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Need a little space? A Hobbit Hole in Vancouver throws open its round doors



VANCOUVER — Sometimes we all need somewhere for a little alone time.

Vancouver resident Anne Bruinn found hers in a tiny “Hobbit Hole” that her husband built in their backyard in the neighbourhood of Dunbar, complete with a grassy roof and round doorway, and now she wants to share it.

She’s throwing open the doors to the Hobbit Hole to anyone who needs an hour or two to study, nap, meditate or even have a good cry.

The bright yellow Hobbit Hole, which Bruinn also calls her “she shed,” is eight feet by six feet with a comfy chair, small fireplace heater and porthole windows. There’s an extension cord for power, and a plate of cookies baked by Bruinn on the doorstep.

Bruinn says she considers herself “the luckiest girl in the world,” happy with her family that includes two children and three dogs. But sometimes she needs some space, even if it’s only about 50 square feet.

“I just needed an hour to myself, whether I want to read, listen to music, just uninterrupted. One hour is all I need, but I had nowhere to go,” says Bruinn.

So her husband spent two weeks building the Hobbit Hole.

“In the she shed, I like to play Scrabble on my phone. That makes me happy. I write books that nobody reads,” Bruinn says with a laugh.

But Bruinn doesn’t always need the space, so she’s welcoming anyone else who needs it, albeit for only a couple hours at a time, since there’s no washroom.

The rules are simple – no smoking, vaping or drugs. Reservations can be made via the Hobbit Hole’s website,

So what does Bruinn want from her guests in return?

She says a “cool twig” might suffice. Or a flower. Or a painted rock.

“Please show me a card trick or teach me some dance moves,” says Bruinn. “I am open to anything. Just give me something from your heart.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.


Nono Shen, The Canadian Press


Trudeau rejects Russia referendum, again promises sanctions



OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has condemned votes in occupied parts of Ukraine to join Russia, but gave no timeline for sanctions Canada promised a week ago.

Trudeau says the referendums are an attempt by Russia to redraw the map as it loses territory in the war it started in February.

Moscow claims people in the four regions it occupies voted upwards of 87 per cent to join Russia, but western governments say the process was rigged.

Trudeau says Russia is trying to justify its war by claiming territory so that it can paint Ukraine as the aggressor.

The prime minister also phoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday to pledge his support for the country.

Yet Trudeau had no timeline for when Canada would sanction more Russians.

“We are going to have stronger sanctions; those will be announced very soon,” Trudeau said, arguing Canada is among the countries that has sanctioned Russia the most.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced more sanctions were coming last Thursday.

Ottawa has similarly provided no details since announcing Monday that it would sanction Iranian officials for the human-rights crackdown that followed the death of Mahsa Amini, after she was arrested by the country’s morality police.

Trudeau said he promised Zelensky that Canada will do what it can to make sure the “sham referendums” aren’t endorsed by other countries.

“We’re also going to continue working with the world to recognize that what Putin is trying to do is completely illegitimate,” Trudeau told reporters Thursday afternoon.

He was visiting Quebec’s Iles-de-la-Madeleine to tour damage caused by post-tropical storm Fiona last weekend.

Earlier Thursday, Defence Minister Anita Anand said Russia’s votes violate the international rules-based order that has been in place since the end of the Second World War.

“Canada condemns these actions and I personally am disgusted by them, as they are reprehensible,” she said.

“Ukraine’s territory will always remain Ukraine’s territory.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

— With files from Lee Berthiaume in Ottawa and Émilie Bergeron in Iles-de-la-Madeleine


Dylan Robertson, The Canadian Press

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Banning Russians from visiting Canada would trap dissidents, Liberals say



OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says she does not support following European countries in barring Russians from getting visas, since many are likely to flee their country.

Joly says Russian President Vladimir Putin’s move to recruit more troops for his war in Ukraine shows the regime’s desperation, which she says is putting Russians at risk.

She also said Canada is working with allies to see whether international tribunals can prosecute Russia for illegally invading Ukraine.

She says right now her top concern is Russia’s plan to hold votes in parts of Ukraine it has occupied, likely in an effort to have them join Russia.

Joly said these are “sham referendums,” which Russia could use as a premise to claim that Ukraine was the aggressor.

She also says Canada will soon ramp up its sanctions against Russia, and that she will make a national address on Monday about Canada’s support for Ukraine.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 22, 2022.


The Canadian Press

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NB Power ‘paternalistic,’ not negotiating fairly on dam project: Wolastoqey Nation



FREDERICTON — The Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick says negotiations with the province’s energy utility have broken down regarding a multibillion-dollar plan to upgrade the Mactaquac dam and generating station west of Fredericton.

NB Power has reneged on certain terms that had been agreed upon by both sides, the First Nation said Wednesday, involving issues such as community interests, cultural protection and economic opportunities.

Chief Gabriel Atwin of the Kingsclear First Nation — a member of the Wolastoqey Nation — says the Crown corporation is not negotiating in good faith because the government is upset about their title claim to large swaths of the province.

“It’s a paternalistic approach,” Atwin said in an interview. “I believe that the unfortunate part is the premier is upset with the Wolastoqey people because of the title claim and basically trying to block every step of negotiation in any field — not just Mactaquac dam.”

Last year, six Wolastoqey chiefs filed a title claim in court for 60 per cent of New Brunswick’s territory and targeted corporations such as NB Power and forestry giant J.D. Irving, which exploit resources on their traditional lands. The chiefs want the land returned, they want compensation for the use of that land for the last 200 years, and they want title to the entire area.

A news release by the Wolastoqey Nation said NB Power and the chiefs spent several years negotiating terms for the Mactaquac dam, which the province wants to keep operational until 2068 at a cost of up to $3.6 billion. The dam is located 20 kilometres west of the New Brunswick capital.

Documents shared by the First Nation said NB Power made a first offer in March 2021 with six terms, involving issues such as employment and education, environment, community interests and cultural protection measures, with money set aside for each.

The Wolastoqey responded with a counter offer in September 2021, which included environmental protections and a proposal for a 200-megawatt renewable energy project that would cover the First Nation’s energy needs and allow it to sell surplus power at a competitive rate, the documents show.

In a letter sent to the Wolastoqey in May, Charlie Ryan, NB Power’s project director for the dam project, said the utility would like to continue negotiations focusing solely on employment and education, environmental concerns, and procurement and contracts.

Completed in 1968, the dam, Atwin said, has destroyed a number of cultural traditions such as salmon fishing because there’s no passage for the animals.

“That’s how we feel as people,” Atwin said. “We’re an afterthought.”

NB Power said in a statement that the utility has discussions with First Nations communities as part of its “duty to consult.”

“NB Power remains committed to working with the Wolastoqey Nation as the utility continues to explore a path forward for the Mactaquac life achievement project,” it said.

Atwin said the chiefs are hoping NB Power will come back to the table to resume talks and that negotiations will result in something that is “economically sustainable for their community.”

The Wolastoqey Nation had no say in the construction of the dam, Atwin said, adding that the project has created noise and light pollution and environmental contamination and reduced food security.

“I just want to reiterate that the chiefs are not asking for anything unreasonable,” he said. “We just want to share in the benefits of this dam.”

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


Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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