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A kilt, a cart and a husky: Scotsman learning lots about kindness, Canada on 'adventure of a lifetime' – CBC.ca

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With around 5,000 kilometres under his kilt, Michael Yellowlees is on his third pair of shoes. 

His dog Luna trotting at his side, Yellowlees has been pushing his improvised cart along the shoulder of the Trans-Canada highway since March. 

“We’re walking 40 or 50 kilometres every day,” Yellowlees said. “But we’re living an adventure of a lifetime. Canada is such a beautiful country in so many ways.”

Man and dog are walking west to east, from Tofino, B.C., to Cape Spear, N.L., which they hope to reach sometime in December.

Their journey is to raise money for Trees for Life, a charity based in Scotland dedicated to “rewilding” the Scottish Highlands. According to the charity, only 2 per cent of the original forests in the highlands of Scotland remain. 

“If you ever go to Scotland, you walk in the Highlands and you’ll see it’s a very barren landscape,” Yellowlees said. “I’ve always found it a very sad landscape, walking through it. And then you find out it should be forested from coast to coast and be bursting with life, and you start to go, ‘OK, well, we need to fix this.'”

Yellowlees hopes to do exactly that, and so far he’s collected more than $25,000 on his walk.

  • WATCH | The feature about Michael Yellowlees’ long walk, Sunday Oct. 3 on The National at 9 p.m. ET on CBC News Network and 10 p.m. local time on your CBC television station. You can also catch The National online on CBC Gem.  

Why Canada?

Yellowlees, who turned 32 on the road and celebrated with a steak each for him and Luna, got the idea for the walk last year when he was working at a sled dog company on the west coast. 

That was also when he met Luna — a seven-year-old Alaskan husky and former lead dog of a sled team.  

“This is a kind of retirement for her,” Yellowlees said with a smile. 

Yellowlees and Luna walk along a trail beside the Trans-Canada highway near Petawawa, Ont. Man and dog left Tofino, B.C., last March and hope to reach Cape Spear, N.L., some time this winter. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Yellowlees says the reason he decided to walk across Canada is pretty simple.   

“You’ve got wilderness here, and that we don’t have in Scotland anymore,” he said. “We’ve lost it over the last few hundred years. The ecology in Scotland has been eroded and we’re kind of left with the bare bones.”

His eyes light up as he explains one of the greatest experiences he’s had to date on the walk. 

“Just the other night I’m hearing wolves howling, and for me that’s like a bucket-list moment. That was spine-tingling and something that I really hope that Scotland will have in the future.”

Rock star on the road 

The journey is striking a chord with people across Canada. 

Theresa-Jane Snyder drove a couple of hundred kilometres down the highway to take a care package to Yellowlees and Luna after she found out about them online. 

“I think it’s just brilliant,” Snyder said. “I’m just inspired by him, by choosing Canada to walk across!”

WATCH:  Michael Yellowlees meets Theresa-Jane Snyder on the highway near Deep River, Ont:

Kindness of strangers supports Michael Yellowlees on his cross-Canada journey

3 days ago

Theresa-Jane Snyder stopped her car on the Trans-Canada highway near Deep River, Ont., to hand Michael Yellowlees a bag with supplies to help him on his cross-Canada walk for charity. 0:44

This is the effect Yellowlees has. All day long people honk and holler and stop to offer him food or water. 

“People have just been glorious — right from the get go,” Yellowlees said. 

“The amount of times they’ve just lifted us up in our spirit — it’s totally just carried us along.”

Darla Stewart recently spent the day peeking out her windows and watching the road from her home in Point Alexander, Ont., so as not to miss Yellowlees and Luna.

When she finally caught sight of them she waved them across the highway to her house.

Yellowlees chats with Darla Stewart on her driveway in Point Alexander, Ont. Stewart found out about Yellowlees and Luna online and spent the day waiting for them to pass her house. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

As they chat, Stewart fills Luna’s bowl three times with water. 

“This is what we do. This is the Ottawa Valley,” Stewart said. “We call people in. We feed them. We put them on their way. That’s what people do here.”

Stewart invites Yellowlees for a meal, but he declines as he has already fallen a little behind schedule. He and Luna have to keep walking.      

Stewart waves from her driveway — smiling. 

“He’s had long days, hard days, hot days, cold nights, and it’s going to get worse before he gets where he’s going. It’s just uplifting,” Stewart said. “I’m like a mom. You want to make sure they’re safe along the way and they’re not hungry.”

Yellowlees continues on his way, and as the sun begins to set he turns down another stranger’s offer — this time a place to stay.

Yellowlees speaks with Peter Selander, a.k.a. Bicycle Pete, in Deep River, Ont. Dozens of Canadians stop to chat and bring food and water to Yellowlees and Luna every day. ‘I knew this would be a trip of human kindness,’ Yellowlees said. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Still, after only a few more kilometres Yellowlees and Luna are exhausted. 

It’s anything but glamorous, but Yellowlees turns his cart away from the highway and finds a secluded spot of grass just behind a gas station. He pulls out his sleeping pad and lies down under the stars.

He calls Luna over and she lies down next to him. 

“You think of giving up all the time you know — all the way across,” he said before shutting his eyes. 

“You have moments of going, ‘Oh, I don’t know if I can do this,’ especially early on when you have such a long road ahead of you,” he said. “There’s always these doubts. So you dream about giving up.”

Four-legged inspiration 

After only a few hours of rest, Yellowlees is awake. Each morning he carefully wraps Luna’s front paws and slips on the booties she’s started to wear to protect her from the hard pavement. 

Then they’re back on the road committed to walking another 40 to 50 km.  

On days like this when he’s tired, Yellowlees says with a smirk that he tries to convince himself that he’s just taking his dog for a walk — a very very long walk. 

In the end, Yellowlees says it’s Luna who keeps him going. 

“She’s the motivator in all of this. She’s the one pulling us along,” Yellowlees said. 

“The mornings where I’m laying in bed just sort of wanting to give up, she’s the one licking me in the face and telling me, ‘Hey, come on, let’s get. Let’s get moving.'”

WATCH: Michael Yellowlees talks about Luna’s central role in his journey:

Michael Yellowlees inspired on his journey by his dog Luna

3 days ago

Michael Yellowlees explains how his dog Luna has helped him keep going through the hard times during his walk across Canada to raise money for a tree-planting charity. 0:45

There have been lots of highs and beautiful moments on the road, but Yellowlees is clear about when he hit rock bottom.

He was on remote stretch of road east of Fort Frances, Ont., and Luna ran off. Yellowlees searched for days in the deep bush but he couldn’t find her. 

“It was the worst week of my life,” he said.

“I was grieving her. I thought I’d lost her. And I’ve got to be honest, I was a mess.”

Yellowlees says he never gave up hope that he’d be reunited with his companion, and he put the word out on social media. 

Finally, on the seventh day, someone found Luna and they were reunited. 

“I just got the most beautiful, beautiful hug from her. She came over, just gave me the most beautiful hug,” remembers Yellowlees. “Then she fell asleep, fell asleep in my arms. What an amazing dog, you know?”

Luna is an Alaskan husky Yellowlees met in Tofino, B.C., where he worked for a dog-sledding operation last winter. ‘Luna is absolutely everything to me,’ he said, ‘she’s been a superstar through it all.’ (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Luna was in rough shape when she returned — thin, exhausted and dehydrated. She was still wearing her leash and Yellowlees wonders if she got it snagged somewhere in the forest and that was why she didn’t come back. 

What is it that people say about absence and the heart?  

“I just couldn’t imagine life without her now. My life wouldn’t be the same going forward,” Yellowlees said. 

He plans to take Luna back to Scotland with him when he finally returns. 

State of the planet

Yellowlees has had plenty of time to think on his journey, and he says his thoughts often turn to climate change and the state of the planet.

He says there’s a parallel between his journey and the work that needs to be done to solve the issue.  

“We’ve got a long road ahead of us to get things back in balance,” he  said.

Yellowlees says he is part dreamer and part realist. He understands that raising money by walking across Canada won’t solve the climate crisis, and so he tries to raise awareness of the issue with the people he meets on the road.

Yellowlees shakes hands with a couple who brought him a care package along Highway 17 near Pembroke, Ont. ‘People have just been glorious – right from the get go,’ said Yellowlees. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Nancy Rose read about Yellowlees’ journey online and drove out to find him.

On the side of the highway they chat about Scotland and the Canadian wilderness, and then Yellowlees nudges the discussion toward climate change. 

“With the climate crisis maybe we can blame the government, we can blame whomever,” Yellowlees said. “But until we start to say ‘we need to change this,’ nothing will really happen.”

Rose nods her head. “You are just an amazing person,” she said. “I think there should be more Michaels and Lunas in the world!”

While Yellowlees has raised more than $25,000 for a charity called Trees for Life, he also hopes his walk will raise awareness about climate change. ‘We’ve got a long road ahead of us to fix things and get things back in balance,’ he said. ‘We can’t give up.’ (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Soon enough, dog and redhead are back on the road heading east, one step at a time. 

Yellowlees says he feels blessed to have witnessed the beauty of Canada from a unique perspective, and he has a message for Canadians about our wilderness. 

“Look after what you have here. It’s so, so precious and so important, and not only just look after it. Give back to it as well, be proactive in restoring it and looking after it.

“We can’t give up. This is the future of the planet, so we can’t give up.”

WATCH | A Scotsman and his dog aim to cross the country on foot:

The Scotsman and his husky aiming to walk across Canada

4 hours ago

Michael Yellowlees of Scotland, and his Alaskan husky Luna of Canada, are walking across Canada. They left Tofino, B.C., last March and have finally reached Ontario. While they hope to reach the eastern tip of Newfoundland sometime in December, their real goal is to raise money for a Scottish charity called Trees for Life. 6:25


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Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic ask for U.S. help on migration

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The presidents of panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday asked for U.S. assistance in stemming the flow of thousands of migrants crossing the dangerous jungles that divide Panama and Colombia as they make their way to the United States.

Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo hosted a meeting with Costa Rica’s Carlos Alvarado Quesada and Dominican Republic’s Luis Abinader in Panama City on Wednesday, where they discussed the burgeoning migrant crisis.

Cortizo said that so far this year a record number of more than 100,000 undocumented migrants have trekked north from Colombia through the Darien Gap, a lawless jungle teeming with everything from deadly snakes to anti-government guerrillas.

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said earlier this month that some 19,000  migrant children have crossed the Darien Gap so far in 2021, almost three times higher than the total for the previous five years.

Cortizo said the situation demands concrete solutions and that Washington should play an active role in assisting.

The Latin American leaders agreed “that our foreign ministers urgently articulate with the U.S. authorities and other countries to … look for concrete measures,” he added.

The presidents discussed the possibility of establishing a strategy of investments and job creation in Haiti, home to many of the migrants.

Cortizo said that he is seeking a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden during the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

In early 2021, Panamanian authorities had warned of a possible crisis after opening the borders that had for months been closed because of the pandemic.

By September, the immigration authorities of the Central American nation reported a record number of 91,305 migrants who entered from neighboring Colombia. Of these, 56,676 were Haitians and 12,870 Cubans.

 

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Anthony Esposito Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and said Americans can choose a shot that is different than their original inoculation.

The decision paves the way for millions more people in the United States to get the additional protection with the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus causing breakthrough infections among some who are fully vaccinated.

The agency previously authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after the first round of shots to increase protection for people aged 65 and older, those at risk of severe disease and those who are exposed to the virus through their work.

Last week, an advisory panel to the FDA voted to recommend a third round of shots of the Moderna vaccine for the same groups.

WATCH | U.S. will now accept Canadian travellers with mixed doses: 

U.S. will now accept Canadian travellers with mixed COVID-19 vaccine doses

5 days ago

The United States has confirmed that Canadians that had different COVID-19 vaccines for their first and second dose will be recognized as fully vaccinated. The U.S. will be implementing travel restrictions on Nov. 8, only permitting fully vaccinated travellers into the country. 2:09

The panel also recommended a second shot of the J&J vaccine for all recipients of the one-dose inoculation at least two months after receiving their first.

The FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were under some pressure to authorize the additional shots after the White House announced plans in August for a widespread booster campaign.

The advisory panel meeting included a presentation of data on mixing vaccines from a U.S. National Institutes of Health study in which 458 participants received some combination of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J shots.

The data showed that people who initially got J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine had a stronger immune response when boosted with either the Pfizer or Moderna shot, and that “mixing and matching” booster shots of different types was safe in adults.

Many countries including Canada and the U.K. have backed mix-and-match strategies for the widely-used AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is not authorized in the United States but is based on similar viral vector technology as J&J’s vaccine.

WATCH | Booster shots not yet needed for most, says specialist: 

COVID-19 booster shots not needed for most people yet, says specialist

14 days ago

Canadians who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 might see longer immunity if their shots were spaced further apart than recommended by the vaccine makers, says Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist in Montreal who said most people don’t need booster shots at this time. (Evan Mitsui/CBC) 4:51

Reuters reported in June that infectious disease experts were weighing the need for booster shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after the J&J shot.

A CDC advisory committee on Thursday will make its recommendations about which groups of people should get the Moderna and J&J boosters, which the agency’s director will use to inform her final decision.

About 11.2 million people have so far received a booster dose, according to data from the CDC.


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Vaccines for kids could face hurdles after approval: 

COVID-19 vaccines for kids could face hurdles after approval

23 hours ago

Health Canada is reviewing data for the first COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, but even if it’s approved, the hurdles could include vaccine supply, distribution and getting some parents on board. 3:38

  • Pandemic restriction opponents line up behind Manitoba PC leadership hopeful.
  • Some unvaccinated municipal workers in northeastern Ontario sent home.
  • N.L. sees 9 cases as officials make tweaks to fix vaccine passport issues.

What’s happening around the world

As of Wednesday, more than 241.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the latest figures posted by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million, according to the U.S-based university’s coronavirus tracker.

In Europe, Russia will shut workplaces for a week, Latvia went back into lockdown for a month and Romanian funeral homes are running out of coffins, as vaccine-skeptic ex-communist countries face record highs of infections and deaths.

In Africa, Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In the Americas, 41 per cent of people across Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization said.

In Asia, China reported a fourth day of new, locally transmitted cases in a handful of cities across the country, spurring local governments to double down on efforts to track potential carriers amid the zero-tolerance policy.

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N.Korea says U.S. overreacting over submarine missile test

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North Korea said on Thursday the United States was overreacting to its recent missile test and questioned the sincerity of Washington’s offers of talks, warning of consequences.

This week’s test of a new ballistic missile from a submarine was part of North Korea’s mid- and long-term plan to bolster self defense and was and not aimed at the United States or any other country, an unnamed spokesperson at Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said, according to the official KCNA news agency.

Washington had taken “overly provocative moves” by calling the test a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a threat to regional peace and stability, the spokesperson said.

The Security Council met on Wednesday over the launch at the request of the United States and Britain, and the U.S. envoy urged Pyongyang to accept offers of talks, reiterating that Washington has no hostile intent toward it.

The foreign ministry spokesperson said the United States’ “double standards” over missile development cast doubt over its overtures.

“It is a clear double standard that the United States denounces us for developing and testing the same weapons system it already has or was developing, and that only adds suspicions to their sincerity after saying they have no hostility towards us,” the spokesperson said in a statement carried by KCNA.

The United States and the council could face “more grave and serious consequences” if they opted for wrong behaviour, the spokesperson said, warning against “fiddling with a time bomb.”

 

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; editing by Richard Pullin)

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