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She quit university due to an alcohol problem. Now sober, she landed a $35K scholarship – CBC.ca

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Laura Eamon was a few months into her first semester at Carleton University in 2011 when she was taken from a residence party to hospital by paramedics.

Embarrassed by being carried out in front of her fellow students, her mindset changed when she was discharged and returned to campus in Ottawa.

“People are cheering and chanting, and like, ‘Oh, my God. You’re the girl that got taken by ambulance. You drink as much as I do,'” said Eamon. “It was almost like a badge of honour.”

It wasn’t the only time Eamon, originally from Hammonds Plains, N.S., went to hospital because of excessive drinking.

From 2008 to 2013, alcohol was a big part of Eamon’s life. Her struggles with alcohol eventually led her to drop out of university.

Prestigious scholarship

But Eamon is now back at university, this time at Saint Mary’s in Halifax. Sober for more than eight years, the 28-year-old just landed a prestigious Frank H. Sobey scholarship worth $35,000, one of nine given out annually to undergraduate business students in Atlantic Canada. She has a year left in her studies.

As part of her application for the scholarship, which included reference letters, written essays and an interview process, Eamon talked about her sobriety.

“I wanted to show that it is a possibility for people to change, for people to grow, for people to survive substance-use disorder,” she said.

Eamon started drinking when she went to C.P. Allen High School in Bedford, N.S., and liked the confidence it gave her. She believed alcohol was part of the package that included new friends, big parties and adventure.

‘The alcohol sort of took over’

Even though Eamon skipped a lot of classes, she kept her grades up. She graduated in 2011, and wanting to go somewhere bigger than Halifax, she decided on Ottawa.

“And when I got into university, the alcohol sort of took over,” said Eamon.

Eamon is shown in a photo from her time at Carleton University. Students in residence would wear these red sweaters and they could have their nicknames printed on the sleeve. ‘Naturally everyone agreed on my nickname, and I paid actual money to have that branded on my sweater,’ she says. (Submitted by Laura Eamon)

In her first year, she lived in residence. She failed a few classes and barely scraped by in the others, missing a lot of instruction time along the way.

Eamon headed home for the summer with a friend, Kassie Nadler. The two split a place in downtown Halifax, but Nadler left after about a month.

“She packed up all of her stuff and said, ‘I can’t do this anymore. It’s impossible to live with you and you’re ruining my time here. You are sick and this is too much. Something’s got to change. And I’ll see you in Ottawa in September,'” said Eamon. “And she left.”

The experience was a first for Eamon. No one had told her that her drinking was problematic. 

Nadler told CBC News this was actually the second time she had a conversation like that with her best friend. The previous time was during their first year of university.

Then 18, the pair would often head to nearby Gatineau, Que., where the legal drinking age is 18, so they could go to clubs. Eamon would often black out from drinking.

“I can’t take care of you in those moments where you need me to,” Nadler told Eamon at the time. “And I’m not physically capable and I can’t make sure that you’re safe, and it puts me in an uncomfortable position.”

For their second year of university, the pair lived off-campus and had other roommates.

Eamon said she knew something was wrong when her roommates were able to balance their studies, work and maintain a social life, but she couldn’t.

“They were thriving, and I was sad and lonely and sick,” said Eamon.

Within a week, she dropped out. She got a job and worked to pay for her rent and alcohol.

Early the following year, Eamon moved home. She continued drinking, couch-surfed and worked a series of jobs in retail and reception when she wasn’t calling in sick for the day.

“I feel bad for all the customers who I dealt with … I was pretty haggard-looking and rough around the edges, probably cranky all the time,” said Eamon.

Eamon bikes on P.E.I.’s Confederation Trail in the summer of 2021. (Submitted by Laura Eamon)

One day that summer in 2013, she woke up in a hotel room and didn’t know where she was.

She went to her first AA meeting that night and cried the entire time. At the end of the meeting, she had a realization.

“How can you go to a bonfire or the beach or, you know, a cottage without drinking?” said Eamon. “I was, like, sobbing to this woman, just so concerned — not that I had woken up downtown in a place where I didn’t even know existed, but because I was worried about going to the beach without alcohol.”

Sober since Nov. 9, 2013

Eamon wasn’t ready to quit drinking, but on Nov. 9, 2013, she went to AA after she was sexually assaulted.

“I knew I didn’t want to ever be in a situation like that again if I could help it, and the only thing that I could control was my own actions,” said Eamon. “And that’s really where my sobriety started.”

Eamon has been sober ever since. She said being surrounded by people who had similar experiences helped her maintain her sobriety. Her father was also an important resource. He was also a recovering alcoholic who had been sober since before Eamon was born.

Growing up, Eamon attended meetings with her father on his sobriety birthdays.

Life without alcohol was different. She didn’t have mysterious bruises and pulled muscles and other injuries. Eamon also noticed she suddenly had extra money. It wasn’t just the money saved from not buying alcohol; it was things like not buying fast food while drinking or the morning after, and not missing work and wages.

Eamon also fell in love.

“All of a sudden, I was experiencing joy,” she said.

Eamon is now a stepmom. Her partner has two kids from a previous marriage.

She also got a diploma in medical office administration and started working in the health-care system, but she longed for a bigger challenge and applied to Saint Mary’s University in 2017 and started attending the school.

Eamon is shown with her partner and her stepdaughters. (Submitted by Laura Eamon)

She’s balanced working in different positions — she’s currently a project co-ordinator with the Sackville Business Association — and going to school while taking less than a full course load.

Since giving up drinking, it hasn’t been all joy for Eamon. Her father died due to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and her mother had a brain aneurysm, but has fully recovered.

Finding the money to pay for school has been another challenge. Needing a “Hail Mary,” she learned of the Sobeys scholarship. Looking at the past recipients, she felt intimidated by their success.

“And my partner was just saying, you know, ‘You’re pretty incredible, too. Why don’t you apply?'” said Eamon.

Part of the application process included talking about volunteer experience. Eamon’s volunteer work includes sitting on the board of the Sackville Rivers Association and acting as the communications chair for the organization, which is the community where she now lives. She’s the treasurer of the Saint Mary’s University Environmental Society.

Eamon is also involved with the Halifax Recovery Society, a non-profit focused on breaking down the stigma of mental health and substance-use disorders. For their 2021 Recovery Day event, Eamon told her story.

Breaking the stigma of addiction

Julie Melanson is the society’s founder. She said when people like Eamon tell their stories, it helps break down stigma.

Julie Melanson is the founder of the Halifax Recovery Society. She says success stories, like that of Eamon, help make it easier for people struggling with substance-use disorder to seek help. (Submitted by Julie Melanson)

“People are able to relate,” said Melanson. “They could hear themselves through that story and know that they’re not alone, so it’s incredibly important for stories to be shared, like Laura’s, in a place where it’s public, where it can be viewed, not behind closed doors, because we need to normalize conversations to really break that societal stigma.”

Melanson said the stories also offer hope.

“It really shows that we can recover, we do recover and we do succeed in great ways, so it’s absolutely phenomenal,” said Melanson.

‘Still just funny and outgoing,’ says friend

While on opposite ends of the country, Nadler and Eamon remain friends. They’ve also taken road trips together over the years. While Eamon’s confidence has grown, in other ways she hasn’t changed.

“She was still the same Laura that I met on the first day that I went to Carleton for the group tour, still just funny and outgoing and social and very interested in the world around her and in the people that she surrounds herself with,” said Nadler.

When Eamon learned she had won the scholarship, the celebration was simple: she and her partner got Chinese food.

“I think I’ve turned into a homebody and I’m comfortable with that,” she said. “And it’s the little things that make a difference now.”

There are resources in place for Nova Scotians needing help with addictions. The province’s mental health and addictions line can be reached by phone at 1-855-922-1122.

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Prince Charles and Camilla kick off Canadian tour – CTV News

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St. JOHN’S –

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, arrived Tuesday in St. John’s, N.L., to begin a three-day Canadian tour that will largely focus on reconciliation with Indigenous people.

Under partly cloudy skies, the couple landed at St. John’s International Airport aboard a Canadian government jet. They then headed by motorcade to a welcome ceremony at the provincial legislature with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon.

The couple were met by an honour guard and various dignitaries before shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries with people in the crowd. On the steps leading to the legislature, about 100 schoolchildren waved small Canadian and provincial flags.

Grade 6 student Anna Jeans said she was thrilled at the possibility she might get a high-five from Charles or Camilla. “I’m very excited,” she said, bouncing on her toes. “It’s a big opportunity for me.”

Nearby, Tara Kelly — wearing a homemade fascinator with a tall plume of green feathers — said she’s long been a fan of the Royal Family. “It’s a fantasy,” she said.

Inside the Confederation Building’s purple-lit foyer, the prince and the duchess looked on as Innu elder Elizabeth Penashue offered a blessing and Inuk soprano Deantha Edmunds sang.

The event began with a land acknowledgment honouring the province’s five Indigenous groups as well as the Beothuk people, who were among the first inhabitants of Newfoundland, their history stretching back 9,000 years.

Simon welcomed Charles and Camilla to Canada in Inuktitut. She asked Charles and Camilla to listen to the Indigenous groups they will meet in Canada and to learn their stories.

“I encourage you to learn the truth of our history — the good and the bad,” she said. “In this way, we will promote healing, understanding and respect. And in this way, we will also promote reconciliation.”

The prince started his speech by noting that the land that became Canada has been cared for by Indigenous people — First Nations, Metis and Inuit — for thousands of years.

“We must find new ways to come to terms with the darker and more difficult aspects of the past, acknowledging, reconciling and striving to do better,” he said. “It is a process that starts with listening.”

The prince said he had spoken with the Governor General about the “vital process” of reconciliation.

“(It’s) not a one-off act, of course, but an ongoing commitment to healing, respect and understanding,” he said. “I know that our visit this week comes at an important moment with Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples across Canada, committing to reflect honestly and openly on the past.”

Charles and Camilla then moved on to Government House, the official residence of Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote, the Queen’s representative in the province.

Outside the residence, they will take part in a reconciliation prayer with Indigenous leaders at the Heart Garden, which was built to honour Indigenous children who attended the province’s residential schools.

Earlier in the day, Trudeau said reconciliation will form part of the discussions Charles and Camilla engage in during their visit. But the prime minister avoided answering when asked if he thinks the Queen should apologize for the legacy of residential schools.

“Reconciliation has been a fundamental priority for this government ever since we got elected, and there are many, many things that we all have to work on together,” he said. “But we know it’s not just about government and Indigenous people. It’s about everyone doing their part, and that’s certainly a reflection that everyone’s going to be having.”

Metis National Council President Cassidy Caron has said she intends to make a request for an apology to the prince and duchess during a reception Wednesday at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

Caron has said residential school survivors have told her an apology from the Queen is important as she is Canada’s head of state and the leader of the Anglican Church. “The Royals have a moral responsibility to participate and contribute and advance reconciliation,” Caron said in Ottawa on Monday.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools when Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors visited the Vatican. He will travel to Canada to deliver the apology this summer.

Leaders from four of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Indigenous groups were expected to attend the prayer ceremony at the lieutenant-governor’s residence in St. John’s. Elders and residential school survivors were also invited to take part in a smudging ceremony, musical performances, a land acknowledgment and a moment of silence.

Charles and Camilla will then tour Quidi Vidi, a former fishing community in the east end of St. John’s.

The couple are expected to arrive in Ottawa tonight. Their tour will also take them to the Northwest Territories.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2022.

— With files from Michael MacDonald in Halifax and Kelly Geraldine Malone in Winnipeg

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Sanctioned Russians will be banned from entering Canada, government says – CBC News

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Russians sanctioned by Canada will be barred from entering the country, Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) say.

In a statement from CBSA, Mendicino announced he’ll introduce changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) that will prevent those sanctioned individuals from coming into the country.

“These changes will allow the Canada Border Services Agency to deny entry to, and remove, individuals subject to sanctions, and will allow Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) officials to deny visas,” the statement reads.

“Once in force, these amendments to IRPA will apply to all foreign nationals subject to sanctions by Canada, and any accompanying family members.”

The government has sanctioned over 1,000 individuals and entities from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in retaliation for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to Global Affairs Canada.

Among those sanctioned are senior Russian government officials such as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, billionaire oligarch Roman Abramovich, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adult daughters Katerina Tikhonova and Maria Vorontsova, and Putin himself.

The sanctions prevent them from receiving financial and property services in Canada or from Canadians outside of Canada.

“In the face of the Putin regime’s brutal attack, Canada stands with Ukraine. Banning close associates and key supporters of Putin’s regime, including those responsible for this unprovoked aggression, from entering our country is one of the many ways in which we’re holding Russia accountable for its crimes,” Mendicino said in the statement. 

“We will continue to exhaust all options to uphold freedom and democracy, punish Russia and support Ukraine.” 

Russia has sanctioned Canadians in retaliation for Canada’s sanctions — including premiers, military officials and journalists.

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UFOs: More Canadian politicians briefed – CTV News

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Canadian members of Parliament are urging the government to pay more attention to recent U.S. news about “unidentified aerial phenomena,” or UAP: a term used for what are more commonly known as unidentified flying objects and UFOs.

According to Conservative MP Larry Maguire and a Texas-based researcher, at least three Canadian politicians have now sought UAP briefings from former Pentagon officials.

“When you see the information that’s come out of the United States, you’d have to take it seriously,” Maguire told CTV News from his Ottawa office. “We need to have a parallel program to what the United States already has.”

On Tuesday, a pair of senior U.S. military officials testified during the first public congressional hearing on UFOs in more than 50 years.

“We know that our service members have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena,” Ronald Moultrie, who oversees the Pentagon’s current UFO research office, said during the hearing. “We’re open to any conclusions that we may encounter.”

Earlier this month, CTVNews.ca revealed former Canadian defence minister Harjit Sajjan also received a UFO briefing ahead of the June 2021 release of an unclassified U.S. intelligence report on recent military sightings, which have included UAP that appeared to “maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, without discernable means of propulsion.” Military personnel, police and pilots have also filed reports in Canada.

“We need to identify the origins and the intent of these UAPs, and that certainly can’t hurt anything,” Maguire said Tuesday.

Maguire’s office states it arranged a Feb. 16, 2021 briefing for the Manitoba MP and another Conservative parliamentarian with Luis Elizondo, a former U.S. Army counterintelligence officer who reportedly ran a UAP research program before resigning from the Pentagon in 2017.

“Mr. Maguire is absolutely correct in his concern, because he knows that these reports do occur,” Elizondo told CTV News from Wyoming on Tuesday. “I think the time has come for us to have an open and honest dialogue about this topic without fear of retribution, without stigma and associated taboo.”

Maguire has penned a recent op-ed on the subject and has even used his committee work to raise questions about UAP sightings in Canada. Earlier this year, Maguire’s office arranged another briefing with members of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU), an international think tank dedicated to applying scientific methods to UAP research.

Engineer and founding SCU board member Robert Powell was part of that Jan. 28 meeting and says he also participated in an Oct. 20, 2021 briefing for a Liberal member of Parliament.

“Both MPs were very interested in the subject,” Powell told CTVNews.ca from Austin, Texas. “The main thing I try to get across in these types of meetings is basically to give them as good an understanding as I can of the history and the current status of the UAP subject.”

According to Powell, the Oct. 2021 UAP briefing with the Liberal MP included former Pentagon intelligence official Christopher Mellon.

“We have no idea where they’re coming from or what their capabilities are, or what their intent is,” Mellon told CTV News in a June 2021 interview. Mellon did not respond to a request to comment on this story.

Internal briefing documents obtained by CTVNews.ca state the Canadian Armed Forces “does not typically investigate sightings of unexplained phenomena outside the context of investigating potential threats or distress.”

Meanwhile in the U.S., Pentagon UFO programs have operated under various acronyms for years. Questions about the national security implications of sightings have even sparked rare cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, which was evident during Tuesday’s congressional hearing and with a late 2021 Senate initiative to establish a new UAP research office.

“One of the interesting and noteworthy points about the study of UAPs is that everything I have seen both in Canada and the United States is that there is no partisanship on this question,” Powell said. “All parties seem to be interested in this subject, and it’s not a political issue.”

“If there’s any issue that we can be nonpartisan on in Canada, it should be this one,” Maguire added.

Ontario NDP MP Matthew Green agrees, saying Canada has nothing to lose by investigating UAP.

“If the testimony coming out of the States provides the public with a glimpse into the seriousness in which they’re taking it, then I think it would be well-advised for us to follow in the same pursuit,” Green told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday from Ottawa. “If they’re having public hearings of this nature, I can only begin to imagine what they already privately know.”

With files from CTV National News field producer William Dugan

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