first and violated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by not doing so.
Justice Kenneth Hanssen disagreed and ruled the tax hike was legal.
Governments have the “constitutional authority” to make their own laws, he said. Whether a government chooses to enact a bill retroactively is a matter of parliamentary privilege and can’t be overruled by a court.
In fact, Hanssen said, “any attempt to transfer legislative power with respect to a money bill away from the Legislative Assembly to the electorate is inconsistent” with Canada’s Constitution.
“There is no constitutional right to a referendum in Canada,” Hanssen wrote. “I am satisfied the Charter imposes no obligation on a government to implement a referendum or to maintain a referendum it has previously established.”
Government lawyers argued people were able to express their opinions through committee hearings and no court should be allowed to dictate what the legislature chooses to discuss. Pallister argued that once the referendum was written into law, it formed part of the “fundamental democratic right of all Manitobans,” Hanssen wrote.
“Again, I do not agree,” the judge said. “The Supreme Court of Canada rejected this line of reasoning.”
Pallister said he and party lawyers will review the ruling over the weekend and will comment early next week.
“We’re disappointed. We’re not disappointed so much for us as we are for all Manitobans who are opposed to the PST hike, and that’s, I think, just about everybody,” Pallister told reporters late Friday afternoon.
The NDP government said it is not surprised by the ruling, adding it is “good news” for Manitobans.
“This decision means that the province’s record level of infrastructure investments will proceed as planned,” Matt Willamson, director of cabinet communications, said in an email.
“We find it regrettable that the PC party required the province to spend money on this case, and we hope Brian Pallister accepts the court’s clear decision.”
The government made an election promise not to raise taxes before it upped the provincial sales tax last July to eight per cent from seven. The New Democrats had to suspend a section of the balanced budget law that required a referendum on any increase to provincial sales, income or payroll taxes.
The Conservatives argued the NDP could have introduced a bill separately to sidestep that referendum rather than attach it to a budget bill, which required all government members of the legislature to vote in favour or risk toppling the government.
The NDP government has said it had to raise the sales tax to make important investments in infrastructure and called the lawsuit — funded by Conservative party donations — a partisan “stunt.”
Watch above: tips on not getting locked out of your bank account while on vacation
SASKATOON – Many of us go on trips, and never give a second thought to having enough money when we get to our destination.
But there are cases of people getting locked out of their accounts by their bank while on vacation – just because it triggers the anti fraud measures in the banking system.
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Amie Bregenser is Affinity Credit Union’s Fraud Manager. She told Global’s Morning News that if you are travelling far away, you should always let your financial institution or credit card company know.
“That way it prevents any of your foreign transactions from being blocked, or having a preventative block on your account while you are travelling,” she said.
She also recommends always having a second method of payment on hand, just in case.
At the same time, Bregenser says there does not seem to be any increase in people being defrauded while on vacation.
“Most of the (pin-pad) skimming that happens here, the fraud takes place in foreign locations,” she said. That means if your card’s information gets “skimmed” at home, the information will probably be used to rack up purchases far away – such as another country.
“About 94 per cent of our fraud is foreign right now…so the correlation between travelling and fraud really isn’t there at this point,” said Bregenser.
She has seen trends in fraud come and go over the years, and said right now fraud involving debit cards is down, likely because the chip technology used in Canada makes it more difficult.
However, fraud involving cheques is on the way up – likely because of the new technology that allows people to deposit cheques by taking a picture of them.
“So that technology is having an impact,” she said.
Bregenser said the usual precautions while travelling will go a long way to keeping you safe from fraud, such as guarding your pin number, and keeping a close eye on your cards, and your banking statements.
Watch above: Saskatchewan’s Ukrainian community reacts to downing of Malaysia Airlines plane
SASKATOON – Ukrainians in Saskatchewan are worried that the airline crash in Ukraine is going to lead to more violence in the region.
Danylo Puderak, executive director of Ukrainian Canadian Congress Saskatchewan, says that’s the biggest fear for many. He says after Ukraine’s presidential elections in May, there was hope that the region was moving toward peace.
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“At least there was some progress being made, but now with this tragic shooting down of a civilian airliner I think we’re going to see probably an escalation of the violence,” he told Global Morning News.
“It’s a shock. People don’t know what to expect.”
IN DEPTH: Disaster over Ukraine – Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
In parts of eastern Ukraine, government troops have been battling Russian separatists.
Many think the separatists are backed by Moscow, and Puderak believes there are indications that the separatists are behind the downing of the Malaysia Airlines plane.
“In fact one of the (separatist) leaders, on his social media site, a Russian social media site, had posted up there bragging they had shot down a plane, and there was some international media that got screen shots of this,” said Puderak.
“And then all of a sudden it disappeared when it became known that it was a civilian airliner.”
Regardless of who is found responsible, Ukrainians in Saskatchewan worry it will lead to more instability and violence.
“There’s a lot of concern about this causing a rise in tension,” he said. “There is concern about the potential for this war spreading.”
When Chicago chef Gregory Ellis makes a pork belly sandwich, he doesn’t stop at the belly. In addition to a fried egg and kumquat chow-chow, he adds a mystery ingredient – bacon jam.
“People don’t know what to expect,” says Ellis, chef at the breakfast, brunch and lunch spot 2 Sparrows.
“When they think bacon they’re not expecting any of the sweetness that comes with it. It pleases everyone and they like it after they try it.”
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The jam’s next stop on his menu: French toast.
Bacon jam may coast on its key attraction – that would be the bacon – but the idea of savory jam has been around for ages. Hot pepper jam has long been a Southern staple, topping slabs of cream cheese at cocktail parties and luncheons. But today, chefs, gourmet food companies and home canners are taking savory ingredients to the next level, turning everything from garlic and onions to carrots and saffron into sweet condiments.
“I’m always looking at ways to open people’s eyes to the different opportunities in preserve making,” says Marisa McClellan, creator of the blog “Food in Jars” and author most recently of Preserving by the Pint. “One of these things is savory jam.”
The trend in home canning and preserving took off around 2009, fueled by the do-it-yourself movement and the poor economy. Savory jams, observers say, offer the next stop for people who’ve already mastered strawberry and blueberry. Savory jams are most often glossy, sticky, sweet-ish concoctions that occupy the space between chunky relishes made of pickled items and smoother spreads and purees.
Their popularity is still growing, canners say, pushed by the gourmet world’s unrelenting appetite for new items. For instance, gourmet food purveyor Stonewall Kitchens introduced a bacon jam just this year. Company executives say demand for their savory jams continues to rise, and that the items sell as well as their sweet jams.
McClellan might set apricot rosemary jam next to goat cheese, spread tomato jam on roasted sweet potato rounds or whirr it in the food processor with cream cheese for dip. A dollop of caramelized shallot jam livens up a grain bowl, she says, and a ramekin of peach-Sriracha jam makes a great dipping sauce.
Sean Timberlake, founder of Punk Domestics, an aggregation site on all things canning and preserving, features recipes for strawberry rhubarb jalapeno jam, onion jam with rosemary, even zucchini marmalade, a concoction of shredded zucchini, orange and lemon. And of course, there’s bacon jam. But the number one search on his site? Tomato jam.
“It awakens people to the idea that tomato is actually a fruit,” Timberlake says. “We always think of tomato as a vegetable, but when you taste it in this other setting, people are like, ‘Oh, I totally get it.’ They experience the fruit differently than they have before.”
McClellan says tomato jam also is the most popular item on her blog. She has several versions – peach and yellow tomato jam, orange tomato with smoked paprika – but straight up tomato jam is the perennial favourite on both sites. Perhaps tomato jam does well because it is familiar, just a baby step from ketchup.
“And yet it’s a world apart,” says Timberlake, who spreads tomato jam on burgers, BLTs and macaroni and cheese. “It’s not ketchup. It’s definitely tomato.”
Savory jams complement cheese plates, act as condiments on sandwiches, and make great gifts, say the people who make and sell them. But they also can turn a potentially ordinary dish into something special.
“To keep people interested in the same old food that they can get at home, you need to put a twist on it,” Ellis says. “Why are they going to come to my restaurant to get toast and jam? … I’m not going to serve them just plain blueberry because they’re paying for it. I want to give them a unique experience.”
©2014The Associated Press
ABOVE: Watch David Alpay appear on Global Toronto’s News at Noon.
TORONTO — David Alpay was just a regular 20-year-old human biology major at the University of Toronto when he was picked by director Atom Egoyan to star opposite Christopher Plummer and Charles Aznavour in 2002’s Ararat.
The acting bug bit and Alpay decided to balance academic studies with acting jobs for awhile — although he took a short break from the latter to focus on the former.
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“Because the intention wasn’t always to be an actor, that hasn’t been my number one guiding principle,” Alpay explained.
“I love acting. It’s a lot of fun work, interesting work, and you get to work with some very interesting people. But I seemed to be OK walking away from it for a little while and then coming back to it.”
Alpay took roles on shows like The Tudors, The Borgias and The Vampire Diaries and is now one of the stars of The Lottery, a drama set six years after women stopped being able to bear children.
The 10-episode series debuts Sunday night on Lifetime.
Alpay plays one of the scientists who discovers a way to fertilize 100 embryos (leading to the titular process of choosing who will carry them).
He admitted his science background came in handy. “It gives you a little confidence on set when you talk about something.”
In an interview on Friday, Alpay told Global News he still has a passion for science.
“To relax, I do yoga and meditate and do little math problems,” he said, “and it’s fun to check that part of your brain off and turn on a different part.”
Alpay said although there is science in The Lottery, there isn’t necessarily a lot of science fiction.
“It’s not that weird,” he said of the premise. “It’s not the kind of post-apocalyptic future we see in Mad Max or something. It’s much more in the near future.
“We see protests, we see people getting into fights, we see the fires burning. But we see it in the context of a world that’s kind of familiar to us. It’s the very near future. It’s not like there are flying cars.”
Alpay said he is interested by some of the questions the series poses.
“What if none of us could have families or children? What would we do to survive? What would we be willing to do? How far are we willing to go? Are we the kind of people we would have wanted to save in the first place?”
The Lottery also allows the Toronto native to work in Canada. The pilot was shot in Vancouver and the series is currently in production in Montreal.
Alpay said it is fun to be recognized by people when he’s back home. “Especially around U of T,” he said. “I guess people are watching TV on their iPads instead of studying.”
But, he added, fame is not what motivates him.
“I’ve always been passionate about acting. I haven’t been passionate about being famous,” said Alpay. “They are very different things. Maybe now, I guess, those two things are conflated.”
He hopes The Lottery is a win.
“People are going to get a punch of a story,” said Alpay, “and hopefully they will get hooked into it and fall in love with it and they’ll demand a second season.”
Lifetime is part of Shaw Media, parent company of Global News.
PARIS – The downing of a passenger jet in Ukraine is likely to be a turning point in the country’s conflict. But which way it turns depends mainly on who carried out the attack and how convincingly it can be proved to the world.
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With suspicion falling heavily on pro-Russian insurgents, the event could provide an opportunity for Russian President Vladimir Putin to disengage from his increasingly uncontrollable allies in eastern Ukraine.
But if enough doubt persists, positions could harden in both Russia and the West. The West could toughen its sanctions against Russia and help Ukraine’s military, prompting Putin to dig in for an even higher-stakes battle.
The disaster has already drawn the world closer into the Ukraine conflict, the worst crisis between Russia and the West in a generation.
It also made the fighting painfully real for families from Australia to Amsterdam whose relatives were on Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. And it revealed a danger that most people hadn’t contemplated: rebels able to strike beyond their own homeland by pointing conventional weapons toward the skies.
Definitive proof that the insurgents are at fault could be a crucial step toward defusing the months-long conflict, discrediting them so badly that Russia’s leadership distances itself from the rebels and their movement fizzles.
Even before the plane was downed, Putin faced competing pressures at home. Some in his administration were urging him to take a more forceful hand in supporting the rebels, while others urged him to step away.
If the rebels can be shown to have committed an act that horrified the world, the doves would likely see their position strengthened. But Putin-watchers caution that with the Russian president, you never really know.
Any change would probably be gradual, especially because Putin has always denied any direct role in supporting the rebels.
Live Blog: Updates on downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17
It will be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to prove definitively who shot down the Boeing 777 and why. This is an unusually tough investigation in a region where no one is really in charge, propaganda trumps truth and every announcement seems to have an ulterior motive.
If enough doubt remains about who shot down the plane, Russia could plausibly continue to quietly support the rebels, especially as many Russians believe the Ukrainian government was responsible for the attack.
Of course, that would bring consequences for Russia. In Washington, some lawmakers are already pushing President Barack Obama to get tougher on Russia and crank up the sanctions. European leaders face similar calls.
The West might even increase its military aid to Ukraine. And it’s anyone’s guess where those hostilities might lead.
Few passenger airliners have ever been shot down – and when they are, it can cause lasting political damage.
A U.S. warship mistakenly shot down an Iranian jet in 1988 during the Iran-Iraq war, killing 290 people and prompting widespread anger at U.S. policy and years of legal dispute.
The downing of a Korean Airlines flight by Soviet forces in 1983 and the loss of 269 lives sparked one of the tensest moments of the Cold War and led to an escalation of anti-Soviet sentiment in the U.S. The man in charge of the Soviet Union at the time, Yuri Andropov, was a hero of Putin’s.
Lingering uncertainty about Flight 17 could lead to yet another option: condemning eastern Ukraine to a frozen conflict, like others around Russia’s edges.
It may take days or longer to know what Putin plans to do. A dragged-out, inconclusive investigation could leave things just as they are, serving Russia’s interests by preserving economic ties between eastern Ukraine and Russia and effectively scotching any Ukrainian attempt to join NATO.
The world may never know what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared over the Indian Ocean this year. And it’s possible that the motive behind the downing of Flight 17 could remain a mystery as well.
Whether it does could well determine the future of Ukraine.
Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report
©2014The Canadian Press
Environmental activists and concerned citizens will be giving out special postcards to mark Canada Parks Day tomorrow.
The postcards are addressed to Environment Minister Mary Polak, asking her government to repeal the controversial Park Amendment Act.
The act allows private companies to conduct research in B.C. parks and apply to have sections of park land utilized for industrial development.
The bill was passed earlier this year with little public consultation.
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On Saturday, volunteers with Sierra Club BC and other environmental organizations will be talking to park visitors throughout B.C. about the new legislation.
“From Kitimat to Kamloops, to spots in the Fraser Valley to the Gulf Islands to Vancouver Island, people are going to be out in parks, talking to visitors,” says Caitlyn Vernon with Sierra Club BC. “We are calling on Minister Polak to stand up for parks, not pipelines and repeal this act.”
Vernon says more than 167,000 people signed the petition to keep B.C. parks free of industrial activity in a matter of two weeks.
The petition was delivered to Minister Polak in May.
“It has really hit a nerve with British Columbians who disagree to opening our parks to pipelines, logging and other industrial activity,” says Vernon. “This legislation was rammed through the Legislature with no opportunity for British Columbians to give feedback, so a lot of people do not know what is going on.”
Watch: Proposed changes to BC Parks Act worry environmentalists