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A Forgotten Pool of Achievement. Seniors are the answer

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The Pandemic has introduced technical terms into the common person’s vocabulary. The supply chain is one of those words. Most of us went shopping expecting the items we need to be present, yet that circumstance has changed for us all. Businesses cannot get the supplies they have often prepaid suppliers for, waiting for these items while their customers who usually shop at their facilities look elsewhere. Another term is that of brain drain. The pandemic has shown that many of our businesses are experiencing mass resignations, employee’s who have had it with all the corporate stresses and competitiveness that often brings us down into a pit of despair and depression. Being forced to stay at home while this pandemic raged across the land, many of our neighbours have left their professions behind for something better. Our hospitals are suffering a mass exodus of seasoned nurses and medical professionals burnt out and disillusioned by a system that cannot change, stuck in a groove of what used to be. Many businesses are desperately looking for skilled workers.

Further down the road, you find mass disarray within the senior homes portfolio. Many nurses have left, with no professionals to train the newbie nurses coming on board. Seniors who have suffered the worst of this pandemic will be once again ignored by the system, to busy rebuilding the economy. But here is a suggestion that could revigorate our senior population and fill the brain drain our economy is suffering.

Every community has senior homes and a large community of seniors. These are the folks who fought wars, and natural disasters and endured hardships that most of us could not consider. These are the superheroes that can fill in all the gaps within our economy, schools and businesses. Skilled, wise and intelligent, looking for income and something to do as well. The Seniors of our neighbourhoods are the building stones of our communities and economies, solid, stubborn and rooted with attitudes of achievement and bettering themselves and their communities.

Your neighbourhood needs wise communicators, teachers, listeners, and people who can counsel a young person with gusto and true compassion? Woodworkers, construction builders, electricians and plumbers too. Our society needs such people with the skills to get the job done and teach the next generation just how it’s done.

Enable our youth and seniors to interact at school. work and within the community.
Enable our seniors to rethink what retirement means to them.
Let our seniors live their lives as they wish to. Stereotyping our seniors is wrong.

Seniors are living longer, and are staying healthier too. Give them the power to achieve, teach and live and die as respected individuals. Giving a senior the ability to help is commonsense. Do we not all wish to feel needed, useful and active?

Stay local in all things. Support our local manufacturers, retailers, food growers, medical professionals and teachers. The wisdom of the aged is there for the taking, all we need to do is ask and enable these giants of the past and present.

Steven Kaszab
Bradford, Ontario

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A year of trauma, catharsis and finally peace for some survivors of Kamloops school

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KAMLOOPS, B.C. — The nightmares started last May, said Harvey McLeod, chief of the Upper Nicola Indian Band and a survivor of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

They tormented McLeod for months after the discovery of 215 suspected unmarked graves at the school he attended for two years.

Then one night he was visited in his dreams by a young girl who set him free.

“It’s been tough on me and so wonderful at the same time,” said McLeod.

The year since the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced that ground-penetrating radar had located the suspected grave sites in a former apple orchard has been one of national reckoning about residential schools in Canada.

But for survivors of the residential school system it has meant much more: reawakened trauma, catharsis, and, for some, a kind of closure.

“There was a little girl by my right leg, always there,” McLeod recalled of his dream. “I’d get up and walk and she’d be holding onto my leg or my hand. It seemed like everywhere I went that little girl was there.”

The dream ended when the girl walked to a door, waved and left, he said.

“My conclusion was, I’m OK now and she’s OK and she’s going to go home,” said McLeod, 68. “I think she was another child at the school that looked after me and I took care of her.”

Percy Casper, 73, spent 10 years at the Kamloops school. He said he was distraught and angry when he heard the announcement.

“The last year I really had to bear down and go back to my ceremonial life and roots,” said Casper, a member of the Bonaparte Indian Band near Cache Creek. “When I first found out about the 215, I was like a rubber band. I was maxed out and I was ready to snap.”

The former U.S. Marine and Vietnam War veteran said he found peace following a summer solstice ceremony last June at a healing location near Cache Creek.

A mother grizzly bear and three cubs watched in the distance as salmon, venison and berries were left at the sacred site. They emerged from the forest to eat the offerings as he prepared to leave, said Casper, who took their visit as a sign to find strength.

“It was up to me to revisit myself spiritually, and say, ‘Hey, you have to help yourself. You’ve got kids. You’ve got grandkids and you have people,’” he said. “So, I’m very proud to say I’m guilty of helping my people.”

Prof. Nicole Schabus, an Indigenous and environmental law expert at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, said upset survivors started calling her in the hours following the announcement about the suspected graves last May.

“Immediately, it flashed the survivors back to being children again and it brought the intergenerational trauma,” she said.

Many told her about dreams of seeing little boys standing alone, said Schabus.

“It took them a long time to actually realize they were looking at themselves,” she said, adding that many survivors recognized they were ready to move on from their experiences.

Mike Arnouse, 79, spent 11 years at the Kamloops school. He said the past year has seen him renew his commitment to living in unity with the land.

“There’s a cycle of life and we belong in that cycle,” he said. “The birds know what to do. The four-legged animals know what to do. The fish know what to do, but do we?”

The Adams Lake Indian Band member said residential schools were built to take Indigenous people off the land and impose the Western world on them.

“They’ve been practising on us for 500 years,” he said. “I always make the joke, ‘I was the smartest one in Grade 2 for eight years.’ “

The Kamloops residential school operated between 1890 and 1969, when the federal government took over operations from the Catholic Church and ran it as a day school until it closed in 1978.

A 4,000-page report in 2015 by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission detailed harsh mistreatment at the schools, including emotional, physical and sexual abuse of children, and at least 4,100 deaths at the institutions.

The report cited records of at least 51 children dying at the Kamloops school between 1914 and 1963. Health officials in 1918 believed children at the school were not being adequately fed, leading to malnutrition, the report noted.

Kamloops survivor Garry Gottfriedson, 69, said the past year had been emotionally draining for the members of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, who were unable to mourn in private.

“This was such a public thing,” he said.

Gottfriedson, 69, an internationally known poet who provides curriculum advice to Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops on Secwepemc Nation protocols and cultural practices, said community members still struggled with anxiety about the discovery and the next steps for the site, including exhumation.

“It’s different than a graveyard because we know the people who are taken to a graveyard and buried there,” he said. “It’s settled. But there’s so many unknowns with the 215 bodies. Those kids are buried in our yard. It’s a constant reminder.”

McLeod said the discovery of the unmarked graves at Kamloops had forced individuals, institutions and countries to face their past.

“It’s going to take some time, but it changed all of us in one way or another,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2022.

 

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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U.S., Canada, other APEC delegates walk out on Russian speaker

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BANGKOK (AP) — Delegates from the United States, Canada, and three other nations staged a walkout Saturday when a representative from Russia began his opening remarks at a meeting of trade ministers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group in the Thai capital, officials said.

A spokeswoman for Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng said Canada walked out alongside the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia during Russia’s intervention.

“Canada has already taken many actions to hold Russia accountable for its devastating invasion of Ukraine, including severe sanctions against Putin and those who enable him – but we must keep the pressure on,” the minister’s spokeswoman Alice Hansen said by email.

A Japanese official said Japan’s Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda and his counterparts walked out of the meeting in Bangkok to protest Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A statement from the office of New Zealand Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor said he walked out “in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has slowed the region’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and made it harder for people in the region to get food on their tables.

A U.S. official in Bangkok confirmed the walkout but did not provide further details. He asked not to be identified. There is diplomatic sensitivity over speaking about the incident because the proceedings were held in closed session. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is representing Washington at the meeting.

Thailand is this year’s host nation for meetings of APEC, which comprises 21 economies. The two-day trade ministers meeting ends Sunday.

The walkout occurred just as Maxim Reshetnikov, Russia’s minister for economic development, was set to deliver his opening remarks, said a Southeast Asian diplomat, also speaking on condition of anonymity.

He said the delegates of the five protesting nations and their staff walked out together in what appeared to clearly be a planned action, and returned after Reshetnikov completed his remarks.

Canada added Reshetnikov to its list of sanctioned Russian officials in mid March.

Western nations have imposed tough diplomatic and economic sanctions on Russia because of its invasion of Ukraine, but many of APEC member nations, especially in Southeast Asia and Latin America, have distanced themselves from such moves. The war in Ukraine has raised major trade issues because it has disrupted supply chains, especially in the food sector.

APEC was launched in 1989 to boost growth by promoting economic integration and trade among its members.

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Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo, Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand and David Rising in Bangkok contributed to this report.

 

Grant Peck, The Associated Press

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‘Still going’: Some RVers say high gasoline prices could keep them closer to home

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With gasoline prices hitting all-time highs, Jeff Redmond says he’s planning to stay closer to home when RV camping this summer.

The owner and general manager of Bucars RV Centre in Balzac, Alta., says recreational vehicles are still one of the most affordable ways to travel as a couple or with a family once hotels, gasoline prices or airline costs are factored in.

“We laugh that RVers are the ones that are winning,” Redmond said in an interview this week.

The cost of gasoline declined slightly before this May long weekend, the unofficial kickoff to summer camping season, but analysts say summer demand in coming weeks has the potential to send prices even higher.

Redmond said that could influence where he travels this year.

“The Okanagan Valley is a place I like to go … and that’s a seven-hour drive, so maybe I am going to go to Pigeon Lake or Gull Lake (Alberta), which is an hour-and-a-half drive,” he said. “The good news is that I am still going.

“We’re able to alter our plans and to work within our budget.”

Redmond said he has heard a similar sentiment from customers. Some are staying closer to home. Others are planning to stay longer at one campsite.

“You park the larger trailer at a permanent campsite, or at your friend’s cottage, or at the old family farm, or at a winery in the Okanagan — and you don’t tow it,” he said. “You hop in your family car and you go back and forth. You have a built-in, very affordable … off-the-grid cabin that is extremely efficient once you get there.

“Lots of people are no longer towing.”

Rob Minarchi is vice-president of sales at ArrKann Trailer & R.V. Centre with outlets across Alberta. He said there’s been a lot of demand for RVs since the start of the pandemic and it hasn’t slowed down this year.

“Most (people) are upgrading, as crazy as that sounds,” he said from Edmonton. “Some people are selling … because circumstances have changed but, for the most part, they are just trading in for different units.

“There’s a lot of new RVers who came to the market when COVID first hit … but they didn’t know exactly what they wanted.”

Those customers, he said, are trading in for units that better suit their needs.

Minarchi said he hasn’t heard about anyone getting rid of an RV due to high gas prices.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of people are just camping a little closer,” he said. “If they were going to do a five-hour trip, now they are going to do a one-hour trip … I think it actually ties in a little bit with COVID and staying close to home.

“They found so many hidden gems locally … in the last couple of years that they are OK to do that.”

Some campgrounds are starting to notice some changes.

“I’ve had a few people cancel,” said Scott Kast, owner of Tomahawk R.V. at Lake of the Woods in Ontario.

But, he said, gas prices are a minor factor in those cancellations.

“We do get a lot of Americans here. One thing holding people back is vaccine mandates,” said Kast.

Another campground manager told CKPG radio station in Prince George, B.C., that some people travelling from farther away have cancelled.

“A lot of people are wanting to stay local,” said Bobbie Carpino, who runs the Salmon Valley campground.

“We’ve seen cancellations from folks coming in from the States heading up to Alaska, as well as folks coming in from the Lower Mainland.”

The price of fuel could add $100 or $200 to the cost of an average camping trip, Minarchi said.

“It feels like a lot when you are at the pump but … it’s still affordable to do it,” he said. “One less restaurant that you eat out at pays for the difference in your fuel for the whole camping trip.”

Some RVers, he said, are adding solar panels and buying generators to make it easier to camp off the grid — including on Crown land. Others are parking their RVs at permanent sites for the entire summer.

“They are still camping, so that’s good.”

Redmond said the pandemic encouraged many people to get outdoors in their RVs, on a mountain bike or with a set of golf clubs.

“I am a guy that went and bought a new bicycle and there’s no way I’m selling my bike. It’s been awesome to get on the trails and get reintroduced to that,” he said.

“There (are) lots of people, their lives got in the way of our great outdoors. They are stepping back now and saying, ‘Wow, that was great’ and they are going to keep doing it.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2022.

 

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

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