Photojournalism Pioneer

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The Friday noon prayer — Jummah, is very important in the Muslim faith. Comparable to the Christian Sabbath, it is a time for worship and the celebration of togetherness. Photo by Frank Moses

Church transforms to mosque

Story and Photos by Frank Moses

The House of Commandments-Masjid UL Islam, in Trenton, Ont., invites people of all faiths and backgrounds to a welcoming environment. For Abdullah, born Jordan Seifert, his conversion to Islam has been a rewarding journey to discover his own spirituality and sense of community.

In 2016, Imam Abu Talib and his wife were perusing internet real estate ads for a building to house a mosque for the growing Muslim population in Quinte West. By chance, their search led them to 100 King St. W., site of the former King Street United Church, which was established in 1876.

The church closed due to the 2015 amalgamation of three United Churches into one –- at 85 Dundas St. E. in Trenton.

For many reasons, church attendance is on the decline in Canada, and changing demographics mean an increase in the number of Muslims, both born and converted to the faith, looking for places to worship.

Twenty-eight-year-old Abdullah, born Jordan Seifert, is a recent convert to Islam. He was drawn to the faith because of his interaction with the Muslim community. He lived in Toronto for several years and worked in a funeral home. A mosque across the street frequently used the funeral home for burial services –- called Janazah in Arabic. 

“I was encouraged to ingratiate myself with the community. I was at the mosque a lot. I started to learn more, to read more, and at the same time, I am actively engaged with academic Christian scholarship.”

Abdullah has a very self-aware view of his association with Islam. Intelligent and well-read, he understands his conversion could be seen by many to be inexplicable. But over many years, his careful study of Islam and other Abrahamic faiths led him to conversion.

His secular reading, treating the Bible as a book like any other, had him comparing the Koran to Christian texts.

“I don’t want to say anything insensitive. My mother is a Christian and my best friend is a Jew, but I felt like true academic research on the scriptures – their meanings or characteristics – aligned more with the practice of Islam.”

While understanding the contentiousness of the issue, Abdullah doesn’t believe Jesus proclaimed himself to be the son of God. He wrestles with this because his mother is a devout Christian and she was, at first, upset with his conversion. But now he says “She loves the mosque. She talks about the mosque all the time and she talks about the people from here.” 

Abdullah lives in nearby Bayside with his mother and works online from home doing transcription work for law offices. A room in their home is set aside for prayer, when he can’t attend one of the five daily prayers that are the foundation of Muslim worship.

Muslim prayer is based on geography and the solar cycle.  Fajr – the dawn prayer, Dhuhr – the noon prayer, Asr – the afternoon prayer, Maghrib – the sunset prayer and Isha’a – the night prayer.

The Friday prayer, performed at midday, replaces the Dhuhr prayer practised on the other six days of the week. Friday is comparable to the Christian Sabbath and is the day when congregants pray and then enjoy a meal and socialize.

For prayer, women and men at the Trenton mosque are separated by a four-foot wall that runs behind the men. Children stay with the women, and boys join the men only when they have reached an age when they understand the seriousness of prayer and can take part without distraction.

Living without a father – having lost his in early childhood – Abdullah acknowledges the importance of his mother in his spiritual growth. He grew up in an environment of contrast.

“Going to a church that was highly conservative – Pentecostal – espousing views that my mother herself did not espouse, was confusing for me,”  he recounts. “My mother has always been a rock of faith… there is no escaping it. When she is mad at god, she turns to god. That carried on to me.”

Islam was a huge decision for Abdullah. He states that it is not just something he is doing… It is something he is compelled to do.  He was both intellectually and spiritually drawn to Islam.

“To engage with Islamic spirituality is to practise Islam. To read a text that says wash your hands this way is not particularly inspiring. But when you start to do it, you become god-focused: god-centred.”

Through rituals, Abdullah says god is constantly on his mind. The community has obligations as well. He paraphrases Dawud Wharnsby, a Canadian Universalist Muslim singer-songwriter who spoke of community obligation. Many parents believe that it is their child and it is their business what to do with their child. Wharnsby asks, “Who gave you the right to do that?”

Abdullah believes in this sense of community. “In Islam, people have rights over one another. Your neighbour has to do certain things for you and you have to do certain things in return.” He believes this sense of community is intensely spiritual. It is not something easily expressed through text. “Even though I was intellectually drawn to the concept in Islam… to practise it …that was where the change occurred.”

Asked about intolerance, with Islamophobia reportedly on the rise in Canada, Abdullah has a universal view on the causes of such sentiments.

The terror attacks of 9/11 and the radicalization that led some Canadians to join ISIS/IS in Syria are a magnet for naysayers and the impetus for much anti-Muslim sentiment. 

There appears to be no easy end to grievances displayed through violent actions. In Canada, recent mass killings have in fact been the work of non-Muslims.

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree in March after opening fire in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017, was targeting Muslims.  Some social media posts immediately after the attack called it a false flag operation and blamed a conspiracy, by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to enforce Sharia Law in Canada.

“The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!” posted Alek Minassian to Facebook minutes before mowing down dozens and killing 10 pedestrians in a rented van in Toronto on April 23 of this year. His motivation appeared to be a sense of misogynistic grievance. He had difficulty in finding willing female sexual partners.

“Radicalization doesn’t tend to be something that happens within a community environment. Over here, when people are radicalized, it tends to be online.” Abdullah believes loners are attracted to extremist ideologies. “Oftentimes they are not particularly religious persons. We see examples wherein terrorists are leaving the country with copies of Islam for Dummies.” He believes some live within the textual world of Islam as well. “They find motivation for violence through jihad, which means struggle.

“The more we understand about terrorist ideology and motivations, the more we find out is… well, people like me, that sit alone at home all day and then get involved with bad stuff. But instead of getting involved with bad stuff, I came to a mosque.”

Mental illness, along with a sense of alienation or disaffection, are root causes for many acts of extreme violence. Abdullah believes radicals are drawn to Islam because of its reputation – as an outlet for their violent leanings, not because they are devout.

He believes his community keeps itself in check. “We don’t find a lot of examples of Muslims who are radicalized within mosques. We find people actually de-radicalized when they enter mosques and learn traditional forms of Islamic knowledge.”

Muslims and all faiths are welcome at House of the Commandments-Masjid UL Islam. It is open from sunrise until after dark – seven days a week. There is no special dress code.

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Imam Abu Talib closes his eyes in contemplation during a Friday noon prayer. Photo by Frank Moses

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Tenants of Islam and a list of prophets shared among the Abrahamic faiths adorn the wall in the basement of the House of the Commandments-Masjid UL Islam mosque in Trenton. Photo by Frank Moses

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King Street United Church has been converted to a mosque , The House of Commandments-Masjid UL Islam, in Trenton. Photo by Frank Moses

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The sights and sounds of Christmas

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Santa Claus greets children during the Santa Claus Parade in Belleville. The parade of lights travelled all the way up Front Street in the revitalizing Belleville downtown core. Photo by Andrej Ivanov

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Members of Tawny’s School of Dance participate in the annual Santa Claus parade that marched its way along Belleville’s downtown. Photo by Matthew Botha

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Spectators enjoy the Christmas lighting display at Jane Forrester Park. Each Friday until Dec. 21, horse-drawn carriage rides and a meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus happens at the display from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. All activities and snacks are free. Photo by TaeHyeong Kim

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Peter McCabe leads the Acapella Quinte men’s chorus group as they sing carols while the growing audience awaits the lighting of a large Christmas tree in front of Century Place in downtown Belleville. Photo by Shelby Lisk

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Lisa Terpstra stands with her horses Holly and Molly await passengers to board the horse-drawn carriage.The County Carriage Company offered free rides through downtown Belleville as a part of the Christmas tree lighting festivities. Photo by Shelby Lisk

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Lights shine brightly as floats delight spectators at the Belleville Santa Claus parade. Photo by TaeHyeong Kim

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Members of Happy Harmony Choir sing Christmas music at Jane Forrester Park in Belleville. Photo by TaeHyeong Kim

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A young town crier marches at the head of the procession calling out for the children in the crowd to “have their letters ready for Santa” during the opening of the Santa Claus Parade in Belleville. Photo by Sasha Sefter

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Rawan Youssef, third-year Film and TV Production student and casting director and with a leading role gets makeup applied before filming. Photo by Jessie Munroe

Calls go out for actors

By Jessie Munro

Loyalist College’s film and TV production’s third-year students recently held casting calls for their fall productions.

Approximately 30 people came to the auditions in late September and early October. The auditions were held in the production studios.  The casting calls were not just open the school, but were also open to the community.

The students sent out notices to social media, radio stations and hung posters around Loyalist to let as many people as possible know about the casting calls.

Each audition per person lasted about 10 minutes but depending whether a person was auditioning for multiple roles, they can choose up to five roles to audition with.

Before auditions happened, the actors would sign up and familiarize themselves with the script. When ready they were escorted to the audition room, where a panel of third-year students sat and asked the actors questions about their experience, and how they heard about the casting sessions.

The auditions were filmed so third-year students could look back at everyone’s audition.

“We didn’t get as many good auditions as we thought. By Friday, we were nervous but funnily enough, on Friday all our lead roles came and it was just perfect, so it went really well,’’ said Rawan Youssef, a third-year student and casting director.

Youssef was only going to help with script writing but she knew the characters so well, her professor said she should direct casting.

Students were required to choose a single camera major which is the movie, a studio series major production or a specialization production, which could be a web series, a music video and or eight– to 10-minute documentary.  

A total of 28 students pitched ideas in front of their professors, which were then narrowed down to five to seven projects that will move forward. Some productions need talent, so the film and TV production students hold the casting sessions. The casting sessions are for all the productions that need actors.

“First year is foundation, the basics,’’ Paul Papadopoulos a Loyalist College Film and TV Production professor said.

“First year you learn camera work, you learn how to edit, you learn how to, you learn the basics of everything. And then in second year, you put it into process. You’re in crew. You’re doing documentaries. You’re doing lifestyle series like reality shows like what they’re doing with the culinary program,” Papadopoulos said.

“But it’s more important about learning the process. You took the basics, now you put them into practice. Third year is about the product.”

After the students review the footage from the casting sessions, they will decide who gets which role. After the decision and call backs, they will begin filming in a couple of weeks.

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Photo by Frank Moses Two RCAF members place a wreath in honour of Corporal Marie-France Comeau, who was raped and murdered in her home by Col. Russell Williams, former Commander of 8 Wing CFB Trenton. Comeau has been honoured in Brighton every Remembrance Day since her death in November 2009.

Remembering Marie-France Comeau

By Frank Moses

On Sunday, Nov. 11, townspeople in Brighton, Ont. and military personnel from CFB Trenton gathered to remember those lost in service of their country.

In a poignant reminder of another loss, two members of 437 Sqn. placed a wreath at the cenotaph in memory of Marie-France Comeau, a servicewoman who died in Brighton at the hands of Russell Williams, former Base Commander at CFB Trenton. 

Williams pleaded guilty in 2010 to the murders of Marie-France Comeau and his second victim, Jessica Lloyd of Tweed. He was also found guilty of two sexual assaults and 82 counts of breaking and entering.

Ms. Comeau was 38 years old when she died on Nov. 25, 2009. From a military family, she served as a flight attendant with 437 Sqn. Her father was a career soldier and her grandfather had flown Spitfires in the Second World War.

Friends and colleagues remembered her as a fun-loving and outgoing person who had a great zest for life – she had a boyfriend, a cat – and many close friends. 

“She was an absolutely beautiful person and friend. She was always so happy and positive and I am truly saddened by this horrible tragedy,” Kim Hill Chornaby said in a Facebook memorial in 2009. “Her smile will forever live on in the hearts of those who knew her and were lucky enough to call her a friend.”

Military members and veterans were shocked by the crimes committed by the most senior officer at CFB Trenton. For the close-knit military community, the realization that their commander was a rapist and killer caused many to question their core beliefs.

Within the military, the highest duty of service is the protection of one’s fellow women and men. Williams’ ultimate betrayal of his obligations as a leader – and a human being, shook not just the military, but the country, to the core.

Comeau’s death did serve to bring about some change within the military. Servicemen in particular, were forced to re-examine the way in which women were regarded and treated in the forces.

In 2014, General Jon Vance, the Chief of Defence Staff, made it his signature mission, with Operation Honour, to bring about the end of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment in the Forces.

In 2015, former Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps authored a report on sexual misconduct within the Forces which indicated, “…the existence of an underlying sexualized culture in the CAF, which if not addressed, is conducive to more serious incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

Since the launch of Operation Honour, service women have been coming forward in large numbers to tell their stories of rape, harassment and ill treatment at the hands of colleagues and supervisors.

A memory of Marie-France Comeau is kept alive because the members of 437 Squadron honour her each year at the cenotaph in Brighton. 

If not for the actions of a twisted soul, Comeau would still have attended Remembrance Day ceremonies, standing proudly with her colleagues in the name of freedom.

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Retired OPP Inspector Pat Finnegan is the architect of the course on mental health response at Loyalist College. Photo by Sam Brown

Course re-evaluates police methods

By Sam Brown

There have been numerous incidents around the world and closer to home when victims of mental illness have either died or were roughly handled by police officers.

“There’s no shortage of examples on the internet, where you can watch people being tasered, people being shot, people suffering from mental health episodes, who die at the hands of police,” retired OPP Inspector Pat Finnegan explained.

Even though the violence in these incidents was not necessarily malicious, and investigations have absolved the officers involved, Finnegan acknowledged that there is still something wrong in the fundamentals of policing when it confronts mental health.

“You still can’t help but step back and say to yourself: ‘OK, but could we have done something differently,’ ” Finnegan said.

In moving forward and addressing police encounters with victims of mental illness, there is a recurring question: ‘Could something have been done differently?’ This question seems to drive the re-evaluation of policing methodology when it comes to mental health, and underlies new programs in police education like the mental health and police response course Finnegan has designed and teaches at Loyalist College.

In the fall semester last year, Finnegan introduced the course in the police foundations program at Loyalist.

The key purposes of the course are to overcome the powerful stigma surrounding mental health, and to foster empathy, compassion and understanding to establish real human connections between the responding officers and those suffering from mental illness.

Recognizing the stigma around mental illness and combatting it is essential to the course. “We never stop focussing on stigma,” Finnegan said.

In a new exercise Finnegan added to the course this year, students are required to research individual cases of victims and delve into the personal struggles with mental illness to build the sense that such disorders are pervasive throughout society.

Finnegan explained that because the individual subjects researched were successful, functioning members of society, the exercise helps get rid of the idea that people living with mental illness are non-contributing burdensome members “outside” of society.

Feedback on the exercise was hugely positive.

“It helped us realize that mental illness impacts everybody,” Finnegan said. “It really helps get rid of the stigma.”

Students are also trained to recognize signs of mental illness and identify different kinds of disorders.

“We aren’t going to try to make them experts,” Finnegan explained, but even a modest knowledge of mental illness goes a long way to help a police officer resolve a mental health situation without relying on forceful tactics.

Police need to be concierges of their municipalities, said Finnegan, adding that this is how he likes to think of the role of police today.

“It’s not enough to just say, ‘You know what? I’ve got a gun, I’ve got handcuffs, I’ve got a pepper spray, I’ve got a baton, I’ve got a taser,’ ” Finnegan said.

Police officers cannot merely be symbols of enforcement, he said, and at Loyalist, students are learning to consider de-escalation strategies.

They are learning to take the time and make the extra effort to show empathy, compassion and attempt to connect with people suffering mental illness and work alongside other services in the community (such as psychologists and addiction centers) to find the best solution to these kinds of situations, Finnegan said.

“Never has this emphasis on the shared responsibility been stronger than it is in Ontario right now.”

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Community members fill the Empire Theatre in Belleville to the brim as they await the announcement of the winner of the Kraft Heinz Project Play prize. The announcement was made live during the halftime show of a TSN broadcast CFL game. Photo by Sasha Sefter

By Sasha Sefter

Local organization Field of Ability is sprinting towards home in its efforts to bring a fully accessibly baseball field to Belleville.

On Saturday Oct. 28, the Empire Theatre in Belleville was packed to capacity with excited residents eager to learn the outcome of the Kraft-Heinz Project Play contest. The Project Play contest called for cities across the nation to nominate and vote for their favourite local organizations with projects creating a positive change within their community.

A local organization, Field of Ability, has become a finalist out of thousands of entrants across Canada to win a $250,000 prize to go towards completing their project. The project would see a complete revitalization of an existing baseball field in Parkdale Veterans Park in Belleville.

Modifications will be made to create a fully accessible playing field for individuals who would otherwise not be able to access and play the game. Modifications to the current field would include accessible dugouts and bleachers, a completely rubberized playing surface and a fully fenced in field to increase safety.

This would be the only fully accessible baseball diamond of its kind between Toronto and Ottawa.

The winner of the $250,000 prize was announced via live stream during halftime of a CFL game between the Toronto Argonauts and the Montreal Alouettes, the emotions of the crowd were evident as cheers and tears were being shed ahead of the big moment. As the announcement was made and Belleville was declared the winner, the roof blew off the Empire theatre and an ocean of happiness and relief seemed to crash over the crowd.

Field of Ability Co-ordinator Lisa Newman Chesher was cheering louder than anyone in the crowd as she is one step closer to bringing her vision of fully accessible baseball to her community.

“Now we can get going,” she said when asked what winning this prize means to the project. “We had already raised $150,000 and now with this $250,000 we can finally break ground in the spring.”

The organization plans on bringing fully accessible and barrier-free baseball with a completed field to Belleville by the end of 2019.

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In a then and now comparison, Photo Editing student Mari Hiramoto takes viewers back in time to 1930 on Front St. in Belleville. The “now” version shows the recently completed final phase of the “Build Belleville” initiative to rebuild infrastructure downtown in the Friendly City. While Century Place stands where the iconic Tip Top Tailors building once stood on the corner of Front and Bridge Streets, Belleville’s city hall remains a constant on the streetscape. The 1930 photo takes viewers back to a time when every one travelling from Montreal to Toronto had to drive through downtown Belleville along Highway 2.

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Loyalist College organized a cultural event to show its diversity and to reconnect international students with their culture. Shown at the recent event are Priya Sharma, Navjot Kaur, Amarinder Singh, Prince Garg and Atul Jindal. Photo by Deepak Sharma

Loyalist’s diversity celebrated

Culture represents the characteristics and knowledge of a group of people, language, religion, music and different types of food.

Loyalist College in Belleville organized a cultural event at the Shark Tank Pub on Oct. 2 to bring awareness to campus about Loyalist’s diversity.

It was the first time this event was held for international students to reconnect them with their own culture and learn something about some other cultures. It was started at 12 p.m. and finished at 3 p.m.

The whole event was a joint initiative of the International Centre and Student Government of Loyalist with the help of 14 student volunteers. Madhulika Potukuchi, an international settlement officer, was the main organizer of the event.

“It’s a break from hectic school and work schedules, and reconnecting to their own culture, and learning something new about a new culture makes students more crazy about the event,” Potukuchi said.

About 100 students from 20 countries took part in the cultural event. Free food from different countries was also prepared for students by organizers.

“The integration of student body and celebration of muticulturalism on campus was the well-liked part of this event,” Potukochi said.

Students from India were decked out in their tradition dress which is salwar kameez for women and kurta pajama for men. There was also an area for students to dance and DJ was playing songs of their choices.

“We are very happy to get different cultures on our campus from 20 other countries,” she said.

There were girls from India who were putting mehndi on the hands of other students. Mehndi is a kind of art in India and a kind of celebration feeling in which girls apply mehndi on their hands. Students of Canada were very excited for that thing and they were also taking part in it.

“We had not organized any dress or dance competition because this event was totally focused on cultural learning and student engagement,” Potukochi said.

With the end of last song played by DJ, students thanks organizers and gave their review about the event that how much they enjoyed the event. Some of the students request international centre and student government of Loyalist College to organize a similar kind of event every semester so that they can reconnect with their culture and gather some memories from Loyalist.

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A crowd member hops on stage with Moon Sugar to do some lip syncing with the microphone stand. Photo by Damon MacLean

Signal Brewing Company celebrates Halloween

By Damon MacLean

Signal Brewing Company hosted All Hallows’ Eve Oct. 29 at the brewery plus the newly acquired property next door, Henry’s.

Admission included access to both buildings and a complimentary drink for one of the in-house brews on tap. The venue also rented out a shuttle bus that made two pickup rounds throughout Belleville to bring people to and from the venue.

The event required those attending to dress up in costumes, which added to the fun. In the main building, the creation section was open where patrons could see the technology used for brewing. There were also ping-pong tables set up next to the machinery.

In the main venue, Moon Sugar, a pop rock/party band from the Quinte area, consisting of Jordan Thomas (guitar), Logan Dillion (bass) and Sean Doyle (drums), played multiple sets of covers. These were well-received by the audience who sang along and danced the night away with the band. One audience member hopped on stage dressed up as an elderly woman and rocked out, pretending be the vocalist of the act.

In Henry’s, people gathered in the more intimate venue with a fireplace, smaller stage and bar. Bands that performed on the stage included Bad Tractor, Hayley and the Pirate Queens, and The Grievous Angels. These acts were catered more to a more mature audience and the genres of the acts were very folk-esque. In the backyard of Henry’s, in front of the river, there was a fireplace that burned away all night, even in the small bit of the damp snow.

After the bands finished, owner Richard Courneyea invited everyone to the back patio for a fireworks show. After the fireworks, a DJ played classic Halloween tracks and the crowd danced on.

The event was attended by over 200 people, with a large age range. The atmosphere of the event was very open and safe.

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Remembering

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The sombre silence of the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa is broken by the sounds of five CF-18 Hornet aircraft as they fly over the National War Memorial in a “missing man” formation. Photo by Sasha Sefter

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A women pauses briefly after laying her poppy on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier following a Remembrance Day ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of WW1 at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Photo by Matthew Botha

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Sgt. Wade, a Royal Air Force Cadet, exhales as she stands guard at the cenotaph in Trenton, Ont. on the night of Nov. 10, 2018. She and her peers took shifts leading up to the morning of Remembrance Day on Nov. 11, 2018. Photo by Andrej Ivanov

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Guy Mandeville, C.D., awaits his turn to speak during the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Aboriginal Veterans Memorial in Confederation Park in Ottawa. Mandeville served in the military for 42 years. Photo by Shelby Lisk

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Korean War veterans Jack Shirley (right) smiles brightly at Korean War veterans appreciation day, held in Kingston on Nov. 10. Eleven Korean War veterans participated in this annual event. Photo by TaeHyeong Kim

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Loyalist College President Dr. Ann-Marie Vaughan speaks at the Loyalist Remembrance Day ceremony. Vaughan is Honourary Colonel of 426 Squadron at CFB Trenton.

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Over the next few weeks, we will be profiling some of the work of  first-year photojournalism students.

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Pamela Kaltenrieder, a local artist who originally hails from Malta, stands beside one of her two works on display titled “Confusion” at the Belleville Art Association’s annual juried show “Perspectives”. Kaltenrieder is a member of the BAA. Photo by Matthew Syriac Elias

Juried show features work of artists

By Matthew Syriac Elias

The Belleville Art Association inaugurated its annual juried show Perspectives in early October.
The opening reception was attended by various honorary guests, Parrot Gallery officials and the members of the BAA itself. The event took place at The Parrott Gallery in downtown Belleville, situated right above the Belleville Public Library on Pinnacle Street.

Ron Sayeau is the current chairperson of the association. He said that the community is celebrating its 60th year. The annual juried show is conducted, hosted and curated by the gallery every October.

The community sponsors the prizes for the winners. Besides the award for best works and pieces from the exhibition, some of the awards are also given out for special recognition. Every year during the summer, a call goes out throughout the Quinte region for artists to submit their works.

Works are accepted until the first week of September. Out of all the submitted pieces, the jury members handpick the shortlisted 65 paintings, which are then kept for display at the two galleries, until the first week of November.

The Juror’s Choice Award was won by Sharon Bower for her work Mystical Meandering. “Technically interesting and unique, esthetically beautiful, this work evoked a dream-like landscape that I thought reflected the liminal place between imagination and the physical world,” said Bower.

Pamela Kaltenrieder is a local artist, hailing from the tiny island of Malta. She had two works on display, titled Confusion and Heart on Fire. She loves to include multiple elements and ideologies in her paintings, with a philosophical angle to it.

Kaltenrieder takes pictures of things she finds interesting in her surroundings, and of the places she visits, be it trivial things such as a scarf, a carpet, or something magnificent, like a large tree or a sunset.

Though in recent works, Kaltenrieder has attempted to express her standpoints and feelings towards what’s going on in today’s world. “Where do I stand? Where do I place my elements?” were the questions that revolved in her mind while working on Heart on Fire.

Susan Holland, curator of the John M. Parrott Art Gallery, believes that the BAA strong organization, with a tightly held community of artists, keeps boosting its membership.

“Every time, there’s new names, which means there are new members. Maybe not new members every time, but members who were not confident enough to show their work earlier. So now they are. I think it’s a very supporting and uplifting group, always upping people to get to the next level.”

Holland said the competition is open to anyone who is a member of the BAA, and most of the members are from in and around the Quinte region.

“My job is to curate the paintings after jurying and decide where and how the paintings hang inside the gallery. It’s as important as to arrange these beautiful works as the works themselves.“

Holland said it’s a fun process, and that she enjoys the different events that come to the gallery every month. “There’s always something new to see,” she said with a smile.

Admission to the gallery events is always free or nominal, as the gallery is part of the library and funded through the municipality.

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Volunteers of Gleaners Food Bank’s annual food drive sort the food that was donated by the community at the food bank warehouse in Belleville on Oct. 14. Photo by TaeHyeong Kim

Food drive helps fight hunger

By TaeHyeong Kim

A large group of volunteers surround a wide table. Soon after, many kinds of foods are poured on the table from carts. Cereals, pastas, apple juices, tomato sauces, cup noodles, crackers. The hands of volunteers get busy.

They pick up the food by type and put it in a box that is also labelled by type. The boxes are soon filled and packed and moved to the warehouse.

Outside the building, cars with food arrive and make a line. As soon as a car door opens, volunteers move the food to the cart and carry it in the building. This work continues over and over for five hours straight.

The annual City-Wide Food Drive was held at Gleaners Food Bank warehouse in Belleville on Sunday afternoon. Volunteers carried and sorted the foods for the community. Gleaners Food Bank Quinte hosted this event to help people who might have trouble getting food themselves.

Debbie Hyland is the finance and fundraising assistant for Gleaners.

“The importance of today’s event is to continue to help our neighbours. We might all have neighbours beside us who need a hand,” she said. She added that the role and vision of Gleaners is to help anyone who needs it.

“This is to make sure that everybody is fed in the community. That is kind of basic. There is no question; no judgement here. If someone needs something to eat, our goal is to make sure that no child, no parent, no person goes hungry.”

In 2017, Gleaners Food Bank helped 3,002 families, 9,588 adults and 5,500 children, 904 seniors and 799 students.

About 75 volunteers participated in Sunday’s event. Some people came in a group and some participated individually. The spectrum of participants was diverse, from young secondary students to seniors. All of them had a willingness to help the community.

Barbara Lea has participated as a volunteer in the food drive for six years.

“This is my community, I live here. I just believe I have to give it back to the community. Unfortunately, there are so many people today who need financial support and food. This is the way the community comes together. It is good to help out those who are less fortunate.”

Food drives and fighting poverty are critical and local politicians lend their support. Gleaners Food Bank hosted `the Third Annual Great MPP & City of Belleville Mayor & Council Food Sort’ on Sept. 21. MPP Todd Smith and Mayor Taso Christopher participated to sort food as volunteers.

Stanley Jones, a candidate for the current city council election, participated as a volunteer for the food drive last Sunday.

“We need the food bank in the city,” he said. “There are many people having trouble putting food on the table. The food bank helps people get through this. Everyone needs to put food on the table. That is the key thing Gleaners does.”

It’s around 3 p.m. – the middle of the long food drive day. While the volunteers keep sorting the donated foods in the warehouse, other volunteers still wait for the five buses that have not yet arrived. Those volunteers are still out collecting food all over the city, trying to make sure that no one goes hungry.

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A large group of volunteers surround a wide table filled with boxes. Soon after, a variety of foods are poured on the table from carts. By TaeHyeong Kim

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Teresa Flegg makes an impressive hit against a Humber Hawks player. The Lancers took a tough loss, with a final score of 43-0. Photo by Matthew Botha

Loyalist women’s rugby a force to be reckoned with

By Matthew Botha

From a shaky start to a force that is not to be messed with, the Loyalist women’s rugby team has come a long way.

In 2016, after unexpected injuries combined with the lack of numbers needed to field a strong team, the Lancers women’s 15’s team folded. Although this was a big setback for the progression of the sport, in 2017, the OCAA announced it would add four additional women 7’s rugby teams.

The league expanded to nine colleges, with all women’s varsity teams now adopting the seven-a-side game. This change was a new-found hope for the Lancers, seven a side meant that they could once again start fielding a full team. With coaches working to recruit new athletes over the past two seasons, they’ve built up a team that has far passed any expectations for a small college.

“We’ve come so far since the tryouts and everyone is one big family,” says Hanna Fitzgerald, a player for the team.

“Everyone’s starting to get it now and it really showed in our last tournament. The best part of the team is the depth – every girl on the team is worthy of starting, so when we make our subs, we know were still putting out our strongest players.”

Over the weekend, the Lancers competed in the first OCAA women’s 7’s crossover event at Fleming College in Peterborough. Teams from the east division crossed over to battle against the teams from the west. The Lancers fought a tough game against the Humber Hawks to start off the day, coming short with a 43-0 loss. They regrouped and hit the pitch hard to dominate their second game of the day with a 30-14 win over the Sheridan Bruins. With the first try of the game being scored by third-year athlete Cortney Wright, they used that momentum to keep up a strong offensive line with Rachel Streekstra and Bailey Meraw both putting points on the board. The second day saw nothing but success as the Lancers’ hard work and determination brought in wins against both 2017 League champions, the Seneca Sting as well as finishing strong with a win against the Conestoga Condors.

The Lancers will be competing next on their home turf, hosting the next league tournament on Saturday, Oct. 20.

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The Loyalist Lancers 7’s team rallies together after a 30-14 victory against the Sheridan Bruins. Photo by Matthew Botha

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Hanna Fitzgerald kicks off during their first game of the tournament against the Humber Hawks. Photo by Matthew Botha

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Lola Akindolire takes off for a strong run against the Humber Hawks. Photo by Matthew Botha

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Teresa Flegg makes an impressive hit against a Humber Hawks player. The Lancers took a tough loss, with a final score of 43-0. Photo by Matthew Botha

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Cortney Wright makes an impressive tackle against the Sheridan Bruins during the first-ever OCAA crossover between the teams from the east and west. Photo by Matthew Botha

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Coach Ken Fitzgerald makes a last-minute sub during the second game of the day against the Sheridan Bruins. The lancers managed to come through with an impressive 30-14 victory. Photo by Matthew Botha

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Weather around the province

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Both fans and players alike seek shelter from the rainy fall conditions during the women’s rugby 7’s tournament held at Fleming College in Peterborough. Photo by Matthew Botha

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A flock of Canada geese takes flight over a storm-battered home in Dunrobin, Ont. On Sept. 21, the tight-knit rural town was hit by a high-end EF3 tornado, with winds reaching up to 265km/h. This neighbourhood was right next to the epicentre of the storm’s devastation. Photo by Cassie Gibbons

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Visitors walk through a field, back to their tractor carriage, during the Willowtree Farm’s Pumpkin Palooza in Port Perry, Ont., on Oct. 13. People were invited to fire a pumpkin out of a cannon, take a ride on a tractor carriage, and, of course, buy pumpkins. Photo by Andrej Ivanov

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Hartleigh Schoneveld hurls herself upside down, enjoying the warm fall weather with their family in East Hill park, in Belleville during a recent evening. Photo by Shelby Lisk

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Students pass by the leaves fallen on Devonian Pond at Ryerson University in Toronto earlier in the month. Photo by TaeHyeong Kim

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From left, Egerton Boyce, Mitch Panciuk, Taso Christopher and Jodie Jenkins during the municipal debate at the Empire Theatre, organized by the Belleville and District Chamber of Commerce. Photo by Mari Hiramoto

Mayoral candidates debate issues

By Mari Hiramoto

Belleville’s mayoral candidates, including incumbent Taso Christopher and incumbent city councillors Egerton Boyce and Mitch Panciuk, and former councillor Jodie Jenkins participated in another municipal debate last week.
The four candidates answered questions from members of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce, as well as from the public in front of an audience that almost filled the 700-seat theatre.

The questions asked for specific suggestions from the candidates, including how to improve work environments for tradespeople, plans to boost the city’s revenue to pay off infrastructure debt, concerns regarding road safety downtown and retaining international students from Loyalist College following their graduation, among others. They also responded to individual questions about cannabis use, the city’s procurement process and more.

During closing statements, Panciuk said that the biggest choice voters have is “if they want change” and “want something better than a one-man show.”
He also told the audience that the differences among the four candidates were likely becoming pretty distinct. He then asked the audience to visualize a Belleville with more green space, improved track system, affordable housing, arts and culture that attracts more tourists, and a town that looks after its most vulnerable populations.

Jenkins said he did not make the decision to run lightly and that he’s enthusiastic about public service. He said he would tackle the long-term health of the city and promised there would be an alternative approach to dealing with health-care related issues under his leadership.

“We need a new approach to economic development, a frank discussion on the BDIA, to improve the downtown and to find ways to ease the tax burden,” he said.

Boyce admitted his lack of interest in political advertising and said, “I don’t believe all the money in the world can buy you integrity.”

He told the audience that even though he may not be the best speaker, he is a hard worker who has been leading people behind the scenes and can relate to the electorate. He also said ever since he was elected in 2003, he has proven that he can leave his ego at the door, admit when he’s doing wrong and make flexible decisions that fit the needs from the public.

Christopher posed some rhetorical questions for the audience: “What if we didn’t complete Build Belleville, or water/sewer and road upgrades, or new bridges, parks and pools?
“What if we didn’t complete our new firehalls, or upgrades to the Quinte Sports and Wellness Centre, or have doctor recruitment?”

He emphasized the numerous infrastructure projects that have been accomplished under his leadership, and stressed the need to redevelop the waterfront, attract more tourists, develop the economy and improve regional transit to help the city grow.

Panciuk said that “if you compare our downtown with others, it’s safe, but some people don’t feel that way.”
He noted the key to dealing with this issue is to increase business and social activities. He also believes that making the downtown an “arts and culture hub” will bring more people, therefore, ease the safety concerns.

Boyce said, “the biggest safety issue in the city isn’t the downtown, it’s on our roads.”

He suggested that the city needs to initiate different traffic calming measures to keep the public safe. He also said there needs to be a continuation of ongoing initiatives regarding bike safety.

Jenkins pointed out negative aspects of the downtown saying, “getting rid of safety concerns comes with improving the downtown and getting more people there.”

Christopher, on the other hand, commented, “The BDIA is doing a phenomenal job” and referred to the contribution of the Belleville Police Service in keeping residents safe. He said the police service has increased foot patrols in the downtown by 150 hours and that they have also started a number of other programs to make Belleville the safest city in Ontario.

Jenkins said, “It would be nice to think that all international students would fall in love with the city and want to stay here” but added that this wouldn’t happen without an effort. He said the council needs to build better relationships with the college and to reach out to international students and let them know about possible career opportunities.

Boyce told the audience that the easiest way to retain graduates from Loyalist College with diverse backgrounds is to improve the transit system. But he also referred to his recent work on the city’s Inclusion Committee. “We need to continue to offer a warm and welcoming approach to new residents,” to make them want to stay in Belleville, he said.

Panciuk thinks there needs to be more co-operation between city council and Loyalist College, as there hasn’t been any collective discussion between them in the last four years, he said.
He also noted the improved transit system and a vibrant downtown will “attract more young people and people from all over the world.”

Christopher’s parents moved from another country to Belleville and opened two successful businesses. He said that “we need to appreciate that immigration builds our country” and that “Loyalist is a world-class college and they are doing a great job bringing international students.”

Christopher noted that waterfront development is one of the highlights in his platform for 2019 and beyond. “It’s the number one under-utilized asset we have,” he said.

He also commented that “the city can just continue to take care of the land, or turn it into opportunities for economic growth, tourism and residential opportunities.”

Panciuk said one of the biggest concerns he believes is that there is “too much being done on the backs of the taxpayers.” He called Zwick’s Park “embarassing” and that changes need to happen immediately.

He also thinks waterfront parking needs to be addressed, particularly in the downtown, saying “the riverside should be for people, not for cars.” He added that means looking at a parking structure project and using public-private funding.

Boyce commented that it is essential to develop a waterfront master plan, which is now proceeding. He said the best option for the city would be combination of residential and commercial uses by the waterfront. He believes that there needs to be infrastructure upgrades to Zwick’s Park to make it sustainable. He also pointed out that Meyers Pier has not been well maintained and that “we need to address what we’ve already got before we start investing more.”

Jenkins said “we’re fortunate to be so close to an amazing body of water” but claimed it would be irresponsible just to contemplate what it could look like. He stated that we should share the public vision and have a deep discussion with council and discuss how to allocate the budget for it.

About the candidates

Mitch Panciuk is a Belleville city councillor and was elected in October, 2014. As a councillor, he served as chair of the grant committee, the Belleville Community Arts & Culture Fund, the traffic committee, as well as the president of the Belleville Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Quinte Economic Development Committee.

Panciuk is the owner of Boston Pizza Belleville since it first opened in November 2001 and is a member of the national Franchisee Advisory Council for Boston Pizza International.

Taso Christopher is a current mayor of Belleville and has taken a leadership role on residential and business investment sectors. He has completed several infrastructure projects under the Build Belleville portfolio.

Christopher has managed, organized and helped direct municipal projects such as the Quinte Sports & Wellness Centre, Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, Integrated Court House Building, Shorelines Casino, the Belleville Senators, the Doctor Recruitment Program and the Build Belleville Infrastructure Deficit Program.

He was born and raised in Belleville and graduated from Quinte Secondary School and Humber College. He has been an owner of the local sporting goods retailer Four Seasons Sports for more than 40 years.

Egerton Boyce was born and raised in Belleville and graduated from Loyalist College with a diploma in law and security. He is currently employed as a youth worker in an open custody/observation facility for young offenders. Since first being elected as a councillor for the City of Belleville in 2003, he has chaired or participated in multiple municipal committees that relate to social services, long-term and emergency medical services. He joined the Board of Health in 2015 as a representative of the City of Belleville.

Jodie Jenkins served as a Belleville city councillor from 2010 to 2014. He has 20 years of experience as a radio broadcaster and is currently the general manager of 100.9FM and the chair of the Grace Inn Homeless Shelter. In addition to the responsibility as a city councillor, he was a member on a variety of boards including Downtown Facade Committee, University Attraction Committee, Hastings County Social Services Committee, and Transit Advisory Committee.

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Erica Palen and Serge Hallé work in the Marantha Church kitchen preparing for the annual free turkey dinner. Hosted by Maranatha as a community outreach, the dinner was free to anyone and donations were accepted. Photo by Kyle Visser

Turkey fills the air at church supper

By Kyle Visser

It all started on the cool, quiet morning of Oct. 8, Thanksgiving Monday. Maranatha Church was holding its smaller Monday service in the chapel. Tables made up the night before were waiting for their seats to be filled as the delicious scent of cooked turkey lingered in the air.

In the kitchen, Erica Palen was busy with her preparations for the incoming guests. For her, this is far from where it all started. On the previous Thursday morning, she and her volunteers had been hard at work preparing the full “Thanksgiving meal,” including cooking seven large turkeys, pounds of mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce and homemade stuffing. She had worked over for 30 hours at this point, for an estimated 325 guests. And it’s all for free.

“It’s worth it,” she said. “It gives me satisfaction to work hard. I’m a senior after all, I need something to get me out of bed in the morning.”

This is the seventh year of Maranatha Church’s free Thanksgiving meal for the community of Belleville. What started as a meal for 150 has grown to almost 400, and continues to be a great success. “We had people calling in over a month ago to ask if we were going do it again,” said Felix Boer, volunteer coordinator for the event. “It started as a community outreach for those who don’t have anywhere to go for a Thanksgiving meal, lonely people, or people who can’t afford it, so we reach out to them and provide them with a place to come.” Boer managed around 30 volunteers, servers, dishwashers, and clean up.

Boer also delivered posters around the local area, advertised on the radio event calendars and encouraged everyone to spread the word. At the event, a donation box was available to those who could afford to give back.

Palen was also the buyer for all the food. “I only buy things on sale when I can help it,” she says, adding that the buying, cooking and preparing of the food by herself and the volunteers saves tons on the overall cost. “The total cost was around $1,400 all together. Divide that by 400 people that’s a $3.50 turkey dinner.”

“We are very happy with it,” said Boer. “We couldn’t do it without the commercial kitchen Maranatha has, couldn’t do it without Erica and couldn’t do it without the volunteers from the church.”

Parkhurst Transportation also donated a bus to drive folks to and from three spots in Belleville: Giant Tiger, the bus station and the Bay View Mall.

“It’s what we do as Christians and a humans,” said Boer.

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Volunteers serve guests a hot turkey dinner. Around 30 volunteers were on hand for the Thanksgiving feast. Photo by Kyle Visser

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Around 360 guests attended the annual free turkey dinner hosted at Maranatha Church this year. Photo by Kyle Visser

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Sneaking a peak behind the bikes in The Brake Room, people patiently wait for their patty melts made by Matthew DeMille. The Fall Night Market was a great opportunity for vendors to share their passions with the community. Photo by Natasha MacDonald

Community enjoys sights and sounds of night market

By Natasha MacDonald

The crisp, cool air may have chilled the noses of those attending the night market, but they were distracted by the delicious smells of food frying and the flaming fireplace.

The Brake Room in downtown Belleville is known for its recent and weekly Friday Night Bites evenings, but this time, there was more gear for the Fall Night Market.

“Once we came up with the idea [of the Fall Night Market], we just reached out to our friends and so this was a good example of what they’re doing in the County and bring it here to Belleville,” says Adam Tilley, owner of The Brake Room.

“It’s a good time, good food, good tunes, and good friends. For Friday Night Bites, we bring in the vendors to have something to do and the people from around here to also have something to do. It’s all about bringing people together. Tonight, is like a pop-up shop and community dinner. It crosses off all the boxes.”

The packed parking lot was pet, child and parent friendly. Whether it was warming up by the fire pit, consuming a freshly made pizza, or a meat or meatless grilled cheese sandwich, there was something for everyone.

“In general, we like to anticipate between 100 to 300 people. A hundred is fun, cozy, intimate and a 300-person event comes in waves, but sometimes it’s pretty chaotic. But considering everyone here is so good at doing what they’re doing, it just comes down to organizing permits,” says Tilley.

The message for the Night Market was well received. It’s all about the community and bringing people together. Seeing neighbours, co-workers and friends and family emerge from the comfort of the couches and Netflix, the Fall Night Market had people enjoying food and music with one another.

Some of the Belleville-based vendors had good reviews of the evening. They got a chance to get to know their community more, while showing their unique businesses.

“I’m new to the area, about a year and a half ago, from Toronto. I started the online store front about a year ago,” says W. Greg Taylor, owner of Samson Books, mobile and online second-hand book sales.
“In the spring, I got a van and put bookshelves in and usually pop up with the van and have 10 times the books you see here, but for this, there’s not space.

“I’m very happy to be here at the Brake Room’s Fall Night Market. There’s a lot of other great vendors. It’s great to make connections here and in the County, making some good friends and having cool interactions from connecting people with books there.”

Another vendor, Max Valyear, is the owner of Green Wheel Farms.   

“It’s a sustainable education centre. I use my yard and other people’s yards to grow greens and micro-greens. They are great, and nutrient-dense, and a way to get you nutrient source through the winter.”
Valyear owns the “Bicycle Powered” Green Wheel Farms.   

“We’re out here chillin’ at the Fall Market. I’m promoting sustainability. I think tonight is amazing. The parking lot is packed and there are more coming in.”
“I’ve even got little kids buying micro-greens. It’s excellent. Kids are playing and there’s a fire, it’s great. It could be a little warmer, but it’s a great time.”
Other vendors also praised the Fall Market, including Amanda Keenan, designer and letterpress printer of Silver Plate Press.

“What I do is print on an antique printing press to make all my prints, either greeting cards, poster, and coasters. That sort of thing, it’s all made by hand. I’m in the east end of Belleville. “Tonight, there is a great vibe. It’s my favourite place in Belleville,” she says.

Smiles, satisfied tummies and laughter seemed to be contagious.  The buzzing from coffee or cider added to the atmosphere of good times and great people.

For more munchies to satisfy and coffee to consume, the Brake Room has some upcoming events to stay tuned for.

“We’re a couple weeks out for the next Friday Night Bites that will be starting up again on Oct.  26, so that’s a weekly event. And complementing that, we do Sunday brunch, for a few hours every Sunday, and that will be starting the following Sunday.”

“Based on the success of this market, we’re going to be planning more, probably the next one for January but before then, you can find us at the Signal Market,” says Tilley.

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Albert Street was filled with the sound of the men’s barbershop chorus group, A Capella Quinte, who performed during Porchfest in Belleville. Photo by Sasha Sefter

Porchfest strikes a chord

By Sasha Sefter

As the golden fall sun sails across an ocean blue sky, beams of welcomingly warm light stream through scattered clouds on this brisk Saturday afternoon in Belleville.

Today, however, a chill isn’t the only thing in the air.

The sounds of guitars being tuned and vocal chords being vibrated begin to fill the empty streets as they float on a gentle breeze through the neighbourhood of East Hill.

Today is Porchfest.

The typically sleepy and subdued neighbourhood of East Hill in Belleville is about to unleash all of its pent up liveliness and soul. For the 10th year in row, residents have volunteered their porches, driveways and front lawns as makeshift stages for all sorts of musical performances. The day will see 51 artists perform, a far cry from the five who entertained in the event’s inaugural year.

The neighbourhood comes alive as the music grows louder, streaming from every intersection, pulling even the most couch-planted potatoes out into the streets. Faces that have only briefly glanced at each other through windows and rear-view mirrors find themselves inches from each other, merrily belting out the lyrics to a mutually-adored classic tune.

Soon the streets are full. “Grown-up” composure quickly fades as adults and children alike seem to be skipping through the streets to catch glimpses of each performance, not wanting to miss a thing. Laughter and applause echo through the alleyways, illuminating any shade that dares to show itself. It seems the magic of music finds a way to erase time and urge memories to flow from hearts to minds more easily.

The yearly event is organized by the Rotary Club of Belleville and shows no signs of slowing down. Boasting twice as many performers this year than last, the event has seen a steady growth in participants and attendees since its inception. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

Asked why he feels this yearly to-do has taken off, homeowner and volunteer Dr. Gary Woodhill said, “It is an incredibly important event. It allows the neighbourhood to take a breath and come together for some fun.

“It reminds us to spend time with and appreciate each other. Also, we just finished renovating our deck, so it’s nice to show that off too.”

Something in East Hill seems to have changed, or perhaps just reignited. Neighbours have made dinner plans, playdates have been arranged, strangers who live on the same street have become friends. Somehow this short musical event has helped transform a neighbourhood into a community.

The sun slowly begins to slip behind the horizon and the music begins to fade.

As the last instruments are packed away, and echoes of almost perfect harmonies are still vibrating in every brick of every house, one thing is certain.

There is no more chill in the air of East Hill tonight.

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Bubbles and music filled the air on William Street during last weekend’s Porchfest. Photo by Sasha Sefter

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Dave Bush and the River Velley Riders delight audiences during a performance. Photo by Sasha Sefter

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A train of youngsters are pulled through the neighbourhood of East Hill in Belleville during Porchfest last Saturday. Many homes in the area had musicians performing during the afternoon event. Photo by Sasha Sefter

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A small crowd applauds as The Murata Trio wraps up their final performanceon Ann Street during Porchfest. Photo by Sasha Sefter

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The long road to the Hercules pull

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Members of the 426 Squadron pull a Lockheed C-130 Hercules during a Herc Pull competition at the 8 Wing Community Fair at the Canadian Forces base in Trenton Saturday. The community fair was hosted for family members of soldiers on base and was open to the public. Photo by Andrej Ivanov

By Andrej Ivanov

Driving into Trenton, I thought to myself: “I have no idea where 1 Hangar is.” My GPS was of absolutely no use either, as apparently, 1 Hangar is not a physical address. So down Old Highway 2 I drove, into Canadian Forces Base Trenton, in search of the community fair hosted by the troops.

“Where the heck is this place,” I thought aloud.

A sharp right onto RCAF Road and I pulled over to check the address for the umpteenth time, and to see if maybe Google Maps had decided to cut me some slack. Naturally, it hadn’t.

A quick U-turn and I ended up in the parking lot of a medical centre, hoping to catch the sight of another human being and ask them for directions. No dice. They were closed.

Back on the road, I ended up somewhere on the base, near barracks, where I saw my first human. I quickly pulled over and got directions from a kind woman who pointed out that I had taken the right path by turning onto RCAF Road.

As I turned around, I quickly realized the path I took to get in didn’t have an exit. “You’ve got to be kidding me…” I found myself driving around from end to end, and finally managed to exit after 10 minutes and the help of another kind soul.

Up RCAF Road, right on Westin Road and down a gravel path, I found myself standing in front of what I had spent the last hour or so looking for: a huge Hercules hangar and the fair.

As I walked into the hangar, I found about a half a dozen tables, about 50-80 people, mostly soldiers and their families, and the main event: The Hercules pull.

The Hercules pull was an interesting sight, as it involved groups of up to 20 trying to pull a 34,400-kilogram airplane down the runway. Participants included cadets, family members, and, of course, soldiers.

The Herc pull was a true test of bodily strength for those involved. It became abundantly clear that the hardest part was getting the enormous plane out of inertia.

To do this, the groups would have to pull a giant rope, facing the plane and putting their full body weight into it. The weight of the plane was clear as day in the strained faces of every single one of the 20 or so team members.

After the plane got moving fast enough, the entire team would then face away from the vehicle and keep going to the finish line. The fastest team wins the race.

The big winners were 426 Squadron, with a whopping 21 seconds and 18/100th of a second to the finish line. The team’s time was only two seconds shy of the base record.

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Members of the 426 Squadron warm up as they prepare to pull a Lockheed C-130 Hercules during a Herc Pull competition at the 8 Wing Community Fair at the Canadian Forces base in Trenton. Photo by Andrej Ivanov

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Fall activities around Quinte

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Members of the Hastings-Prince Edward Regiment showcase breaching techniques to a crowd during the Flavours of Fall Festival in Belleville. Photo by Sasha Sefter

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Members of the Pegasus Cheer Athletics Program perform during the festival last Saturday. Photos by Sasha Sefter

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Taylor Horborough, seven, pats Johnny the pony on the nose during the Flavours of Fall Festival. Photo by Sasha Sefter

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Cody Lobb at the first meet of the demolition derby at the annual Mohawk Fair in Tyendinaga. The weekend-long fair included a variety of events, including midway rides, art shows and the demolition derby. Photo by Andrej Ivanov

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The Royal City Quidditch team played against the Guelph Gryphons at the Festival of Wizardry. Quidditch is a game created by author J.K. Rowling. Photo by Deborah MacNevin

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.

 

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Rhys Christmas came to the festival of wizardry with her mother Michelle Christmas. Christmas and her mother enjoy reading and exploring Harry Potter together. Christmas came dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange. Photo by Deborah MacNevin

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Michelle Christmas came to the festival of wizardry with her daughter. Christmas came dressed as Dolores Umbridge, a character in the books. Photo by Deborah MacNevin

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Actress Bonnie Wright attended the festival as a special guest. She played Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films. Photo by Deborah MacNevin

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Students of the welding technology program at Loyalist College discuss their work. Photo by Brian Choi

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.

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The welding program at Loyalist teaches students skills applicable to careers in the field. Photo by Brian Choi

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The welding and fabrication program technician program has seen a growth in women and international students enrolling in the program. Photo by Brian Choi

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David Bona, a veteran’s advocate, looks on as Marjoree Matchee speaks at the Veteran’s Rally for Mefloquin Awareness last Wednesday on Parliament Hill. Matchee’s husband Clayton was one of two soldiers held directly responsible for the beating death of Shidane Arone in Canadian custody in March, 1993. Matchee believes her husband, now in long-term care for brain damage after attempting suicide,  was suffering from the effects of mefloquine poisoning on the night Arone died.

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.

NDP 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.

 

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A group of activists and supporters pose for a group picture after the Veteran’s Rally for Mefloquine Awareness staged on Parliament Hill last Wednesday. Though sparsely attended, the rally was noted in the House of Commons by Cathy Wagentall, NDP MP, who admonished the Liberals for ignoring victims of mefloquine poisoning. Photo by Frank Moses

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Val Reyes-Santiesteban poses with the paratrooper wings she was presented during the Veteran’s Rally for Mefloquine Awareness, which took place on Parliament Hill last Wednesday. Her only son Scott took his own life in Rwanda on Christmas day 1994. Reyes-Santiesteban believes the controversial anti-malarial drug was a factor in her son’s death. Photo by Frank Moses

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A flock of Canadian geese flies over a damaged house on Porcupine Trail, just off the main road in Dunrobin, Ont., where a tornado passed through last Friday. Photo by Cassie Gibbons

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.

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A house sits destroyed on the corner of Thomas A. Dolan Parkway and Dunrobin Road,, right in the heart of the town of Dunrobin. Photo by Cassie Gibbons

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Insulation clings to the trees along the side of the road on Thomas A. Dolan Parkway in Dunrobin. The insulation was scattered after a EF3 tornado ripped through the small town last Friday. Photo by Cassie Gibbons

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A crowd of 80 marched the streets of downtown Belleville for the annual Take Back the Night rally on Thursday evening. Take Back the Night is an international event that aims to end sexual, relationship and domestic violence in all forms. The group marched through Station Street to Pinnacle and down Moira back to Lion’s Park where attendees listened to speakers and ate together. Photo by Shelby Lisk

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.

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Riley Young (left) and Shylah Bernhardt (right) sit quietly listening to speakers at the Take Back the Night rally on Thursday evening. The young girls attended the rally with their grandmother and step-mother, respectively. This year’s theme was education, with empowering and teaching youth at the forefront. “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 Elissa Robertson from Warrior Women of Quinte. Photo by Shelby Lisk

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Stacey Trubridge reads a piece about her experiences with sexual harassment to the crowd at Take Back the Night. Trubridge recounts events with an unknown taxi driver and a night where a friend had saved her from unwanted advances in a man’s car, both ended with Trubridge running away. At the end of her moving piece, she reads: “We shouldn’t have to feel afraid. We should all feel free. Free to walk alone at night, free to dress however we feel comfortable, free to smile when we choose to, free to express our emotions and our truths, free to speak our minds. Well, I refuse to be afraid anymore. I want to be free. So tonight, as I stand in solidarity with my sisters, I am taking back my night.” Photo by Shelby Lisk

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Kassie Boone, 27, professional FMX driver from Belmont, Ont., flies through the air on her 2008 Suzuki RM250 bike while doing a 75 feet jump at the Kingston Fall Fair on Saturday 15th. Boone has been racing professionally by the age of 16, and is the only female BMX driver in Canada that can jump lengths of 70+ feet. Photo by Amy Walton

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

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Spinning Ferris wheel at the Kingston Fall Fair. Later in the day, as it got cooler, the number of park quests tripled and the park became crowded with giant lines.  Photo by Amy Walton

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It’s Jake Hollett’s 7th year of racing. He won first place in both races he competed in at the Kingston Fall Fair. First was the modified lawn mower race, and the victory lap he’s doing here is from the open class mower race. Photo by Amy Walton

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Caleb Caspary, 4, feeds a Billy goat corn and seeds at a petting zoo at the Kingston Fall Fair. Photo by Amy Walton

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As the day turns to evening, a competitor squares up and raises her leg as she is about to throw a hard pitch at the BatterUp game at the Kingston Fall Fair. Photo by Amy Walton

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Joan Buchanan played three separate rounds of skee-ball, levelling up her prizes each time so that she could eventually win this rainbow teddy bear that she thought was so cute. Photo by Amy Walton

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A 10-year-old bull terrier/ Rottweiler mix named Calleigh competed in the Canine Watersport’s competition at the Kingston Fall Fair. Photo by Amy Walton

 

 

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