Festival celebrates wizardry
By Deborah MacNevin
There is magic around every corner for movie fans during one special weekend festival in Blyth, Ont.
Blyth hosted the Festival of Wizardry last weekend, to celebrate all things Harry Potter. This is only the second year for the event here. Some people even decorated the outside of their homes and shops for the event.
Upon arrival, the scene could only best be described as “fair-like” minus the thrill of fair attractions. White pitched tents seemed to have popped up like weeds, covering the grounds almost completely.
The eye has many places to look. There is everything from getting your picture taken from a camera that dates to the 18th century to real life games of quidditch, which is the sporting game invented by J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series author. This game would be like football for us.
For a Potter fan, your eyes will always be on the go. Some things were especially cool and made you think, ‘Wow, but how did they do it?’
The most interesting tent I saw was a tent where your wand works. You flick your wand in front of a sign and things would move. The idea is similar to what Harry Potter theme parks do.
So, thinking this was something beyond cool, I waved my hand in front of a small sensor. I twinkled my fingers in front of it, hoping the sensor caught the movement my hand was making. The air filled my ears with the sound of an old record playing.
Fun things were everywhere, but the main event that Potter fans were waiting for would happen on Sunday. Bonnie Wright would be attending the event on the last day of the festival. The festival would mark Wright’s first time ever in Canada. She played the role of Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films. She was also one of my favourite characters.
So, for me this was going to be huge. This was one large step in my love of things Harry Potter and I could not contain my excitement. The 10-year-old self inside me, who had been waiting for so long for this moment, was screaming with excitement.
Wright had an interview up on a stage where everyone could listen and hear her talk and speak about her experiences with being a part of this film series. After listening to her speak, I realized she was more like myself then I ever thought. We both loved The Great Gatsby and her favourite film to work on was my favourite movie, The Chamber of Secrets.
I found her easier to connect to and understand as a human. My starstruck mind seemed to settle.
When it came time to meet her, I was anxious. Wright was so easy to connect to when she was up on stage. She was more than just a star who had been in my childhood movies. She was suddenly someone who just followed an idea that led to something big.
She is a girl who had a goal and stuck with it. By going after an idea, she became who she was. I soon started to see her in a new light.
Meeting Wright was not what I expected. I wasn’t breathless or lost in my head. I was calm and approached her like a friend. When I approached her she smiled, and said “Hello,” she shook my hand and I slightly pushed my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for her to sign. She asked me who she was addressing it to and I told her my name. I gave her a small Canadian flag pin. I have kept this small little pin on my camera for months and finally had found the right person to give it to. Seeing as it was Wright’s first time in Canada. I explained why I gave it to her. It was to mark her first trip to Canada.
“ For us, it’s about the magic and imagination,” said events CEO Nathan Swartz.
As a fangirl, I can say that the experience was a Potter fan’s dream. It still has tons of room to grow and flower into an amazing experience.
New faces seen in welding program
By Brian Choi
The arrival of fall means the cold Canadian winter is on its way.
You might think things are turning cold at Loyalist College, but instead there is a fire and passion for learning, especially among women and international students.
Nowhere is that fire burning brighter than in the welding and fabrication technician program.
Matthew Neill, 40, is a professor in the welding program and has taught in this course since last semester. He said that about 1,000 international students are currently studying at Loyalist and 50 international students are studying in the welding and fabrication technician program.
Neill said the program is a good one for international students because they can still be working on their English skills while learning other skills. If an international student wants to learn, this program is easy to learn, he said.
In this welding program, much of the knowledge needed relates to numbers and skills, not reading. In other words, if someone wants to learn with passion, this program can be adapted to help them earn a reward for the future.
In addition, Neill said people sometimes misunderstand what is needed for welding. People have been taught that only men could work in this area but it’s not true because welders need to be patient and calm during their work. So once women obtain skills about welding and fabrication, they can achieve many things in this field.
Neill said in a class of 24 students, six are international students and three are women, which represents about 38 per cent of the overall group.
Neill has been worked as a structural welder and earned a salary ranging from $40,000 to $150,000. He just came this area, and Napanee specifically to get a job. He fell in love with a woman here and he had a wedding in this area.
After getting married, his wife encouraged him to apply to Loyalist College. She helped him apply and then he was hired as a professor.
Melissa Cho, 24, is one of welding course students and she looks like a Hollywood movie star than our idea of a welder. She came here for a brighter future and she hopes this welding program is popular to companies around the world.
Another student, Keith Gunning, is just 19 years old but he has a strong vision for success. He wants to be a good welder in the field.
International student Gurwinder Singh, 23, came here to learn the welding program from Punjab, India. He too has a vision of a future in welding, and after graduating from this program, hopes to get a job in Canada. His dream is to start a welding business in his country after three or four years later.
Neill said the welding field is currently popular because many older welders are retiring. It means the young generation can find a lot of opportunities in this field.
Mefloquine toxicity an ongoing issue
By Frank Moses
A group of experts and activists, along with soldiers and family members affected by mefloquine toxicity, spoke on Parliament Hill at the Mefloquine Awareness Veterans Rally last Wednesday.
Mefloquine is an anti-malarial drug that has been the subject of much controversy, with several veterans groups and health professionals claiming permanent psychological and physical side-effects from its use.
Speakers included Dr. Remington Nevin, the Vermont-based founder of the Quinism Institute, which seeks to educate the public on the dangers of mefloquine toxicity; David Bona, a Somalia veteran and one of the first campaigners for mefloquine awareness, and Marjorie Matchee, the wife of disgraced soldier Clayton Matchee, whose infamous beating and subsequent death of 16-year-old Somali Shidane Arone on March 4, 1993, shocked Canadians and was dubbed “Canada’s Shame” in the media.
Matchee faced anonymous death threats and censure because of her husband’s actions in Somalia and has spoken against mefloquine toxicity in interviews and rallies on numerous occasions.
“I make no excuses… I don’t defend what he did,” said Matchee. “But the man who committed those crimes was not the man I knew as a loving father and husband.”
She observed behavioural changes in her husband when he was home from Somalia on leave before the beating death of Arone occurred. “He was having hallucinations and terrible nightmares, which he blamed on mefloquine,” she stated.
Clayton Matchee hung himself in detention after his arrest in Somalia and is now in long-term care for serious brain injuries caused by his suicide attempt.
Also present along with her sister Nancy, who spoke on her behalf, was Val Reyes-Santiesteban, the mother of Canadian paratrooper Cpl. Scott Smith, who killed himself in Rwanda on Christmas Day 1994, while serving on a UN mission to quell the bloody slaughter which eventually claimed over 600,000 lives. Scott was her only child.
Nancy Reyes recounted Smith’s last satellite phone call to her sister, when he described his wish to have Christmas dinner on his return home in February. “He sounded cheerful,” she said. But only hours later, Reyes-Santiesteban received the call that would forever change her life — Smith had shot himself and was dead.
Smith had spoken of the effects of mefloquine to his family and comrades and even to a reporter for what is now called Canadian Shipper magazine. He said that the malaria drug had given him nightmares and hallucinations.
Trent Hollahan, a retired paratrooper who was on the Rwanda mission, worked with Smith the day of his suicide. He remembered, “We were tasked to go to an orphanage to deliver toys and clothes and interact with the little orphans. This was at Christmastime and we wanted to share a little joy and happiness with those poor unfortunate children.”
“We returned to the stadium in Kigali later that afternoon and settled into a normal routine. From the best of my recollection, Scott walked up the stairs to the DNS room, exited the stadium, and as he did, he bent over and talked with his butt cheeks like Jim Carrey does in his movies. I remember the troops getting a chuckle out of that, and not one minute later he had walked around the corner and took his own life.
“He was awesome soldier and a fantastic young man and he is missed dearly by the people who knew him and loved him.”
Hollahan said he suffered from vivid nightmares when taking the drug as well. “Seeing and dealing with what we did was tragic and horrific enough for the human brain, but I blame mefloquine for the depths of the tragic despair we have endured during and since that deployment.”
Mefloquine was first tested at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, or WRAIR, in the 1970s, where it was one of 250,00 compounds studied to find a preventative and treatment for malaria. It was later licensed for manufacture by Swiss company Hoffmann–La Roche under the brand names Lariam, Mephaquin and Mefliam, among others.
The drug has a troubled history, including the flawed trial undergone by members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment in 1992-1993 in Somalia. Soldiers who took the drug on the Somalia mission claimed they were never warned of its side effects. In fact, it was a trial in name only.
Health Canada’s protocols for drug trials are normally very thorough and include careful observation, interviews with trial subjects at regular intervals, and discontinuation – or in this case – replacement of the drug when subjects show adverse side effects.
For Canadians serving in Somalia, the sole protocol most remember was to have soldiers gather in groups and ingest it together, so as to ensure compliance. The soldiers took a once-weekly pill that many say caused vivid nightmares, nausea, and in some cases – extreme paranoia and hallucinations.
Many Somalia veterans claim adverse side effects from taking the drug as prescribed, but because no data was taken, only anecdotal evidence exists. Psychological side effects were common enough in Somalia to be given names — “meflomaires” and “Nightmare Mondays” being the most memorable.
Somalia was dangerous enough. Many medical professionals believe armed soldiers on a dangerous mission should not have been tested with an unproven drug. The Somalia Inquiry heard testimony that medical files were updated to document mefloquine exposure only after the mission was complete.
The Health Canada website states the following in their overview of mefloquine: “Health Canada reviewed the potential risk of rare long-lasting and permanent neurological and psychiatric adverse events with the use of mefloquine because it has been an ongoing concern in Canada and internationally. The current Canadian product information for mefloquine warns about neuropsychiatric adverse events including depression, tinnitus (a persistent noise or “ringing” in the ears), dizziness or vertigo (the sensation of motion of self or one’s surroundings). These adverse events may last for months or years after stopping the medication. Patients should consult a healthcare professional if these adverse events happen and in order to be prescribed another medication to prevent malaria. Mefloquine should not be prescribed to patients who have or have had serious psychiatric disorders.”
“The safety review focused on all the evidence available to date to determine whether there was a potential link between the use of mefloquine (for malaria prevention) and rare long-lasting or permanent neurological and psychiatric adverse events, as well as how often these adverse events happen and how serious they are. Another goal of the review was to identify factors that may put certain groups of individuals at increased risk and ways to manage these risks. In this review, a “long-lasting” adverse event was considered to be one that lasted 90 days or more after stopping the use of mefloquine.”
Canada is not the only country grappling with mefloquine toxicity.
Class action lawsuits have been launched on behalf of veterans affected by mefloquine in countries including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Dr. Remington Nevin is founder and executive director of the non-profit Quinism Foundation. He is a board-certified occupational medicine and preventive medicine physician and former U.S. Army medical officer and epidemiologist.
Nevin defines quinism as a family of medical disorders caused by poisoning by mefloquine and related quinoline drugs. He spoke at the rally of his foundation’s struggles to get quinism recognized by health organizations and governments.
The Quinism Foundation’s goals include supporting education on research and it has called on Veterans Affairs Canada to screen recent Canadian veterans for symptomatic mefloquine exposure. Nevin claims mefloquine adversely affects the brain and brain stem.
The Quinism Foundation’s website claims, “Mefloquine exposure may be the cause of several disabling conditions, including dizziness, vertigo, tinnitus, loss of balance, and mental health issues. These symptoms are often misattributed to other conditions, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. For this reason, use of the White River Mefloquine Instrument, or WRMI-2, should be considered standard of care during the evaluation of veterans at risk of mefloquine exposure.”
The two-question WRMI-2 assists in identifying Canadian veterans with disability from dizziness, balance Issues, and other conditions potentially caused by mefloquine exposure.
There is some positive progress on this front.
The Quinism Foundation has partnered with Spartan Wellness, a veteran support and cannabis therapy company founded by nine former members of the CAF.
Spartan Wellness will include WRMI-2 in its intake assessments of clients and identify those with potential mefloquine poisoning for further testing.
Activists believe that governments should ban mefloquine and re-open the Somalia Inquiry in order to fully investigate the drugs effects, including what role it may have had in the death of Arone.
Conservative MP Cathy Wagantall spoke in Parliament as the rally was in progress and again the day after. She admonished the Trudeau government for defending the use of VA funds to treat convicted killer Christopher Garnier, who murdered off-duty police officer Catherine Campbell in September 2015, while ignoring the plight of veterans suffering from mefloquine poisoning.
In the House of Commons on Sept. 25, the Conservatives introduced a motion calling on the Liberal government to “Revoke the Veterans Affairs Canada benefits that have been extended to Chris Garnier.” The motion was defeated 151 to 127 by the Liberal majority.
In August, 2009 Hoffmann–La Roche stopped marketing Lariam in the United States, long after its potential link to demonstrable and lasting side effects in soldiers from at least five countries, but to date, none of the class action lawsuits launched by veterans groups are known to have been settled.
However, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, has recently awarded several disability claims to veterans for permanent neuropsychiatric conditions, including anxiety and insomnia, that it has concluded were because of exposure to mefloquine while serving in the military.
As Canadian troops serve in their latest mission in Mali, mefloquine is still available as a treatment for the prevention of malaria. Many troops, having heard the horror stories from previous missions overseas, may risk a disease of the body – to avoid one of the mind.
Tornadoes ravage communities
(Editor’s Note: Second-year photojournalism student Cassie Gibbons lives near one of the locations of the tornadoes which struck last Friday. She spent time helping with the cleanup and shot these photos.)
By Cassie Gibbons
Last Friday, an EF3 tornado passed through Dunrobin and continued on to batter the Quebec city of Gatineau. With wind speeds reaching up to 265km/h, the small town of Dunrobin sustained incredible damage. The tornado was part of a larger storm system that continued to ravage the town throughout Friday night, causing damage to over 60 buildings and injuring several people.
The rural town’s close-knit population of just over 1,000 has come together to clean up the town.
Ernie Sellers, who has lived on Ridgetop Road in Dunrobin for 33 years, was laying in his bed when he watched the storm roll in.
“The wind was just ripping through the house, shingles all over the place, my window shattered. I was getting soaked by the rain.”
Despite his traumatic experience, Sellers was right back on his feet ready to help, assisting his neighbours to clear Ridgetop Road of fallen trees to allow the city’s clean up crews in to help.
Education key to ending sexual violence
By Shelby Lisk
This year’s Take Back the Night march attracted a large crowd to Lion’s Park in Belleville on Thursday evening at dusk to rally with women for an end to sexual and gender-based violence.
The rally and march happens every year, around the world, to give power back to women to walk safely in their neighbourhoods at night, without the threat of violence or harassment.
Ellen Carlisle, the public educator with the Sexual Assault Centre for Quinte and District says that in their planning meetings, education was a word that kept being brought up and became this year’s theme.
“We all really believe that education is so important in ending sexual violence and ending domestic violence and violence against women. We really believe that having conversations will create effective change,” says Carlisle.
The rally functions as a place to educate the public on sexual violence and harassment and the recent changes to the sexual education curriculum in Ontario were in the back of the minds of committee members as they organized the event.
Carlisle says the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres is doing a lot of work with community partners to advocate for having health and sexual education teaching that is up-to-date and in line with the times.
“It’s really important that in our schools what we’re learning is lined up with what communities are thinking, the way we’re talking about violence now, and sexual identity… that we’re supporting our trans communities and our queer communities. As well, talking about this kind of stuff reduces the stigma and all the myths around sexual violence, around people’s identities and then leads to more understanding which leads to less cases of violence actually occurring,” says Carlisle.
Leah Morgan, public education co-ordinator at Three Oaks Foundation adds that it’s important that women know their rights.
“I think being educated on their rights is very important because sometimes women are unaware that they’re even being victimized, so education is important in being aware and minimizing victim blaming in general,” says Morgan.
The committee asked for members of the community to talk about different issues relating to education and speak their truths about sexual violence and harassment.
Readings opened the rally with creative writing, poetry and short stories.
The theme of education is bringing future generations to the forefront. Lillian Davidson read to the group of over 80 community members, asking the audience “What if our children, our future, were given what we were denied?”
Morgan also addressed the crowd about the importance of future generations.
“We think that education is a very proactive way in raising awareness and preparing children as they grow and go into intimate relationships,” says Morgan.
Elissa Robertson, from Warrior Women of Quinte agrees that education needs to start with youth.
“When living in a society that both directly and indirectly enables sexual violence, education is the remedy. It’s easier and more effective to teach children about consent, boundaries, gender equality and healthy relationships than it is to have adults unlearn healthy core beliefs,” says Robertson.
The community organizations involved in organizing Take Back the Night were the Sexual Assault Centre for Quinte and District, Red Cedars, Three Oaks, Community Advocacy and Legal Centre, Quinte Health Care’s Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Response Program, Ontario Native Women’s Association, Warrior Women of Quinte as well as individual community members.
“Our centres have been around for over 20 years or maybe more than that. We’re really just bringing up these issues again and saying, ‘Hey, we’re still here. We’re still concerned about this stuff and it’s something to pay attention to,’ ” says Carlisle.
Excitement fills the air at fall fair
By Amy Walton
Extreme motorbike stunts and competitive modified lawn tractor racing had the crowd at the Kingston Fall Fair cheering with excitement last Saturday.
The fair is home to many creative events and competitions that show off unique skillsets. Baking, craft making, tractor pulling, horse shows and steer shows have always been a part of the fair circuit and are greatly admired. Rides, games and food are always common at fairs, but the Kingston fair is expanding its types of entertainment to new heights, literally and figuratively. One of the standout attractions was an interesting new show called the Motocross Thrill Show that showcases Canadian professional FMX freestylers from Edge Motorsports.
Three different riders, Tyler Davidson, Ray Post and Kassie Boone soared to tremendous heights. They jumped their bikes from one platform, and landed perfectly on another, after doing impressive poses in the air. The riders jump over 30 feet in the air off the ramp and pose in mid-air with their legs or hands off the bike, making these even more impressive tricks. They don’t seem possible until you have seen them with your own eyes.
The length of the jump is 75 feet and Boone is currently the only female to be jumping lengths this long in all of Canada.
Each of the FMX professionals pulled off impressive and shocking stunts in the air. The most crowd-shocking stunt was called the “Dead Body” performed by Post. In the stunt, he takes his feet off the bike and holds on by his fingertips until he let’s go completely and is hovering above the bike, not touching it at all. He somehow manages to get back on the bike just in time before it hits the platform.
The fair had another fast-paced competition with members of the Grass Hogs, a lawn tractor racing club based in Eastern Ontario. Grass Hogs is one of only two clubs that offer lawn tractor racing in Ontario. It’s their 10th consecutive year at the Kingston Fair with 25 current members.
One of the youngest competing on Saturday was an eight-year-old girl named Georgia Morris from Havelock, Ont. Her dad is also in the club and competed in the senior races. There were a couple of families with three or four members all competing and riding their own lawn tractors. All kinds of ages participated in the races at the fair, the oldest being a 70-year-old man.
Sam Davidson, the organizer of Grass Hogs, says, “Everybody’s here to have fun, that’s what the name of the game is. We’re entertainment for the fair. We want the people to enjoy their day, looking at what these guys do.”
Davidson also talked about this as a family event, and all the group members form close relationships. They even go out to dinner after their races.
Jake Hollett is 22 and has been part of Grass Hogs racing lawn tractors for seven years now and has won every race he’s ever competed in besides one. He can’t even recall how many wins he’s had overall, but another rider vouches that he has two barrels that are overflowing with trophies.
He has two different racing tractors that he has built and does all the work on them himself. One is a modified lawn tractor and another is for the open class competition. In open class, you can do anything you want to the motor and essentially go faster.
“They’re made to look like a lawn mower, but mostly they’re not lawn mower parts. It’s basically a high-powered go-kart. It’s got a lawn mowers hood and fenders on it,” says Hollett about his open class lawn tractor.
Once again, Hollett left the fair undefeated, winning first place in the MOD competition and first again in the free class race. After his last race his face and body were drenched in mud from the track.
The Grass Hogs travel to all kinds of different events. Coming up they will be at the Wellington Pumpkinfest and the Norwood Fair. Other fairs being held in September are-the Stratford Fall Fair, Markham Fair and Tyendinaga Mohawk Fair.
For more fair dates go to http://www.ontariofairs.com