Strike vote underway for 7,000 terminal cargo movers in B.C., raising business concerns

Unionized longshore workers on the B.C. coast cast ballots on Friday, in the first of a two-day strike vote that could affect ports along the Pacific coast. And with a billion dollars worth of goods moving through the ports every day, businesses say a work stoppage could have devastating impacts on the economy. Aaron McArthur reports.

As the threat of a strike looms, some business people are urging the union representing more than 7,000 terminal cargo movers in B.C., and their employer, to reach a deal.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) and B.C. Maritime Employers Association have been working to negotiate a new contract since February, their collective agreement having expired at the end of March.

On Monday, the union authorized a strike vote to take place Friday and Saturday.

Some $350 billion-worth of goods move through the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert alone, according to Bridgitte Anderson, president and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. She said B.C.’s ports are in state of recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and back-to-back natural disasters, and a strike could disrupt the precarious progress that’s been made.

“Both from an import and export side, disruptions would cause mass problems for us as businesses and for consumers as well, and we have to realize that disruptions can also fuel inflation and also further cost pressures that will just trickle down to impact everyone,” she said Friday.

“We’re urging both sides in this dispute to come together and find a solution so we don’t end up in a situation where we’re seeing further inflation and cost pressures.”

Neither the ILWU Canada nor the B.C. Maritime Employers Association would comment on this story while negotiations are underway.

The two sides are currently in a cooling-off period until June 21, after the union filed a notice of dispute in March that required federally-mandated conciliation that ended on May 30.

Canadian law prevents either side from exercising their right to labour action for 21 days after the end of conciliation, and both the union and the employers association say job action can’t be conducted before June 21, leaving the earliest possible strike date of June 24.

The B.C. Maritime Employers Association represents 49 of the province’s private sector waterfront employers. According to its website, its members contribute $2.7 billion to the national GDP and handled roughly 16 per cent of Canada’s total traded goods worth $180 billion in 2020.

A statement on the website says it aims to reach a “fair and balanced deal” that ensures proper compensation and the competitiveness of B.C.’s ports.

Kari Yuers of Kryton International Inc., a manufacturer of waterproofing and durability products for concrete, called the possibility of a strike “very concerning,” noting the problematic concentration of business disruptions in the past three years.

“I think everybody’s had a taste of supply disruptions and the supply chain and the impact, the negative impact on the economy and inflation. I think people are very worried about this,” she told Global News.

“Certainly for our company, it’s it’s incredibly harmful. We’re in our 50th year and our customers come to rely on us to get them the materials they need. So it’s not okay to say, ‘Oh, well, we might not be able to supply you and we not we’re not sure when that will be.'”

A labour disruption would “absolutely” damage Kryton International’s reputation, Yuers added, and give an edge to its international competitors. About 80 per cent of the company’s sales are outside of North America, and Kryton primarily ships from Vancouver and Port Alberni.

She said many of Kryton’s customers work on strict project deadlines, and if the company can’t ship supplies on time, those projects could fall apart.

“We’ve had these strikes before and unfortunately, it usually takes many weeks before people start to recognize that it’s serious enough. We all have to get to the table. If I have an ask, it’s for them to get to the table sooner and to sort it out.”

Beacon Economics international trade adviser Jock O’Connell told The Canadian Press this week that the timing of a possible strike at B.C. ports coincides with ongoing labour strife at West Coast ports in the United States, as disputes between port officials and the Longshore union’s American counterpart disrupted terminal operations in places such as Oakland and Long Beach, both in California.

O’Connell said a combination of disruptions at B.C. and U.S. ports would seriously damage the West Coast’s role in global shipping, and exporters would look to ports on the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico as more reliable options.

Ultimately, neither side wins a protracted battle in either B.C. or the U.S. West Coast, he added.

“They’ve always had this ability to disrupt cargo flows, but the idea that we might see strike action on both sides of the border is simply unprecedented,” O’Connell said of the possible job action in B.C.

“This is seriously tarnishing the reputation of ports along the Pacific coast of North America as reliable gateways for international trade. If I’m a shipper and I have the discretion of moving goods through different ports of entry or exit, I’m more inclined to do so now than a year or two ago.”

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Campaign aims to put spotlight on children killed by Iranian regime

A Vancouver woman is among the international activists who are raising awarness of the dozens of children killed in Iran, by the ruling regime. Negar Mojtahedi reports.

Nine-year-old Iranian boy Kian Pirfalak had dreams of becoming a robotics engineer one day.

His young life was taken on Nov. 16, 2022 when he was shot and killed while sitting in his parents vehicle in Izeh, Iran.

His family were on their way home while anti-regime nationwide protests took place in the background.

“When the IRGC agents approached their car, he (Kian) told his dad let’s trust the police this time,” said Shiva Mahbobi, a former political prisoner, activist from the group Campaign to Free Political Prisoners in Iran (CFPPI).

According to Mahbobi, Kian’s parents and other witnesses say the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) shot at the young boy, killing him and injuring his father. His mother and father have recently sued the government agents for the killing of their son.

Mahbobi said Kian is one of 76 confirmed cases of children killed by the Iranian regime since the start of the Women, Life, Freedom movement sparked by the death of Masha Jina Amini in September.

The number of dead, Mahbobi said, is likely far higher as many children from Balochistan do not have birth certificates. In other cases, Mahbobi said, many families are too scared to speak out.

Children who activists say have died at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Children who activists say have died at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Sally Nicholls / Global News

Mahbobi is the co-author of a new report documenting the cases of these children, written after speaking directly with their families and sources inside Iran.

The report also outlines other crimes committed by the Islamic Republic against Iranian children.

“Other aspects of the report focus on the children who have been abducted, taken to prison, unknown places, been tortured, raped, given psychedelic drugs,” Mahbobi said.

“It’s really heartbreaking too when these children talk about how many times they’ve been raped in the prison,” added Mahbobi.

The report also documents at least 300 chemical attacks on schools since November, as well as children who were forced into what Iran’s Ministry of Education calls “reforming” centres.

“The report we got from these kids and their families, they’ve been taken there, they’ve been tortured, physically, psychologically. They’ve been forced into false confession,” Mahbobi said.

The psychological impact on these children and their mental and physical development is also examined.

The report lists the names of children who met with brutal violence like Bita Kiani who, according to Mahbobi, lost her eyesight when the IRGC shot her in the eye with a pellet gun as she was playing on her balcony in Isfahan.

Vancouver resident Tara, who is concealing her last name for her safety, is part of the NGO Iranian Justice Collective (IJC).

Their online campaign ‘Say Their Names’ shares the stories of children killed by their own government to honour and protect their memories.

“The killing of nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak was a moment that broke my heart,” Tara told Global News.

Tara said by creating the website the IJC is trying to collect information and evidence for the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on Iran.

Doing so, she hopes, will help bring justice for these children and hold the regime accountable.

“The only response to this violation is false information or denial. In many cases their response has been, ‘Oh they have been killed by accident, dog attacks or even suicide,’” she said.

It’s cases like Kian’s that motivate her to be the voice of those children and the families who have been silenced in Iran.

A hand-written exercise in which young Kian said he believe he and Elon Musk were the two happiest and luckiest people in the world.

A hand-written exercise in which young Kian said he believe he and Elon Musk were the two happiest and luckiest people in the world.

In a handwritten note for a school assignment, Kian was asked who he thinks is the happiest and luckiest person in the world? He responded by saying himself and Elon Musk. His dream of becoming robotics engineer, never realized.

Activists in Vancouver, Toronto and dozens of cities around the world will be marking what would have been Kian’s 10’th birthday on Saturday June 10.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Edson, Yellowhead County ordered to evacuate as wildfires flare up

After a cool-weather reprieve, wildfire conditions west of Edmonton have become extreme again and, on Friday night, an evacuation order was issued for the town of Edson and parts of Yellowhead County.

An Alberta Emergency Alert issued around 6:30 p.m. said due to increased fire activity, fires are becoming increasingly unpredictable.

The fires are moving closer to more populated areas, including Edson, which has a population of about 8,000 people.

“Fires have jumped fire guards. There could be impacts to roads and highways as the fire crosses blocking off points of egress for evacuation,” the emergency alert said.

All evacuees are being told to head east, where a reception centre is being reopened at the Edmonton Expo Centre (7300 116 Ave.)

The county said Hinton currently has a water restriction in effect, so many services will be unavailable and water supply for campers and RVs will likely be impacted.

Many industry workers are in Hinton and finding hotels and campsites will likely prove challenging, the county said, which is why people are being told to go towards Edmonton.

A new wildfire, EWF066, was detected Friday and is currently burning six kilometres west-southwest of Edson, on the south side of the McLeod River, west of the Ansell Tower. There are airtankers actively fighting this wildfire with eight firefighters and two helicopters.

Yellowhead County said the western boundary of evacuation zone is Range Road 200, the northern boundary is Township Road 570 to Range Road 160, then north to Township Road 580 east to Highway 751 and south to Township Road 520. It includes the town of Edson.

At the same time, the rest of the county was placed on alert just after 7 p.m. All residents who have not been evacuated must be prepared to evacuate quickly if the situation worsens, Yellowhead County said.

Bussing will be available from multiple locations in the town and county.

Yellowhead County collection points:

  1. Marlboro Community Hall, pickup at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  2. Peers Multiplex, picked up as buses go through to Edmonton
  3. Niton Green Grove Pool, picked up as buses go through to Edmonton

Town of Edson collection points (pick up from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.):

  1. Mary Bergeron School
  2. Westhaven School
  3. Griffiths Park Centre
  4. Glenwood Park
  5. Hillendale Phase 2 Park

All buses congregate at the Edson Leisure Centre for transport to the Edmonton reception centre.

People in the nearby Woodlands County were also told Friday night to be on alert to evacuate.

Alberta currently has approximately 2,900 personnel working on wildfires.

That includes support from across Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as the Canadian Armed Forces.

— More to come…

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Devon Days midway going ahead minus 2 rides after Stony Plain incidents

The midway at Devon Days will go ahead after undergoing an safety review following incidents last weekend in Stony Plain. Sarah Komadina spoke with the town and operator Wild Rose Shows about what had to be done to ensure a safe weekend.

Few small town summer festivals are complete without a midway. The rides at Devon Days will go ahead this weekend after undergoing a safety review following incidents last weekend in Stony Plain.

The midway at the fair in Devon, Alta., is operated by Wild Rose Shows, a family-owned travelling carnival based out of Spruce Grove that operates midways all over Alberta and Saskatchewan, from April through September.

While operating at the Farmers’ Days fair in Stony Plain last weekend, people were injured while riding two attractions: a kid’s merry-go-round-style car ride called The Construction Zone and an adult ride called The Hurricane that sees riders in cars spin.

Two adults told Global News they were switching seats to balance their weight at the operator’s request when The Hurricane started moving, hitting them. One of them needed a dozen stitches on her leg and also had abrasions on her arms and face.

Alberta Health Services said a child was taken to hospital earlier in the day, as well, but the nature of their injures was not known.

Wild Rose Shows said that injury happened on a ride called the Construction Zone.

To operate again, Wild Rose Shows needed to be reinspected by Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Ride Safety Association (AEDARSA), and the Town of Devon put forward two additional demands:

  • Safety retraining for Wild Rose Shows staff
  • Confirmation of Wild Rose Shows’ ability to provide on safety certified individual for every three rides in the midway

A joint inspection was done on Thursday by AEDARSA and Alberta OHS officers, both in Devon and in Brooks in southern Alberta, where the company was set to operate another midway this weekend.

The Wild Rose Shows midway at Devon Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

The Wild Rose Shows midway at Devon Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

Global News

The Town of Devon said on Friday afternoon Wild Rose Shows was able to meet their criteria and the midway rides will be available throughout the Devon Days weekend.

Wild Rose Shows owner Mike Kryzanowski has been involved in carnivals since he was a kid and worked in the business for over 40 years. He runs Wild Rose with his wife and three adult kids.

The business is his “heart and soul” and talking about the past week was emotional for the owner.

“We feel bad and we’re going to do everything it takes for nothing to happen again,” Kryzanowski said, adding they triple-checked all the rides in Devon.

Kryzanowski said his son and wife Debbie were operating their other unit in Brooks this weekend, where similar inspections took place this week.

“We’re confident that we’re ready to open, but we’re normal human beings and we’re nervous with anticipation,” Kryzanowski said Friday afternoon as the Devon Days midway was powering up for the afternoon.

“We just hope that, you know, people will still come out and visit the show.”

His daughter Mikayla said they’re doing whatever it takes to rebuild trust with the public and worked with OHS for two days to ensure the rides were safe, but added it was all standard procedure.

“We just had to produce some paperwork for them and everything was fine.”

Wild Rose Shows owner Mike Kryzanowski and his daughter Mikayla speaking with staff at Devon Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

Wild Rose Shows owner Mike Kryzanowski and his daughter Mikayla speaking with staff at Devon Days on Friday, June 9, 2023.

Global News

Devon Mayor Jeff Craddock said the safety criteria put forward was above and beyond what a carnival operator normally has to do, but the town wanted to be very sure the rides were safe.

“We put together a set of protocols we expected them to meet and they have met them,” the mayor said. “The actual okay for them to operate is a provincial decision. It’s not actually a town decision. Keep in mind, we have the right to circumvent that if we thought it wasn’t safe.”

Kryzanowski said even after the officials signed off on the rides, he spent over four hours Friday morning going over all the rides in Devon personally.

The mayor said Wild Rose went above and beyond to meet the town’s demands.

“They stepped up really well. They were engaged, they were emotional, they were complete. They allowed me to walk around and be part of their inspection process with the province. They showed me parts pieces. They laid out what they were going to do. They sent through our directives.

“They have met every mark we have asked for.”

Craddock said he wanted to be sure not just as the town’s mayor, but also as a grandfather — he plans to take his grandkids to the rides at Devon Days.

“I’m not about to put them in a position where they may be hurt or injured or worse,” he said.

Craddock said one safety incident shouldn’t shut down all the fun things in a community if changes can be made. Instead, it’s about doing everything possible to keep people safe, learning from mistakes and proceed with caution.

“There’s always an inherent risk, even when I go and jump in my car. What we tried to do was manage all of those risks, and we believe we’ve done that.”

The two rides that caused injuries to riders last weekend have been pulled from the rotation for Devon Days as they undergo inspection.

A memo from the Alberta Elevating Devices & Amusement Ride Safety Association (AEDARSA) on Friday said The Hurricane has been voluntarily removed from service for the rest of the summer by Wild Rose while it undergoes a full inspection of all components.

AEDARSA said the Construction Zone has also been removed from service while a review of electrical components and wiring to identify the source of electrical shock is done.

“The midway is an important part of Devon Days every year and we are excited to see that the rides will be available for the community to enjoy,” Craddock said in a statement.

While Devon and Brooks are going ahead, the Town of Morinville this week decided to cancel the midway at its Festival Days, scheduled for June 16 to 18, out of an abundance of caution.

“We decided that we were going to exit the relationship for this year and look forward to having them come back in future years once we figure this out,” Morinville CAO Naleen Narayan said.

“We had to make a decision,” he said, adding he didn’t foresee any hurdles for next year as long as everything is in order.

Even after all the inspections were complete Friday, Morinville said it stood by its decision, something Kryzanowski understands.

“Everybody has choices to make, right? We’ll move on and we’ll be okay. We’ll move to other locations and do our due diligence,” the midway operator said.

Devon Days runs Friday through Sunday. While the midway is going ahead, the beloved Friday night fireworks were cancelled due to the dry conditions and hot temperatures.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

U.S.-China talks to be held in Beijing months after spy balloon scuttled plans

WATCH: Blinken addresses Chinese spy balloon, postponement of trip to Beijing

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will travel to China next week for long-delayed talks aimed at stabilizing tense relations, and a U.S. official said he is expected to be there on June 18.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Blinken would travel to China in the coming weeks, citing an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An official on Friday said Blinken would be in Beijing on June 18, but gave no other details.

The Associated Press also confirmed the trip, citing U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because neither the State Department nor the Chinese foreign ministry have yet confirmed the trip.

In February, Washington’s top diplomat scrapped a planned trip to Beijing, which would have been the first by a U.S. secretary of state in five years, over a suspected Chinese spy balloon that flew over the United States.

Since then, there have been contacts between the U.S. and China, but they have been rare as tensions have risen over China’s conduct in the South China Sea, aggressive actions toward Taiwan and support for Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Last week, China’s defense minister rebuffed a request from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a meeting on the sidelines of a security symposium in Singapore.

However, China’s commerce minister traveled to the U.S. last month and Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with China’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, in Vienna in early May.

The White House said at the time that the meeting “was part of ongoing efforts to maintain open lines of communication and responsibly manage competition. The two sides agreed to maintain this important strategic channel of communication to advance these objectives.”

More recently, the top U.S. diplomat for the Asia-Pacific region, Daniel Kritenbrink, traveled to China earlier this week along with a senior National Security Council official.

Washington has been keen to reschedule the Blinken trip, and the timing emerged after the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that China has reached a secret deal with Cuba to establish an electronic eavesdropping facility on the island roughly 100 miles (160 km) from Florida.

The spokesperson for the White House National Security Council on Thursday said the report was not accurate, while saying that Washington has had “real concerns” about China’s relationship with Cuba and was closely monitoring it.

The State Department, White House and Pentagon did not, however, immediately respond to requests for comment on a subsequent New York Times report that said China was planning to build a facility in Cuba that U.S. officials were concerned could be capable of spying on the United States by intercepting signals from nearby U.S. military and commercial facilities.

In Havana on Thursday, Cuban Vice Foreign Minister Carlos Fernandez de Cossio dismissed the Journal report as “totally mendacious and unfounded,” calling it a U.S. fabrication meant to justify Washington’s decades-old economic embargo against the island nation. He said Cuba rejects all foreign military presence in Latin America and the Caribbean.

China’s foreign ministry said on Friday that “spreading rumors and slander” was a common tactic of “hacker empire” the United States.

The Cuba issue could raise questions about Blinken’s planned trip, intended by Washington to be a major step toward what President Joe Biden has called a “thaw” in relations between the world’s two largest economies.

U.S. Senator Mark Warner, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Marco Rubio, the panel’s vice chair, said on Thursday they were “deeply disturbed” by the Journal report and urged the Biden administration “to take steps to prevent this serious threat to our national security and sovereignty.”

A spokesperson for China’s Washington Embassy said it had no information about Blinken’s trip, but referred to Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s last meeting in November, and added: “China is open to having dialogue with the United States. We hope the U.S. will work in the same direction with China, and jointly implement the important common understandings between the two Presidents in their Bali meeting.”

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Jasper Ward, David Brunnstrom, Jeff Mason and Phil Stewart; Editing by Leslie Adler)

© 2023 Reuters

Criticism and applause: A look at the end of Quebec's parliamentary session

WATCH: Quebec's provincial elected officials are reflecting on the good, the bad and the ugly of the past few months. As the session comes to a close at the National Assembly, the party in power always gets the most amount of criticism. But as Gloria Henriquez reports, the opposition parties also face questioning on their own records.

On the last day of Quebec’s parliamentary session, all fingers pointed to the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ), the party in power.

The Liberals accused them of improvising, especially when it came to the laws that were passed by invoking closure.

Bill 96 was one of them.

A portion of the province’s reform of the French language law was implemented last week.

It sent municipalities scrambling, left wondering how they would apply its provision to limit the use of English to Anglophones.

It even became the butt of jokes.

The huge lineups caused by the province’s automobile insurance board’s (SAAQ) failure to execute their digital transformation, as well as the broken promise on the addition of a car portion to Quebec City’s so-called “third link,” a tunnel linking Quebec City to Lévis, were other failures for which the opposition parties condemned the government.

Quebec's Liberal Party presents its end of session balance sheet. Friday June 9th, 2023.

Quebec's Liberal Party presents its end of session balance sheet. Friday June 9th, 2023.

Gloria Henriquez / Global News

The Liberals congratulated themselves for holding the government accountable on that. But their own performance as a party is being questioned, too.

After seven months, the Liberals still haven’t chosen a new leader.

“It will come in due time and the party will tell us,” said Marc Tanguy, the party’s interim leader.

Quebec solidaire presents its end of session balance sheet. Friday June 9th, 2023.

Québec solidaire called the CAQ government for its “arrogance” during the session.

Co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois says their questioning has led to the most changes, including the government’s new bill to tighten regulations around Airbnbs.

“We’ve been fighting for this for years,” said Nadeau-Dubois said.

On the flip side, the party was heavily criticized for changing opinion on the CAQ’s increase to the salaries of elected officials.

They first said they wouldn’t take the extra money, then they proposed a smaller raise.

The Parti Quebecois presents its end of session balance sheet. Friday June 9th, 2023.

Calling themselves the three musketeers, the Parti Québécois grew in popularity during the winter session, calling out the CAQ’s inconsistencies.

“I think it’s unprecedented,” said Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, the leader of the Parti Québécois.

Quebec’s premier François Legault brushed off the opposition’s criticism.

“I think they are in worse shape than we are,” Legault replied.

Legault says despite the multiplying lawsuits piling up against Bill 96 he is governing for all Quebecers.

“I think so,” he said. “Many anglophones in Montreal think we have to protect French because it makes us distinct in North America.”

The fall session is shaping up to be one of big debates and disagreements as the CAQ will try to pass two major reforms: Bill 15, the health reform and Bill 23, the education reform.

“That might be an opportunity for the Liberals, Quebec solidaire and the PQ to score points,” said Danie Béland, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada.

“We know health care reform is a very tough business. We saw that under the Couillard government and opposition parties are getting ready to have a fight over this reform. But education is also a fight.”

How bad the fight gets will depend on the ministers and how well they are able to perform as they set out to defend their bills, Béland explained.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Missing hiker found dead near mountain peak northeast of Lions Bay

The search for a missing hiker near Lions Bay has ended in tragedy, officials confirmed Friday. Michael Tu had been reported missing after failing to return from a hike on Mount Harvey Wednesday.

The search for a 29-year-old hiker who went missing on Wednesday has ended in tragedy.

Michael Tu was found deceased near the peak of Mount Harvey, northeast of Lions Bay, B.C., on Thursday evening. In a news release, RCMP said they believe he died accidentally, succumbing to “undisclosed injuries.”

“Unfortunately, this search did not have the outcome we were hoping for, and we are heartbroken for the man’s family,” said Cpl. Angela Kermer.

“We are, however, very thankful to community volunteers who helped search, and to Lions Bay Search and Rescue who were exceptional with their work.”

Martin Colwell of Lions Bay Search and Rescue said the call about Tu’s disappearance came in around 2 a.m. on Thursday, prompting a widespread search with multiple ground crews and a helicopter.

Tu was known to have made it to the summit of Mount Harvey around 11 a.m. on Wednesday and was due back down in the afternoon, he added. His brother tried unsuccessfully to contact him around 4 p.m., and it appeared Tu’s phone was turned off at the time, Colwell said.

Tu’s vehicle never left the trailhead parking lot.

Colwell said Tu was well-equipped with good gear and made sure people knew of his whereabouts before heading out.

— with files from Simon Little

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Refugee kids shine on Calgary soccer pitch thanks to community association

With more refugees now calling Calgary home, more kids are finding themselves ripped from their friends and the sports teams they were once a part of. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports on a Calgary community association that is making sure no one is left behind.

It’s been a year since Oksana Chapenko decided to move with her mother, her husband and three kids to escape the war in Ukraine.

Two of the couple’s friends died during a Russian missile strike that killed at least 20 people in their home town of Kremenchuk last year.

“We communicate with my sister because she is still in Ukraine — and a lot of our friends — and it’s hard,” Chapenko said.

The kids had to quickly learn English and adapt to being torn apart from the school, sports teams and friends they had back home. But being part of a sports team is helping.

While the toddler is a little young for being on the pitch, Chapenko’s two boys are now part of the Lakeview Community Association soccer team.

“They were very excited because it’s in the community and a lot of guys they know from school. For us adults, it’s an opportunity to communicate as parents in a nice situation. The boys enjoy playing, because it’s friendly soccer,” Chapenko said.

“They build a closer relationship with other boys, so I think it’s a really great opportunity.”

The Lakeview Community Association dipped into its reserve fund to cover the costs of refugees who want to play “the beautiful game.” It’s part of their “no one left behind” policy that started in response to the number of Syrian refugees who are now calling Calgary home.

Tammy Brigidear has been helping around 40 families get settled in Calgary since the war in Ukraine started. She says sports helps build a sense of belonging.

“It was really to help them feel welcome to Canada and to our community, and having the opportunity to do everything that their friends and classmates are doing,” Brigidear said.

“From a parents perspective, they’ve been able to see their kids laugh and play… It gives them peace of mind, and it’s definitely helping both parents and kids settle,” Brigidear said.

Organizers said this is a way for people who may not be able to host a family in their home to feel like they are helping newcomers.

“It’s not just about no one left behind. It’s about the community spirit that lifts everybody — a rising tide lifts all boats,” said Jon Himmens, president of the Lakeview Community Association. “It’s taken everybody to come together to make this possible.”

The plan is to expand the program to make it permanent, by asking parents to chip in when they register their players.

There are now ten recently-arrived Ukrainian children on the local soccer team in Lakeview.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Meet the Southern Alberta MLAs in Premier Danielle Smith's cabinet

WATCH: There will be some southern Alberta voices at the cabinet table. Jaclyn Kucey tells us who the local ministers are and the importance of having regional representation within Premier Danielle Smith’s inner circle.

The Lethbridge, Alta., region will see representation in Premier Danielle Smith’s new cabinet.

Lethbridge-East MLA Nathan Neudorf, as well as Cardston-Siksika MLA Joseph Schow, will be among the 25-member group.

Neudorf, who was infrastructure minister before the May 29 election, will be taking on a new role as minister of Affordability and Utilities.

He will also become vice-chair of the treasury board, which political sociologist Trevor Harrison says will carry weight in the United Conservative Party’s provincial government.

“This is about as close as you get to the inner circle,” Harrison said. “So it is a prestigious position for him.”

Joseph Schow, meanwhile, will return as Government House Leader, and will take on his first cabinet appointment as minister of Tourism and Sport — a portfolio Harrison says has historically been linked to environment and parks.

“This is going to be an interesting thing for Schow,” Harrison said, “who will deal with … other ministers to massage some real concerns for Southern Albertans.”

Harrison believes regional representation also played a role in Smith’s appointments.

“Southern Alberta is very strong for (the) UCP,” Harrison said. “So they … pretty much needed to put some people in from here.”

Global News reached out to the offices of both Southern Alberta MLAs for comment on their new roles but did not hear back by press time.

The province says its newly appointed ministers will begin receiving briefings from their departments immediately.

© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

B.C. to require license for asbestos abatement contractors by 2024

British Columbia will soon be the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement a licensing requirement for asbestos abatement contractors.

The Labour Ministry says workers must be licensed by Jan. 1.

This comes following changes to the Workers Compensation Act last year, requiring that contractors who remove the cancer-causing material use only trained and certified workers.

The ministry says required training for worker certification is scheduled to begin this summer.

It says WorkSafeBC will begin to accept applications from contractors performing asbestos abatement work by September.

The ministry says the registry of those who are able to preform the work will be published by the end of the year.

“Bringing in stricter laws and controls around asbestos abatement work is essential for protecting people and the environment from the dangers of asbestos,” the ministry said in a news release Friday.

© 2023 The Canadian Press

You May Also Like

Top Stories